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consortium11

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A few provisos to kick off:

My knowledge of A Song of Ice and Fire is somewhat limited. I've read the books and watched the television series but I'm far from an expert and will be much reliant on (the excellent) wiki of ice and fire. Partly because of this I'm taking a very minor house who are barely mentioned in the books... I don't have the pressure of trying live up to the character of my family members.

In addition my level of talent with regards to Crusader Kings 2 is just as (if not more) limited. This is the first Paradox game I've played and in all honestly I'm still just getting the hang of it (and resisting the temptation to spam “cash” cheats...). For that reason don't expect a tactical masterclass. With that in mind I'm going to try and angle this as quite a roleplaying style game (aided by the fact the characters are blank slates). Following up from that I've also never done an AAR before... apologies for any errors or mistakes.

So, without further ado... behold the majesty of House Tollett.

250px-House_Tollett.png


Chapter List

Chapter 1: A Raven's Call
Chapter 2: The Winds of War
Chapter 3: An Interlude
Chapter 4: One Man's Worth
Chapter 5: The Price of Loyalty
 
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consortium11

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Chapter 1: A Raven's Call


The grey horse snorted, a sharp sound as a gust of wind caught it. In winter this hill was a harsh place, exposed against the elements, but in the soft summers of the Vale the gentle breeze could rob a day of the oppressive heat. Lord Uthor of Grey Glen patted the side of the horse before sliding from its back with the practised ease of one who had ridden his whole life. He was no great warrior... he knew that and he knew that others were just as aware... but despite the fact he was a scholar of some repute he could still ride with the best of them.

gameofthrones3.png


Uthor turned to his small group of companions, a slight smile on his face as he saw his son. Arbury was 12 years old and starting to come to manhood.

“My son. Soon you will be master of all you survey.”


gameofthrones1.png


“Like that father?”

Uthor followed the boys finger, a straight line pointed to the Eyrie, towering in the mountains.

“Um. Not that son.”

“Then that father?”


Another pointed finger, this time towards the port city of Gultown.

“No my son, not that.”

“Then of what father?”

“The majesty of Grey Glen!”


Uthor pointed to the ancestral home of his family. Arbury's face creased slightly as he squinted at the castle.

gameofthrones6.png


“Does it even have walls?”

“Does it have walls! If not Grey Glen then look to the cities of Greymund and Greypool!”

“It would be generous to call them villages.”


gameofthrones7.png
gameofthrones8.png


Uthor laughed and lightly cuffed his son around the back of the head, a good natured blow with no malice to it. For all his disrespect, the boy was right. Tollett was not a rich house and the Grey Glens were not a rich land. They of House Tollett were great men... their land wasn't... and Uthor was aware that many thought his brother Eddisson the Delorious, the black crow of the family, would have better served as the scion of the seat. He would show them. He would show all of them. Even if he couldn't yet afford to even build a wall around any of his holdings... or even a bloody market. Especially as gaining a new maester would eat even further into his limited resources. The happy feelings faded as he remembered placing five gold coins into the hands of the messenger who would run to the citadel. Dogs. Dogs all of them. At least when the maester had arrived he at least appeared competant.

Uthor's eyes narrowed as his eyes ran over Greypool. There was a commotion in the square and he could see a group of riders heading towards him at pace. Sat in the shadow of the Eyrie the Grey Glens often heard snippets of news... often more then others in the remote Vale... but to have such haste? An Iron Born raid? No, they rarely ventured so far from the sea. The rider was here now, both he and the horse red faced from the effort of climbing the hill with such speed.

“The King my lord! The King!”

“The King what man? Spit it out.”

“He's done it sir. The King and Rhaegar have done it!”

“Done what?”


-

-

-


-

Uthor sat in council. Shadows flickered in the low room from the log fire that kept the night away, the low ceiling oppressive on the small group that plotted the fate of this land. To his right sat his master-at-arms, Damon of Grey Glen. At 24 life had seemed full of promise, a brilliant commander, a handsome man, a knight true and bold, trusting and honest. At 26 a strange disease had struck him down and now he was infirm and cynical... but still the keenest military mind of the Glens. To his left was Mayor Serwyn of Greymund, his Castellan... a man of limited skill who held the position because Uthor was yet to find anyone better. The conversation had been long and all of the group were tired by it.

“But to war on the king!”

“The mad king.”

“But the king still.”

It was no surprise. The actions of Aerys had stupefied Damon, even in his cynicism and he was eager to ride to battle. Serwyn, the craven beast he was, just wanted to sit in Greymund and grow fat.

“Do you wish to break from Lord Arryn Mayor Serwyn?”

“No my Lord. But we must be... cautious.”

“Cautious! Damn caution sir! We must ride with Lord Arryn to Lord Baratheon's aid!”

“Be quiet Damon. The mayor has a point. There is no doubt that Arryn will call upon us and our bannermen. That we must live with and take honour from. We must expect our men will be called on to march into the Crownlands and there decide the fate of the kingdom. The question then falls to what do we do. To the south-east the Graftons of Greytown march for the King. Will we meet them on the field or leave it to our allies? It is not a question of bravery or honour. It is a question of reality. Do we have the men to beat them and at what cost will victory come? Will our coffers empty and will our fields lie fallow.”

“They have over a 1000 men lord. We can at best them match them.”

“One man of Grey Glen is worth a dozen of those scum.”

“I fear you are too hasty Damon.”

