Treacherous Times

2. A Noble Visitor

Kale Clay, the lord of Dagger Hall grows sick of his nagging wife so plans a trip to Castle Blackcliff. While visiting he and his entourage hunt and feast and hold a “tiny tourney” where the Lords’ knights show their prowess. During the visit the following noteworthy things happen:

  • Thornton shows bravery in hunting a large old boar with his peers, and skill at arms by defeating Ser Mord Pinebarren’s squire (and cousin). He manages to make an enemy of the squire in the process of both. Fumbled attempts to smooth over their relationship at the night’s feast does nothing to soothe Kelin Pinebben’s ego.
  • Miroslav gets into a sparring match with Lord Clays bodyguard which gets a bit too bloody – the match is stopped by Lord Blackcliff after Miroslav’s shoulder is dislocated and his opponent loses an ear. Surprisingly, Yern Brittlebone is not too displeased with his injury, and he and Miroslav drink together that night in quiet, mutual respect.
  • Dominika makes and enemy when she fends of the lecherous advances of a drunken Drew Lakehurste a little too violently. Luckily she has the cunning to do it without witnesses.
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3. The Battle of Stonehollow

Three days after Lord Clay has left Blackcliff, a battered and filthy member of his entourage returns. Lord Blackcliff hears of an unknown force that have invaded Daggerwise lands, and that Blackcliff forces are needed to go and restore order. With Penhurst having one of his turns, the Heir of Blackcliff must rally troops to face the invaders.

Thornton leads his troops into Stone Hollow, where his forces capture enemy scouts and lean that they face a combined force from the Giantsblood, Firestone and Crag Cats clansmen who covet the comparatively rich lands of Stonehollow.

Thornton rallies the remaining Daggerwise forces, and in a daring night infiltration led by Miroslav and Sidney they reclaim Oldstone Tower without laying siege.

By dawn of the next day they march upon the forces besieging Dagger Hall, where after a bloody battle they rout the clansmen. They kill over 200 clansmen and take 170 prisoners, with about 100 more fleeing back into the surrounding hills. The leader of the clansmen, Barker Giantsbood is killed in a cavalry charge.

In the interrogations that follow, the party discover a surprising bit of information, that house Aelethafel have been secretly provisioning the Clansmen so they could go to war. Being compassionate, Thornton takes the clansmen’s weapons but releases them otherwise unharmed.

Over the next few weeks the Blackcliffs work to fortify Daggerwise lands, bringing back stability to the region and further cementing the ties between the two houses.

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4. Wedding Knight

The Blackcliffs are invited to the marriage Kevan Manning and Sylvie Harte – members of two minor houses that hope to end their feud by marring their oldest children. They make their way to Helmcrest Castle to attend with a large entourage including the Clay family.

While travelling Dominika notices Kale’s daughter Hilda shyly watching Thornton. Over the next few days Dominika gains the girls trust and discovers that her mother has been preparing Hilda for a marriage with Thornton. Dominika discourages the match, and Hilda is heartbroken.

The wedding happens as planned, but not before a few significant hiccups the following are noteworthy events:

  • Thornton notices a sullen Darren Manning, who is all to quick to tell him of his secret love for the bride. Thornton offer of drink does little to help the situation, and Darren goes on to exile himself from his family after interrupting the ceremony with his professions of love and a rejected challenge for her hand.
  • Thornton makes a toast and does not embarrass himself. He then gets to drinking with the groom and they develop a drunken friendship.
  • Aunty Por impresses Lady Harte with her good breeding and piety
  • Dominika manages a seat at the nobles table, which is further noticed when she helps remove Penhurst to his quarters. Gossip is split between her being his nurse or lover… or both. While there she does her best to avoid the affections of drunk nobles, and avoids a potentially violent confrontation with Ser Drew Lakehurst, who looks to settle the score from their last confrontation. Mirolsav intervenes.
  • Aunt Por uses her feminine wilds* to make an impression on the widower Lord Aurtur Manning. He is now of a friendly disposition with her.
  • Aunt Por notices the younger sister of the bride acting suspiciously, and follows her. She discovers the child stealing Moon Tea from the Maester’s quarters. Although she does not know what her intentions are, she recommends that the child at least uses he correct dosage. She later observes Eilene dosing her sisters wine while making a drunken speech about her beauty and purity.
  • Aunt Por manages to charm Septon Moor so much that he agrees to come to Castle Blackcliff in the near future.
  • During the ceremony Ser Etan Hogg, a retainer of house Harte, looks like he is ready to kill someone. In the feast that follows he almost does.

*Similar to feminine wiles, but more unkempt and overgrown.

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5. A Man Grown

Aunty Por begins preparations for Thorton’s coming of age party, which she makes no secret of using as an opportunity to find him a potential bride. She arranges to borrow a spectacular amount of money from Pentosi bankers to ensure the event will be the biggest event in the history of Blackcliff. She then puts everyone to work, especially Dominika, who she has seemed to take a liking to (as much as you can tell with Aunt Por).

With a third of the entire Blackcliff fortune being spent, the celebrations and tourney are the talk of the Vale and Riverlands beyond. Over 500 knights make the journey to Blackcliff lands, and all available space is filled with a tent city. In the week of festivities that follow, the newly knighted Ser Thornton makes a name for himself not by winning the joust, but by staying in the saddle after three passes with the mountain that rides. Por uses this to Thornton’s advantage, using his increased status to arrange a few ‘dates’ with Corianne with the intent of seeking her hand in marriage.

In the Grande Melee, a “Mystery Knight” surprises all by besting favorites such as Miroslav, the Mountain That Rides and Yern Brittlebone with a Bravosi blade. The cunning and dexterity shown by the lightly armored victor is dismissed by the crown and other competitors as cheating, but the win is valid and the prize money is paid. The mystery combatant is of course Dominika, who now finds herself fabulously wealthy.

A grand ball gloses the celebrations, giving the areas most influential (and a lucky few smallfolk who have done well in the games) an opportunity to mingle. Dominica flits between distracting Corianne’s potential suitors and working to keep Thornton from getting uproariously drunk, and Miroslav manages to have a good time despite himself, allowing Thornton to look after himself now that he is a man grown.

After days of wrangling, cajoling and horse trading Aunt Por secures a betrothal for Thornton, and sets the date of the wedding for one year’s time. She then seeks out the widower Aurtur Manning for a private celebration.

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6. The Death of Lord Clay

A few months after Thornton’s birthday house Blackcliff receives a raven requesting their Maester, as Lord Clay has fallen deathly ill. By the time the Maester and an escort arrive in Stonehollow the lord has died. The Maester examines the body and finds that a massive heart attack was the cause, which was not considered suspicious due to the lifestyle of the lord.

Thornton decides to release newly knighted Ser Pelin and his younger brother Fenast back to Daggerwise, as they will need them more than Blackcliff. He also reassures Lady Skalla that they will support them in the turbulent times ahead. Soon after Por sends a long letter to Lady Skalla proposing that her daughter be wed as soon as possible, and that Thorton’s wedding would be a perfect opportunity to screen potential suitors. She also recommends that Hilda come to stay at castle Blackciff so she can acquaint herself with courtly behavior. The offer of an arranged marriage is gratefully received, but the offer to stay at castle Blackcliff is politely declined.

More months pass, and Thornton and his entourage make good on the many visits promised during his celebrations, and preparations begin for the second great event in the history of house Blackcliff -the wedding of Thornton and Corrianne.

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