G.o.T. Campfire - House Baratheon
Born out of darkness into the light
It is you who decides fate.
What is the world you live in? Where is your future? Who are your friends and allies and which of those might be foes?
Do you turn your back and leave the darkness behind you in order to face the light or do you avoid the light and dedicate yourself to the dark side of your life?
The choice is yours.
This is your campfire! Do what you must.
Paul D & DyrHearte writes
Make your own decisions and lead the story in the direction you and your members decide on.
We will not stand in your way. We shall not reveal your words until the last day.
You have until May 25th to add what you need.
On this last day, May 25th, try to make the closing post, as in finish the story - tie up loose ends - get it done!
But, keep in mind, the rating is set at 13+!
Good luck, my Warriors!
|Weary to the bone. Can't lift my arms to release the belt holding my scabbard. The grounds are deserted and quiet, even the tower guards appear subdued at their posts. Not sure what's brewing, but the portents of an important change has electrified the very air. |
I sigh and sit in a chair. With some difficulty, I remove the leather helmet liner I'd worn while riding the grounds and let my long hair fall as it may.
Lady Dyrhearte of Baratheon, an impressive title to be sure; yet, a title doesn't rule or lead and blood, no matter how pure, won't guarantee wisdom or insight. What I need is information. So far, information is what has been withheld from the Lady of Baratheon.
Thus I wait, maybe my cousin has some news on the matter of the upheavals House Baratheon is about to face. There must be some chance at unity; however, if the disquiet of the keep hangs this heavy, I just don't see the alliances holding for very long.
I hear footsteps just outside the Library door. With effort I stand and face whom may be approaching. I clutch the helm in my right hand my left hand rests on the pommel of my sword.
|As the door opens, I see the mage of Baratheon with a letter in his hand. |
"News from the High King" says the mage. "Lies about our house have been told and the king wants death to the one who stole the crown".
|"Lies... it's always lies," Queen Baratheon, huffs. "kill first, ask questions later. " She glides across throne room towards to window that looks out across her kingdom, "Lady Dyrhearte. Am I alone in thinking that there is more than the eyes can see?" the Queen closes her own eyes taking in a deep breath of sweet fresh air. "Someone is trying to get us to turn against each other. Someone is playing games, and we need to stop these petty arguments and work together."|
"Honestly, I don't know what to think anymore. People are confused, frightened, afraid of what they don't understand," Lady Dyrhearte said, her eyes remained on the Queen, "We need to stop the civil war before it it begins so we can stand against the other houses. I'm assuming you're suggesting that--"
"Yes, ol' friend, I'm suggesting that House Baratheon may have been infiltrated by an outsider, which means I must travel to my family members territories and try and convince them to work togetherto find this spy, not some crown thief. I think it's a ruse."
Lady Dyrhearte stepped towards the Queen so quickly, it caused the guards to begin to rush her. Queen Baratheon held up her hand against them confidently as the Lady continued, her discretion gone unnoticed to herself in her desperation.
"Are you mad? You want to travel around to the other factions of Baratheon while they are in the height of their distrust and anger?" her face flushed making her skin glow like passion set ablaze. "You don't have a target on your back yet, my Queen, why walk in the middle of a battlefield."
"That's exactly why, Dyr, because I don't have a target on my back YET, I'll be more likely to be able to mediate some negotiations for our factions to unite." the Queen's eyes, green as the forest trees, flickered with a shine of power Dyrhearte had never seen,
"Are you planning on taking the Iron Throne yourself, my Queen?" she asked, suddenly intrigued.
A smile slowly crept upon Queen Baratheon's face, her gaze continued to scan the horizon.
"Why not? I seem to be the only Baratheon left anyone trusts. My subjects adore me and I have open trades with ever major area open in all the territories. We not be large, but imagine what I could with more territory and resources."
Lady Dyrhearte considered the idea as she stared out across the kingdom. "If anyone could do it, it could be you. But why not have them come here?
"Less bloodshed. They'd fight each other on thw way herre, plus I plan on helping them. Their citizens are suffering, I want to share the goods and supplies stored in the storm rooms."
"But, my Queen," gasped those are the town's winter reserves!"
"We all have to make sacrifices for peace, Dyr. If I'm not willing to prove that, why should they trust me?" I said, raising my voice slightly. "Besides, think of it as strategy, make their citizens happy with me, then they'll have a harder time saying no."
"Indeed, you still remain a Baratheon, even with your odd ways, My Queen. To see the streak of darkness pulsate in your eyes for that moment, at least let me know you had not gone completely mad." Lady Dyrhearte's smile grew as but her eyes drooped.
"Rest, Dyr, We'll set out in a week," the Queen said as she took note of the Lady's sway. "Belle, please escort Lady Dyrehearte to the guest quarters, have her cleaned, dressed in comfortable night clothes and nestled warm for a good rest." Belle nodded and began delegating to the other handmaidens that had appeared at the ring of the Queen's servant bell.
The Queen's mind reached out for the Iron Throne and could almost feel it in her grasp. Could she settle the unrest among her own families territories in time to stave off whatever plan this spy has set into motion? How was she going to find this culprit? Would she truly be able to pull her family together and have them support her, the least known Queen who ran the smallest of kingdoms in all the lands, in taking on the Iron Throne?
I'll agree under a few conditions."
"Conditions?" the Queens eyebrow arched highly at those words. She made conditions, but she understood compromise, "What sort of conditions, Dyr?"
"You allow me to be your escort with extra troops, and I plan the routes."
|I sit on a comfortable chair near the market, which is bustling with activity. I am close enough to see and hear but far enough away that my audience can hear me. |
"When will he start again? a man's voice asked.
I stand and walk up onto a small dais. My audience is small at the moment. I clap my hands to gain their attention. "Today I will tell you of King Fenius the First."
I smile at the blank expressions on their faces. "How easily we forget the rulers of the past. It was a mere four hundred and eighty years ago."
I hear a chuckle or two and see several people frown in disappointment perhaps. My stance changes, and now it appears as if I am sitting.
"I sit high on the edge of a tall cliff looking down on my kingdom. I had many dreams when I was small, but not even once did I imagine that I would become the ruler of all of this."
A loud clatter of horses brings my story to an abrupt halt. I recognize the banners right away--the Queen. People scramble from the road as her coach rolls by.
I leave the dais and quickly thread my way through the crowd. I can smell the stables long before I arrive. When I enter, I find the nearest stable hand to take me to my horse.
"Do you wish me to saddle him, Sir," the young lad asked.
"No, Gallant, does like anyone touching him, except me--most of the time."
The lad smiled as we reached my horse's stall. I handed him a small coin.
I rode Gallant slowly until I reached the main road, then I set off at a gallop, following after the Queen's company.
| Preparing for the arrival of Queen Baratheon is not a an easy task. I am feeling quite nervous towards this meeting. Although I have no say in what will happen, I still need to be on guard of any new alliances.|
There are whispers in the courtyard that the Queen may not make it here. Who would want to stop her? As Baroness to this I am sworn fealty to the crown. This leaves me no choice but to be sure she is safe in her arrival.
I adore the Queen and have attended many a celebration in her kingdom. She has never given me any sort of a scowl remark. If I am needed on her behave as well then I must rise to my responsibility.
To keep the peace will be a task that could be beyond my control.
I have no choice but to speak to council and send our newest recruits to be sure the Queen arrives safe. How do I know who to trust? An inside Kingdom war is about to begin if this is not settled. If she does not arrive within the fortnight there will be no doubt a war.
|Despite all the recent tensions, I slept well. The Queen was gracious with the rooms and lady's maid. I've not experienced better accommodations anywhere in the whole kingdom. Fresh travel clothes were laid out and waited for me to wake. There is little time to enjoy the luxury of the room. Queen of Baratheon requested I accompany her on this dangerous, though she is determined to minimize the risks, Ambassadorial Tour. I will need to request the best of the Palace Guard as armed escort. The Captain of the Guard is a trusted man and will know the best twelve. |
I ring for the lady's maid and assume the girl who assisted last evening would assist this morning...Why do I think things will be the same from one moment to the next? An older woman, one who I am vaguely familiar as associated with another of the Lady's here at the Baratheon Palace, entered to assist with my Toilet'. She was quite efficient. Soon I was striding down the dark hall and down the stair. I could hear the song of the predawn bird calls. One robin was especially boisterous in his song. Ah, if only there was a space of time when spring could be appreciated within the realm of Baratheon. I shake my head as I head for the main council hall. There is a commotion and I step to one side as a footman bustles from the door with an empty tray in hand. I enter unannounced but not unnoticed.
"No more, Sir. I am to leave as soon as the carriage is packed...Ah, Lady Dyrhearte, I knew you wouldn't be long." Queen Darlene rose from her chair, took one step toward me and directed me to a place between two fairly red faced councilmen.
I perform a deep curtsey. "Highness."
"Don't bother with formalities Dyr. Come, break your fast and look over the map for the route best taken."
"Highness, really you mu..."
Queen Darleen raises her hand palm toward the official trying to protest. "I said, No More! One more protest and you shall be expelled from the hall. Either get on board or stay silent."
I look around and see the Captain of the Guard standing at the opposite side of the table. There as a platter of roasted fowl, assorted hard and soft cheeses and bread on the table, but no one except the Queen seemed to be eating.
"Captain, any suggestions as to the safest route. I've heard reports that the southwestern road to these Baronies," I place my finger on the southern road, "are the most hazardous to travel."
The Captain looked intently where I rested my finger and gave an abrupt nod to my assessment. "Yes, ma' Lady. The safest route however would be to take the southern road initially."
I look at the Captain feeling unsure. "Please, explain."
"Well, no one knows, yet of the Queen's intentions. If we take the safer roads first it will give more time for trouble to prepare on the more dangerous roads."
I like this man, he knows of the delicate balances required to serve the will of the Queen, yet to the best of his ability, ensure her safety. I confirm my agreement of his assessment when I say, "Yes, and the Baroness LL has and always will be an allis to the Queen. She is beset with many border troubles."
"So you are saying we travel south to Baroness LL then turn west, circle northward then east for our route?" I stepped aside as Queen Darlene peered at the map.
"Yes, my Queen. I also insist we take a dozen of the best of the Palace Guard, commanded by the Captain."
"Highness, I also insist that if you are determined to travel these unsafe roads, you be escorted by an armed guard." The red faced councilman nearly physically stomped his foot with his statement.
Queen Darleen opened her mouth to protest, but when Rutherford finally acquiesced in her traveling plans she agreed to the guard. Rutherford was a panty-waste at times but it always helped to compromise when he finally agreed to her demands.
Thus, by midmorning the Queen's entourage was traveling through a small market village heading south to Baroness LL's troubled lands.
|I pressed myself deeper into the small dark hallow under the roots of an ancient oak and held my breathe. I could sense the malevolent presence nearby and sent up a silent prayer that they would not find me. The news I had for the Queen was vital for her safety. |
The crack of a twig set my nerves on edge. My heart was beating so loudly I could barely breath. I strained my ears to pick up any movement.
The voice was so close I thought I had been discovered. The command in the voice was palpable.
"We must find and capture the Lady Aedrac before she reaches the safety of the Baroness's palace. If Queen Darlene hears what she has found out, our plans will be ruined."
"Your Grace, the men are searching everywhere. There is not one trace of her passing to be found. Perhaps she has taken another route."
I don't ' care what route she takes!" The fury in the voice was thunderous. "Find the bitch and bring her to me!"
"Thane! Bring my horse. I must return to the Palace before I am missed." The jangle of a horses harness approached, accompanied by the sound of feet in the undergrowth of the forest.
I could hear the scuffle as he grabbed the horse and cuffed the unfortunate thane before galloping off, I knew not where. I keep my silence as the sound of pursuit passed by and slowly faded as the search party tried to find traces of my flight.
I must not leave this safe bolt hole until I am sure they have gone. May the gods of fortune stay with me until I reache the safety of my Queen. She is in mortal danger.
|I had heard the Queen was coming. The Baroness's palace was a buzz with rumours that she would be visiting her realm in the hopes of finding someone that was against her. Who would do such a thing! |
How she would do that, I did not know, but I was curious and my curiosity had me listening in the Great Hall and around the corridors in the hope of gathering anything helpful. Being small and insignificant, most people ignored me. Carly was a mere child, they’d say, but I was smarter than my years.
I wanted to join them, take on some adventure. I was tired of just being here, doing the expected. Now was my chance and not only did I long to take it – I was going to – I would join their adventure and help as best I could.
|The Queen sat and listened to the wheels turn over from fine rock to the dirt of the southern path as they left the comforts of her castle behind. I'll return victor or I'll return naught, she said to herself as she watched the front gates-man disappear from her view over a small hill. Now all she could see were here guards towers and the central tower where she held her monthly feasts for the citizens of her kingdom.|
Father may not have cared for the fact that she used her royalties for the people but mother always had slipped her money to help those who were less fortunate.
"Keep the people happy, and they shall protect you as well as any guardsman can." her mother would say as she drifted off to sleep. Queen Baratheon was no fool though, her father still taught her caution and sense. His quest for the Iron Throne had not gone so well, but this was why her kingdom had been left alone amongst all the civil unrest among the territories. It was tiny and run by a woman, the only heir of her father's throne. And she had not married yet, so no King! Hmph. What trouble could she be?
"I'll be no trouble at all, my dear brethren." the Queen whispered to herself, she was prepared to defend her kingdom at all costs but she refused to let tyranny take over the entire house.. "I will bring peace and prosperity back to all of House Baratheon."
"What, my Queen?" Dyr asked as she rode her steed near the left carriage door.
"Nothing, I was just lost in my thoughts, is that the entrance to the Southern road I see?" the Queen asked as she looked ahead.
"Yes, my Queen." is all Dyr would say. There was a hint of fear in her eyes. the queen moved over to the right side of the carriage and looked upon the Captain and his horse. He looked over and as if reading the Queen's thoughts, he nodded and headed towards the entrance into the thick forest path ahead of them. Though it was day, it looked dark and brutal. The trees seem to bunch together into a dense wall. Someone had planted sharpened tree stumps along the edges of the entrance. A few riders unsheathed their swords and rode quickly towards the Captain as he called out to them.
The Queen leaned back over towards Dyr, a look of concern on her own face began to appear. Dyr seemed to relax a bit when she saw this.
"My Queen, I'm glad to see fear CAN touch your heart a bit, it is healthy. But no worries, they're merely clearing the overgrowth for us to get through," Dyr slid a silver dagger, handle first, into the Queen's hands, "I will keep you safe, I give you my word and my life, but do not trust every face we come across."
They entered into the thick forest and the Queen sat back in carriage, thinking of the Baroness LL. She was but a child when she met the Baroness last, but she held out hope that their communications over the last decade, though sparse, held true.
The darkness swallowed the carriage and the circle of guardsman that surrounded her.
|Riding in the wake of the Queen's passage, a common looking man is given little consideration. This jongleur is anything but common. As a teller of stories, he observes all around him. "Why are there no scouts, keeping watch on the Queen's back trail?" he muttered to himself. |
A sliver of fear like an icicle touched his heart. While watching for the enemy, do not forget the false friend. His father and brothers served as knights, and he never heard an end to their complaining of the intrigues between various factions.
A cloud of dust hung in the air. A clear sign to anyone with eyes. He rode at a steady pace. He didn't expect the Queen's company would encounter trouble while it was still day.
The tracks of the Queen's company turned off onto the Southern road. He stopped for a moment. The forest ahead had an ominous feel to it. He nudged his horse forward.
When night fell, he left his horse tied to a tree and ran ahead on foot. He frowned at a flickering light ahead. The Queen's company should have a cold camp, unless this was someone else. But who else would be out there on this road at the same time as the Queen?
|Sitting at a camp fire, Princess Aisha looks into the flames that casts shadows from the trees reminding her of the shadows of her life. She snaps a small twig in her fingers and snaps it. You're like the Queen, meek and fragile, especially when between my fingers. As she leans back, a heave of relief escapes her slightly parted lips. She remembers the flash of the silver dagger when Dyr removed it from the scabbard earlier that evening. Princess knows she has to find a way through the shields of protection to her mother.|
The rustling of leaves makes her sit up right and look around, her dark eyes wide with curiosity. Apart from her little bonfire, that allows her to see just bushes and clumps of trees, she doesn't see any person. As the rustling continues, it grows louder and nearer. Princess Aisha stand up and removes a dagger from her sheath.