“And you are too afraid.”

"My friends, my friends. I will not sit back and let it be said that we sat out this war. I may not have the strength to storm King's Landing... I may barely have the strength to storm my own keep... but we must march. And if the the Graftons will march for the king then match them we must.”


Uthor stood and looked out the window across the night sky, across the Grey Glen, across the land.

“We are not a great house my friends. We are not rich and we do not command a host. Men do not tremor at the thought of House Tollet or the masters of the Grey Glen. To them we are but a minor place, a forgotten piece of land that they spit upon. We are not honoured at tournaments, not given pride of place at feasts. But my friends, when all is darkest, they will look to us. When all is darkest they will rely on us. When is all is darkest we will be the light. Even if it flickers for but a moment, even if it is consumed by other fires our light shall flicker and it shall burn... and when all if darkest House Tollet will rise mighty and proud.”

He paused, determination running through his voice.

“Assemble the army!”

gameofthrones5.png
 

consortium11

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You may have forgotten someone.

I'm happy to be corrected but as far as I know the only Tollet's of any note are Uthor (of whom virtually nothing is written) and his brother Eddison, who's taken the black (and even then only really mentioned in passing). On the basis that Eddison has taken the black and thus is out of the family line I wasn't really going to focus on him.
 

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I'm happy to be corrected but as far as I know the only Tollet's of any note are Uthor (of whom virtually nothing is written) and his brother Eddison, who's taken the black (and even then only really mentioned in passing). On the basis that Eddison has taken the black and thus is out of the family line I wasn't really going to focus on him.

Screw that! Lets see Dolorous Edd on the Iron Throne.
 

consortium11

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Screw that! Lets see Dolorous Edd on the Iron Throne.

You see, I mention in the AAR people thinking Lord Uthor was a lesser man than his brother... and I come here and already people are agitating for Dolorous to be the focus :blush:

I see some paranoia and jealousy in a certain lord's future.

(And maybe even an assassination attempt...)
 

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Chapter 2: The Winds of War

“So, what is the plan my lord?”

The host was assembled, the finest men that the Grey Glens could produce. Which, Uthor sadly reflected, in reality meant little more than farmers who had replaced their forks and hoes for swords and axes. These were the Vales. It was not the frozen North, the land of bears and dire wolves, where Iron Born pirates or Wildling raiders could descend. It was not the prosperous south where even a lesser lord could call on a host of mercenaries or clothe his men in chain mail and arm them with the finest of weaponry. But those raised in the shadow of the Eyrie did know how to fight, did know how to be self-dependant. When snows closed off the high passes a man must depend on himself. The North may laugh at their lack of hardiness and the South their poverty but the Vales were proud in their own way. Even just minor lords on the edges of the Vales. Uthor glanced at the table before him, the rough cut shapes of stick soldiers representing the men under his command and where he thought the Gulltown soldiers were positioned.

“In this situation we have two choices. Gulltown is alone up here, weak and abandoned if our Lord would turn his full might against him. His only hope is to pray to whatever God he fellows that he slips through the net, that our Lord ignores him for the battle in the South... that the mountains that protect this Vale mean it is considered below our Lord to deal with him. Our first option is to force a battle, to march our men against him head-on. We will win... but what next? Do we have the power to lay siege to his holdings having fought a battle. No my friends, I suggest we play it tactically. We make them come to us, use the other armies in our land and funnel these damn Gulltown scum through the mountains to where we want them. Move our army here. We will pressure Gulltown and draw them out where our numbers will make them bleed.”

“It will be so my Lord.”


And so the army marched. It marched around the spine of the world to Iron Oaks, full of cheer and bravery. Although Uthor did overhear at least one cheer that was less “For Uthor!” and more “We could really do with Eddison coming back”. Uthor sneered. “Dolorous Edd” they called him. Uthor's brother, the man who had taken the black at 15 and even now people still talked about him. Talked about his skill in battle, his skill ranging and even his sense of humour. Could Uthor ever get out of his shadow? Or could he just have that shadow removed?

gameofthrones12.png


No. There was a war on... the greatest war in living memory, a war which threatened the very foundations upon which this kingdom had been built and how it had been ruled. If the war in the South would decide the king then the war in the North would decide the South and there was a part for Uthor to play. It might not be a glamorous part, it might not be a part that the bards of King's Landing would sing about for years to come but it was a part none the less... and a part Uthor would play to the best of his ability. His army may be nothing more than a minor pawn in a game of chess but he would not be distracted, would not hesitate, would not let thoughts of an elder brother lost to the Black but given to legend cloud his mind (or the fact that his sadly depleted treasury limited his options in sending a man of even the most base talent for death to the wall). For in this game to hesitate was to die. His army would be proud, glorious and mighty, unbeaten and unbound, brave and powerful, fleeing from none, facing all.

Or perhaps not...

gameofthrones10.png


“They have how many men?”

“Around 3000 my Lord.”

“3000! Where in the seven kingdoms did those illiterate fishmongers get another 1600 men?”

“My spies do not know Lord. But they did bring you warning early.”

“I have marched the best men of the Grey Glen halfway across the Vale, skirting mountains and crossing fields. My farms lie unploughed, my taxes uncollected. And I have done this on the basis that we could match the damn Graftons on the field of battle. I did not do it so I could turn the army around and send it home again.”


