House Slagathor - Song of Ice and Fire

SESSION 26 (2/4/18)
Episode 12: The Tragedy of Harrenhal

There’s a fierce debate among the Slagathors about how to proceed with the Bloodhand issue. When resolution is difficult, Ysabel and Meera argue the question with each other directly. Meera wins and the choice is made that we will not use the Wildfire. We also decide to tell the Bloodhands straight that we’re not going to use it rather than lie to them about our intentions.

The Slagathors get together for lunch to catch up on what’s happened. Arthur tells us about the Bloodhands plots and how he thinks he’s convinced them not to use wildfire. Meera and Ysabel aren’t so sure about that, so Ysabel heads over to the Bloodhand tent to have a word with Tolbert. She marches into his tent dramatically. Finding the Bloodhands chatting over a card game, she sweeps their cards to the floor, stabs her stiletto into the table, and demands an explanation for what Arthur told us. She’s furious about them offing the Crowmores, an ally and Raven Five member. She invokes her title and reminds them the Slagathors are the leaders of the Raven Five. Using a mixture of intimidation and shame, she cows the Bloodhands into obedience.

Leo is invited to dinner with Elbert Arryn. It’s a victory party celebrating their continued success in the melee; they only need one more win to reach the semifinals. But when Leo arrives, he finds only Elbert, Vardys Egan, and Jaspar Redfort waiting for him. Elbert makes it clear all four of them are in on “it” and asks if any of them told Mandon Moore about their plans for Robert Baratheon. Everyone says no. Elbert says Moore must be working for a different group, then, because no one would beat up a major lord like that just because they’re angry. Leo questions that assertion, but Elbert insists that they need to corner Moore and his lackeys to question them. They can always find a substitute for the melee…

Leo decides to try and convince Elbert not to go after Moore this way; maybe just have someone spy on him instead. Elbert appreciates Leo’s reputation for honor and how we’ve been trying to do our part for the plan, but he’s sure Moore is deliberately trying to ruin everything. He tries to intimidate Leo into obedience. Leo insists Moore is just a hothead, not a plotter, and reminds him of his fight with Moore at the Eyrie when he defended a lady’s honor. Leo thinks a direct confrontation with Moore will backfire and diplomacy would be more advisable. When Elbert keeps insisting, clearly feeling the strain of his uncle’s expectations, Leo concedes and says he’ll do as ordered. Elbert acts friendly enough, but Leo can’t help but remember the rumors Ysabel told him about Elbert drowning his wife in a pool…

Leo and the other two (minus Elbert) go looking for Moore and soon find him in a brothel tent. Egan pays a servant to keep quiet when they enter. As hoped, Moore is naked and undefended. Redfort and Egan already have their weapons drawn when they enter, though Leo does not. They ask him why he beat Robert the way he did and Egan starts roughing him up. Moore boasts he was just showing he’s the best and cusses them out up and down over the questioning; he obviously has no idea about any plans.

Leo tells the other two Moore is clearly just acting out of spite and offers to buy Moore a new whore. Redfort isn’t sure what to do now. Egan laughs and raises his dagger to stab Moore in the neck. Leo realizes this is a test of his own loyalty and reluctantly does nothing. Egan kills Moore and says they’ll blame it on a whore; they get the whore tent shut down as retaliation for murdering a lord. Leo is able to play it cool so Egan and the Arryns think he’s firmly one of them and don’t suspect him of anything. Leo and the others then loot Moore’s body for some gold dragons. Redfort takes Moore’s sword.

Tonight is the night for Rebekka— the assassination. She disguises herself as an unremarkable man, common and generic in every way. She brings her arrows, including the one dipped in deadly poison. Having already scoped out the area ahead of time, she knows where to find the high ground to lie in wait for her quarry. It’s an out-of-the-way section of camp where latrines get dumped, so it’s fairly quiet and deserted.

Eventually, she sees a small man, a teenager not much older than Avlon, walking fast and trying to ignore the three men following him with wooden sticks. Though around the same age as him, they’re much bigger and look like they might be apprentice knights. She recognizes one as Doge Frey and the other as someone from House Blount (a small house from the Crownlands). These are the three Alundra Reed has coerced into beating up Howland Reed to impress her. Doge mockingly (and mistakenly) calls him a “frog” and the three start viciously beating him. While they’re beating him into the filth, Leanna Stark bursts out of nowhere and starts beating the three squires with a practice sword until they flee. This leaves Leanna, the near-unconscious Howland Reed, and one of Leanna’s servants at the scene.

Suddenly, Rebekka notices someone else lurking nearby as well, watching the scene like her. No one but Rebekka has noticed this person, and no one has seen Rebekka either. Strangely, she’s sure it’s Leona Frey’s body, but not her face. It looks like an ambush of some kind is imminent. Rebekka remembers the assassin she found in the Freys’ room was wearing some sort of strange mask.

Thinking fast, Rebekka decides to go with her original mission and shoot Howland Reed first. The arrow strikes true, nicking Lyanna on the way under her arm and going through Howland’s neck, killing him instantly. At the same time, Leona stands with a grin, aims at Lyanna Stark… and slips and falls in the mud. The shot goes very wide, the arrow lost somewhere in the muck, and Leona Frey rolls down the hill towards Lyanna and her servant. Rebekka ducks back into her hiding spot and, miraculously, is not spotted. Lyanna shouts “You!” Leona sneers that she doesn’t like bows anyway and draws her sword. The servant releases a bird into the air. Rebekka seizes her chance and flees, unseen, while the sound of clashing swords rings behind her.

Ysabel has secured a dinner invitation with the Goodbrothers, courtesy of the Harlaw (especially her friend Harris, the heir). If things go well, it might give her an in with the Greyjoys. The Goodbrothers are known as good-natured party people who love music and fun times. They are the sponsors for the Iron Islands band “The Dead C’s”. Ysabel invites the Backteeth Boys to come with her to try and impress the music-lovers and even helps them write a new song of friendship between the Slagathors and Iron Islanders— “The Kraken and the Gator”, a song about a kraken helping a gator learn about the sea.

Lords Harlaw and Goodbrother are at the dinner party, along with their various relatives, Cassie Egan (who considers Ysabel a rival for Harris’ affection), and some minor lords and ladies. Partway through the Backteeth Boys’ song of friendship, the Dead C’s join in to show their approval, and everyone enjoys the performance. Lord Goodbrother is quite impressed and says the Slagathors clearly have much to offer the Iron Islands; he congratulates Harris Harlaw for befriending her. He promises to talk to Lord Greyjoy about her and her ideas. At Ysabel’s insistence, he agrees to try and set up meeting between Ysabel and Lord Greyjoy himself for tomorrow night. She ends the night tipsy but still in control of herself.

Ysabel and Cassie leave dinner at the same time. Cassie accusingly points out how much time Ysabel has been spending with Harris. Ysabel says she’ll be dining with Lord Greyjoy tomorrow night, so Cassie will get Harris all to herself at last. Euron is walking by as Ysabel leaves the camp and he stops, watching her. She pretends not to notice him, or she tries to, but his stare makes her steps falter. Euron grins at her slight show of fear and says he’ll see her tomorrow…

Meera takes Qyburn up on his invitation to check out this supposed Lord of Light prisoner he has in his tent. He’s waiting for her outside and ushers her in through the curtains hiding the small lab at the back of his tent. A naked, unconscious man is strapped to a wooden table. He bears tattoos identifying him as a Scarlet Shepherd, one of the LoL cultists we’ve been fighting. The side tables are covered in herbs, oils, poisons, and tools.

Qyburn says they both know these cultists have powers the Citadel can’t explain, so it’s time we investigated for ourselves. This person was caught by House Cod on his way to try sneaking into Winterfell. It would have been impossible to sneak him into the Citadel itself, so this is the next best thing. Qyburn only got his hands on this man because he happened to be on raven duty the day the message from the Cods came in, asking what to do. Reports say this man killed two soldiers with spears of fire. Since the man’s delivery here, Qyburn has been tending to his wounds to make sure he’s in the best possible condition.

Meera examines the man herself. It looks like Qyburn is keeping him out with Sweetsleep. The man is thin, malnourished. He yelled and cursed when he first arrived, hence the sedation. Qyburn trusts House Cod to keep quiet on the matter. The cultist’s name is apparently Mors. Qyburn has found nothing unique or magical in the clothes, tools, or necklaces the cultists bear, so whatever power they have must be inside them. Maybe in their tattoos? Qyburn has documented the tattoos and gives Meera a copy of them. He says Maesters Helena and Bran have both also shown interest and been given a copy.

Meera describes the procedure she had to do to save the Slagathor archer’s life after he was attacked at Hearttree. Qyburn takes eager and intense notes on everything she says. After some discussion, she agrees to help him examine the cultist to see what they can learn. Qyburn will do the vivisection while Meera does all she can to keep the man alive. As maesters do, he begins by measuring and noting down everything. The only abnormality he notes so far is that the man’s heart seems more worn out than it should be for a man his age— like whatever he’s been doing has been draining him.

Qyburn closes up the man’s chest before moving on to his head, but it’s clear the cultist is fading. As Meera reapplies the Sweetsleep, the man wakes just enough to bite down on the rag. It immediately bursts into flame. Meera drops the burning rag in a bucket of water before it can set the tent on fire, but the distraction hampers her work. Even so, she’s able to keep the man alive while Qyburn opens up his skull to inspect the brain. From Qyburn’s practiced motions and a disappointed comment he makes about the brain being “no different from any other living brain I’ve looked at”, he has clearly been performing procedures maesters generally forbid.

As Qyburn is coming to the conclusion that the magic is more likely to be in the tattoos or, somehow, all in the mind, the man wakes up again. Qyburn kills him with a single well-placed stab to the brain, but not before the cultist manages to bite down on Meera’s index finger. She can tell at once that he’s infected her with the same affliction that led to the Slagathor archer’s arm being amputated and almost cost him his life. Time is of the essence. Meera gets to work straightaway trying to treat it and stop its spread, using knowledge gained from her efforts in saving the archer’s life. Qyburn helps her out in any way he can (probably just to expand his own knowledge, but it helps nonetheless). After several hours of frenetic work, Meera is able to remove the affliction, leaving her with a bite-shaped scar on her finger but still retaining all of her limbs. She is now confident that she could cure this “curse” in others if she could treat them within 48-72 hours after infection.

At Meera’s instigation, she and Qyburn dissect bits of the cultist’s tattooed skin to continue their research. She identifies the ingredients that make up the black and red ink. They wouldn’t come cheap; she knows they’re ingredients found in very different areas throughout Essos, from the mountains to the coasts, and would be difficult to procure due to distance between the scattered sources. Even so, none of these ingredients are inherently “magical” as far as Meera can tell (e.g. no dragon’s blood, etc.). She shares all of her findings with Qyburn to promote their research relationship and encourage him to share any further discoveries he makes on the subject with her. He allows her to keep sample of the tattooed skin rolled up in a small vial.

Before they part, Meera brings up the subject of all we can still learn from Essos and wonders why he hasn’t committed to voting with her. Qyburn says he does want to see the maester order expanded to Essos, but he also wants the guards proposed in Solution 2. Meera points out that he needs to vote for Solution 3 if he wants to expand to Essos; he can always just hire his own guards for extra protection or assistance. Qyburn sees the logic in this and says he’ll cast his vote with her for Solution 3.

All sorts of rumors are swirling by the next morning. Everyone has heard that Mandon Moore was murdered by a whore; the woman in question and the person in charge of the brothel are to be executed, and the rest of the whores expelled from Harrenhal. Less certain is what happened to Howland Reed, who is said to have been killed by an assassin. There are conflicting rumors as to whether or not his assassin was caught or got away. It’s known that Lyanna Stark was there and fended off the assassin without sustaining any major injuries, but any further information is being kept as a tightly-held secret by the Starks.

Ysabel checks up on Nina’s progress with her art for the competition. The young artist has been keeping mainly to herself, as usual. Ysabel offers to help her, since she’s mainly been watching rather than participating in anything. Nina notes that the quality of the art seems to matter less than matching what the judges want to see, so Ysabel could help her by finding out what the judges want.

The art competition takes place on an open air stage next to a building where the completed artwork is put up for sale. Frida of House Whent is Nina’s first opponent (House Whent is the house overseeing Harrenhal at the moment). Frida’s style is bright and cheerful to contrast with House Whent’s usual gloom. The stated theme is elk (a small scandal, considering the rumors about Robert Baratheon’s current state). Ysabel notices the judges are all from the Riverlands, and she knows they prefer a simpler style, which she lets Nina know. Both artists perform very well and in fact it would have been a tie had the judges not given the Slagathors an extra point for the Whents showing such bad taste in choosing this theme in the first place. The Slagathors give the painting to the Whents as a gift, earning them the right to speak with the Lord of House Whent later if they so choose.

Marcus Felix approaches Leo as he preps for his morning sparring and tells him he’s been asked by Elbert Arryn to join the team melee (since they’re now short a member). MF is less than thrilled about this, especially since he had a date with Lady Ladybright (the head of one of the seven great Houses of Dorne) at sunset and now he can’t make it. Leo talks him out of trying to use Rebekka as a stand-in, then leaves him deep in thought while Leo goes to find Avlon.

Leo finds Avlon staring at the Isle of Faces, a strange, uninhabited island visible from the camp. Leo asks Avlon why he’s not doing the archery competition today (heard a rumor from their father). Avlon is pondering what someone from the Night’s Watch told him yesterday— that he might be a good addition for them. The watchman told him his archery, stealth, and endurance skills would serve the Watch well. Leo tries to tell him he could do ranger-type stuff at home as well, maybe working with Rebekka as well. Avlon says he’s heard Rebekka is just kept around to kill people for their father, and he’s not sure he wants to do that. Avlon says he might stick around if Arthur let him go off on his own for months at a time like Clifford does and if he didn’t have to get married until he wants to.

They talk about Leo’s decision to take the mountain man refugees into the castle. Avlon is worried that Sonya will be really angry when she finds out, but he respects Leo for doing it despite the risks. Being friends with Raynar has shown him that the way people in the Vale treat the mountain men isn’t right, and he’d like to change that. He and Leo brainstorm and Avlon comes to the conclusion that he could form his own version of the Night’s Watch in the Vale (the Bay Watch?) to change their relations with the mountain men for the better. He could also take a trip to the Wall just to see how the Night’s Watch operates before he makes a final decision. Newly energized, Avlon grabs his bow and races off to join in the archery competition after all.

Next time: Rebekka and Meera do Day 4, Action 1; Leo and Ysabel do Day 4, Action 2

SESSION 25 (1/21/18)
Episode 12: The Tragedy of Harrenhal

It’s time for the melee! Leo, Elbert Arryn, Mandon Moore, Yohn Royce, Jaspar Redfort, Vardis Egan, and Shawn Templeton form the Arryn team, The Falconmen. They must face off against the Royal Targaryen Company in one of the first melees of the day. The Tully team has already lost their match and all but the Blackfish are injured (the latter just looks pissed at his weak team). Leo’s opponent is Richard Lonmouth, the former squire to the prince. Mandon Moore laughs derisively at seeing Leo take on someone so out of his league.

Leo starts things with a nice blow, breaking one of the wings off Lonmouth’s dragon helm. Lonmouth retaliates, but the blow is weaker than expected due to surprise. Leo follows up with a shield bash to Lonmouth’s face. The shaken Lonmouth can’t even get through Leo’s defenses this time. Leo bashes Lonmouth on the top of the head with the hilt of his sword. Lonmouth says Leo’s not bad for someone from a “bastard line” and drives the point of his shield into Leo’s arm to wound him. But Lonmouth has already sustained several wounds himself. With another clever use of his shield, Leo finishes Lonmouth with a jab right to the chest. Lonmouth goes down coughing blood, but he’ll live. Mandon Moore actually nods at Leo before finishing off his opponent (John Connington). And the Falconmen are victorious!

After the fight, Leo helps the on-call maester remove Lonmouth’s damaged armor. Lonmouth compliments him and they shake hands. When no one is in earshot, Lonmouth comments he’s glad Leo is on “our side” and says he looks forward to working with him this week. (reward: +1B for one future non-tournament fight)

Rebekka disguises herself as a simple servant and joins those collecting spent arrows after a round of the archery tourney, aiming to collect some Frey arrows to frame them for the impending murder. She notices Idwell, her fiancee, collecting arrows as well, but he doesn’t seem to notice her. She also spots someone vaguely familiar… she thinks it might be Leona Frey, one of those she ran into with Idwell in Gulltown and who was almost assassinated. She’s disguised extremely well and looks to be collecting arrows as well. And Avlon is here competing in the same field as Leona; she may be collecting his arrows. In fact, Rebekka realizes Leona is deliberately collecting Slagathor, Redwood, and other Vale house arrows. She tries to follow Leona once she’s got some Frey arrows for her plans, but Leona gets away. Rebekka reports this to Lord Arthur, who will spread the information to our allies. As for Avlon, he handily wins his archery duel against Lord Hornwood (+1B to a future non-tourney combat).

Ysabel decides to keep working the Greyjoys. She made a very good impression with Harris Harlaw at the dance and wants to use him as her way in. She finds him watching the mummer’s competition. The Old Man Rivers (very religious and traditional) vs. Christie’s Many Oh-so-many Mysteries (a murder mystery, one of Harris’ favorites). He greets Ysabel warmly when she arrives and invites her to watch with him. They both agree the religious one was boring. The murder mystery involves a group of lords traveling together, one of them being murdered, and the other lords trying to frame each other for it until they finally discover the real murderer was hiding in the basement of the inn they stayed at all along. Harris is very impressed when Ysabel is able to guess the true murderer and he isn’t, so he invites her to join him with some friends afterwards.

Ysabel realizes that Cassie Egan, who she met at the Eyrie, is also vying for Harris’ attention. His father, Lord Harlaw, eventually joins them. Ysabel, knowing Lord Harlaw is a purveyor of fine coffee, has Jayne bring the whole group some nice coffee that’s just to his taste. He’s quite impressed as she explains it’s a rare blend from the island of Timonia; he hasn’t been there in quite a while and feels quite nostalgic about it. He hasn’t been there in a while since the Ironborn raids gave them a bad reputation. Harris brings up how they Ironborn should change their rep and join Westeros in many ways, like getting maesters. After some chatting and some good coffee, Ysabel is quite well-liked by everyone in House Harlaw.

Maester Meera is required to go to the maester conclave that afternoon. She sits with her friends and allies while each side makes a speech supporting their position. She knows from Rebekka’s findings that Senescial Ryam has been paid off by the Lannisters to support the “do nothing” plan. After the speeches, Meera tries to convince her friend Tarwyn first (Solution 1) and easily wins him over to 3 after promising to play chess with him some evening this week. She also wins over Helliwag (2>3), though he does bring up the question of how to decide who gets a maester in Essos since they don’t have the same system of nobility. Meera says she believes anyone who can support a maester should get one, regardless of their status; everyone needs healing and teaching.

Ysabel gets Harris to invite her in to the castle that evening, much to Cassie’s jealousy. Robert Baratheon is enjoying drink and female company and is easy enough to approach. Ysabel tries to take his attention by dancing with Harris and then swapping partners to Robert. They chat about the tourney and Robert mocks his brother Stannis, who isn’t even here. Robert boasts he’ll win the joust and reap many sweet rewards. Ysabel tries to find out his hobbies and then asks his opinion on the king. Robert openly and recklessly mocks the king, who is in the same room, and says the king got into trouble because he couldn’t defend himself (unlike Rhaegar, who is one of Robert’s great rivals). Robert agrees that Rhaegar would make a better king than his father and Ysabel convinces him he should become better friends with him. Their talk is interrupted when Cassie “accidentally” spills red wine all down Ysabel’s dress. Robert offers to escort her to his room in the castle to help her clean up.

In the room, Robert starts taking Ysabel’s dress off her for cleaning. His intentions are clear. But just as Ysabel is trying to figure out how to get out of this – hoping to get him drunk enough he doesn’t remember what they actually did – some of Robert’s stormlands buddies burst in and drag him off to see something at the party. Ysabel gets a new dress from a servant and returns to the party.

Leo pals around with Lonmouth, who is doing a bar crawl around the camp (tent crawl?). Some of Lonmouth’s teammates are disgruntled about drinking with the guy who beat them, but Lonmouth convinces them Leo’s all right. They chat about this and that and become buds that night. Leo comes to realize that Lonmouth is quite intelligent, so Leo brings up the SWORD program. Lonmouth finds it fascinating and is quite impressed. Leo offers to introduce him to Ysabel so they can talk about trade routes and such. Lonmouth speaks highly of the prince and says Mandon Moore and Leo might both be kingsguard material someday. Richard Lonmouth (the “knight of skull and kisses”), a minor noble from House Horpe, and Selwyn Tarth become quite friendly with Leo by night’s end.

