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The following is a transcript of a play-by-forum game on RPGGeek.com. The playset used was The Burning Ice.

The players are:

Setup

Setup dice:

Die-white-1.gifDie-black-2.gifDie-white-3.gifDie-black-3.gifDie-black-3.gifDie-black-3.gifDie-black-3.gifDie-white-4.gifDie-white-5.gifDie-black-5.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif

David
Okay, well I'm going to take a 6 and say that there is an unforgotten grudge between you two.
Andrew
Excellent. I'm gonna snag one of the plentiful 3s, and establish a Crime relationship between myself and David.
Austin
I'll snag one of the 5s to specify the Unforgotten Grudge as a Loss of Inheritance. Andrew, given that you're involved through a crime, perhaps we're related because some botched plot of yours caused the disinheritance?
David & Andrew:
Relationship: Die-white-3.gif Crime -
Andrew & Austin:
Relationship: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-5.gif Unforgotten grudge - Loss of Inheritance
Austin & David:
David
Nice! Maybe Andrew bet the family fortune on some Ponzi scheme, or a shady investment. Maybe Austin stood to inherit a lot of money from Andrew, and now has to *gasp* learn a trade.
The only way this could be worse would be if the person Andrew colluded with was someone Austin trusted, someone he was close to...
Austin & David:
Relationship: Die-black-5.gif Romance -
Andrew
Eeeeheehee. Well, let's see...I think I'm gonna add in a sticky little plot element that makes this all so much more interesting....
Austin & David:
Relationship: Die-black-5.gifDie-white-6.gif Romance - Arranged Marriage
Austin
Well, I think a plain marriage is boring. A marriage that hinges on the hiding or revealing of a nasty dirty little secret might be more fun... whistle
Austin & David:
Relationship: Die-black-5.gifDie-white-6.gif Romance - Arranged Marriage
Object: Die-black-2.gif Untoward -
David
Yeah, this is a no-brainer:
Austin & David:
Relationship: Die-black-5.gifDie-white-6.gif Romance - Arranged Marriage
Object: Die-black-2.gifDie-black-3.gif Untoward - Bastard infant
David
Maybe "arranged marriage" could instead mean "forced marriage"? Or does the bastard belong to only one of us?
Austin
Or the marriage was arranged, but got sidetracked by somebody else's kid popping out. Maaaaaybe the infant has priority over Andrew for the Inheritance, and that's why he lost it?
David
Interesting. If Andrew is Austin's natural-born kid (i.e, acknowledged bastard), and Austin has a new bastard by me, then Andrew is still fine. But if Austin marries me, any child born trumps Andrew's claim to Austin's fortune.
Andrew
I'll have to have a look later, but I think this definitely helps solidify my picture of that Crime relationship...
David & Andrew:
Relationship: Die-white-3.gifDie-white-1.gif Crime - Blackmail
Andrew
That was easy.
Austin
David & Andrew:
Relationship: Die-white-3.gifDie-white-1.gif Crime - Blackmail
Location: Die-black-3.gif Risky -
Austin
The only thing that makes blackmail better is when it's in Pyke.
David
Andrew & Austin:
Relationship: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-5.gif Unforgotten grudge - Loss of Inheritance
Need: Die-white-4.gif To get respect -
Andrew
I'm gonna cement that location, and let the wildness fall into that juicy Need!
David & Andrew:
Relationship: Die-white-3.gifDie-white-1.gif Crime - Blackmail
Location: Die-black-3.gifDie-black-3.gif Risky - On a rickety bridge between two windswept islands
Austin
Andrew & Austin:
Relationship: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-5.gif Unforgotten grudge - Loss of Inheritance
Need: Die-white-4.gifDie-black-3.gif(6) To get respect - From your rivals
Austin
Well, it looks like that loss of inheritance has awoken the vultures, and they're circling already...
So going off of this, seems to me that Andrew and I are from the same family, and somehow my infant with David jeopardized his inheritance, and irked our family rivals. Perhaps we're Frey, Greyjoy, or one of the myriad of lesser northern families?
Andrew
Lesser House makes sense; perhaps David's an Iron Islander? Oh! If inheritance is patrilineal, my character's probably the daughter of Austin's character. The bastard child is a boy, and the arranged marriage would legitimize him as heir.
I'm trying to climb the ranks of influence, and blackmailing David's character (something to do with a visit I paid to the Iron Islands along with David's character) is how I'm going to gain the notice of my rivals, who scoff at my paltry ambitions.
Or maybe I'm being blackmailed so that I won't interfere with the marriage. But at the same time I know I need to get respect from my rivals, or I'll get eaten alive when I try politicking.
I definitely need to get my rivals' respect, because as the disinherited daughter, my former leverage threatens to vanish. Time to pull off something big.
Those're my reads/suggestions.
Austin
I like it! Perhaps I'm trying, as matriarch, to get respect from the rivals by having a male heir, and the last thing I want is my upstart daughter meddling and ruining everything.
David
I like the ideas so far. I wouldn't have expected Austin's character to be a woman, though: I think in a patrilineal society the offspring would tend to belong to the father's family. Even male, the kid wouldn't be any threat to Andrew's inheritance.
I think Austin is a widower with no male heir. Andrew is his daughter, either eldest or only. I like the idea of us all being Ironborn, because that supports a might-makes-right argument of inheritance, as with Asha Greyjoy. I am a woman from another house, promised to Austin in exchange for some alliance or what-have-you. Maybe I'm no older than Andrew, to increase the ick factor.
What I see happening in the first act is a struggle between Andrew and Austin to win the respect of the other Ironborn lords, and thus the throne. Austin is looking to get an heir born to reinforce his claim, and maybe isn't too picky about waiting until his wedding night. At some point Andrew realizes I'm pregnant, which works as blackmail material.
Andrew
I'm cool with Ironborn characters. David, your character might also be from the mainland, because nothing says fun fiasco like an outsider caught up in a different culture. XD
Another thought: maybe the child didn't actually come from the relationship, but from some dalliance the widower had with a non-noble? But the marriage is intended to legitimize the child, as the two of you can claim it as yours.
Which royally screws me out of the inheritance for a child that doesn't even have a birthright. (And that might be my blackmail material--that I knew the child's mother is no noble.)
Ah, and I double-like the idea that Austin's the one trying to net respect from rivals by begetting an heir other than me. More resentment for me!
Austin
Oooh, I like the idea that it's not even my marriage that begat the kid. I do think the respect should be two-way, where I'm trying to get it through a male heir, and you're trying to get it through successful inheritance.
Andrew
Oooh, I like the idea that it's not even my marriage that begat the kid. I do think the respect should be two-way, where I'm trying to get it through a male heir, and you're trying to get it through successful inheritance.
All the more vicious, because they're directly opposed to one another. I like this.
Do we have sufficient powder keg to commence?
David
Definitely sounds like we're almost ready to start, as soon as we get the basics squared away. I like the idea of the bastard not being born yet, of me being the mother and of Austin being the father as far as anyone knows.
I'm not clear on the logistics of how Austin marrying someone who's not the baby's mother would legitimize the kid -- or have I misunderstood something about what you're proposing?
Austin 
I think the idea was that I'm marrying David, who I knocked up, and that would trump Andrew's right to my inheritance as she's a girl, despite being firstborn. Add onto that that David knows some secret about Andrew (Perhaps that Andrew wasn't legitimate either, which would completely destroy any chance of a claim she might have), and I think it sounds like we're ready!
I suggest that we're from Noble houses in the Iron Islands. Perhaps Andrew and I are Blacktydes, and David is Botley, Harlaw, or Orkwood? I'll name myself Lord Erich of [Insert House Here].Definitely not a "real" lord beyond commanding a fairly small ship as captain, too much dicking around (Literally!) to be otherwise.
Andrew
Oh, my thought on that score--
If the mother was publicly known to be some non-noble, that wrecks the child's chances of being an heir. So the solution could be to arrange the marriage so that they can pretend that it's their child, sorta like how people generally thought Joffrey was the Baratheon heir.
Also, I like the idea of the blackmail falling against me. Just means I'll be all the more desperate to find a weapon to break up this marriage...
My vote's definitely Blacktyde for us as well. I'll come back here tonight, plot something out for my character--I think I want to play with the fact that...oooh.
See, apparently Blacktyde had Lord Baelor convert to the Seven due to a hostage situation. The blackmail could be that I've actually also converted to the Seven, but secretly. And I think we have it.
Austin
That would work. More elements are always better. Perhaps the bastard's mother is from a salt wife of mine, or someone else's salt wife?
Andrew
Oh, I say absolutely someone else's. The more problematic the situation the better!
Austin
Awesome. Let me make sure I've got this outlined right:
David is betrothed to me, and while we have a child, it's actually a bastard from one of my rival's salt wives. As a result, I'm trying to (secretly) get respect from the salt wife's husband, a rival, by legitimizing the bastard through marriage, as well as (publicly) gain respect from my rivals through a male-born heir.
I, Lord Erich, am a minor captain/lord, who apparently sleeps around a bit much, and am aiming to get my legitimized male heir in order to get respect, despite knowing full well that it would nuke any chances of respect or prestige my daughter might get when she comes of age here shortly(Maybe she was born from one of my salt wives, perhaps, or a wife who has since died?).
Andrew is my natural-born daughter who currently is the only heir I have, although I'm not real fond of it thanks to the fact it is a mockery as she is a woman, as well as it emasculates me to not have any sons. She is pissed at me for trying to connive to yank her claim away from her, and has also apparently found God(s). She can't reveal this as it would probably lead to a push for her to become a septa (And permanently revoke her claim to any kind of inheritance), and David knows about this devotion and is attempting to perhaps use it to keep Andrew from meddling?
Andrew
Totally sounds solid. (Also, I'm sure that having the faith of the Seven probably dampens her chances of political advancement and would make her look weak.)
Lots of shady dealings going on. I'm not even sure that David's Lady was really all that tied into this--quite possibly Lord Erich Blacktyde needed some noblewoman to serve as a legitimate mother, and there was enough material to fabricate a story around. David? Thoughts?
I'll take the name Slandi Blacktyde, the daughter who probably should not have taken a merchant trip to the greenlands. Her exposure to the faith of the Seven certainly couldn't have any good effect on her Ironborn nature.
David
Maerys Tawney is the youngest daughter of Lord Balon Tawney. House Tawney is looking to gain better access to ports on the island of Blacktyde, and a political marriage is just the thing for it.
I haven't decided yet exactly what Maerys' stake is in the whole affair, but I've got some nasty ideas.

