Game of Crowns
Song of Fire and Ice
The sun rose and avains awoke with a song in their hearts, singing in jubilation of the coming dawn. Although shafts of luminescence pierced the black blanket of cumulonimbus, the shadow of clouds overcast a spectre of ominous portents that heralded the arrival of this fortuitous day. Much rested on the shoulders of young Hal, Earl of Richmœnd today, for the fate of the Kingdom would be decided.
This all seemed foolish to the young Prince Henry. His father’s family had been dishonoured, shamed and framed by the ignoble House Dannet. His brother and he (Baron Brendon) had tried their utmost to clear their good name by maintaining their innocence, proven by veritable testimony from a willing witness. Alas, all this proved pointless, and it was decided by King Robert the usurper, that violence means justice. No mercy. No justice was served.
It struck Hal as strange, how in a land such as this, men could have their honour smeared, then are forced into a fight, to ‘prove’ their innocence. It was all nonsense. The massacre of the farmers, the enslavement of their adfilate sister by her own family, and the pointless trial by combat. It didn’t matter that House Richmœnd was innocent and framed, it didn’t matter how Adam Dannet had instigated the intrigue, all that mattered to Hal now, was that he entered into a fight, and won.
Surely, by debasing ourselves as to succumb to temptation, is wrong-headed, as we are surely just as mean and base as they. Have humanity Hal. Listening to his conscience, Hal rationalised that stooping so low, selling out as the Dannet boys had done, was that left hand Machiavellian path; whereas to walk through the straight righteous side, wherein honour she be satisfied, aye. We must be above all good sports.
Niccolo’s dark spirit lingers as being the nature of this beast. Politics. Regicide: Fratricide. The dishonourable assassin lurks, creeps and strikes. An air of suspicion, a thick heavy mist of capture, torture and betrayal.
Alas, the day dawned down near the Green Tree tavern, taking their places up at the breakfast table after the evenings shenanigans, Friar John the hermit of the old ways beseated thereabouts. Joining him was Frotha Fleckbow, a healer mæster.
Another newcomer to the posse was there, Ulæth, a boy esquire, retainer to Baron Richmœnd, who had of late caught up with Brendon in the dark of the night, plotting, intrigued and sought to hire nefarious help to rig the jousting in the following morning. Ulæth failed to reveal anything forthcoming about their new self-proclaimed mission to sabotage the next day’s event. Over the course of the evening, as the Hal soundly slept, one young nobleman entered a seedy tavern nestled in a dodgy district about King’s Landing. (Frotha had made an attempt at disguising Ulæth with phoney scars). The esquire, never before acquainted with a big city, entered the bar on his own.
A rotund looking landlord cleaned out a tankard with a dishcloth, as groups of rogues sat about huddled tables, dicing and making small talk. Their hushēd whispers barely audiable, quiet though it was in the bar sans nom. “A pint of beer please, and one for your good self barkeeper.”, said Ulæth sliding two groats over the darkwood bar-top. “We only serve ale in here.”, replied the barman after taking the tender, picking up another tankard, and scooping out two pints of warm ale from an open hogshead. “I don’t suppose you know anyone who needs some work do you?” “What kind of work are we talking about guv’na?” “Helping to rig a contest.” and so the conversation went on, incongruously.
After soon having hired some goons – who, may or may not be trustēd to make good on their word – to the tune of a twenty per cent cut in any winnings accrued, a slice of the fruitful pie scheme. Shaking hands closing the deal, Ulæth ordered another drink. He blabbered about, lingering, until the tavern owner had enough, saying sharply to the squire,“You been upsettin’ my punters.”
“Looks like it.”, Ulæth stayed sat right where he was.
“Finish up your bevvy pronto, and sling your ‘ook, sharpish. All‘wright?” The tavernkeeper towered over the young squire and intimidated him. Even so, Ulæth seemed unfettered, keeping quiet, finishing his second pint, and eventually leaving the place, taking the pint tankard with him. “You forgot to bring the glass back!” yelled the random rogue racketeer, keeper of the seedy-joint: the bar in a downtown dockyard district.
