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Syndra watched her father walk away with Celia and Kenrith until they were out of sight, then turned to Godwyn. "So," she began, a bit uncomfortably, "I guess you'll want to stay near your father's room. Could you walk me up to get my sewing, then we can come back?"

Godwyn frowned. "We can go find Edlyn, if you think we should. I wouldn't put it past the Boltons to decide she's fair game." He looked at his father's door. "The Maester is with him, he'll do all that can be done. And if there is a crisis, then they will send for Kenrith."

Syndra appeared relieved. "Yes, I think Kenrith was right. We should warn her to stay away from them." Syndra smiled sympathetically and nodded at Godwyn's last words. Inside, though, she seethed at both Celia and Uncle Oswain himself, as she so often did. All Godwyn wanted to do was help. Why was that so wrong?

"There is one thing I want to pick up in my rooms before we go, though," Syndra said as she started off in that direction. "Can we go there first?"

"Aye." Godwyn followed her, saying no more. He let her lead, walking a few paces behind her, his eyes flicking from side to side as though he expected the Boltons and their retainers to leap from a doorway at any moment.

After several moments of walking, she looked back over her shoulder at him, her expression pained. "Godwyn, could you just act normal, please? You're making me nervous," she said, not slowing.

"Huh?" He looked confused.

No Boltons appeared, however and they reached Syndra's room quite undisturbed.

Inside, was, however, a different story. Eryk Bolton was sitting on Syndra's bed, his dark curls tumbling into his eyes, his expressuion troubled, his long legs drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them.

Syndra stopped short, her back stiffening like an angered wolf. "What are you doing here," she hissed.

Godwyn pushed past her, advancing on Eryk menacingly. "Stand up," he said. "I don't want to hit a man while he's sitting down."

"Your quarrel's not with me, believe me," Eryk responded quickly. He sat up, not standing, his hands lifting to show he was unarmed - although his glance at Godwyn was wary.

"I have to talk to you," he said to Syndra. "To warn you."

Syndra stepped up near Godwyn and held a hand out to stay his fist. "Let him talk," she murmurred to her cousin. She turned to Eryk. "Warn me about what?" she asked coldly.

Godwyn glowered down at Eryk, clearly wanting nothing more than to let his anger out in a good hard blow. But he waited to let Syndra hear whatever lies the Bolton chose to tell.

"What my father told me," Eryk said, looking up at her unhappily. "He said... that he came upon you, in the arms of a young Maester. He said ... you screamed and ran when you saw him, and knew that he'd seen you."

"That's a lie," Syndra spat. "I screamed because your own loving father tried to wrap me in his own =filthy= embrace against my will. And who knows what you were planning to do to me here in my own bedroom had I been alone. Get out!" she seethed. "NOW!" Syndra pointed at the open door, her blue eyes flaming with fury.

Eryk shook his head.

"I believe you," he said. "Believe me ... because I believe you. And I was planning ... nothing. Just to talk ... to warn you."

He was rising from the bed.

"You heard her," Godwyn growled. "Move!" And he grabbed for Eryk's shoulder, planning on thrusting the other lad across the room and through the open door hard enough to slam into the wall on the other side of the corridor. If Eryk resisted, so much the better, Godwyn was aching to plant a fist in his face.

Eryk seemed taken by surprise - and Godwyn found it easy to thrust him forward. Easy, that is, until on the threshold of the room where Eryk seemed to stumble and fall, curling into a ball at Godwyn's feet.

Eryk slipped from Godwyn's grasp as he fell, and Godwyn's forward momentum carried him right over the young man's body. Godwyn stumbled, throwing both his hands out to grasp the sides of the doorway, preventing him from falling, but leaving him leaning at an awkward angle over Eryk, vulnerable to an attack if the Bolton boy chose to make it.

Eryk twisted under him, and used Godwyn's body to push himself back against the opposite wall so that he could rise to his feet, breathing a little faster. (So he pushes with his feet, which might wind Godwyn, but it isn't hard enough to hurt, or an attack). For one second Godwyn saw something flare in his eyes - and then Eryk was shaking his head in disgust.

"Hardy. Tough as oak, twice as thick."