Dramatis Personae

  • Lord Erich Blacktyde (Austin), a minor captain-lord, who apparently sleeps around a bit much
  • Slandi Blacktyde (Andrew), his natural-born daughter and heir to the Blacktyde throne
  • Maerys Tawney (David), the youngest daughter of Lord Balon Tawney
  • Lord Balon Tawney, a nobleman looking to gain better access to ports on the island of Blacktyde
  • Lord Boren Sparr, primary political rival of Lord Blacktyde, cuckolded by same
  • Ser Brynn, a pox-scarred suitor to Slandi
  • Ser Corad, a dark-haired suitor to Slandi
  • Quellon Tawney, brother of Maerys
  • Derren, a Septa
  • Saul Volmark, a servant of House Tawney
  • A priest of the Drowned God
  • A fool
  • Various Ironborn nobles, sailors and commoners

Act I

Act I Scene 1

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David establishes the scene:
Scene one takes place on a pier on Blacktyde. Lord Erich Blacktyde has come down from his keep to meet Lord Balon Tawney, and to meet his new bride-to-be for the first time. Slandi Blacktyde is present but (at least at first) hanging back with some other courtiers as Lord Blacktyde goes to the Tawney ship. Maerys Tawney is in the scene of course, but presently off-camera.
The stakes:
Maerys knows that Lord Blacktyde is showing off, proving to himself and others that he is enough of a man to net a pretty young wife. Maerys wants to establish that she is no salt wife, and no flimsy wetlander lady, but a strong ironborn woman worthy of respect from her household and her people.

Open on the sea, grey and choppy. Two longships are seen bobbing on the waves, their flag displaying a scourge of nettles on a white field. In the distance two more such ships are seen approaching the island of Blacktyde. A fifth ship has already landed; the shot closes in on it.

Two men with grey in their beards stand silently side by side on the pier, looking down at the water by the shore. On the ship several sailors stand, likewise looking silently down at the water. One coughs, bringing attention to the fact that there is no sound to be heard but the cry of gulls and the hiss of the sea. A slight splashing sound is heard, at occasional irregular intervals.

Above the pier a couple of dozen people are gathered, a mix of commoners and nobles but all Ironborn. Some wear the green and black of House Blacktyde. All look uncomfortable. Someone shuffles their feet. Another slight splash is heard, and a couple of the villagers flinch.

In the water by the pier a priest of the Drowned God is standing in waist-deep water. His arms are forearm-deep in the water in front of him, his hands on the shoulders of a young woman lying horizontally, completely submerged in the brine. Her hair flows about her face, her eyes flutter, and her blue-tinged lips are parted. Occasionally an arm or leg jerks out of the water, creating the splashing sounds heard earlier.

On the pier Lord Blacktyde is looking visibly worried. He looks over at Lord Tawney, whose face is dark and unreadable. On the ship one sailor whispers something to a second; the second leans over the railing to see the water better, then shrugs in answer. The people gathered on shore look at each other and mutter.

Back in the water the woman's leg jerks once more, then stops. After several seconds her eyes close. Then her hands rise slowly to her shoulders and gently take the priest's hands away. She sinks slightly, then stands up straight. She staggers slightly, takes a few steps, then retches. Brine and bile spew out onto the water and are washed away by the waves. She ignores it and continues up the rocks toward the shore, more sure-footed now.