Uthor, Lord of the Grey Glens was not given to anger. He did not rage, he did not shout, he did not scream. His face was not curled into a snarl, his eyes were not frenzied. But there was a tightness in his jaw and a clipped nature to his speech. His hand was clenching and unclenching seemingly at random. Legend had it that as a boy Uthor had taken a sword wound to the upper arm. Nothing that the court maester had not been able to fix but with the price that when given to anger Uthor couldn't control his hand. 10 spasms a minute and a man risked a sharp retort and a vile insult. 40 a minute and an impaling was in order. Those around him watched carefully. Nine. Nince spasms in this minute. The Master-of-Whispers breathed a quiet side of relief.

“So let us confirm what we know. Lord Arryn has raised his levies and called our bannermen to service. All across the Vale armies are rising... but many are piecemeal. A few hundred here and a few hundred there.”

Uthor pointed to the map where even now new wooden solders were being added.

“While they are split up the Fishmonger Lord of Gultown will pick them off one by one. 300 men, however brave, cannot hold off 3000. Lord Arryn will either have to divert his main army to deal with this pesky threat or risk losing much of his force before he even claps eyes on the Mad King. Gentlemen. Once people may have thought this battle one of vanity. A chance for personal glory but no greater purpose. Now more than ever that is a lie. The Fishmonger Lord may not be able to win this war in the North but he can make us lose. Left unchecked he and his sons will ravage the Vale while the men of the Vale toil many leagues to the South. It falls upon us gentlemen to neuter this savage beast... but he has the numbers on us. So we will march here...”

His finger jabbed out on the map.

gameofthrones11.png



“And meet up with our allies there. We hold there in strength and wait for the Fishmonger to make a mistake. And then gentlemen, we will have his head on a platter. Others may not have taken heed but night is falling gentlemen. We have enjoyed a long day but not the darkness draws in. But when all is darkest gentlemen. When all is darkest.”


But things would get darker yet.

The journey was hard, even in the warm days of summer and it was harder still on Damon. With each step his very essence seemed to drain from him. His body went... and for a man who had been as physically adept as him that was a horror, forced to be borne aloft on a palanquin by two servants. Then his mind went and he was nothing more than an empty shell where life used to be. It was never a good sign to have to send your Master-at-arms away on the campaign and even worse to lose a friend... but Uthor had to simply let him go.

gameofthrones15.png


Already he himself had been called away to do research at his immediate lord's behest. He snarled within himself at the “honour” but did his lord's bidding... at least in appearance. His Lord was away with the army and so Lord Uthor sent his attendants to commence research while he remained with his army.

(OOC: First major mistake: Uthor is part of his immediate liege's council and so has actually spent the time safe and warm away from the battles. For roleplaying reasons I'm writing as if he's with the army but in reality it's currently being led by one of his mayors and is about to be led by the new marshal)


The weeks passing did not bring entirely bad news. The army marched, playing cat and mouse with the Fishmonger and his troops, the men of Gulltown picking off smaller levies as they formed.

gameofthrones14.png
gameofthrones13.png


As much as it stuck in Lord Uthor's craw he did not have the strength of arms to meet this Fishmonger head on... and despite pleading with representatives of Jon Arryn he could not convince them to unite with him to crush the upstart. But then the carrion calls of war reached into Gulltown and the host of the Fishmonger marched to the South, their home left open.

Uthor did not need a second invitation.

gameofthrones16.png


The opportunity was seized. With the mile-eating pace of a soldiers walk the host descended on Gulltown, surrounding the Grafton's home keep. Siege lines were drawn and the long wait began.
 
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I'm happy to be corrected but as far as I know the only Tollet's of any note are Uthor (of whom virtually nothing is written) and his brother Eddison, who's taken the black (and even then only really mentioned in passing). On the basis that Eddison has taken the black and thus is out of the family line I wasn't really going to focus on him.

Dolorous Edd is possibly the most awesome character in ASOIAF.
 

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Great AAR very interesting! Will follow
 

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This is great stuff.
 

consortium11

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Chapter 3: An interlude

When word came it came by raven when the moon was at its height and the night darkest. Superstitious men called it the witching hour, when creatures great and small sped across the sky, when a demon could steal the hearts of men, where a wight could tear aware your very soul. Men huddled around camp fires, hands upturned to the flames, small groups of comfort and safety against the enormity of the night.

Uthor did not care for such thoughts. He was not a pious man or a man given to believing the ghost stories that soldiers so liked to frighten each other with. No, the Lord of Grey Glens focused on more important matters. Like the great keep that loomed over him.

“We do not have the men to storm it.”


The table was lined up once again, this time focused on Gulltown and Grafton Keep. The Fishmonger's men still held it and they were dug in deep like the rats they were. Uthor doubted he had the men to take the castle in open battle... and even if he could he doubted he could hold it. A long drawn out siege was the only option.

“We must maintain our lines gentlemen. We must teach the Fishmonger that he cannot ride against us and ravage the levies without paying the price. We cannot take the whole province; the walls are too thick and our men too few. But we will make him remember. As he and his scum march south let them march with the knowledge that their keep is ours. That we will feast in his hall and piss on his chair. He will learn of our fury through the wailing of his women and the lamentations of his men. But for that to happen we must maintain our lines.”

There were nods from around the table, grim stares. Uthor knew men wished to be at their farms and by their hearths. He knew that each day resentment grew as they fought a war not of their choosing. But such resentment could be managed and a blow must be struck against the Graftons for their decision to follow the Mad King.

