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Kenrith Meets the Boltons

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Kenrith cut an impressive figure, even in the lighter forest jack and mail instead of his custom harness of plate from the forges at Riverrun. The smile he still bore was a disarming thing, for it was genuine. The old blood was in his eyes and voice as he spoke, and he called to mind every nuance of noble posture he had learned in Riverrun while keeping in mind his earliest lessons of being a Northerner.

"Lord Stark has issued a command, known to all in the North, that when found, wildings are to be wiped out. As is our right, we are calling upon those who enjoy guestright within our walls to assist in this effort. I require you to accompany me presently," Kenrith said as he set one fist to his hip and met the gaze of each Bolton man present. It seemed someone, perhaps Ser Grell, had taught him how to project his command voice for the battlefield without yelling. Kenrith could hear it echo from the walls of his home, and it was in harmony with the singing Old Blood in his ears.

Several of those gathered looked as though they might respond - one even rose to his feet. But the leader of the Boltons looked at him for a moment, and then smiled thinly.

"That's as maybe, Ser. But we can do nothing without orders from Ser Herys."

"Then you had best someone for him, hadn't you?" Kenrith replied calmly.

The man hesitated - and then gave a curt nod. A hand gesture - and the one who had risen to his feet gave a kind of half-bow and hurried off.

"Can we offer you the hospitality of the Flayed Man while we wait?" asked the head of the party.

Kenrith simply raised an eyebrow. From the way he crossed his arm across his chest, it seemed he was content to stand and wait.

The man returned quickly enough - with Ser Herys, frowning, in his wake.

"I understand you want some of my men for another of your aptly named fool-hardy excursions into the forest," he said abruptly. "How many?"

Kenrith turned to face him as he approached, and paused for just a moment before answering to school his feelings. Anticipation of potentially imminent violence threatened to disrupt his lordface, but he had spent hours staring into the mirror to make it just like that of his father... better, perhaps.

"As is our right, as you have enjoyed the right of hospitality and have men at arms available for the common defense, and as it is in keeping with the order of Lord Stark, I require it. Ten men," said the man with a face of stone and blood of the north in his veins.

"You'll have them," said Ser Herys. "Fyfe, ten men. Wake them up if you must."

The man who had attempted to stall Kenrith nodded and disappeared into the guest tower. Herys smiled coldly. "Never let it be said that I don't do my duty by the Starks."

Kenrith simply nodded. He could take that statement one of two ways, as Herys had no doubt intended. He wondered idly behind his lordface mask if the Bolton words were "Be creepy and mean." Reducing his force by almost half at the cost of ten and a half Hardy men was an excellent trade. It might cost them ten loyal knives as well, or it might remove ten treacherous knives from the castle... but even if it was two against one, this was an excellent deal. Either Herys had men outside of Holdfast waiting to support his attempt to take the castle, or he hadn't actually intended to break guestright today. Kenrith smiled a little bit more. All he would be called on to do today was die loudly.

The smile might fade a little when Kenrith saw who was selected; if Anders had given him a mixture of valiant youth and doughty experience, Fyfe's pick consisted of moon-faced boys and doddering decrepitude. But they were still ten men from his small force ...

Perhaps Lord Bolton, in sending a party with Ser Herys, had chosen the worst of his men to send on a mission he held to be of little importance. After, how high did Ser Herys stand in his Lord's favour?

"My thanks, Ser Herys," Kenrith said calmly. He did not add 'I see that you share your brother's famous generosity,' but he did give Herys a penetrating look.

"It will be just a moment more while the rest fall in," he added as more men continued to arrive.

Corryn's bowmen had now lined up with the troop that was gathering; it seemed that they were ready to go.

"Right. Follow me... I'll explain the plan on the way," Kenrith said as he addressed the full number of his troops all at once.

As with the Hardy men, he would explain enough of the plan for each man to do his part without having to worry about how it all fit together-- that was his job.