After Lonmouth leaves, Mandon Moore and his cronies burst in, quite drunk. Moore boasts about taking down two guys in that fight and how he’s the one carrying this team. Leo just agrees with him to pacify the drunk knight, and Moore eventually gets bored and swaggers out. Trystan Bloodhand then approaches Leo and asks how he can help. Leo tells him to just follow his lead, not wanting to speak of the plans in public. Trystan assures him the Bloodhands have our back and hints that they also have something in the works to increase the status of the Raven Five and the anti-pirate coalition.

Rebekka talks it over with Meera and decides to tell Idwell of the plot to kill Howland Reed. Over fried fish in Idwell’s tent, when no one is listening, she quietly fills him in. He’s confused at first, but that turns to shock when she explains the reward. Rebekka breathes a huge sigh of relief when he readily agrees to the plan. Rebekka informs Idwell that she saw Leona Reed stealing Vale arrows today. Idwell turns out to have been collecting Frey arrows just like Rebekka, though he also has a collection of other house arrows as well, keeping his options open.

Idwell also mentions he has a task to do for his father during the tourney and Rebekka talks him into telling her about the “surprise”. Idwell shows her a vial of potent poison (cost several dozen gold dragons in Gulltown) and says he’s been tasked with killing someone who has been detrimental to both their houses— Viktor Grafton. Rebekka says that’s not a good idea. Idwell points out the coalition was formed to counter the Graftons as much as the pirates. Choosing her words carefully, Rebekka says the Slagathors are actually working with the Graftons right now. She wrings her hands and says their fathers need to talk immediately.

Meera goes to find Maester Bran of House Tarth. She easily convinces him to change his vote for the conclave (2>3), as well as some other maesters listening nearby. He invites her to his tent to give her some wine for Lord Slagathor. After he’s sent the servants away, he pours her some to taste. She gets right to the point and asks about Robert Baratheon. Robert has spent most of his time in the Vale rather than the Stormlands and isn’t close to either of his brothers. Robert might leave if he heard Stannis was dead or dying, but he’d only believe that if Maester Cressen said so. Cressen is renowned for being honorable and loyalty. Bran suggests making sure Robert doesn’t make it to the last rounds of the joust and leaves early so he doesn’t attend or even know about the great conclave. It would be nearly impossible to poison him in such a way that the dozens of maesters here couldn’t cure it. Finally, they decide the best way would be to get Robert severely physically injured, potentially in a drunken brawl. Bran and Meera will brainstorm who to use for this brawl, and that needs to be instigated ASAP. Bran gives Meera a bottle of wine to take back for Lord Arthur and she gently rebuffs Bran’s advances.

Leo starts the third day with another training session with Tiberius the Tall to prepare for the melee (gains doubled defense for first round again). Marcus Felix compliments Leo on yesterday’s performance and encourages him for today. MF is also on the lookout for a girl and has his eyes on a certain one but won’t say which. Tiberius informs them that their brother Avlon did well in archery yesterday.

Rebekka attends the meeting between Lord Arthur and Lord Tolbert Bloodhand (Idwell is also there). Arthur explains part of the situation to the incredulous Tolbert, saying only that it’s advantageous to ally with the Graftons right now. When pressed as to who the real opponent is, Arthur explains in full— how we and the Graftons are backing the prince. Tolbert considers this and decides this plan could help our families. Tolbert hints that he has a new secret plan, but he eventually spills the beans when Arthur and Rebekka and even Idwell press him to tell.

Tolbert mentions how no one has seen the Crowmores in a while. He mentions how the Crowmores had a secret prison under their castle where they performed experiments. They’d been working on creating wildfyre of their own. Around a month ago, the Crowmores both died on the road (Rebekka looks at Idwell; he looks away). They left their castle to the Bloodhands in their will; they had not yet had time to adopt a child. The Bloodhands brought some wildfyre here in Grafton-marked barrels. Tolbert’s new plan is to modify his tools, murder Elbert Arryn, and frame Jon Arryn for taking revenge and murdering other lords with wildfyre in retaliation. This would lead to unpredictable casualties, but if the plot led to the deaths of some of the other major houses of the Vale, if could also mean big status promotions for the Raven Four. ((DECISION ON HOLD; MUST HAVE AN ANSWER BY THE 28TH))

Ysabel asks Elbert Arryn about getting an audience with Lyanna Stark. Elbert is confused as to why she would make such a request, so Ysabel makes something up about wanting to give her advice about marriage, woman to woman. Elbert agrees to get her an invitation to a “ladies only” get-together Lyanna is having this evening (Action 3).

Meera decides she needs to convince Maester Esteva to join her side without further delay. She meets her leaving House Waynwood’s tent; apparently Esteva has been trying to convince Tywinna to vote for Option 2 instead of 3. Esteva believes security is key at the moment due to the troubled times. Meera counters that focusing on our own security would change the nature of the maesters; rather than close our light in a steel lantern, we need to spread it to other lands. Esteva says the LoL people will force us to adapt who we are, so we might as well change ourselves first. Meera says adapting by giving in to fear is still doing what the cultists want; we need to spread our word instead, on our own terms. Esteva gives in and goes so far as to return to Tywinna’s tent to say she changed her mind.

Leo’s team goes in for their second bout of melee. His team is now against the Warriors of Light, all Stormlands houses. Mandon Moore will be fighting Robert Baratheon himself. Leo squares off against Selwyn Tarth, who he was drinking with last night with Lonmouth. Leo has some fans in the crowd this time, though Robert is still getting the most attention. The first exchange goes firmly in Leo’s favor, then he takes some damage in the second. In the third, Leo defeats Selwyn Tarth in time to see Mandon Moore defeat Robert Baratheon in combat. Robert is treating all this as a warm-up for the joust. He brings his warhammer down on Moore’s hand at one point, probably breaking it. The enraged Moore throws dirt in Robert’s eyes, elbows him in the crotch, spits in his eye, and whacks Robert in the head with Robert’s own warhammer that was dropped during the crotch hit. The Baratheon stag helmet breaks into pieces. With Robert on the ground, Moore spits on his again, slams the hammer down on Robert’s sword arm, drops the hammer on him, and crows his victory. The crowd looks on in shock, but none so much as Elbert Arryn, who stares in utter horror.

Ysabel is watching the melee today ((OOC: Katya burned a destiny point to make Mandon Moore defeat Robert in a vicious and humiliating way). In the crowd, she speaks with Balor Blacktyde of the Iron Islands, who asks her opinion of his people. (Jaspar Redfort, down in the melee, congratulates Leo on his sister schmoozing with the Greyjoys as requested.) Ysabel speaks of her preconceptions and how her views have changed. Balor mentions how the Drowned God speaks to him, unlike the Seven, but the Iron Islanders have learned much from the others in Westeros. He says he supports the current lord, who wants a rapprochement with Westeros.

She mentions to Balor how we’ve been forming an anti-pirate coalition in the wake of numerous pirate attacks, one of which severely threatened her life. He’s impressed when she shows him her life-threatening scar and the efforts we’ve made with the coalition and says it would be good to have her speak of this with Lord Greyjoy. As they’re discussing how to go about that, Lord Euron Greyjoy comes over and mocks Balor for his clothes and company. He dismisses Ysabel after handing her a paper with directions to his tent, but when she mentions her name he mentions drinking with Gabool a year or two ago and how nothing enrages Gabool as much as mentioning the name Slagathor. Ysabel takes a flask from Euron and chugs it, to Balor’s alarm (and Leo’s, who sees from the field). She very quickly becomes tipsy but manages to stay on her feet. As she staggers from the stadium, she runs into Cassie and Harris. Cassie mocks her for being drunk so early in the day. Ysabel responds by belching in her face. Harris just finds this all very funny, to Cassie’s increasing annoyance. Leo quickly catches up with Ysabel and escorts her back to the tent for medical attention. Meanwhile, the Order of the Stick, the Grey Company, and the Prickly Pears also lose their bouts today.

Rebekka spends the afternoon scoping out potential locations where tonight’s assassination of Howland Reed could take place. (+1b to hide and +1b to flee during Howland Reed murder attempt)

Meera goes looking for Maester Cressen (House Baratheon) to try and change his vote. She finds him in the main maester tent, where he and other maesters are updating maps of Westeros. Meera points out they need to add the new Bloodhand/Crowmore road in the Vale. Eventually Cressen says he’s getting lunch and Meera goes with him. He comes from a minor noble family in the Grainlands (Tyrells) and is familiar with the coast and rain. He’s still sad about the deaths of his lord and lady (Robert’s parents) and hopes Robert is having a good time with the tournament and not defeating his opponents too soundly.

Meera asks why he supports Option 1. He doesn’t think we need to make long-term changes like 2 or 3. We don’t have to rush. Meera counters with what she’s seen and experienced herself. He’s sympathetic, but still doesn’t believe the crisis is such that we should change who we are yet. Meera brings up how spreading our influence would help not only with this, but also with preventing future issues and increasing knowledge. Cressen is worried about what such change might mean for us— how it might change us in unforeseen ways. Meera says change is inevitable and we as maesters shouldn’t fear it. While she and Cressen have a good talk and gain respect for each other, neither can convince the other to change their mind.

Avlon duels Robin Frey in the archery tournament. It’s a close call, but Avlon wins a second round. The Frey breaks his bow in frustration and storms away. A member of the Night’s Watch approaches Avlon and commends him on his skills…

NEXT TIME: Day 3, Action 3

The original Bloodhand plan is as follows (from Michael):

The Bloodhands would have assassinated Viktor Grafton with a rare poison acquired via shady merchants after Episode 1, making the deal for the poison during Episode 1 (this is what Tolbert’s wife has been up to, acquiring the poison). With Viktor dead, the Graftons would have been enraged, and likely blamed many people. However, most of the people they would blamed would have alibis, since they didn’t actually do it (i.e. the Slagathors). This happens on Day 3. During Day 4 thru 6, the Bloodhands would read the situation, spread rumors, and allow the Graftons to identify who they think was the culprit. For this test example, let’s say they think it was the Freys who were responsible. Between Day 6 and 7, at night, the wildfire acquired from the Crowmores would have the emblem of the Graftons put on it and be used against whomever the Graftons disliked the most. This would cause such a scandal that the Graftons would have to be replaced/executed for their crime (the King is currently known, after all, for executing a lot of people and probably would not like this event ruined by anyone). With the Slgathors leading the Coalition, they would be the natural choice to replace the Graftons as lords of Gulltown, not only because of growing influence, but because of blood (due to Arthur’s marriage.).

The new, changed, proposed plan is mostly the same above, expect replace the Graftons with the Arryns, and being more flexible with whom the wildfire impacts. The family being inflicted with Wildfire does not matter. What does matter is that everyone “knows” who did it.

SESSION 24 (12/3/17)
Episode 12: The Tragedy of Harrenhal

The Slagathors get dressed for the party and head for the main castle (Geena is EXTREMELY trendy). Even some of the servants and soldiers are allowed to join in for the welcoming feast. As we get in line, we’re told we’ll have to wait— the king and his retinue have just arrived and need about an hour to file in.

Meera spots her old friend Maester Tarwyn. He approaches her with someone she doesn’t know and the old friends greet each other warmly. Tarwyn introduces Maester Qyburn of the Citadel (who still has his chain). They talk about the maester conclave that will happen during the tournament. There are three main solutions proposed: 1) do basically nothing, 2) create an order of maester knights, or 3) spread the maester order to Essos. Qyburn mentions wanting to speak with Meera this week about the Lord of Light people; she says she’d be happy to talk to him as soon as possible, even later tonight during the feast.

While we’re waiting, Meera has a quiet talk with Rebekka and fills her in. She asks her to investigate any maesters she can to help Meera figure out where people stand and why. Meera proposes prioritizing the Seneschal and the others who came from the Citadel first. Rebekka agrees to help and will sneak away at the first opportunity.

There are thousands of people in the great hall already when we enter and it’s continuing to fill. The house band is playing and there’s plenty of dancing space. Even the servants are eating rich, expensive food and drinking coffee, which not everyone is familiar with; Jayne takes it upon herself to take cream and sugar around and teach these Westerosi how to drink it. Leo asks Jayne to bring some for him and his wife.

An older, handsome man with a warrior’s physique approaches Ysabel. He is Donnel Swann, the heir of House Swann, and asks to dance with her. They make small talk while they dance. Swann has a good relationship with the Arryns and doesn’t know much about the Graftons or the intricacies of Vale politics. Lord Sunderland is the next one to dance with Ysabel, and so on.

Ysabel decides to focus on chatting with lords from the Iron Islands to find out what they think of the prince (they’re not so hard to get dances with since most noble ladies tend to avoid them). She chats with Harris Harlaw, heir of the house, who seems quite nice and reasonable. He’s nicknamed “The knight of grey garden”. He says there are two main Iron Islander factions: some support the current leader, who wants to become closer to Westeros, but others want to return to full piracy. The Harlaws support the former. In fact, they’re hoping to pick up a maester while they’re here. Ysabel mentions her maester has saved her life and says she’ll put in a good word for the Harlaws. Harris ends with a very favorable impression of her. He might even be able to get her an audience with the Greyjoys at some point. He is quite interested in the SWORD reading program and further development.

Ysabel and Geena both dance quite well. Nina struggles for a bit before giving up. Leo dances respectably well and doesn’t disgrace Sonya; Marcus Felix is about the same. The dance is how information and rumors are spread from person to person. Maesters do not dance. Ned Stark is dancing with Ashara Dayne, widely considered one of the most beautiful women in Westeros. Mandon Moore is busy drinking. Kevan Lannister has people to talk business with. Robert Baratheon is shyly watching Lyanna Stark. Stannis is not here.

The king, as mentioned, is present, and it’s the first time most people have seen the reclusive monarch. He has a throne and crown, but his appearance is shocking. His skin is grey and thin, his hair unkempt, his nails long and ragged— he looks awful, like a diseased beggar. Sitting at his side is the prince, one of the most handsome men in Westeros. He’s in the prime of life and looks absolutely regal, though bored.

Mandon Moore approaches Leo and taunts him about his fighting style. He warns Leo he’d better fight better than at the Eyrie or else drop out right now. Moore threatens that Leo will pay if he causes the Arryn team to lose. Lord Yohn Royce is nearby, so Leo greets him in turn. They chat about the melee (Royce will be on the Arryn team as well). Leo says he’ll try ax-throwing and Royce says he’d like to try the Game of Thrones card game.

Meanwhile, Rebekka is doing the sneaky-sneak. She expertly disguises herself as a simple pageboy and walks right into the maester area where the Seneschal and the other Citadel and Hightower maesters are quartered. The maesters brought their own pageboys (trainee maesters) to run errands and deliver messages. Rebekka snags an empty message tube from Meera’s stuff and tells a page she needs to deliver a message to the Seneschal. The page directs her to the tent in question, which is guarded by the maester’s personal pageboy. She observes the tent for a while and sees the bored-looking pageboy with a box for messages as well as two Hightower soldiers.

Rebekka masterfully sneaks into the Seneschal’s tent. His quarters are filled with books and tools and everything you could imagine a maester having, all of very high quality. She scopes out hiding places first in case she has to duck out of sight. She’s unable to get the first drawer open and notices the drawers are actually trapped and will make noise if not opened the right way. The second drawer opens for her and she’s able to study the innovative trap within. It contains correspondence dealing with recent events; each letter is sealed. She starts opening messages. The first few are boring matters regarding catering and other details. Some are disciplinary or warning letters, including one to Qyburn, who was reprimanded for experimenting on dead bodies. There’s a letter addressed to Meera, half-written, asking to discuss the details of Maester Katern’s death. Another is an unfinished letter to Tywin Lannister; it mentions a Lannister gift to to the Citadel and promises that the maesters will stay neutral when “the issue” is presented at Harrenhal.

She hears a guard coming at that point and easily hides in time. She tries for the third drawer, but unfortunately the trap is triggered this time. The dagger jabs her hand and the bell goes off. She grabs the first few things on top in that drawer and slides out of the tent just in time to avoid being spotted. She then slips on some gloves to hide the bleeding and tries to sneak off. It takes a long time for the frantic activity to calm down, especially with the maester afterparty (and caterer cooking competition) being set up. But she is able to get away without being seen or caught.

Back at the feast, the maesters are all sitting off in their own area rather than with their houses. Many quickly return to deal with their own houses after a while. Meera is easily able to sidle up to Targon after a while. She very quietly tells him the news about the Arryn plan and, anticipating his reaction, covers for him by loudly talking about trivial matters like caterers and getting other maesters arguing. Targon tells her not to act for now and starts a message chain to tell the Graftons ASAP.

A member of House Lynderly (the master of arms) tells Meera that Maester Esteva wants to speak with her immediately. He leads her out of the hall and up some stairs. He doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. She climbs a tall, ruined tower alone into a room of rotting furniture where Esteva waits. They speak alone.

Esteva tells her House Lynderly (which she represents) is all in on the Grafton plot and she knows we are too. Meera acknowledges this. Esteva says we have an order from the Graftons: we must do everything we can to get Robert Baratheon to leave Harrenhal before the kingsmoot is called. If Robert leaves, his uncle Lord Estermont, who is a good man, would vote in his place. The best thing would be to get Estermont to leave as well and hopefully get a different representative to cast the Baratheon vote, someone who could be convinced to support our plan instead (Lord Lonmouth, the third in line to vote, is involved in our plotting already). Meera is skeptical about this plan, but Esteva points out that the Arryns and Starks could be planning to use Robert’s upcoming engagement to Lyanna as leverage to get Robert to vote in favor of his own kingship (even if he might not want to actually be king). Meera wonders if we might be able to convince Robert to leave Harrenhal with Lyanna on some romantic trip.

As for the Graftons and the rest of the plotters, they’ll be trying to recruit the Greyjoys. They’re planning on joining the pirate fleet to the Iron Islanders to attack the Summer Isles and get involved in the civil war there. It’s located a few months’ journey from Westeros and would provide a convenient way to get the pirates out of our hair. The Lannisters may be a lost cause, but they will be trying to get their vote as well.

Before returning to the party, Meera briefly mentions the upcoming maester conclave and why she feels that bringing in new blood (expanding to Essos) would be better for the maesters than shedding blood (forming a band of warrior maesters). Esteva is not yet convinced, but Meera is persuasive enough that it will help her in their next argument (+1d to next intrigue combat with Esteva).

Leo approaches Robert Baratheon, who gets him to drink something really strong (Leo does fine with it). Mandon Moore chugs the same drink effortlessly just to show off and his henchmen (Crabbe and Goyle) cheer and smash glasses in celebration. Leo notices Robert has been watching Lyanna, who is at the Start table looking bored, and tries to get Robert to go ask her to dance. Mandon Moore makes fun of Robert to try and discourage him. Eventually Robert finds his courage and gets Lyanna to dance. The Grafton house band (the Game of Scones) is now playing while the servants hand out scones. Moore is irritated at his loss and tries to dance with Lyanna next, but she pushes him away. Leo can tell that Robert is deeply in love but Lyanna is just being polite.

Ysabel opts to try and reach some Tullys. With some skillful dancing, she makes her way to Lord Hoster Tully. She introduces herself and they make pleasant conversation about the Arryns and the Vale. He’s friendly enough, though tired after a long night of dancing. Hoster considers Lord Arryn a good and loyal friend to have. They discuss piracy and lack of leadership from the crown, though Hoster skirts the latter issue. She compliments his daughters and commiserates the loss of his wife. When Ysabel mentions the possibility of him remarrying, she can tell he considers her house to be beneath his but would be fine with her visiting his tent at night. She hints that status can change and walks away.

Meera seeks out Qyburn when she returns to the feast. He mentions the reports she sent the Citadel about the strange powers Lord of Light followers possess. One of his friends has captured a shepherd alive and he invites Meera to join him in the interrogation. Meera doesn’t care how the shepherd was captured; these people are murderers and she’s seen what they can do. Qyburn talks about the possibility of magic existing, even bringing people back from the dead. He wants to know how these people get their powers, if indeed they have them. Meera is open to all of these ideas and doesn’t discount anything on principle, which pleases Qyburn. She says she can’t promise she’ll participate, but she would like to observe as long as absolute secrecy is ensured. Qyburn agrees and says he’ll see her at his tent later this week.

