Septa Alanna escaped a failed kidnapping by assailants who tried to take her north. Unfortunately she had to leave behind Alyce, her handservant. The Bastard of Blackhorn was dispatched with several guards to recover the poor woman and look for traces of “Yurt”. Whoever told the kidnappers that Alanna would be traveling at that spot on the Kingsroad at that time remains undiscovered, as is to where exactly they were taking her.
Ser Merik ended the final pocket of bandits in the Moorslands. He knew the last outlaws would fight as desperate cornered animals, so he chose not to bring along his squire. Jonah fears that it was because of her gender. Merik proved victorious, and for the first time since Jon the Ram crime rates of the Moorslands have been raised to those typically seen throughout the rest of Westeros. The only thing remaining in the way of claiming the Moorslands as completely safe are the hill tribes in the Misty Mountains and bandits in the Whispering Woods.
On a hunt with their liege lord, Rhys fell from his horse, just as his father had not two years ago. But unlike his father, the young lord got back on the horse. Unfortunately Rhys had chosen to take the alchemist woman with him on the ride. The foreigner proved dually foreign to horses, and she was quickly separated from the group and beset by a pack of wolves lead by a large direwolf. But when Valaera finally rejoined the group, she carried their charred carcasses. The Woolcloaks of Blackhorn now affectionately call her “Dire-Slayer”.
The house hired their first spymaster, a lowborn hunchback named Uncus. Unaware that her son had already investigated the incident, Alanna asked Uncus to find out who set fire to the smithy the previous month. Uncus uncovered that it was an accident caused by iron ore, but the group remained unconvinced because he was unable to produce tangible evidence. When asked to look into the disappearance of Blackhorn’s rat-catcher, Uncus immediately filled them in on the weaselly man known only as Cheese who had been employed by another house, yet unnamed. It was not until Uncus captured Blood and Cheese while they were fleeing the Moorslands that Uncus was finally trusted. Unfortunately the duo left Alanna dying, Lady Sharra maimed, and Kellin slain along with two guards and a bedmaid.
Those were not the only lives snuffed out. Ser Archer was found dead after he was sent to shadow Ser Floyd and “The Lady”. House Moorshead suspects his widow of the murder, and is keeping her under guard. It was later discovered that Ser Floyd was also killed the same night Archer died. The Blanetree knights suspect Alanna or Jonah of murdering Ser Floyd in revenge for Ser Archer’s death. A large bribe kept them from telling Edmure Tully of their suspicions, at least until the House can find evidence of their innocence.
Iris Dannett is becoming known around the Riverlands as ‘Gatehouse Iris’ due to her sordid history. She was first engaged to a wealthy merchant named Piper, raped by bandits, sold into prostitution, engaged to Orten, and finally engaged to Rhys. Drunken woolcloaks are overheard to claim, “She opens her portcullis for any highborn passing by!”
The Alchemist Valaera gives lessons that greatly improve Jonah’s literacy, and Valaera allows her to write with her left hand. Maester Sagan notices and supports the effort. He elucidates, “There’s no incorrect method to learn, only alternatives to conventional doctrine.”
With the consent of Lord Moorshead, Valaera and Veedle begin construction of a small underground alchemy lab with proper safety features, like a collapsible ceiling filled with sand capable of quickly dousing fires. The stonemason’s uncanny mastery sees its completion in record time, and he makes double-sure there are no important structures directly above the lab. The lab quickly pays for itself after the Valyrian woman sells a few fresh flasks of wildfire (at a discounted price, just to spite those old lechers back at the Guild).
After discussing it with his council, Lord Rhys decides to mount the heads of Blood and Cheese on spikes atop the walls of Blackhorn. The moorsmen dub him with the moniker “Ironrod” due to his draconian rule. Alanna watches day by day as crows peck out the eyes and the flesh sloughs off the skulls of the vile assassins.
Lord Rhys speaks at Kellin’s funeral, “My younger brother may not have made a good lord, but he never had the chance to prove otherwise. Nevertheless he didn’t deserve what happened to him. We’ve allowed our petty differences to weaken our house, leaving us vulnerable. From now on we will unite in our common goal: vengeance for my innocent brother. Together we will be strong and declare in one voice, ‘We will not be silently picked off without a fight! We will not go gently into that good night!’ Drink hearty, rams of black, and fill your bellies. For soon we carve open theirs!”
A second funeral follows Kellin’s, this one for Ser Archer. Ser Hallister speaks at Archer’s funeral. The nostalgic words are rare for the surly old master at arms. “Most of the moorsmen knew Ser Archer Lannister of Lannisport to be a trustworthy huntsman and exceptional bowman. He always kept the kitchen stocked with fresh game. But to a few of us he was something more. Ser Archer was knighted by the late Lord Nolan after saving his life in Robert’s Rebellion. He was denounced by his family and the church for wedding the bastard Iva Hill. This touched the heart of Lord Nolan, and he provided a place at Blackhorn for the couple. Archer married for love over position, and Nolan cherished him for it. For the few of us who truly knew him, he will be missed greatly.”
Lord Tullison sends a raven declining the wedding invitation, but he wishes happy nuptials and apologizes for not attending. He fears the tension between his house and the Estrens, who are neighbors to Blackhorn, would harm the air of civility expected at such an event.
Another declined invitation arrives. Lady Orlanna Mallister thanks you, but her lord husband and their son are going to compete in the Tourney of the Hand instead. Orlanna gives her deepest sympathies for the loss of Kellin. Arannett was looking forward to meeting him.