He divided the group into two smaller groups of fifteen, with the most experienced Hardy man in charge of the detached group, in case he needed to circle around. For now, they would all be traveling together. The Riverwolf's men would stay in the rear, and all would keep their eyes open. That they should keep an eye on each other was unspoken, but quite clear from his earlier remarks to the Hardy men.

The men eyed each other suspiciously but rode towards the gate - waiting for Kenrith to explain his full plan.

Kenrith let them wait a short time longer, until they were alone on a stretch of road halfway between the tree line and Holdfast. He turned and addressed them with the same commanding voice he had used earlier.

"It has now become apparent that wildings have held a position in these woods for some time, in seclusion. There are three springs which provide fresh water, which such a community would need. One is far more likely to be the source they are using. We will go there, circle around, and drive them towards the road. We will approach from cover, and remain vigilant for their defenses... they might have some traps or men with bows in the trees."

The men seemed cheered by this evidence of good planning; it was unlikely that they would be more inclined to trust each other much more than they would trust the Wildings, but they seemed to have a common cause now.

They were waiting now for more details of their route.

Kenrith had planned his route carefully, and refined his plans with his discussion with the Hardy men. He knew from his experience the previous day that horses were as much of a liability in the woods as his heavy armor would have been, so he led them out on foot. They traveled along the road at first, then diverted down a trail that men from Holdfast villiage might use when they went hunting. Kenrith took the men deeper into the woods, where thick trunks shielded them from distant views. They moved single file, and he watched the men to insure they were in turn watching for ambush. Chatter he kept to a minimum, although thirty men in armor with weapons in the woods could only be so silent.

Yesterday, they had known Kenrith's band would follow the maester's trail, and had been able to plan an ambush. They would surely guard their camp, and their source of water, but today Kenrith had the advantage of planning.

Still, if there was marshy land near the spring on the approach he'd take to get there from Holdfast village or Holdfast castle, that was the point where they'd wish to watch. Kenrith instructed the men to be wary with a raised hand and significant glances. By now, they knew he meant business and this was serious. If there was an archer in the trees, waiting for men to approach the vital water source, he would ambush that observer with Corryn's crossbowmen. Only after that had been secured would they try to make their way through the marsh.

The first sound they heard was the most surprising as they approached the stream - for it was a woman's laughter.

Kenrith contemplated the orders of Lord Stark and his vows as a knight even as he instructed the men to proceeded with the plan. While it might be less likely they would have a formal guard on their water source if women were bathing in the stream which led from it, that did not mean that armed men were not in the area. He would remain in the lead, and the men would continue to clear the area for snipers as they approached.

There was a boy's voice, responding to the women. More laughter.

Suddenly, one of the men signaled. They'd come upon a carefully dowsed fire - the wildings' camp.

Kenrith nodded acknowledgment, and turned back towards Corryn's crossbowmen, and made sure he had caught the eye of one or two. He pointed to his own eyes, then motioned to the trees... they were to keep their eyes open for snipers.

Kenrith then returned his attention to the man who'd signaled, and moved forward to examine the wildings' camp.

It was a small camp; the packs and arrangements suggested no more than four or five people. And close examination suggested that at least one of those was a woman.

The men who had circled round now came into the camp.

"There's two women bathing," reported one of the Holdfast guards. "A young one and an old one."

A Bolton guard chuckled. "Looks like we might have some fun, eh? Is the young 'un pretty?"

Kenrith heard the words. They registered on his mind, and his face did not waver. This was a decision he had made back at Holdfast, when he gave the men their instructions. Kenrith carried a large sword, one that a beginner could only fight with using both hands. He had learned to wield it with but one, and to draw it in a single smooth motion. This was, perhaps, not something the Bottom of Bolton's Barrel was expecting.