“M'lord! M'lord!”

“What is it now?”


A messenger had come running into his tent. Uthor had decided he disliked messengers, especially those who came running at inopportune moments. It was such a messenger who had told him of this war that so consumed the land, the same war that had dragged him from his hall and brought him to this place. The entire holding smelt of fish, the cloying, rancid smell of rotting fish and the sea settling over everything. He wanted this siege done so he could he done, could get away from here. And now a messenger came to give him tidings.

“Your son M'Lord.”

“Arbury, yes. What of him.”

Something cold and hard gripped Uthor's stomach. His mouth was dry, his breath quick. No words had been spoken but a feeling of inescapable dread fell over him. He could feel his heart beating in his chest and could feel his hand start to clench and unclench.

“He has been kidnapped M'Lord.”

A dull silence fell on the group. There were no gasps, no shouts, no screams. Just a long silence that spoke a thousand words.

“How.”


Uthor kept his voice under control... just. It took every piece of his will not to shout the words, to scream his defiance to the Gods.

“He was hunting M'Lord when bandits set upon him and his party. They slew the retainers and took your son. They wish to ransom him to you.”

gameofthrones17.png


“Ransom him?”

“For 25 pieces of gold.”

“25 pieces of gold?”


The thought was unspoken. 25 pieces of gold was almost half the treasury of the Grey Glens. But what price would you put on the life of your son?

“There will be no ransom.”


Now there were gasps. Would Uthor really give up his first and only son to the hands of fate? He turned to the group.

“I do this for the realm. Not just for the money... although we can ill afford to hand over so much of our treasury to brigands. But what message do we send if we bend our knee to these vagabonds and ruffians? If we bend over for blackguards and chances across the land?”


He paused, the hand clenching but his eyes hard.

“We must stop this now. This war threatens the very ties that bind us together, the tie of liege and vassal, of king and kingdom. All is being rewritten but we cannot allow chaos to reign. We cannot allow what once united us to be ripped asunder. Lords must still reign over their lands and the son of a lord must be allowed to hunt in peace. This war has only just begun and already these scum think they can act with impunity. We need to strike back.”

“Give me your army M'Lord. I will scour the woods for these traitors and bring you their rotting heads.”

“No Master-at-arms. I will not abandon Grafton Keep now it is at my mercy. This war must be won and I cannot place my son's life above the defence of the realm. If this war drags on then fools like these will always appear. Deserters and bandits will swell their ranks till soon a man cannot walk from his chamber to the pisspot without a man demanding coin from him. No, this war must be won.”


Another pause.

“There is no grand strategy here gentlemen. We simply need to maintain the lines and wait for starvation to draw the defenders out. So Master-at-arms, you will have your chance to set the world to rights. Take a dozen men and find these scum. Bring me back my son.”

“And the ruffians M'Lord?”

“Do things to them that would make the bravest of men gag. Let all men know that to come against the Lord of the Grey Glens means to sacrifice your head for my throne of skulls. Plant a sign so all men may know that here lie the fools who dared to cross Uthor of the Grey Glen. Make it so that women will sing their lament, so men will rue their folly, so children will weep for lost fathers, mothers for lost sons, wives for lost husbands. I want the very thought of attacking me or my family to turn one's bowels to water and the taste in one's mouth to ashes. I want history to tell the story to all who will listen that to cross me is to die... and to die badly. Write their fates with blood in the sky to the extent the very Gods will feel pity for them. In a 1,000 years when people tell stories of the War of the Usurper I want this tale to be the one they tell their children to frighten them into obedience. Make them rue the day that their bastard fathers ever laid eyes on their whore mothers. Make them pay my friend. Make them pay with everything they have.”

“I shall M'Lord. By all that's holy I shall.”

“There is no holiness in this dear Sir. There is only darkness.”

“When all is darkest M'Lord, we stand true.”


-

-

-

-

-

Nestor sat behind the tree, waiting for the wind to turn in the pale night. It was dark, as dark as he had ever known it but a fire in the middle of the clearing ahead gave him all the vision he needed. His grizzled face told of a life spent in these woods, hunting for game be it man or beast. The Vale may be famous for its crops, for wheat, corn, and barley or even those blasted pumpkins that people so admired but not all had given up the art of hunting. It was dangerous work. Wolves and bears still roamed the woods and even a boar could be deadly if one was foolish or unlucky. And that was to say nothing of the Mountain Tribes. They rarely ventured into the Glens, preferring to stay in their mountain hovels, picking off lone wanderers with their stone axes and misshapen arrows but one could never be too careful. They may not risk open confrontation with the levies of the Vale but with the levies far away they might be growing bold. It was only two months past that Nestor had been forced to put an arrow in the throat of one, all wild eyes and tattered rags, who had reared up from behind a tree.

But when there was danger there was opportunity and Nestor had found his place in the world. He had hunted in these lands for 40 years, ever since his father had given him a bow and sent him on his way, and now there were none who could match him. In the outside world he may be a lowly peasant... a respected one aye, but a peasant none the less... but in these woods he was king. And so it was no surprise that when news that Little Lord Arbury had been kidnapped the high and mighty would come to him. Now a fat purse of coin sat waiting for him... if he could just bring the Little Lord back.

