Noble Houses (Game of Crowns)
It was on a soft summers evening, midst the tranquil peace of the countryside, as the tweeting avians sung in jubilation at the setting of the sun, that we resume our tale of noble knights and their entourage. Outside the Dag Inn brother Brendon, Baron of Richmœnd, conversed with Colin the stableboy, crossing his palm with silver after gleaning more information gathered, pertaining to their cause; namely, the suspected whereabouts of the assassin ‘Daniel Dannet’, and the location of the mysterious Fox Knight.
The holy man John Godwynn wandered into the forest, finding a place to camp in contemplative solitude, meditating in prayer to the old gods, the first to walk the earth. The Knight Martyn went a wandering, as did Mæster Frotha Fleckbow, who were only at the gathering in spirit on this fine evening (NPC’s).
Baron Brendon, his brother Hal, Earl of Richmœnd and Tabatha the huntress, entered the Dag Inn, and so were met with an atmosphere soured with apparent malice. The locals all therein threw the Royal trio a sea of sharp looks, frosty shoulders and smiles through clenched teeth. Something was dreadfully wrong…
Tabatha the huntress discreetly mingled thereabouts, trying to discover the cause of the peoples distress and quite obvious animosity towards the heroes. Despite flashing her almond eyes and in askance imbued with amity, t’was to no avail. No information was forthcoming.
It was here when Lord Henry, Earl of Richmœnd, spoke out, perhaps rather rashly. Henry stood up, aggrieved, and addressed the whole bar “I say! Do you know who I am?” (Hal’s outburst was met with silence). The Earl carried on regardless, “Now look here you good people of the land. I demand to know why on earth it is you people have such blatant hostility towards my brother, and our companion! Well?! What do you have to say for yourselves?” (this was met by more silence, and a couple of raised eyebrows by Tabatha and Brendon, the shaking of heads). Henry, unfettered, picked up his harp, and his wine, stamped his foot, and stormed out of the Inn. Hal sulked just outside the tavern door, singing a love song, about how an enamoured Prince, try as he might, could n’er win the heart of his belovēd Dag, as she shunned his affections.
Back inside the Inn, the other two continued to proceed with just caution and discretion – the better part of valour. Diplomatist Baron Brendon and Tabatha managed to calm the situation down somewhat, rent a couple of rooms for the night, and also discover the reason for the people’s bitterness towards the trio. T’was rumoured that a group of soldiers, baring the Royal crest of Richmœnd – the Dragon Sea-Turtle – slaughtered in cold blood, a knot of innocent farmers from and in Dannet lands.
It is as plain as is the summer sun which set outside the windows of the tavern, that no such action had taken place. House Richmœnd prided herself on extolling the virtues of Chivalry, Honour and would never commit an act so mean and base. These… rumours, were clearly falsified, and no man nor maiden would be so ignoble as to murder good agrarian folk.
Hal finished his evening song, drained his goblet, and returned inside the tavern. “Sorry, sorry everybody.”, spoke the Earl, thence ordered another wine, and bought everybody in the place a round of ale: which was met with good cheer.
Baron Brendon and Tabatha thus took the opportunity to gather more gossip and rumours. Again, the tragic tale of the murdered farmers resurfaced to haunt and shame their family. More information came to light: Another action, a contingent of soldiers (again bearing the shield of our noble House Richmœnd) attempted an attack on House Dannet. The attack was repelled. Furthermore, t’was widely believed that the young Lord Adam Dannet, last of his line, was going to be struck down, fatally wounded by a lance during the jousting at the upcoming tournament, not three days hence.
Tabatha and Brendon seemed to be getting on rather well. The two brothers Brendon and Hal shared a knowing smirk betwixt one another as Henry bade his brother Baron good night, and then himself retired.
The next morning, Hal awoke in good cheer, descended the wooden spiral stairwell at the Inn, to take up his place at the rustic breakfast table. Henry gave his blessing to the newly enamoured couple, complimenting Tabatha on such a fine and well-heeled choice of consort. His compliment was met with disdain, and she raised a hand to the young Prince Henry. As her hand went to strike the Earl, Baron Richmœnd adroitly grabbed her slender arm, cast her a serious and stern glance, gazing gravely into her almond eyes saying, “You do that again, and it’s over for you! Finished! To slap the Prince, or any member of our Royal House is a treasonous offence, as ’tis synonymous with attacking my very father himself, Lord of our lands. You do not strike the Regent of the Realm, nor any branch or stem of our mighty stock.”