The sodden woman makes her way onto the shore and stands there, shivering. She wears the leathers of a sailor, but around her neck and on her fingers the gleam of silver catches the weak sunshine. The wet leathers cling to her, revealing feminine curves beneath the utilitarian garb.

"I am Maerys of House Tawney." The young woman's shout breaks the hush abruptly, making several of the onlookers start. "I come to seal my betrothal to Lord Erich of House Blacktyde." She is shivering violently now, making her voice shake. "In accordance with the old ways I have braved the judgement of the Drowned God, and have not been found wanting. Will you accept this verdict, and take me into your House?" Maerys' eyes are bloodshot, her eyelids and lips still tinged blue and her teeth chattering, but she holds her head high, eyes fixed on Lord Blacktyde.

Lord Blacktyde bows, albeit stiffly and with a certain degree of unnecessary formality. Speaking clearly, his words echo slightly off of nearby rock overhangs. "I accept you into my house, with the blessings of the God Beneath The Waves. Let any who would disagree with this judgement drown, so that they might argue with He who accepted you."

As Blacktyde recites his piece, his eyes keep momentarily flashing to the silver on Maerys' neck and fingers, with his brow furrowing briefly. After the last of the words reflects from water-pummeled stone, Blacktyde slowly removes his own cloak, a very finely-spun wool garment bearing the repeated black and green of the house dyed onto it, and clasped with a scratched silver clasp chased with onyx and bearing the obvious gap where a gemstone in the shape of a leaping fish had been pried out.

Blacktyde gestures to an awaiting horse near the head of a crushed stone trail, a small yet sturdy-looking motte-and-bailey castle visible in the distance. The banners of House Blacktyde, as well as the smaller celebratory banners of House Tawney, can be seen streaming from poles jutting up from the mossy dark stone crenelations.

Slandi hisses, drawing a black-and-green cloak around herself. She has watched the proceedings with a feigned disinterest, looking closely as Maerys sputtered and twitched beneath the waters. Then, of course, she came up and out, dripping wet and ready for the ceremony. Too much to hope that the priests' rituals would solve things. My own hands will have to execute matters, then. Whatever that entails.

She listens carefully to the words of the ceremony. Technicality that fouls it all up? No, it's not as though I paid that much attention to the priests. This is the pivotal moment--from here on out, the inheritance is up for grabs.

"The marriage was certainly swiftly-set. Seems like they had some messy business to clean up," she murmurs in the midst of the crowd, just loud enough for people to pick up on.

Blacktyde shoots Slandi a glare, before replying in a conversational tone that is nevertheless loud enough for the crowd to hear clearly. "Well, we can't blame the noble house of Tawny for having a dutiful and loving daughter. A shame the same cannot be said for our own house, my dearest daughter?"

Turning from Slandi, Blacktyde helps Maerys onto her horse, and then easily mounts his own despite his years, shooting Slandi back a glance over his shoulder and jesting, "Slandi, the daughter of House Tawney has had a long journey. I'm sure you'll be glad to lend up your room for her use while she's here?"

Andrew: I'm gonna actually grab a Die-white-6.gif for you right now, David; let's start things off well for ya.

Slandi feels the eyes of everyone passing over her, certainly not giving her much regard. Everyone seems to be far more interested in the couple at hand. Gods curse my hasty tongue.

She bites back the sharpest reply that jumps to mind, watching the both of them ride on.

Blacktyde smiles slightly to himself, although the smile fades into a furrow of concern hidden by the hood of his cloak. I'll have to watch for Slandi interfering later. She's not the type to take saltwater in a wound like this lightly.

Slandi mounts her own horse for the ride back to the keep and Maerys edges her horse a little closer to Slandi's. It is evident that the two are close in age; it is difficult to tell which might be older. Maerys leans over and quietly says, "I thank you for the use of your chambers, Slandi. And for the stillness of your tongue. After all, if I am to be your mother I shall expect a daughter's respect."

Maerys smiles coldly and trots up to ride beside Lord Blacktyde, leaving Slandi fuming wordlessly in her saddle.

Music swells. Cue opening credits.

David: the Die-white-6.gif goes to Austin, for taking my harsh cold opening (no pun intended) and rolling with it.

Act I Scene 2

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gif
Andrew: Y'know...I think I want to see myself get put on the spot. I'll choose to Resolve my first scene.
Austin: Alright. My suggestion for the scene would be something where Slandi is at some sort of feast for the betrothed, either that night or the following morning (And so a morning in which she wasn't sleeping in her own bed even).
David: I think this scene should have a bit of exposition to tell the audience about the succession issue. How about if the scene is between Blacktyde, Tawney and Slandi as they sit at the high table at that night's feast. I figure Blacktyde would have Maerys on his left and Tawney on his right. Then for symmetry's sake Slandi is to Tawney's right. While Maerys is being entertained by tumblers and welcomed by the court I'll play Tawney, who seems to take it for granted that his grandson will be the heir to Blacktyde. Slandi is not happy about this, and her objective in this scene is to be taken seriously as a claimant to the seat.

Open on musicians, jugglers and dancers. A knife thrower skewers four small pumpkins in mid-air, each of which lands on a different plate at the high table and draws laughter and applause from three of the four sitting there. Lord Erich Blacktyde and Lord Balon Tawney sit at the center two places, with Maerys Tawney at Lord Blacktyde's left. Sitting at Lord Tawney's right and glowering, Slandi Blacktyde is the only one who didn't laugh out loud, but even she let a slight smile escape.

A fool approaches the high table and, after getting a nod of permission from Blacktyde, draws Maerys to her feet and begins to loudly explain to the room the terms of the next performance. "Ladies, Gentlemen and Ironborn! You see in my hand here twelve identical wooden sticks, but for the coloured stripes at one end. I will now ask you, m'dear, to choose one of them without letting me know which..."

Cut to Blacktyde, Tawney and Slandi. Tawney chuckles at the antics of the performers and speaks in his gravelly voice: "Erich, you've made an old man happy. I don't think I've seen Maerys laugh like this since... well, since midsummer. It's been too long that we've sat on opposite sides of the table, old friend." Lord Tawney accepts a refill of wine from a passing servant and hoists it high, but says only loud enough for the Blacktyde to hear, "Here's to old friends, and new family. Ha! I suppose I will soon be your father, Erich!"

Erich Blacktyde inclines his head with a smile and toasts as well, although the smile fades slightly when he sees Slandi's somewhat dour expression to Lord Tawney's side. He leans towards her, and says "Come now, daughter, this is a happy day. Smile, and you might have a man interested in you as well."

He gestures around broadly to the rest of the hall, where the nobles and knights are seated, and more than a few occasionally shoot a glance towards the unbetrothed noble daughter sitting at the head table. "Seven hells, who knows? If you're prompt, you might get a child stirring in you before the midwinter feast, and give me a proper grandson to dote upon."