He was not alone of course. A Lord would not trust the fate of his only son to just one man, however talented. Nestor did not consider it an insult. He wouldn't have trusted himself on his own. He had no idea how many brigands there were, who they were or how prepared they were. A dozen men were scattered in the woods, good men (in a way...), tough men, men to keep close in a fight, woodsmen. A diverse bunch. The pretty archer Bailon, all blond hair and good lucks, a master with the ladies and a fool with his coin but also able to hit a swallow in flight at 100 paces. If he hadn't been keeping silent Nestor would have chuckled at a conversation when he first met Bailon. Bailon had boasted that he could shoot the balls off a knat. Olaf had enquired in his usual way as to whether gnats had balls. Bailon had smiled, cocked his head and answered with a straight face.

“Not when I'm around.”


It was a good memory. Olaf was here too, the hulking Northman crouching to his left some 30 yards up. No-one ever asked why Olaf had left the North but most were glad he had. Mountain men had hit a village some 4 years ago, a small band eager for plunder, blood and flesh. They would have had it too if Olaf had not been visiting at the time. He had charged the savages, an axe in each hand like some mythical hero of the bard's tales, splattered red with the lifeblood of the barbarians before they fell away. A deadly man but a good one, hard working and dedicated. He answered the call because with the war he did not have the men to collect the harvest. Nestor knew Olaf was never happier then when on his farm, his wife and children around him... but he would not walk away from a task when given.

He let the memories fade away and risked a glance past the tree to the camp in the clearing. Nestor would never turn down easy money but this had been almost too simple. The trail the men had left looked like a herd of cattle had descended through the woods to one such as he and there had been no subtly, no subterfuge. Now they came across a camp, open and exposed, with a fire burning bright into the sky and no guards. At first Nestor had thought it too simple, too easy. There was no way any group with such a lack of talent would have dared to have taken the Lord's son. So he had waited, had been cautious, had checked and double checked for a second trail, for an ambush... for anything. But there was nothing. Nothing at all. And his gut didn't think anything was wrong.

Nestor trusted his gut. You had too after all these years. It was a product of his experience, his knowledge, his caution and his intuition, all rolled up and put together. Some people tried to claim it as luck but Nestor would simply smile and nod. Let them think him lucky. It was a taste in the wind, a sound in the undergrowth. Afterwards Nestor could put things together, logically assemble what had happened. The smell was blood from a recent kill, so faint it was almost gone, the sound the crack of a twig under the wolf's paw... but at the time it was his gut that helped him. It was his gut that had told him to draw his knife a moment before a rampaging boar bust through the undergrowth and his gut that had told him to bring his bow on the long walk to Widow Mary's. Nestor liked Widow Mary. As his age increased he found he went to whores less for their body and more for their company... and whores were rarely good company. So he had taken to visiting Widow Mary in her cottage. A man could get a good stew there, a warm glass of beer and some good conversation. Nestor had long considered marrying Mary. With the war, he just might.

Nestor could make out the Little Lord. He was tied to a tree, a little way from the camp. Fools. One should have stayed with him the whole time. There were seven men there, none of any real note. He had tracked seven men and seven men were in the camp. Perfect. He could hear the conversation now, pitiful boasts from pitiful men of what they would do with the gold. They wouldn't live to know. Nestor's face hardened as one of them approached the Little Lord, an ugly man with a hooked nose.

“No message from your father yet boy.”

Nestor could see a swelling around the boys right eye, from a blow no doubt, and there had clearly been tears on his cheeks. But when he spoke his voice was clear, his eyes hard, his tone unbroken.

“You will get a message from my father, scum. A steel message right through the gut.”


Hook-nose snarled and came closer, staring directly into Arbury's eyes, the boy matching his gaze even as the brigand drew a knife.

“You're a defiant brat aren't ya? How defiant you going to be when I cut off an ear and send it to your father?”

“Leave him.”


Another man called from across the clearing, glancing to the pair. The only notable feature was a massive wart on his chin, red and inflamed, begging to be lanced. Hook-nose turned back to Wart-face.

“It's been a week and no word. If we cut his ear off his father will bloody pay attention.”

“Too right he bloody will. He'll hunt us down like dogs. Have patience. The Lord is away with the war right now... we'll have his answer shortly.”


How right you are thought Nestor.

“What, the Lord of Grey Glens? I'm not that bloody impressed. Bastard's just a minor lord, a prancing fool.”

“Aye, a minor lord. He's distracted by this bloody war but if you hurt his son he can walk away from it. Minor lord or know he has a thousand banner men who can hunt us down.”

“A pox on them. We can slip away in the confusion.”

“You want to slip away with 25 pieces of gold in your pocket and a thousand men chasing us with a reward on our heads? Where will we run? To the North where your balls with freeze off and a wildling sticks a spear in your guts? To the East or South where war rages? We'll as likely be hung as deserters. No, we take our gold, let the boy go and charter a ship. With his lad safe the Lord won't bother closing the port. Gulltown might be at war but there's fishing villages all up the coast. Get a boat and sail out. But we hurt the lad and we won't find a single boat that doesn't have a damn Glen's soldier standing guard over it.”


The most sensible thing you've said though Nestor. Hook-nose was walking towards Wart-face now and Nestor counted the steps. This farce needed to end... and he needed his dinner. Seven, eight, nine... that would do. He lightly cupped his hands to his mouth and whistled, the mating call of the Vale falcon. An answering call came back. None hint of alarm from the camp.

Right until the moment Olaf reared up within metres of Wart-face.

“Who the bloody 'ell are y...”