Henry spoke, “My brother is correct. Not only that, but I wished to merely express my joy, at having gained a sister, who I could not think of finding a better or more able suit, than Baron Bredon of House Richmœnd. You are indeed a worthy paramour, and, now a member of our Royal Household; here, we do not strike each other in haste. That, is reserved for the practise field or at the tournament. We aspire to be lords (and ladies) of even temperament and sporting countenance. Not brawlers. Most unbecoming for a lady.”
At that, Tabatha accepted the dressing down, arose from the table, excusing herself for want of some fresh air, and quietly slid off into the forest; whereupon she made not a sound, and spied the hermit John Godwynn. Blissfully unaware of her having passed near there, the huntress chose to reveal her location, and bade Friar John to return with her to the Inn, and join the trio for breakfast, which they promptly did.
Meanwhile, following some banter between the brothers, Baron Brendon Richmœnd and Hal discussed matters of regency, namely: the treasury. “So you see brother, since seeing the state of the Realm’s finances in decline – though still in possession of an ample income – I took the liberty of depositing half your recent donation to safe-keeping with father; and the other five golden dragons, I decided to use to fund this very expedition, that we may not be in need of anything requisite on our voyage south, and during our return.”, said Brendon hushēdly across the morning table. “Brendon, this is the very reason I offered such a mighty sum, for want of mine own acumen: I do not trust my very own fiscality. See how I splashed money on frosty folk, foreigners to boot, only yesterday evening. As things are, it is for the best, the way things have worked out.”, replied Hal. “I’m glad that’s cleared up. Now all that remains is to clear our Houses name, and, to win the tournament of course. Or at least do our best. Ah! My beauteous paramour returns!”
With her, entered John Godwynn, bidding all a good morning. Brendon, the huntress, and the Friar then perused the place, pitting their wits, by gathering some more information, gleaning a little more gossip, coaxed from unwilling tongues, who continued to offer a lukewarm welcome, and frosty reception to the four heroes.
After working the room, pumping the country folk for information, John Godwynn took up a seat at the table alongside Hal, “Sire, I have heard that it would be wise to check all meat and victuals prepared for you, on this voyage, for they may yet be laced with poison.” “I knew it! Thank you good Friar Godwynnson, I am glad your prophecy, augery and commune with the spritree would bear fruits of divination. Your dream foretellings must be hard to perceive the meaning of. You truly are a holy man.” “Forgive me sirrah, but I fear you place too much trust in my abilities as a prophet.” (John discreetly indicates towards a stranger seated at the bar), “That bloke over there told me m’lord. My powers of perception did come into play, for I met his eyes and knew full well he spoke only truth. Their was nothing mystical about it whatsoever, I regret to inform your Highness.” “Ah. Alas, your wisdom and discerning verily powers of perception saved my thread of vital life. For that, I give you thanks good Friar, you truly are a visionary.” “Very well my lord, if you say so.”
At that, they all four became seated at the oaken breakfast table, and the rustic fare was served. In light of this new information, Hal offered, nay commanded a retainer to be a patsy. The newly appointed Royal food taster was ordered to ingest half the breakfast, ‘till it had gone cold. Brendon simply asked the man to taste a little of his. The loyal retainer did not seem to be suffering from any ill effects. Baron Brendon, his Lady Tabatha, and Friar John all enjoyed a nice hot meal. Still suspicious Prince Henry erred on the side of caution, and contemplated skipping breakfast. But at the behest of his brother, who bade him eat something, finished off his now near cold cooked breakfast, as half-hearted and lukewarm as the locals that frequented the place. As the Earl ate, their food-taster retainer feigned ill-effects, thinking it be jovial to jest about the suspected poisoning. As he began to laugh at seeing Hal’s complexion pale somewhat, the smile was soon wiped off his face as Baron Brendon Richmœnd gave him a characteristically grave dressing down, ensuring discipline in the ranks, and no clowning around of that ilk. Such was the seriousness of the situation, and safety to the Royal persons and their entourage.
