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He was not alone for long. Ser Herys Bolton and Ser Godfrey Hardy came in. Both looked tired after their all night vigil in the godswood and there was a tension about Ser Godfrey that suggested a man barely holding himself in check.

They both came across to the high table where Merivel was sitting and took seats there.

"Good morning, Maester Merivel," said Ser Godfrey. "Do you know how my brother fares?"

"I do, Ser Godfrey." Merivel said, giving nods of respect to both Sers. He paused a beat and then continued. "He continues to live but he does not thrive. Maester Sewell and I have done what we can thus far to help him recover."

Merivel paused another beat and continued. "I only wish that unshirkable duties at Clearwater did not mandate that I take my leave this morning of Holdfast, else I would return to help further your brother his Lordship's recovery as much as I can."

"You have been called home?" asked Ser Godfrey, carving ham for all who wanted it. "Lord Draupaud has need of you? A difficult task to take over another man's lands; I do not envy him."

Merivel nodded, both at Godfrey's analysis, and the opportunity to get some ham.

"He received his training at the Dreadfort," said Ser Herys, taking some of the ham. "He will turn that to good account, no doubt."

Ser Godfrey frowned, but then said with some relief, "Here comes Godwyn and his brother."

And indeed, Ser Kenrith and Godwyn were making their way to the high table.

"Good morning." Merivel said, still a bit sleepily, at the approach of Kenrith and Godwyn.

Kenrith made little comment as he approached, but did to acknowledge each of the worthies already at the table. He then set to work collecting portions of bacon and eggs, biscuits, and a large pad of butter. Before he ate, he did say "good morning," apparently to the table as a whole. As he ate he did so with what manners he could manage with a single hand... but his hunger was apparent as he set to work on the pile of food.

Godwyn nodded to the seated men, and gestured for Volf to stand behind him as he took a seat at the table. He began piling food on a plate.

Volf looked hungrily at the food being piled on plates (particularly a platter of rare beef) but said nothing.

"Good morrow, Kenrith," said Godfrey. "We plan to convene a court of justice after breakfast to try these men that Godwyn and Ser Anders took last night. I understand some of them arrived in your train. Where they well known at Riverrun?"

Kenrith finished his mouthful of bacon and eggs before replying. "Most were not. Mal and Jayne are Tully men at arms, but the others arrived in Riverrun shortly before I left. They are, or were, apparently sellswords who had fought further south. As they were already planning on heading north, Ser Grell suggested we should travel in the same company," Kenrith said.

"Have you an escort back to Clearwater?" Ser Herys asked Merivel. "I might send one of my men back to the Dreadfort with the news of what has occurred. But if you could take a message to Clearwater, I'd trust Lord Draupaud to see it carried the rest of the way. Not worth using a raven."

"Lady Hardy has said that events are in chain." Merivel replied. "Two men at arms are to accompany me to the Kingsroad, but no further. If you wanted to send a man with me to that point, and then further onto Clearwater." Merivel continued. "I would be grateful, Ser Herys."

Kenrith took note of the exchange between Ser Hardy and the maester, but made no comment.

At this juncture, Mal and Jayne came in at the entrance to the Great Hall to take their places at the lower table. Mal paused for a moment to direct a long look at Kenrith. It appeared he wished to talk to him.

Kenrith gave him a single nod.

Mal nodded in response and moved to take his seat.

Godwyn passed a piece of ham and some bread over his shoulder to Volf, and looked around the hall. A frown began to form on his face.

"Godwyn," said Ser Godfrey, pushing a flagon of smale ale towards his nephew, "where's my daughter?"

Godwyn's frown became more pronounced, and he pushed his chair back from the table and stood up. "The girls should be up and dressed by now," he said. "I'll go get them." He gestured for Volf to follow him and headed for the door.

Volf, still chewing on his bread, followed amiably enough. In the corridor beyond, they saw Syndra walking towards them with Eryk Bolton, seemingly deep in conversation.

Rhys entered the hall and looked to the high table. A brief, resigned expression passed over his features at the the sight of Ser Herys. He walked over, murmurmed his good mornings, and took a seat next to Merivel.

Godwyn nodded at Rhys as they passed each other, still frowning.

"Good morning, Rhys." Merivel said amicably, but still slightly sluggishly.

"Good morning." Rhys paused and looked at Merivel clinically. "You have problems sleeping last night?" he asked in a low voice. "You look...not rested."

Merivel poked at a piece of ham for a moment or two before he gave a weary nod to Rhys. "I did have problems sleeping, and am sorely not rested. It will be a hard day's traveling today." Merivel said. "Every step will be felt in every bone in my body."

He lifted his head and regarded Rhys. "And what of you?" he asked.

"I...slept...fine..." Rhys said cautiously, shrugging. Which was true, once he actually got to sleep. "Or is that not what you're asking?"

"Sleep, rest, and how you were doing in all things." Merivel replied between bites of food. "A sense of how my friend stands, ere I take my leave of Holdfast."

Rhys smiled at him warmly. "I'm fine. And I'm going to miss having a peer to talk to. I've gotten rather spoiled in that regard these last few weeks."