Wart-face didn't get to finish as Olaf hurled one of his hand axes, the weapon tumbling in the air till the blade came crunching down onto Wart-face's chest, punching the man from his feet. Instantly the camp was chaos, the men scrabbling for weapons even as all around the clearing the hunters reared up, bows in hand and targets in sight. Arrows flashed through the air as the men fell. Nestor himself sought out Hook-nose, watching the man turn to face Arbury before Nestor's arrow took him in the eye and he pitched forward, dead before he knew it. The entire massacre took but moments until as quickly as it had started a silence fell like a shroud, punctured only by the groans of the three men merely wounded and the piteous weeps of one, on his knees before Olaf, desperately pleading that he was just a farmer, that he had not killed anyone, that he had just gone along with the plan but had no real part in it. Olaf patted him on the head and drew back his remaining axe.

“He's mine.”

Nestor cursed under his breath. He had said that the men with him were good men. There was one exception. Agmar was a knifeman, a creature of low character and lesser morals. He was no woodsman, Nestor knew that, and from what he had heard he made his usual living in the back allies and taverns of cities and towns all across the Vale. A knife in the back here, a slit throat there... and when called for, a knowledge and love of torture. Nestor could think of only one reason why he would have been hired. To send a message to all those who went against Lord Tollett. The boy on the ground couldn't be more than 17 and Nestor could see the stain on his breaches and the ground from where he'd pissed himself. Nestor had no need to see Agmar turn the man into a lump of quivering, screaming flesh and so he turned his attention to the Little Lord. The boy was quiet, his mouth slightly open but his eyes were alert as Nestor cut him free.

“T...t...t...thank you good sir.”

“Are you well M'Lord. You have been through a lot.”

“Yes... yes... yes... I am fine. Could I ask a favour of you?”


Nestor offered his hand and the Little Lord took it, pulling himself to his feet.

“Yes, M'Lord.”

“Can I borrow your knife?”

“Em, yes M'Lord. What for?”


Nestor offered the hunting knife to Arbury, mystified at the request as the Little Lord took it without response.. The boy went to Hook-nose's body, rolling him over, so the one dead eye stared into the sun. Nestor watched as the Little Lord sat on Hook-nose's chest and drew the knife across the dead man's forehead. It took a moment for Nestor to work out what the boy was doing but soon he could see the diagonal lines of House Tollett's emblem carved into the would-be kidnappers head. His task finished the Little Lord stood , his hand shaking slightly but the eyes still strong.

“Do this to all the bodies. Even...”

He paused as a shrill scream split the air, Arbury using his knife to make sure that the poor boy would not spend the last few moments... although Nestor shuddered at the thought it could be hours... with a man's body.

“...Even that one. When they are displayed I want there to be no doubt on the cost of opposing House Tollett.”

“It will be so M'Lord. If I may say sir, you have been very brave.”


Arbury smiled and nodded...

“Thank you. I... I...I”

Nestor immediately saw tears fill his already puffy eyes. The knife dropped from a nerveless hand to land quietly on the bloodstained ground.

“I just want to go home.”

The Lord was crying and before he knew it Nestor had him in his arms, the boy hugging him back fiercely, feeling great sobs wrack his little body. Nestor pulled him close, held him tight.

“Just take me home. Please, just take me home.”

“You're safe now. You're safe.”


Nestor had only had one child he'd ever known about. Years ago. A small boy who had been taken from him by a fever he could do nothing to stop. He'd watched the boy die day by day until finally he was gone. Nestor had cried then, had cried harder than he'd ever cried before and promised himself that he would never again risk such pain. Never again would he put so much of himself into one person.

But for this moment, this single moment in time, as the Little Lord wept in his arms Nestor knew that if it was in his power no-one would ever threaten him again.

For when all was darkest, he had come for the boy.

gameofthrones18.png


OOC: I'd quite like people's thoughts on this. As I've mentioned this is my first AAR and any feedback would be great.

In the great scheme of the game what we have is a minor event that is dealt with in a couple of days. Yet I've put a pretty hefty amount of work into the above post.

Is this a good move? Do people enjoy following these minor, character driven pieces (I intend for several of the named characters above to return at various points) or do they prefer wider, more sweeping updates that focus on the bigger picture? When you read this update did you enjoy it or were you disappointed that I didn't do something along the lines of "The siege was nearly broken when Uthor was informed that poachers had taken his son and demanded a ransom. Uthor gave them all that they deserved... a slow painful death as his son was rescued." and then went back to focusing on the War itself?

As above, all feedback appreciated.
 
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Tapscott

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I personally prefer what you just did. It was a well written scene, and it gave us more information on the characters of the novel. I think you should continue to do these kind of updates, but dont go overboard and make minature narratives of all events you get. All in all that was a stunning update, and well written. Keep up the good work!
 