(Taking no chances, Hal decided it be best to employ his survival skills of foraging and hunting to find food from now on; so as to not be at the mercy of any would-be assassin). Two of their men were swiftly dispatched homewards, to inform their liege lord paternal protector, of all the events that had transpired – particularly the killing of the Dannet farmers and its repercussions – so as to keep father aware of the gravity of the situation.
Without further ado, the score of travellers set off, still heading southwards. As they rode, Friar John addressed the Earl, “Perhaps our lord, your father, did not deem to inform us as to the atrocities that were committed in our name.” Hal shot him an intense look from sat on his palfrey Chevalier, “Hogwash! I know father, and he would never order such a thing. It would make no sense, for he hath not provocation. Discard such doubts good Friar, have faith in father, for like his sons, he is an honest man. This whole situation is odious, that our honourable reputation be besmirched. I fear we are being set-up, framed, and as brother says, we must find out who is the perpetrator and have them brought before the King’s justice. In doing so, wipe clean the stain upon our noble name, and clear our House of any wrong doing.”
Maybe a week passed without let or hindrance, until they approached the proximity of the Great Stag Inn. Forsooth, no sooner than they neared its locality, than Tabatha, scouting ahead, was met by armed knights bearing the insignia of House Clavager.
Hal saw the the Knights in the distance, saying to his brother, “Parley.” “Agreed.” They rode forth to meet them. Palaver ensued as the Royal dignitaries advanced, and discussed with the knights of Clavager. “We are under orders, by Royal authority vested in King Robert himself, to bring you villains to justice, by force if necessary. Yield, for we have rubric and remit to arrest your persons, to be brought before the King, immediately.” One of Clavager’s men handed Baron Brendon a letter, bearing the Royal seal of Lancaster. “Good Knight, we and our own are well aware of these falsified allegations brought against us, and are also acutely aware that House Clavager would do most anything to gain the King’s favour, by clamouring in desperate acts unworthy of such gentry as your House beseems. Raise not your blades against us, who wish only to parley, and not enter conflict with you, or the King, whose succour we all entreat.”
The Clavager knights eased up a little, their hands being ordered away from the hilts of their swords by their Knight-Commander, who spake thus, “I was told to expect a hostile reaction, and it comes as something of a surprise to my men and I, to meet with such frank words. Even so, we are ordered by King Robert in person, as he doth crave your admittance to His Majesty, for trial and retribution. Therefore I say, give up your arms immediately, and let us escort you before the Royal Court of justice, presently.”
Hal piped up, “Do you know who I am?” “Yes. You are Henry, Earl of Richmœnd.” “Then you will know full well that neither I, my father, or my brother has ever before engaged in such villainous activity that we heretofore stand accused of. Which charges are baseless, for we are not guilty Sir Knight, of anything like this.” Brendon put his oar in, “The allegations are false, and we intend to clear our Houses’ honourable name. Alas we acknowledge your merry message, and bid you not escort us under arms. Our people are en route to the tournament at King’s Landing straight away. Know that our first intention is to seek audience with the King and his counsellors, to clear up this abominable mess that we be embroiled in.”
Clavager’s Knight-Commander weighed the Baron’s words carefully, and decided, after a fashion, to leave the Royal personages of Richmœnd be. Much to our relief, we could be permitted passing through without obstacle. The two parties then shared news and investigated further the whereabouts of the elusive Fox Knight.
John spoke again to Hal, once the Clavager knights had left them in peace, “Perhaps it would have been more prudent, Sire, to have had these men on-side, to add to our own protection. Their number would have meant our numbers be doubled, thereby more safety and security for ourselves.” Hal replied, “Nay good Friar, being deprivēd of our liberty would serve no purpose. Being left at the mercy of House Clavager would leave us defenceless, for they have their own agenda, and are possessed of scant sympathy to our cause.”
Further down the road, they arrived at the Stag. Situated in a sleepy town, where very few people were seen out on the streets, for they all seemed to be in the pub. A great whitewood head of a hart dominated the decor above the tavern door. Rounding to the stable, the group changed from armour to civilian attire, hiding any trace of Royal insignia, ashamēdly, until their House’s good name be restorēd. Night had fallen, the temperature dropped as the wind picked up ominously.