His face was still a lordface mask of calm as his right arm reached above his left shoulder and the bastard sword flew from his scabbard like a quail flushed from a bush. He took a half-step forward with his lead, left leg, brought his arm around and straight as he twisted and sunk in one fluid motion. The Bolton man was wearing leather jack at his neck, but it was not thick enough to stop a blade half this weight. Surprise was just beginning to awaken in the other man's eyes as Kenrith's dead twin orbs locked on them, and his blade passed through his neck like a log on the chopping block. Kenrith's naked, bloody blade was back on guard before the head could hit the ground.

"In Holdfast, we do not rape," he said to the men in front of him, who were principally Boltons. If his earlier voice had been commanding, his were now the words of the Old Kings sitting in judgment on their throne.

"You five," Kenrith said as he pointed at a grouping of three Holdfast men and two Boltons who had just reported in, including his appointed second, "Arrest the women. You five," he said as he indicated half of Corryn's crossbowmen, "Cover them."

Moments after they were off, he was already assembling the remaining 19 men into formation to reinforce the ten he had already dispatched.

The Boltons seemed shocked - and rather resentful. But they were no outnumbered by more than two to one, and they accepted their duties, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

The ten he had selected had vanished towards the water.

After a few moments he heard shrieks and screams.

Then, a few minutes later, the screams increased in volume, and the party who had captured the Wildings came into view.

One burl Holdfast man was carrying someone across his shoulder - a woman, and naked. Much to his comrades' amusement, she was attmpting to kick him with her bound feet.

A second woman was being dragged along by a crudely fashioned harness around her neck. Her hands were bound behind her back - her only covering was the long grey hair which clungg wetly to her upper body.

Two of the Knives were dragging a third figure between them. A boy, it seemed, for he too was naked - but his gace was swollen and bloody from several heavy vlows that had rendered him half-dazed.

The Holdfast guard dropped the woman he was carrying and threw her at Kenrith's feet. The older woman was pushed to join her - Kenrith saw at once that she angled her body to shield that of the sobbing girl. The Knives kept the boy where he was.

Kenrith had cleaned the blood from his sword with the dead man's shirt, but still held the naked blade. He made no comment on the condition of the prisoners.

"You are in the Hardy woods, a day after wildings attacked my men. You are by a wilding camp in the woods... and I recognize your laugh. I trust you recognize my voice. The penalty, I think you know. Will you swear fealty, as peasants, before I pass judgement?" Kenrith said gravely.

The evil thing inside him wanted what the Bolton had proposed, but he would Hold Fast. They could become citizens of Holdfast, on his terms, or he would kill them swiftly and cleanly.

The older woman looked up at him, her face filled with a terrible fear. But the sight of it was suddenly hoffifically familiar to Kenrith. Just so had his father looked at him when he had lost his temper about Jonas. The same fear - the same features, cast in a more womanly mould.

Kenrith removed his cloak, and tossed it over both women. "Speak. From your face, it seems you may have something to say," he said somewhat more gently than he had before.

"I ... I will speak with Lord Holdfast, if he lives," said the woman hesitantly, looking fully at Kenrith.

The boy began to struggle frantically in the arms of his captors and the girl cried out. "Mother - no!"

Kenrith, especially while displaying his lordface, looked at least as much like his father sitting in court as this woman did when he was old and impotent.

"I am the Lord Hardy's eldest son, but as you know... if I return to Holdfast with you three, alive, your safety may be my obligation, but your fate is not my decision. If you are wildings, you die here... but if you have something more to say on the matter, we can speak while they finish searching the immediate area," Kenrith said as he motioned for some of his men to do just that.

He walked over to the decapitated Bolton man, removed his bloody cloak, and offered it to the woman so that she could cover herself without leaving her daughter nude.

She wrapped it around herself hastily; the girl pulled the other over her slender body and was looking around, her eyes wide with fear (and, coinsidering some of the lascivious glances she was attracting, that was not surprising. However, having the Bolton man as a warning, no-one made any untoward movement towards the two women.