"Who is there?" she's firm.
A shadow creeps up on the thick grass before her. "Traveling alone can hold so many dangers."
"I am the teller of stories." A tall man with brown beard and a green tunic stands right in front of the fire. "This looks like a good place to stop for the night."
"I have marked it as my territory. Go away and leave me to be alone." She looks away and tilts her head upwards in an air of arrogance.
"Well then, I will have stories about the Princess to tell." He turns away.
She almost gasps, but then bits her lip to suppress it. How did he recognize her in a black cloak with its hood over her head and plain black gown? She opened her mouth to stop him, but closed it since she did not want anyone knowing her dark plans against the Queen.
|Baroness!! I have come back to tell you that someone is following the Queen. She detoured to throw off any enemy that may elude her. The others are scouring the forest as we speak. They sent me back here to tell you we need more men. |
There are too many out there who want to see the Queen suffer under an iron force. Blood Shed Baroness !! Blood Shed!!
"Calm yourself child. The Queen will be accompanied by her own as well. My question is, are her own people trustworthy or is there someone in her own company that she does not know about."
"I will tell you what. Make sure both ends are covered. As for you, I want you to head back to the Queen's castle and be sure nothing else is being planned. If you see anything out of the ordinary you are to take it upon yourself to do what you must.
"Queen Darlene means more to me than my own. She must be safe if we are to regain safety and peace as a kingdom. Be sure to account for everyone that should be there. Her family most of all. I know there are a couple of them that would love nothing more than to see her throat cut and her head on a spear. I have to think of my own well being as well. If the Queen does not show, my own life could be at stake for sending my troops out."
"Yes of course Baroness! I will be sure the entrance is covered and I will go straight to the Queens Castle and find out anything I may. Be safe Baroness."
"As well to you."
|The expected night camp took shape with practiced efficiency. The Queen's tent formed the center from which all other tents radiated. The outer edges of the camp consisted of the palace guard and the accompanying servant's tents. I, Lady Dyrhearte, had my own personal tent within the inner circle along with the Captain of the Guard and the councilman the Marquis Rutherford. I was surprised this small statured and elderly man had travelled as well as he did. In point of fact, the Marquis seemed to gain energy and an inner glow I've never before seen. Quite the transformation.|
The camp has quieted considerably. I rise from my cot and silently traverse the space between my tent and the Queen's. At the back of her tent, I place my hand over my mouth and utter a muffled hoot of an owl; a signal prearranged by myself and the Queen. I look around for any witnesses to my actions and see not a soul. I hear quiet movement within the tent then the thin silver blade of a dagger punctured then cut the canvas of the tent wall. I step to the side and waited for the Queen to emerge.
She stepped through the cut in the tent wall and smiled like the cat ready to pounce upon the grasshopper. I placed my finger accross my lips then escorted Queen Darleen to my tent. Inside we exchanged robes then I slipped out and into the Queen's sleeping chamber. The Queen would get a good night's sleep and I, I would spend the night as bait. Bait dangled to thwart any treachery during the night. I probably wouldn't get much rest, but I felt satisfied that the Queen was safer now than she would have been without this little ruse.
Several hours passed and I slept after a fashion. Of a sudden, I woke. Someone was in the outer chamber of the tent and moving toward the curtain of the sleeping chamber.
|I have travelled as fast as I could to reach the Queen's camp. Several more times I have had to find a hiding place to evade my pursuers. |
Daenerys of Targaryen would be ruthless if I was caught. The three dragons she hatched on the funeral pyre of her husband, Drogo, are gaining in strength daily and her ambition to regain the Iron Throne is growing. As the last true Targaryen after the death of her brother Rhaegar, she intends to claim the Iron Throne as her birth right. She has fomented intrigue and rebellion across the land in her quest for power.
Her fierce hatred of the Usurper, Robert Baratheon and his seed has grown ever since her brother, her sister-in-law and beloved neice and nephew were murdered by the Baratheon during the Sack of King's Landing. She is systematically removing all who stand in her way and Queen Darleen is the biggest threat to the success of her campaign. The people love Darleen because of her kind concern for them and her support is growing. Daenerys will stop at nothing to ensure that she is killed.
There is a heavy oppressive air to the forest. The sounds of the night seen strangely muffled. The shadows between the trees shift and moan. There has been no sign of the search parties since I turned onto the Southward road but I must approach the camp with caution. Daenerys has an ally in Baratheon who is primed to do her bidding. How could someone so close to the Queen and so apparently loyal align with Targaryen! May the Gods permit me to reach the Queen on time!
My eyes are straining to see the road ahead. As I move stealthily through the trees a group of shadows in the distance take on the distinct form of a group of three tents. The camp is silent and there are no lights to be seen anywhere. Lady Dyrhearte has done her job well. Her devotion to the Queen is said to be unwavering.
A sudden chink of dim light appears at largest of the tents. The furtive actions of the figure entering it are silhouetted briefly against the light before darkness returns. I creep forward carefully. I do not want anyone but the Queen to know what I have learnt, but my suspicions about the figure I just saw propel me forward.
|Meanwhile, back at the Baroness’s palace...|
The rumours were still swirling. Much of what was said was in hushed whispers but some were so excited they let their guard down and blundered the details in fuller voices making it very easy to gather any new developments.
It seemed the Queen was coming and she was on her way here. Detours had been taken to throw off any possible enemies. The forests were being scoured. More people were needed.
My heart surged, I could be used. I wanted to join, but I knew if I approached to join they would only laugh. If enough of them were going to the Queen’s castle I could venture along, unseen, but if found, it could mean my head... maybe it would be best to stay here and continue to listen and learn. I could even venture out into the forests myself... men were needed and I was more than capable. I’d been practicing my battle skills and could already feel my strength growing.
Yes, that is what I would do.
|After leaving the princess, the teller of stories continues a short distance and sets up a cold camp. He is far enough from the road to remain unseen but close enough to hear any travelers. As he lies down to rest, he thinks about the person who gave him warning about her. Do not allow the princess to harm or come to harm.|
The princess is of no consequence to him. The queen's safety comes first. There are too many rumors to make sense of it all. And with the setting of traps, there is no guarantee they will work. Avoiding danger is better than inviting it.
His sleep is fitful as it is interrupted numerous times in the night. One traveler rode by on the road, and men in the forest, with their torches, stomping around were enough to wake the dead. Anyone here with a desire to harm the Queen would have gone to ground by now to wait for another opportunity.
He rises early and waits. The Queen and her company will not leave this early. For now, he will stay on her back trail.
|As soon as the teller of tales leaves the princess' camp fire, she begins to gather her things. She needs to find a safer camp for the night. How silly can she be to light a fire that attracted attention? She still has a lot to learn. She takes long slow strides away from her initial spot, making sure to be as silent as possible. The darkness is blinding with neither the moon nor stars, but she uses her hands to feel branches and trees that are in her way. It's not safe for her to remain at the same spot after the story teller saw her.|
After a short distance, she sits on the long lush grass. It is getting colder and her stomach begins rumbling. but she will survive for the night. She hopes that her men will show up so that they can charge at the queen in the morning.
|I am now getting nervous. Maybe sending my best men out to find the Queen was not such a great idea. Now I am left open for anyone to enter my land. I need a safer plan not just for the Queen but for myself. |
There has to be a shorter way to get to the Queen and my only thoughts are through the waters. I call for the crew of the small ship I have left and tell them to prepare for a trip to the The Castle of Queen Baratheon.
"We do not have a choice. The Queen should have been with us by now and I have a feeling she is in great danger. I want a plan of the route within the next two hours and then we leave. If she is not back at her Castle then we will go forth and seek her out. This is a mission we must accomplish in order to save her life and keep her throne."
"I fear of her daughter Princess Aisha. She has not forthcoming with any news and I am not sure if the throne means more to her than her own mother's life."
|So much is happening across the land ruled under the House of Baratheon. Once, once my family had so much sway, and while I still keep my grandfather's title, it's been many years since we were of influence. The Geeks were once great hunters, Royal Archers for the ruling family. We've been out of favour since long before Queen Darleen's reign started. For no particular reason that I can find. Politics change, times change, families change.|
My own father had no interest in being a lacky.
He had no real talent in being a ruler. And no real power on his own land.
Now it's just me and my bow.
I fire another shot and miss the squirrel in the tree opposite me. I have considerable skill, but I'm not perfect. No one is.
Not even the queen.
It'll be some time before she heads my way. I may be out of favour, but I still own a considerable amount of land and a large amount of serfs. Many people live under my house and my name.
I have time yet.
I fire another shot, and hit the squirrel head on. I don't feel any better for having made the shot this time but I need the practise.
Especially if Queen Darleen was coming.
|I wait, tense under the cover, my hand upon the hilt of my sword. The person stood a moment facing the curtain. I watch the shadow in the darkness. I hear the first loud trill of the chickadee greeting the dawn. In another hour, the sun will clear the horizon and the Queen's entourage will again be on the road.|
The shadow pushed open the curtain veil and stepped into the sleeping chamber. My grip tightened and I pulled with slow deliberation upon my sword to clear the scabbard. The shadow then leaned over the small table next to the bed. I watched as a faint ember appeared and touched the wick of the candle. The shadow blew gently and the ember glowed. I waited as the intruder lit the candle and backed away. I was curious who would enter the Queen's chamber so casually. The shadow's back was turned toward the bed.
"I know you aren't the Queen. Come, Lady Dyrhearte, we must prepare for the day." Garrett Bowman, the Captain of the Guard, kept his back toward me as he spoke.
I push the covers from me and sit on the edge of the bed. "How did you know?" I stand and stretch the muscles in my legs. "It is okay, Captain. I am fully dressed."
Captain Garrett turns and faces me, his face grim. "You don't think I would know the movings of the smallest creature within the camp of the Queen?"
"Yes, of course. My apologies, Sir."
Captain Garrett bowed with only his head in stiff formality. "Now, if you please, return the Queen to her place so we may ready for the road. If we leave within the hour we'll arrive at Baroness LL's estates before the mid-morning tea."
"Yes, of course." I slip through the tear in the tent and step toward the entrance to my tent. In my haste to cover up my personal embarrassment that Captain Garrett so easily saw through my ruse I stumble over someone kneeling by a small table. Panic fills my mind as I land on my side. My sword, caught under the weight of my body, won't obey the command of my hand to draw it forth. I see a flash of steel and roll away. There isn't much room and I hit my head on the leg of the cot where the Queen lay.
"What on Earth and Heaven!" The Queen rolls from the cot and stands with dagger in hand. She stands with her back against the tent wall with the cot between herself, me and the intruder I'd fallen over.
I managed to gain a kneeling position, my sword drawn. "Who enters my tent unannounced?"
Captain Garrett arrives at the door of the tent with a lit lantern, his sword drawn.
"Lady Aedrac, My Dear. What brings you here?" Queen Darleen lowers the silver dagger I'd given her the day before.
I stand and lower my sword as I look from Lady Aedrac and Queen Darleen at a loss for words. In my confusion, the morning birdsong seems deafening to my ears.
|Relief floods my mind as I realise that my childhood friend is safe. I drop to one knee then rise and walk towards her. It has been six years since we last met.|
"I thank the gods that you are safe, my Queen." Queen Darleen walked across the tent, took me by the hand and led me to the bench at the end of her bed and bade me sit.
"DyrHearte, this is my old friend Aedrac. Please see to it that food and water are brought here for her. She looks as if she has hard a difficult journey." DyrHearte hesitated at the door with an anxious look on her face.
"Don't look so worried. I will be quite safe. The Lady Aedrac will not harm me. Our friendship was forged on the field of battle when we fought side by side against our enemies." DyrHearte bowed as he turned at the door.
"Your wish is my command, Your Highness. Lady Aedrac, I will return as quickly as I can with refreshments." She parted the curtain and was gone.
The queen moved to the table beside the bed and poured some water from a pitcher into a bowl and placed it on the bench beside me, handing me a soft cotton clothe.
"Wash the dust of the road from your face, my dear, and tell me how you came to be in this state." I took the clothe from her and did as she asked. It was good to feel the fresh clean water on my skin. I had been in too many ditches this night for my comfort.
"I have been fleeing from Daenerys of Targaryen, for many weeks, my Queen. There have been reports that her dragons are maturing and that she is determined to regain the Iron Throne as her birthright. The forest is not a safe place for you to be. She is bent on destroying you. Your popularity in the kingdom makes you her biggest threat."
The Queen grew thoughtful. A slight frown crossed her brow.
"These rumours have been bandied about for years. I do not fear Daenerys and her dragons. They take many years to reach adulthood and will only be half grown by now." She handed me a towel to dry my face and hands then joined me on the couch.
"There is graver news than that, Your Majesty. She has fomented rebellion and discontent across the land. There is talk of secret alliances with several of our the Noble Houses and I have discovered that she has even subverted one of your closest family to join her in her scheming. She has persuaded them to make an attempt on your life as you travel towards the Baroness's Palace." The Queen looked startled when she heard of this treachery.
"We must tell DryHearte to redouble the guards and increase their vigilance. Do you know who this person is, Lady Aedrac?"
"I have my suspicions, Your Highness, but I have no proof as yet. It is said that the traitor is extremely close to the throne." Again the Queen looked thoughtful.
"I must consider this news carefully. You look exhausted and must rest. We will talk more of it in the morning. When DyrHearte returns she will prepare a cot for you in the outer chamber." She raised her hand as I made to protest.
"You must rest or you will not be fit to travel in the morning and I desire to have you ride with me to the Baroness's estate."
|I had gone out into the stables in the wee hours of the morning. I could not sleep. Darkness held me captive. I kept my steps silent just in case. Even in the freshness of morning the smell of the stables hung in the air, but mingled with it was the scent of spirits. A bottle broken against the side of the building revealed what looked like a tussle of some sort. |
I moved past and slipped inside the enclosure. A few of the horses murmured at my entrance and I followed my usual path to Duen, my own steed. Rubbing her down eased my heart and I leaned into her gaining strength from her tall stature. I pulled the apple I had nabbed from the kitchen and held it out to her so that here silky lips nuzzled them took the welcome treat.
I turned my head to listen to the stables usual sounds. This early, it was quiet but I could swear I heard snoring.
I edged my way around in the dark, careful to be quiet, but also looking for the source of the noise.
I was almost on top of the sound when the racket shifted and words tumbled out in a croaked oath that cut a blue flame. I stood frozen for a moment, then moved behind some sacks of feed careful to conceal myself within the darkness.
“Get your bloody arse up you fool man.”
This boomed out around me. It was followed by the thump of a kick and a groan that dwindled into a whine.
“What the hell... Don’t be kicking me you dang idiot.”
“Me the idiot... now that’s rich.” Again there was the thump of a kick. “Get your drunk arse up. Do you remember the plan or do I need to go over it again so your thick head can gather the details.”
“Shit man... I remember.”
“Well, if you remembered so well, you wouldn’t be down here sleeping with your kind.”
A pig grunted off in the distance as if offended by that remark.
There was a shuffling, followed by groans as the man rose from his place on the ground. I could not make out their voices, straining as I was and the darkness that did so well to conceal me also concealed them.
“Let’s go then. The Queen’s entourage is to be arriving this very day. We still have work to do to make sure she does not go on from here... that is if the others don’t do their job.”
The two men moved off. I followed a safe distance behind. I needed to know who these strangers were and I needed to tell someone we had vipers in our midst.
|The teller of tales sat high in a tree overlooking the Queen's camp. His legs and back ached. He was too old to be sleeping on the ground at night and creeping about in daylight. Her camp was bustling now as preparations were under way for them to continue their journey.|
He looked in the other direction and saw a cloud of dust on the Queen's back trail. He had been expecting something like this while dreading it at the same time.
