A Game of Thrones

The Inn at the Crossroads II
(Interlude)

A man of about fifty with thin brown hair sat on a stool by the fireplace, tuning his harp. He wore a weathered green jerkin, with a dagger on his hip almost as sharp as his nose. He grinned a wide-mouthed grin at the comely serving girl half his age who sauntered by and refilled his flagon with thick dark beer, and she blushed and scurried away.

He plucked a few strings on his harp, nodded to himself, and began to play.

The smallfolk cried out, “The King, he’s dead!”
And the Queen she screamed and said, “Off with his head!”
As she looked at the dwarf in gold and red
And the Ogre looked on in the Hall.

“His guilt is most certain,” the council decides,
But the Imp called for combat by the Father who guides,
So Cersei called forth The Mountain That Rides,
And the Ogre too answered the call.

They met in the courtyard, The Mountain struck first,
But the Ogre disarmed him, and fortunes reversed,
In the audience the Queen she shrieked and cursed,
As The Mountain wept fountains of red.

The Mountain fought wildly, he screamed, he roared,
But faltered with each hit the Ogre scored,
The Ogre looked down and shouted, raising his sword,
“So judge the Seven,” and lopped off his head.

Across the courtyard Gregor’s head rolled,
And away walked the Ogre of Loringhold,
A house stands divided in red and gold,
When Kings and Mountains fall.

The bard would play the song half a dozen times more that night, and by the end the entire inn was joining in the singing of it.

“Some of the rhymes need work,” a man in a lemon-yellow cloak said to the singer after the fifth performance of When Kings and Mountains Fall. Tom Sevenstrings just grinned his wide-mouthed grin, and tuned his harp again.

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The Inn at the Crossroads
(Interlude)

“No, I heard it was five.”
“Shut up and let me finish the story!”

The door to the Crossroads Inn creaked open as three men entered in from the rain. They wore oiled ringmail visible beneath tattered, leather jerkins, dripping water as they walked into the common room, placing a silver in Masha Heddle’s outstretched hand as they walked by. They sat at a table near the fireplace, and they were silent.

“Awright, fine, g’on then.”
“Two thousand men. Sellswords, mostly, since neither of’em had no power any more. But they had coin, and that’s enough for an army. Should be enough to take a half-built castle, too. So Natan and Davin-”
“Davin’s dead, the Ogre poisoned him at the tourney.”
“No, that was Ser Addam, not Davin. And he killed him with a lance. Anyway, Natan and Davin march on down the Sea Road to clear out the Loring brothers. Should have seen the size of it, marching on like that. If not for the banners you’d have thought it was the Young Wolf on the march. They get down to Loringhold just after the storm ends.”
“I thought they had Crakehalls with’em?”
“That’s what I heard, too. They threw open the gates, broke the chain even. But by the time the fruitcup lords made it to the hill, Loring had pulled the gate back down hisself, and ripped the knight who opened it in half with his bare hands just to show’em what-”

A tankard clattered to the floor. One of the three armored men, a tall, gaunt man of about forty, reached down and picked up the cup, then filled it from a wineskin with shaking hands. A fair blond girl strode over to clean up the mess on the floor, while the two stableboys continued their conversation.

“.. Anyway, that’s when the Magpie got on the wall. Him on one side, and his Tiding on the other. When the battle began, the archers fired so many arrows so tightly into the sky, they say it looked just like a hundred magpies flying across the battlefield. Then they fell on the Danits, all claws and beaks. And the Magpie by hisself matched them volley for volley. Heard he killed Natan and Davin and two knights in their service before they even reached the gate.”
“No man can fire arrows like that!”
“The Magpie can. Practically won the whole battle, him and his archers. Heard the sellswords at the gate turned around and saw the field was empty, so they ran as fast as they could. The ones that didn’t run fast enough are still on the hill, covered in black and white feathers. Like magpies.”

The three men in mail and leather looked cold, despite the fire. They stared into their cups and said nothing to each other and looked at no one.