Marcus Felix spends the feast drinking and hanging out with the Dornish ladies. Lord Arthur speaks to many people, Geena dances with everyone, and Nina has a thoroughly miserable time. Jamie is named a kingsguard at the end of the feast and the king immediately orders him to return to King’s Landing. Jamie does a good job of hiding it, but he’s clearly not happy to be forced to miss the tourney for no reason.

Rebekka looks over the documents she took. They all look to be various financial documents. Of particular note are the Seneschal’s personal finances, which reveal that he is in debt to someone in Oldtown for about 50 gold. This is the debt that the Lannisters are offering to pay in exchange for maester neutrality in a certain matter (but which matter, we don’t yet know). Rebekka binds her wound and waits for everyone else to return.

The rest of the Slagathors return to the tent and everyone is filled in on everything that was learned (Meera does not mention her talk with Qyburn). Meera tends to Rebekka’s wound. She will have a scab for two days but after that it will be fully healed.

We wonder what to do next. Various plans for dealing with the Baratheon issue are floated and shot down, including drugging or kidnapping Robert, getting him seduced by someone else, getting between him and Lyanna, getting him and Lyanna to leave on a romantic date, and many others. We have difficulty deciding exactly how to proceed with getting Robert and his uncle out of the picture.

Day 2
Leo trains with Ser Tiberius to prepare for the melee. It goes well, and Leo learns a lot about defense (armor rating doubled for the first hit he takes).

Meera goes looking for Targon to ask more questions. She has Jayne set up a meeting with him before the Conclave. We talk quietly in a pantry for a few minutes. Targon says the prince is being kept informed, but he’s closely watched by his father. Rhaegar’s former squire, a Lonmouth, is close friends with the prince and has been the Grafton go-between. Meera proposes having Rhaegar speak with Jon Arryn directly. Targon doesn’t see that working; he thinks Jon Arryn is too power-hungry. Plus, having the Arryns neutralized without being executed does nothing to increase Grafton power.

Gradually, Meera realizes that the Graftons haven’t actually told the prince anything about what we told them last night yet. She states in no uncertain terms that we have to tell the prince if things go south; only he has the power to salvage things if we can’t. The Graftons want to fix things themselves if possible, of course. But Meera makes Targon promise to get the prince informed about all of this by the evening of the sixth day if the conflict is not resolved by then. Targon isn’t sure he could convince the Graftons to go along with this, but Meera says she’ll help him get it done. Better to have the whole thing called off for now than risk a much worse outcome.

Targon recommends Meera speak with Esteva about further matters, but he also recommends talking to Maester Bran of House Tarth. He is involved with the Grafton plans and could tell us about affairs in the Stormlands to help deal with Robert.

Before parting, Targon mentions the Seneschal was not the only one robbed last night. Valyria of House Hightower, Jacob of House Bracken, Zelda of House Dustin, and Sean of House Spicer all claimed to have been robbed as well. He warns Meera not to write anything down. Meera briefly brings up the matter of the vote at the maester conclave and she and Targon agree to do what they can to win that as well.

Lord Arthur takes Ysabel and Rebekka to meet Alundra Reed, as she requested. Alundra is 17 and unmarried, and enters the Slagathor tent in unmarked robes to disguise her presence. They greet each other formally. She gets right to the point and says the lord and lady of House Reed are sick and may not last much longer. She thinks their heir, Howland, is weak in every way and not fit to lead. The Reeds have been rather isolated for centuries, but Alundra doesn’t think that can work anymore. She wants the Reeds to set aside their precious First Man blood and rejoin Westeros properly.

If something happens to Howland, Perry, Henry, and herself would be the three potential heirs to the main Reed family. If Alundra were to take over the main house, it would leave her branch house without a head. She could see one of the many Slagathor children taking over that branch Reed house (at Castle Darkwillow) and repairing our relationship. She would expect whoever took over Darkwillow would be loyal to her.

Alundra mentions she’s been meeting with some minor lords who want to impress her. She let slip to them that putting Howland Reed in his place would do the trick. As such, she expects these nobles to find Howland during the tourney and beat him up. As long as one of the Slagathors is there to finish the job, she’ll make one of us Reeds once again and put them in charge of Darkwillow and the branch family. Arthur asks why she thinks we’re capable of such a thing. Alundra says every house has their methods. She wants this shared secret to bind us to each other and create loyalty.

Rebekka believes Alundra is sincere in her offer, but the bastard is still conflicted about the prospect of murdering someone in cold blood. After some thought, she decides to do it. Arthur lays out the conditions to Alundra: Rebekka will perform the assassination and she is the one to be named heir of Darkwillow. Alundra is skeptical of the choice of heir, but they convince her. She shakes hands with all three Slagathors. When she gets to Rebekka, she says this plan will make them cousins. Rebekka considers stealing an arrow with Frey markings to use that to frame them for the assassination (she could steal one after one of the archery tourneys). Alundra will try to help arrange the assassination and tip us off on where to be.

NEXT TIME: Day 2, Action 2

SESSION 23 (11/12/17)
Episode 12: The Tragedy of Harrenhal

Going to Harrenhal: Lord Arthur, Marcus Felix, Leo, Ysabel, Avlon, Nina, Geena, Rebekka, Maester Meera, Jayne, Tiberius the Tall

Staying home at the Teeth: Clifford, Rupert, Raynar, all bastards besides Rebekka, Sam

Lord Arthur eventually picks up everyone with the Slagathor fleet and his archers, traveling from the Teeth to Gulltown to Wickendon. Raynar is sent back to the Teeth with a small contingent of soldiers. At Wickendon, the Redwoods soon arrive with Leo to hitch a ride on the Slagathor ships. The Bloodhands also join their fleet with ours at Wickendon. Rebekka’s fiancee Idwell is there, as well as Jessica Bloodhand, who will go live with her fiancee, Lord Redwood, after Harrenhal is done.

Houses Slagathor, Redwood, and Bloodhand sail towards Harrenhal together. We sail through the Bay of Crabs until it joins the Trident, then up the Trident to the Saltpans. Lord Arthur mentions to the family at one point that Lord Arryn asked him to bring the archers along. From the Saltpans, it’s about three days to reach Harrenhal by land (we aren’t rich or important enough to dock closer). Lord Cox, who is in charge of the Saltpans, charges all the ships an exorbitant fee to dock there, but we have no choice.

Harrenhal is the largest castle in Westeros, which is impressive to basically everyone but the Slagathors, who are used to the Teeth’s absurd size already. The castle is half-ruined by old dragon fire and surrounded by some of the richest farmland on the continent. Only two of the five towers and a third of the rooms and grounds are in usable condition. Most families live in tents pitched on the grounds. Thousands of flags wave in the fields, probably many we can’t even identify. The children are amazed at the sight, though it only makes Nina more nervous about proving herself in the painting competition.

Lord Whent, who runs Harrenhal, has given us a spot located roughly midway between the Graftons and the Arryns, with the Redwoods and Bloodhands adjacent to our plot. There’s to be a grand feast tonight to celebrate the opening ceremonies. Some notable features of Harrenhal include the largest bear pit in the land; one of the largest godswoods; and a large crystal-clear lake with an island in the middle.

Within the first hour, while we’re setting up and settling in, Maester Targon comes over and asks for a word. We send Nina, Geena, and Avlon away so they don’t hear all the plotting. The Graftons now officially tell us all their plan. Ysabel asks if Rhaegar is in on this plan. Targon says he is, and this process is the formal mechanism for changing kings without killing the old one. Targon isn’t worried about anyone else being elected king during this council; every other Targaryen is too young, and the Baratheons hardly count as royal blood; plus, Robert only drinks and carouses as he pleases. Ysabel asks why the Graftons haven’t involved more Houses in this plan, especially the Arryns, who have more power than us. Targon says having historically antagonistic houses like the Graftons and Slagathors working together would look good.

Targon explains that their plan has the added benefit of dealing with the pirates, as they would have attacked Westeros soon regardless of what anyone did. By turning the pirates elsewhere, the Grafton fleet is free to act as they please. Ysabel isn’t crazy about working with pirates or risking being accused of treason if everything falls apart, but she already pledged that the Graftons would have the support of the Slagathors, so we don’t have much choice.

Meera asks for more information on the concerns about the Tullys. Targon says the concern is that we know there’s been lots of activity, lots of ravens sent to the Tullys, and the military has been training a lot more, but we don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Any marriage between the Tully daughters and families outside the Riverlands is cause for concern. If we want to be very ambitious, we could try and push the daughter to make a more harmless marriage.

Meera asks why having the prince name his wife Queen of Harrenhal is necessary. Targon says it’s just the signal saying the plan is on and one of the great Houses (i.e. Martells or Tyrells) can call for the council to be held. If the signal isn’t given, it would mean that the prince knows of something that makes it a bad time, like if he learned his father had brought wildfire. The Graftons and their allies are hoping for a peaceful transfer of power, but we have to be ready for violence as well, just in case. The Graftons have troops hidden on their ships that can be here in a few hours (same for the Martells and Tyrells).

Leo mentions he’d like to participate in the melee and probably the group fighting too. Targon says he’ll tell Viktor in case he’s putting together a group for the melee. Leo thanks him, though he’d have to join Lord Arryn’s melee group if asked to avoid arousing suspicion. Targon says he trusts that we’ll be discreet and make the right decisions, as we have often done. Viktor’s melee group is called The Seaward Knights.

After Targon leaves, Elbert Arryn soon comes to call to share the Arryn plans with us. Officially he’s come as a representative of our liege lord to orient us for the tournament. But he tells us in confidence that they know for a fact that the king is coming with a large retinue, and both the Arryns and the king know that a council will be held. The Arryns intend to try and disrupt the council plans and put wedges between the allies working with the Graftons so there won’t be enough votes to install Rhaegar as king. Instead, they want Robert Baratheon to take the throne. Yes, he’s an impetuous drunk, but he’s young and they believe he can be molded into the position. They haven’t told Robert of this plan because they’re afraid he would screw it up somehow and spill the beans.

The Arryns aren’t worried about the Lannisters voting one way or another. Tywin isn’t coming, instead sending Kevan in his place, and while Kevan can vote during the council, they believe he’ll abstain from voting since he won’t have time to learn what Tywin would want.

Leo asks why the Arryns choose Robert over Rhaegar. Elbert says it’s because the Targaryens carry madness, and even if Rhaegar isn’t showing it now, he might within a few decades. Madness concerns the Arryns far more than drunkenness does, because they believe madness can’t be managed, while drunkenness can. Meera says there are maesters who would disagree.

Ysabel wonders what the Arryns really want out of all this. Elbert believes the northern lords have largely been ignored over the years and a better balance of power must be established. He expects this transition to be mostly peaceful; he wouldn’t be surprised if Rhaegar put up a fight. There would be risk to us, but Elbert promises reward as well. He believes his agents would be able to discover and deal with any wildfire the king might have brought. Elbert assures us he would rather the king, prince, and all of their children not be killed; the children could be given land and made into minor noble houses, for instance. But we don’t believe him. It’s quite clear to us that he would rather all the Targaryens die so as to prevent them coming back and causing trouble later. Trying to ensure the safety of the young children regardless of what happens, Meera proposes that the children, who are all younger than ten years old, be adopted into other Houses rather than made into a minor noble house of their own. This would give them a better chance at survival, even if their identities as Targaryens were lost. Elbert thinks this is a good idea and promises to bring up the idea with Lord Arryn.

Elbert mentions he is forming a melee group called the Falcon Men. Jaspar Redfort, Mandon Moore, and a few other nobles have already signed on. Leo immediately agrees to join them.

Once Elbert leaves, the Slagathors settle in to discuss matters among themselves. We ask for Lord Arthur and Marcus Felix to give their opinions first. Lord Arthur feels there are two solutions: pick one House over the other, or do the bare minimum for both to plead incompetence. MF simply supports the Grafton plan, and Ysabel agrees. Rebekka points out that staying in the middle won’t win us favor with whichever side wins. Leo says doing absolutely nothing is also an option. We could also tell the king directly about both plots, though no one favors this plan.

Leo mentions his conversations with Robert and Ned at the Eyrie. His opinion is that Robert might be able to change, but he doesn’t seem like a leader. Meera says the ideal would be convincing the Arryns to back Rhaegar. Marcus Felix says he doesn’t think Jon Arryn would ever change his mind, but we are friendly with Elbert, and if Jon Arryn were out of the way… Meera points out that we could inform the prince directly and try to push him one way or the other— either to kill Jon Arryn for treason, or to spend time with him this week to win him over.

For the voting, the eight great houses must find a majority for one candidate. If the Tyrells, Martells, Lannisters, Starks, Tullys, Arryns, Baratheons, and Greyjoys end in a tie, the current king is the tiebreaker.

Meera muses how this would all be much easier if the king were simply to die. If we can use the Grafton channel to speak with the prince and convince him to dispatch his father, it would avoid the council altogether. MF mentions we could always try to prevent the council from happening at all, which would at least avoid the issue for now, if only pushing it down the road for later. Ysabel wonders if she could win the Tully vote by offering herself in marriage to Lord Hoster Tully and maybe arranging a marriage between the Tullys and Martells.

Meera proposes simply telling Robert about the Arryn plot. The Arryn’s didn’t want him to know for fear of him blurting it out— so let him. Or tell Robert and try and get him to vote for Rhaegar since he doesn’t actually want to be king; maybe set up Rhaegar and Robert as drinking buddies during the tourney. One way or another, it may not be too hard to use Robert for our own devices, as long as we inform him of the plot in a subtle way without letting anyone know we were the ones who told him (such as have Rebekka slip him a note or spread rumors around him).

Leo is concerned about betraying our liege lord. Meera says the Arryn plan is not good for the realm. MF points out that the Arryns are a more dangerous enemy to us than the Graftons are; if they find out we betrayed them, they could seize all of our lands and strip us of all titles. Meera mentions it would be far less risk for us to simply inform the Graftons and let them take charge of the dangerous parts, like being seen approaching Rhaegar. Even so, Leo is afraid to tell the Graftons what we know for fear of being found out, even if keeping mum means having to handle everything ourselves.

Leo wants to sleep on it and decide what to do tomorrow. Meera objects, saying the longer we wait, the more time others have to act. We need to tell the Graftons what we know of the Arryn plan without delay. Rebekka says Jon Arryn is likely to be executed by the end of this if he loses, but we may be able to do something about that. If we don’t want the Arryns to lose everything, we need to get them to support the prince, and we need the prince to be willing to not execute the Arryns.

Proposed solutions:
-Marry off as many people as we can to increase our influence (i.e. Arthur, Ysabel, MF, Geena, Clifford, Avlon). (could try to set up Ysabel with Elbert Arryn, Hoster Tully)(get Lysa Tully to marry a Tyrell, maybe)
-Tell Rhaegar the plan and try to get him to have good relations with Robert.
-Try to reduce northern influence.
-Tear apart Arryn alliance where we can.
-tell Robert of the plot; maybe let him sabotage himself
-minimize current king’s involvement no matter what
-talk to Kevan to try and win Lannisters over
-get Jon Arryn to be Hand to Rhaegar (or at least on council)
-ok with telling Graftons ASAP
-tell the Graftons and have them pass it on to the prince.
-Try to get Arryns to support Rhaegar and lessen Robert’s appeal as king.
-Try to minimize Slagathor involvement/footprint to avoid retribution.
-Try to make sure Arryns aren’t punished too much
-ok with telling Graftons ASAP
-tell the Graftons and Rhaegar (have Graftons tell Rhaegar)
-try to spare the Arryns however we can
-use Robert for our own ends (either have him sabotage himself or get him to be good buddies with Rhaegar and back him)
-minimize Slag footprint
-win over the Greyjoys by using the Grafton-controlled pirate fleet; set up the pirates to be ambushed and destroyed, win Greyjoy favor
-try to get Jon to support Rhaegar (have him spend time with Rhaegar)
-kill the King? If Rhaegar killed his father, would be no need for a council. Or arrange an “accident” with wildfire
-tell Graftons ASAP
-tell the Graftons and Rhaegar (ideally we would tell Rhaegar ourselves)
-get Robert to sabotage himself
-minimize Slag footprint
-try to get Rhaegar to spare Arryns
-without telling him the Grafton plan, try to get Jon Arryn to back Rhaegar instead
-have Rhaegar and Jon Arryn talk and come to terms?
-don’t involve the Greyjoys because they’re not trustworthy
-tell Graftons ASAP

-agreed: tell Graftons ASAP (hopefully at feast)
-tell them Arryns want Robert king, king is coming, and Stark/Tully already Arryn allies
-find out how Rhaegar will be informed (in fact, how have they been talking to Rhaegar?)
-Meera tells Targon what we know, relay to Graftons
-see how Graftons react to this
-tell Graftons we want Arryns won over, not executed
-what can we offer the Graftons to include the Arryns (since they won’t gain as much if the Arryns are involved0
-Rebekka could either gather rumors through her information network OR go snooping around on her own while everyone else is at the feast
-Ysabel could start trying to woo someone? Figure out what alliances we want to forge?
-Leo could gauge how people feel about the king and how people think Westeros should go; who is a lost cause vs. a good leader; subtly persuade people to support Rhaegar?

SESSION 22 (10/29/17)
Episode 11: Any Port in a Storm

The party in Wickendon continues the investigation into the mysterious pirate attacks in the Bay of Crabs. Meera will be distracting Maester Katern while Rebekka searches his port office for incriminating information. Avlon and Raynar will be snooping at the Dancing Crab, where Rebekka discovered suspicious goings-on and a “squid ink pasta” keyword.

Meera finishes writing up her list of efficacious herbs to help Lord Waxley and goes to see Septa Bethel. She catches the septa in her room and helps her prepare herbs for the lord. While they’re working on preparing herbs, Meera brings up the issue of the pirate attacks. Bethel is sympathetic – she’s still concerned about those hurt and orphaned by the increase in attacks and agrees that it may be linked to the rise in pirate attacks seen elsewhere. As Katern doesn’t seem to care about the pirates and the lord isn’t listening to his sons, Meera asks Bethel to bring it up with the lord herself. These herbs should make the lord start feeling better quickly, so she could start by mentioning it tonight and push more tomorrow when he’s feeling better. Bethel agrees to bring up the pirate matter with the lord and do what she can to help Meera’s cause.

Avlon and Raynar dress like commoners and head to the Dancing Crab. They place their drink orders and spot the DuClaw group having a meeting in the back. The group is trying to decide whether or not to fund their own mercenaries to fight the pirates directly. McCharles, the manager of the restaurant, is watching. One of the fat merchants sends the owner, Mr. Coastman, over to speak with Avlon. Coastman acts oddly when the pair mention squid ink pasta. Avlon asks about Essosi people; Coastman says you really only see Essosi on the other side of the port, where Shark reigns. He admits there’s been a rise in pirate attacks and that DuClaw has been trying to take matters into their own hands.

While Meera goes to distract Katern, Rebekka disguises herself as a maid and heads for his office. She spots two maids heading for the maester’s tower as well and overhears them mentioning that cleaning the maester’s office is very easy because he’s tidy and keeps most things locked up. Rebekka easily tails the maids, waits until they’ve finished, and sneaks in once they’re done. Basically everything in his office is locked. She picks the locks on his desk first; it contains lots of trade documents and an odd bundle of documents written in squid ink and in code.

Meera is in Katern’s keep at the castle. She passes someone leaving his office; he looks annoyed and matches the description of Shark. As he brushes past Meera, he whispers, “Don’t forget the offer I made to your kid.” Katern looks annoyed as well. He says Shark just expects everything to go his way. Katern doesn’t like having to deal with such disreputable people, but sometimes it’s necessary. He invites Meera to sit. Meera looks questioningly at the butler, a strange man with a tattoo of a piece of parchment over one eye. Katern says he named the man Parchment because he can’t talk (due to some incident in childhood). But he can read and write well and often takes notes for Katern.

Katern brushes off talk of pirates and says the problem is overblown; things are no worse than usual. He’s frustrated by DuClaw’s activities but says he isn’t too worried. They’re merchants; they don’t want to cause too much trouble. Katern is considering raising taxes again to fund a defensive fleet. Meera suggests that Shark might be a pirate, or at least working with them. Katern says Shark is being investigated. Meera asks what someone might gain from working with the pirates. Katern proposes Shark could be getting a cut or some sort of promise for future trade.

