Planning the Mission
Kenrith quickly inscribed a portion of the map onto a clean cloth which might have otherwise become a polishing rag for Godfrey's platemail and allowed it to dry as he walked, then folded it and put it away for safe-keeping. He then led the way out.
"We'll speak with the Riverwolf's men first, unless you object?" Kenrith suggested.
Ser Anders nodded. "After we've spoken with our own," he said. It was not really a suggestion.
Kenrith nodded, and was already heading in that direction. Over his shoulder, he asked, "You will inform those who are going, and I will explain what our job is today, then you will offer your own comments?"
"Agreed," said Ser Anders. "I know one of the Riverrun men is out of action. Will you be taking the other?"
"Mal didn't cuff Jayne on the back of the head when he revealed our position demanding cash, and my nod wasn't enough. He is a good man, and may come along if he offers, but I have no desire to employ my own band of mercenaries. I thought we had an understanding between us that I would compensate them for their help..." Kenrith said before shrugging and returning his mind to the matter at hand.
Ser Anders nodded. "Perhaps you shopuld know," he said, "that the men here haven't been paid this quarter. The Steward promised payment once Lord Hardy returned with my sister. I warn you because mentioning payment to visiting troops before Holdfast men receive their due might not go down too well with the guards."
"I understand. I think there is more to that situation than we yet know," Kenrith replied.
Ser Anders looked at him sharply.
Kenrith led the way into the guardhouse, then moved to the side so that Ser Anders could address the men and indicate who would be coming along.
There were a variety of men gathered. Ser Anders selected five - one looked to be very fresh-faced and inexperienced, two were grizzled veterans, a fourth was a wiry, even undersized man who nevertheless had a look of great competence. None of these choices seemed to occasion any surprise - it seemed they were a reasonable choice for the task.
The fifth was Dobbin - the slow-witted guard of formidable strength, whose great friend had been slain the previuous day.
Kenrith listened intently as Ser Anders called the men over to learn as many of their names now as he could. He was clearly being given a selection of experience and youthful resiliance.
When Kenrith spoke to them, it was clear enough to be heard but not so loud that the entire room could make out what he was saying. If anything, Kenrith was glad they would have to listen carefully to what he said.
"We, along with an equal number of Ser Corryn's and Ser Herys' men, are going to rout out the wildings from the woods. Lord Stark's standing orders are to kill wildings on sight, and as the forest is our outer walls... something must be done. We must be on our guard at all times... some of our companions may make an 'error' at a critical moment," Kenrith asked.
"Have any of you been to the spring near the especially tall elm tree?" Kenrith asked.
The men exchanged glances, a little uneasy.
"Which elm would that be, Ser?" asked one of the veterans, a man named Hollick.
Kenrith motioned the five over to a table, and spread out his sketch of the map. He explained where he intended to take the patrol, and the direction from which he planned to approach, as well as the locations of landmarks on the map, which included a large elm tree. He left out the detailed analysis of the tactics he had presented to Anders and Godfrey, but the more experienced men could tell he wished to prevent a repeat of yesturday's ambush by approaching with cover.
"Are any of you familiar with this area?" he asked again.
"I know it," said the other veteran, whose name had been given as Lince. "It's a good spot - but you need to watch the bog down there. Could swallow a man a'horseback and leave never a trace afterwards."
He indicated the area on the map with the point of his dagger.
"Even if we knew the edges, they can move those easily enough with spades," Kenrith said as he shook his head. "Is the land over here more solid, do you think?" he asked as he indicated another approach.
"That's firm enough," siad Lince. "And as for undermining the edges ... well, two can play at that game right enough, Ser."
The others nodded their agreement. And it wasn't entirely clear that they had the Wildings in mind.
"So - who shall we gather first?" asked Ser Anders. "Knives or Boltons?"
"The Laughing Knives," Kenrith said confidently. He was sure he would need the Laughing Knives nominally behind him to get the Boltons to go along with the plan... even if it was so that both the Knives and the Boltons could have their way with him in the woods.