King’s Landing after the Tournament
A fortnight after the Tournament of Prince Joffrey’s 12th Nameday, the Hand of the King (Jon Arryn) fell ill. A few days later he died of an apparent stomach illness. Stannis Baratheon left his seat on the small council and is hold up in Dragonstone.
Receiving Rudolphus’ Remains
After Rudolphus’s head sat on a spike at the Red Keep for an appropriate amount of time, his remains were sent back to Castle Blackhorn. Lord Rhys ordered a heartfelt mourning ceremony of the ex-Maester, who died serving the family and following his mother’s commands. Rudolphus had only come to Blackhorn recently, but had taught Rhys much on how to be a Lord, heraldry, and the workings of the realm. After the death of his father, the maester had grown to become a sort of father figure to him. Rhys laments that no one even went to visit Rudolphus in his cell before he was executed; he died alone and abandoned.
Rhys takes the remains to the sept in Castle Blackhorn. The ceremony is lead by the highest ranking male member of the clergy at Blackhorn, Septon Vickon, and hymns are sung.
Septon Vickon is an elderly man in his 60’s who served Lord Nolan since Jon the Ram’s passing. Vickon is a strict and dogmatic man who holds many secrets of House Moorshead, some known only to him.
The Ward and the Liason
Young Liam Lugus, a boy of barely 10 years, is sent to Castle Blackhorn. The Tullys ordered a ward sent to Blackhorn to assure peace between the Luguses and the Moorsheads.
Liam arrives at Blackhorn in tears, already missing home and begging to see his parents again. After a few months he begins to lighten a little. He loves animals and spends as much time around the kennel and stables as possible. Running over the hills and through herds of sheep is a novel thing to the boy who was raised in a small house overcrowded with a large family. The players can form their own views on this character and whether or not they trust him, but he comes off as genuinely empathetic and sensible.
Not long after Alana’s visit to the Queen where she exchanged the location of a fleeing pregnant woman for the queen’s favor, a liaison to Cersei was sent to Castle Blackhorn. Lady Bella Lannister is a younger daughter of House Lannister of Lannisport. She’s a third daughter of a cousin of the Lord of Lannisport, so she holds little actual power of her family name. Also note that the Lannisters of Lannisport is a separate, cadet branch house of the actual Lannisters of Casterly Rock. So any prejudice players may hold against the Lannister family shouldn’t apply to her, but I can’t stop anyone from prejudging her.
She’s a quiet guest, preferring to listen rather than speak. She claims she’s at the castle to help Lord Moorshead as an advisor on behalf of the Queen, but some in the holdfast have implied she is nothing but the Queen’s spy, as she has yet to aid in any major way. On the other hand, she hasn’t been asked for any major aid.
Lady Bella spends her time innocently flirting with the knights of the house, but mostly she acts as an ordinary lady: poetry, singing, embroidery, etc. …a wholly unremarkable woman. Moontea, an orphan boy who menaces the keep, is quite taken with her. Several house guards have caught him sneaking around her window at night.
The Hedge Maester
Lord Rhys did his best at managing the new Wealth gained this past year, but he suspects that much of it slipped through his fingers because the house is without a steward. The position was formerly occupied by Maester Rudolphus. With the death of the house’s steward, the workings of the house’s resources and finances threaten to spin out of control.
A noble house needs a maester, but getting a replacement from Oldtown is a convoluted issue, and expensive. Septa doesn’t entirely trust the Citadel herself after the events in the capital, but relents that a noble house needs a maester nonetheless. The Citadel is inquisitive about the manner in which House Moorshead lost their previous maester, specifically how involved they were in his alleged sorcery and treason. It’s understandable that they don’t want to lose another fully trained maester due to repeating circumstances.
In the meantime, the house employs a Hedge Maester named Hamden to temporarily replace Rudolphus. Years ago he had been assigned by the Citadel to a minor house which quickly collapsed after his arrival. His bad experience with that house made him decide not to return to Oldtown for reassignment. Maester Hamden set out for his new life on the road, healing whoever had coin enough to pay (and sometimes even if they couldn’t pay). When he stopped by Blackhorn, Rhys was able to convince him to stay until a replacement was arranged.
Hamden is not an exceptional maester by any definition, but he’s a bit warmer than the late Rudolphus and he is usually more of a help than a hindrance. He sometimes pretends to know more than he really does, and is known to speak of legend and myth as if they were truths.
Quest for the Blackfyre Sword
After Rudolphus’ remains were interred and the new maester settled in, house Moorshead quested for the Valyrian-steel sword Blackfyre using a copy of the map recovered from a brigand tent at the Crossroads Inn. However, when they reached the site marked on the map they found it recently raided by an unknown party. Likely whoever stole the duplicate map made by Maester Rudolphus during the tournament made it there before House Moorshead. Dejected, the Moorsheads returned to Blackhorn empty-handed.