Meera studies Katern while they speak. He’s acting like everything is under control, but it really seems like he is the one working with the pirates rather than Shark. It’s clear Katern doesn’t care one bit about the widows and orphans produced by these attacks. When Meera suggests Shark might be the culprit, Katern proposes having Willard deal with him just to be safe. Katern mentions dismissively that the pirates might be based on some of the small islands in the bay (he doesn’t know or care much about them); all he knows if that the pirates are mainly Westerosi, maybe Iron Islanders or even poor people from Wickendon.

Looking to buy more time for Rebekka, Meera asks to examine Parchment and determine the cause of his condition. The butler seems afraid, but Meera can tell it’s all an act. She offers him coin, but still he refuses, going to far as to back away from her. Katern brushes off Meera’s attempts to stall further and he and his servant leave after suggesting Meera go have a chat with Willard, who has just returned from Essos.

Avlon and Raynar ask more detailed questions about squid ink pasta. Coastman says they don’t serve it often and his face goes pale when the pair mention the maester ordering it. He hastily ushers them into a fancy back room to keep them distracted.

Rebekka searches for a cypher book to help with the code; there is none in his desk, so she goes picking the locks on the cabinets. In total, she finds 5 cypher books hidden away. Now she sees that the papers use different codes. Rather than bother deciphering anything there, Rebekka takes the 5 cyphers, the bundle of coded papers, and the papers on trade relations. She goes ahead and steals the 51 gold dragons from his safe as well to make it look like a standard robbery, then scatters his papers and trashes the place for good measure. Moving quietly and checking for pursuit, she returns to the Slagathor living quarters undetected.

Maester Meera returns to the living quarters just as Rebekka is deciphering the documents; she locks the door and joins her to help. One of them is the recipe for squid ink pasta, but the rest are correspondence between Coastman and Katern (McCharles is sometimes mentioned as a middle man). Coastman has been using some of his shipping fleet for piracy, attacking other merchants to cause unrest. The plan is to do this for a few months, then have Katern raise taxes, send out the fleet, and “destroy” the fleet. Katern will then keep taxes high to gain more revenue and Coastman will get the right to renovate part of the port. Coastman will be granted most of Shark’s property and Shark will be set up as the fall guy.

In their back room, Avlon and Raynar overhear Coastman and McCharles arguing about something in the alleyway nearby (they can’t hear exactly what). The pair decide it’s time to leave. There’s one door (back into the restaurant) and two small windows. They start shimmying out a window. Avlon gets out easily; Raynar hangs back long enough to hear one of the men stabbing the other repeatedly, though they don’t know which it is. Avlon yanks Raynar out the rest of the way and they flee the scene. Raynar the mountain man hides easily, but Avlon isn’t as good at it. Luckily, Raynar’s guidance keeps them from being discovered immediately.

Seeing men from the restaurant searching for them and watching the main road up to the castle, they fugitives take a different tack. They steal a couple of dresses from a clothesline and disguise themselves. The guards are fooled and allow the “women” to leave, and from there they make it to the Slagathor quarters without issue.

The boys mention Coastman and McCharles having a falling out and one of them stabbing the other, though they don’t know which did what. Meera and Rebekka fill them in on what they’ve learned and who the conspirators are. We wonder if one of the men at the restaurant got cold feet when the pressure got bad. We decide to press our advantage and go see Welbert tonight, before Katern can react.

Meera and Avlon go to speak with Welbert, along with a handful of Slagathor guards (Rebekka and Raynar disguised among them). We head to the keep, passing the maester’s darkened keep. Welbert is waiting alone, so Meera and Avlon meet with him and have the rest wait outside. Meera says we know who’s been working with the pirates, and we have proof. He seems surprised, interested, and calculating. Avlon and Meera explain what they know. As for where the documents came from, Meera lies that someone in town anonymously helped us by leaving us the documents.

Welbert looks for ways to use this for his plot to kill his father. He’d like to frame Katern (instead of Bethel) for killing his father if possible. Welbert could use the garrison he commands to put Katern under house arrest and capture the merchants involved to question them. Meera mentions her suspicions about Parchment (what is he hiding? Is he not mute after all?). Welbert knows Parchment was found years ago and he came from Braavos.

Welbert decides to take his garrison to arrest the merchants involved. He hints that he thinks it would be more effective to kill Katern than arrest him, because the Citadel would be the ones to deal with Katern rather than the lord. Meera’s face indicates her approval to Welbert; Avlon notices this and wonders if Meera would actually have someone killed. Welbert leaves to deal with the culprits and the Slagathors retire for the evening. Rebekka hides the trade documents under a floorboard and we divide the stolen gold between Meera and Avlon. Avlon briefly discusses his suspicion about Meera with Raynar, but they decide not to do anything for now.

We are called to breakfast with the Waxleys the next morning. The lord informs us that Katern killed himself when confronted and his tower burned down. Coastman was captured and he admitted to what he had done. McCharles’ body was found and the Dancing Crab burned down. Lord Waxley asks why we went to his son and not him. Meera and Avlon mention what they witnessed (especially the murder) and how they felt time was of the essence, so they had to go directly to the soldiers to have the culprits arrested. Apparently Parchment was still able to escape.

The lord is impressed that we solved things quickly, but he’s perturbed that we didn’t go through proper channels in our investigation. He finds us very efficient and capable, but also ruthless. He’s worried that his opinions would be ignored if he did join us. He won’t join our coalition, but he would like to work together in the future. Meera tells him Wickendon is a valuable port city, both for the Vale and for all of Westeros. It’s in everyone’s best interest if their forces are ready to defend this area if the need should arise. They are now aware of the threat of imminent pirate attack. We don’t know where the pirates are likely to strike first, though a target within the Vale is likely given our proximity to Essos. Knowing that Wickendon’s forces will be prepared – that this area won’t be caught off-guard if the pirate fleet bears down on Wickendon – that will have to be enough.

Welbert asks to speak in private with Meera and Avlon after breakfast but quickly dismisses Avlon when he realizes Meera didn’t tell Avlon about the plot to kill Lord Waxley. Welbert’s wife distracts the disgruntled Avlon with gifts of watermelon and candles. Meanwhile, Welbert suggests that Harrenhal might offer another opportunity to enact his plan. Meera tells him outright that she became a healer because she watched someone close to her die an agonizing death (not mentioning that that person was her father, which she suspects wouldn’t go over well), and it’s not in her nature to inflict that herself. He thanks her for her candor and asks what she plans to do now. She assures him that she considers matters between himself and his father to be his own business; she won’t be talking.

We have a few more days in Wickendon before we get picked up to go to Harrenhal. We visit Shark at his bar and he congratulates us on our good work. All food, drink, and “extra benefits” in his bar are free as thanks. Sexy guys and girls of all types descend on the group and start making advances, even on the maester (the Essosi treat everyone the same, but the Westerosi look distinctly uncomfortable at the idea of touching a maester).

Shark gets to the point and explains that he still wants to open an office at the Teeth. As thanks for dealing with Katern, he explains that he knows Parchment to be a trained assassin who will be trying to kill Avlon Slagathor while they’re all still in town. Parchment and Katern were close; if the assassin doesn’t manage to deal with Avlon while he’s in Wickendon, he will follow him as long as it takes. He might disguise himself and stab Avlon in the back, among other methods. He’s called Parchment because he’s been known to leave a scroll on the bodies with a fake Last Will (and since it’s the local maester who decides whether or not a Will is authentic, having a partnership with the local maester has been very beneficial to Parchment). Shark doesn’t know if the assassin is actually mute, but considering Meera’s story of him shying away from being examined, the evidence points to “no”.

Shark proposes three options for dealing with this. We could hide in the castle and leave under guard, leaving no opportunity for the assassin to make his move while we’re in town. We could try using Avlon as bait and set a trap. Or we could pay Shark 25 gold dragons to take care of Parchment for us. Raynar seems to favor paying Shark, while Rebekka and Meera don’t feel that Shark is exactly trustworthy. Meera tactfully says a lord should trust his own soldiers to handle his safety. Shark lets it go for now and sends Avlon and Raynar upstairs with some girls. Rebekka and Meera stay downstairs to talk with Shark and ask about his strange, pointed teeth (apparently he files them himself).

Raynar asks Rebekka quietly if she thinks we made the right choice; we could just pay Shark to handle it. Rebekka points out we can’t trust Shark; he’ll just serve the highest bidder. We decide to disguise Raynar as Avlon and Avlon as a servant and ready an ambush for Parchment. Rebekka helps the boys disguise themselves. We go through a normal routine for a few days to make Parchment think Raynar is Avlon before setting up our ambush, making it look like “Avlon” is leaving lunch quite tipsy.

“Avlon” staggers into an alley with only one guard while the other guards and Rebekka and Meera hide nearby. A small boy runs up to “Avlon” and hands him a roll of parchment, then runs off. Raynar reads it and it contains a misspelled will signed by “Avalon Slagathor”; it says Avlon has realized the error of his ways and wants to donate everything to an orphanage. As he reads it, he suddenly starts sneezing. He drops the parchment as his hands start feeling like they’re burning.

Meera rushes into the alley when she recognizes the symptoms of wolfsbane poisoning (it was in the ink). Meera’s quick treatment stabilizes him, but it will take at least three days to eradicate the poison completely. Raynar can’t feel his hands. We regroup at the castle and decide our only option is to try using Raynar as bait again if he’s well enough to walk when we head for the boat in a few days.

The Waxleys leave for Harrenhal a day or two before Lord Arthur arrives with our ship. We space out the guards in our party a little more than is typical in order to give the assassin an opening as we march to our ship. Rebekka and our other arches lie in wait, Avlon hides among our servants, and Meera walks with the party.

Suddenly a herd of startled goats comes barreling towards us. Many of the guards get distracted, especially when something in the opposite direction explodes, but the main party notice a bow protrude from a nearby window before it fires. Raynar is struck by an arrow that nearly kills him. Rebekka returns fire, but the assassin lands another arrow in Raynar all the same. Meera steps between Raynar and the window and fires but misses completely. The real Avlon draws and sinks an arrow into Parchment’s shoulder. Raynar dives for cover behind some armored guards.

Rebekka shoots one of Parchment’s ears right off. The assassin finally decides it’s time to go and disappears from the window. Meera orders some guards to surround the building and Avlon tries to figure out where Parchment is going. Avlon spots the assassin in the basement and charges in to avenge his friend. Raynar rallies and runs after Avlon as well. Rebekka charges in. Meera orders the guards to stop Raynar and Avlon if they can and to go inside to take care of the assassin themselves. Some guards restrain Raynar while the rest rush inside to back Avlon up.

Avlon directs the guards down to the basement. The first guard falls dead with a ballista bolt through his chest. Rebekka arrives and shoots an arrow through Parchment’s upraised fist before he can activate his secret passage and escape. While he’s pinned and helpless, she walks up and puts an arrow through his eye, killing him in front of Avlon. And thus ends another assassin, dead by Rebekka’s hand.


SESSION 21 (7/23/17)
Episode 11: Any Port in a Storm

Maester Meera, Rebekka, and Avlon sail down to Wickendon. It takes only a couple of uneventful days to reach the Bay of Crabs. To those who have never left the Vale, it seems like an impressively large city. It’s built in tiers into a hillside. Rather than investing in a navy, they have many, many towers around the area with archers equipped with fire arrows. Wickendon mainly trades with Westeros rather than Essos and deals in basics like ore, lumber, etc. An enormous tower looms over the city— the home of the Silent Sisters. The smell of hot wax permeates the city from their famous beeswax candles.

A small contingent of knights meets us at the port. Meera gestures for Avlon to go down the gangplank first and follows behind him with Rebekka and Raynar (Little Lilly is watching the shadowcat kitten with the rest of her menagerie). Welbert Waxley is among those greeting us. He’s the heir, one of the best archers in the Vale, and known for his parties. He engages in idle chitchat before escorting us to the keep. (Note: We sent a message to the Waxleys about the anti-pirate coalition but did not receive a response.)

We are escorted to a waiting area. This in itself is not unusual, but the room itself is very drab, dingy and boring. The Slagathors discuss quietly amongst themselves. Meera has vaguely heard of Maester Katern, who is known for being a financial genius and for keeping out of political matters as much as possible. He doesn’t go to conclave meetings or travel. Raynar can tell this room has been used a lot of late, so there have been other meetings. Rebekka keeps an eye on Raynar, wary of the mountain man causing trouble.

The door opens and Willard Waxley, brother of Welbert, enters. He’s known for his skill in archery and jousting. Meera heard that Willard killed his opponent in a joust three years ago and married his opponent’s fiancee. His wife then died in childbirth along with the babe. Some say it was the Seven taking revenge on him for killing her first fiancee.

Willard greets us formally and takes us to the main hall, which is also small and dull. Avlon whispers to Meera that the Waxleys don’t seem to have much money. Meera informs him that Lord Waxley is very conservative with his funds. The room is cold and even chubby Lord Waxley is rubbing his hands for warmth as he greets us…

In the warehouse district in Gulltown, Jayne and Tiberius the Tall are trying to find out what the Graftons are up to. They’re looking to be hired on as day laborers so they can enter the warehouses. The pair head out to the eastern district with the morning cart. Almost all of the warehouses are very new, and they’re all built near the water; some could even have a boat sail inside. Jayne is taken to a sewing warehouse at the second stop while Tiberius is sent to the fourth stop to do some heavy lifting. The warehouses where the pair are sent are inland and not heavily guarded, but the ones by the water have many more guards and seem oddly quiet. Jayne is set to sewing sails. Tiberius is moving barrels to fish-packing areas. Each warehouse packed with food barrels could feed a fleet like the Slagathors’ for 1-2 months. There are 10 warehouses by the water and 20 inland, though we don’t know how many contain food stores.

There’s a fence between the inland and waterside warehouses. There are a few gates in it, but each is guarded and no goods are transported from the inland to waterside warehouses. Goods do occasionally travel the other way. The only people going from the inland warehouses to the waterside ones are dressed nicer than other laborers and seem more like blacksmiths and fine craftsmen.

In Wickendon, Lord Waxley watches us disinterestedly with his two sons at his side. The maester is not present. Meera confirms Lord Waxley got her letter and reminds him of the anti-pirate coalition. We present the evidence supporting an imminent pirate invasion. Lord Waxley says he has no interest in joining us and claims he forgot to let us know. Avlon’s jaws drop at this behavior. Meera and Avlon impress the urgency on him, the rumored strength of Gabool’s navy, and the underhanded tactics they’ve used. Lord Waxley isn’t especially worried; the last time pirates attacked the city, their fleet was entirely burned.

Lord Waxley reluctantly says we might be able to help him with something. He says there are rumors of pirates out in his Bay of Crabs. If we could investigate for him, he might reconsider. We are sent back to the waiting room and Avlon explodes in frustration. Welbert soon joins us and makes excuses for his father, saying he’s been under the weather. Lord Waxley apparently thinks someone working in the port is helping pirates increase their attacks in this area. The hope is that us newcomers will have an easier time investigating. Welbert asks for a favor as well— Septa Bethel has been treating his father, but Welbert isn’t sure she’s been doing her job well. Their maester is more focused on finance than healing. Welbert wants us to make sure his father is getting proper care.

In Gulltown, Ysabel needs to convince Maester Targon to trust her family. She starts by asking him for more information about wolfsbane, acting like she’s just curious. He’s surprised but informs her it’s a potent poison. He says he doesn’t deal in poisons himself, so Ysabel asks his specialty. Targon says he’s tried to be well-rounded, something that’s necessary in an important castle. He thinks Maester Katern is a fool, for one. But Targon is proud of his abilities; he raised Lord Grafton and his children without losing anyone in childbirth. Ysabel remarks on how valued and trusted he must be. Targon asks if she doesn’t trust Meera. Ysabel says she does, but Meera is more than a maester to the Slagathors. Targon says he’s well aware of the maester law Meera is breaking (i.e. maesters aren’t supposed to care about the family they serve so much). Targon thinks Ysabel has a good head on her shoulders and might make a good maester herself, but Ysabel says her tastes run too fine for that.

Targon mentions he has other business to attend to, so Ysabel gets to the point. She says she wants to apologize for not taking Meera’s advice and supporting him; she calls herself selfish for only looking out for her own family. Ysabel claims Meera sees him like a mentor and has a close relationship with him. Targon flatly asks why he should trust a family Ysabel calls “selfish” and says she’s clearly only here because she’s found out about tonight’s meeting. Ysabel says her family isn’t all selfish and she doesn’t want her prior impudence to make him see the whole family in a negative light.

Targon says there are others in Ysabel’s family who are a liability, including her father. He doesn’t take it well when she doesn’t quite understand. Ysabel says it’s not common for her to apologize, but she proposes the possibility of reparations for past slights. She says how grateful she is for the understanding Jeremy and Viktor have shown and the hope for reconciliation. Targon acknowledges that some members of the Grafton house have forgiven the Slagathors and maesters have no place maintaining grudges. But a maester also can’t ignore history; they’re the world’s record-keepers. He can’t toss aside the knowledge he has. Ysabel reminds him that he’s responsible for the history of ALL of Westeros, not simply that of the family he serves.

Targon pauses and recognizes his own accusation of bias thrown back at him. He repeats his assertion that Ysabel would make a good maester.

The party in Wickendon discusses options for investigation. Welbert tells us Maester Katern lives in one of the archery towers but has an office down in the port where he spends much of his time. Meera decides to start by speaking with the septa. Avlon and Raynar will go listen for pirate rumors in the port while Rebekka stealthily investigates the maester’s doings.

Rebekka easily finds the maester’s tower. She disguises herself as a courier and carries a letter from Meera asking to speak with him later tonight as her cover. She’s let inside without question. His office on the first floor has maps, books on finance, charts, and so on. A large Essosi man dressed in a mixture of clothing types is concluding his business there when she enters. He flashes sharklike teeth at her and leaves. The maester is a middle-aged, balding man with a sharp look to him. He vaguely remembers Meera’s name. Rebekka slides the note to him across his desk and tries to peek at his documents while she’s at it. She sees a document from a coalition of merchants in Wickendon called DuClaw. They’re asking him to take their concerns about increased pirate activity in the Bay of Crabs seriously. Katern scribbles a reply for Rebekka to take back. She claims to be from Old Tim’s Courier Service.

Rebekka starts investigating DuClaw. It was apparently only formed at the start of this spring season. People had been complaining about the high cost of doing business in Wickendon. Everyone is upset that they’ve been paying their protection fees and yet nothing is being done about the increasing pirate attacks. The merchants are worried their fees will soon increase even though the Waxleys already have enough funds to deal with the problem. The group was formed to try and press the maester for more action… but are their complaints even reaching Lord Waxley’s ears? The group’s leader is called Hawkins and his second-in-command is called Pinsir.

Raynar goes to a bar and hears complaints about “Shark’s protection fees”; he’s apparently the main driving force behind the protection fee collection. Raynar decides they need to meet with Shark. The people at the bar say “Shark finds you”. Avlon asks the guards about pirate activity, but they say the attacks never happen within city limits, so it’s not their problem. They say Shark’s been here about two years and he’s been useful. He was originally hired on as a merc and helped them catch a lot of people. Said he was kicked off an Essosi ship. He bought a house in the poor part of town and now has three. The guards say Shark knows everybody in the city. Raynar and Avlon slip the guard ten silver; he tells them to check out the Galloping Goat bar, which specializes in Essosi cuisine. He advises them not to order the pineapple. Avlon asks them to tell anyone who comes looking that he’s going to the GG.

In Gulltown, Tiberius and Jayne need to find a way into the seaside warehouses. Tiberius tries to seduce one of the female craftsmen headed that way. Jessica is a jeweler and embroiderer who has been working here about six months. She says her work isn’t all that interesting, just making sure things look good. Jessica won’t go into detail on her work, but it’s not weapon embellishments and it’s definitely something that’s meant to be seen. Most of her colleagues are goldsmiths and other fine craftsmen. Tiberius kisses her on the cheek and leaves when he sees a guard coming. The guard talks to Jessica but doesn’t pay any attention to Tiberius.

Jayne approaches an old woman walking with a cane and suggests a certain kind of tea she used in Essos to treat her master’s arthritis. The woman thanks her and says she’ll have her assistant seek Jayne out during their next break. Jayne introduces herself as Joyce and the old lady calls herself Overseer Anna Shortfield. Jayne offers to help the old woman with any duties. She sees that the old woman has a paper to let her past the guards, but taking it seems pointless. Jayne and Tiberius meet up quietly and Tiberius thinks they’re putting the finishing touches on ships in there. Jayne points out they could only be working on ten ships at most.

