Book 2, Chapter 3 - Ours is the Fury Dec 15, 2018 2:48:13 GMT
Post by LiquidChicagoTed on Dec 15, 2018 2:48:13 GMT
The shore of Southshield was covered in an eerie fog, as the small ship approached it, towards the later evening. Only its shadow was visible, black in grey and even then, Samantha had to narrow her eyes to make out the shape at all. It was cold, chilly and unusually silent, with the only thing she heard at all being the sounds coming from aboard the ship itself, as the crew did their duties.
“That took way too long”, Sasha groaned, as she dragged herself next to Samantha. “We've been on this ship, what... a year?” She frowned, holding her stomach, as she closed her eyes. Samantha smirked, before she shook her head. “A little over two weeks”, she replied. It was almost amusing that Sasha, of all people, reacted so harshly to being aboard a ship. Then again, she had Dothraki blood in her veins, so maybe it made sense after all.
“Worst two weeks ever”, the woman proclaimed. “Gods, please tell me this is the last time we have to be on this blasted thing” Samantha raised an eyebrow. “Well, unless you want to stay here, we gotta take the same route back eventually”, she said, in a slightly teasing voice. Sasha groaned, as she placed her head on the railing.
“I fucking regret ever coming with you, you know that?”, she mumbled. “No, I fucking regret ever leaving Essos” Samantha suppressed a chuckle, as she placed a hand on Sasha's back. “How did you even get here, if not by ship?”, she asked and Sasha was silent for a moment. “It was by ship”, she clarified. “But I was so drunken, I can hardly even remember getting aboard, or off it again” She managed a weak smirk, before she shook her head again. “Should have remembered, but let's be honest here, you can't get a good drink in this part of the world either way”
“That's because you don't know where to look”, the captain said, having approached them in silence, so suddenly that Samantha tensed up for a second. That being said, his tendency to be way too quiet aside, she hasn't found anything concerning about the man. He was older, easily twice her age, with tanned skin and a net of fine wrinkles over his face. All that remained of his hair was a short, grey coil and he was a bit too thin to actually do the heavy duty he expected of his sailors. That being said, he paid them fairly, for all she had seen and he didn't charge too much for the journey.
“The Shield Islands, for example, they have some of the finest wines you'll find outside of the Arbor”, he continued and Sasha briefly raised an eyebrow. “Continue”, she said and he smirked, but Samantha noticed that he did not look at her. Instead, his eyes darted across the shore and she followed his gaze, narrowing her eyes. “I know a place here on Southshield that can equip you for your journey back...”, the man mumbled.
Samantha tilted her head. “Is it supposed to be that dark?”, she asked. “Or that quiet?” The captain hesitated for a moment, before he shook his head. “Didn't want to concern you fine people”, he admitted in return. “But no, it is not supposed to be this quiet, nor this dark. You see that shape over there? That's supposed to be a lighthouse. Has never been dark in the three decades I have travelled across this part of the sea”
“So what, you tell me we have to stay on this hellish thing until they light us a fire?”, Sasha groaned. “Can't you just enter the harbour?” The captain shook his head. “I know the way”, he confirmed. “The darkness is not the problem. The problem is what might have caused the lighthouse to go dark” He listened for a moment, but the only sound that he and Samantha heard were the waves crashing against the hull of the ship. “Or the town to go quiet”
Samantha clenched her fists. “What do you suspect?”, she asked and the captain shrugged. “Something that'd make it advisable to leave this place as quick as possible”, he replied. “Oakenshield is not far. We can resupply there and leave for Raylansfair as soon as possible” He gave her a stressed smile. “That is what I would advice, at least”, he admitted.
“What do you suspect?”, she asked again, this time giving him a stern glare. The older man notably hesitated. “Ironborn”, he finally spoke. “Ever since they attacked Raylansfair, these waters seem to be swarming with them” He shook his head. “If they attack Southshield, they'd take out the lighthouse first. Myladies, I would advice against going ashore here”
Sasha groaned, holding her stomach in clear discomfort. “How far is this Oakenshield?”, she muttered, staring at the ground to her feet. The captain and Samantha shared a smirk, before he answered. “Three days”, he explained. “It's not as comfy as Southshield and, well, to be honest, Lady Hewett has quite the reputation, but it is a safe harbour”
“We thought the same about Southshield”, Samantha brought up. “Besides, we don't need to talk to Lady Hewett, but to Lord Serry. If Ironborn killed him, then we can just as well return to Raylansfair” She frowned at the thought. “Though if he is dead, we should not leave without proof” Sasha gave her a nod. “Everything, if it just takes me off this godsforsaken ship”, she muttered.