Syndra cringed. "Wait!" she shouted, sounding the echo of her father minutes before. She reached a hand over to Godwyn to pull him back. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to think clearly through her rage. Something about what the Bolton boy was saying didn't mesh. He believed her over his father, almost as if he had known the lie was coming. Was that his warning?

When Godwyn was steadied, she turned to Eryk. "Did you know he was going to lie? Is that what you wanted to warn me about?"

Eryk stared at her for a moment - and then he smiled - although it was more of a sneer than a smile. "I didn't know he was lying. But I guessed. I know how he looks when he lies. And yes, I wanted to warn you - because do you know what will happen to your pretty Maester if my father chose to spread that rumour?"

"No one at Holdfast would believe it. Rhys is respected here. He saved Kenrith from the fever," Syndra shot back. Then she considered. No true Hardy would believe it. Celia and Anders were another matter. She tried not to let that doubt show on her face.

Again a flicker in Eryk's eyes - perhaps he registered her uncertainty.

"Why would you warn us, acting against your father?" Godwyn asked.

"Have you met my father?" Eryk countered. "It wasn't just Lady Syndra's brother he killed, you know. Besides ... the punishment for a lecherous Maester's a nasty thing. Ever seen it done? I have. At the Dreadfort. He was a friend of mine ... "

Godwyn wavered, looking at Syndra uncertainly, waiting for a clue of how she wanted him to handle this boy.

Syndra regarded Eryk with a sour look, though it was apparent the expression stemmed from the whole situation rather than himself. She wavered as well as she considered where the pieces of this predicament were leading. The more she thought about it, the more it turned her stomach. Finally, she asked the question. "They mean to marry me into your House, don't they?" By the way she said "they", Godwyn knew she was not just talking about Boltons. She was talking about Tollets.

"Your Uncle and mine arranged the match," he said. "I'm the blood price for your brothers' deaths - that's what my father told me. Before we came." He swallowed. "If you do ... then your Maester will be safe. My father wouldn't want there to be any suspicion about his son's wife. But if you refuse ..."

Syndra felt bile rising in her throat. This time, she couldn't hide the sickened expression.

"Lady Syndra - what really happened between you and my father?"

He glanced at Godwyn as he spoke. Perhaps he was wary of another sudden assault.

Godwyn's face certainly looked as though he was contemplating imminent violence against someone.

Syndra ran a hand over her face as if she were developing a headache. "After he sent you out of the room," she began wearily, "I tried to leave, too, but he blocked the door. He asked if you'd charmed me and I asked him if that had been your task. He seemed to like that, that I wasn't afraid of him. I was, though. He started coming toward me, saying something about me being a 'spirited little thing' and he might 'renegotiate the deal here and now.' He reached out to try to embrace me, but I ducked his arm and hit him with my elbow on the way out. He grabbed my hair and tried to pull me back. That's when Rhys came in. He stopped as soon as someone else was there to see."

"I thought something like that must have happened," Eryk said. "When I saw him ... he was terribly angry - and when I asked what was wrong he told me ... well. What I said. But it sounded ... wrong. I left the two of you together, and ... "

He hesitated and then said, "Had I known what he would do, I would have found a way not to leave you. I ... am sorry." He gave a little bow to re-enforce his words.

She nodded and gave him a small, tight smile in acknowledgment.

"I'll leave you now," he said. "I'd better find my father. He might wonder what's become of me - and that's seldom a good thing."

"Thank you, Eryk," she said with a frown directed not at him, but at his brutal father. "Good luck."

When he was gone, Syndra wandered over to the window and slumped down in the chair next to it. She buried her face in her hands, elbows on her knees and breathed deeply. Finally, she said softly without looking up, "Godwyn, what am I gonna do?" He could hear she was on the verge of tears.

Godwyn watched her, concern on his face. After a few moments he said, "Bolton's good, I don't think I can kill him in a fair fight. But he won't expect me to just walk up and stick a knife in his gut. After that, no one would expect a marriage to go forward. And I'll take the black, so I won't lose my head for it. They're going to send me to the Wall anyway."