As Kenrith was close, he heard the girl speaking to her mother urgently. "How do we know they're not the same as tried to kill the Maester?"

"Hush!" said her mother warningly.

Kenrith moved closer, and while keeping his feet under him, bent lower. "Perhaps you worry about the Bolton men who are here, or at the blood on that cloak. It may put your mind at ease to know that its former owner suggested rapine, and I killed him for it. I know that you tried to kill me and mine yesterday, when I came searching for Merivel... and I asked about the other men in the woods. I have no desire to harm women and children, let alone you..." Kenrith said very softly as he gave his presumed aunt or cousin a meaningful look.

"But I will do my duty to Stark, if you insist on dying 'free.' Clean strokes by my own hand. Come and persuade me of a third option, or decide now," Kenrith said with grim finality.

The boy made an angry nose - as though to repudiate Kenrith and all his works.

"We made sure the Maester escaped safely!" he declared. "It was Hardy men who would have killed him - not Boltons! And we chose to protect him!"

There was a sudden surprised murmur among the assembled troupe backing Kenrith.

"You hit him too hard, I can see," Kenrith said with a feral grin to one of the Hardy men who'd brought him in.

"I said nothing of Boltons being responsible for yesterday. Only an addled fool would claim he'd kidnapped a Maester, and that maester may himself have been very confused when and if you spoke with him. Where is this Maester now? On the back of some mule, his tendons sliced, as chattle bound for the other side of the wall?" Kenrith asked angrily as he neared the boy, his blade still drawn.

"No!" said the boy hotly. "He's safe on his road - which is more than he was under your protection."

The woman stretched out an arm to him imploringly - as though begging him to be quiet, but the boy shook his head.

"We didn't kidnap him. We saved him from your men - the ones who were trying to kill him! He was wounded - and then you came hunting him again."

"Oh really," Kenrith said with an anger which rang false in a few ears. It was a touch too calculated. He could manage to hide emotion well... but was no expert at producing it on demand. Fortunately, becoming intrigued had not banished all of the anger from him, so some of it was quite real. The boy was clearly wroth, and a bit shaken up about being beaten and naked, so hopefully wouldn't notice.

"And what did his supposed attackers look like? I certainly know what my search party looked like... who were these attackers who you say were from Holdfast?"

There was one dressed like that," said the boy, gesturing towards the Holdfast guards. "Old man, but still a soldier. Grey hair Bit of a paunch. He was tracking the Maester in the wood, going to kill him. And the other I saw ... he was younger. Dressed plain - but he had no hair. His cloak - it had a silver brooch - like a star."

Kenrith had seen such a brooch before, worn by Evan Tamm's bald-headed companion, Stavro.

"The first man you have identified by his clothes... this does not make him from Holdfast, it means he was dressed as one. The second... is no friend of ours, all the moreso if he tangled with a maester. What became of them?"

The boy hesitated. "One was dead," he said at last. "And my ... I killed the other."

"No, he didn't!"

The fresh voice rang out loud and clear and defiant. The girl had pulled herself up to a half sitting position, the cloak wrapped around her. She was staring not at Kenrith, but at her brother.

"He was going to kill the Maester. But I stopped him!"

Kenrith nodded to himself, then walked until he stood above the old woman. "Would you rather take a walk with me, and discuss a few remaining points, or should I pass judgement on you now?" he asked her quietly.

Kenrith understood the woman was bound, and was ready to carry her if need be.

Her hands were bound, and there was a rope leash around her throat.

Kenrith left his men with additional instructions. The crossbowmen were to continue to keep an eye on the treeline, and the Hardy and Bolton men were to look for futher signs of how many men had camped here once, and which way they'd gone. Perhaps they would locate some clue as to where they were going. He then led the elderly woman a short distance out of earshot.