Rebekka seeks out the leaders of DuClaw to find out more. She tells them her employer wants to find out more about the pirate problem but he wishes to remain anonymous. Hawkins says they took the idea of a “coalition” from “some smaller House”. Rebekka asks them why the pirate attacks haven’t been dealt with. Hawkins thinks the maester is behind all of this, even though he can’t find proof yet. But he’s been having the maester followed everywhere he goes. They’ve been watching Katern for a month but have found nothing. This indicates he must be going through a third party. Hawkins freely tells her the maester’s daily schedule: inspect the ports in the morning, then nap in the tower, business, late lunch, then stays in for the rest of the day.

Katern always lunches at the Dancing Crab. Rebekka suggests Katern is passing notes to someone at lunch. Hawkins says the owner, Evan Coastman, is part of DuClaw and can be trusted; he’s a respected member of society and wouldn’t benefit from the pirate attacks. In fact, DuClaw was Coastman’s idea in the first place. Patty LePage always follows Katern to lunch. The only pattern in Katern’s behavior at lunch is that he orders squid ink pasta on Sundays. Rebekka wonders if this is some sort of code. The lunch manager is someone named McDaniels. When Rebekka asks them if they trust Coastman and McDaniels completely, they laugh and say “We’re businessmen”. Hawkins says Rebekka’s employer is welcome to join DuClaw if they wish. He leaves with his henchmen, Ter and Gar.

Avlon and Raynar are really taken in by the strange Essosi décor in the Galloping Goat. A woman in silks escorts them to the bar, where a few scantily-clad girls are dancing. Everyone in the bar is dressed in Essosi style. Avlon orders the crab mead while Raynar orders regular mead. Avlon pays 25 silver for the pair of drinks and gives the waitress a 10-silver tip. The drinks are quite tasty. Avlon also orders the pineapple. Raynar handles his drink fine, though it seems to have a funny aftertaste, but Avlon gets very drunk.

Eventually a tall, menacing man with shark teeth enters with some buddies. He’s drinking something out of a pineapple. When Shark and the others sit at a long table in the back, the waitress escorts Avlon and Shark to the table as well. Shark asks what business they have with him. Avlon cracks jokes and generally doesn’t understand things in his current state. Raynar tries to reign him in, but when Shark learns who Avlon is he’s more interested and offers him a sip from his pineapple. Avlon is barely able to handle the strong liquor in the pineapple Shark has been chugging from.

Raynar lets Shark know they’re looking for who’s responsible for the pirate attacks. Shark says it’s not him; this is HIS port and no one else’s. His goon and second cousin, Dolphin, says Shark protects and helps people for money. Shark says Avlon needs to give him something if he wants Shark’s help. Avlon asks why the city needs Shark if it has the Waxleys. Shark says the lord doesn’t care about his people, whereas Shark is investing in this place.

Avlon accidentally knocks his head on the table and starts sobering up, rubbing the bruise on his forehead. Shark says he’s heard Avlon’s sister is a very rich woman, so he’ll help Avlon for 20 gold dragons and the chance to open a side business in the Teeth port, probably something run by Shark himself. It would be a business like here, something to help people (according to Shark, anyway). Avlon asks for more detail on Shark’s past. Shark said he was on a ship that mutinied, and then he took his coin and left after they threw the captain overboard. He mentions how he likes being his own boss and doesn’t care for maesters.

Shark gives them time to think about his conditions and sends them upstairs with Lala and her twin sister Leila. Avlon can only pay for Lala, though, and he passes out before he can do anything with her. Reynar manages to get Avlon back to the castle.

Tiberius meets with the lady he talked to before and makes arrangements to meet her and some ladyfriends at the Cork and Barrel tonight. Jessica happily accepts his advances. While she’s distracted, Tiberius is able to look at the paper that lets her past the guards. It’s a simple note from Randall granting the bearer permission to go into a certain warehouse. The wax seal would be very difficult to replicate. Tiberius lets her keep it so she won’t get in trouble and plans to maybe steal it tonight if necessary.

Jayne waits for Anna’s servant Nicole to come find her. Nicole chats with Jayne while they go to the harbor warehouses to brew the tea. The guards let Nicole through when she promises that she will be responsible for Jayne’s actions. In Warehouse 2, Jayne sees two ballistas and ammunition under construction. These are typically used for offensive reasons, not defense. Nicole takes Jayne up to the platform where Anna is overseeing things and barking orders like an architect. Anna is grateful for Jayne’s tea and offers to give her a job with a good salary if she wants to come work for her.

Jayne asks what the ballistas are for. Anna says she thinks they’re probably not for anything; people just like making things that make them feel powerful. As far as she knows, the other buildings are making different things, though she doesn’t say what. Technically Lord Viktor guards these, but he lets Ser Duncan do most of the work. They chat a bit about Anna’s 8 kids and 30 grandkids until Jayne takes her leave.

The guards make sure the hired hands get back on the carts at the end of the day. There are some people who come in for night shifts, but we don’t know what they’re doing. Jayne and Tiberius report back to Ysabel on their findings.

Meera goes to the sept at the foot of the Silent Sisters tower. Septa Bethel is in her office. She’s dressed conservatively, but she’s on the younger side, around 20-30, unusually young and attractive for the head septa of a major port. The two women discuss Lord Waxley’s condition. Bethel says he’s not sick, he just needs medicine and herbs for his comfort, especially for dealing with the cold. She expresses her regret that he won’t light more fires for warmth (too costly) and he doesn’t come to the sept very often. Meera reviews the list of herbs and medicines Bethel has been providing her lord and comes to the conclusion that, while Bethel means well, nothing she’s providing for him is actually helping (though thankfully it’s not hurting him either). This seems to stem from ignorance rather than malice.

Bethel has only been a septa here for about four years and she’s been the head for maybe 2 of those years, ever since her predecessor died of old age. Normally the council chooses the successor, but Lord Waxley requested her specifically for some reason. As for Maester Katern, she doesn’t know him well, but everyone knows he doesn’t really do healing. She relates a story of asking him for an orphanage for the children of sailors, but he said there wasn’t coin in the budget for it. Meera mentions her sister is a septa, and after the two women have chatted a bit more Meera offers to help draw up a new course of action for Lord Waxley’s treatment. Bethel is grateful for the help and says she’ll have time to discuss it with her later tonight. Meera returns to her room to do some planning.

She doesn’t get to work for very long before there’s a knock at her door. A servant informs her that Welbert wants to see her. The young man shoos the servant away and speaks with Meera in her room, alone. He describes to her how his father coughs at night, and how an old man in his mid-40s like Lord Waxley could easily take a turn for the worse at any time. Meera offers to see the old man directly for a diagnosis, but suddenly realizes that Welbert actually wants his father to die.

Welbert says carefully that his father will never agree to join the anti-pirate coalition. He hates the expense generated by the navy. Welbert, on the other hand, believes the family needs to grow the navy for the sake of their name and reputation. And that navy would be at the coalition’s disposal.

Meera asks what Willard would think of all this. Welbert tells her about their mother, Lady Sophie Redfort, who is often away in King’s Landing for some reason or other. The lord and lady don’t have the best relationship, and it’s typically assumed Lady Sophie is not faithful. The two sons are divided in their loyalty. Welbert loves his mother, while Willard favors their father. Welbert respects his mother and understands that she had to leave due to Lord Waxley’s treatment of her. Willard bought into Lord Waxley’s lies about their mother while Welbert did not. Everyone knows Lord Waxley is just waiting for his wife to die so he can marry young Septa Bethel instead.

Meera asks Welbert about his duties. He says they’re quite light, as the maester handles port matters and Lord Waxley put his nephew Edmond in charge of the military so his sons wouldn’t argue about it. Welbert handles the garrison and Willard is Master of the Hunt.

Welbert cuts to the chase and says flatly that the septa not a capable herbalist. Some herbs are dangerous in the wrong quantity, and it would be easy to blame her for a mistake. She might not even face much of a reprimand for it. Meera says she will be here a few days more and will consider the best treatment for Lord Waxley during that time.

Rebekka goes to the restaurant Maester Katern frequents. She asks about the squid ink pasta, but the waiter is perplexed. The manager’s son McCharles comes over and asks her about her order. She clams up and he’s quite intimidated, stammering that people dressed like her don’t usually make that order. He says he can pass on her message to his father. Once she dismisses him, she slips out and blends into the crowd. She notices a couple of guys dressed in the Dancing Crab uniform trying to tail her, but she loses them very quickly.

Rebekka heads to Meera’s room. She finds Meera working on a list of herbs. After a pause, Meera recognizes her and compliments her disguise. Rebekka says everyone uses Old Tim’s courier service (if anyone asks). Rebekka reports the maester is definitely involved in all this, either colluding or just keeping all the money for himself. She describes the strange man in mixed garb in Katern’s office and explains about DuClaw. Meera agrees that Katern is suspicious; he’s shirking his duties at the very least.

Avlon and Raynar stumble in at that point. Meera stares at the boys, sighs, and gets to work mixing up hangover cures. Rebekka finishes up explaining about the “squid ink pasta” code word. The boys talk about Shark, pineapples, and the Galloping Goat. Meera questions them and determines that Shark didn’t actually tell them what he was offering or give any assurances. She doesn’t think it’s worth dealing with someone like him.

It appears we have two main suspects to investigate so far. Meera arranges to meet with Katern at his keep after dark that evening. Rebekka will be looking into Katern’s port office while Meera has him distracted. Avlon and Raynar, meanwhile, will do some snooping at the Dancing Crab. Meera gives Avlon 20 silver to spend on the condition that there be no more drinking. Raynar points out that Avlon will be obligated to drink, but he can just get a cheap house ale this time and nurse it.

Back in Gulltown, Ysabel, Geena, and Marcus Felix, along with Jayne and Tiberius, are invited to a dessert at the Grafton manor. Geena and MF quietly tell us they think their tasks went well. Viktor greets Ysabel warmly. The meeting room has a strong eagle motif and is painted to look like sky. There’s a nice map of Westeros painted on the large, round table (a rare sight outside Oldtown or King’s Landing).

Lord Grafton and the other representatives rise as we enter. There are three seats at the table for the noble Slagathors. Randall, Jeremy, Gerald, Kinara, Maywell Hathaway, Lord Fulton, Maester Targon, and Lord Zant are all present. Lord Grafton’s wife, Lady Arryn, is there as well, probably the first time any of us have seen her.

Marq Grafton comments it seems like we’ve made this port our second home. He’s heard about our exploits and negotiations, including the cooking party he wasn’t invited to. Ysabel asks what the Graftons want us to do at Harrenhal. Most of the Graftons nod at Marq, though Randall and Gerald do not. Lord Grafton says some here don’t trust the Slagathors, but as Lord Arthur has given more responsibilities to his children, his brood have proven their ambition, significance, and accomplishment. Not many could have formed an anti-pirate coalition.

Lord Grafton stands and asks what we think he’s planning. Ysabel and the others dance around the answer diplomatically, so Jayne says Lord Grafton appears to be enlarging his navy. He nods and says we’ve clearly figured some things out. The lord explains that trade has been decreasing lately because of uncertainty; shaky situations hurt markets, and nothing is shakier than when the leadership of a nation is in question.

Westeros can’t enter another great age of trade and development while the Mad King reigns. Rhaegar should rule in his stead. When Rhaegar wins the tournament at Harrenhal, he will call all the lords to a meeting to decide the next king. The Graftons intend to make sure Rhaegar is king one way or another. He is young, handsome, and malleable. Marq finds him promising and wise.

Tiberius worries about dragons, but Marq says there no dragons left, only old rumors. Marq says the Arryns are just slavishly loyal to the Targaryens and won’t bend, even for the greater good. Jon will just look for a new wife and hide in the Eyrie like he always does.

Marq considers the Graftons to be the #2 family in Vale, disregarding the Royces completely. He says the
Graftons need a house not associated with them to be their agents. Everyone knows our families hate each other, so our support would be significant. He needs us to convince key delegates to support Rhaegar. Ysabel and MF are unmarried, so they can talk to any single people there without arousing suspicion. Marq says the Lannisters won’t attend Harrenhal. Tywin’s brother was at Jeremy’s wedding and assured him they wouldn’t go. The Martells will support Rhaegar. Robert Baratheon is a drunk joke and the Starks have no natural allies.

There have been councils held to decide on a new king before— just not while the old king was still alive, until now. Marq predicts the Mad King will flee Harrenhal and hole up in King’s landing. The pirates can be sent in to attack, and then the pirates and the king will all be wiped out with wildfyre, which everyone knows the mad king has been stockpiling. With such destruction, Westeros might even be needing a new capital… maybe even one that’s been focusing on trade.

Marq says Rhaegar will accept the crown when it is offered to him. The Slagathors would be wise to offer him as much support as they can. Geena mentions how we’ve always supported the Targaryens; one of our family treasures is the dragon scale they gave us in thanks for helping them last time.

Ysabel proposes another scenario: other families might try for throne once the mad king is gone. Marq says there has never been a rebellion not led by a Blackfyre, and they’re all dead now. No one would suggest a non-Targaryen for the throne. Even the Baratheons, who have a little Targaryen blood in them, wouldn’t dare such a thing.

Ysabel asks for time to think on this, but Marq wants an answer today. He says Arthur will go along with whatever Ysabel and Marcus Felix recommend.

Ysabel asks how the pirate armada is involved in all this. The pirates have been promised that the Graftons will use them for a campaign in mid-spring. Gabool has gathered most of the pirates already. They’ve only been told they can invade a great city of Westeros, but not which one. Marq promised to help distract people while the pirates looted to their heart’s content. Pirates are ambitious and greedy and can be told and offered anything to get what we want. Ysabel worries that the Slagathors could end up being the fall guys for all this.

We ask how the Lord of Light followers are involved in all this. Marq laughs that Targon has been warning him about those fanatics but it’s not a concern for now. He’s either a very good liar or he really doesn’t know anything about them. Jayne points out that the Lord of Light fanatics might use their connections to find out about the wildfyre trap and tip off the pirates. Marq considers this but doesn’t think it’s a serious concern, even knowing there’s a small Lord of Light shrine in King’s Landing itself. He says we can focus on wiping out these fanatics once Rhaegar is king.

There is considerable risk and reward involved in all of this. If we succeed, Marq proposes pushing Ysabel’s name for Master of Coin on the new council. But if we fail, Marq fully expects to be executed, and all the lords involved will have to fight for their lives or flee Westeros. Many noble families are involved in this plot already. Still, if we are successful, all grudges between the Graftons and Slagathors will be forgotten forever.

Ysabel asks for the condition that no Slagathors or bastards will be put in danger. Marq promises not to be reckless, but he points out that he can’t know the future. There could be battles and casualties involved. But he swears that the Lord of Light fanatics will be dealt with ASAP.

Finally, Ysabel makes an oath on the Seven to support the Graftons at Harrenhal in their effort to depose the Mad King. We are all sworn to secrecy; no one must know we’re allies or suspect what we’re plotting. The only question now is— with the Slagathors now promised to support both the Graftons and the Arryns at Harrenhal, what will they actually choose to do?

SESSION 20 (6/4/17)
Episode 11: Any Port in a Storm

Ysabel and her servant Jayne will be accompanying Ser Tiberius the Tall back to Gulltown. Unbeknownst to anyone but Ser Tiberius, he has been assigned by Marcus Felix to make sure the family’s Valyrian steel blade goes with them. He has been instructed not to touch the blade at all costs because it is cursed. Ser Tiberius has gloves and a scabbard to hold the sword if he’s able to acquire it.

Ser Tiberius goes to where it’s being held and finds one guard watching it. He talks the guard into leaving. Before leaving, the guard mentions something about murders. Ser Tiberius enters to find numerous family tombs and skeletons scattered about and a lone sword buried in a stone slab. He carefully switches it with a different sword and smuggles the Valyrian steel onto the ship among his belongings.

The sail to Gulltown is uneventful. Randall Grafton is on the dock waiting and dryly welcomes yet more Slagathors to his city. He accuses us of getting into other lords’ business and stealing lands. Ser Tiberius speaks up more than a knight should and draws Randall’s dislike. Ysabel dismissively pays the docking fee and we head to the house Geena and Marcus Felix have rented for their stay.

A fence has been erected along the border between Grafton and Shett lands. For the last few weeks, anyone whose house happens to be on Shett lands has had to pay heavy fees and bribes to travel between the two properties, to such an extent that most who lived on Shett lands have now moved.

The house Geena rented is very nice and probably very expensive. As the traveling party arrives, they see a delivery person from the Crone’s Scones dropping off a box of baked goods. Geena greets her sister warmly and starts shooting orders at Jayne and Tiberius at once. Jayne gets to work making her famous coffee for Geena’s twenty or so tea party guests.

Ysabel can tell most of what’s being said at the party is useless prattle, but Geena assures her you have to listen to a lot of useless babble to find what’s really important. Ysabel is a little under the weather from the voyage and thrown off from being out of her element, so she doesn’t pay much attention today. Ser Tiberius chats with the ladies’ drivers/bodyguards. They’re happy their pay has been going up because they have less competition, even with all of the Shett servants being put out of work. By the looks of it, someone is hiring a lot of men, especially those who are better fighters, leaving those who are better at riding to escort the ladies.

Jayne hears from the kitchen servants that prices have been stable despite the increased trade from Essos; maybe someone or some House is buying up large quantities of grain and other goods for some reason, which keeps the prices up. Jayne also hears that Marq Grafton is back from being away on a business trip and he’s been noticeably busy with something. He hasn’t been making the social rounds and is only spotted here and there at the port. He’s been letting Gerald handle many of the affairs he doesn’t have time for. Marq hasn’t even been attending his family’s soirees; he’s obviously preparing something. People say it might be related to Harrenhal, but then again, it might not….

The tea party eventually clears out and leaves Ysabel, Geena, Ser Tiberius, Jayne, and soon Marcus Felix alone. Ysabel tells her brother she’s here to help him with the meeting with the Graftons. Marcus Felix has heard a decision will be made tomorrow night regarding what to do with the Slagathors. They’ve heard that we wish to make amends with them; Marcus has been explaining how our first loyalty had to be to our liege lord. We know the Graftons have done some deal with Braavos, and perhaps with other parties as well. It’s also worth noting that a large number of nobles from across Westeros attended Jeremy Grafton’s wedding despite him being only the third son. Perhaps those nobles had some other reason for being there.

Obviously, we won’t be invited to the meeting where the Graftons decide what to do about us. We’ve only been invited to have dessert with them afterwards to hear the results. Marcus has heard there will be nine advisers to help Lord Marq decide what to do. If we could convince enough of these advisers that we’re on their side, they might tell us what we need to know and even recommend a reconciliation.

Marcus Felix asks Ser Tiberius to bring out the sword, saying he trusts everyone in this room. He says no one is to touch the blade. Ysabel guesses that Marcus Felix intends to use it as a bargaining chip. He says he was considering giving it to the Graftons, though he would certainly tell them its downsides. Ser Tiberius is puzzled as to why we would give up such a powerful weapon. Marcus has the sword taken down to a vault under the house for safekeeping in case we decide to use it.

Possible members of this advising council are Randall, Viktor, Jeremy, Gerald (heir), Zara, Lady Maywell Hathaway (merchants), Lord Robert Fulton (navy), Lord Zachary Zant (army), and Maester Targon. Geena assures us she’s already spent plenty of time with Kale, who is close to her in age, and he and his little sister will have no say in the decision. She’s also rather troubled by rumors that Lord Arthur is trying to marry her off, but Ysabel tells her she’ll have to speak to their father directly about that.

Geena suspects that Lady Zara Grafton (Marq’s wife) doesn’t do well in crowds. She doesn’t do many social events and is more likely to be found with her children or doing charity work with the sept. We suggest having Geena invite Lady Zara, Lady Fulton, Lady Hathaway, and young Zina Zant for tea or dessert to discuss charity work, trying to get on their good sides. Ysabel intends to speak with Viktor and possibly with Gerald (or Lady Zara if Geena doesn’t). The Slagathors have made a social call to Jeremy and his wife Kinara before, so that might be an in. Ysabel may also try to talk up Jayne’s skills as an Essosi cook to the Graftons to try and get her into their good graces.

Ser Tiberius can look into where all of these fighting men have been hired off to. Jayne will deliver a recipe for altitude sickness remedies from Maester Meera to Maester Targon and use it as an excuse to speak with him. With luck, she will also find an opportunity to speak with Jeremy. As for Marcus Felix, he can focus his efforts on winning over Lord Zant and Lord Fulton by whatever means.