That following morning however, after Ulæth finding the Green Tree tavern the only place accommodating in town, after breakfast, the band of brothers split up. Friar John gave a poetic benediction of the old faith, blessing being bestowed on today’s tournament. Hal accompanied the anchorite, and headed straight for the jousting competition, preparing for his trial by combat, that might clear his Houses’ name, fame and now tarnished reputation.
Brendon headed straight to the Jade Garden whore house, to find Lady Lieder, after just having bought her liberty, from the bookie and pimp, Lyle, the barkeep of the Green Tree. The madame said, “Lieder is with a customer right now, can’t you come back later?” “No, this is important, and can’t wait.” handing her a silver coin. “She’s making four and twenty more of these on her back as we speak.” Brendon offered her another twenty-nine silver stags, the madame entered her room, there was report of raised voices. Our Baron boldly and briskly went to investigate. Another young nobleman was hunched over naked in a chair, brow beaten by the madame of the brothel. Lieder pulled the bedclothes up covering her breasts as the madame ushered the young noble client out, handing him his dandy-like clothes and gem-studded shoes. Baron Brendon assured her that he had secured her freedom for some two goldragons, covering all her debt. Lieder was reluctant at accompany him at first, but after some silver charm and sincerely flattery, he worked his magic and enticed her sufficiently to stay by his side. The couple made haste to the tournament field.
Meanwhile, the milling masses gathered for the days events to take place at noon. Common folk from everywhere gathered about the jousting area. Bets were placed by many many people, including our noble circle. Adam Dannet was the favourite, but Hal, Earl of Richmœnd, was good odds at 25-1. Henry put all his gold on with Lyle, a sole dragon had he. (After donating almost all his worldly wealth to the House treasury).
Frotha Fleckbow became separated at Hal’s request, the Prince urged the mæster to join his colleagues in fellowship, once the two had ascertained that a gathering of healers was taking place, at the Sceptred Baylor – the conclave covenant.
Back at the tournament field, banter ensued. Ulæth tried to claim he was nobility, to which the Prince replied, “Riff-raff, gentry, not a Duke nor a Lord or an Emperor, but you might as well be mean and base of stock.” Their argument was silenced as trumpets sounded a fanfare, and a herald issued silence, as he announced, “Hail Adam Dannet!” The crowds exploded into cheer, despite the scores of men having recently been bribed to boo and hiss the Dannet entrance, hardly heard, drowned out by the jubilant cry of popular support House Dannet enjoyed momentarily.
Hal cried out from inside his pavilion, “You’re going home in a horse drawn ambulance!” Jeering his supporters to shout Richmœnd! Richmœnd! His rabble rousing had no noticeable effect, again being sounded down by the whistles and jeers the crowd boo’d Hal, as he made his entrance. Henry raised his arm under his elbow in an obvious sign of ‘up yours’ to the Dannet supporters, the majority. Prince Henry then decided to recite his own soliloquy, in the iambic pentameter, naturally.
Baron Brendon and he were raised outside.
In the forest, suckled by a she-wolf.
Hal spent many years on a mountaintop;
Alone: to find out more about himself.
He rescued a damsel, from the clutches
Of a mighty dragon who dwelt inside
The mountain’s dark depths: a chasm of fire.
Ladies and gentlemen: here, I give you,
Without let, hindrance, or further ado,
The Prince with the monogamy armour,
Liberator of maidens from dragons,
The spirit-warrior monk with the mostest,
A chivalrous Knight of the Oriflame,
Henry Haaaaaaaal Richmœnd!!
Both competitors took to there places at opposite ends of the field, amidst an array of brightly coloured ribbons and flags which fluttered in the summer breeze. Adam looked woozy in his saddle, it seemed more than just the sun, as he appeared a little off-colour when Hal rode up to the centre, to greet the King. After bowing and receiving a Royal ratification, that the first Knight dismounted loses the contest, and their family honour. Hal bowed in respect, turned to the flaky looking instigator of this fiasco, and said flatly to Adam, “You’re going down.”