“What about the Danits and Lugases? What happened to them?”
“I heard the Danits changed their sigil. Just a pomegranate now. They won’t fly the arrow any more. Say it’s bad luck. Natan and Davin was killed by the Magpie. The ones that didn’t go off to the battle.. I don’t know. Not many coming or going from their lands right now. Heard your ‘Ogre’ is furious.”
“How many men did he lose in the fighting?”
“To the Crakehalls? A couple dozen. Mostly the garrison and some smallfolk, when the boars turned cloak and tried to open the gates. Can’t trust boars no more. Look at King Robert.”
“And in the battle?”
“Six.”
“Six?”
“Well, five, really. The sixth was some page who broke his neck running down the stairs.”

The men got up, and walked out of the inn, and disappeared into the rain and the night.

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The Tournament of the Hand

Continuing east along the Goldroad, the party continues to hop from inn to inn en route to the Tournament of the Hand in King’s Landing. As they travel, they find themselves met with growing hostility from innkeepers and travelers on the road. Some clever maneuvering by Enthin reveals that rumors have been going about that the Lorings murdered smallfolk of the Danits. Pressing for more information, Enthin uncovers that the rumors have been spread by men wearing the sigil of House Archay. Words almost come to blows on the Goldroad more than once.

Arriving at the third inn of their journey, with the temperament of the folk they meet on the road growing ever colder, the party happens upon a sellsword integral to the defamation of House Loring. Enthin’s “silver tongue” not only uncovers the source of the plot – the infamous “Fox Knight” – but also sways the sellsword to spread the truth of what he had done, to clear House Loring’s good name.

The next morning, the sellsword is found with his throat slit and pockets empty in his room at the inn. Dejected, the party continues on, just a day’s journey from King’s Landing. They are newly joined by Rog, a traveling merchant who has taken a liking to the alleged criminals.

By midday the party finds themselves in another ambush – not the work of career bandits, though; rather, they are ambushed by smallfolk from the Danit lands. After an arrow flies out of the woods, striking Reginald ineffectually in the chest, Dorian fells two men before they can even raise their swords, and Enthin’s words send the last man fleeing for his life into the woods. The dying affirm the story that the Loring brothers have heard along their travels – that men in their colors attacked the smallfolk; that the Lorings were denounced as murderers. Then, finally, the first Danit men to be slain by the Lorings expire.

The party reaches King’s Landing in the evening, though they find themselves unduly harrassed by gold cloaks at the gate. After a lengthy inspection, they are waved through and left to scramble to find beds before nightfall. Parting ways with Rog, the Lorings find a room at an inn along the River Road.

Within, the room is alive with flowing ale and busty tavern wenches and much excitement for the tournament starting but a few days hence. While the Danit pomegranate is nowhere to be seen in the room, the group does find countrymen in the Lugas trio. Enthin finds an immediate friend in Orton, while Reginald finds a kindred spirit in the boisterous, drunken Natan. Dorian joins in and soon the table is full of drink and merriment and trashtalk, Braavosi and Dornishmen alike joining in the mirth. Ser Joras, a respected knight of King’s Landing and friend of the late Mikel Loring, seeks out the boys and tells them tales of their father.

Talk soon turns from fond memories and boastful taunts to the trouble that has plagued the Lorings of late – the rumors of murder propagated by the maligned Fox Knight. Ser Joras states he knows the location of the fugitive from the King’s justice and, full of drink and confidence, Reginald and Dorian, along with their newfound friends the Lugases, Ser Gennedy and his squire Brian Telson, and Ser Joras decide that there will be a foxhunt on the morrow.

Meanwhile, Enthin avails himself to the whorehouse next door, and beds the prettiest (and priciest) slattern he can find.

The next morning, the group makes their way to the tourney fields to formally enter their name in the lists. The boasting and taunting of the night before continues, and by the end of it a number of the men are signed up for the grand melee and joust, including Reginald. Dorian is among a short but fiercely talented list for the archery tournament, and Enthin decides he is content to watch the events.

Ser Joras then leads the party into the woods just outside King’s Landing. A fruitless search yields only a boar, and the party returns to the inn with the night’s dinner but no fox. Not long after, however, Ser Joras bursts into the inn with a challenge from the Fox Knight – a duel at midnight that very night, before the Presentation of Arms the next day.