She came with him, but not without glances back to the camp where the boy and girl were held. Clearly, despite what Kenrith had said, she was afraid the guards would kill them, and bluff their way out of it later.

"Do not allow them to escape. If they sit still, don't hurt them," Kenrith said. Not likely to allay any of her fears, but it would keep a few of his own at bay.

(There are two guards on each, one Hardy and one Bolton. They, in turn, are within line of sight of several crossbowmen.)

Once they were suitably separated from the group that they could speak quietly without being overheard, Kenrith stopped walking.

"I am not blind. I trust you recognize who I am, as well. Can you explain this, or should I speculate?" Kenrith asked.

She made an awkward gesture with her hands.

"Speculate, if you wish. But I'd be grateful if you'd allow us to retrieve our clothes, and dress. For my granddaughter's sake, at least. She's a maiden - and this shames her."

"Perhaps that is better. If we can't resolve this matter, I will be forced to carry out Stark's law, and her shame may stave off her fear of death for a time. At present, she is covered and I will kill or die to prevent her from being molested as you suggest... I'm offering you an opportunity to offer up an argument in your defense before I make my decision," Kenrith said.

"What argument can I offer?" she said wearily. "That those you will kill are kin to you? Why should you believe me? I did something foolish for those I love - and now they will pay the price."

Her voice had the flatness of despair.

"My foolishness was bringing them here to see the place ... but no matter. We die as much for saving the Maester, I suspect. I don't know what he had done to so offend Holdfast. To us he seemed to good a man to be hunted to his death."

Kenrith sighed deeply, and for a moment his lordface broke. She might have taken his grave sorrow for an act, or in a bad light, but it was his true feeling on this matter. He could see how this was going to end... but he would try to salvage it one more time. He prayed to the old gods he would do what was right for his family, and carried on.

"It would seem you are ill equipped to speak in your own defense, so I hope you won't mind if I attempt to help..." Kenrith muttered dryly, perhaps as much to himself as to this woman.

"The Maester is irrelevant... though, I must say... trying to kill me when I was on a mission to rescue him has not endeared you to me. I suggest you table that for the moment."

At the word 'rescue', the woman shot him a sudden sharp look, frowning a little.

"I believe that you have some Hardy blood in you, as you've now implied. Is this so?" Kenrith asked as he stared directly into her familiar eyes.

"Yes," she said steadily.

"If you wish to confirm that, tell me of the pillars in Holdfast Hall," Kenrith asked behind his stoic mask.

"The pillars?" she said. She sounded a little startled. "The wooden ones, with the hands clasped to support them? Any who has been in the Hall may tell you that." Then she hesitated. "But ... it was Willon carpenter who made good one that cracked after a gale had made the stones to shift of the roof. And in his repair, her carved his name in a pattern of flowers. You'll see it still if you look."

"So... it is not so difficult to prove what you claim may be so. Now... the question is, where does your loyalty lie? With your blood... including the children over in that direction," Kenrith said as he pointed back in the direction they had come from, "or with the Wildings in general."

She was silent for a moment - and he could see the anguish in her face.

"If I return to Holdfast with you and your children, under terms we will discuss should you agree... will you show me where the other wildings are who are not of your blood? Tell me their numbers, their tactics... So long as they are in these woods... they are an intolerable danger to my family" Kenrith said.

She gavce a little sigh - and he realised it was relief. "There are none other in these woods save my grandchildren and I," she said quietly - and it was clear she was telling the truth.

"I cannot honestly promise you that your grandchildren would have a good life in Holdfast. All their blood tells... Hardy and otherwise, and unless you're going to tell me that 3/4ths isn't wild," Kenrith shrugged.

"If you assure me you can tame them, I am willing to discuss what is to become of them in Holdfast town. We are a long distance from the Wall... and it may be that he will not grow into another Mance Rayder... but I am doubtful. Presenting them as bastard kin would be a crueler fate. What say you? Is that delaying a bad end for them, or do you believe they can become ordinary villagers?" Kenrith said, then waited for her answer.

