I did my best to keep Lady Sharra and Septon Vickon from sending you to the Piper trial, but in the end Rhys is lord and we all must obey. I can only hope the ten guards he sent with you are enough to keep you safe. I write to you from Castle Helmcrest. The circumstances to how I came to be here instead of attending your son’s wedding will be explained below. There is more urgent news that must be addressed first.
It pains my heavy heart to deliver this news to an already-grieving mother, but it’s a duty that must be done. Brianna has passed away as well. I’m so sorry. Her governess told us she claimed to have killed Moontea and several animals. We were unable to find any animal remains or confirm her hand in the death of the orphan boy, but we kept Bree’s room under guard to be safe. Shortly after, Lady Iris’s sister, the young Eilene, was found stabbed to death. Bree’s body lay beneath her window, holding the bloody knife. It looks as if Bree snuck through a secret passageway to Eilene’s room, killed her, and then lept to her death.
Rhys was able to keep Iris from calling off the wedding and returning home, since his sister died in the incident as well. Castle Blackhorn has become a sullen place of swallowed grief. Alas, Bree’s was not the only death since your absence.
HopToad the Fool made a poorly timed joke about Kellin’s death, which was immediately answered by Rhys sending Bahosek the Headsman to execute him. Rhys later explained to me in confidence that Cheese had told him something when they were alone. Cheese claimed there was a third betrayer in the house. Rhys and Uncus investigated secretly, since he thought the third traitor could’ve been any of us. I’m not sure of the evidence, but they decided that it was the fool since he had murdered the lords he previously worked for. This was all news to me. I’m shocked to find I know so very little about the vassals in my own house. Perhaps we should spend more time getting to know them before any new surprises pop up.
The fool was quickly replaced by a bulging-eyed man name Cicero. Uncus seems better company in comparison than this madman. Rhys took immediate distrust to the man, and Cicero responded by vanishing and sneaking around the castle until he gave himself up voluntarily. Whilst double-chained in the dungeon, Rhys interrogated him and discovered Cicero is from a house in the Vale made up of assassins. The best in Westeros, apparently. Rhys released and hired him. Let it never be claimed that Blackhorn is a dull place.
One of the house guard, Portho, fell from the parapets last night and died. This marks a dozen deaths in the past month, and the guards are getting superstitious. Some say it’s “the Ghost of Blackhorn.” The man had a confrontation with Jonah in Rhys’s Hall the day before.
Lady Mooton came forward to provide scant answers to the deaths of Ser Archer and Ser Floyd. The story about her sister was made up; Floyd was her business partner. She was unwilling to provide more information, claiming she would be killed if she did so. We’ve ordered her under guard, which is apparently just what she wanted to stay safe from whatever is after her.
Iris poisoned Jonah with Sweetsleep, and attempted to have her taken to Helmcrest after the death of Eilene. We were able to stop the plot before Jonah was taken very far. I’ve volunteered to stay at Dannett’s seat in my squire’s place until Blackhorn can be proven safe once more. I did this to ensure the success of the wedding, and keep the peace between our houses. I trust it won’t be very long.
Several other minor things you should be kept abreast of: We’re following up on a lead on Kellin’s murderers through Hedge-Maester Hamdan, and we should hear back from Oldtown soon. Due to the suspicions of Ser Hallister, Valaera has been placed under watch by Maester Sagan. The Queen’s protection that you made a deal for has been lifted in response to the death of her cousin Archer, and Bella Lannister has been expelled from Blackhorn. Iris has been sick since she got here; it’s suspected she’s been poisoned. Lord Tully has called his banners, fearing the force Tywin is raising to our south after his son was kidnapped. Rhys has raised an infantry force to answer — after the wedding we may be going to war. Valena Lugus has been hired as Chief Gaoler and will be watched by Uncus until she can be trusted. Our Animal Husbandry has been sabotaged, though I’m sure we’re able to stop it before it gets any worse. In his downtime, Master Veedle has taken the opportunity to reinforce the structures in Turney. His efforts give a defensive bonus to the hamlet if it’s attacked during war. With the death of Kellin, I’ve been named as Rhys’s heir until Iris bears his child.
Enclosed you’ll find a present from Jonah, which she bought at the capital last year. It’s a necklace to replace the seven-pointed star pendant that was broke the night Kellin was murdered. Jonah’s necklace has symbols of all the seven gods on it. I’m sure it is of little solace, but the girl is trying.
-Ser Merik Moorshead, Knight of the Ram and second son of Lord Jon the Ram.