Song of Ice and Fire

After The Storm
No one has had satisfaction

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The Golden Calf has led his father’s armies to victory. He was heavily outnumbered, but the enemy bedraggled and poorly trained. He is gaining a reputation as a shrewd commander and local hero, but his fame is outshone by his brother.

Squire Xanthius proved to be a capable warrior without too many scruples. At the command of Xaladin, he dispatched the sentries around the last camp of the enemy army and was at the forefront of every attack against the invaders, though he has been heard to say that he is the only brave warrior in Varan lands on more than one occasion and he prefers to take an enemy unawares.

Delgado the Younger led a small group of his father’s most trusted men that captured and interrogated the spy who opened Oroca Hall to invaders. The spy, a hired agent of the Iron Bank of Braavos, was convinced to give up her employers and nearly all she knew of them: House Cressey and House Norcross. Del’s reputation as a man willing to risk himself for the smallfolk has charmed the villagers.

Fierro brought the spy down with the signature weapon of the gauchos: the bola. She had nearly escaped capture before he made a perfect throw in near darkness.

Torin Sands still sits as the steward of the House, though his position is precarious. He was nearly ousted once it was discovered that the spy had gained access to Oroca Hall and Varan secrets by beguiling Torin as his paramour.

The spy has been ransomed back to the Iron Bank, though the act itself was more meaningful than the sum gained. She left behind a coded letter and the knowledge that what House Cressey sought was a stonemason, living in Varan lands, who knows the secrets of a lost Targaryen treasure.

One of the invader’s ships escaped House Bouddic’s embargo. The sheriff interfered with the Bouddic warships moving upriver, which may have given the invaders the opening they needed. Gersen Wreed took the lockdown of Hornhaven’s ports quite literally and refused any exceptions.

Ser George has left for the North with a large contingent of men to take the black; they were provided by House Vara. Ser Leoff remains in the hall’s dungeon. The Velaryon knight continues to recover from his wounds.

Lady Lydea has gained many admirers, but has not been able to spend much time with Xaladin as his duties keep him away. The Varan Lord and Lady intend to keep them separate and Lady Lydea safely sequestered in their Hall. Lady Lydea spends most of her time with the Varan herds.

Lord Vara has decreed that his son Ser Xaladin should lead an expedition north to the Bracken tourney and use that as cover to investigate House Cressey. The twins have been inseparable since Xaladin returned, but Lord Vara has commanded that Delgado the Younger stay behind and Lady Lydea as well.

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A Squire Charges, A Lord Calculates
...Noble Mind

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"Father,

"You are making a mistake. We would be sorely outnumbered against our enemies should we take to the mountains against them, leaving the strength of Oroca Hall, and our best troops would be cut down. Our cavalry is useless in the mountains and we cannot take the full strength of the Blood and Silver.

"But our enemies are cut off from their escape. Call our banners and rally our allies to the north, House Dayne, House Fowler, and the enemy cannot escape. Aided by the archers of the Black Sashes, the Bouddic ships will destroy the boats of our enemies. Foreign troops, and I believe they are foreign, my lord, cannot survive in our mountains, in a Dornish summer, without supplies. An entire army, wrecked by the storm, and without food, must return to Oroca and attempt to besiege us. Where we are strong and fed. Where we will win.

“When they do return, and they must, the Black Sashes and the Bouddic ships will have arrived to support us.

"Our gauchos can watch them unseen to make sure they do not smuggle the prisoner away. If they separate him from the host, Fierro will ride them down. They do not know our lands. Remember the poachers from the Stormlands? It is likely they were deserters from this host. The enemy was after only the Velaryon, which means they were following the Night’s Watchmen from the north. Foreign enemies; lost, starving, and battered. Make them come to us."

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Storm From The North

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The Night’s Watch in Dorne

After receiving an invitation to a hastilude at Stone Hedge from House Bracken, Lady Vara plots with her heir to win fame for her men-at-arms. Ser Enrique and Ser Korgan are selected to participate; one of them is expected to win the hand of Lady Bracken, the prize for coming first in the joust. Ser Xaladin will lead the party north from Oroca, but he is forbidden from winning the joust by his lady mother and his older twin.

Within a day of the hunt, the Night’s Watch arrived at Oroca Hall ahead of a fierce storm which grounded ravens. The laconic northerner recruiting for the Watch asked for succor and shelter from House Vara, which Xaladin extended in his father’s name. Initial impressions of each other were rough, but after Delgado the Younger joined them for bread and wine, the man of the Night’s Watch and the southern knight started to warm to each other.

A man of distinct Valyrian features was among the rapists, thieves, and tax evaders headed for the Wall. He spun a wild tale of murder, betrayal, poverty, riches, and misplaced blame which Xaladon considered to be undoubtedly a pack of lies. In exchange for buying his freedom from the Watch, he offered the Vara twins his knowledge of the secret location of a treasure which had been hidden by his family for generations. He said that he wishes to be free to pursue vengeance against the true killer of his father, but Xaladin wonders if it is not more likely that he does not want to spend the rest of his in years in hard labor on the freezing Wall and that he wants to add swindling House Vara to his list of crimes. However, it is thought that House Vara will undoubtedly set him free for his sympathetic Valyrian features and the excitement of a treasure hunt.
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The face of patricide

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Prey In The Blackstone Mountains
Ser Xaladin is given the place of honor as he hunts

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The fruits of the first hunt

Bandits attacked the hunter’s lodge where the women, the infirm, and their Varan guards awaited the return of Ser Xaladin, Fierro, Ser Javen, Squire Xanthius, and the rest of the main hunting party. They dead highwaymen were thrown in a ditch by the guards who had killed them, but two escaped farther into the winding, stony crags of the mountains. They left without the horses they had come to steal.

Ser Xaladin was incensed that he was not immediately told of the attack upon his triumphant return from the boar hunt. Within moments he assessed the situation and rallied the strongest men present to aid him in tracking down the thieves who had attacked the camp of his paramour, Lady Lydea. She alone had noticed that two men had been driven off, not one. The largest part of the hunting party was ordered to escort the Lady back to Oroca Hall. Ser Xaladin tasked Fierro with finding the trail of the poachers. None escape Fierro.

Despite Xaladin’s orders to the contrary, the squire Xanthius followed the grim men who were closing in on the rustlers. Even though he had been injured by the boar, Xanthius felt honor bound to strictly adhere to Delgado the Younger’s orders; Xaladin’s twin had tasked the young squire to see to his brother and Xanthius refused to leave him. He crept up behind one of the crooks as Ser Xaladin advanced from the front, shouting orders to his men.

Fierro, Ser Javen, Ser Xaladin, and the squire left none alive. They outnumbered the pilferers and it was over in moments; Ser Xaladin tore out the throat of one with a castle-forged boar spear and Ser Javen cleaved two in half while Fierro and Xanthius distracted them. Xanthius had faced both boar and men with naught but a dagger and Ser Xaladin’s shield.

The brigands’ clothing was northern and their coins were minted at Storm’s End, but Xaladin suspects these clues are meant for misdirection and the men were used as cat’s paws.

Delgado the Younger did not join his brother in the hunt that was supposed to celebrate his brother’s return. Neither did his father.

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Xaladin homecoming

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