"They ... they can be tamed," she said - but he saw the twisting of her hands, and the helpless expression of her eyes.

After she had replied, he added "If not... there may be another option, other than death."

"What?" she said, and the hope in her voice suggested she saw any chance that did not confine the boy and girl as their best chance.

Kenrith moved a step closer, and lowered his voice "I wished to table the matter of the Maester, but I will say this... it seems Boltons indebted and bribed one or two corruptible Holdfast guards. That second man who you saw confirms as much. They have since broken guestright, and may be seeking to take Holdfast," he said as he passed a dagger's hilt to her.

She seized it, but she was looking bewildered. "Boltons? My lord, they were sellswords, I'd be willing to swear - no followers of the Flayed Man."

Kenrith made a dismissive gesture with his hand. "I know... its complicated, and time is short. The Bolton who broke guestright isn't necessarily directly related, but both matter."

"I'm going to speak with my sargent, then I'm going to deal with the Boltons here, then I'm going to return to Holdfast. I'll be quite busy dealing with the Boltons, then in burying them... if your grandchildren and you escaped, I won't be following you today. If, later, you wish to return to Holdfast after it is safe and return my cloak... that is a good enough reason. Ask in the town first, to make sure Hardy still survives... but we will Hold Fast," Kenrith said with a grim smile.

"Hardy will survive," she said with perfect faith, concealing the dagger beneath the cloak with remarkable dexterity, considering that she was still bound. "And thank you, my kinfolk."

Kenrith nodded, and muttered something about Hardy women, and knives, and this proving her claim as much as anything else. She could get the gist of it, but he was speaking to himself.

He then led his prisoner back to where the others remained, and motioned for the experienced Hardy sergeant who he'd spoken with earlier this morning about the 'dangers of bogs,' to come over to where he was.

The sergeant came at once - but he was looking uneasy.

"Do you want me to do it, Ser Kenrith?" he asked. "I can make it quick."

"I've learned what I needed to... these three are exempt from Stark's law, but if it was to be done I'd do it. We're going to deal with the Boltons, and let these three get away if they can. On my head, as a Hardy... Spread the word to a few you trust... that after I call for the men to fall in for the execution, that is when we strike," Kenrith said gravely.

"Yes, Ser," said the Sergeant. "Although. Ser ... what have the Boltons done that we must deal with them?"

He sounded a little troubled; clearly, he shared the general dislike of the Boltons, but felt more than a generalised dislike was needed to begin a slaughter.

Kenrith nodded once, and said quietly "They've broken guestright, attempted to interfere in judicial procedings, and attempted the most untoward of actions to women under our protection." When he said it, he looked directly into the other man's eyes so that he could see the truth of his words.

The Sergeant hesitated and then said, "Ser, I've served your father, man and boy, these trthity years and more. I'll not deny Holdfast now, and I will hold fast to your orders, faithful and true. But are you certain, Ser, that all the men here are as guilty of this as their Lord?"

Kenrith rubbed his chin, and thought for a weighty moment before answering.

"Thank you for your council. I shall ammend my orders, then... after I demand they cast down their arms and surrender, they will be questioned and sent to the wall. Any who resist... may take it up with the old gods," Kenrith said.

"Thank you, Ser," said the Sergeant, relief evident in his voice - and then he froze.

The alarm bell of Holdfast was ringinging out - drifting to them over the still air, faint but unmistakable.

"Everyone fall in for judgment, double time!" Kenrith called out as he trotted back to the clearing and drew his blade.

The men began to form a ragged line in obedience to his wishes ... the Hardys looking worriedly towards the Castle. The Boltons and the Knives merely looked confiused - and worried.

The old woman spread her arms protectively around the boy and girl, her eyes fixed on Kenrith.