Samantha sighed, as she stared at the dark, silent coast. Out of all the ways she could have arrived here, this was decidedly the last she imagined. She felt a shiver running down her spine, not just at the thought that something terrible might have happened in Southshield or that her journey here had been for nothing. No, it was the entire place that caused her to be on guard. Shifting nervously, she glanced from Sasha, in her miserable, seasick condition, then to the captain.
“Would you bring us ashore?”, she asked and the man thought about it for a moment. Then, he shook his head. “I have an old skiff I'm willing to give you”, he replied. “But I won't get any closer to this island. We're a trading vessel. If an Ironborn longship catches up to us, we're practically dead” He gave her a sad smile. “And I must again advice you against going ashore. Is your business with Lord Serry worth your lives?”
Samantha sighed, as she closed her eyes. What she saw was her old home, up in the North, as she returned from her trip to the forest. The door half-open and smeared with blood. What she saw was the man behind it, what she saw was Butterfly. And her gaze, as she opened her eyes again, was furious and determined. “More than that”, she spoke. She clung to the hope that Vali was right, that Lord Serry was able to help them. The last weeks had made her desperate like this. Maron Mullendore as castellan of Raylansfair, about to get away with all he did. That was a thought she could not live with, so if there was any help to gain on Southshield, she was more than willing to risk her life for this.
“And I just want to get off this boat”, Sasha complained. “So, can we get going?” The captain sighed. “You are my passengers, not my prisoners”, he spoke. “So if you want to leave, you can take the skiff and be on your merry way. Me and the crew will take the route to Oakenshield and return once we are certain this is not a trap”
He waved two of his men over and together, they began to prepare the skiff, while Samantha and Sasha packed their few belongings. The entire time, there was no noise from the dark island and she began to grow genuinely nervous. After thanking the captain for his faithful service, the two took place in the skiff and were lowered into the water, where both grabbed one of the oars and began to row towards the shore of Southshield.
“What do you think we have to look out for there?”, Samantha asked and Sasha gulped, trying her best not to even look at the water around them. “Hopefully something to kill”, she admitted. “I could blow off some steam right now” She looked back at the water and frowned. “Maybe you should have taken Davith instead of me”
“What do you think he's doing right now?”, Samantha asked and Sasha raised an eyebrow. “Who”, she corrected her. “With Davith, it's not a 'what', it's probably a 'who'” With a mischievous smirk, she jabbed an elbow into Samantha's side. “I mean, somehow he has to get over you, huh?”, she added and this got a chuckle out of Samantha.
“Do you think he noticed by now?”, she asked and Sasha nodded. “Gods, it'd be awkward if not”, she replied. “Still, maybe he should have been here instead of me. I'm... ugh, I'm not feeling so well” Samantha raised an eyebrow. “You don't say”, she replied. “But hey, there's nobody I'd rather go to this creepy island with”
Sasha chuckled. “Very smooth”, she said in a dry tone and Samantha shared her grin. “I just hope he's alright, that's all”, she said. “Him and Richard and Jenna. Fuck, even that asshole Leonard” Sasha nodded. “He kinda grows on you, doesn't he?”, she remarked. “But hey, they are alright. Leonard and that Kersea girl are likely in Oldtown already. Richard's keeping a low profile and that girl of his does the same, I hope”
Samantha nodded, though she remained quiet. Neither Richard nor Jenna had been there when the two of them left for Southshield, despite what they previously agreed upon and though she hadn't admitted to it yet, she was concerned for what this meant. She was concerned for what she'd find when they'd return to Raylansfair.
“Look”, Sasha hissed, pointing at something in the distance. There, in the fog, she spotted a hulking structure and she didn't need to guess twice that this was Castle Southshield. What made it stand out, though, was the fact that unlike the unnervingly quiet village, there was light up there, visible as they rowed closer to the island.
“Torches”, Samantha mumbled. “There's still someone up there” Sasha nodded. “Yeah, doesn't have to be good though”, she replied. “We don't know what happened here. I say we check out the village first, try to get some answers, or at least try to find out just what the hell is going on here” She pointed down the shore, to where Samantha could barely see some rundown huts around an empty port, near the dark lighthouse. “You with me on that?”