There is a swell of chuckling from the nobles within earshot, moreso from those sworn to House Blacktyde. Lord Blacktyde's preference for a male heir is a common point of contention and discussion, although the pox-scarred Ser Brynn and dark-haired Ser Corad both harden their gazes. They both seek Slandi Blacktyde as a wife, and neither appreciates the idea of Lord Blacktyde's new bride producing an heir that would null any claim their own marriage with Slandi might create.

Balon Tawney frowns, and grumbles into his wine, "The way this long autumn is looking, midwinter may see your daughter as grey as we are now." Looking up at Slandi, though, his smile returns. "Come now, granddaughter. Is there any man who has caught your eye? Perhaps you and I should marry, then I might be my own grandfather-in-law!" At this Ser Brynn and Ser Corad scowl in unison, but the increased chuckling from the two lords makes it clear that it was not said in earnest.

"Maybe I'd consider it, Lord Tawney, if I thought you capable of earning it," Slandi slips back, moving a slight smirk onto her face. Calm and cool, and the touch of insult.

Well, the rebuke brings a moment of silence from the entire hall. That's something. Now what if...I wonder, what if... "So it seems there are those who are eager to see me married off. As I am the eldest of the Blacktyde line, it seems only fitting that this privilege be earned. So allow me to set forth the conditions." There. I've got one chance to found myself solidly. Let me give them a visage of confidence and power.

"We are Ironborn, so let my eye be earned by the iron price. The man who wishes to earn my consideration will bring me a prize worthy of my stature and lineage. In one month's time, I will see fit to evaluate those who undertake these conditions."

And now, the quiet before the crash.

Andrew: I think I'll grab myself a Die-white-6.gif with my resolution, let's bleed those white dice!

Erich raises his eyebrows, visibly impressed at the bold claim to the assembled court. However, behind the pleasant gaze he is fuming. If she gets a damned runt in her before Tawney has my "heir," Slandi will be sure to leave me nothing but a godsforsaken sandbar to call my island and driftwood to call my fleet.

He gets to his feet, raising a goblet for a toast. "May the best man win, and may the Drowned God take the whelps not worthy of being the best!" he shouts, to general cheering and applause, before taking his seat again. His gaze noticed several older lords and captains who had seemed eager at Slandi's proposal had become reserved after his toast reminded them why the iron price was never taken lightly. Well, at least not all of them have naught but a sword arm and a cock with which to subsist on. Better to forgo the marlin for the tuna than to be dragged into the watery halls. he mused, sipping his mulled wine.

At Slandi's insult Lord Tawney's eyebrows jump up his forehead, and his mouth opens to reply angrily. Then his Ironborn sensibilities win out over his pride, and an appreciative smirk settles on his craggy features. This girl... no, this woman has a strong will. Stronger than her father, perhaps.

Seeing the reaction, Slandi smiles slightly, sitting back. She spares a slight glance over at her father, and then looks in Maerys' direction. I wonder what she thought of all that.

Andrew: I'll give my Die-white-6.gif to Austin for introducing the element of the would-be suitors. That's actually what gave me the idea to take the scene in this direction.

Act I Scene 3

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Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Austin: I'll choose to Resolve my scene, so go ahead and set it up as you guys see fit.
Andrew: How about this: Erich stumbles across the Septon who secretly converted Slandi; he'd come to see how she was progressing, and to provide some theological instruction.
Stake: will Erich wrest the truth from the septon and find out that his daughter no longer serves the Drowned God?
David: I'm thinking it might be time to bring in the Untoward Object. Maybe Erich is feeling rattled by Slandi's overtures, and starts plotting to gain the upper hand. This scene could be him trying to convince Maerys to go along with his plan to pass off a bastard child as theirs, and the scene's conflict could be over how that interaction goes.
Andrew: I like that even better.
David Leaman: So I think probably Erich and Maerys are the only characters in this scene, right? We have:
Conflict: will Erich convince Maerys to falsely claim his bastard as their child?

In the morning after the wedding feast, Slandi's actions still weigh some on Lord Erich's mind. He stands at the window, looking out, feeling the salty air against his face. Maerys sits up on the bed, watching him, worried--whatever is bothering Erich, it's certainly troubling him strongly.

"My lord, this is my first day as a married woman, and my first day as the Lady of Blacktyde, to boot. Will you take me out today to show me this island of ours?" Maerys' attempt to distract Erich from his musing fails, and she tries a different approach. "What troubles you, my lord? I hope you are not struck by such a melancholy every morning."

Erich sighs, and turns to face Maerys, hesitation in his eyes for a moment before they become his normal expressionless steel-grey. "I... Maerys, I have tidings regarding our heir."

She looks puzzled, as they have not consummated the marriage yet. Lord Blacktyde notes the confusion on her face, and in a heavy voice says "I already have a bastard that will inherit my position as heir."

Maerys makes a shocked noise of confusion and distress, before Erich goes on to say "He will be our child, make no mistake of that, and he is of my blood. This natural-born child has quickened and will be born inside of three months. As part of an agreement with... other parties... he will be adopted and raised by us, and we shall publicly declare him to be ours and ours alone."

Erich looks at Maerys' face as recognition and understanding dawn, and he leans forward for her answer to this unexpected news.

Maerys' jaw works as she tries to formulate a response to this surprise. "And I am to pretend now that I am three months short of a birth? Half your court saw me drenched to the bone yesterday; they know I am not with child. How do you expect me to support this foolishness?

"And why? What reason could you have to want to play this farce? I am not barren, so far as I or anyone anyone knows. Do you value this bastard of yours so much that you would put it ahead of any child you and I might get? Or its mother? I don't normally have a jealous nature, but do you like me so poorly that you would prefer I raise another woman's whelp than our own?"

As Maerys speaks Erich's expression only gets harder and colder, until she finally allows herself to believe the truth behind his proclamation. "And how about," she says through her teeth, "the heir you already have?" Erich's eyes flash darkly and Maerys continues, gaining in fervour. "I see. I have now struck at the truth of this. You are in a petty little feud with your petty little daughter. You want to supplant that piratical bint of yours before she decides to take your throne as plunder."

Maerys dresses absently, her mind calculating and her eyes fixed on her new husband. "You fear her so much you can't even wait long enough to get a son on me. Is that why you were in such a hurry to get my father's assent? He doesn't know your true plans, of course..." Her voice trails off.

"Well then, my dear husband, what do I stand to gain from this? You certainly can't pull this off without my collaboration. What's in it for me?"

Andrew: Y'know, given the way the scene is playing out--I think I'm gonna hand out Die-black-6.gif for this scene. Erich's probably gonna have to make some huge promises to get Maerys to play along.

Erich narrows his eyes. "What's in it for you is that one of my primary rival for this region of the Iron Islands, Lord Sparr, will tithe us a not-unappreciable sum of dragons every year, as well as holding off from the reaving and destruction he would rain upon our heads if knowledge of his salt wife's straying were to become known to the court. This way he can be content in the knowledge that his blood is my heir, the court will be content in our marriage and its fruition in the form of our 'son,' and we can be content in the gold in our pockets and our heads on our shoulders. Understood?"