With all of the commotion in the camp, no one heard him descend the tree. He ran quickly through the forest to cut off the people coming toward the Queen's camp. He hoped they were friendly and dreaded the consequences if they were foes.
He stopped at his horse and removed his quarterstaff then continued his run on the road until he found a narrow place. He stopped and strung a thin rope at man-on-horse height. He continued down the road for a short while then went into the forest and dragged out a number of logs and laid them on the road, making a small barrier. He entered the forest to await their arrival.
The pounding of hooves on dirt reached him long before he saw any men. He stepped onto the dirt road with the log barrier between them and him. "Declare yourselves," he commanded to the group of at least fifty riders.
Several men pulled their swords while others scanned the forest carefully. "They are well hidden," he warned, "awaiting my command. My patience is wearing thin. Are you sworn men of the Queen?"
One of the men pulled a bow from his back. The teller of tales pulled a knife from inside his tunic. His throw was on the mark, and the man dropped the bow, gasping in pain from the knife in his shoulder. He heard a few curses, but no one gave an answer. "Turn back now if you value your lives," he warned.
A few riders rode their horses toward the barrier. A gruff voice said, "Go around, now!"
Their horses thundered off the road, riding a short way into the forest to bypass the barrier, then they returned to the road. They quickly galloped toward the Queen's camp.
He galloped after them, and not long after, shouts and cries filled the air. He halted a short distance from the writhing mass of men on the ground. About half of the large group had been unhorsed.
He dismounted and called out. "You will find only death here. Leave."
The leader of the men turned and galloped at him quickly. The teller of tales set his feet and prepared his nine foot quarterstaff for action. As the horse neared him, he leapt to one side and thrust with the staff. The man crumpled to the ground.
By the time the other riders passed him, six more men lay unmoving. He waited until he no longer heard the pounding of hooves. He slowly walked to those who had been unhorsed by the rope. He leaned on his staff. "Go now and never return. Next time, I will not be so kind."
He watched as they hobbled down the road, and he wondered what other dangers awaited the Queen this day.
|"LL Baroness, I commend you for your efforts in saving the Queen, but in order for us to save her; well I do not see how we can if we leave. Taking the water front root could lead us to more trouble, it would leave us wide open."|
LL Baroness paces back and forth dragging her cloak behind her. Thinking was harder under such strain and time is of the essence.
"Okay then, I need to know where Princess Aisha is. I have already sent forth a few men to go back to the Queen's castle. I cannot just sit here wondering, there is just too much at risk."
The door of LL Baroness's chambers started banging and someone burst into the room out of breath.
"Baroness! I have come back as quickly as I could. I believe you are right about Princess Aisha. She has alliances with a crew of men and has already left to find Queen Darleen. For now she is alone and waiting to attack her."
"How did you find this out?" The Queen knew all along that Princess Aisha had her own reasons for wanting the Queen Darleen out of the picture, but she does not realize that even if her Mother were to die, her name to the throne would not last long.
There are just too many connected to the throne over the land. Queen Darleen has been fruitful to her kingdom and without her there would be a doom ahead of everyone involved.
"Baroness as I was approaching the Queen's Castle i had to pass through the stables, I overheard two horse men talking. They said that there was a cue from Princess Aisha to meet her at her watch. She is preying upon the Queen where she is settled for a rest. They are going to attack her before she reaches you Baroness."
LL Baroness ponders the thought for some time, thinking of her own strategy to stop the Princess.
|The Queen is working her way steadily through the land, word reaches me quickly enough - little is kept secret here and I am already setting up archers and swords people around the perimeter of the land I own.|
I would head up the archers myself, but right now, there's too much too do. I can't spend all my time in the trees with a bow as much as I would like too. I did once, when I was younger and my father still able to preside over our land. When I was younger and my father was still able to get out of his bed.
My archers are set up on a three shift rotation. My swords on a four shift rotation. I may send a unit out soon in advance of the Queen's arrival. I don't want to be surprised.
I want to be ready.
|Not secure with leaving the Queen alone with the Lady Aedric, I loitered outside my tent and felt the awkwardness of a child presuming to spy upon her superiors as I listened to the conversation within.|
"Wash the dust of the road from your face, my dear, and tell me how you came to be in this state."
I step into a shadow so I don't silhouette the tent wall.
"I have been fleeing from Daenerys of Targaryen, for many weeks, my Queen." Something muffled the rest of the lady's statement and I could only make out scattered words. ..."reports that...is determined to regain...her birthright... not...safe...destroying...kingdom..."
I strain to hear more clearly but dare not disturb the door flap. I try to breathe quieter so my own breath doesn't interfere with my eaves dropping.
"These rumours have been bandied about for years. I do not fear Daenerys and her dragons. They take many years to reach adulthood and will only be half grown by now."
I hold in my sigh. Daenerys is a real and prominent threat and the Queen still insists on minimizing the danger.
"There is graver news than that, Your Majesty. She has fomented rebellion and discontent across the land. There is talk of secret alliances with several of the Noble Houses and I have discovered that she has even subverted one of your closest family to join her in her scheming. She has persuaded them to make an attempt on your life as you travel towards the Baroness's Palace."
I bite my knuckes. My thoughts race and settle almost immediately upon the Princess. I'd noticed her growing impatience and discontent over the last few months. Has Daenerys subverted the Queen's daughter?
"We must tell DryHearte to redouble the guards and increase their vigilance. Do you know who this person is, Lady Aedrac?"
"I have my suspicions, Your Highness, but I have no proof as yet. It is said that the traitor is extremely close to the throne."
I step away from my tent to comply with my Queen's request to arrange for food and drink. It doesn't take me very long to find the footman and give him instruction of where to deliver the food trays. I then locate Captain Garrett.
"Captain I have instruction from the Queen...we need to prepare for a possible attack."
"Yes, I wondered if trouble would follow the sunrise. Have you noticed, the birds are subdued?"
I cock my head lifting an ear and indeed, the birds had quieted. I look to the east and see the horizon brightening with a rosy haze. "Please, Sir. Prepare your men and join me at my tent. The Queen is still there with Lady Aedric."
Captain Garrett replied with a stiff nod of his head and walked with brisk steps toward the periphery of the camp where his men were spaced about on and off duty.
I turned back toward the household staff tent to check on the progress of the food and drink. "Mi' Lady Dyrhearte, we will be ready to serve in another quarter hour."
"Thank-you Jeffries. I and the Queen appreciate your efforts." I then turn from the staff members hustling to prepare several quick trays and make for my tent. As I arrive I hear Lady Aedric and Queen Darleen still in conversation, though the sound of it is less urgent and more like the conversation of girlhood friends. I take a breath and step through the entry.
"My Queen?" I courtsy as I speak.
"Yes, Dyr. Please come in. You are not an intrusion this morning."
I enter the inner chamber. The lady Aedric is seated in a chair and looked refreshed though weary. Queen Darleen sat on the edge of the cot, quite relaxed.
"Dyr, Lady Aedric brings news of possible trouble upon the road..." I nod and interrupt.
"Yes, My Queen. When I left, given the state of the good Lady, I instructed Captain Garrett to prepare his guard for possible trouble. Food and drink should arrive within the quarter hour and I'm sure the Captain and his guard shall be positioned for best effect within less time."
|DyrHearte turned towards the entrance to the Queen's chamber to leave. |
"Aedrac has brought disturbing news. Deanerys grows bolder in pursuit of her ambitions." DyrHearte turned back at these words.
"She tells me that Daenerys has made an alliance with one of my daughters. She was visiting an old friend in the service of one of Daenerys' councillors when she overheard a conversation. Princess Aisha was mentioned."
"Perfidious girl! I have been watching her grow ever more sullen and secretive these past few months, My Queen! You would not listen when I voiced my concerns." Dyrhearte paced distractedly around the room, then settled onto the sofa beside her mistress. The Queen patted her gently on the hand.
"It is difficult to believe that a child would be so treacherous but the evidence is so strong. Aisha has been disappearing for long stretches. She avoids the question when asked where she has been. I had put it down to youthful rebellion, but it seems her intent was more serious intent."
I listened in silence as the Queen updated Dyrhearte. I was glad the Queen had taken her into her confidence. She would be a great ally in the days ahead.
There was the sound of someone entering the outer chamber. We all came to full alertness. Dyrhearte drew her dagger and stood up in front of the Queen. I followed suit as soft footsteps approached the outer curtain.
|I slipped out after the men and made my way within the shadows. Morning would be breaking soon and I was not sure if I would be able to discover more. I was torn between going to tell someone and staying to learn more, but who could I trust to tell beyond the Baroness herself. |
The men shuffled ahead keeping silent and watchful.
From the stables, I followed them into the kitchens where they slunk and nipped at a few apples and raided the pantries for other more fleshy delights.
From my vantage point, ever watchful, I took in their grimy clothes and dirt encrusted faces; their beards hard with dirt and more than likely lice ridden. I shuddered, not liking that the men had entered our compound, worse yet our palace.
The drunken one still remained unsteady on his feet as he jammed a piece or turkey leg up to his lips a ripped the sinews off roughly. He was short and thin as a rail. His clothes tattered and worn. I noticed the weapon he had lodged down in his boot. The handle looked dark – like that of Dragon’s bone. I sucked in a breath – Targaryen spies. Only they would have access to such weaponry.
The second man had a bit more muscle on him and I noted the weapon he had strapped to his waist. It looked to be the same dark shine.
Now more than ever I needed to tell someone. I could not do this on my own.
|He sat and watched the Queen's camp from the forest. With the snap of a twig, he turned his head to see a soldier with a drawn sword.|
"Come with me," the soldier demanded.
The teller of tales waved his hand, and he was no longer visible. He said, "Imagination."
The soldier's face was one of consternation and confusion. "Someone was here. Am I seeing things?" He turned back toward the camp.
The teller of tales returned to his horse, and he changed his clothes. He then removed the geis that kept his true appearance hidden. He proceeded quietly toward the Queen's camp.
He walked toward the tent where people had been going in and out almost continually since daybreak. They should have broke camp and departed long ago. He was not pleased with the actions that he must now take.
He pushed aside the curtain and entered. The Queen, Dyrhearte, and Aedrac all looked anxious.
He removed his invisible spell.
"Mage, what are you doing here?" the Queen demanded.
He put his fingers to his lips. "The fewer who know of my presence the better." He invoked his geis again. His appearance returned to that of the teller of tales.
Dyrhearte said, "It is good you have come. Dangers are multiplying all around us."
"It is past time to get on the move. I can provide protection, but all it takes is for one traitor in our midst. I am a teller of tales, and I will joining your camp in a few minutes. Queen, I just wanted you to know I am here."
He vanished. The curtain parted, and he left the camp.
The teller of tales emerged from the forest with his horse. Soldiers surrounded him immediately. "Who are you, and what business have you here?" one of them demanded.
"I am the Jongleur. This road is dangerous for lone travelers. I hope to join with your company until you reach the next large town."
"That is not my decision, Jongleur," the soldier answered. He waved to Dyrhearte.
|Pale bright rays fell on Princess Aisha as insects hummed in her ears, causing her to stir. The continuous chirping of birds further woke her up. It's already bright. I'm so late! She waddled through the forest, hoping her men didn't miss her. The branches tore and caught in her cloak, but she did not care. All she needed was to find out where her men were and if they had done any damage to the Queen and her company. |
She reached a point where there was a layer of dry leaves and stopped. It could have been a trap. The long tree was right beside the leaves. Looking up, she froze. A white hanging head and lifeless eyes greeted her. With her mouth ajar, she assessed the dead body for a couple of seconds before moving on, deciding that she didn't recognize the body.
Dry leaves rustled beneath her feet before she suddenly tripped on something and fell with her face buried in the leaves.
"A mad murderer." She sneered. "I wonder who would have killed someone using a trap like this."
As she lifted her back up, her palms dug in the leaves, into something soft. Knowing that it was neither grass nor mud, she scattered the leaves revealing another pale face. She gasped and took to her heels. That could not have been the work of her men since she only instructed them against harming the Queen and her company, not others she didn't know. The forest was not safe for her. Shall I join mother?
|Something didn't feel right. It felt rater quiet, too quiet. As the Baroness was trying to find a strategy to save the Queen, she now feels her own safety is at risk.|
"Baroness, if you allow me to say..
"Yes, yes say it then. She was feeling on edge with no patience.
"Sorry, but I believe we should take shelter else where. I have a suspicious feeling that we are not alone any longer."
"Why would you say that? I have the same feeling. Has someone been lurking among the perimeter?"
"Well I believe I heard something from the kitchen Baroness. I know there is nobody else down there at this time."
"Get who ever we have left and tend to it. I don't care about blood shed at this point and time. My life and yours along with the Queen is now in great danger."
"Baroness where will you go?"
"I have to take a leave. I am not sure where I will go but I cannot stay here. My only way out is on the last boat left. I have men there still and I know I can get off the land. I will head towards the forest on the other side in hopes of coming across the Queen and her crew. "
"Well lets go then, we have to get you out first."
"Take the back way through the tunnel that leads to the water canal. It is the only way without being seen."
Baroness was shivering with fear for her life at this point. It has come to this, a full blown war for the throne. She has no idea who to trust and who not to. If she becomes captured or killed there shall be no hope for the Queen what so ever.
The time has come to make a move.
|"Mi Lady Dyrhearte?" The soldier stood a single step inside the tent entrance.|
I palmed the dagger holding the hilt in my left hand, the blade flat against the inside of my forearm, tip pointing to my elbow. The soldier wouldn't see the dagger but the Queen and Lady Aedrac had a clear view of the weapon. I stepped out of the inner chamber into the outer chamber. "Yes, what brings you to my tent?" I smile.
The soldier dips his head in recognition of my status then says, "Captain Garrett has a man just outside the camp. One of the guard brought him in when he, the man calls himself 'the Jongleur', requests he be allowed to travel with the Queen's retinue."
I look at the Queen and take my leave. Then follow the soldier. Just as we departed my tent the food the Queen requested for the Lady Aedrac started coming in. I sigh as my stomach chose that moment to rumble. From the corner of my eye I see the soldier crack an undisciplined smile. But, when I turned my head to look directly at him his smile was gone and his serious attention to his duty was unquestionable.
We arrived at the edge of the camp and Jongleur was standing beside his steed. The Captain of the Guard and two soldiers stood at strategic positions to safe guard against Jongleur's potential escape.
"Ahhh, Jongleur. The Queen awaits your audience." Captain Garrett visibly relaxes but does not dismiss the soldiers. "Queen Darleen invites your immediate presence at her table. And maybe you can convince her of the wisdom to be on our way."
I then turn to Captain Garrett. "The Queen has been expecting 'The Teller of Tales' this day. Please make the necessary preparations to break camp."
"Yes, Mi' Lady." Captain Garrett and the soldiers leave to get the Queen's entourage back on the road.
I face the 'The Teller of Tales'. "Now Sir Mage, Come. I do not lie well and I'm sure captain Garrett is suspicious of your arrival and welcome."
The Jongleur smiles broadly and with the nod of his head to tell me he agrees, we walk back to my tent where The Queen and Lady Aedrac await. The birdsong has returned and I look to the east to catch the tip of the sun piercing the horizon. The camp has come alive with soldiers giving quick orders to treamsters and the Queen's houshold to break camp, dowse fires, hook up wagon teams, get the Queen's carriage...
Jongleur and I step into my tent where a moderate buffet greets us. It takes about a half-hour to get the Queen's party back on the road. Enough time to break my fast and learn more about the stranger whom the Queen had been expecting.
Turns out, I hadn't lied to Captain Garrett, afterall.
|"I must ready myself for departure while we wait for Dyrhearte to return, Aedrac." The Queen turned towards an ornate travelling chest at the edge of the chamber. |
"Yes, My Queen, I will leave you in privacy and collect my things together." I parted the door curtain and went through into the outer chamber.
The sounds of the soldiers breaking camp could be heard through the canvas. It would be easy for someone to use the apparent confusion to sneak into the Queen's tent to do mischief. My nerves strained with alertness as I went about the business at hand, my ears listening for any change to the familiar hubbub of men taking down the overnight shelters and packing them away.