[Approach the castle] [Approach the village]
Drent hesitated for a moment, as he stared into Warrick Fell’s mismatched eyes. The man radiated fury, his fists clenched, his glare sharp, as he waited for a reply. Should he be honest? Could he afford to be caught lying? And worse, Warrick likely suspected the truth already.
As such, he sighed. “You are right”, he confirmed. “I did it for Argella. Targeted you in the tourney, to prevent you from winning” Warrick closed his eyes and sighed, his fists still clenched. At least the glare was gone, if only for a moment, before he opened his eyes again, twice as sharp. “And Bernard?”, he hissed. “Jonathan?”
Now that he was already admitting it, it felt easier to just say the rest and as he did, Drent felt a weight lifted from his conscience, though the concern of just what Warrick would do grew. The man was highborn after all. If he wanted to, he could make Drent’s life a nightmare and few would care. “Emphryus took care of Bernard” he stated. “It was no coincidence that they met at this stage in the tourney. And Edonia did her best to defeat Jonathan”
Warrick nodded slowly. “As I thought”, he spoke, his tone neutral, yet with an underlying anger. Then, without warning, he grabbed Drent by the collar of his shirt and pulled him closer. Strong and in a superior position he held him there and Drent didn’t even make the attempt to break free.
“Now you listen to me, you fucking fool”, Warrick growled in a low tone. “Do you have any idea what you have done?” Drent gulped, though his gaze remained firm. “I followed an order”, he spoke. “I did a favour for the princess” Warrick nodded. “The princess you love, I know”, he said in a harsh tone and Drent frowned. “Do you think I do? Do you think me a rival in whatever little affection she can offer?”
Drent said nothing towards this, but his eyes widened slowly. Warrick let go of him, but they remained close, glaring at each other. “Because if you think any of this was necessary, then you are an even bigger fool than I thought”, he spat. “I don’t want to marry the princess. I feel nothing for her and I know, she feels disdain at best. Not even for a kingdom would I spend the rest of my life with that woman” He sighed. “Jonathan is the youngest of us, almost a boy still and he is in love with a common girl from his father’s lands. You don’t think he’d give up on her for a woman he doesn’t even know, huh?”, he continued. “And Bernard, he loves the girls a little too much to settle down for just one of them”
Drent sighed. “Doesn’t change the fact that you were supposed to marry her”, he spoke, but Warrick cut him off. “Trust me when I say, we had a plan”, he spat. “Me, Bernard and Jonathan, we agreed pretty early on that none of us would go through with this. We are friends and our fathers and the king tried to force us to be rivals” He glanced around, realizing he had spoken a bit too loudly, so he continued in a lower tone. “We had a plan to get out of this without losing face, but you and your buddies had to go and ruin it, huh?”
At the very least, Drent understood just why Warrick was angry. And he felt a sting of guilt, all things considered. “Listen, I…”, he began, but once more, Warrick cut him off. “I don’t want your apology”, he hissed. “I want you to listen and understand. When Jonathan comes home, his father will be furious. If he suspects anything about that commoner of his, he’ll send the girl away, quite probably ruining her life and surely breaking his son’s heart”
Drent remained quiet after this, but his fists were clenched. “My father is a fairly reasonable man, but after that, losing against a commoner, failing to win the bride I was supposed to win, well, I doubt my days of freedom will last much longer”, Warrick continued. “And Bernard… sure, he beat Emphryus the Invincible, but he was not sent to Storm’s End to do that. Lord Benedict ordered him to do something else and when that man gives an order, he accepts no other result”
“You mentioned you had a plan”, Drent said and Warrick nodded. “Just a bit more time and I would have convinced the king to call off this foolishness”, he spoke. “I almost had him and if you and your cronies would have given me more time, then none of this would have happened, you bloody idiot”
“I…”, Drent began, but once more, Warrick cut him off. “And don’t get me started on what could have happened”, he spat. “Setting Bernard up against Emphryus Dresfel? I know the princess doesn’t care at all, but have you considered just once that this man could have easily killed him?”
That was indeed a new thought and Drent frowned, as he realized that Warrick was right. Bernard was not a bad man, but he could have died with ease. Had Argella been aware of this? No, he refused to believe that she would have done this, had she thought of the risk it posed for Bernard’s life. And yet, pitting him against Dresfel… it felt harsh, even without taking into account what Warrick just revealed. If Argella only knew…
“I did her a favour, out of my own free will”, he spoke. “Don’t think bad of her for this” Warrick smirked coldly. “Oh, I do, trust me”, he said. “Because I am certain she arranged this. You are a fool for love, so I can understand you a bit, at least. But she? She nearly got Bernard killed because she That woman is dead to me” He shook his head. “The three of us hated every moment at Storm’s End, but we kept up with what our fathers expected, while trying to find a way to end this. Isn’t the least I can expect from the future queen of our kingdom to have enough patience, enough manners to do the same?”