Maerys dissatisfied expression remains, but the terse nod she gives is interpreted by Lord Blacktyde as consent to the scheme.

"Good," he says as he releases his breath through gritted teeth. "Now, Sparr's wife will be smuggled here shortly before she is due to birth our child. She will raise it in secret until such a time as you can "birth" the child yourself. Maester Saltburn is also in our confidence, and has arranged for the tanner to craft a false belly for you, capable of being stuffed with sand over the coming months. The gods are fickle with their blessing of quickening seed, and I would not dare to allow my insolent spawn of a daughter even one additional hour with which to quicken herself and take my house from me."

The snort of derision from Maerys upon the mention of her birthing the half-year-old child made Erich turn on his heel. "It will work. No-one looks to closely at a babe, especially one covered in birthing blood, and we can always keep the child isolated and away from the gaze of the other houses for a year or so, long enough for his size and age to be unnoticeable. Beyond that they would only have baseless rumors, and the Drowned God take those unbelievers. It has to work."

Maerys says nothing beyond the tightening of her mouth, but Erich takes her silence as agreement. "Check with Maester Saltburn after the wedding, and he will help you affix the leather belly. Do not stray from wearing it, even for a single day, or it will likely mean all of our heads."

Austin: I'll award the die to David, as Maerys is almost as stuck in this as Erich is at this point.

Act I Scene 4

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
David: I think I'd like to resolve. Go ahead and set something up for Maerys to struggle with.
Austin: I'm thinking it might be time to bring in Slandi's newfound faith. If Maerys sees Slandi isn't a follower of the Drowned God, perhaps it might introduce a point where Slandi has to bargain with Maerys not to reveal the information, and possibly hinting to her that she 'knows' Maerys is being married in such a rush because she has Erich's bastard in her belly already.
Andrew: I'm thinking she stumbles upon Slandi finishing her meeting with the Septon or Septa who covertly came to further her education in the ways of the Seven.
David: Just a suggestion, since I'm resolving: perhaps Slandi has a drylander comrade from her travels who is secretly a Sept(a|on). Perhaps her crew and everyone else assumes this is a lover or just a friend, but their private meetings are more heretical in nature.
Austin: I like it.

A Swinging Bridge, The Next Day

Slandi braces herself against the waves, taking a deep breath of the salt wind. She looks farther down the bridge, where a poorly-disguised Septa clings to the ropes, pale and shallowly breathing.

"I'm sorry," Slandi says, "I guess this was a poor place for our lesson, anyhow. I thought that maybe, it being a more secluded place--well."

Derren the Septa shakes her head, looking back towards Slandi, trying to muster up the will and breath and nerve to say something. "Unfortunately--so."

Slandi sighs. "Well, I guess the moral instruction can take place elsewhere." She shrugs, pulling her dark cloak closer around herself, and moves closer to Derren, offering a hand.

Derren decides to cling to her, instead, to Slandi's chagrin. Such a typical drylander. This is the price I pay, I suppose, for finding a faith a little less unsettling.

Unfortunately for Slandi, they're not as isolated as she had planned. Maerys is carefully walking along the bridges, when she comes across the somewhat-disguised Septa and the Blacktyde.

Maerys pauses before one swaying bridge, her foot frozen in the process of stepping out onto the salt-crusted wooden planks. She draws her cloak about her and withdraws to one of the immense stone pylons that support the bridge. Maerys had seen illustrations in Maester Saltburn's books of the pylons from when they had been built, and so knew that they once held bold carvings of maritime warriors. Generations of wind and sea spray have worn these columns smooth, transforming their surfaces into abstract curves and swells bearing no hint of the original design. s though those warriors had disappeared beneath the sea, leaving only these waves.

Peeking around the column, Maerys can see Slandi and Derren quite clearly, although the howl of the sea drowns out most of their words. She peers at the empty bridge ahead of her, and the one beyond that where Derren's shivering back is visible as she clings to Slandi. If I can get to the next pylons I should be able to hear what they are saying. But how to get there without Slandi seeing me?

Derren shivers, looking at the crashing thunder of the waves below, and her heart skips a beat as the salt-slicked planks cause her foot to slip an inch as she shifts her weight. "M'lady, we should probably start with the recitation of the Song of the Seven. I'll start us off, to rekindle your memory: The Father's face is stern and strong, he sits and judges right from wrong..."

The singing is low even after Slandi begins to sing along, but between lulls in the waves against the stony cliffs, Maerys can make out snatches of notes that, while recognizable, are never sung within the halls of the Krakens. Her suspicions are confirmed when the women she had taken to be a salt wife of one of the various captains pulls out a small leatherbound book, with a flash of a golden star visible for a mere moment on the cover.

Maerys strains to hear more of the women's song and subsequent conversation, but is stymied by wind and distance. Then, as if in answer to some unspoken prayer, she finds her opportunity.

After the devotional song is completed Derren takes Slandi's hands between her own. Slandi kneels to receive the benediction, putting the Septa squarely between her and Maerys and blocking her view of the eavesdropper. Maerys dashes out across the swinging bridge, trying to move as quickly as possible without either making a noise that would alert Slandi to her presence or slipping on the salty slats and plunging into the frigid autumn sea.

After her mad dash Maerys presses herself against one of the support pylons, holding her breath and listening for any sign that she had been found out. She does not dare put her head out, but can hear clearly the end of the Septa's blessing, and the scrape of Slandi's boots as she rises. Maerys forces her breathing under control and listens carefully.

As she suspected, she could hear the benediction of the Father and the Crone, spoken in the clear and unfaltering voice of those intimately familiar with the faith of the Seven. There are enough responses from Slandi that it is apparent she is no stranger to these prayers either. The septa mutters some final prayer and anoints Slandi's head with a drop of holy oil from a small vial secreted in some arcane pocket.

The oil is abruptly washed away from the spray of the waves and wind, and as the septa turns to carefully clamber back across the bridge towards the support pylons, Maerys ducks back out of sight, unseen and secluding herself in an an alcove that once held some statue of a king, captain, or god, but now holds nothing but mold and deep shadows to let Slandi and the Septa pass.

David: I'll take a Die-white-6.gif here.

Maerys waits out on the bridge until she is sure the blasphemous pair must be gone, then waits for another slow count to a hundred. Then she walks back to the keep, her body shivering from the cold sea spray but her mind on fire with possibilities.

What to do with this new intelligence? No worshipper of the Seven would ever be accepted as heir to Blacktyde... unless she revealed her faith only after ascending to her seat.

But how to reveal this heresy? My word against Slandi's won't be worth much; it is too easy for her to claim some jealousy on my part. Maerys' lips part in a feral grin, made no less vicious by her chattering teeth. But that Septa, on the other hand... I wager she will break like a twig if pressed in just the right place.