I gathered my few belongings together and left them ready to go, before turning back towards the Queen's bedchamber. The sound of boots approaching the tent brought me back to full readiness.
Dyrhearte and the strange minstrel who had appeared to us earlier quickly entered the tent and greeted me.
"Jongleur has returned as promised. We must inform her Majesty at once."
"Quickly! Come on through, you three! We have little time to waste before we leave." I answered the Queen's summons immediately, followed by Dyrhearte and Jongleur.
The Queen stood in her travelling clothes ready for departure. We would have to ride like the wind to reach the relative safety of the Baroness's stronghold.
"The horses are stand outside. I have sent outriders to scout the land ahead." Dyrhearte dipped a brief bow to Darleen as she spoke.
"We must leave before daybreak and travel stealthily. The forest is full of enemy troops searching for our Queen. Daenerys has finally showed her hand and treachery threatens from one of our own. May providence protect us all this day." The quiet authority in the voice of the minstrel galvanised us into action.
"Amen to that!" At that chorus, I stood aside for the others. Queen Darleen swept from the chamber preceded by Dyrhearte and Jongleur. I followed, donning my cloak and picking up my belongings at the entrance as we left.
|From my hiding spot I watched and waited trying to figure out what to do next. |
I heard the squeaking of a door on hinges and the air seemed to suck out of the room. The two men before me froze, their hands still coiled around the food. Only their eyes widened and swiveled towards the sound.
When they saw the three armed guards advancing they dropped the food and made to run. They scrambled over each other as they guards called out to “Halt”.
The gangley man, still sweltering with spirits, went down with a thud and groan. The guard was upon him, his sword at his throat.
The other guards rounded after the other man that came in my direction in hopes of escape. I could not let him pass. Grabbing one of the brooms that leaned on the wall behind me I swung catching the man unaware. He went down with a howl clutching at his chin where I had clubbed him. Blood gushed from his wound. I stood over him the broom broken. I pointed it at his eye, willing him to move again so that I could feel the adrenaline and satisfaction of taking him down once more.
The guards fell in beside me. One brandishing his sword, while the other slid his back into its scabbard. When I glanced back, looking quite triumphant, I noted the guard’s amused grin.
“Lady Carly. It seems you have helped to weed out our kitchen rats and quite handily, I might add.” He gestured to the broom handle.
“I followed them from the stables. They have knives... Dragon’s bone, I am thinking. The other has one in his boot”
The guard reached down and grabbed the knife I’d mentioned. The guard beside me nodded, his smile fell away as he looked back at the other guard across the room.
That guard held up the smaller of the two knives.
“More than mere kitchen rats, I see.” Looking over at Lady Carly, he added. “We will take them down to the prison hold, then I will escort you to the Baroness. She will need to know all you have discovered. Well done, my lady.” He gave a bow, then moved to hoist the prisoner up.
With his words, I could feel my confidence grow and I swear I sprouted another six inches.
|As the Queen, Lady Dyrhearte, and Jongleur convened one last time in preparing to leave, the Queen turned quickly towards them as they entered her tent for the final time. |
"I can trust no one but you two at this very moment," the Queen exclaimed.
The Jongleur nodded as if aware of this fact already, while a look of shock came over the Lady's face.
"Why the sudden change of attitude, you've seemed so confident this entire time, my Queen?" Dyr, stepped closer and spoke quieter.
"It is as my feared, my trusted friends, my daughter..." the Queen seem to choke on her words, "we have no time to waste I will ask the Captain to make final rounds around the camp before we leave. Then we will try our ruse again while he is distracted. Dyr, don my traveling clothes and my cloak along with my ring-"
"Your ring, my Queen! You've never removed your father's-" Dyr started.
"I know, hopefully this will stop the Captain from looking too closely. When he is distracted get into my wagon." The Queen turned towards the Jongleur, "Will your magic cloak keep me covered long enough to make it to the Baroness Castle?"
"It's powers are limited, my queen it would never last that long!" the story teller exclaimed.
"Then it is settled, you and I will leave now, I will ride behind you under your cloak as you take me swiftly to the Baroness' castle, by the time the Captain has caught on to our ruse he will be unable to do anything."
"My Queen! But-- I cannot allow!" Dyr began stuttering.
"We are out of options. If my daughter is involved then the situation is more dire than I wanted to admit," the Queen paused, her bottom lip quivering for a moment, "If we do not do this I will not make it the day. I have no more time to explain. Do as I order now, you both are my last hope in reaching the Baroness. May the Gods be with us all."
Lady Dyr nestled into the wagon before the Captain's return with her most trusted soldier donning her own uniform to ride beside her. As the Jongleur raced out of the camp the Queen looked back and saw Dyr's hand resting on the wagon door reflecting her father's royal ring slightly. She tightened her grip around the story teller and rested her head upon his back allowing the galloping horse to lull her into her thoughts.
Princess Aisha, my daughter, if you only knew, the Queen thought to herself. She felt she should've told her when she was younger but she had avoided it for far too long and now her own daughter hunted her. Did she deserve this? Had she failed as a mother? The last few years without her father had been difficult.
No one knew the truth of the Princess birth except the Queen's father and the thief that had stolen her innocence in the middle of the Summer Solstice Celebration at the castle all those years ago. Her father had her married soon after to cover the truth for the sake of the throne but now it seemed her darkened past was coming back to haunt her.
Princess Aisha had the thief's eyes. She had told her daughter that her father had died in battle, which was a half truth, The man that helped raise her and had been the Queen's husband had died in battle but a few years ago, and the Princess had not been the same since, getting into trouble and sneaking out in the middle of the night. The Queen had not worried so much as she knew how it felt to lose a father and she figured she was off venting steam and finding her own way of coping. But it seems someone had found her instead.
The Queen was sure she knew who it was. It panged her heart that her own flesh and blood had not only taken her against her will, but she was positive that he was also influencing her daughter to take the throne for himself. If the Queen was right and they killed her, Princess Aisha would take the throne. But for how long? If her cousin, the rapist at the edge of the Baratheon borders, had sided with Daenerys of Targaryen to take the Iron throne than all of House Baratheon would crumble.
A tear slipped down the face of the Queen as she listened to gallop of the horses feet beneath her. She needed to reach the Baroness and combine troops. The last territory could not stand alone against both her and the Baroness troops, if the Baroness had not fled her lands already. The Queen prayed to the Gods they would make it. She needed to save House Baratheon and would do so at all costs.
|As soon as they have traveled a good distance from the camp, he brought the horse to a slow halt.|
"Jongleur, what are you about?" the Queen demanded. "We have no time to waste."
"I know. Let loose of me for a moment." As she released him, he leaned forward and put a covering over the horse's eyes. "Now take a tight grip on me and close your eyes. Do not let go or open you eyes until I tell you. I am taking us to our destination."
"A magic thought long lost, but we have no time for explanations. Are you ready?"
"Remember, do not let go or open your eyes."
The Jongleur made his spell, and the horse lifted off the ground over the height of the trees until no one could see them from the ground. Then he cloaked them with an invisible spell. He altered the spell so that they moved forward quickly.
"How is it that I feel the wind on me but can't hear the horses hooves?" the Queen asked.
"I am taking a short cut. We will be there soon."
"I am sure I don't want to know," she replied.
"I will tell you how we arrived after we get there." He watched the passage of forest below him. After a time, he saw beyond the forest wide plains and foothills and a canal that was just beyond the forest. He flew over the canal and followed it toward the south side of the castle.
The sheer cliffs of the plateau rose up from the plain like a mighty rock in a great river, forcing everything to go around it. However, he dismissed its massiveness by floating up the cliff to the top of the plateau where he descended inside the castle wall. "We have arrived, my Queen."
"I will go and find the Baroness," she said.
"We will go together," he replied. "Take my hand and step down."
|Princess ran like a flash of lightening back to where she had camped, packed her few belongings and rode her horse. She had no choice but to join the Queen's camp. In a way, it was foolish of her to go against the Queen. Wasn't that the place she always sought coverage when she felt threatened or scared? So why did she want to harm the Queen just because the Queen's cousin blamed the Queen for the King's death? It was just a word of mouth, and it could as well be that he wanted to turn a member of House Baratheon against another so that they fight among themselves.|
Besides, just a view of two dead bodies made her heart shudder like a little child's. What would happen if she saw her own mother die? Silly girl, what was I thinking?
"It's her. There she is. We thought she was back at the castle but she's right here!" A high pitched voice brought her out of her thoughts.
Her eyes widened as she felt her face growing hot. It was time to humble herself and join her mother's company.
|Wasting no time, my body is trying to make it through the water tunnel. The heaviness of my gown is keeping me at a slow pace. Once I thought I saw the light of day through the wire gates, I felt safe.|
Almost there, a few more steps.
"Baroness! Stop ! "
Who would that be? I cannot trust whoever it is. There is no time to waste.
"Baroness! You need to stop! Queen Darlene has arrived Baroness ! "
I stop in my tracks. Could it be true? Do I trust this news? If Queen Darlene is here I have new hopes of stopping this forsaken fight within the lands of Baratheon. Together we can put things back in it's place.
A chance I cannot run from.
"Where? Where is the Queen?"
"She is here with someone. They are alone and on one horse."
"Where is her crew? Why would she arrive alone and who is this other person?"
"Unsure Baroness but she is frantic to find you."
Oh the Gods have answered my prayers! This day could be worthy after all.
|I watched all the bustling activity outside the Queen's carriage through a small crack I'd created by separating the window curtains to peek through. Queen Darleen's signet ring was visible to those outside reassuring them the Queen was indeed safe within the carriage. The driver held in the pensive and fidgetting horses with the mastery of experience. Lady Aedrac sat across from me quiet after her speedy explanation she and the Queen had conjured to ensure the Queen's safe arrival at Baroness LL's home estates. |
Time was a crucial factor as stressed by Lady Aedrac. The Barony we entered was rife with bandit activity spurred on with the covert support of Daenerys of Targaryen. The Baroness was literally an endangered captive within her own lands. She would soon need to flee her own lands or perish.
"Don't worry so, Dyrhearte." Lady Aedrac smiled with the sympathy of the cat who'd just vigorously washed an errant kittens face.
At this moment I saw Captain Garrett turn to ride toward the carriage. The activity had come to order with the last hurried steps to get into a marching line.
"Oh dear, here comes the moment. Will we be able to pull this off?" I pulled my hand pack and let the curtain fall back in place.
Lady Ardrac smiled with complete reassurance. "I will do the talking, as you would, were the Queen sitting there and you here."
We waited. The moments stretched into an unbelievable length of time. Then the Captain's horse blew his anxious breath through his nostrils and I prepared for the exchange.
Trumpets from the rear of the train blew and I let out a breath I'd no idea I was holding until then. The Captain wheeled his mount toward the rear of the train shouting orders to his men to stand alert. Was this the attack the Queen was afraid would happen? Once again I pulled the curtain so I could see outside. Armed Guard were surrounding the carriage. My stomach clenched and I swallowed bile as I pulled my sword. The Queen's gown would hamper me in a fight, but I had learned to use the skirts to my advantage when I was younger.
Lady Aedrac had her dagger out and ready as I met her eyes. Her eyes literally sparkled with what could only be excitement. Of a sudden, I let out a laugh. The Queen was safe. We had done our duty according to the Queen's dictates and the horns blowing their alerts proved the Queen's foresight as accurate as always.
"Yes, see. Perspective changes and you can see." Lady Aedrac's smile was less protective now that I'd found a sense of comfort.
"Masquerading as the Queen is beyond my expertise, however give me a sword and a battle and I know my strengths."
"Of course, my Dear. And I too know the strength of my blade."
Horses trotted toward the carriage and the horns blew away the tension with their stand down signal.
"Well, whatever the trouble. It seems to be handled." I tried to keep disappointment from my words, but knew from the Lady's grin I hadn't succeeded.
"Please, just let me talk to the Queen."
"As you shall, my Princess."
The horses halted and the guard immediately surrounded one horse.
I looked quickly toward the Lady. "The Princess Aisha?"
"Appears so." Lady Aedrac's surprise matched my own.
"Please, My Queen. The Princess Aisha is here." Captain Garrett's gruff tone denoted his immense distrust of the Queen's daughter.
I nod my head toward Lady Aedrac to speak for me. My shadow upon the curtain conveyed this same message to the Captain and the Princess.
"No, Mother, please speak with me. I've been such a fool." The Princess burst into tears. Her humility complete, witnessed by everyone.
Lady Aedrac pushed aside the curtain to her own window. "Captain assist the Princess Aisha into the carriage. I assume you've confiscated all weapons."
"Yes, Mi'Lady." Garrett dismounted and assisted the Queen's daughter from the horse she rode. A soldier retrieved his mount he'd loaned to the Princess so the passage to the carriage could be best expedited. I leaned back into my seat and the shadow of the interior as the carriage door opened and Aisha was helped inside. She sat next to the Lady Aedrac and burst into renewed tears when she recognized me sitting in her mother's place. Lady Aedrac held the Princess in place as she tried to jump from the carriage. The door slammed shut and orders rang up and down the retinue to start rolling.
"W-w-where is my mother?" Fear tinged to near hysteria as Princess Aisha struggled to escape Lady Aedrac's grasp.
"Please, Princess Aisha. Calm yourself. You are not in any danger." I tried to put as much calm reassurance into my voice as possible. My own contempt for this girl not quite hidden. She glared at me through her tears.
"Your mother is well on her way to the Baroness LL's estates. She departed about a half hour ago."
"Alone?" Aisha's face paled. "B-b-but y-you don't understand. She will never make it. Th-the bandit bands have united at the bridge between the forest and the river."
I was taken a back by the sincere panic displayed by the Princess for the safety of her mother. My heart softened a bit as I looked at a disdraught daughter afraid for her mother's safety.
"No, the Queen doesn't ride alone. She is in disguise and maybe will pass unmolested. It is the carriage with the Queen inside for which the ambush is set. Am I correct?"
Aisha stopped fighting the hands holding her and looked up at me. This time my sincerity was genuine and she believed me. Thank-you, My God, for gifting me with an honesty unsurpassed. I cannot lie well, but my truth always shines forth. I smiled.
"Yes, that's better. We have a long day ahead of us it seems. I am relieved you have returned to the Queen, my Dear. Your mother will be most relieved also. She grieves that her daughter would betray her."
"I've been such a fool. I..."
"No matter. Lady Aedrac please get the driver's attention. We have urgent news for the Captain of the Guard regarding a pending ambush at a bridge."
|I leant in close to the ear of the Princess. |
“Forgive me, Princess.” As I spoke I took hold of a length of strong cord from my belt and grasped her hands firmly. “Your treachery has not yet been disproved. We must tie the Princess up for our protection. We cannot take any chances, Lady Dyrhearte. The safety of the Queen is paramount.” Dyrhearte nodded her agreement.
“Lady Aedrac is right, Princess. Only your mother can make the decision to trust you again. You will be in no danger from us so long as you cooperate.” The princess, who had begun to struggle, settled back down into the seat, realising that she was no match for the two of us.
I wound the cord around the princess’s wrists three times and secured it with several knots before handing the ends to Dyrhearte. She took them in one hand and drew her dagger with the other, laying it on the seat beside her. I leaned out of the window of the carriage.
“Driver! The Queen commands that you stop the carriage at once and send for the Captain of the guard. She has urgent business with him.”
“At once, Milady.” The coach jolted to a halt. “You there! Fetch the Captain immediately. The Queen has need of him.” I prayed that he would not take too long. To delay too much could be fatal.
Five minutes passed before the sound of the Captain approaching could be heard. I got down from the carriage and watched as he pulled up and dismounted. I took his arm and led him to the back of the carriage for more privacy.
“The Queen has discovered that the enemy have worked their way ahead of us and lie in wait to attack us at the bridge. Gather the men together and make sure they are prepared for combat.”
“Are you sure, Lady Aedrac? The scouts haven’t reported any activity ahead.”