HobbesMkII

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I'll say based on what I think does and doesn't work with my AAR is that narrative simplicity is always better. This scene is well-written, but as Tapscott says, you can risk dragging the story off the best path for it. One thing I regret in my AAR was making a Maester a viewpoint character. Because then I had to include a scene that explained he was dead when he died of illness. It's definitely forced writing, which can be uncomfortable. There are a lot of events that don't necessarily need covering (the changing from summer to winter, for example, always seems too often to me, so I've stopped including them, unless they have an impact, like depleting my forces at a crucial moment in a war). Children being born is another, unless you've played far enough ahead that calling attention to their births is intended to highlight them as a future major character. These kidnapping events will crop up somewhat regularly (in my game as the Lannisters, Tyrion was captured three or four times), so unless it results in your heir's death, it may not always be prudent to include it.
 

consortium11

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I'm certainly not intending to go as in-depth for the vast majority of the events you get. The changing seasons will probably get a line or two ("Uthor shivered as the first snows started to fall/Uthor basked as the summer sun rose for the first time in what seemed like years") and unless a kidnapping results in the death of a major character it certainly won't get the treatment the above did. The first time something happens (as with the above) I might make a deal out of it and obviously major battles will get their place but most will be dealt with in a more "big picture" sense.
 
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Sir Garnet

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It is in the nature of Westeros that a family member in peril can sway decisions of policy and raise chains of events with sweeping consequences for the destinies of kingdoms. So it is a suitable topic for exposition.
 

consortium11

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Chapter 4: One Man's Worth

If Uthor was feeling the crushing pressure of having his son kidnapped he did not show any outward sign of it. He threw himself into the siege with a tireless energy that left his aides exhausted, constantly hurrying after him. No detail was too minor, no problem too trivial. The lines were checked and rechecked, the pickets placed and replaced as needed, constant sweeps to ensure that there were no holes in the ring of steel that enclosed Grafton Keep. Uthor could not help his son... that was now in the lap of the Gods... but he could damn well make sure that no Fishmonger scum escaped the siege.

Even when news came through that his son had been rescued and was now residing safely in the relative comfort of Castle Grey Glen, unhurt and unbroken Uthor did not set aside the relentless pace. Every detail of the siege would be in hand but he would still sit long into the night sending and receiving messages by Raven, communicating with home and with his men to the South with Lord Arryn's forces. It was easy to be consumed by the details of the war in the Vale and to forget that it was just a single part of a jigsaw for which the central piece was the Iron Throne. The war in the south may be lost in the glens and mountains of the Vale but it would not be won... and if Robert Barathon lost his rebellion then as a rebel lord Uthor had no doubt there would be consequences. He sat late into the night waiting for news.

And when it came it was promising.

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The fires of war had swept through the Crownlands, the Iron Throne massing its forces against the men of Stormlands to the South and those of the West jockeying for position. The armies of the Vale descended unhindered on the weakened Crownland's Northern border around the hostile but undefended Bay of Claws , sweeping aside the paltry forces that dared oppose them.

The way opened by the blood the Vale the hordes of the North came through this gap, a vast host punching into the very heart of Aery's territory. Eddard Stark's forces combined with a smaller Vale army to ravage the northern Crownlands while Lord Aryn himself brought the majority of his forces south to King's Landing, uniting with the surviving men of the Stormlands to shatter what opposition rose against them. The Iron Throne appeared to have but one card left in it's sleeve but even if the 10,000 men now racing for King's Landing could brush aside the Stag and the Falcon the Wolf lay poised to tear into the survivors.

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The soft glow of summer gave way the cold days of winter. Life in the camp became harder, game more rare, bread more scarce as farmers left fields untended, as millers were conscripted, as bakers fled their bakeries as armies ranged the lands. But if life in the siege camp was hard then life in the besieged castle must have been horrific. Uthor, on the advice of his spy-master, made sure to roast an ox each day, the wind causing the smell of beef to wash over the castle. No-one really knew if such intrigues really made a difference, if making the mouths of men forced to survive on straw and desperation water really brought surrender but surrender was indeed inevitable.

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There was no great celebration. Any food in the castle had already been devoured, any beer long since drunk. In truth Uthor did not live up to his threats to desecrate the keep. He took one piss at the foot of the Lord's chair but little else. He kept himself busy with work, restocking the castle and setting in place a new garrison. It did not take a great mind to look at the other cities of the region and see that the army of Grey Glen could not conquer them and neither could one simply sit army here to butcher what troops the Fishmonger could summon. Instead Uthor left a small garrison, enough to frustrate and hold what forces did come at them. Still he did not rest, still he sent many a raven and received even more.

“By the Gods! What in the seven hells are they thinking?”

Uthor was not normally given to such outbursts, especially in his council.

“Gentlemen, I am no warrior and I do not style myself as one. I am rather aware that when I wield a sword it resembles a small child trying to swat at bees with a stick. I am also no general. When I see a hill and a copse of trees I see exactly that. Not a strong defensive position from which a score of cavalry can be hidden to encircle the enemy at the right moment as my Master-at-arms proclaims so frequently.”

There was a brief chuckle at this.

“But what I am gentlemen, and I say this without arrogance or conceit, is an intelligent man. I may not be a general but I know when you have a man's head on the chopping block you do not walk away to deal with another matter and hope he simply remains there.

We had the Mad King gentlemen. We had thousands of troops in sight of Kings Landing. There was nothing worthy of the term “opposition” to challenge us. The Wolf, the Stag, the Eagle and even the Trout have him encircled and trapped. And we have let him go gentlemen. Our armies have marched back into the northern Crown Lands to deal with little more than rascals and brigands. Even worse they have massed their armies to the extent that men starve and desert in this cold winter. With the enemy beaten they have not struck for the head but have instead started laying siege to Stokeworth while the winds of winter blow away their manpower."