Maerys arrives at the keep, accepting a cup of hot spiced wine from one of the servants. She eyes the man, obviously not ironborn. "You were captured from the dry lands and indentured, were you not?" The man nods, only a faint sourness to his expression. "And you are of the faith of the Seven?" The man nods again, more cautiously. "Well. I have some questions about your practices... and about your Septas."

Close on Maerys sitting the servant down at a side-table and taking the seat opposite him.

David: I'll give the Die-white-6.gif to Andrew/Slandi for giving Maerys such a good setup.

Act I Scene 5

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Andrew: Okay, I think I'd like to pull an Establish here. Slandi has already had a suitor come to her, craving approval for the riches he brings. This meager suitor's petty promises aren't nearly so important as Ser Brynn's approach and proclamations, though...
Stake: Slandi talks Brynn into attempting an impossible task, a situation which will demonstrate her influence and independence.

The Courtyard of Keep Blacktyde

Slandi whistles a tune, dropping the bracelets one by one back into the sack. Before her, on a single knee, is a burly bearded Ironborn captain, his clothing petty and ragged.

"It's all been done for you, Lady Blacktyde," he says. "Ran down a merchant headed to their 'King's Landing', fetched plenty of valuables off it."

Slandi finishes, pulls the sack shut, and throws it over the man's head. "Keep your trinkets. You call that an iron price? Child's play." She pauses. Strong, fearsome, influential. "You do not even deserve to kneel on this ground. Get out."

Cowed, the man turns, and runs, gathering the sack. If that's how he normally carries himself, no wonder he's so desperate to gain position.

As she turns, she sees a familiar face--the pox-scarred Ser Brynn, entering into the courtyard. He will not be so easily dismissed.

"What news do you bring me, Ser Brynn?" she asks, genuinely curious.

Ser Brynn briefly takes a knee, before rising to face Slandi. "M'lady, I bring no news, but rather promises." Upon seeing Slandi's raised eyebrow, a grin breaks across his mottled face, and he pulls a scroll from within his vest. Rolling it out, a long list of names is visible, although Slandi barely recognizes most of them.

"Sade Surfar...Colleen Cauthen...that Kinkel girl...Darcel Gostlin, Fabian Castells? These are all mere servants of the castle. What need do I have of more servants?" In reply, Brynn pulls out his dagger slowly, and begins tapping down the list, nicking the paper at each name.

"Sade owes my father ten silver stags, a sum that he will never be able to make up before his children are grown enough to inherit his debt. Colleen has snuck out of her service three different times to go lay in the brothels at Blackdock. Jeanne Kinkel has taken a bowl of soup and table scraps to her imprisoned brother, 'Captain' Kinkel, every day since your father imprisoned him for theft of that ship. Darcel was caught fucking one of the horses he tends to in the stables, and Fabian has just gotten word of his brother's impending execution for murder of a squire on my own island..."

Slandi's expression began to shift to realization, as Brynn got to the end of the list. "...And finally we reach Goodmother Selma Wuerth, whos' brother has been in exile in Braavos, supplied with a reasonable monthly stipend from my father's vault.. Now, who would be the one to deliver Maerys Tawney's eventual heir?"

In a hushed voice of excitement, Slandi says "Goodmother Wuerth, as she does for all births in the castle walls." Brynn nods, grinning with uneven teeth. "And who, if not the servants or the Goodmother, would be in a position to see the child being born should an...accident...occur during the delivery?"

There is silence, but Slandi's eyes say it all. Ser Brynn rolls the scroll back up, and stands before her. "This is my gift. A promise of blood, bought with the iron price. Is it sufficient?"

"A moment," Slandi says, pausing. "I have to consider this at length. You offer me something potent, but also a great deal of coordination. To add to that, you seem to have neatly excluded yourself from the preparations, preferring to exact your price by subverting subordinates."

She examines him again. "This would show you to be a man who skulks about, afraid to make his point clearly, wouldn't it? As a husband, I would almost expect you to be distant, underhanded, and deceitful. I trust that you do not think this judgement unfair."

Looking him squarely in the eye, she says, "I want a man who is direct, honest, and open about his intentions. Whatever price of blood you exact, it had better be done with your own hand in it. I trust that will not be a problem for you, if you be man enough."

Brynn smiles, but for a moment the smile is tight and forced, before warmth returns to it. "I will dash the child's head against the cobbles myself after Goodmother Wuerth gives Merys milk of the poppy for the pain. None will be present who would recognize me, including Lord Blacktyde's wife in her drugged stupor."

Slandi's brow furrows, and she voices her concern. "Milk of the poppy is a rare treatment for childbirth, and will require a nursemaid for the child for several days until the milk's effects have well and truly faded. Would it not arouse suspicion if it was given needlessly?"

The twinkle from his eyes gone and replaced with unyielding stone, Brynn states flatly "I am no fool. I will assure your birthright by my own hand and the child's death, but I would not do so if it meant my execution on the morn. Maerys will be given the milk, enough so she sleeps and will not even know I was present."

He nods towards the sack of valuables from the previous suitor. "Or would you rather wed a fool who would bring you baubles bought with the gold price? Such a man would slay the child without precautions, and leave you a disgraced widow before you could establish your claim."

"Good Ser," Slandi replies, "the risk is yours to assess. If you deem it too dangerous to your personal safety, that is your choice. Though you do make the fair point--you cannot deliver an iron price to me if you are dead." She pauses.

"Take what precautions as you must to avoid detection. Know that, should you be caught, I will not grieve over the outcome. I would not wish a man who was so clumsy in the execution of his intention. Your survival is none of my concern, and all of yours. I have only that one condition: the act must be carried out by your hand alone. Receive such help as you must, but I cannot abide the thought of a man who does not value me enough to incur such a risk."

If he fails, it may surely draw the attention of all on the island. And what better image to present, than the woman who could inspire such recklessness as this?

She sets Brynn a hard look. "Do you have the courage to put your life on the line for the woman whom you value so?"

Probably ripe for one of you to provide Resolution?

Ser Brynn nods, and bows deeply. "I do, m'lady. Your right to the Blacktyde holdings is secure, and I swear this by my sword and my life."

He then straightens up, takes a swig from a hip flask, and then gives Slandi a grin before leaving the room. As the oaken door thumps shut, the only noise that can be heard is his fading footsteps, and the pounding of tide on stony cliffs as Slandi smiles to herself.

Austin: It looks like we both agree it's a Die-black-6.gif, as Slandi is relying on too many factors for this to work, and is so hasty to get this scheme in motion that she's missing the flaws of it.
Plus, y'know, the "heir" won't be born to the Goodmother who knows almost everyone in the castle, as she might blab. And if Erich and Maerys use a Tawney or outsider midwife, which they probably will, Slandi and Brynn's scheme is sunk.
Andrew: I agree. This just keeps getting better. It's one thing if Slandi gets a would-be suitor caught trying to do something reckless; she can always disown Brynn. But for him to utterly fail? That suits her the worst.