“The Queen is quite certain. She commands that she will ride in the carriage with the Princess and I will ride with you and the men. Bring my horse round immediately.” The captain looked thoughtfully at me, then bowed.
“At My Queen’s command, milady.” The captain had not realised that Dyrhearte had replaced the Queen in the carriage. He turned and hurried off to carry out the orders.
I climbed back into the carriage to collect my belongings. Dyrhearte had removed some bread and cheese from a sack beside her. She handed me a portion along with a flagon of water. It would be some time until we would be able to eat again.
|Upon leaving the kitchen more commotion was heard further down the hall. The senior guard instructed his fellows to take the prisoners to the prisons in the bowels of the palace. He would find them there later to conduct a more intensive interrogation. |
We continued on towards the great hall and the commotion. From what I could gather Queen Darleen had arrived on a horse with only one man. They had skirted trouble and found their way in. The Baroness was being summoned and they were to meet up in her private quarters, highly guarded.
“We must get you there so you can tell your tale. Seems you foiled some nasty plan, but I doubt that was all.” The senior guard told me as he led us through the mass of people that had converged on the Great Hall already.
I stayed close fearing I would be swept away and it was not until we reached the sanctity of the Baronesses more private quarters that things settled.
The guard approached the others who stood ever watchful at their posts. The one he spoke to nodded then moved to the doors and slipped behind the thick wood panels.
My guard motioned me closer and we waited for what seemed like an eternity. Then the wood panels slid open and the other guard motioned for us to approach.
I trembled with anticipation. Not only was I to see the Lady Baroness but I would most undoubtedly be in the presence of Queen Darleen herself. My nerves made me falter as all that had happened this morning came back to surround me.
|The Queen and Jongleur having arrived safely at the Baroness' Castle, rested in their chambers as the Baroness sent message for not only her own troops, but the Queen's as well, to make haste towards her lands. The Queen planned on making her finally move soon toward's King's Landing and Dragonstone, before Daenerys could become aware of their plans. |
Queen Darleen was awakened by the sound of the announcing horns of her own carriage. She had the handmaidens help her get dressed quickly and moved quickly to the war room.
As the chamber doors swung open and the Jongleur announced her, the Captain of the Guard approached her red-faced. My Queen, though I am glad that you are safe I am angered by the deceit, what if you had been killed? I did not know it was Lady Dyr until we were attacked at the bridge passing over onto the Baroness' lands. You are good my Queen, but I knew Dyr's flare with a sword the moment she pierced the heart of one of Daenerys' Captains." He bowed deeply as Dyr stepped in.
"Your ring, my Queen," Dyr smiled as she handed it back," I'm glad to see you safe within the Baroness' walls, I feared for your life when the Princess informed us--"
"The Princess?" Queen Darleen said quickly looking about the room, finding her daughter hiding behind Lady Aedrac.
"It's ok my Queen," Dyr, responded, "she came to us and warned us of the attack."
The Queen relaxed a bit, "I'll deal with this bit of good news shortly but first, the Baroness and I must fill you all in on our plans," she waved off her soldiers, "rest up, I'll have the Captain fill you in after you've been bathed, fed, and rested. Enjoy it while you can."
The room cleared, leaving the Baroness, Dyr, the Captain, Princess, Lady Aedrac, and the door guardsmen.
"Please, stand outside for now, guards, we're in good company," the Baroness said to the guardsmen who stepped out as ordered. When they left she moved towards the territory maps. "I sent word last night to my troops and the Queen to hers to begin moving towards King's Landing immediately." She pointed to a shortcut through the woods, "The troops will be here within a day as they took a much shorter route than we did knowing that any harm would be following you instead of worrying about their own back. When we reach King's Land we will face Tywin and challenge him for the throne."
"Challenge him for the throne?" Lady Aedrac, stepped forward, "This was your plan, to kill your cousin and take the throne?"
"You're out of place, Mi'Lady," the Captain said.
"It's ok, Captain," the Queen said, "The plan is to simply take back control of all of Baratheon before he hands it over to Daenerys and House Targaryen" the Queen shivered slightly as the memory of his hands on her sent a chill up her spine. She stepped over to the window looking out over the lands once again as she had from he own not so long ago, then stepped back towards the map.
"He is deceitful and only rules to keep money in the Lannister's pockets, and he has betrayed his own people to do so," the Queen "When I left the castle I sent message to the Captain of the Guard of Lannister, he distrusts Tywin as much as I do, and has troops heading towards King's Landing as well to help assure a smooth return of the Crown to Baratheon bloodlines, in exchange for continued alliance."
Lady Aedrac stood staring at the Queen obviously displeased with the plan.
"Have you told the princess of your plan to kill my uncle, her father?" spit Lady Aedrac. A gasp went through the room. Even the Queen herself, was shocked and said nothing for a moment.
"What?" Princess Aisha finally spoke.
"How did you know?" Queen Darleen asked, ignoring her daughter's question.
"Do you think I would not recognize the eyes of my own?" Lady Aedrac paced, "And I over heard my uncle speak about Summer Solstice and how you seduced him."
"That is not what happened!" exclaimed the Queen. "He- he- he took me against my will! Aedrac, we have battled together you know my heart--"
"I know only that my uncle has raised me well and I have never chosen either of you over the other. We're all blood but he is like a father to me, just as he is really Aisha's father. Tell her!" Aedrac screamed.
"Tywin is really my father? You lied to me!" exclaimed Princess Aisha rushing forth towards her mother. "He told me I shouldn't trust you, he told me I should kill you when I had the chance!" Tears flew from her eyes as she batted at her mother in blind fury. The Captain pulled her from the Queen, Lady Dyr running to aid him as the girl kicked her feet in all directions. Lady Aedrac drew a dagger hidden beneath her belts and headed towards the Queen.
"I will not let you kill the only father I have ever known!" She screamed as she stepped forward to bury the knife into the queens heart. The Baroness leapt forward to push the Queen out of the way, while screaming for her guardsmen, and just then the Queen felt something whiz by her face as she fell backwards with the Baroness.
"This way, Princess," mocked Lady Aedrac, "seems we both have been fooled." The guards man and Jongleur raced into the room just in time to see the Princess and Aedrac both leap out of the window onto the back of a young dragon carrying a strange young woman.
"Geek," stated the story teller through barred teeth, "I will return with news as soon as possible, I hope you are as prepared as you think, my Queen." he said as he ran out of the castle.
Dyr grabbed a bow and arrow from the wall and began shooting from the window. The Captain helped up the Queen as the Guardsmen yelled orders down to their own archers to fire upon the invaders. But by then they were too far gone.
"Oh my, thank you, Baroness, you saved my life I think--" the Queen began as she stood and turned. The Baroness sat on the ground, an arrow buried into the center of her chest and blood pouring from her mouth. "Baroness!" she yelled dropping down beside her, "No!"
"Queen, I am sorry," gasped the Baroness, "Take control of my troops, my land is yours, ensure Baratheon remains--" her breath stopped mid-sentence and her arms went limp.
The Queen wept freely as her dear friend died in her arms. Her resolve deeper than ever she stood and faced Dyr and the Captain.
"Do not worry, my Queen, we will win this war, I swear it." exclaimed the Captain.
"I'm sorry I have failed you, my Queen," Dyr said hanging her head hiding her tears.
"No one has failed me, My father and I chose to keep the Princess' real father a secret to protect House Baratheon claim to the throne. It was bound to happen eventually." the Queen stared at the blood of her friend on her hands, "it was I who failed you, but I swear by the Gods themselves I will have revenge." the Queen stormed out into the hall, "Guardsmen, make sure all citizens are fed and prepared. Make sure all capable men have completed training. Extra food is coming in the next day and more troops will be here soon. We have little time to prepare and move out.'
The Guardsmen stood looking dumbfounded.
"You heard the Queen, the Baroness has left her in charge!" yelled the Captain and the Guardsmen scattered, "I'll tend to our own troops, my Queen, and have 4 Guardsmen on you 24/7."
"I'll make sure the Baroness is prepared for a proper burial as soon as possible, my Queen." Dyr said sadly, pulling on the cord to call the handmaidens.
The chime of the bell rang in the head of the Queen as tears continued to slip down her cheek in both rage and sorrow. She had lost almost everything. She would not lose anything more.
|The Jongleur focuses on the dragon in the sky. He has a good idea of its destination. He closes his eyes for a moment and mentally calls to Dancing Wind, A large green dragon with three riders is flying from Baroness LL's castle toward the east. I suspect its destination is Tywin's castle. I need you to intercept the dragon and bring back these two people to the Baroness's castle. He forms an image in his mind of the Princess Aisha and Lady Aedrac.|
I understand, she replies, I will bring them back for you.
He goes to find Captain Garrett and Captain Alycs. He does not go far before finding them with the Queen and Dyrhearte. "We need to keep building up our defenses," Captain Alycs says with heated urgency in his voice.
"I agree," Captain Garrett says, "I have another concern as well. How well prepared is the castle for a long-term siege?"
The Jongleur steps forward and nods to Queen Darleen. "Captains, prepare your plans and requirements, she commands. "Leave us for now."
As soon as the door closes, Dyr says, "Lady Aedrac and--"
The Jongleur holds up his hand. "I have called upon an ally who I am confidient will return the Lady and the Princess."
Queen Darleen grasps the Jongleur's elbow. "My daughter will be returned safely?"
"My friend will take care. Don't worry. I have a greater concern. What happened today is the first move in a war that is now upon us. I suspect that Tywin and his army are already coming our way."
"Can you send a storm or something to stop them, Mage?" Dyr asks.
"Weather spells can have unexpected consequences. I can slow them down in other ways. We do not have time to call for more men. I want to use wights."
"Surely not! Dyr exclaims loudly.
"Can you control them?" asks Queen Darleen.
"I can set boundaries, and as long as none of our people cross the boundaries, they will be safe. Also, I would not call them until absolutely necessary."
"I don't like your idea, Mage," Dyr says with a frown. "Wights scare me to death."
Queen Darleen nods her head. "I know what you mean, Dyr. Mage, are wights necessary?"
"I will, of course, use other measures, but the forces coming against us will only be slowed. You are afraid of the wights as am I, and the forces coming against us will panic and break when the wights attack them."
Queen Darleen sighs. "Very well, do whatever it is you need to do, Mage."
|A red and black dragon drops swiftly from the sky high above. Its attack so so sudden and unexpected that the green dragon never gets a chance. It falls from the sky like a rock. Being cerain that death's talons has reached for the, Lady Aedrac and Princess scream, their voices rising several octaves. The red and black dragon swoops after them and grasps them in its claws|
The dragon flies high beyond gray clouds that threaten to pour their contents. Despite the strong chilly wind, pearls of perspiration formed on her forehead and trickled down the sides of her face. Looking below, she saw a glimpse of lush green beneath a thin layer of clouds. Her head spins since she has never been on a dragon before. What if it drops her?
Princess Aisha sees the Baroness' palace in a distance and shivers. The dragon still holds her in one fist while Lady Aedrac is held by the other. The dragon fight was so fast and furious, she did not know what happened. The dragon drops lower and lower as it spreads it wings wide. Princess' stomach does flip flops since she does not know what she will tell the Queen. At the very last moment, the dragon lands and releases the princess and Lady Aedric to the ground. They will face Queen Darleen.
|Call it what you want, but there was no way that Aisha will make it back to the Queen. I am her older sister or Aunt which ever way they want to see it. She will not take my place as an heir to my brother's throne.|
Queen Darleen, my cousin has no idea of who I am, but she will know tonight. With all of my power and my men standing behind me I will see them fall. How dare the Queen blame my father for such an act. Her daughter Aisha will know the truth of her mother and how she wanted to pregnant within the blood line. Her and father planned it together and my father already is paying a dear price.
Oh she will fall, and I will bask in my new royal entitlement. The dragons have just delivered them at my feet.
"Oh ladies, please. Are you okay? Come quickly and take cover until the dragons have taken flight. I will get you to the Baroness, she will be obliged that I have returned you to safety."
A sly smirk across Princess Lidia's face, she knew she had accomplished the second part of her plan. She had no idea it would be this easy.
|The kingdom, the world, has entered the realm of insanity. Wights!? The Queen is allowing a mage to conjure Wights. I pace within the confines of my rooms. It's late and I'm alone attempting to walk off the hysteria and panic threatening to overwhelm my senses.|
"Rest, get some sleep. Prepare for tomorrow." That was Queen Darleen's edict.
Sleep! How can one sleep? Is the Queen sleeping? Are the soldiers of the realm sleeping? I place my hands, one on either side of my temples. My head throbs with the anxiety of recent events.
Baroness LL is dead. Died saving the life of the Queen. The Queen who plans to battle Tywin. Tywin who is Aisha's father. Tywin who conspires with Targaryen against Baratheon. And, is Lannister to be trusted to serve Queen Darleen in this scheme to over throw Tywin? I stop pacing, the pain behind my eyes turning into sheet lightning. As I gasp, I drop to my knees. "No. I will not allow this." Through gritted teeth I force myself to breathe. I press and massage my neck with both hands where the spine and head join. I force the iron-hard muscles to relax. Eventually, the pain subsides. I am able to stand, though my legs are weak in the knees. I continue to massage my neck muscles and force myself to breathe deep slow breaths.
Within minutes I am able to open my eyes and the throbbing in my forehead has subsided. Anger swells within my chest. I fling off the night robe and the sleeping frock. My Sword. I find my sword. The hilt is long enough to allow me to grasp it with both hands. I begin the dance, the yard exercise of my youth. The defense high guard, step back, parry mid stroke, defense mid guard, step back, parry low stroke, side step, defense high back guard left, look over left shoulder, pivot, parry high stroke. Repeat--repeat again--my breathing becomes labored, but from physical exertion not fear. My skin is moist and as I move I feel the cool air of the room--pivot, parry high stroke. I hold the position and assess my form. I adjust my back foot to improve my balance. The exercise did what I needed. My whole being is energized.
I will not sleep this night, but I will not succumb to the insanity that is my fear. I may not have control over the events around me; but, I do have control over my destiny. I kneel upon the floor grasping my life force which I've joined with the sword and I meditate on that which is my life.
The sky is grey and night passes into an overcast dawn. I open my eyes and stand. My resolve is strengthened with the knowledge of what I must do. I am the loyal servant of the Queen. I am a sword maiden of Baratheon. I am the Lady Dyrhearte. I am the third cousin to the late and valiant Baroness LL. I am the third cousin to Tywin; thus, I am the fourth cousin to the Princess Aisha. House Baratheon must unite or House Baratheon with cease to exist.
With renewed purpose, I dress for the day.
I dress for battle.
|My head is swimming after the swift flight of the dragon. The speed with which it attacked allowed me no opportunity to enter its mind and deflect it. Knocked out during the capture, I had only returned to consciousness as she swooped down towards the Baroness's castle and dropped us in an open grassy area at the back of the castle, in front of the lone figure of a young woman. She is dressed in a plain robe of fine wool with intricate embroidery at the neck and around the hem. One of the Baroness’s Maids of Honour, perhaps? Why is she alone? Surely the Queen would have sent guards to apprehend us? |
We are in the shadow of the looming castle walls. The sky beyond the castle is lightening with the dawn. A small door in the wall stands open. A wall torch barely illuminates the interior of the corridor beyond.
I feign weakness, on one knee, shaking my head as I assess our present danger, reaching out to the mind of the hovering red and black, invoking her obedience with the power of the old Seal. She veers off towards a copse of trees to the west where I have commanded her to await my summons. I glance covertly at the young woman as she fusses over us.
Princess Aisha lies prone on the ground, her face pale and her eyes wide with terror. She rolls over and attempts to rise. Dropping back onto one knee, she retches before finally standing. I catch her eye and motion to her to be wary. The colour is slowly returning to her cheeks. Our companion moves to help her to her feet.
I recognise the woman who is greeting us. The captain of the guard had brought her into the Baroness's chamber just before the fracas leading up to our escape. I infiltrate her mind tentatively, startled to read her thoughts. This is not the simple mind I expected to find. Her mind seethes with treachery and intrigue. I withdraw stealthily, my mind racing with the new information I have gleaned. I will have to bide my time, the use of my gift always exacts its price.