Naturally, the welcome was as warm as the weather. A sea of sharp suspecting looks, and an offish response was met with the people herein. Cold shoulders and frosty reactions as seemed to be the norm in these here parts, cast a spectre of melancholy about Prince Hal. Our group tried as they might to clear their name. The talks reached fever pitch and Henry showed his Royal seal: the Dragon Sea-Turtle with pride, only to be met with a refusal of service at the Inn. Downcast, he left the tavern, sitting on the steps once again with his harp, no wine this time, and composed a tragic ballad in the iambic pentameter of the ancient playwrights. The Prince sang in sombre sobriety:
“The heroes are framed: reputation shot,
Our ‘generous’ hosts do besmirch us, sure,
To clear our good name and heal the cut,
Wounds that cut deep, too grievous to cure.”
Brother Brendon intrigued awhile, then smoothed things over by way of soliloquy, his stirring oration won the audience over, and all was well. “We want no trouble, all my companions desire is to stay at your splendid Inn, for which we are willing to pay you for your hospitality.”, he said to the barmaid once the scene had calmed down a little. After being granted admittance to stay overnight at the Inn, three rooms were rented, that the Friar might not have to spend the night alone in the wild again. Tabatha then set to work the room, mingling with the now near affable punters, following a line of enquiry that she might learn something of their current cause. Again, the efforts of our group met with some success.
Gently coaxing much needed information, she worked her charm on a man, who, having been involved in the action of said farmers, was racked with guilt at having been embroiled in such an incongruous affair. Hamish Florēs, a commoner, recounted how he and his companions, all mercenaries to a man, were paid handsomely to slay those innocent country folk of Dannen, in the name of House Richmœnd. In cold blood. Sporting a broad West-Country accent he sang like Tweety-Pie, “I told ‘em straight. I don’t mind bein’ a sell-sword gainst soldiers, loike in thaat aaction we done versus them ‘ouse Richmund men. An damn good foitin’ men they werr too. They give us a good run fur our money, ooh aar! Gave us a bloody thrashin’ they did too, rebuffed our assault.” Hamish paused to take a sup of ale, from shaking hands, before continuing, “So anywayz, we done gone down thurr to they Dannen lands un thaat, an’ ee’ told me, ordered me, to attack they farmers out workin’ iz field. I done said to ‘im, ‘Look ’ere see, oi don’t mind attackin these ‘ere other soldiers, who knowz them there risks ’ee duz take afore enterin’ baattle; but they’z just yeomen. I haz no truck with them there yeomanry, who, likes me, just tild the soil an’ fish the sea, in honesty. Them there men iz cut of the same cloth as me, livin’ simply see?’ So anyhow, ‘ee done gone had his men to cut ’em down like they’z stray dogs after our flock. I coulda stopped ‘em. I should’a stopped ‘em, but I didn’t. Woe is me, left ‘em to die, an’ now? Now I am in misery. Guilty, see? For the plight ‘o them there farmers, who ain’t never done no ’arm to no-one.”
Tabatha ordered him another pint of ale, and informed the Baron of the new information of late, being brought to light. Alas, the couple rejoined Hamish at his table, and Brendon spoke softly to the man, “Would you be willing to act as a witness, in honest impartiality, at a trial tomorrow to help clear our name?” “I would zire, but only on one condition.” “Anything.”, interjected Hal, rather foolishly, who had re-entered the bar and been ear-wigging at a distance the entire time. [Maxen: Here this common man could have asked for all the gold in India, all the tea in China, or the sum of all orient-pearl in the ocean. Thankfully, he didn’t.]
“All I aask, is thaat you don’t see me sent to the scaffold for my part in the debacle.”, asked the Yeoman, humbly. Brendon assured him, “We shall do our utmost to clear your name, as well as our own, with equal measure. Fear not old man, I shall put in a good word for the King to spare your life. On my honour.” “Thank you zire. I dun ’alf appreciate that.”
Baron Brendon thence ordered his room be protected by two random NPC retainers, arbitrarily milling about the tavern at the time. Tabatha secured the window of Hamish’s room, shut fast with a rope. Tabatha then snuck up on the old farmer, who was by this time dozing drunkenly, deep in sleep, snoring on his pillow. “Nooooo!”, whispered Hal in fierce conviction, explaining quietly, that nothing can risk this mans animosity against us. Brendon concurred quietly, that for the safety of our very lives, this man be treated with respect and dignity, and that we shall make good on our word, that we do everything within our power to implore the King’s counsel, to spare his life, if at all possible; in keeping with our former vow. “Oh, all right then.”, whispered Tabatha, placing the mans coin-purse back on his belt as deftly as she had stolen it. At that, the heroes retired for the night.