As Slandi turns back towards the keep, she ponders. Can I gain any further ground from this? If I can contrive for Brynn to be surely caught after he kills the child, I'm rid of him and my reputation grows...

She pauses for a moment. "Terribly sorry, Mother," she murmurs. "It's in my blood. Certain strains of compassion just don't come naturally to me." No...this is a task for the Stranger, it is.

Andrew: I'm definitely handing that Die-black-6.gif back to Austin, for that wonderful escalation.

Act I Scene 6

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: I'll Set the scene, with Erich encountering Lord Sparr, probably immediately after the feast and Slandi's betrothal proposal, and before I speak to Maerys about the plot privately.
Conflict: Can Erich sufficiently reassure Lord Sparr that the adopted bastard will gain legitimacy over Blacktyde's name and holdings before Slandi quickens and births a rival?

Lord Blacktyde's Solar

Erich strode into the room, slamming aside the door and causing the goblets to jump on the table from the impact. The two guards at the door eye each other, but say nothing as Erich fumes and pours himself a cup of strong Dornish red, throwing it back quickly and following it with another before closing the doors.

He heavily takes a seat, Slandi's self-satisfied smirk flitting through his mind from the feast. She's going to ruin me, that damned upstart. I should have left her mother on a damned raft in some godforsaken barren patch of ocean rather than let her give me this doom upon my House. As he poured himself a third glass, there was a series of booming thumps coming from the door, and a voice bellowed "Erich? Erich Blacktyde, this is Sparr. Let me in, you damned cockless excuse for a boned trout or I swear on the Drowned God I will break down your door and fuck you with the splinters!"

There was the soft noise of steel on leather, presumably from the guards beginning to draw their swords, but it was cut short when Sparr could be heard saying "Try that and I will be sure to flay every scrap of skin from your witless body with that same sword before the sun rises tomorrow." Erich sighed, and got to his feet before unbarring the door, as Lord Sparr barged inside.

Boren Sparr is tall and sinewy, topping most men by a head. He towers over the pair of guards, no weapons in his hands but his fists clenched. Even outnumbering him, the two wither beneath his glare and are visibly relieved when the door opens to take him away from them.

Sparr slams the door on the youths and turns his scarred glare on Blacktyde. With one long-fingered hand he shoves the shorter man backward, then turns and bars the door. He crosses the distance to Erich in two long strides and shoves him again.

"Did you think I wouldn't find out, you witless son of a fishmonger?" Sparr shoves Erich again, knocking him into an overstuffed armchair. He pulls a slender knife from his belt and pounces on Erich, one hand pinning him to the chair and the other pressing the tip of the knife against the crotch-seam of his trousers. Sparr's face glares at Blacktyde's from inches away. One nostril flares, the other sealed closed by an old scar that gives him a permanent sneer. "I ought to geld you right here, you pig-fucker. Let's see you cosy up to your new child-wife once she finds I've given you a cunt."

Erich swallows audibly, and clears his voice before speaking, his voice quavering for an instant before another noisy throat clearing strengthens it. "Sparr, I assure you my upstart demon of a daughter will never be able to choke down on enough of her own pride to get one of those men to tumble the cobwebs out of her womb. The bastard will be born and his legitimacy assured before Slandi can even spread her legs."

Sparr grunts, and his knife does not waver, but Erich takes the grunt as some form of affirmation and continues. "I appreciate that you are wroth, Sparr, and rightly so, but bringing your fleet into port from where you've been hiding them behind Gullstone Point will do nothing but spill needless blood that will not aid the ascension of your salt wife's child. And if my men should take it into their heads to take vengeance for fallen kinsmen by shortening Maerys by a lovely head, you'll be left with a bastard and no chance of any scrap of my holdings."

Sparr lets up a degree of the pressure of the knife on Erich's breechclothes, but the narrowing of his eyes betray his displeasure at having the location of his vanguard fleet discussed.

Boren's scarred mouth twists into an even more crooked sneer. "Maybe I don't have a lot of faith in your assurances, Erich. Maybe it would suit me better to take more direct action. If your upstart demon of a daughter is the problem why wouldn't I seek to solve the problem at the source?"

Erich's face freezes in confusion, and Boren laughs. "No, Erich, I'm not talking about killing her. That would just remove her challenge to your position, and you would be free to take your time in getting your own whelp on the Tawney girl. But what if I put a child in Slandi? Where would it leave you if I took her as my salt wife?"

Boren takes a step back, leaving Erich to gape at him from the chair. "Now, I don't particularly want to do that. But I will, if it's the best way to securing my line. So convince me. Convince me that it's in my best interests to go along with your scheming ---" he spits out the word, as if it tastes foul "--- instead of just taking what I deserve."

David: Austin gets a Die-black-6.gif for this scene. Sparr will ultimately go along with Blacktyde's plan (as already established in the narration), but Blacktyde will probably have to promise a lot more than he would like in exchange.
Austin: Excellent. I was hoping this would go badly for Erich, but this is an angle he definitely hadn't considered.

Erich stumbles for a moment, still in shock over the idea of being completely removed from the plot for the bastard and his inheritance. "My-Um, my lord Sparr, I can increase the tithe you'd be receiving, perhaps by as much as another fifth, as well as promise one in every ten men trained as a sailor or marine before summer fades into autumn to be joined into your service as well."

Sparr's glare does not abate, and Erich falters before continuing, becoming somewhat desperate. "Perhaps a third of House Blacktyde's share in plunder from reavings? We're waiting out the current storm before sailing on a handful of villages on the coast. Merchants from Oldtown to King's Landing stop there and spend lavishly on the comforts of their ports and women, so their wealth will not be unappreciable."

"We would have the chests of silver and silks at your feet within a fortnight, a month at the maximum. Would this be acceptable?" Lord Blacktyde is obviously stressed, a vein visible on the side of his head.

Lord Sparr is silent for a few moments, staring into Blacktyde's eyes as if trying to see through them into his innermost thoughts. "Well, and that's a start. I'll also be posting a contingent of my own men here. Some of them will go along on each of your reavings, so nobody can say I am not paying the iron price for my dues." He bares his teeth in a feral smile and takes a step toward Blacktyde. "And some of them will stay in your city and in your keep, so nobody can say you cheated on your end of our agreement."

Sparr steps back toward the door. Before lifting the bar, he raises a finger in mock admonishment. "One last thing, Erich. Don't try to weasel out of this. You're getting the heir you want; be thankful I don't extract more of a price from you," he says, emphasizing the work "extract" with a crotch-level twist of his knife.

He sheathes the blade and opens the door. His face grim, he stalks past the guards and away.

Lord Blacktyde slumps in his chair with a low moan, and an expression of dull shock crosses it as he realizes the full extent of what he frantically promised to Lord Sparr. Well, perhaps it will be I, and not Slandi, who is the ruin of this great House, he muses as he slowly pours himself another goblet of wine, his hands shaking.