“You are, Lidia, are you not? You came into the chamber with the Captain of the Guard just before we escaped on the dragon.” Lidia nodded. I pretended to stagger as I moved towards her.
“The Baroness took an arrow just before we got away. I hope she was not too badly injured.” I watched Lidia’s face to see her reaction to my inquiry. A sly look flickered across it.
“It was a mere flesh wound. Her physician dressed the wound. She waits for you in her chambers. The Queen has commanded her to question you. Quickly, now. She grows impatient to do the Queen’s biding.” She is lying to us! She knows the Baroness perished in the melee of our escape.
I stagger towards her, but she moves over to the door and gestures us to follow. I gradually straighten up and smile at her, taking hold of the Princess Aisha’s arm and assisting her. Lidia seems to be acting alone, but she means to kill the Princess. I will bide my time and try not to alert her to what I know.
We enter the castle and Lidia swings the heavy door closed and locks it, putting the key in the pocket of her dress. She sets off along the corridor.
“Come, we must hurry. The Baroness does not like to be kept waiting.” As we walk along the dimly lit corridor, the stone floor echoes with the sound of our boots. Along both walls, curtains cover the entrances to unknown spaces. Lidia keeps a fast, steady pace and we pass a dozen of them before she finally stops, turning to face us.
As we are about to reach her, she lifts the curtain and passes through, motioning us to follow. She is half way up a step flight of steps when we obey. At top of the steps she pushes open a heavy wooden door and disappears from sight. I mount them quickly and motion to the the princess to wait outside as I tentatively follow Lidia.
The small, cold room is sparsely furnished. Lidia is standing at a table in the middle. There is a comfortable chair beside the table and a bed in the corner. A large chest stands against one wall. There is no-one else in the room.
“I thought you were taking us to the Baroness. Why have you brought us here?” She pours wine from a flagon into three glasses. She turns to face me and peers beyond me to the door.
“Where is Princess Aisha?” she starts to move towards the door.
“She is right behind us. The steps are steep and she was winded when the dragon dropped us at your feet.” I move to look out of the door. “See, she is almost at the top of the steps.” I step to one side and Lidia moves past me to see for herself.
I grab her from behind, calling out to the princess to help. We wrestle Lidia to the floor and I cover her mouth with my hand to smother her cries. Her eyes flash with fury as she threshes about and tries to dislodge Aisha. I take the scarf from round my neck and stuff it in her mouth and together Aisha and I manage to overpower the struggling girl. I hold her, face down on the floor, with a strangle hold round her neck.
“Aisha, search the room. We need something to tie Lidia up with.” There is a stout sheet in the chest. Aisha uses her dagger to cut it into strips. We tie Lidia’s hands behind her back, gag her and throw her on the bed. I take the key from her pocket and tidy up the mess created in the struggle.
“We must make our escape quickly, Aisha. The Baroness is dead and Lidia means you to follow her.” Aisha’s face clouds with sudden rage. She lifts a heavy flagon from the table and walks to the bed with murderous intent. I manage to grab her hand and deflect the blow aimed at Lidia’s head. It glances off and Lidia drops back on the bed stunned rather than dead.
“No need to kill her! This room is out of the way and it will be hours before she is missed.” Aisha’s sullen nod is enough for me. We cover Lidia up on the bed. She would be out for quite some time.
We close the door to the room as we leave and cautiously peer out at the bottom of the flight of steps. The way is clear. Retracing our steps, our nerves strung out, alert for any sound that could lead to our discovery, we finally reach the door, unlock it and regain the freedom of the grassy knoll, making for the cover of a small wood several hundred yards behind the castle. The sun hangs low in the sky, and a morning mist swirls low to the ground.
“I have summoned the red and black dragon which is waiting nearby. We will take to the air and follow the Queen.” Aisha pales at the thought of the dragon. “Don’t look so worried, Aisha. This dragon is now bound by the Seal to obey me.” She looks dubious. Only a few people know about the Seal. It is a sacred trust that has been handed down through my line for many centuries. Its purpose is shrouded in the mists of time. Its power supersedes the puny control Daenerys has developed over her dragons.
Drogon glides in and lowers its back to allow us to clamber aboard. Aisha looks apprehensive, but she follows me as I climb to the base of the dragon’s neck and settle myself, caressing her and whispering soothing words in her head. It is good to be back where I feel happiest.
The dragon lurches forward and Aisha clings to my waist, with a sharp intake of breath as Drogon leaps into the heavens. I must find a way to unite these warring Baratheon or we will never stand against Daenerys.
|I stood within the war room taking it all in. We had been advised to stand off side and wait for an audience with the Queen and the Baroness. |
It did not take long for things to get heated. Words of fury dripped and swung like arrows they hit their mark wounding. My mind battled for understanding.
The Princess Aisha’s father was really Tywin. Tywin was like a father to Aedrac. The Queen’s plans angery the two women and the vileness that ensued.... My mind swam. Just as I was trying to make sense of the scene before me, a true arrow found its mark and the Baroness fathered, clutching at the barbed reed that protruded from her chest. She dropped. My breath drew in a shocked gasp and I cried out.
Commotion at the window drew my eyes and I saw the gleaming scales of green. A Dragon! Before anything more could be done Aisha and Aedrac flew to the window and jumped. The room spun, but I held my ground. This was our world now. People could turn on each other, their loyalties stretched to the limit and it was only going to get more brutal.
I wrung my hands and rushed forward to the Baroness. The Queen held her limp body and I could see the tears run in rivets down her beautiful cheeks. My own tears fell.
I found my voice then and without looking directly at the Queen I spoke of what I had seen in the stables and followed into the kitchens. As I mentioned the two Dragon’s Bone daggers, the senior guard slipped up beside me to show the Queen.
Her eyes swivelled to take in their gleam, then she reached out to take them.
“We can trust no one.” The Queen whispered and I nodded my agreement.
|"Little one," the Queen said as she crouched next to the child, "you are very brave, what is your name?" |
"Carly, my Queen," she said with a confident salute, "at your service!"
"You are so young, and remind me of my daughter at your age," the Queen smiled, her eyes brimming with tears. To finally see innocence among all the treachery was a beautiful sight indeed and stirred her heart, "How would you like to aid me in a quest?" the Queen continued as she led Carly through the kitchen, leaving behind the smell of freshly baked biscuits and roasted lamb.
"Yes! I would like that very much!" she exclaimed, "I want to be a spy!" Carly began slinking along the halls hiding behind the banners and armor sets that lined the walls, "I can hide well, your highness! I've been hiding in the forest, in the stables, in the nooks of the kitchens!" She bounded with excitement.
The Queen laughed out loud despite the sorrow the pulled at her heart like a shadow demon. Carly squealed in glee and continued to pretend to fight hidden enemies. Guilt had begun to creep into the Queen's thoughts as she mulled over her plans. There were very few choices left, she must do what she must.
They reached the Captain's quarters and the Queen had the guards remain outside the door. As she entered she noticed Dyrhearte and the Captain concentrating on the map that lay on the tables. They barely reacted to her entrance until they heard Carly giggle.
The Captain lifted his head, "My Queen?" he asked puzzled as she guided her into the room holding her hand.
"No worries, my Good Captain, this little one has saved us from the Baroness' previous issues in her castle and I have some plans for her." the Queen announced, "Please, continue."
"My Queen, word has come that the Lannister troops are nearing King's Landing from the west on foot." the Captain said pointing out the route, "Movement of Tywin's own troops doesn't seem to have alerted him, but there has been note of more dragon activity coming from Dragonstone."
The Queen nodded thinking deeply. "Ideas?" she finally asked.
"Well, we have supply ships on our northern borders closest to King's Landing. I think if we can somehow use those as cover we can sneak some troops across the waters and into their Southern borders," the Captain wiped sweat from his brow, "after all, trade has not stopped."
"Problem is he can see much from there," Dyrhearte jumped in, "and we're not sure if we can reach King's Landing before Daeneyrs dragons will spot us and alert Tywin to what's coming. He still has his loyal followers."
The Queen stared at the map for quite some time. "Well, we do have something they do not."
"What's that, my Queen?"
"The Jongleur," the Queen stated, "he is a mage, we could have him create a fog to roll in and cover the troops by boat and by land."
"What about the dragons?" asked the Captain.
"Not to mention, Lady Aedrac and Princess Aisha are probably giving away our plans as we speak." Dyrhearte spat.
"I realize it seemed she tried to kill me--" the Queen began.
"Her dagger was pointed at your heart!" exclaimed Dyrhearte, spittle flew from her mouth in pure anger.
"I've been through a few battles with her back in my day. I could've deflected that jab. She was merely angry," the Queen smirked, "when we were younger she would do the same thing every time she couldn't get her way, unsheathe her dagger and go for my heart, but obviously, she could never hit her mark." The Queen looked down at Carly and smiled, "I'm not concerned with Aedrac's loyalties, Dyr, I'm more concerned with my daughter's life. If Tywin is truly aware of her being his own, he will stop at nothing to kill me and her both."
"What do you propose then, my Queen?" asked the Captain, his hands tucked neatly behind his back.
Queen Darleen knelt down once again, facing Carly. She removed a necklace that held a small opalescent round stone encased by black twisted metal in the shape of an eye and placed it it around Carly's neck, tucking it beneath her bodice.
"This necklace will protect you little one, but I want you to play spy for me once again, do you feel up to it?" she asked, a hand laid gently on Carly's shoulder as she stared straight into her eyes. The child nodded and bounced in excitement. "Good! I want you to sneak north towards the King's Landing and let one of Tywin's Soldiers capture you. Feign your loyalties to him and give him false secrets. Tell him we are planning an attack from the eastern shore using water magic from the nymphs in one week, then weave the story as you wish from there," the Queen stood up and handed her a pouch of fresh biscuits and lamb, along with a skin full of water. She also handed her one of Targaryens daggers. "Hand them this when they capture you and say you stole it to defend yourself from our attack, they will be more likely to trust you."
"As you request, my Queen! I love telling stories almost as much as I love spying!" Carly said with a smile that stretched across her face. She waved goodbye as she skipped out of the room.
"Roberts, follow her to the next enemy camp and ensure her safe arrival." the Queen ordered. Roberts saluted and took off after the child.
"Are you mad?" the Captain asked, his face growing red, "What ever will that accomplish besides possibly getting her killed?"
"The stone is the seer's eye that I received from the oracle this morning." the Queen said as she walked over towards the map, "My plan is to distract Tywin with false plans, as I have already sent word to the nymphs to stir up activity to help build up the child's claims, and we can also keep an eye on what the child sees. It may come in handy especially if we use the Jongleur to cover our troops, as I feel your idea to take our troops in by ship is a wonderful one."
"What about Lady Aedrac, my Queen?" Dyrhearte asked, her voice more calm this time but full of concern.
"There's a secret Lady Aedrac carries that is not well known. I am sure, we will be seeing her again." the Queen leaned back over the maps, "Now let's put the final touches on our plans shall we? If Carly makes it and tell's him we plan to attack in a week, I want to attack days sooner to catch him and Daeneyrs off guard."
"And the wights? Are we really going to bring in an army of dead?" asked Dyrhearte.
"I hope we don't have to, but if we must, then we must. If Tywin continues his hold on the throne I'm afraid the Baratheon and the Lannisters will end up under Targaryen's control by this time next year."
The three of them continued to deliberate over the maps of the Westoros, setting in motion a plan, that may very well change the fate of three Houses.
|Success, Dragon mentally says. |
Jongleur almost claps his hands. He continues to relax on his bed. He will wait until Drogon arrives before telling the Queen.
The scouts the Baroness had sent out before her death returned earlier. Their report revealed that the army advancing on the Palace was no army at all. Lord Geek had sent out soldiers on horses, pulling large plows on every road leading to the Baroness's lands. This gave an impression of many men on the move. Lord Geek's feigned attacked almost fooled him.
I am here, Drogon says.
Where are you?
Jongleur sits up on the bed. Drogon, Where are you?
Silence portends trouble. He creates a small light with a spell then reaches for the candle holder and lights the candle. He releases his light spell and leaves his room quickly to find Captain Alycs of the Palace guard. A short while later, he leaves the keep for the soldier's quarters. The bailey is quiet at this time of night. A few minutes, he walks inside a long building. One of the men on guard says,"Jongleur, can I help you?"
"Is Captain Alycs here?"
"I'll send him," the soldier replied.
Jongleur walked with Captain Alycs in the bailey. "I need you and your men to make a through search of the Palace and the grounds as well."
"What is it I'm looking for?"
"Anything that is amiss. That's all I can say for now. When you are done, come to my room with your report."
Captain Alycs's unhappy expression does not match his amicable response, "As you wish, Jongleur."
A few hours later, the Captain enters the Jongleur's room. "You are here so soon, Captain?"
"One of my men found a woman tied up in a room in the north tower. From her account, she was attacked by Lady Aedrac and Princess Aisha."
"Where is she now?"
"She was escorted to her quarters."
"Captain, I do not want anyone to speak of Lady Aedrac and Princess Aisha being here. Make sure this woman understands that."
"But the Queen--"
"Queen Darleen is planning an attack. Her focus must be on that--not her daughter. We have no way of knowing where she is now. There is no reason to worry the Queen."
"I will do as you command."
Jongleur opens his eyes. It is morning. "I am too old for so little sleep." He dresses and goes to the main hall for food. This early in the day the place is full. The smells from the kitchen make his stomach growl.
"A story Jongleur," someone says. The request is picked up by others until a chorus of voices echo in the room.
Finally, he raises his hand. "Before breakfast, a story must of necessity be very short." His melodic voice has already captured his audience. "Once upon time there was a pig that wanted to be Captain of the guard."
Spatterings of laughter erupt from the crowd.
"Of course, there was a problem of communication, which was clearly demonstrated when the pig came to the soldier's barracks. The poor pig was never seen again, but all the soldiers smiled for days on end.
"And now, I must eat."
He sees the Queen briefly after breakfast and returns to his room where he thinks on her plan. He does not like the delay for it gives the enemy time to prepare, but sometimes moving slower gets you to the goal quicker than going faster.
|I didn't even see the other dragon coming.|
I was spying on the Queen when the Princess and Lady Aedrac came running towards me as if I were their saviour. As if I were someone else.
Though, I stole this green dragon from Targaryen men as they were marching past my land. A few well timed arrows took them and I took the young dragon on, it's young mind had yet to form real loyalties and it took to me easily.
But it was a young dragon, too young, and the other dragon took us both out too easily.
I'm not sure how I survived the fall. The dragon didn't. It lay motionless beside me in the grass of the castle grounds. A castle now without it's Baroness. I should never have left my own land, my own home. I enjoy my life and now, now I hear the Queen's guards running towards me and I can barely move, let alone run. My bow is broken too. The dagger in my boot has fallen far from me. I am unarmed.
I have never felt more vulnerable.
The surround me and drag me to my feet.
This was a waste of a life, my father would say, for five minutes spying and I had lost everything and I couldn't even struggle. Even if I could get away - then what? Align myself with Tywin? A man more despicable than death itself.
The guards dragged me into the castle, my head throbbing, a drop of blood rolling down my nose. This was a bad idea, I repeat to myself.
Then everything goes black.
|I look up from the table with the map of King's Landing as four castle guard, two in LL's livery and two in the Queen's livery carry an innert and bloodied young man into the room. Both Captains of the Guard, Alycs and Garrett, look up also.|
"What is it?" I inquire, torn between irritation and intrigue.
"Mi'Lady we found this person just outside the grounds. He lay near a dead green dragon. I believe, from the arrows found scattered around him, he is the one who killed the Baroness LL."
I step away from the table to take a closer look at the dragon rider who attempted to kill the Queen. One of the Baroness' guardsmen pulled the kid's head back by his hair. The world swooned around me. "No."
I whispered the single word. To cover my open anguish I inquired after the Lady Aedrac and Princess?
"There were no one else, Mi' Lady. Just this one."
"Take him to the dungeon. Place him in a cell and secure him to a cot. Call the Baroness' Physician and have him tend to his wounds. I will be down later to interrogate him."