Jayne finds the maester tower without much trouble and talks her way past the guards to see Maester Targon with her letter. She runs into an assistant, the same one Meera talked to last time (who luckily seems to have retained his job). Young Bernard is quite friendly, especially when she says she’s from Maester Meera. They briefly discuss maesters and whether or not people have souls. Bernard arranges for Jayne to come back and meet with Targon around 9pm tonight, after dinner.

Ysabel heads to the theater district to try and find Viktor surreptitiously. She finds him at Sawyer’s Golden Gallery, one of Gulltown’s many stages. One of the guards proudly gives her the tour. Viktor notices her and wraps up some business he’s doing in order to greet her. They walk through the sets backstage as they talk. Viktor comments that Geena has been making quite a name for her in social circles lately. His brothers were quite disappointed by the results of the dispute at the Eyrie, to say the least.

Ysabel wastes no time in bringing up tomorrow’s meeting. Viktor understands why the Slagathors had to do what they had to do, though he wishes Lord Arthur would have pledged his family to the Graftons when he married Lady Allison. Viktor would like to see the families reconciled. He’s long since recovered from his grief and he believes Marq has as well, but it seems like Randall will never forgive. Viktor thinks Marq is conflicted; he’s impressed by the skill our family has been showing, but Lady Allison was killed while ostensibly under Lord Arthur’s protection. Viktor recognizes that Ysabel and Marcus Felix are not their father, however, and deserve to be regarded for their own merit. Gerald cared deeply for Lady Allison, who used to bring home many gifts, and is close to Randall. He’s more interested in growing infrastructure than military matters; he wants to see Gulltown become the jewel of Westeros. Ysabel hopes that Kale and little Allison will get to grow in peace and in good relations between our families. Jeremy is indifferent or perhaps even favorable towards us. He comments that Randall loves the theater. Ysabel checks the upcoming shows and sees there will be one about the Blackfyre betrayal.

Tiberius makes for the military district to look into the suspicious lack of fighting men. He finds a bar frequented by soldier types called the Char Bar. He joins a poker game with an Essosi merchant named Avi, a Grafton sailor named Justine, and a former merchant named Billy who has since joined the Grafton navy. Justine wins the first hand. The four banter and argue back and forth, then Justine wins the second hand after Billy unwisely raises by a lot on a bad hand. Tiberius claims to be looking for some employment of the sword-and-shield variety. Billy offers to introduce him to a friend named Terri who might be looking for men, though he says the Graftons themselves are hiring basically anyone who can hold a sword these days. He says rumor is the Graftons are sending a small fleet to Harrenhal.

Billy’s luck turns around with the third hand. In a better mood, he says the Hathaways are said to be looking to hire, in particular Lady Maywell’s younger brother. He offers to put in a word for Tiberius with the Hathaways. Tiberius wins the next hand and tries to keep Billy talking. Billy says Randall’s wife is just a peasant and even his kids don’t respect him, so no one likes dealing with him. Avi mainly keeps to herself, enjoys her charred chicken, and acts generally creepy. Tiberius wins big with the last hand and ends with some contacts and leads to pursue.

Jayne goes down to the docks before dinner to speak with the merchants, in particular those from Essos, to try and find out where those missing goods are going. She hears from a merchant named Zexgon (French accent) that some warehouses that were burned down by the Targaryens back in the day are finally being rebuilt and filled with supplies. The Graftons have been skimming a certain percentage of goods from everything that comes in and sending it to these warehouses, and the other noble houses in Gulltown are following suit. Zexgon doesn’t know why they’re stockpiling. Their warehouses are full of foodstuffs and raw materials like various metals. They’ve been stockpiling since the start of the spring, though there are rumors they started even as far back as Jeremy’s wedding. Jayne can see smoke coming from some of the distant warehouses are though they’re smelting the metal for something.

Ysabel convinces Geena to go with Lady Maywell Hathaway and Zina Zant to a show at the Gallery tonight. They sit together in Box 7 while Ysabel, Jeremy, and Kinara sit in Box 3 (Box 5, as always, is left empty). Betrayal of the Blackfyre is the show. Ysabel introduces Jayne to Jeremy and Kinara. The Essosi lady wonders whether Jayne or her own servant makes the better Essosi coffee and Jayne agrees to a coffee and cook-off tomorrow. Kinara’s servant, Lupita, stares daggers at Jayne the whole time. Kinara is interested to hear that Jayne came through Braavos on her way to Westeros aboard (The Fair Lady?). The servants are dismissed before the show begins. Ysabel and her noble company discuss the arts; Kinara wants her husband to build a bigger theater to match the ones she saw in Braavos. Jeremy invites Ysabel to invest in a joint theater in the future. Ysabel works out the details and agrees to invest in a large new theater, which wins Jeremy’s support for the Slagathors and may even help sway Randall (spent 1 Influence to build theater).

Marcus Felix dines with the Fultons that night. He asks Ser Tiberius to get Rina Fulton to put in a good word for us with her father. She was a woman of the sea until tragedy struck, stealing her husband and child, and she hasn’t been the same since. Tiberius goes for a walk to hopefully run into Rina. He finds her in a park built around ancient trees, among the few that still remain in the city. She’s walking with a pair of bodyguards. Tiberius approaches her as though he’s just running into her and they introduce themselves. He convinces her to let him join her on her walk. They walk around the park a few times while Tiberius seduces her and convinces her that the Slagathors are allies.

Jayne goes to meet with Maester Targon at 9pm as arranged. She’s shown up to his office. Targon looks over the papers she’s brought, asks her to thank Maester Meera for the formulas, and gives her a copy of an old design for an improved cast in exchange. The maester invites her to stay for dinner and asks her who she would say the most trusted Slagathor servants are. Jayne tells him he could trust Chadwick, with whom she has worked extensively at the docks, but says she doesn’t know many other servants well enough to say, including when he asks about “Mary”.

Jayne makes a cup of Essosi tea for Targon, who is apparently a fan, and they discuss various Essosi foods and drinks. Targon has his assistant fetch snails for their dinner when Jayne says they were one of her favorites. She brings up the guard downstairs with the missing eye who seems to be in pain. Targon brushes it off at first, but when Jayne comments that it would be better to have a guard with no distractions he says she can tell the guard to come up and see him for treatment when she leaves.

The two have a good talk about various things like the difficulty of finding good help, the duties of a maester’s assistant, the trouble of balancing education with motivation, and so on. Jayne speaks of the SWORD program at the Teeth and says it is heartening to see that Targon gets along so well with the Slagathors. Targon asks her why there are so many Slagathors in Gulltown these days. Jayne says it’s not her place to keep track of the many members of that family, so Targon says it’s not his place as a maester to hold any animosity towards a family (and he claims he never has).

Jayne tells him some trivial stories about the Slagathors to help endear them to him and speaks of times they’ve proven trustworthy, like when they showed their loyalty to their liege lord during the last fiasco. She can tell that Targon respects the Slagathors and views them as a family on the rise, but he’s not sure if they can be trusted to help the Graftons when push comes to shove and he’s wary of their intentions. Jayne opts to spend the evening helping him research a project to make a good impression.

The next morning, Marcus Felix reports he’s doing well with Lord Fulton. If he spends the rest of the day on it, he might be able to convince the Fultons (maybe even the Zants as well). Geena went to a party at Maywell’s place after the play and got her support. As for the charity initive with Zara, Geena plans to push for a way to fund the Silent Sisters better so they can properly bury even those who can’t pay, which may win us Zara’s support when she proposes it today. We decide to invite the Zants to Jayne and Lupita’s cook-off and make it a jovial, friendly competition.

The cook-off turns into a grand affair at the Zant household, which has a large area for performances. While Lupita focuses on an intimidating style, Jayne aims to be more graceful, putting on an exotic performance. The key ingredient is truffles and must pair well with port. The judges are Lord Zant, Jeremy Grafton, and Kinara.

Appetizer: Carpaccio with sunchokes and truffles (Fulton loves this)
Main Course: Tonkatsu with truffle sauce
Dessert: candied truffles in saffron ice cream (very creative, goes over quite well)

Appetizer: stuffed truffles (Jeremy loves this)
Main Course: steak with truffle sauce
Dessert: chilled ice with a little truffle sauce

Everyone agrees that Jayne’s dance-like performance is lovely, but Lupita is more intimidating and has a certain aura that can’t be ignored. However, when it comes to food, Jayne’s dishes just barely win out over the competition. All of the spectators are entertained and well-fed. Jayne makes nice with Lupita afterwards; they share recipes, realize their mutual respect for each other, and become friends.

Over dessert, Ysabel speaks with the Zants and wins them over with a little help from Jeremy, who brings up the great new theater the Slagathors are going to help him build. Viktor attends the competition as well, just for fun, and has a good time.

Randall: (no one has spoken with him, but he might soften towards us due to the theater deal)
Gerald: (no one has spoken with him, very serious guy)
Zara: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Geena is successful)
Lord Fulton: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Marcus Felix is successful)
Lady Hathaway: SUPPORT
Lord Zant: SUPPORT
Maester Targon: (MAYBE SUPPORT if Ysabel wins an Intrigue combat)

SESSION 19 (5/21/17)
Episode 10: Light and Shadow

Clifford has spent the past couple of months helping the Redwoods prepare for their assault on the mountain man stronghold. Marlin leads the Redwood garrison and has been given increased responsibility since he proved his loyalty during our last visit to the Redwoods. Leo marches from the Teeth with his army unit to join the war effort. He has Maester Meera send a raven ahead to House Starskin and stops there on his way to Hearttree.

Lord Dennis Starskin greets him warmly at the Bay of Comets. The Starskins have already agreed to join our anti-pirate coalition, but Leo wants to ask him to provide troops for the mountain man fight as well. Lord Starskin says their priority is protecting their area against pirates, as ordered by House Waynwood. Leo asks him to simply provide a small band who know the lay of the land and would know the area better than the Slagathor scouts. He offers his eldest son and a handful of troops to work with us and Leo agrees to it graciously. Lord Starskin says his son is a good archer, but lazy, and he’d be happy to see him go out more. Gene Starskin is in his 20s and doesn’t seem thrilled with this, but he can’t refuse his father.

It takes about a week to reach Hearttree from there. They pass by the strange inn we visited last time (which is now under new management, as the old “mayor” was supporting the Lord of Light fanatics), but the party doesn’t have to stop there this time. Clifford rides out to meet his brother and fills him in on the training he’s been doing with the Redwoods. He says he’s been treated well, though he misses Jayne’s coffee. Marlin greets Leo as well and mentions how the castle is much calmer than the last time the Slagathors visited. He’s got the town secured against Lord of Light fanatics and hopes that this campaign will spell the end of mountain man influence in this area as well.

Clifford reports on his scouting. Many tribes have been gathering north of here, including the First Shadows (led by Valamir, brother of Brennos who was slain by Leo), the Moon Sisters (led by Sister Siph), the Damned Mutts (led by Gos), the Red Eyes (led by Asi), and a few smaller tribes, numbering at least eight tribes in all. They’ve been gathering at the First Shadows village. Many of these were once united under Brennos’ command but splintered when he was killed. It is known that the Moon Sisters are not as close to the First Shadows as the rest are. Scouts report there may be some sort of ritual being prepared in the town.

The Redwoods are committing most of their soldiers to this campaign (2 infantry units, 1 scout unit). Lord Aaron and Marlin will each be leading an infantry unit. The Highsuns arrived this afternoon. Lord Highsun himself will be leading a cavalry unit and he brought an infantry unit as well. Leo will be leading the Slagathor archery unit with Clifford and Archer Joe part of his group.

They head in and find the Great Hall decked out for a feast. Sonya sits at Leo’s side at the Slagathor table. Surprisingly, the Crowmore and Bloodhand tables are empty— they were expected to send troops. The Crowmores declined because the Bonebreakers have been harassing them and they have to deal with them. The Bloodhands sent a raven via House Coldwater explaining Houses Coldwater and Melcolm requested their help with a pirate-hunting expedition and that effort was more critical for the stability of the Vale.

Sonya speaks with Leo about the plans to fight the mountain men. She wants to know that Leo won’t show mercy. Leo assures her he won’t show mercy to mountain men, trying to hide the mercy he showed the group we’re currently sheltering at the Teeth, and she seems to believe him. The Highsuns mainly keep to themselves. Leo goes over to greet them. Lord Highsun is as friendly as he ever is and commends Clifford for his information-gathering efforts. He says the First Shadows used to be almost respectable, but Valamir is different. He expects Valamir would have gotten himself killed soon enough and almost regrets that we’re rushing Valamir death rather than letting it happen naturally. He’s concerned about the Lord of Light element, but he expects people will eventually realize this god doesn’t care about us more than any other. Leo points out that the cultists have been murdering maesters and sowing chaos by impersonating them. Lord Highsun seems more inclined to think that people are murdering maesters just to usurp their comfortable places in the castles.

Leo mentions our theory about the pirates and the Lord of Light cultists working together and the increased threat they pose. The cultists may be prompting the mountain men to mount inland attacks to weaken the coastal defenses for the pirates. It’s unfortunate we don’t know which particular Lord of Light church is training and sending out these fanatics. Leo notices that Lord Highsun checks to make sure no Redwoods are listening before he speaks again. Lord Highsun says he’s always found that peace and reconciliation is the best way to resolve things. He hints that allying with the Lord of Light followers might be the easiest way to put a stop to all of this since they’re the link between the mountain men and the pirates. Seeing Leo’s confusion, he clarifies that the ones we’re going after right now all need killing, but it’s an idea to keep in mind for later if an opportunity arises. Capture is always an option.

Meanwhile, Clifford is drinking as heavily as usual and chatting up any girl he can. He likes the redheads in particular. One of them swings at him for his advances, a boyfriend gets involved, Gene Starskin gets punched, and it turns into a minor brawl that Marlin has to break up with his men. Even so, Clifford eventually wins over a redhead named Leila and he can’t remember if she was a noble or a maid.

In the morning, the war party marches for Shadowvale— or as it’s now known, the West Arm of R’hllor. Clifford and some of the others move ahead of the party to scout. They follow an ancient road that used to lead to First Men town that has long since been taken over and destroyed by the mountain men. At some point, a volley of arrows suddenly falls on them in ambush from the trees and kills four of Clifford’s men. They appear to be members of the Red Eye tribe (they have red paint around their eyes, tend not to sleep, and specialize in overnight missions). Clifford engages the commander while one of the Slagathor soldiers, Alan, brings down a mountain man. The enraged Clifford drives his spear through the commander’s shoulder and nearly severs his arm.

The Slagathors are much better-armed and prepared and quickly take the upper hand. Seeing how badly things are going for him, the Red Eye commander goes for broke and hacks away viciously at Clifford. The Slagathor retaliates and rips both of the mountain man’s arms off (Wookie-style). A few more of Clifford’s men go down, but the mountain men break and run when they see their leader’s fate. Clifford sends his men after them; two are captured alive and the other five are killed before they can get away. With 9 of Clifford’s 20 men killed and several wounded, he decides to head back to the main group with his prisoners.

He presents the captured mountain men to the Redwoods. Both are young men, maybe teenagers. Clifford and Marlin intimidate them into talking. The boys mention a fire ritual that will involved a good chunk of the town (which they still call Shadowvale). They were sent ahead with their boss, Savaki (the man Clifford “disarmed”) because their group were still firm followers of the mountain man gods and Valamir, who has converted to the Lord of Light, wants to get the holdouts killed. Most of the tribes aren’t as devoted to the Lord of Light as the First Shadows, but they’re here to see if there’s anything to what the fanatics say. If the mountain men win this battle, the word of the Lord of Light could spread among all the tribes… A Scarlet Shepherd named Diferi has taken command of the mountain men and is always seen in company of his personal bodyguard, Jack Redwood.

The boys report there are 8-10 mountain men units in town. Their tribe, the Red Eyes, provided two units. Most are infantry and some are archers. They only know of one group of horsemen among the mountain man forces. The questioning done, Marlin recommends executing the two as Lady Sonya would wish. Ax Dan is called in. Elza (the pseudo-maester) patches up Clifford’s wounds.

The party crosses through the remains of the First Men/First Shadows town. It looks like whatever was left was burned to the ground at least a few months ago. By the sixth day of marching, we expect to arrive at the main mountain man town. We can approach from the front, charging down the slope, which would probably be defended. There’s also a side path we could take that would be slower going but grant us the higher ground. Then there’s a third path on the other side that passes by some ruins where the Moon Sisters may be located. The scouts weren’t able to determine that path for sure. We could also, with difficulty, charge through the hills or forest.

The night before the assault, it begins to rain hard. Morning dawns rainy and foggy. This reduces visibility for all sides, but might give us an advantage if the Lord of Light fanatics can’t use fire-based attacks or complete their fire ritual in the rain. Our scouts report what they can see of the mountain man placements. They know of eight units: Valamir and Jack Redwood are in the city; the Moon Sisters are by the ruins; Red Eyes units are in the hills to the west; First Shadows are waiting for us on the plains; and that’s all we know for now.

The Slagathors start things off by firing at the First Shadows as we emerge from the trees. Leo recognizes that Lucas, the son of Valamir, is leading that unit. Lord Aaron orders Marlin’s unit to follow up, so he charges and hits hard enough to disorganize Lucas’ men. The Red Eyes rush Marlin from behind and flank his forces. A Highsun unit charges the Red Eyes. A unit of Damned Mutts pops out of the woods behind the Highsuns (interestingly, their unit is composed of a mixture of mountain men and mercenary criminals brought in for this fight).

The Slagathors and Redwoods team up against Lucas’ unit to try and wipe them out; Lucas’ unit winds up fleeing away into the hills. The Red Eye infantry unit runs to join Valamir in the city. The Highsun unit engages with the Damned Mutts. The criminals in the Mutts refuse to listen to orders to change tactics and just continue attacking the Highsuns until the Highsuns become disorganized.

The Slagathors fire into the Mutts and cause them to become disorganized in return, leaving them open for Marlin to rout them and send them running with their tails between their legs. The Highsuns are unable to rally their disorganized troops just yet. Meanwhile, Valamir moves deeper into the city doing who knows what… Leo, Lord Aaron and the Highsun archers run forward to press towards the city.

An archer duel between the Slagathors and the Red Eyes begins, soon joined by the Redwood archers. Lord Aaron spots his brother and gets in position to charge Jack down. Lord Highsun gallops up to join the fight as well. The Slagathors managed to rout the Red Eyes archers and finish them off.

Suddenly a fire springs up in the city. The Scarlet Shepherd is burning the mayor of the mountain man town alive. The fog abruptly, unnaturally clears up, and the rain starts to lessen. Valamir and Jack Redwood stand shoulder to shoulder in the city and wait for us to come. As Lord Redwood and Lord Highsun charge into the city, the rain fully dissipates.

A hidden unit of Mutts bursts from the trees behind the wounded Redwood archers. Marlin notices the Mutts and charges them to defend his fellow Redwoods. A new group of First Shadows mountain men led by a woman named Clara emerges from the forest. Leo focuses on finishing off the Red Eyes and wipes out the last of them, singlehandedly ending the Red Eyes tribe in Westeros.

Marlin causes the Mutts to become disorganized. Leo, getting his archers into position on the hill, spots the Moon Sisters watching from the ruins. They’re displaying a flag of truce and seem content to stay out of things. The Highsun troops move to make sure the new mountain men can’t attack their lord from behind. Marlin manages to rout the last group of Mutts and send them yammering.

Suddenly the Scarlet Shepherd unleashes a new spell that engulfs the entire town in flames. It traps the lords inside the city limits and sets everything ablaze. All those who don’t believe in the Lord of Light take penalties to attack in the flames, and the remaining townsfolk who aren’t devotees start burning to death in their collapsing homes.

Leo’s archers fire into the city and severely wound the Scarlet Shepherd but don’t manage to take him down yet. Inside the burning city, Lord Highsun battles Valamir and the Redwood brothers get to dueling. Sir Zachary of the Hills (Highsun forces) moves to help his lord and gets in some great hits. Lord Aaron takes a series of bad hits from his brother in a clearly one-sided fight. Leo keeps firing at the Shepherd to try and finish him off and end the magic. With a flare of magic, the Shepherd manages to fend off a killing arrow from Leo.