Drent pressed his lips together, saying nothing at this. “What are you going to do now?”, he asked. “If I can do anything to…” Warrick shook his head, viciously. “Oh, you did enough”, he barked. “Now, I, well, I have to find a way to maybe help Jonathan at least, but I sure as hell don’t want you to get involved with that”
He raised both hands, taking a step away from Drent. “Listen, I… I’ll keep your secret, because I can actually understand you. Doesn't mean I appreciate it, but I know why you did it. No, it’s the princess I’m having a grudge against”, he assured him. “And Bernard and Jonathan, would they know what I know, they would kill you for that and they’d be right to do it” He narrowed his eyes. “So, do me a favour, keep doing whatever the hell you want to do, without thinking wether or not you should”, he growled. “But never talk to me or Bernard or Jonathan ever again, or I will break every bone in your body”
Drent sighed. He had expected something like that, to be honest and he even understood where Warrick came from. In his position, he would likely react the same. Truth be told, he would probably react harsher and he was able to see from Warrick's clenched, shaking fists just how much the man wanted to do it. “One more thing”, the man hissed. “Not a word about this, to anyone. It's for your own good”
“I understand”, Drent confirmed. “I'll be on my way then” He turned to the Great Hall, but paused for a moment, unsure if he should apologize. Finally, he shook his head, noticing Warrick's glare and he instead decided to approach the Great Hall.
Most of the other soldiers had found a seat already as he entered, gathering around four long tables, each large enough for over fifty men, while Emphryus, Bernard and Jonathan had taken position with Lord Benedict, at the table of honour. Bowls of bread and salt were generously distributed across the tables, as well as cups of water. Edonia was the first to spot him and she raised a hand to gain his attention.
“Over here!”, she called, though he was only able to hear her over the noise of two hundred soldiers because he was looking at her. She had kept a seat for him next to her and opposing Torrence, who stared at the bread on his table. No sooner had Drent sat down that the other man tried to say something. However, just as he had opened his mouth, Lord Benedict slammed his cup onto the table, demanding absolute silence for a moment. Torrence was smart enough to actually shut his mouth for this.
“When I sent my son to Storm's End, I expected him to return a prince!”, the lord began, giving Bernard a brief glance and Drent noticed how the younger man had tensed up. “And a prince he is not” The lord shook his head and Bernard sighed, averting his gaze. “Even if he gained honour during the tourney. Emphryus Dresfel is no easy opponent and I can respect that” He raised his cup. “To my son and heir!”, he roared. “May there be another day, another chance for him to prove his worth!”
He gave Bernard the briefest of nods and the younger man smirked thinly, though neither of them hid the cold look in their eyes. “There will be a small feast tonight!”, he proclaimed and this caused quite some approval from the soldiers. “To honour Bernard's victory in the tourney and to thank you, all of you who have come here to defend my lands against the foreign threat on our borders” He took a drink from his cup, a sign for the soldiers to start eating the bread. Drent himself reached for a piece, dipping it in the salt and sighing as he swallowed it. Though he should have been hungry, his talk with Warrick had taken away a lot of his appetite.
“There is an army approaching”, Benedict revealed. “They are led by Orys Baratheon, the bastard of Dragonstone and they outnumber my own forces two to one. And yet, with your help, we will hold them off!” He raised his cup again and the men cheered at him. “May they bring five hundred men, or a thousand, or their godsforsaken dragons!”, he yelled. “Because here I see the Stormland's finest! Our people have braved even the gods, so how bad is that silver-haired pretender going to be, huh?” He sat down again, but the soldiers continued to cheer, which visibly pleased the lord.
“So, what did he say?”, Torrence finally said, mumbling between two bites, his mouth full with bread. He raised an eyebrow. “That Warrick guy, I mean”, he clarified. “He looked pissed” Edonia placed a hand on Drent's shoulder. “We were concerned”, she confirmed. “Is this something to worry about?” She blinked quickly, giving him a nervous smile and Drent knew, he could trust both of them with this. At the same time, Warrick's warning was still fresh, his threat, about not telling them a thing. Perhaps it was not a wise idea to break his silence already.
[Tell them about your talk with Warrick] [Change the topic]