Syndra looked up at him, horrified. "Godwyn, you can't! I won't let you!" His comment reminded her of what she came here to do in the first place. Syndra rose from her chair and opened a storage chest at the foot of her bed. "If I convince Father to break the contract, they accuse Rhys of indecency. Father and Kenrith won't believe it, but Celia and Tollet will hop on it in a heartbeat. Not to mention they might go to war over the contract itself," she analyzed the situation as she dug deep into the chest. "If I go forward with it, even if I marry Eryk, who doesn't seem that bad, the father will ravage me every time the son is away. So that can't happen."

As she continued to speak, she pulled an old bedsheet out of the bottom of the chest and began unrolling it. "It's too bad we can't separate the son from the father somehow. I'm sure Eryk would like that. He seems as frightened of his father as I am." Syndra's eyes narrowed in thought as the final roll of the bedsheet revealed a shiny stilleto, sheathed in soft leather. She fingered the knife carefully, checking the blade for sharpness, then drew her left sleeve up to her elbow.

Godwyn crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, brooding. "Clearwater will side with the Dreadfort if we go to war," he said. "Winterfell will try to talk us around to reason, but Stark is going to be more interested in keeping peace than the rights and wrongs of things. They'd be willing to give you to the Boltons, if it came to it. We can't count on outside aid. I still think gutting him is the best bet."

Syndra strapped the slim leather sheath around her arm carefully. "Yes, but White Harbor will side with us. The Manderlys hate the Boltons, and they'll do whatever they need to do to keep the northern trade routes open." She resheathed the knife and pulled her sleeve down over it. "As soon as Ser Corryn hears about it, he'll be here faster than a bolt from a crossbow, and twice as deadly." She practiced pulling the knife, working on her stealth and speed. She realized to her chagrin that she was woefully out of practice.

"There might be another way," she mused as she worked with the knife. "Perhaps I should arrange to be alone with him again. I'd even let him get reeeaaal close." Five inches of steel in the stomach...

She looked over at Godwyn, her eyes as steely as the knife. "At least if I do it, I could call it self-defense. He wouldn't be around to argue." Even Syndra was surprised at the coldness in her voice. She hadn't realized until this moment that more than a small part of her actually wanted to kill Herys Bolton.

"Let's talk to Kenrith first," Godwyn says. "If he doesn't have a better idea we can dice over who gets to gut Herys." He thinks for a bit then adds, "Do you really think the Riverwolf will come? Perhaps we can just delay the wedding until he gets here. He's a clever fellow, he'll have an idea. He always does."

"I still think I could get an easier cut," Syndra argued, pulling the blade more skillfully this time. The Wolf's training was starting to come back to her. "And yes, I know he will, if he's able. If he's at sea, we're out of luck. He has to hear about it first, though." Syndra chewed her lip pensively as another sickening thought occurred to her.

"Godwyn?" He could hear the uneasiness in her voice. "Do you think it's safe to trust Maester Sewell with a raven? What if he belongs to... them?" She obviously meant the Tollets.

"I trust him," Godwyn answered without hesitation.

Syndra looked at him for a long moment, then sighed. "All right," she agreed. She sat down at her desk and pulled out parchment and quill. It took some time to think what to write. "Please come save me from a horrible marriage" seemed childish. Finally, she wrote:

 Ser Corryn:

 Boltons have arrived unexpectedly in Holdfast on grim business.  I'd
 feel a lot safer with reinforcements.  Please come if you are able.  I
 wouldn't ask if it weren't important.

 Syndra Hardy (Little Bear)

"Just the fact that I didn't call him 'Wolf' should tell him something's wrong," Syndra mused as she folded up the note. She rose and moved toward the door. "Let's try the tower first. He might be done with your father."

Godwyn followed her, once again behaving as though he expected an attack. And was looking forward to it.

The cousins crossed the courtyard to the Maester's tower.

No attack was imminent, but as they crossed the courtyard, they saw a man at arms was standing, looking somewhat uneasy, at the foot of the tower.

Syndra, with Godwyn at her side approached the tower with her head held high, projecting the noble air. She nodded at the guard as she reached for the door of the tower.

The guard made no attempt to stop them, although he still looked unhappy.

Categories: WinterChillsGameLogs, CastleHoldfast

Page last modified on March 07, 2006, at 02:16 AM