Lord Highsun rushes Jack Redwood to try and protect his fellow lord, but it isn’t enough to deter Jack. Just as Jack would have gotten a killing blow on Aaron as they duel throughout the burning town, part of a roof collapses between them and cuts them off from each other. Jack assumes his brother is dead under the timbers and turns his attention back to the Highsuns. Leo’s archers finally cause the Scarlet Shepherd to flee, instantly lessening the magic of the flames.

While the Highsuns focus on taking down Valamir together, Jack Redwood tries to flee with the last of the First Shadows. Leo’s archers disorganize Jack’s remaining forces while Marlin comes racing up to help. Valamir limps away from the Highsuns as fast as he can. Seeing the Scarlet Shepherd escaping, Lord Highsun changes targets and successfully chases down the Shepherd. The rest of the Highsun forces effectively deal with Valamir. Leo’s archers finally manage to defeat Jack Redwood’s forces, but in the confusion Jack manages to escape yet again. Leo’s forces then take out Clara’s before she can kill off Marlin’s men.

Lucas gets away but loses quite a bit of his men and probably ends up wounded. The First Shadows cavalry that never participated in the fight gets away scot-free. The Moon Sisters are long gone. As for the Damned Mutts, leader Gos and his unit get wiped out by the Redwoods in the aftermath but the other Mutts get away.

Leo finds Aaron in the smoldering ruins and pulls him out alive. As he does, he seems to feel Nina’s presence around him, almost like this was the will of the gods. (Later, Nina tearfully hugs Leo and shows him a painting she made while he was in combat: Jack Redwood cutting off his brother’s head.)

A ton of Jason’s troops (Redwoods) are killed in the fight, but he gets out alive to rebuild his unit anew. Marlin loses some as well, but not nearly as many. Lord Highsun loses some men to the fire, as does Zachary’s unit. It’s almost as though the fire actively went after them, especially those who most fervently believed in the Old Gods.

The Highsuns take some prisoners away before anyone else can examine them and says they’re his to deal with. Leo advises him to kill any Lord of Light followers that happen to be among them. Lord Highsun agrees, but Leo can tell he’s leaning more towards trying to use them than kill them.

As thanks to the Slagathors, Lord Redwood grants them much of the loot found in the town (1 Wealth) and shares the credit for the victory (2 Glory).

In the aftermath of the victorious battle, Lord Aaron insists on officiating Leo and Sonya’s marriage this evening at the heart tree. They’ll have another ceremony later at the Teeth in the eyes of the Seven, but this will be the one to honor the Old Gods. Leo agrees and is officially wed; Sonya will return with him to the Teeth.

Glory: 2 for Slagathors (5 for Redwoods, who were in command)
1 Wealth

Warfare Kills (more or less): Marlin (2), Leo (4), Highsuns (3)

XP: (TBD after Episode 11)

SESSION 18 (4/30/17)
Episode 9: Pirate’s Teeth

On a nice spring day, Meera, scanning the horizon with her far-eye, spots ships approaching the Teeth. One belongs to Chadwick, the portmaster Ysabel sent to negotiate with the Upcliffs a few months ago to discuss a new trade agreement. He has an Upcliff ship alongside him. Behind them are three pirate ships giving chase. Meera runs to inform Lord Arthur and he assigns Leo to send rescue ships.

The Slagathor ships quickly join the fray and do enough damage to make one of the pirate ships disorganized. Chadwick flees for port while the Upcliffs turn and attack alongside the Slagathors. The fight goes well, and soon some of the pirate ships begin to flee. The Slagathors managed to sink two pirate ships but the third escapes to the south to fight another day. They might be headed towards Wickendon.

Chadwick thanks Leo for the assistance and tells him the pirates have been chasing them for about three or four days now, gaining all the time. Warson Upcliff, the eldest son, is in the other ship. The Upcliffs have owned an island off of Wickendon for thousands of years; they’re a reclusive First Men family. In a situation that’s unique to this family, they believe in female leadership and it’s the eldest daughter, Zora (currently single and in her late teens), who stands to inherit the family. The Upcliffs preside over Witch Island. Rumors say they associate with merlings and that the Upcliff “witch queens” used magic to hold off the invading Andals thousands of years ago. Fun fact: Warson was the one Leo beat in combat during the tourney at the Grafton wedding.

Warson and Chadwick seem to be on good terms. The former is dressed in sleek black clothes with an odd, rather fishlike helmet with stylized merling ears. He thanks the Slagathors for their help and apologizes for dragging the family into it. Warson expresses an interest in the anti-pirate coalition he’s heard rumors of. Chadwick explains that winter came while he was at Witch Island and the Upcliffs graciously offered him hospitality. Warson formally requests to join our coalition and arrangements are made.

Chadwick takes Ysabel aside and quietly tells her what he’s learned. Apparently manticores are poisonous insects that can kill humans. A yellow and red manticore is the flag used to transport Scarlet Shepherds, the Lord of Light fanatics. Once the fanatics are delivered, the “poison”, the flag is changed to a scorpion so other followers can tell from afar what’s happened. His sources say the person behind all this is the Pirate King Gabool. Chadwick has also heard a Lord of Light follower approached the Upcliffs more than a year ago and asked to use their island as a base. He doesn’t know exactly what happened to the man, but he is certainly no longer among the living. Chadwick heard this from Lady Morgan herself. There have been no other emissaries to them as of yet. Ysabel gives Chadwick five gold dragons as thanks for his good service. Ysabel also thanks Warson for his aid.

A feast is held that evening. Ysabel and Nina are seated near Warson. Ysabel surreptitiously nudges Nina over their carrot/dill soup to see if she’s interested in their guest. She tries to get Nina and Warson talking about fighting pirates and such. Maester Meera requests that Warson give her students a talk about his family and island home while he’s here, and he agrees. Nina is intrigued by the tales of Witch Island and Warson enjoys hearing her talk about her painting (he’s heard of her work). Warson and Nina get along well during dinner and leave together to continue talking.

Lord Arthur waves Ysabel over and sternly asks her if she’s forgotten the terms of the Waynwood offer. Ysabel says she set them up because Nina needs to get over her shyness. Lord Arthur looks at her suspiciously but says he’ll allow this as long as things don’t go too far between Nina and Warson. The Upcliff lad will be here about a week. Ysabel sets the potential couple up for a dinner at a nice restaurant. Rebekka finds a nice secluded spot to set up the couple for a “painting date”. Meera whips up some new paints to help Nina’s inspiration.

The head chef of the nice restaurant is named Pierre Cousteau. His specialty is shellfish and flambe (because his father died tragically on a fishing trip where the ship was allegedly attacked by a giant crustacean).

Lord Arthur summons Leo and comments on Nina and Warson spending lots of time together. He’s concerned people might be going behind his back and trying to set them up together. Leo doesn’t know anything about this, but Lord Arthur orders him to come up with something to separate the two tonight. His father doesn’t want to risk the deal with the Waynwoods falling through (they’re not a family known for flexibility).

Leo finds Rebekka on the archery range, training Korinne. The younger girl is doing remarkably well. Leo compliments her on her shooting and she thanks him a bit awkwardly since Leo doesn’t talk to the bastards much. Once Korinne leaves, Leo tells Rebekka of his orders from Lord Arthur while Archer Joe keeps practicing in the background. He’s clearly still confused about what’s going on. Rebekka explains how Meera is concerned the Waynwoods plan on exploiting Nina. When Rebekka isn’t terribly helpful, Leo says the only thing he can think of is inviting Warson to a poker game tonight. She claims not to know where Warson is, so Leo storms off.

Rebekka tells Meera and Ysabel what’s happened at once. Ysabel has been having servants remodeling her room. Meera is there patching up one of the bastards who got hurt trying to help out and scraped up their knees. Archer Joe (now moving boxes) offers to set up a fake bandit attack as a distraction for Leo, but we turn him down. We settle on telling Leo some villagers have spotted suspicious lights in the woods and fear an attack. Ysabel finds him just before he would come across the couple and tries to dissuade him by being argumentative and convincing him there’s a threat elsewhere. He believes her and leaves, but not before telling a nearby guard to go break up Warson and Nina. Luckily, the guard he talks to is Archer Joe and does not comply. By the time Leo returns to the castle, Nina and Warson are finished with their painting date and packing up the supplies. Leo invites Warson out to play poker with him anyway. By Nina’s blush, it looks like the couple had a good time.

While Leo takes Warson out for a night with the guys, Nina knocks on Ysabel’s door. The younger sister is clearly taken with Warson. He’s friendly but not overly talkative, his island is intriguing, and he finds her paintings fascinating. But Nina is concerned that Ysabel will be offended if she gets married before her older sister. Ysabel gives her her blessing and agrees to help her speak with Warson about all this tomorrow.

Leo asks Warson his opinion about the Slagathor women. He thinks Ysabel has a good head on her shoulders and finds Nina quite intriguing. He doesn’t answer when Leo asks if he’s smitten with Nina, but it’s obvious enough. Leo says there are plans to send Nina and Geena to the Waynwoods but doesn’t elaborate on the arrangements. Warson ends up confused and leaves the gathering early with the look of a man with a plan. Leo worries that Warson might intend to do something rash and has guards follow.

Meera encounters Warson stalking the halls and asks if he’s all right. He asks for a minute of her time. Warson requests more information about the arrangement with the Waynwoods. Meera remains fairly vague, saying she’s not at liberty to disclose the details, but she emphasizes that it’s a tentative arrangement and nothing is fixed yet. When Warson asks how determined Lord Slagathor can be, Meera says he will go to great lengths to protect his family and his people but he also allows them a lot of freedom (for example, Ysabel running the port). Warson says he’s seen that, but it also seems Nina isn’t allowed that same freedom. Meera says many people in the family feel very protective of Nina, perhaps to a fault. Warson thanks her for her counsel and walks away— and in a sudden flash of insight, Meera realizes he’s probably intending to elope with Nina. She quickly follows.

As they walk, Meera quietly tells him she can guess their intentions and she doesn’t want him doing anything to damage their newly formed friendship between their families. She says he ought to make sure Nina feels as he does and then, if she does, they should speak with Lord Arthur. She offers to go with them. Warson agrees to this, and soon he, Nina, Meera, and Ysabel are headed for Lord Arthur’s room. The guards report what they’ve seen to Leo and he goes there as well.

In Lord Arthur’s room, Rebekka is playing a strategic board game with her father. They discuss Rebekka’s marriage to Idwell and where the couple will live. It’s customary for the woman to move in with the man, but they haven’t decided yet. Lord Arthur assures her she would never be a burden to him if she wished to stay here. Rebekka brings up the potential arrangement between Nina and Warson just as the group arrives.

Sighing in resignation, Lord Arthur asks what’s going on. Rebekka bows and moves to the corner. Warson and Nina are holding hands as Meera sits down to start the discussion. Lord Arthur, though uncomfortable saying this in front of Nina (who wasn’t aware of the arrangements), explains that there are important ongoing negotiations with the Waynwoods. Meera points out that this arrangement would not be in Nina’s best interest, and she knows Lord Arthur cares deeply for his children’s well-being and happiness. This “ward” request is highly unusual, even unheard of. Arthur agrees he’s not at all comfortable with the proposed deal but he doesn’t think the Waynwoods will agree to Geena’s marriage without the full package. The opportunity to marry into a great house is a rare one in this age.

Having listened a while, Leo proposes letting Warson and Nina court for a while before anything is decided. Warson says he would rather become engaged with Nina now than risk letting her be taken from him. Leo, Ysabel and Meera argue together that the Waynwoods are taking advantage of us and even marrying into a great family isn’t worth being abused. Meera expresses her intention to go speak with the Waynwoods at once to renegotiate.

Finally, Lord Arthur capitulates and agrees to do what’s best for his daughter. Warson and Nina become engaged (pending the approval of his mother, though he doesn’t see why she would refuse). There will probably be no dowry exchange because the Upcliffs are in the habit of demanding dowries from men. Warson will need to head back to Witch Island by boat to report because his family doesn’t use ravens— or rather they do, but they have their own network separate from the maester system.

XP: 15

SESSION 17 (4/8/17)
Episode 9: Pirate’s Teeth

As Rebekka is stuck dragging everyone’s luggage down the hall, she sees Jenny, the Arryn servant who tried to steal from the Slagathors. She’s half-assedly sweeping the floors. The girl quietly tells her their servant network has people in Gulltown too and shows her a little scrap of leather with a yellow fly stamped on it. Rebekka recognizes the emblem of the Consortium, the popular underground information network. Jenny gives it to her and tells her to show it at the fifth port building near the Crone’s Scones.

A servant informs Ysabel that Lord Arryn wishes to see her before she leaves. They meet one-on-one. Lord Arryn says he was quite impressed with her performance in the debate against the Graftons. Ysabel modestly answers that she was only doing her duty for her family and showing her loyalty. The lord comments that Lord Arthur must have great faith in her to entrust her with this duty. He recommends that Ysabel go to Harrenhal with Lord Arthur (along with anyone else Arthur wants to bring). Lord Arryn suspects he’ll need someone like her there. There are many rumors spreading, some of which might prove advantageous to the Vale if exploited correctly. He believes Ysabel has earned the right to start gaining his trust. If she continues to be of service to him, her family could greatly benefit. Lord Arryn recommends our family arrive a day or two earlier than requested. She assures him that he can count on her assistance and her loyalty.

Leo is waiting by the elevator to head down to ground level when Robert Baratheon strolls over with Ned Stark. Robert is as overly friendly as always and gives Leo a big hug, then throws an arm around Ned and says Ned had something to say to Leo. Ned tells Leo he was surprised at how Leo jumped to defend Lady Hunter’s honor. Leo said it just seemed like the natural thing to do. Ned says Leo did the right thing and offers him his hand to shake. They all say they look forward to meeting again at Harrenhal. Leo says it will be an honor to spar with Ned; the Stark reciprocates.

Maester Meera talks with Lord Hunter, Maester Targon, and Maester Esteva (see recaps).

A little earlier, in the hours after the debate with the Graftons, Ysabel has a servant request a meeting with Viktor. They meet in the gardens. Viktor gives her a bow. She asks for his understanding regarding the disagreement over Shett lands. Viktor says he wasn’t involved in the dealings, but he’s sure she did what she felt she must. He doesn’t seem to hold any grudge against her. Viktor says they’re all family, and Ysabel agrees. But he doesn’t know how to change their tense relationship. Lord Marq takes most of his advice from Randall and Maester Targon, neither of which care for the Slagathors. Ysabel hopes Meera’s discussions with Targon will help bridge that gap.

Viktor believes the Slagathors would need to make some proactive move to prove themselves to get Marq’s attention, and he has an idea. But he is reluctant to tell her. She impresses on him how hard it might be for them to discuss things in private like this. Viktor quietly mentions the rumors that Marq has been traveling away from Gulltown and spending coin somewhere. He says the Graftons have a plan; if things come to fruition, things at Harrenhal should be quite interesting. All of the great houses will be there, being watched closely by the king and the prince. Viktor thinks he might be able to convince Marq to make use of the Slagathors at Harrenhal, and their service might thaw relations between the families. Any available resource might be needed. Viktor claims not to know much more about the details. He says men like him only become useful when things get “interesting”.

Leo seeks out Lord Lynderly to talk about the anti-pirate coalition that’s being built, but the lord is quite dismissive of the threat of pirates or mountain men. As for the Lord of Light issue, his maester, Esteva, is the head of the Vale, so he feels the matter is already well in hand. Leo tells him the Slagathors are there if the Lynderlys ever need help. Lord Lynderly thanks him in a way that makes it clear he doesn’t ever intend to call on us.

The Bloodhands and the young Royce break off from the party to head back to their respective homes. It takes the Slagathor party 1-2 weeks to return to the Teeth. We stop at the Black Squirrel along the way; it’s traditional that the Slagathors stop there the night before they get home.

Avlon rides out to meet us with Rupert and 20-30 soldiers. The boy takes his responsibility very seriously and treats everyone with deference, trying to imitate Lord Arthur. Rupert makes fun of Avlon and sulks when he gets told off. The younger boy has a little trouble controlling his horse. Avlon starts to open up when Leo asks about his hunting. He hasn’t seen anything but animals on his patrols and things have been peaceful. Lord Arthur has been busy with work and sending messages as well as training the archers for combat. Clifford is still with the Redwoods. The peasants are planting in the fields and morale is high.

Lord Arthur greets the party warmly. Avlon joins the other four for the debriefing. We tell him everything, though Leo leaves out his near-tryst with Lady Hunter and Meera doesn’t mention Lord Hunter’s stolen sword (since she was asked to keep it quiet). Ysabel emphasizes that there are Graftons who want our families to reconcile and that both the Graftons and the Arryns hope for our assistance at Harrenhal. Rebekka doesn’t mention the Consortium information network.

Arthur explains that he sent many letters to try and expand our anti-pirate coalition. Many houses are supportive of our efforts but are reluctant to join, wary of being tricked. House Starskin has already agreed to join. House Coldwater is considering it. He suspects many houses will join if something happens, but we would have to do something to sweeten the deal if we expect them to join preemptively. Lord Arthur is quite pleased we secured an invitation to Harrenhal; only major and moderate houses get invitations, so this says good things about our status. Of the Raven Five, only House Bloodhand has also secured an invitation.

Clifford is doing a scouting mission with House Redwood and will likely join us for the attack on the mountain men. Marcus Felix informs us that Lord Marq has returned to Gulltown and Marcus has secured a meeting with him. Ysabel says Marcus Felix should listen for any plans the Graftons might have, especially pertaining to Harrenhal, and take note of Marq’s disposition. Geena reports that Marq was meeting with the Sealord in Braavos. Officially it was to request a new loan for the port. Gerold is away on a trading mission to the south, possibly to King’s Landing (it wasn’t to Wickendon). Kale (age 14) has been practicing his combat skills but Geena finds him unattractive. Lord Coldwater writes that relations between the king and the prince worsen by the day. The hand, Merryweather, has been trying to smooth things out between them.

Lord Arthur asks Leo and Ysabel to stay behind (he will speak with Meera right after). He’s concerned Avlon isn’t much of a leader of men and won’t ever make a good garrison commander. He says he feels Rupert (12 years old) is now old enough to start being treated like an adult. He asks Leo to start training Rupert in combat. He also wants Ysabel to start training Rupert as though he were to succeed her as Master of Coin. Though Rupert won’t admit it to Maester Meera, the boy clearly loves to read as has been known to sneak books from Arthur’s own library. Arthur would rather the Master of Coin be a Slagathor if possible. As for the Waynwood proposal, they will discuss that later.

The lord meets with Meera and Rebekka next. Meera fills Arthur in on what she’s learned about Alundra Reed during her travels, with Rebekka’s house. Lady Alundra is third in line to take over the Reed household. Howland Reed, the heir, is not considered very worthy; he’s sickly and has a poor reputation. Arthur and Alundra have been communicating since last fall. As Alundra has no maester (and doesn’t want her message read by the Reeds), her letters arrive by courier. Arthur met with her in the fall (almost a year ago). He found her very charming and beautiful, almost too good to be true. Meera points out that no one has said a word against Alundra, but we can’t discount Lord Royce’s poor opinion of her. Arthur thinks Alundra is ambitious and wants to increase her power. Rebekka says it would buck tradition to pass over Howland Reed. Arthur says something might always happen to Howland. Alundra has offered something intriguing in exchange for our help: letting part of our house split to form a new bannerman house to the Reeds.

It would be a dangerous game to play, but also a rare opportunity. We could redeem the Slagathor name and form a whole new house led by one or more of the Slagathor children. Arthur suspects Alundra is planning something for Harrenhal. Meera asks if Arthur thinks Alundra is trustworthy. He’s not sure. She’s charming, charismatic, persuasive… She seems very capable. But we don’t know if it’s just an act. Rebekka says it doesn’t matter if it’s an act or sincere as long as we get what we want from her. Meera is worried that the risk is too great to take if we can’t be sure she’s trustworthy. Lord Arthur decides it’s worth meeting with Alundra at Harrenhal to at least hear her out. He says Rebekka might be needed to help investigate her.

_Alundra Reed

Gulltown: Meera asks around to see if any Reeds have been through Gulltown. Henry Reed is typically seen once every few seasons; he’s the merchant of the family. The other Reeds generally stick to their swamps. But he brought along another Reed last summer, Alundra, who recently came to power in her branch family. It seemed he was showing her the ropes of what he does, though she was quite commanding and charismatic herself. She is a cousin to the main line, as is Henry. The latter doesn’t have a great reputation; he’s generally gruff and unfriendly. They say he’s friendlier towards the Royces than the Graftons. But Alundra was very friendly to everyone when she visited. She helped load and unload goods herself; attended some theater shows; gave money to the poor; and left a very good impression with the people. No one knows exactly what she discussed with the Graftons.