Knights & Squires
Kellin has been Ser Artemis’ page for many months now, but has made little progress in the arms-yard. Kellin tries hard, but at this point Ser Artemis seems to have little patience left for his charge. Kellin has improved slightly since Jonah started tutoring him in secret.
Ser Merik travels with Squire Jonah across the Seven Kingdoms, spending the last months of summer as a tourney knight. They send most of his winnings back to Castle Blackhorn. Jonah continues to learn how to joust and fence along the way.
During their travels, many scoff at having a girl for a squire. Ser Merik respectfully suffers it in silence from nobles, but teaches sharp lessons to commoners who don’t show his squire the proper respect.
Ser Merik’s nickname has stuck. Try as he might to not kill his jousting opponents, tourneys are still risky events and some die. Not in extraordinarily high numbers, but for masses of smallfolk expecting the Knight of the Ram to have a dark reputation, a few deaths now and then are still enough to keep the audience chanting “Stranger!” whenever Merik’s opponent falls to the ground.
Ser Tygor Wyl follows loyally, but spends much of his time flirting with passers-by. His traveling companions have noticed he pursues both men and women, though he is discreet about his preferences. On Jonah’s approval he leaves for weeks at a time on business of his own. On one visit to Dorne he picked up a squire for himself, a pale blonde-haired, violet-eyed girl about Jonah’s age named Desiera Dayne. She prefers to be called ‘Dez’. She displays only a fraction of Jonah’s exuberance, and prefers to fight in skirts. Having a second girl-squire on the road takes some of the disparagement off Jonah for a while, but often leaves Merik gritting his teeth.
Though he is not a big fan of tournaments, he has taken up the tourney circuit to earn money and raise House Moorshead’s profile with mixed results.
Ser Barristan Selmy has kept in contact with him via raven, sharing stories about all the run-ins he’s had with Moorsheads in the past. He and Jon the Ram were knighted together at Blackhaven as teenagers. They fought together in the Stepstones during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. He unfortunately fought against Nolan at the Trident in Robert’s Rebellion. Though they nearly killed each other, both viewed it as a respectful stalemate afterwards.
Though he admired ‘Jonah the Brave’ before, since her true gender was revealed Ser Barristan has made it clear he respectfully disapproves. Ser Merik cannot bear to tell his squire this.
In his most recent letter, Ser Barristan asked politely if Merik is content to live as a vassal for his nephew or if he has aspirations to start his own family with his own keep.
Jonah had her work cut out for her when she returned to the castle’s arms-yard a girl. However, through a combination of pluck, grit, and determination she’s won over most of the fighters. Some of them even brag to the soldiers of other houses, “our house is so great that even the women wish to fight for it!” Of course there are some men, such as Ser Artemis, that remain offended by her presence, but few of them dare to openly question the judgment of Ser Merik, who after all is really Lord Merik of House Moorshead.
Jonah spends her days at Castle Blackhorn training constantly for combat. For many months she studied with Syrio Forel, whom the house hired to train her as a water dancer. Sryio returned to King’s Landing, now she is instructed by Ser Merik and the Master-at-Arms. She has participated in a few skirmishes with raiders and the like, but always under Ser Merik’s watchful eye.
Jonah’s Green Dreams have grown erratic. Sometimes they’ll disappear for months, making her think she’s lost the Sight. Recently the dreams have become a waking vision. Once it occurred when meeting someone new. But mostly she dreams of the young Heatherdale bride who was flayed by Malcolm Bolton. She wakes some mornings filled with guilt, but leaps into each new day with lust for adventure.
Ser Merik recently discovered she couldn’t read and sent her to Castle Blackhorn’s governess Myrcette for instruction. She hated the lessons and made little progress until Ser Merik threatened to suspend her training until she learned her letters. Now she’s a model student.
Lord Rhys seldom spends time in Castle Blackhorn. At the request of his grandmother he travels from one Riverlord’s house to another in hopes of forming alliances. Lady Sharra, Jon the Ram’s elderly widow, fears trouble looms on the horizon. Both for the house and the Seven Kingdoms. After the troubling times in the capital and the resulting negative impact on the house’s reputation, Sharra worries they will be left out in the cold this winter.
Sometimes Rhys fairs well, but mostly he finds his house’s reputation has been tainted by scandals from the Tourney of Prince Joffrey’s 12th Nameday. He more often ends up on damage control to quell the gossip forming about his family. In his gut he feels something menacing on the horizon, and fears he may have to call on the aid of few friends he’s making sooner than he’d like.
The peril at King’s Landing was an eye opening experience for the young lord; there are so many selfish schemers in the world. Lord Hoster Tully is too sickly and sends his inept son to rule in his place. No banner houses are sworn to Blackhorn. It all makes him realize his house could be easily snuffed out, should it face a threat any more competent than a Lugus (which is a pretty low bar).