The group of knights and squires make their way to the edge of the tourney grounds, and wait for the Fox Knight to face Ser Joras, hidden in the shadows. After a very long wait, he appears, and he and Ser Joras begin their duel immediately. The aging Ser Joras is felled in short order with mortal wounds, and at this time the group emerges from the shadows, to rush to Ser Joras’ aid and slay the Fox Knight. Quickly, the Targaryen loyalist and fallen hero of House Archay finds himself impaled on Reginald’s greatsword, as Ser Joras is just barely stabilized by Dorian. The Fox Knight’s arms and shield are taken, and his corpse left impaled upon a tree branch as the party rushes to the sept with the dying Ser Joras.

Ser Joras clings to life, however, when the Lorings visit him the next morning. Then it is time for the Presentation of Arms. Reginald and Dorian trot onto the field amidst a mix of applause and whispers, with shouts of “Murderers!” clear in the crowd. The procession makes its way to the Red Keep for the evening’s banquet.

At the banquet, Reginald spies the pomegranate sigil of House Danit on the breast of Ser Addam Danit, and Enthin attempts to treat with him as Reginald and Dorian see to their fellow countrymen. Enthin’s words only stir the ire of Ser Addam, however, who rises to his feet and shouts his rage at the atrocities committed by the Lorings. Enthin presents the signet ring of House Archay, arms, and shield of the Fox Knight to King Robert. The bickering continues back and forth as those who believe the rumors argue hearsay with friends of House Loring, until King Robert shouts for silence.

Frustrated, drunk, and hungry, King Robert calls for a simple resolution to the matter. Reginald and Ser Addam will meet on the tourney field at the top of the lists for tomorrow’s joust.

The next day, the party wakes to find a box placed outside the door to their inn. Within the box is a dragonbone dagger with a secret compartment, inside which is a vial of clear, odorless liquid. Enthin identifies the substance as Tears of Lys, a most dreadful poison. Reginald offers Enthin to keep the dagger, but dispose of the poison immediately. Upon visiting Ser Joras in the Sept of Baelor, Enthin hides the vial under a bench and proceeds to the tourney grounds for the joust.

Ser Addam and Reginald, as promised, are the first joust of the day. The two charge at each other, and it appears that Ser Addam will score a telling blow until he rocks unsteadily in his seat and loses his focus. Reginald takes advantage of the opportunity and strikes him cleanly, and Ser Addam eventually loses his seat at the end of the pass. He’s escorted off the field to the medical tent, while King Robert announces the matter of the rumors resolved.

The rest of the day is spent watching the joust, as is the next day, with visits to the sept punctuating the cycle of food, drink, sleep, and joust. Shortly after his defeat, word of Ser Addam’s death begins to circulate in the crowd. Reginald faces Natan Orton, trading lance for lance until eventually Natan loses his reins. Furious, he storms off the tourney grounds. The next day, Reginald is unhorsed by Jory Cassell of Winterfell, while Dorian has a magnificent showing on the first day of the archery tournament.

Dorian duplicates the feat the next day, and soon the competition has been reduced to Ser Dorian, Jalabar Xho, Ser Balon Swann, and an archer named Anguy. The four fire their arrows in a near identical performance, with but a hair’s breadth separating the competitors. Ultimately, Anguy is named champion, with Ser Dorian just barely behind him.

Ser Loras Tyrell wins the joust, and then it is time for the grand melee. Reginald enters, along with Ser Natan, Bryan Telson the squire, Ser Gennedy, and Thoros the Red Priest of Myr, with his flaming sword. The melee begins. Ser Gennedy is, surprisingly, defeated handily by his squire Bryan. Ser Langley Woods, betrothed to Orton and Natan’s sister the Black Widow, charges at Reginald, but a single swing from Reginald’s greatsword sends the knight spinning off in a crumpled heap. Thoros is a terrible sight to behold with his flaming sword, and Ser Natan and Bryan both carve paths through the many hedge knights.

Reginald goes toe to toe with Ser Natan, felling him in one stroke as well. Clearing through more hedge knights, he faces Thoros. Once again, a single massive swing of the greatsword dismisses the Red Priest of Myr from the melee. The last two fighters standing are Bryan Telson and Reginald, and the young squire cannot stand up to the lord’s immense strength. Reginald is the victor of the grand melee.

