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The next morning, very early, a servant came to Corryn, where he lay with his men.

"Lord Stark asks you to come to the Great Hall at ten this day," he said gravely, and waited for a response.

Corryn had already been up for a couple of hours, having dressed appropriately for the coming meeting with his liege lord. Having left the dinner early, he'd checked on the others and prepared them for the questions that were sure to follow. Afterwards, he and Volf had retired to their chamber, where he'd spent much of remaining evening writing down his thoughts and arguments. It felt good to be working thusly again. As much as he preferred the hardships of the ocean and forest, the last two years as Guardian of White Harbour had settled in his bones. Who'd have thought the law would appeal to him so? His hard-nosed maester would have been most proud that something sank through the young pup's thick skull.

He'd continued to write in the morning, documenting the events that had unfolded the last several days. When the servant finally found him, Corryn had just finished copying the writ providing him legitimacy over Leaning Stone and its holdings.

"I'll be there promptly," he told the servant.

He sighed, tapping the ink from his quill. The next letter would not be as easy. He began to scratch out the letter documenting his uncle's vengeance killing of Lord Cerwyn. It felt like a betrayal and in many ways it was. But if Limosa and her brother were to remain in Corryn's custody, then the uncle they never knew would have to pay for that freedom. As much as it grieved him to consider it, the Wall would undoubtedly be the best place to cool the desert fire burning in his uncle's heart.

Volf forced him to eat, pushing food beneath his nose whenever Corryn paused to refresh his quill. Otherwise, he sat by in silence and watched his lord working feverishly.

Finally, Corryn leaned back in his chair. "There," he said with a hint of triumph. "Enough to soothe even Lord Stark's hunger for the 'truth.' And combined with my performance last night, it should have that little wanker in a tizzy."

Corryn's 'performance' had been little more than living up to his most unglamorous reputation; playing the rogue to the fullest. Charm, suave, and unconcerned. The Riverwolf. But the Starks and Boltons had never met the Guardian, the man that ran an entire city. He counted on that. Let them think a fool was about to attend them and let them hang on those beliefs.

Volf had asked him why he'd acted so casually after the dinner. He'd simply smiled, "Appear weak when you are strong, my boy. That Eryk fool thinks he is a cock a-crowing and Lord Stark forgets he has old debts. They'll learn soon enough, but until them, it is best we allow them their illusions, eh?"

He allowed the ink to dry and then collected the letters and writs together. "Put your best face on, Volf," he said, standing up. "If you thought the courts of Holdfast were terrifying, you've not seen anything yet. Now go fetch Ser Barton and have him attend me in the Great Hall."

And with that, Ser Corryn Manderly headed toward the Great Hall.

Page last modified on August 23, 2007, at 05:34 PM