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"We shall not repeat their mistake gentlemen. It is time for our army to march. We do not have the strength to shatter the Fishmonger but we can repeat what we did here to the South. The High Lord... and I use the term loosely... has thrown his lot in with the Mad King. His armies have marched into the Crownlands and his flank is defenceless. We will march along the Bay of Crabs and remind him that all choices have consequences. Let us see how valiantly his men fight when they know their homes are in our hands.”

And so the men of the Grey Glen's marched once more. They followed the shores of the Bay of Crabs, driven to continue their little war, their side war, their punishment of those who followed the Mad King.

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A man's thoughts cannot be complete consumed by war. Uthor Tollet was a lord and matters of state continue however far one is away from one's home. The matter of his daughter's education arose. Every man wants the best for his children and to give them the best start in life. But every man is also a slave to the god of money. Grey Glens was not a prosperous province and just as Uthor was not prepared to sacrifice so much to ransom his son he would not near bankrupt his land to educate his daughter. She would simply have to improve herself as best she could under the tutelage of the men of the Glens.

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The march passed quickly enough and where once the port city of Gulltown was surrounded now the port city of Saltpans felt the dread hand of war closing around its throat. Siege lines were set into place, farms scoured for food, archers sent to shoot ravens from the sky.

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And then the news that could change the fate of the Vale struck.

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For Lord Jon Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale and Warden of the East was dead.

When all was darkest, what was one man's worth?
 

Rafinius

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While you some times repetitively use words and also forget to correct syntax mistakes once in a while, which gets me out of the emersion, it is already a great sign that I can emerse myself into your story to begin with. I love how you flesh out the characters and give meaning to even minor events of a minor house. Keep up the good work.
 

Machiavellian

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I haven't read the current update yet, but I really liked the rescue part of the story. As long as those characters come back in some significance latter, I think it was fine. I had the same issue with my own AAR. Sometimes, its tough to decide what to include and what not to.
 

consortium11

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Chapter 5: The Price of Loyalty


“So what do we do now?”

The question almost didn't need to be said in the hushed council. Westeros had many great cities, many great lands but it was the people who ruled such lands that made them great. It was a land where the force of a man... or woman's... will drove the wheels of history. The Vale was a rich land, a brave land, a land of good men and good crops... but it also had a good steward. And now that Steward had fallen. One only had to look at the chaos that now crossed the land to see what the consequences of the wrong man being in power would be.

“Nothing has changed. The war still goes on. Regardless of who leads the Vale.”

Uthor set out the universal truth. The path was set. This war would not end because of what happened in the Vale. It would not end even if the lord of the Vale died. It would only end when either the Barathons or the Targaryens lay broken.

“Denys is a good man my Lord. A fine, fine warrior and a skilled general.”

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“But what else is he? His skills in combat... with a sword in hand or at the head of an army... are well known but he is not a thinker. Nor is he subtle. And he is a long way away from the Vale right now.”

“What are you saying my Lord?”

“I'm simply thinking out loud. We are at war and of course a warrior is needed. But war rots the very heart of a land. War is not just fought on the battleground but in the hearts of every man, woman and child of our realm. Denys is a fine warrior. But Jon Arryn was a legend... a man all men knew and all men respected... and some even loved. We must watch that discontent does not root its way into the Grey Glens. For there is opportunity here.”

“Opportunity my Lord?”

“Indeed. Our Lord Denys is at war and he lacks an heir. I say this not because of treachery or ill-intent but merely a statement of fact. On the march with an army all manner of ills can befall a man and if that were to happen it would be Lord Yohn the Bronze who takes control. The Lord of Runestone and the man who has my immediate loyalty. If... and it will be an if gentlemen... he raises his station then he will likely need men to aid him. Loyal, honest men. So we will continue this war gentlemen. We will take the Saltpans and we will crush the Fishmonger and we will stand proud for our lord.”


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War rarely brought glad tidings. And for the Lord of Grey Glens it seemed that each raven brought darker news yet. Messengers had began to dread the coming of the birds almost as much as Uthor dreaded the sight of a man running towards him, his cheeks red and his breath short. The raven that flew in this day was no different.

“They have done what?”

Uthor's voice was raised but controlled, the chill, implacable anger of ice as it descended from the North to claim those before it.

“They have betrayed us my Lord. They stand by the Grey Glens even now.”

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“We must return my Lord. We must protect our homes!”

“With what? Our army here has not the strength to defeat them. If we turn tail and run from the Saltpans then all our work here has been for nothing. Even worse we risk he Grey Glens by returning. An army is like a bull. If you challenge it the foolish pride it holds dear will cause it to turn to you... but if you stay out of its vision it will stay away. If we march into the Grey Glens then it will turn on us and destroy us... but if we stay away there is no purpose for it to march there. I have no doubt our new Lord will raise armies to defend his realm but I fear he lacks the troops.”


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“Gentlemen, it does not please me to leave our home defenceless while a traitor lurks nearby. I am not happy to be sat here while my people fear that they will wake one day to find an army on their doorstep. But there is nothing we can do now gentlemen. We will be best placed by ending this war. And we do that by staying the course.”


And the course was stayed.

The Saltpans fell, Uthor once again installing a small army.

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Diplomatic missions returned, telling of battles to the South, of a war that still appeared it could be won any day but still dragged on day after day, week after week, month after month but also of new friends.

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And even in war life finds a way...

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But joy would be short lived.


For every action there is a consequence and for every choice there is a price. In a world where everything was for sale and honour was often just a word, what would be the price of loyalty?