The evening concludes with the closing feast. Knights flock to Dorian and Reginald, praising their skill and performance. Dozens of knights seek out training with Ser Dorian, and the night is full of merriment and food and drinking. The Lugases are surprisingly cold, however, and will not face the Lorings. Enthin attempts to figure out what is going on, when Orton explodes in rage, calling Reginald a murderer and stating that Ser Langley Woods has died. The whore Enthin had laid with a few nights prior appears, calling herself Lydda Danit, and calling the Lorings murderers. She claims Enthin holds a poisoned dagger, and that House Loring has slain Ser Addam Danit, Ser Langley Woods, and the smallfolk of the Danit lands.

Ser Barriston Selmy examines Enthin’s dagger, and, finding no poison in the secret compartment, King Robert dismisses Orton and Lydda from his court. They leave arm in arm. Natan stands, looking to challenge Reginald for his honor, but remembers what transpired in the grand melee and thinks better of it. The Lugases leave, and the hall returns to their feast.

The party sets out from the inn the next day for home. Ser Joras remains unconscious in the sept. Bryan Telson is seen ransoming a stunning Valyrian longsword from Ser Gennedy, and reveals himself to be of a fallen house of Dorne, Ser Gennedy having slain a family member and taking their heirloom sword for his own. Impressed by his skill in the melee and fond of the young man, Reginald invites him to return with the brothers to their home, a guest of House Loring. He accepts, and the four set out west along the Goldroad, along with a detachment of gold cloaks to guard their 20,000 golden dragon prize.

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Session #1
A Want of Power

Over the past 2 months House Loring has seen a steady decline. An unknown sickness has taken key members of the House, first Maester Ovryn, then the Lord of the house Mikel Loring. His bastard son Dorian returns from earning his knighthood with House Westerling to pay homage to while the man lays on his death bed. His brothers, Reginald and Enthin, and his sister Allyria welcome him back with with a somber celebration, and await their father’s eventual death.

Sadly, news of the failing health of the Lord of House Loring has lead to an unexpected amount of bandit activity in the area. The young Lords learn that as recently as 2 days ago there were attacks on farms lying on their south eastern border, but due to their fathers illness, no action has been taken. The sons decide together to scout the farmlands and see the damage that has been done.

The lords arrive on their eastern border and are witness to the destruction that has been laid upon their smallfolk. Houses and fields alike have been burned to ash, and the families that once lived there are now not accounted for. They return to the Keep and send for scouts, who are to wait for the approach of the bandits, then sound a horn upon their arrival. In the meantime, the Cavalry and Infantry are assembled and made ready to leave, while the archers man the walls in defense of their home.

Later, past midnight, a horn sounds. Fields to the east are set ablaze and the Lords watch and wait for daylight as their crops are burnt. The Lords and their men leave the keep before daybreak, and find tracks leading into the forest. They lead their force after the bandits and into the woods, where they eventually find the culprits. To their surprise it is a sizable force, but they march on despite being outnumbered and a battle ensues. There is much bloodshed, but the Lords come out victorious after a short struggle. Luckily they do not lose many men, and during their looting even found a clue as to the origins of their attackers. The leader of the “Bandits” wore a signet ring bearing the sigil of House Archay, a disgraced and nearly dead house of the Reach who were Targaryen loyalists during the Rebellion. The Lords return with their clues and victory, and celebrate with a large feast in honor of them and their troops.

With the satisfaction and glory of their victory still at hand, sad news comes soon after. Lord Mikel passes from his sickness, and Reginald is thrust into the position of Head of the House, Lord Loring. Over the next few weeks Reginald eases into the position with the help of his brothers and of his retainers, Ser Valon Aegis and Guyard Hill. With the lack of a Maester, Ser Valon is awarded the title of Steward and well as Master at Arms, and Guayard Hill is promoted to Castellan as well as Captain of the Household guard whenever the Lords are away. Just as Reginald is settling in to his new role, a courier arrives with a sealed message from the King. Reginald opens and reads that a tournament is being held in the honor of the new Hand of the King Eddard Stark, and that all houses are invited to do honor to their names in multiple events. With some nudging from Ser Valon, the Lords pack up and head out shortly for Kings Landing. The road ahead is long and tough, and already the Lords have been assaulted by bandits on their journey. For now, the Lords continue on and are only a few short days away from the capital of the Kingdom. What lies ahead they do not know, but they press on to honor themselves and for the glory of their house.

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