"Yes Mi' Lady."
I returned to the maps. "The Queen has the diversion of the river. The news that Little Carley arrived safely into the enemies camp is confirmed with Tywin's halt. I'm sure he is supervising her questioning personally." I grip the table as brief anxiety rolls over me. I silently pray Carley's cover and story are believable for her sake more than for the plans of our attack.
Captain Garrett nods in sympathy. "Yes, so much is counting on the belief of a child's storytelling."
"Jongleur is preparing for the spells to raise the...other army The Queen wishes to utilize in this battle. Make sure all your men understand their boundaries. We want the abominations to attack the enemy not us or our allis."
Both Captains nod their grim agreement.
"I think by this time tomorrow all the players will be in position. The Lannister army, the river diversions, Jongleur's mist to cover the ships and his army to demoralize and ravage Tywin's troops. Then the Baroness's troops and the Queen's, arrive here."
My finger rested on a clearing at King's Landing. Historically, this is the bloodiest of all clearings. House Baratheon was born into power at this clearing; and, held over the centuries at the bloody cost of the loyal and disloyal. My Uncles will be there. Someday, my death is there.
I look up from the map. " I am worried about the news that the Dragons are on the move. Daeneyrs has her spies around the realm and we have no idea what she knows."
Captain Alycs smiles. "Don't fear Mi' Lady DyrHearte. The Baronness prepared for the Dragons and Daeneyrs. We have a company trained for that battle."
"Very well, then. You know the strategy, ready for the march."
"Yes Lady Dyrhearte." Both Captain's saluted before leaving. I was briefly stunned by the formality and the respect.
Rather than wait for one of the guard to inform me how Lord Geek was doing, I leave the war room and head for the dungeon.
|Aisha's arms almost squeeze the breath from my lungs as she clings to me, her head pressed tight against my shoulder blades. I can sense Tywin’s troops in the distance. I guide Drogon towards a small clearing in a deep gully. She settles silently on the grass and Aisha and I slide down her shoulder and onto the ground. |
“We must rest here awhile, Princess. The night approaches and we must recoup our strength before joining your father.” Aisha looks exhausted. She slumps back against a tree and is soon fast asleep. I gently probe her mind to ensure that she is not faking. Satisfied, I settle myself for the task in hand.
Drogon glances over, feeling my presence in her mind. She understands what I need. She takes off silently. I follow her in my head and when she is on her way back I probe further afield, searching for my Uncle’s trace. I range through the tumult of the gathering troops then feel the pattern of his thoughts as he whispers softly to himself. This is the first time I have probed Tywin’s deeper thoughts. There had not been any reason to do so until now. I must not make my presence felt.
“My victory against Darleen is certain.” He chuckles inwardly. “Aisha and Aedrac are such fools. They swallowed my tales of her as seductress so easily.” I recoil inwardly as he remembers how he had taken her innocence. “How she struggled against me, all in vain.” I have to use all my control to stop me from screaming in his head.
I withdraw slowly and gather my thoughts. Once more I return, to see if I can glean any information about his battle plans, but he is deep in thoughts of his debauched treatment of the Queen in her youth. I withdraw again and leave him to his pleasure.
I rise and walk across the clearing to shake Aisha awake. I have to show her the true nature of this father of hers.
“Princess Aisha, do you trust me?” Aisha looks startled. “I have something I must show you.”
“I have known you most of my life, Aedrac. I have no reason to distrust you. And did you not just whisk me away from the wrath of my mother and her guards?” Aisha is dusting leaves from her tunic. I cross the clearing and stand in front of her.
“What I am about to show you will seem strange” Aisha raises her head to look at me.
“In what way strange?” I sit down on a fallen log and motion her to join me.
“I have powers that I have told no-one about. You must believe what I am about to show you.” Aisha comes and sits beside me on the log and I take hold of one of her hands. “Do not be alarmed at what I am about to do. It will not harm you in any way, although you may not like what you see.”
She flinches as I move to place my hand on her brow, before deciding to trust my actions. Her eyes lower as I show her what I know. At the sound of her father’s voice she opens them briefly expecting to see him before her. It is a few seconds before she realises what she is hearing. Her eyes fill with tears.
“This is some trick!” She slaps my hand away from her brow, her eyes ablaze with fury.
“The trick was Tywin’s, Princess. He fooled both of us with his lies.” Aisha looks unsure.
“Who would you rather believe? Your mother, who has cared for you and raised you alone. Or Tywin.” Confusion flashes across her face. “You have known me all your life. Trust me on this one thing, please, Princess. If you go to Tywin, I fear for your life.” She seems to be fighting an inner battle.
“I am going back to your mother’s camp. You must decide now if you trust me and want to come with me.” Again her face clouds with turmoil. “I leave in 10 minutes. You must decide what you want to do.”
I busy myself gathering together the few belongings we have. I check my weapons and take out my whetstone to hone the blades ready for battle. I place my bow across my shoulders for easy access and check the arrows in my quiver. Drogon answers my call and flies in from her watching place. She lands and waits for me to stride across to where she stands. The Princess watches as I start to climb up onto Drogon’s shoulder.
“Well, Princess Aisha, what is it to be? Your mother, the Queen, or Tywin?”
|I have done as I was bid. Melting myself out beyond the Baroness’s protected walls and gained capture into Tywin’s domain. |
The man makes my skin crawl, but I close that part of myself off and focus instead on what must be done – gaining some measure of his confidence and share my tale I have been tweaking in my head; a tale that kept my fears at bay as I made my way to where I now was.
I was hoping that they bought my story that I had run with news I could only share with their ‘fearless leader’. I had gushed with an innocence only a child could manage and soldiers who escorted me had not been brutal, coldly distant, but not brutal.
I found myself fingering the amulet I kept hidden within my bodice. I feared its discovery might give me away, but I hoped a tale of sticky fingers would keep me safe. Handing over the dragon’s bone dagger, explaining that I had stolen it from the Queen had garnered me some semblance of trust.
When I was brought before him, he circled dragging his ragged hands over my small frame. His fingers trailed down my arm and across to my small yet, undeveloped breasts. His smile beady and gruesome. I managed to hold myself very still and let him think any of my tremblings were due to me liking his touch.
“You could do for me, wee thing....” I met his gaze not willing myself to show any fear. “But...I believe I will listen to what my guards tell me you have news of...”
I was only truly grateful when he moved away and took his stench from so close. Even across the room I could smell his body odor mixed with heavy liquor. He motioned for one of his minions to pour him another glass. Taking a mighty swig, he fixed his cold, dead eyes on me. I willed myself not to shrink back. Evil permeated this place.
I resisted the urge to finger the amulet and clamped my hands before me in a folded prayer like grasp, keeping them low.
“I heard tales of attacks, my lord.”
“Attacks, you say... do go on...” His voice seemed to snarl like a dog’s awaiting its next meal.
I heard of attacks coming from the eastern shore using water magic. Queen Darleen intends to use the nymphs in a week’s time.”
“Water magic, you say.” He snorted. “She is more fool than I remember her.” He took another swill from his goblet. His eyes holding me in their glazed midst. I repressed another tremor.
“But I heard it all.... I slipped, into the war room when there was commotion. No one saw me. No one ever notices me, your grace.” I felt the bile rise up in my throat as I heard the words trip across my tongue. I prayed he would take my tale like a poison unknown.
Tywin took in my tattered rags of clothing, dull and grey. Even my hair tied back was non-descript. “You are very plain...not that you wouldn’t be a fine piece of...”
“Lord Tywin.” Interrupted a guard shoving into the tent. Tywin’s greedy, paedophilic gaze cleared and shifted to his Captain of arms.
“What is it, Joffery. Can’t you see I am in the middle of weaving my web...” Tywin gave a laugh that grated across my already strung nerves.
“There is news. Soldiers have reported some movement within the eastern shores. We are not sure what, but...”
“The nymphs, perhaps?” His eyes swivelled back to me. I looked at him, giving nothing away.
“It is possible, my lord.” The Captain said.
“Well then we will have to see what is amiss. Take this girl child and have her sent to my quarters... have her prepared.”
Two guards appeared on either side of me and taking me at the elbows dragged me roughly forward.
“Gentle boys... I do not want her bruised. I will see to that myself...” He let his words hang in the air, then letting out another bark of laughter he rose and made to follow his Captain of the Guard.
My blood froze and I could only wish myself away from here. My task was done. I wondered if escape were possible or if leaving would foul up the Queen’s plans. For now, I followed the guards without a word.
|Jongleur stands alongside the Queen in the ship. Lady Dyrhearte is on the other side. She looks eager for battle, but he understands that she is just weary of all the threats against the Queen, seeing an end to them will make her happy.|
The fog is heavy enough that they cannot see any of the other ships. He smiles at Dyr who leans into the Queen to whisper in her ear. The enforced silence is hard on everyone. It makes this trip across the water seem to take so much longer than normal.
He hopes Lord Geek will find success in her mission. He has not revealed to the Queen that he healed her and sent her forth. Jongleur sighs, healing someone and then sending them to almost certain death is not a pleasant thought.
Mage, the sound of a feminine voice in his head takes Jongleur by surprise. He maintains a calm visage and answers, Who are you?
Lady Aedrac. If you look to the sky, you will see a speck, which is Drogon upon her I now ride. Do not worry for the dragons of the enemy. I will bring all of them under my will. I will coordinate my attack with that of the troops of the Queen.
Jongleur gazes at the sky. Your help is greatly welcomed and needed. When we are ten minutes from land, could you let me know?
Yes, I can do that, she replies.
The Queen looks weary. So much has happened that weighs upon her mind. Jongleur walks to her and places her hand on her arm. I have good news that I dare not even whisper. Think your reply, and I will hear it.
Her eyes widen. Although she has known him since they were both but youths, this was the first time he has spoken to her mentally.
How? she begins . . . no . . . not knowing about these powers might be better. Tell me the good news.
He tells her of his conversation with Lady Aedrac, and he sees relief fill her eyes, and even her frame seems to relax. I would like to keep this quiet for as long as possible, he explains.
As he removes his hand from the Queen's arm, he notices Dyr's hand move from her silver dagger. He likes her, but he knows that she does not trust him. He is a mage--no one trusts a mage. The Queen is one of very few people who have ever trusted him, and he believes that is because she knew him before he became a mage. He nods to Dyr and continues his watch.
Time seems to crawl forward slowly; finally, he hears Aedrac say, Land is very near. He uses a spell to thin the fog. Other ships are now visible, but the cloudy sky still conceals their presence. Dyr looks at him, and he nods his head. She makes a signal to her men, and a battle flag goes up the mast. Land comes into view. There are no soldiers awating them on the beach. He breathes a sigh of relief.
Every soldier on this ship has one goal to attack the castle and gain entry, which would be an insane idea, except for one thing. Everyone on of them will carry a pot of wildfire, which will be used against the castle walls. Nothing can withstand wildfire.
As the ship's anchor brings them to a stop, Jongleur opens a large chest. As the soldier's depart, he hands them a pot of wildfire with the words, "Stand far back when you throw it."
Dyr is the last one to come. He gives her the warning and adds, "Be careful to return safely. The Queen needs you."
She gives him an odd look before she turns away. As soon as she is gone, he returns to the Queen. He takes her hand and uses a spell, which renders both of them invisible. They rise together into the air.
"Oh, I like this idea," she exclaims.
"I had a feeling you would. I will take us to where we will have a good view of the attack upon the castle."
The Queen's soldiers flood over the beach and to the plateau. Those who are quick climbers go first, reaching the top of the plateau quickly then releasing ropes for the others. The soldiers swarm up to the plateau.
Dyr and her men advance upon the castle. A flight of arrows fill the air from bowmen on the castle walls. Jongleur sends a wind spell, knocking them from the air. Flights of arrows continue, but none of them strike their mark.
The Queen shouts in excitement as wildfire strikes the walls, blowing large holes in them. The Queen's soldiers advance quickly into the castle.
Jongleur sees Dyr collapse to the ground. He releases the Queen's hand. "You will be safe here. I'll be back soon."
He is still invisible as he lands near Dyr who is unmoving on the ground. An arrow protrudes from her back. He feels her neck and finds a slow pulse. He places his hand on her back and closes his eyes. His vision looks within her. He grips the arrow and pulls it carefully from her. He mends the wound as well as the shock to her mind. As she returns to consciousness, he says, "Imagination." She will remember nothing of his healing.
As he rises back to the Queen, he sees the dragons in the air, which are swooping down to attack Tywin's army. He is pleased that wights will not be needed this day.
|I had thought I was dying. My back had never ached so much, my arm was broken for sure, but the mage healed me without effort. |
For a price.
My previous connection with Tywin was long established, the man had been a friend of my fathers for so long, has been a guest in my home many times in years past. Less so recently, I must admit, and I had wondered if anyone had remembered the connections between our houses.
The mage remembered. The mage knew everything about me and I admit he was familiar to me, perhaps another guest at our home some time in the past. Not that it mattered now.
He summoned another dragon and I was apprehensive about getting on another, I had never been keen on them. While their loyalties were often set in stone but they weren't tame. The mage had tried to promise me this dragon would listen to me but I had already survived a fall and wouldn't survive another - even with the mage's magic. I climbed on anyway, and the mage passed me my bow and quiver, both in perfect condition, saved by his magic.
"You know what you have to do?" he asked.
"I can make sure the Queen treats you favourably if you return when you do your job."
"I'm not sure I deserve it."
The mage simply nodded in reply, patted the dragon on it's hind and sent me my way.
We soared much higher than I wanted, the air whipping my hair back pushing the scarf I had wrapped around my head up and off in moments. I lost it to the wind and didn't dare let go of the reign to try and catch it. My ears started to freeze and I simply closed my eyes.
We landed with a thud and a growl and the dragon shook me off with a quick shudder. I landed on the dirt ground of the courtyard of Tywin's castle, surrounded by his guardsmen.
"I am here to see your lord," I say, standing up and brushing myself off. My bow and quiver is still strapped to my body, my knife still in my boot, but I have seven swords pointed at me and another man who is three times my size glaring down at me so I doubt my chances in a fight.
I see better from a distance. I fight better from a distance.
"Who are you?"
"Lord Geek of Baratheon, daughter of Lord Hale, I am an old friend of Tywin."
"How can we be sure of that?"
"You can't," I said. "But when you speak with your lord, tell him I killed Baroness LL as she jumped in front of Queen Darleen to save her from my arrow."
The men looked at each other and I was escorted into the main hall and up Lord Tywin, a man I knew well enough that I had not seen him for years. That I had not invited to my homestead since my fathers had lost his mind.
"Young Lady Geek," his voice boomed, a faint scent of ale floating across the room to me. Nothing had changed I noted.
"Lord," I corrected.
"You took your father's title."
"He does not have the ability to use it my Lord."
One of the guardsmen whispered something into tYwin's ear and he smiled at her as he listened.
"You tried to kill the Queen?"
"Yes my lord."
"Why? Your family has always been loyal to the Queen and her line."
"She had plans to take my land," I lied, "I had to act on behalf of my own line."
"And you killed the Baroness instead."
"Yes my lord."
He smiled again and stood, urging me over to him. I approached and he wrapped him arm around me pulling me tight against him.
"It's a pleasure to have you here my friend," he said. "You may stay as long as you need. And when I am done with the Queen of Baratheon, I will remove her men from your land and you may be the head of house Baratheon under my rule."
"It would be my honour Lord Tywin."
"Tell me dear, do you know any plan of the Queen?"
"I didn't hear much my lord," I said, remembering what the mage had told me. "I had a spy in their house, a young plain girl, who I sent ahead of me. She's know more."
"She arrived earlier, offered me her services. She never mentioned you had sent her."
"I told her not to my Lord. I did not know if I was to survive my escape from the Baroness' castle and I did not know if you would trust a young woman on the word of a Baratheon known to be loyal to the queen."
"Well, I trust you both, as well as I can trust anyone in these times."
"Perhaps, perhaps." He waved over a servant. "Find Lord Geek some quarters, close to my own, and take her a meal."