With the arrival of dawns first rays of light, Tabatha went to Hamish’s room laden with a pale of water she had fetched for him. The four, now well awake, entered his room, noticing the faces of the changing guards outside in sentry. Hal and Brendon were slightly bemused as to precisely what the huntress intended to do with said bucket of cold spring-water. As it happens, she spoke gently to newly found witness, and gave him something fresh to drink.
“I thought perhaps another interrogation was about to begin brother.”, said Baron Brendon. “Indeed, my thoughts exactly.” All transpired amicably, thankfully.
Following the rising daybreak, they dined at the Inn. (Again, wily Hal foraged from the forest, and hunted game for his own breakfast, while the men assembled the entourage). As they rendezvoused back at the Inn, whilst preparing to set off in the stable, another old man appeared. This stranger was curiously laden with riches, of even countenance, and asked to be escorted for he had heard they were travelling southward way. He then produced a tired old mule, too laden with more riches and precious cargo, that it could hardly stand. Uncertain, it soon became apparent that this old-gentleman, however genuine a person, affable or affluent a character he may be, would slow us all down, majorly. After some deliberation, it was agreed that we would in-fact accompany the old boy in safety, but that his riches be distributed evenly throughout just the honest most trusted men in our entourage. i.e. not Tabatha. Places were taken, and eight men surrounded the witness Hamish, with the Prince next to him, in security.
Offering our word as our bond, to vouchsafe this new man’s possessions, which weight we bore with even encumbrance, the group proceeded with God’s speed, to the tourney and trail that awaited them. As they trotted beneath a canopy of trees, the huntress scout, met two golden cloaked guardsmen. “State your name and business lone traveller!”, asked one. “We would know why you’re here.”, demanded another, briskly. “I am here to enjoy the King’s tournament, that is all.”, she plea-bargained the two guards. “What do you do? Why have you that bow on you?” “I am a hunter, within the auspices of the King’s Royal authority.” Seeing no reason to doubt the lady’s word, as she seemed to fit her description, and no trace of a lie was found, they said, “Very well. You may pass. Go on through about your business now.” Tabatha trod on slowly, thanking the guardsmen, before bringing her horse to a halt, some way down the track. The canny huntress had already sensed something amiss, danger lurked hidden within the trees near here, and she dismounted, as though managing her equipment, ever-so slowly drew her own bow, ready for any eventuality.
The group approached the guards, who immediately handed a letter from the King to them, recognising who they were instantly. After tethering her horse to a tree, Tabatha gently snuck off into the undergrowth, taking up a concealed position facing the guards, not a stones throw from where they stood.
Just then, the guards drew their swords. Roll initiative! Boom! It was so on!
In a flash, the huntress let fly an arrow, she struck true, through the guards visor. A cry of agony cried out as the guard’s arms flew up instinctively to clutch the arrow which now pierced his brain. Falling to the floor from his horse, as quickly as his sword had, t’was clear to see the man flailed about in agony. Twitched from rigormortis, and died on a blanket of leaves. His fellow man turned about and fled, Brendon was hot on his heels, subduing the guard, halting him in his tracks.
Just then another arrow flew forth from the folds of the forest trees. The bolt out of the blue struck poor Hamish Florēs directly in his heart, killing him instantly. Some men jumped on to horses nearby and fled the scene. Angered at the loss of their then only witness, Prince Henry gave chase, hotly followed were the assassins. Chevalier (although a race horse of top-notch quality), somehow was unable to catch the villains. Almost as soon as it had begun, the encounter was over. Prince Henry and his men, turned about, after losing sight of the assassins.
Thus began the interrogation. It transpired upon Frair John’s close inspection and keen eye for detail, that the letter the gold-clad guards had given them was a forgery. The bill was as false as the men who wore the golden cloaks, as they two were impostors; not true guards at all! Under duress, the sole surviving guard, now in captivity was forcibly made to give evidence at the upcoming trial. He said it would be so. After gathering up the dead mans cloak and uniform, Tabatha pillaging the body of any valuables, they made haste to their target.
Upon approaching King’s Landing, the group tried to blend in. Captain Simian gave us an amicable passing there.
Here endeth the session.