He hasn’t been so lucky as to get anyone to swear an oath of fealty yet, but he’s brought a few houses to friendly terms: houses Tullison of the Riverlands and house Chyttering of the Crownlands. Most accommodating and sympathetic was House Darry, who were already old friends. The least was House Estren of the Westerlands, just upstream of the Tumblestone river to Dannett holdfast. Lord Estren didn’t greet Rhys with barred steel (the sign that guests are not welcome and won’t be offered the Guest Right), but he may as well have.
Lord Walder Frey was a fickle host, friendly only when Rhys is willing to discuss taking one or more of Frey’s grandchildren as a bride for himself or his brother, or a Frey child to foster at Blackhorn.
Some minor lordly things Rhys has done in the past year: promoted the KennelMaster Nic Rivers to Master-of-Horse (the house has very few dogs), and oversaw the defense of Castle Blackhorn during a small attack of mountain men.
The influx of thousands of golden dragons filling Blackhorn’s coffers brought the focused attention of the Mountain clans. Once the clans found out that Adham Dannett died and they would no longer receive his support for their raids on the Moorlands, they made a last-ditch effort to raid Blackhorn and the nearby hamlet. The mountain men were easily defeated.
During the attack however, it was discovered that the foundation of the castle walls was made up of a weak, crumbling stone called gypsum. Jon the Ram generally made good choices for castle construction, but his money wasn’t infinite. The shoddy construction of the walls might have been a consciously-chosen stopgap measure until he could afford something better. Unfortunately (and perhaps shortsightedly) he didn’t plan on dying in a duel in 277 AC, so the secret died with him until now.
To fix this, Rhys searches for a master stonemason during his travels. Now that the house’s wealth has increased he can finally afford to hire one. Immediately before the game begins, he finds one in the Vale, named Master Veedle, who came recommended by Lady Hersy (head of House Hersy of the Vale). Veedle will arrive at Blackhorn when the first session starts.
Housing all that gold earned from the Tournament and trials makes Rhys nervous. Though other houses may see it as a paltry sum, Blackhorn has never housed this much gold. Rhys knows vaults are not immune to thieves. He is thinking of either investing it into local holdings or sending it to the Iron Bank of Braavos to earn interest. Perhaps when he returns to Castle Blackhorn the advice from his mother and uncle can help him decide. While they’re at it they can help him to decide who to take for his bride: Iris Dannett or “that horse-faced Mallister girl.”
Every day Septa Alana makes her own rounds around the Moorlands to oversee progress of the house’s holdings. The young children, Bree and Kellin, herd behind her wherever she goes, accompanied with her handmaiden Alyce and the guardsmen Heward and Desmond. Shepherding the land also serves to escape from Septon Vickon’s disapproving lectures. She received a mighty earful on her return from the capital last year.
“Don’t you understand what septhood entails? You have responsibilities that have gone ignored since Lord Nolan’s passing, but the time of mourning is over now. Your charge is to tutor Bree on the gentle arts and turn her into a noblewoman, not to go gallivanting off with crossbows and provoking duels! Is this the way to teach your daughter how to be a noblewoman? You left all three of your children in order to go to the capital! You’re responsible for keeping a constant vigil on the young Lady until she is wed. Without a chaperone Bree could’ve wandered into danger. And this new squire is a girl?! The shame…”
And on it went for several weeks. To appease the elderly septon, Alana hired a governess, Myrcette, to look after Bree and teach her how to be a lady in Alana’s absences. That leaves Alana available to look after the house while Rhys travels.
As Rhys’ wedding draws closer, she contemplates finding a suitor for Bree to strengthen her household. Things are looking up, but the house has little to offer as a dowry, so finding a house worthy of a formal alliance but who also won’t expect a large dowry proves challenging.
Immediately following the trials in the capital last year, Lord Frey heard of Alana’s indelible search for potential marriage matches. Since then she’s been unable to stem the flow of ravens from the Twins proposing suitors for all three of her children.
As a second son, Kellin’s options are limited. For now he could be sent to be fostered by a childless lord in order to build an allegiance. Kellin just came to the appropriate age to become a fosterling. Similarly, he could be married off to forge an alliance. His bookish nature would make him a good Maester. Less favorable options are to become a Septon or take the Black. If no plans for him are made he could grow to be a drain on house resources for the whole of his adult life. But in the meantime, Kellin serves as heir until Rhys’ future bride bears a son.
Old Shar, her mother-in-law, takes Alana with her when she departs Blackhorn on a rare trip. Since Rhys has had such poor luck in forging alliances with noble houses, Sharra hopes to fix the relationship between the house and the neighboring Dannetts after the horrible kerfuffle at King’s Landing. Shar expects to teach her “uppity” daughter-in-law a thing or two about “proper diplomacy” through the experience, and how not to “rely on a man with a sword to fix problems”. They’ve always bickered – Sharra despises Alana’s haughtiness and Alana finds her quite bothersome in return. Jon and Nolan simply found it entertaining while they were alive.