"Yes Lord Tywin."
Tywin ushered me from the hall, with a hand on my backside which was not unexpected. The servant lead me up the stairs.
"What is your name?" i asked the servant that lead me through the castle.
"Arrol, my Lord."
"I sent a girl here, a spy of mine, I wish to conference with her."
"She's in Lord Tywin's quarters my lord, she's not to be disturbed."
I followed him up the stairs, keeping my eyes on every door for a sign of the young girl the Queen had sent into the Kings Landing. I spied it easily enough, the door was lavish and not to far from the one the servant was unlocking for myself to use.
"Thank you," I muttered.
I closed the door to my new quarters and waited for a few moments without even looking around me at the décor. I had no doubt it was a nice room. I had no interest in it. Once I was sure the servant has done down the stairs again, I quickly left the room and up the steps to Tywin's personal quarters. I didn't knock, just opened the door and slipped into the lavish quarters.
There was a slip of a girl inside, smaller than I intended and pale with fright.
"My name is Lord Geek of Baratheon, I've come to get you out of here."
"Not yet, we have to wait until he's rallied his men and gone out to meet Queen Darleen's forces."
"What do we do until then?"
"Wait," I told her. "Tywin won't take you before the battle. He'll save you for a victory so you're safe until then."
"You know him well?"
"Too well," I paused, thinking I heard footsteps. "I will come for you as soon as they embark. At the window on a blue and purple dragon."
"Just stick by that window, day and night. I'll be there."
The girl nodded and I smiled, hopefully making her feel a little a better.
I didn't certainly didn't feel very good about this plan.
| Teerich-Lady Aedrac of Baratheon|
Aisha starts towards me, but I have already read her mind and know what is in her heart. My muscles strain as I heave myself up to my place astride Drogon.
Drogon waits until we are settled before she leaps skyward, her strong wings stretching to catch the wind. 'We must fly, little rider! Your fate awaits!' I lean forward to grasp the crest which snakes up her neck and over her head. The Queen needs to know about my change of heart.
I gather my strength and reach out, looking for the Mage. I feel his intake of breath when he hears my soft whisper in his imagination and pray that I can fulfil the promise I give him.
The call of the Seal is strong. Seven Dragons acknowledge the initial sweep. With the power of the Seal, they break the binding spells cast on them by Daenerys. Three are close by and I feel their thoughts intermingle and join with my own. These had been chosen to aid Tywin in the battle ahead. He would not realise yet that they were lost to him.
An almost mature red and gold, Firestone, is the first to appear, as a small dot on the distant horizon. I watch as he seems to perform aerobatics in the sky. His enemy rider is young and inexperienced and is soon dislodged. I feel Firestone shake himself and set a course to join with us. 'Ah! Little one, it is good to be free again!' His mind sings with jubilation.
A younger sapphire blue, Midnight joins the conclave. 'Greeting, brother and sister. What pigmy is that clinging to your back?' Her mind forages through the forest of my thoughts. 'Indeed, sister. The power of the Seal is strong in her.' I blush at this praise.
'Firestone, Midnight, Drogon. You three must not be seen until the enemy is engaged. The element of surprise will aid us to victory. No-one except the Mage and the Queen knows we are here on her side. When Tywin sees us he will think we come to his assistance.' I feel the assent of my companions. It is good to have such allies at your back.
Below, the Queen's barge nears the shore. 'Mage! Land is very near.' I feel his attention sharpen. 'Tywin does not know of our existence. He is expecting only minimal resistance from the Queen and her forces!' His mindscape seems to soften slightly. A chuckle ripples the edges of my consciousness. 'This is good news. Our advantage will be great. It will shift the battle in our favour.'
Drogon, take us down behind that hill near the landing. The swirling mist covers us as we approach the ground.
Princess Aisha, I am putting you down so that you can join your mother. The Mage will have told your mother you have returned to her side. Aisha nodded and slid from Drogon's back and I returned to the other dragons hiding in the high thick clouds.
Two more dragons appear on the horizon; Ironclaw, a metal grey male; Brightspear, a deep bronze female. I feel two others at the far edges of my reach who are also speeding our way. May the Gods lend strength to our army this day.
The castle at King's Landing is large and has strong thick walls, but they are as thin air to my companions. They know the castle as well as I do; knowledge will aid our onslaught.
Tywin has massed his troops on the walls with their attention on the attacking force. They are not expecting a rear-guard action from within the walls. We drop from the sky and attack from behind, taking them unawares. The noise of the battle and the stench of the wildfire is like the bowels of Hades.
Dragon fire rakes the backs of the men on the ramparts as the walls crumble beneath them. Firestone, Midnight and Brightspear return again and again to wreak havoc on the wall. Ironclaw and Drogon, with me on her back, cover their rear and deal with the reinforcements streaming from the rear of the Castle.
I feel the approach of the last two dragons and they join their companions in the assault on Tywins men.
Dyrhearte of Baratheon
I, stood dazed from the battle cries around me. I patted my armor for the arrow I knew I had taken in the chest, but except for a painful bruise I was fine. Then I saw his approach. Uncle Darren of Wicker Barony. He leered at me and I stood my ground facing him.
"You've grown my little niece. Your father would be proud."
"Don't speak of my father, traitor."
"Ho! Such spitting spirit, Dyrhearte. Tell me, does your father rest easy in his grave knowing you side with a weak and pathetic Queen?"
We circle maintaining a confrontational face to face banter. He is half again my size and renowned with the sword. But, he is unaware of my training and my need to avenge his acts against my parents.
"Your sister, my mother blessed me before her last breath. Did you know this?" I smile with this bit of news.
"Worry flashed across Darren's face but briefly. "That is no matter. Your mother cried for mercy before I was through with her. She begged for the death she earned."
I knew the circumstances of my mother's and father's deaths. His taunt fueled my inner rage which, powered with my mother's blessing, I was able to channel into controlled action. I faked an enraged lunge with my sword. My maternal uncle took the bait grinning with victory. The grin froze as I spun and my intented thrust skewered him. The hilt of my sword was all that was visible from his chest. He dropped to his knees looking down at his death. "How...?" He was dead before his body fell the side. I pulled my sword from the corpse, poured blessed oil over him and prayed. This man would never return from the worms to harm my family with his treachery again.
The battle was going well, then I saw her. At first I took the presence of Lady LL's animated corpse to be part of the Jongleur's plan. He had mentioned wights. But, LL though moving along and wreaking havoc, fought against the Queen's forces. I found a torch lying on the ground, thankfully it was still lit. My horror of seeing a once trusted friend controlled by the evil forces she so reviled in life hardened my resolve.
"Mi' Lady, I ask your forgiveness for what I must do." The Wight LL turned in my direction as I spoke, as I knew she would be compelled to do. The last words she had uttered, after the grave, to the magiker who had animated her beyond her grave, whispered forth from her gray-bluish lips. "Sorry, I don't know what else to add."
So the magiker had interrogated her for the battle plans of the Queen. I wondered why the battle ruses worked, unless the person involved didn't really care who won this fight. Or worse, were prepared within the castle we attacked.
My next action was quick and precise. The Baroness Wight caught fire and her deathly wail stunned all who were within the sound of it. I raced close behind her fleeing torched remains. She lead me to a spot away from the battle and with her last supplication her flaming arms lifted for help from the person who controlled her corpse. She collapsed into a pile of ash. I looked upwards and saw, briefly, Daenerys of Targaryen, retreating from her point of observation on a powerful, but still young Dragon. She seemed to be fighting the beast for control as the dragon flew erratically before disappearing in the cloud.
I watched as a dragon landed and a familiar figure was dropped to the ground. I recognized Aedrac as the dragon took to the air once again. One of Tywin's soldiers approached Princess Aisha. Words were exchanged and then the Princess fled from the man straight toward me. She was silent but the fear for her life was etched into her face. She was the Queen's daughter, no matter her past transgressions I would not allow her to die at the brutal hands of one of Tywin's men. I drew my bow and let fly two arrows. The first killed the man instantly piercing him through the eye. The second arrow would also have killed him, piercing through his throat.
I grabbed Aisha and we disembarked from the field of battle and back to the Queen's barge. As we fled across the fields away from the Castle and toward the barge, I watched as other dragons dislodged their riders and joined on the side of Lady Aedrac.
Dragons attacked inside the castle walls and I wondered if ours was the victory. I raced toward the barge when the fight turned and our initial triumph weakened to a fighting retreat. More dragons circled above the route but I realized it was because some type of barrier prevented them from doing more harm. A new, powerful magic was at work.
The Queen and Jongleur arrive at the barge just before the Princess and I. With the Baratheon and Lannister troops close in our wake seeking refuge in compact numbers. The three captains turn the surviving soldiers of Baratheon and Lannister into a formidable formation to turn the tide of Tywin's counter attack. But the charge never reached the forming line. Instead, trumpets behind the rubble that was once the castle walls, recalled the attacking soldiers. A cry of retreat and "Tywin is dead" spurred the instant reversal of the battle at hand.
The soldiers rose as one and cheered. the Captain's restrained any pursuit by ordering the lines to stand their ground--this could well be a ruse to completely destroy the Queen's forces.
The Lady Aedrac landed her Dragon, Drogon and bowed before Queen Darleen.
Lord Geek's Account of the fall of Tywin.
I certainly didn't feel very good about this plan. I didn't feel good for a reason as I soon learned. A large, strong hand took me by the neck as I poked my head out the door of Tywin's chambers to see if the hall was clear. I recognized the laugh.
My hands pulled futilely at the choking grip Tywin had upon my throat. He pushed me back into the room and closed the door locking it with his free hand. "Two birds in the hand. How lucky for me, I have allis who tell me about tricks and fake battle plans." His grip released as I was thrown against the wall near the bed. I hadn't realized just how big and strong Tywin truely was until this moment. He laughed again. "I have seen the true allegiance of both of you. Daenerys of Targaryen, has kept me well informed."
Tywin turned toward the window as explosions and the sounds of trumpets alert an attack. Little Carly crouched by the window trying with all her might to disappear from notice. "Your Queen is on time. But she arrives too late. False information my little one, will get you special care at my hands."
He loosened and dropped his belt and sword scabbard on a table in the center of the room. "Which one of you wish to celebrate my victory first?"
Shaking in my own terror I stand and pull the dagger from my boot. Tywin laughed with pure mirth. The man was insane. He took two steps and before I could react the knife was in his right hand and his left hand had me by the hair.
Sounds of battle waged outside but the battle in this room was all I could concentrate on. Tywin had to have a weakness. I had to find it and soon. The maniacal gleam in Tywin's eyes dulled for a moment and he was almost gentle when he picked me up from where I stood. I heard the clatter of my dagger as he dropped it to the floor. He smothered my face with his mouth. I struggled against him to no success. I don't know how long I was within his foul grip and caress. Seemed an eternity. My ears were ringing from my terror and over powering helplessness. The battle sounds outside seemed to change from desperate to rallying cries of success. I sink into despair, we have lost. The Queen is defeated. Then Tywin gasps and clutches at his neck. Somehow my dagger has found a home in his throat. He stands in a frantic move to distance himself from me and Carly. His hands try to stanch the blood.
"You never knew me. But you knew my mother. She died at my birth, Father."
Tywin stares at the child who just killed him. He strangles on his own blood as he collapses.
I call the dragon as I grab the bloodied Carly. We make our escape from the castle. Not long after, the trumpets call back Tywin's nearly victorious forces and a cry goes up that Tywin is dead.
Teerich-Lady Aedrac of Baratheon
Tywin has massed his troops on the walls with their attention on the attacking force. They are not expecting a rear-guard action from within the walls. Volley after volley of arrows blacken the sky, raining death down on the advancing forces of the Queen.
Now! To the walls. We must stop the archers! We drop from the sky and attack from behind, taking them unawares. The noise of the battle and the stench of the wildfire feels like the bowels of Hades.
Dragon fire rakes the backs of the men on the ramparts as the walls begin to crumble beneath them under the onslaught of the Mages wildfire. Firestone, Midnight and Brightspear return again and again to wreak havoc on the ramparts. Ironclaw and Drogon, with me on her back, cover them and deal with the reinforcements streaming from the rear of the Castle.
There is a figure of a woman at the window of one of the castle towers. She is joined by a smaller young girl and they peer down into the courtyard below, fear etched on their face.
The two final dragons, Hellbrand, a small red, and her companion, Greedore, a mature blue and purple, join me and my companions.
The Mage has sent me with Lord Geek to rescue a young girl sent by the Queen to infiltrate the castle and give false information to Tywin. I turn to Greedore at his sibilant whisper. They are at the window of yonder tower.
Do what you can. Take them away from here as fast as you can. Greedore was already flying towards the tower.
Firestone! Go with him! See them safely beyond the walls, then return.
The Queens men are demolishing the huge wooden door of the castle, which is ablaze from several hits from the wildfire. As the door disintegrates they swarm into the castle yard. Their exultant cries add to the din of the battle raging below.
In the ensuing melee friend and foe become difficult to distinguish, but there is still work to be done in the upper reaches of the castle. I feel the approach of the last two dragons as they join their companions in the assault on Tywins men. The battle is turning our way.
Dyrhearte of Baratheon
I breathe in a clean breath of morning air. Home. There were moments when I thought I'd never know the joy that is my inheritance. It has been a week since the battle at King's Landing. After Tywin's discovered death, his forces sued for conditional surrender. The Queen, against the wishes of her council, granted all but one of the conditions. As it turned, out the powerful and unknown magiker who protectd the castle from the devastating dragon forces escaped and the one denied condition became a moot point.
Captain Garrett controls the Baroness LL's estates. He has been granted royal status for his brilliant strategy and his loyalty to the Queen. He answers to the title of Duke. captain Alyc has sworn fealty to Garrett. Seems in the thick of the battle Garrett saved Alyc.
Jongleur was also given a title, which he declined. As he stated in private conference, "The honor you bestow upon me is very tempting. However, I must decline the position. My talents better serve the House Baratheon and my Queen, if I am not tied down in one place." He then smiled and vanished before us. I heard, just yesterday that he was telling stories of the Fall of Tywin, to a crowd nearly a hundred miles away. It is my irm belief he searches for the unknown threat. The mage who nearly turned our victory into a rout.
Lady Aedrac resides at Tywin's estates. She is the next in line to his inheritance and it is her childhood home. Tywin has many unclaimed children from a lifetime of debaucheries, but none have stepped forward to claim the title of a man so reviled.
R. A. Garcia, the fool of Baratheon worked behind the scenes quietly. His part became the most crucial in the reuniting of House Baratheon. The fool has returned to the Queen's castle to keep her and her court entertained. I must keep an eye on this man. He is more intelligent and crafty than all of us. But, he is loyal to the Queen.
Little Carly has found a home with Lord Geek. Both were tight lipped as to exactly how Tywin met his end. All that Lord Geek would divulge was that Carly saved them both. The Queen has restored the Geek lands back into the royal favor. The last I heard Carly is taking up the bow and shows great promise.
The Princess Aisha and Queen Darleen have found a common ground. They even laugh together, a sound which hasn't graced the Queen's castle in a long time. However, the Princess, being who she is, will never totally obey her mother. There will always be friction between the two. Hopefully, disloyalty won't again become a factor to cause strife between them. Aisha is the future Queen of Baratheon and the Queen is working hard trying to align with the other nine houses of the Kingdom to unite all the lands under one beneficial ruler.
I'm just happy our immediate lands are finally united under the Queen's protection.
Lastly, the battle ground where so much blood was recently spilled has been consecrated. Queen Darleen personally attended the ceremony three days after the surrenderand insisted the place where Baroness LL's ash remains were, be cleansed with dragon fire and consecrated. There is a glassy plate where LL's ashes were and LL's soul is saved. The Queen has declared that every year on the anniversary of the death of the tyrant Tywin, there will be a rememberance ceremony where Baroness LL's ashes were consecrated. Every year the grounds will be reconscrated, lest we all forget.
I must attend to my own running of the Hearte estates. My sisters are restless for my attention since I've been away, also. Seems romance has entered our lands along with the passing of spring.