"We all hear the call to arms, and all understand that time is short. Winter is coming, as the Stark's say, and justice must be swift and sure. Herys Bolton and his son have broken guestright. I have little doubt that it is on his account that the horn sounds," Kenrith said with a voice which was just quiet enough that his listeners had to pay attention to follow what he said. His words had a certain kind of rhythm, and he could feel the old blood pounding in his veins once again. His predatory eyes watched the dregs of the Dreadfort, and sought to freeze each knave in place.

"You nine have come in the company of Ser Herys Bolton and his son. I pronounce you guilty. Cast. Down. Your. Swords." he ordered as he indicated each man with the steady tip of his bastard sword.

"The first man to tell me where she is may just go, unarmed but unharmed. The rest of you may live out your lives on the Wall, or die on the block. If you lie, you die. If you attempt to escape, you die. If you stall, you all die," Kenrith said with a restrained anger which bled up from underneath his wintery exterior. The men exchanged glances again - but this time it was quite clear that they were genuinely bewildered.

Finally their leader spoke again.

"Who is this 'she' that you speak of? We hold no woman in our hands - nor have seen any, save those ladies of your house and home."

"Secure their arms as best you can. Pat them down for daggers and the like. Be swift, but be sure," Kenrith said as he indicated half of the Knives and Hardy guards.

"I have determined you three have no more wilding blood in you than a Hardy of old. Your grandmother may return her cloak to Holdfast under the protection of guestright that Bolton knaves have spat upon. Go... and you children learn to mind your tounges around men with swords," Kenrith said with a jerking gesture with his chin.

The woman needed no second telling - she began to steer her grandchildren swiftly away from the scene.

It was the leader of the Boltons who spoke.

"What is this? What crime have we committed?" he said, and anger was clear in his voice. "We came as guests - and one of our number was killed. We demanded justice - and accepted the justice you offered. Now you accuse us of the theft of one of your women, and treat us like murderers, our defence unheard. Is this the Hardy justice that we trusted?"

"You all wear the Flensed man at your breast... you have nothing to say as to the just treatment of prisoners so long as I don't skin you where you stand... Ser Herys and Eryk have made a mockery of guestright, have sought to interfere in the trial, and have kidnapped someone from beneath our roof. You are all his men. It is a shame they did not let you in on their plans, as you bear some measure of guilt for their actions," Kenrith said firmly as he watched the Hardy men search the captives.

The Holdfast men looked up from their searches - and shook their heads. Clearly they had found nothing un-toward.

The Boltons, now bound, were regarding the Hardies (and the accompanying Knives) with outright hostility.

"Be careful," said their leader. "Be very careful, Hardy of Holdfast. If our reputation for cruelty is not misplaced, neither is the fact that we avenge our own. Deal unjustly with us - and Holdfast will pay a bitter price."

"Having seen how Boltons make peace, I have no doubt you are a terror at taking revenge. Shut your ugly gob. You may appeal to whomever is in charge after we return, and they may overrule my judgment in this. If you stall us, run for it, or give anyone's shins a good kick you'll have no such luxury. And as for the Wall being some terrible fate..." Kenrith said before snorting. There had always been a Hardy on the Wall, for thousands of years. "I'll not set you free, masterless, to cause more mischief on Hardy lands," he added.

~If we find Herys has taken over the keep, I'll ransom you. And if he has none to ransom, I'll kill you... no, I'll bring you with me to the Wall. The Wall needs men. Yes, putting them to the sword here would have been a waste.~ Kenrith thought darkly.

Kenrith gave instructions to have one Hardy man hold each Bolton's right shoulder, so that they would not trip with their hands bound and force a longer pause while Kenrith decapitated him for stalling. The Laughing Knives scooped up the discarded weapons and watched the woods as they all made their way towards the sound of ringing bells.

[Logger note: Thread split here at a natural break. Continued in Kenrith Returns to Holdfast ]

Page last modified on December 29, 2006, at 01:54 AM