At this point Lady Celia entered, and cast a swift look around the room. Her eye feel on Merivel, and she made her way towards where he sat.

"Maester Merivel," she said, "your escort is prepared, and ready to leave as soon as you are finished here."

Merivel looked up from his plate and nodded to Lady Celia. "I will be done shortly, and I am mostly packed for the journey. All else I need to is confer with Ser Herys," he turned to glance at the man, "about arrangements for the last leg of my journey."

"I believe he is in the yard," said Lady Celia, "speaking with his son. What arrangements are these, if I might ask?"

"An exchange of favors, so that I might have an escort past the Kingsroad back to Clearwater," Merivel replied. "I am grateful that, between your efforts and his, I will be able to return back to Clearwater safely."

"Then perhaps, when you are finished, you will join him," said Lady Hardy.

Her gaze fell on Rhys.

"Maester," she said, a slight chill in her voice. "I see you are at liberty once more."

Rhys smiled amiably at her. "Yes, milady. Ser Godfrey and Herys and I came to an understanding."

"How delightful," said Lady Celia dryly. "Let me guess - all of you emerged looking like good and honest men, while Syndra emerged as a minx or at best a very silly girl. Strange it is to me that when men make arrangements among themselves, it's usually the woman who comes off worst."

Rhys's smile widened. "Given the choice of her being thought silly in Bolton eyes and yet her father still alive, as opposed to the matter of her honor being pushed and her father dying in a duel, I'm sure she'd happily choose the former."

She looked at him, and a little smile twisted her lips. "You think her father safe now?"

"Do you know otherwise? Surely you wouldn't withhold such information from Ser Godfrey," Rhys ventured.

"You think he is not fully aware of his danger?" said Lady Celia, seemingly surprised.

"Oh, I think he's aware," he continued softly.

He shook his head then and the smile dropped. "I find it very odd that Lord Hardy would choose a Bolton for Syndra's betrothal, don't you, Lady Celia? The logic of it escapes me, and logic is one of my life's pursuits. Surely you can explain it, who are so privy to milord's thoughts?"

Merivel furrowed his eyebrows in curiosity at Rhys' point, and then turned to look at Lady Celia to hear her answer.

"Alas," said Lady Celia sweetly. "How might I, a mere woman, hope to match my wits to understanding a man's logic?"

"How indeed? My apologies for presuming upon your intelligence, Lady Celia," Rhys said humbly as he bowed his head.

As much as he enjoyed the verbal sparring, Rhys recognized that this was a dangerous game he was playing. It would be more prudent for him to avoid becoming a target for Lady Celia's attentions. More prudent...but less entertaining.

And Lady Celia too seemed to be on the point of some retort when suddenly, at some distance (the gates perhaps?), a martial trumpet blared out. She stiffened, and turned towards the door of the Great Hall.

Rhys glanced in the direction of the blast, then back at Lady Celia.

"Manderly," Lady Celia. "I should have guessed."

She glanced at Rhys. "Have ravens flown to the White Harbour recently, Maester?"

He nodded.

"Master Merivel," she added, "perhaps we should arrange your departure before matters become more complicated."

She began to move towards the courtyard.

"Finish breaking your fast, first," Rhys told Merivel. "Milady seems very eager for you to depart, or perhaps that's just my imagination," he continued in a low voice. "Are you sure you can't stay one more day? I promise it'll be an interesting one."

Merivel lowered his voice so that only Rhys could make out the words. "It not only seems that she is eager to be rid of me, but even has been...," Merivel paused, "somewhat stingy in aiding me to return to Clearwater. If I did not know better, it was as if she wanted something to befall me."

Rhys sat forward and looked at Merivel with some concern. He continued to speak in hushed tones. "A riddle. Help me out here, Maester. Tell me about your Lord at Clearwater, about their alliances, anything that might shed some light as to what it would gain milady for you to succumb to danger."

"I don't know." Merivel admitted after a few moments. "A display of her displeasure, perhaps, in my care of Lord Hardy?"

Rhys shook his head. "You were very diligent."

"As far as my Lord back in Clearwater, while there is rivalry between Clearwater and Holdfast, I am not privy to any secrets that might lie in their mutual history."

Rhys frowned. "Having Clearwater's Maester attacked while under Hardy guest protection would rile Lord Draupaud against Holdfast, but how would that benefit Milady?" He shook his head. "I may be searching for something that's not even there.

"Merivel...would you like me to talk to Kenrith? Perhaps he'd be amendable to sparing his two hired men to accompany you."

Merivel shook his head. "I've travelled before, my friend. And if there is a danger that is pointed at me, I would rather its fangs be bared than to be withdrawn and wait for another day when I might not be so wary."

Rhys didn't look very happy with his friend's answer. "Will you take a raven with you? You can let it go if danger befalls you."

Merivel nodded. "I will do that."

He seemed ready to say more, save for the entrance of the visitors to the breakfast room...

Categories: WinterChillsGameLogs, CastleHoldfast

Page last modified on May 07, 2006, at 04:24 PM