Runestone: The maester also spends some time asking around about the Reed family. About a year ago, Alundra and Henry Reed visited for a few days. As in Gulltown, she made a favorable impression with most of the civilians and soldiers of Runestone. She was very open, friendly, pleasant, and attractive. But something happened on her last day there in a private conversation between the Reeds and Lord Royce. It caused a chill in their relationship, but people aren’t sure what was said. The Runestone maester opines that the Reeds were there to try and win allies for some reason. Meera makes a good impression with the Runestone maester and they part on agreeable terms.

Eyrie: From talking with some of the servants, you find that Lady Alundra Reed visited House Corbray at Heart’s Home in the previous spring, accompanied by Henry Reed, a man known as the only Reed to have left his homeland, the swamps. It just so happened that House Lynderly was also there during this visit. Not much trade was commenced, and the Reeds only stayed for a couple of days. During the short visit, Alundra was kind to the servants and men at the castle, not making them do anything tedious, and even helped an older woman carry some laundry. She was dressed in sailor clothes when they first arrived, but changed into traditional clothes inside the castle. She made a favorable impression to the attendants of the castle. Your source of information does not know though why Allundra and Henry Reed visited; it was first visit by Henry in over two decades._

Leo seeks out his second-in-command, Sam. He finds him in his (Leo’s) office since he’s been filling in for him. Sam has been studying reading and arithmetic. Sam is thrilled to hear that Leo picked up scarves at the Eyrie and Gulltown and chooses the Gulltown scarf since it’s more fashionable. He says his girlfriend Margaret will love it. Sam reports that nothing has happened so far this spring and proudly shows a copy of a letter he wrote himself to the Crowmores. It’s very poorly written, but legible. The Crowmores report Bonebreaker activity near their castle.

Sam asks where Leo will live once he’s married. Leo isn’t sure yet, but he’ll at least be here a while to train Rupert, maybe Avlon as well. Sam says he’s willing to move with Leo if his lord chooses to go.

Sam then reports that nine of the mountain men we picked up have had to be imprisoned because they won’t convert to the Seven. The rest seem to be acting in good faith but mostly keep to themselves and won’t integrate. He recommends the nine holdouts be executed. Leo agrees. He’ll work with Meera to try and integrate the rest. The nine will be executed tonight, quietly. Leo decides to take Avlon to watch.

Ysabel inspects the construction of the new market, down by the port. It’s coming along well so far. Work has been going on for about two months and should be complete by the time we return from Harrenhal. Jayne approaches Ysabel with a worried look. A ship called “Miss Jasmine” arrived from Essos this morning. One of our “fishermen” (i.e. those brought here by Xanduul) identified it as a pirate ship belonging to the El Viento family. The ship is currently docked here and the crew of 25 are acting like regular traders so far. The captain, Nys-Sandra, has requested a meeting with the port leader. Ysabel orders that Lord Arthur be informed and that the ship be inspected and disarmed. She suspects either revenge or a scouting mission and worries for her family’s safety. Leo and some of his garrison men are brought down to the port and filled in. Jayne says no one has been aggressive so far; in fact, the captain insisted that the ship be inspected.

The Slagathors meet with the captain on the deck. She’s quite welcoming and says the reputation of the Slagathors precedes them; in fact, she says they might be better known in Essos than in Westeros. She offers a sample of green tea. Leo says they’ll try some later, but he wants her to come speak with them at the port office first. He sends a man to fetch Meera as well. The captain mentions there are bows and other weapons in the hold, but only for self-defense.

Meera is currently going through her messages. Esteva says Locke and Dustin are the houses whose maesters were killed in the North. Both are on the east coast. Maester George of House Manderly was attacked but survived. Tywinna informs her that she’s heard Maester Gerrick might be hiding somewhere in the Vale. Oldtown believes he’s involved with the attacks. Meera knows her mentor never had a Valyrian link or any interest in Lord of Light matters. He was never ambitious and in fact turned down the chance to become an Archmaester. He’s also not vengeful. It seems most likely that he’s being set up as a scapegoat. A guard fetches Meera as she’s reading her messages and takes her down to the office.

Rebekka heads to her room and finds that it’s been trashed. Nothing seems to be missing, but some items are broken. It looks more like vandalism than a search. The tougher items took several attempts to break, so the culprit probably isn’t too strong. There’s a poorly written note on the bed that says “Go to your boyfriend and leave”. It might be a child’s writing. She suspects Rupert at first, but then remembers he has nice handwriting. In fact, she suspects it might be someone younger… Gareth Stone. He’s 8 or 9 years old and keeps to himself, though he tends to follow Rupert around and obey his orders like a lackey. Rebekka goes searching for him.

Gareth is currently carrying a basket of warm bread to Rupert’s room. Rebekka sneaks up behind him and knocks it out of his hands, then smiles brightly at him. He nervously gets to picking up the bread while she questions him about her room. She says her room is trashed. He comments that House Bloodhand’s servants are good at cleaning up. Rebekka stomps on the piece of bread he’s about to pick up and demands an explanation. She says she’s still part of the family. The boy says she’s not welcome here. But he deflates and backs away, frightened. She swears to make his life (and Rupert’s) a living hell if they ever touch her stuff again. Gareth mutters that Rupert wasn’t involved, besides telling him how to pick the lock. He also tells her to stay away from Corinne, because Rebekka’s mom’s ghost killed Corinne’s mom and has killed two more people in the last month. Gareth shouts that he hates her and runs away.

Ysabel, Leo, and Meera sit down to discuss the pirates. Meera does all the tests she can think of and determines there’s nothing wrong with the tea. Sam sends Nys-Sandra in. She immediately has a cup of it herself to further prove it’s safe. She says green tea is a new product they’re trying to market and they’re headed for Wickendon next. The captain says she understands our suspicions after what happened over the winter and admits straight-out that she’s a representative of the El Viento family. She’s taken aback when we don’t show surprise.

Nys-Sandra explains there’s a rivalry between the El Viento family and Gabool. Unofficially, the Sealord pays all of the major pirate groups tribute payments so they don’t attack. This year, they’ve noticed the payment to Gabool is much greater than ever before. They’ve also heard our family is forming an anti-pirate coalition and wish to join. They could change their title from “pirate” to “privateer” if it’s to their advantage. The Slagathors killed Gabool’s son, a feat that impressed the El Viento queen.

Leo asks why the El Viento family hasn’t joined Gabool, if the latter has been recruiting and buying out other groups. She explains that Gabool’s wife died of grief when their son was killed by Lord Arthur. The El Viento queen offered to marry Gabool, but he rudely slapped her in the face. Now the El Viento family has an eternal grudge against Gabool.

Nys-Sandra asks why we think Gabool has been accumulating more money. Leo says we suspect revenge for his son’s death, but it could also have something to do with the Grafton wedding. The captain agrees; the marriage is suspicious and too convenient. As for what the Graftons get out of this… who knows? Leo wonders if the marriage is a bribe to protect Gulltown from attack. Nys-Sandra is concerned that the pirate king has been accumulating all this wealth and power but hasn’t used it yet. Queen Umil El Viento was the one who told her all this to pass along.

Leo asks where Gabool is based. She offers to point it out on a map right now. A servant fetches a map and Nys-Sandra marks an island off the coast of Essos, maybe 3 weeks southeast of here, perhaps a month with a large fleet. She admits Gabool’s fleet is larger than the El Viento fleet and on par with or larger than the Grafton fleet. The captain isn’t asking for an alliance to be forged today; she just wants us to consider it for when the time comes. Gabool’s forces have been largely sticking to Essos lately, perhaps so they could be summoned at any time.

Meera asks bluntly how Nys-Sandra feels about the Lord of Light. The captain is puzzled by the question and says there are followers among her people and Gabool’s, though she herself is not one; it’s a popular religion in Essos (except in Braavos). She does note that the port town Gabool took over for headquarters has a red temple. She seems surprised to hear that Lord of Light followers have been committing murders in Westeros and says she’ll ask her queen to investigate. When she mentions there are followers among her crew, Meera asks to speak with them. Leo tells her she has to make sure there aren’t any in her crew next time she visits.

Nys-Sandra proposes we verbally agree to a non-aggression pact for now and perhaps we can forge something in writing next time they visit. Warren of the Pale Winds will be the captain who comes with her next time. Leo and Nys-Sandra cut their palms and shake hands to agree to a temporary truce.

Meanwhile, Rebekka jumps into investigating these murders. She learns one victim was a maid in the castle, a farm girl in her 20s who joined a few years ago. Her name was Wilda. She was found at daybreak, having fallen from the castle walls. The other victim was a man named Daniel. He belonged to the navy and was spotted drinking in the castle bar the night before. He was also found at daybreak, dead at the bottom of an interior staircase on the side of the castle nearest the town. He was in his 30s. They died on different nights. The servants all blame it on Mad Maddie’s ghost, but those who don’t believe in ghosts say they were just accidents. No investigation was conducted.

As far as Rebekka can tell, the two victims didn’t know each other. She asks Wilda’s friends if anything odd happened in the week before. The only thing they note is that Wilda liked to gamble at the bar a bit. She seemed very pleased with her luck lately. Rebekka heads over to The Grouchy Gator to ask around. The guys in the corner invite her to join them and Bill buys her some grog. His friend Silent Ed nods at them. Rebekka asks about Daniel and Wilda. Bill says the two belonged to a group of about ten people; he claims he steers clear of the group because he won so much money off them they wouldn’t invite him back. Wilda had great luck, but Daniel’s was terrible. Those two never had anything, but Tarrus the smith had eyes for Wilda. Bill heard that neither victim had money on them when they were found. The group hasn’t met again since the murders.

About 6 of Nys-Sandra’s crew are Lord of Light followers. We meet with the oldest first, a woman named Nys-Lyla. Meera asks about curses first. The woman believes in them implicitly as punishments doled out by the Lord of Light, though she’s never seen one. Their casting would involve fire, and their removal requires the victim accept the lord’s judgment and convert. She says someone who can read could learn more from the books in the temples. Meera asks if anyone on the ship has seen a curse. Nys-Lyla says no one would speak of it even if they had. She says they go to weekly gatherings to listen to the red priests and receive food. There are some red priests in Wickendon who used to be Essosi traders, though there is no temple.

Meera asks about sects. Nys-Lyla says no, in concept. But in practice, each great temple has their own methods. The head temple is in Asshai, very far east of here. Meera asks about sects that condone murder. The old woman claims not to know any. She says the Lord of Light doesn’t seek to rule, only to spread his faith, so they don’t generally kill those who don’t believe and they don’t take control of cities. Ysabel asks if she knows of any missions in Westeros and she says no. This woman is not wearing the two-beaded necklace we saw on the others, but she has a bracelet and necklace in a different style.

We question the other five in turn. One says he heard from a friend that he accidentally saw a ritual. A priest had captured a thief. They tied him to some logs and burned him alive… and the priest began to look younger. Another says curses can be broken by having the priest who cast it cancel it (their death does not cancel it). Another says they’ve heard of a Brotherhood of Scarlet Shepherds who are known to be very aggressive converters. They were established to start converting “difficult” areas. Unlike other groups, the Shepherds are spread through every temple. Whether they also have their own temple is unknown. They don’t have a peaceful reputation and people are afraid to ask questions.

We buy a few barrels of green tea from Nys-Sandra.

With the market underway, we now have enough wealth and fame to have a permanent house band at the Teeth. It’s a mainly brass band with flutes, trumpets, and a lute, and it’s called The Backteeth boys.

Crops are currently being planted. The farmers plant sunflowers, corn, wheat, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, potatoes, basil and other herbs.

Jayne informs us that many Essosi ports have public artwork on display. We ask Nina to paint some murals in the new market. In addition, we ask her to teach the children in town to paint and invite her most promising students to paint murals as well. An artist named Henri Mateeth helps out as well, and together they found an art gallery as well.

Rebekka goes to see Tarrus to ask about his dead friends. Though he answers her questions, Rebekka gets the feeling his answers are rehearsed, like he was expecting this. He claims an older member named Thomas has been acting strangely. He also says the person he’s closest to is Lana, a baker. She can’t get any more out of him despite his odd behavior and just tells him she suspects the deaths weren’t accidents.

Leo takes Rupert and Avlon down to the dungeons to witness the executions. Rupert doesn’t understand what they’re doing, but Avlon does. Avlon says the executions aren’t necessary and tries to talk Leo out of it. When Rupert figures things out, he mocks Avlon for being a wimp and says the executions will be fun. Leo tries to impress upon both of them that this is a necessary duty. Avlon doesn’t think it’s right or fair to kill these people; he argues mountain men are still people. Leo asks how Avlon would solve the problem. The boy suggests keeping them locked up indefinitely, giving them more time to convert. He snaps at Leo that he can do what he wants as “garrison commander” and he’d rather join the Wall than become one himself. As Avlon walks away, Rupert cheerfully asks when the executions are going to happen.

Leo addresses the nine mountain men and gives them one last chance to convert and bend the knee. One gives in, but the other eight stand firm. One spits on Leo and says he won’t renounce his gods. The second is similarly defiant. But all eight remain steadfast as Leo executes them one by one. Rupert asks to try killing one of them but Leo refuses. Afterwards, Leo asks why Rupert wanted to. The boy says it’s something he’s never done before and he wants to know how to do “lord” stuff. Leo mentions being concerned about Avlon. Rupert says his brother has been spending lots of time with Reynar, and letting an outsider like that act like they’re part of the house is a bad idea. Rupert compares it to Mad Maddie, who thought she was special and killed Lady Slagathor for it. Leo points out even insiders can betray, like what happened at Heartree. And Reynar has earned his trust after saving both Avlon and Nina. The mountain man has done more for the family than most guards have in years. Leo tries to impress upon Rupert that it’s best to use diplomacy, but you have to be ready to use the sword when necessary. Rupert listens intently and thanks him for explaining it. Reaching Avlon will be a different matter.

Leo speaks with the one who agreed to bend the knee and feels certain the man is sincere (he’d rather live, imagine that).

Leo goes to see Meera next. He finds her working in her office with Little Lily sleeping on the couch, tired out by a long night of pestering the maester. Leo explains what just happened. He’s worried Avlon won’t be willing to uphold the law himself and kill people when necessary. Meera asks why execute them rather than release. Leo is concerned they would have gone out and hurt someone. Meera asks why he let any mountain men join our household if he thought they were all harmful. Leo says maybe because they were fleeing the Lord of Light and they compromised with us. And they’re not warriors.

The mountain men will surely find out what happened, so Leo and Meera decide to go speak with them tonight. She’ll speak with Avlon afterwards, alone.

Ysabel checks in with Lord Arthur and learns he’s fine with the non-aggression pact (since Westeros doesn’t recognize blood pacts, but Essos does). She then goes to see Nina. Her younger sister is working intently and clearly incredibly prolific in her work. She’s been getting requests from all sides. Most of the paintings are very nice and typical, but a few are odd. One has people burning on a beach— the beach closest to the Teeth. Others depict murders. One victim is a man with a maester chain. Only one painting shows a scene of war. It shows the commander being killed by another man.

Nina can’t really explain the paintings, but she says she had a vision of fire coming across the seas. Painting seemed like her “salvation”. She doesn’t quite remember painting the beach scene. In her dreams, which she had over three days, she saw an evil fire approaching the castle. The fire seemed “confused”, like it didn’t know whether or not to attack the castle. She prayed to the Seven and the Maiden told her to keep painting, so she did. The only dream she’s had since then was her trapped in a forest, searching for Geena, but this one just felt like a regular dream.

Ysabel asks to buy the beach painting, but Nina says it’s free; she knows Ysabel buys her art supplies. Ysabel has the painting framed and hung in her room (planning to report this to the rest of the family). It seems like talking with Ysabel has snapped Nina out of her almost trance-like state; perhaps it would be best to make Nina go out more often and not isolate herself.

Leo and Meera go to see the mountain men in their wing of the castle. The elders meet us: Narsa, Dayla, and Queltor. Leo apologizes for the late hour and informs them of the executions. Queltor starts to respond in anger but Narsa quiets him. She says he laid down his terms and gave them a chance. They accept his offer to let them deal with the bodies. Narsa says she’ll inform the others in the morning, and we shouldn’t expect to see the mountain men tomorrow while they process this. Leo promises the guards and staff will give them space. Narsa asks for only the heads; the rest of the body doesn’t matter.

Meera asks how things have been otherwise. Narsa says it’s been a tough adjustment; her people aren’t used to living in the confines of a castle. Meera suggests integrating the mountain men with farming or hunting groups. Narsa agrees with this but warns some people are getting frustrated. Meera asks what Narsa would have us do. Dayla says they would rather live outside, if we would allow it. Leo says we can’t do that, but they’re welcome to take the outdoor work. Meera offers to hold class out in the courtyard once a week so the children can get some fresh air and Narsa appreciates that. Leo explains the importance of staying within the walls during these dangerous times. Meera asks Narsa to speak with her if she ever has any concerns for her people.

Rebekka tracks down Leo (after he’s dealt with the mountain man issues) and fills him in on the strange deaths that happened within a few days of each other. Leo is skeptical of her murder claim but eventually plays along. The wall the maid fell from is not a place where a maid should have been, but the soldier died in a staircase servants and soldiers used.

Leo and Rebekka go knocking on Lana’s door and ask about Wilda and Daniel. Lana claims Wilda won a lot of money from Thomas shortly before she died, and Thomas takes losses hard. Lana says she loved Wilda like a sister but never cared for Daniel. Daniel was good friends with Tarrus. Wilda was the first to die. It seems like Lana is telling the truth.

They try tracking down Thomas next. They find his room, but there’s no answer to their knock. When Rebekka picks the lock, she finds Thomas dead, hanging from a rope. Rebekka is morbidly pleased to see that she was right about there being something fishy going on. There are definite signs of a struggle, though someone tried to make it look like suicide. There’s a note on the dresser confessing to the two murders and asking for forgiveness. Leo happens to know that Thomas never joined the SWORD program and couldn’t read or write. Rebekka sadly concludes that Tarrus is probably the guilty party. She and Leo have both known him a long time and gotten significant pieces made by him, like Leo’s wedding ring for Sonya and Rebekka’s dagger for Idwell.

The two finally fetch Meera to fill her in. Corinne overhears and invites herself to the investigation. Meera takes the “suicide note” and requests handwriting samples from all the suspects. Tarrus and Bill were not in SWORD but Silent Ed is. Leo asks Sam to get the writing samples from the soldiers while he and Rebekka talk to Tarrus. Meera will take a look at the body.

Leo questions Tarrus, who isn’t thrilled to hear that the lord is now involved in the investigation. The smith seems shocked to hear of Thomas’ murder. Under questioning, Tarrus confesses he found money on Daniel’s body and used it to buy Lana some nice clothes. He didn’t report finding the body first because he didn’t want to return the money. He was low on funds because he had to pay off some debts and wanted to use it to impress his lady.

Meera determines Thomas was definitely murdered. His killer was bigger and stronger than him and snapped his back over the wooden chest. She compares the writing samples Sam brings her and determines that Billy is the likely culprit. Leo sends orders for Billy and Silent Ed to report to him for instructions at his office. After twenty minutes, only Silent Ed shows up. He indicates he hasn’t seen Billy since he went to bed.

Leo does a search of the castle and learns from a guard at the gate that Billy left the castle on horseback, headed for the Black Squirrel Inn. He, Rebekka, and Meera take their horses in pursuit. Billy’s tracks are erratic; he’s not used to riding, being a navy guy. We soon spot him in the distance and close in. He yells for us to stay away. Meera and Rebekka take shots with their bows while Leo rides hard to get to melee distance. Ysabel comes up riding hard with Corinne sharing her saddle; the bastard woke Ysabel and filled her in on condition that Corinne get to come along.

The shots are enough to knock Billy from his horse, dead. He has 15 silver stags on him. We take the body back to the Teeth and consider the case closed. But it’s clear the garrison soldiers are not doing their job properly if these murders almost went unnoticed. (HOUSE ROLL= -3 LAW)

Rebekka talks to Corinne about what she wants to do. The girl wants to do what Rebekka does, but she has other ideas as well. Corinne shows off the trick she just learned: pretending to find a coin behind Rebekka’s ear (a coin she took from Rupert). Rebekka advises her to study herbology with Maester Meera so she can learn about medicine and poisons.


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