Re-taking there places at either end, they lowered their visors, and began galloping towards one another. Hal went into ‘Eyes Fixed’ stance, they closed in to one another. Bam! Both lances glanced off their shields.
Turning about and beginning their second run, a canter turned to a gallop again: Hal in ‘Eyes Fixed’ (aka Ice Pick) stance. Boom! Henry’s lance shattered against Adam’s chest, knocking the wind out of the scheming Dannet boy, who now wavered in his saddle.
Third time’s the charm, boom! Ice Pick stance did the job as Hal’s replacement lance splintered into fragments, unseating the Dannet boy! Huzzah!
Giving the stunned to silent crowd another ‘up yours’ signal, dismounted, towered over Adam and began shouting at him and the crowd, “How do you like me now?! How do you like those apples?! Hmmn?!” Taking another bow, he followed up with, “I’ll be here all week. Thank you.” A slow round of applause began. Basking in his glory, King Robert praised him, “Honour is satisfied, House Richmœnd is cleared of any wrong doing.”
Adam looked like he was in a bad way, Hal went to diagnose his injury, but was swiftly set upon by some Dannet goons.
Back at the conclave, Frotha found out about a raven rookery, before returning to the tournament grounds.
The Knight Florēs was up next. Boom! He unhorsed Sir Jæm on just the first pass. Next up: Sir Nathan ‘the nasty’. Boom! The big guy cleared his smaller opponent, again on the first pass.
Now was the turn of Ulæth, he too unhorsed his opponent, Sir Shanyn, a Varlish Knight, who’s lance splintered into a myriad fragments as it connected with him. Remounting, the Knight went to go again, this time dismounting squire Ulæth and wounding him badly. He was not in a good way. Even so, the indomitable esquire moved in for a third run. Boom boom! His lance found its target, smashing itself on impact, and unhorsing Sir Shanyn. Victory for House Richmœnd. “Blessings be upon you.” said the attentive Frotha mæster, after patching the esquire up as best he could. Ulæth’s sprained wrist was strapped up some. His shards of splinter fragments: foreign bodies trapped beneath the skin, festering.
Hal remunerated and recompensed the healer, to the tune of a dragon, thanking him for his services rendered in physician skill. His bet, when cashed in, made a twenty-four times profit on the Hal champion. The one goldragon Henry had put on himself winning transmogrified into twenty-five. All of the players turned a very merry profit, on the side-bets; despite the fact that Ulæth bet on Adam to win, and supposēdly (so he said) also bet on Hal: the victor.
The day was done, celebrations happened, the sound of a lute drifted lazily along the warm evening summer breeze was heard. Emanating from an empty fireplace rested snug within the Green Tree tavern. The night rolled on towards the second day.
Tomorrow’s passing of sunrise would bring with it, the second heat of the jousting and the first of the fighting on foot. Yet now, in the evening air, as the Royal entourage celebrated Frotha noticed a group of robed figures enter the inn. Fellow mæsters. He engaged them in conversation, lose lipped an honest fellow though he wise. In a last ditched attempt to reverse the situation, our healer argued that we had been instigated in another miscarriage of justice. The suspected poisoning.
Who knows what happened? Soon the entire town was gossiping about it. So, Hal found that the dragonbone boot dirk, was in-fact made of dragonbone china. During the time, some random stranger brushed up against Henry’s boot dagger, it had come loose. Part of the handle of the dirk unclipped to reveal a secret compartment. Therein lay a liquid. Odourless, tasted slightly sweet, but was a deadly poison. The brothers soon disposed of the planted evidence, destroying the clear half-full phial.
The hermit John was wildly inebriated by now, raucously cruised the crowd for fine wenches and fair maidens. While Ulæth stayed up late, the others retired, all save the Friar and he.
Here endeth the session.