Austin: I'm gonna give my Die-black-6.gif to Slandi/Andrew, since if anything goes wrong with the marriage, she'll be in the hot seat right along with good ol' dad.

Tilt

Austin: Personally, I'm loving the idea of Slandi actively messing with an event that won't actually happen. It looks like if everything goes according to plan, Slandi will be left in the lurdh. If Slandi manages to somehow kill the "chld," Erich is screwed. And if the bastard is somehow prevented from being born and inheriting Blacktyde's name and holdings, then Slandi and Erich both get screwed by Sparr (One via marriage, the other with pointy blades)
David: Yes, our protagonists are digging themselves pretty deep.
Andrew: Awesome halfway point. Gives a lot of perspective on Erich's earlier scene.
Slandi not only has a would-be agent working on things, she's also pondering screwing him over so that she doesn't have to follow through with her half of the bargain. And I think she's enjoying her apparent power a little too much. I see her stepping forward to take a more active role in things.
I definitely think we're due to see Slandi's plans overreach and cause big problems. And I'm wondering if Slandi might not have a pang of guilt or two, calling the septa back to ease her conscience.
Should probably see what the Tilt holds, too.
David: Here's my roll: Die-black-2.gif = 2 black
Andrew: Well, time for a roll! I have Die-black-1.gifDie-white-5.gif. That's a result of White 4.
Austin: Here goes: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-2.gif. That's a White 10.
David: And I'll roll for the tilt randomness, getting: Die-black-1.gifDie-white-2.gifDie-white-4.gifDie-white-5.gifDie-black-5.gifDie-black-6.gif
I'll start off the tilt by taking the Die-black-6.gif for "failure".
Austin: I'll take the Die-black-1.gif for "Mayhem" for the second tilt.
David: Well, I have to take the Die-white-4.gif for "Magnificent self-destruction". And of course that could apply to any of our protagonists.
Austin: Alright. Well, as much as I love the tilt "Something precious is on fire," that doesn't really fit well for the Iron Islands. I'll go with Die-black-5.gif for "You thought something was taken care of, but it wasn't" for the rich, endless possibilities that holds for all parties.
Tilt 1: Die-black-6.gifDie-black-5.gif Failure - You thought something was taken care of, but it wasn't
Tilt 2: Die-black-1.gifDie-white-4.gif Mayhem - Magnificent self-destruction
David: Before we launch into Act II, let's make sure we're all on the same page as far as what the various plots are:

Erich's plot:

Some time ago, Erich slept with one of Lord Sparr's salt wives, and got her pregnant. In order to spare Sparr the shame of raising Blacktyde's bastard, Blacktyde will take the child as his own and pretend Maerys is the mother. He hopes this will secure his claim to his seat.

The problems with this:

  • Maerys has to pretend to be pregnant, and maintain the farce for a whole fake term.
  • On top of this, the timing is off. Either Maerys will have to pretend to give birth early, or she will have to pretend to have given birth to a child who is a couple of months old.
  • This scheme also hinges on the cooperation of various people, notably the midwife and the maester, as well as Lord Sparr himself.
  • The deal with Sparr has severely hurt Blacktyde, financially and politically.

Slandi's plot:

Slandi believes Erich will try to impregnate Maerys, and that the child will take her place as heir. She has tasked Brynn to kill the kid immediately after it is born. In exchange she will marry Brynn.

The problems with this:

  • Brynn is unreliable; he is probably perfectly willing to turn his cloak if a better opportunity presents itself.
  • Several other men were turned down for this task; they may interfere as a sort of revenge.
  • Little or no thought has been put toward keeping the killing from being traced back to Slandi.
  • And, of course, there's the small detail that Maerys won't actually be pregnant. This could be quite colourfully exploited if Slandi and/or Brynn get impatient and don't want to wait until the end of the term.

Maerys' plot:

This hasn't been made as explicit, but I think it will come out in Act II. Perhaps Maerys is making a play for the Isle of Blacktyde, either on her own behalf or on behalf of the Tawneys. Either way, she has been carefully collecting dirt on Erich and Slandi -- and probably others -- and I think she's going to have something big to play once she shows her hand.

Act II

Act II Scene 1

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: I would like to establish.
Scene: Maerys is sneaking out to meet her brother and to give him some information she has pilfered. She has been sneaking intelligence out to her father for months, to help some later invasion or other scheme.
Conflict: The Tawneys are getting impatient with the slow pace of their espionage, and want to pressure Maerys to take more risk and gather more information. Will she stand her ground or agree to endanger herself for her family's sake?

It is six months later. Open on shuffling sounds in darkness, accompanied by laboured but controlled breathing and an occasional soft impact. After some time the sounds of movement stop, but the breathing remains. A dim coal is uncovered, and blown to life. In the glow of the coal Maerys' face is visible, glistening slightly with sweat. She holds some tinder to the coal and blows again to light it, then uses the tinder to light a smoky torch.

Now it can be seen that Maerys is standing at the foot of a narrow set of stairs carved roughly into a natural stone wall. The stone ceiling is low enough that the flames of her torch lick it when she raises her arm. This looks like an underground cavern connected to the sea, with a damp walkway abutting a still dark tongue of water.

Maerys is wrapped in a dark-coloured cloak, and is visibly pregnant. At least, she looks it. She lifts her belly briefly, adjusting where it sits, and the barest movement of straps at her shoulders, under her clothes indicates that this is a ruse. Maerys is a little out of breath from making her way down the treacherous stairs in the dark, but peers into the darkness and follows the walkway along the water.

She walks around a bend and stops, waiting. Then another light flares up a short distance away. A lantern is seen in a boat rocking gently in the water. Two dark figures are in the boat, one at the oars and the other holding the lantern. When the second sees Maerys he hands the lantern off to his companion and holds his arms out to her.

Maerys hurries over to the boat and embraces the man, who bears a striking resemblance to Lord Balon Tawney. "Quellon," she breathes, and carefully snuffs her torch. "This is a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect you to be the one to meet me. How are you? How is Father?"

Quellon looks at her with a hint of displeasure, although this quickly fades to mild annoyance. "As well as any father could be expected when his only daughter has sent no word through bird nor man to his ears. Have you gone mute or afflicted with hand tremors, or is Blacktyde jumping at the shadows such that you cannot duck his gaze?"

Maerys purses her lips for a moment, as they eye each other after Quellon and the other passenger step ashore, before they both break and grin, and embrace warmly. Quellon is a bit stiff, and breaks the embrace, the broad smile fading to a slightly worried expression.

"Maerys, jesting aside we know little beyond what the rest of the court knows. Are you safe?" He spares a momentary glance at her swollen belly. "I see Blacktyde's seed is not idle, at least."

The other passenger clears their throat pointedly, and Quellon stumbles over his words for a moment before saying "M'lady, your lord father was worried for your safety, so he has sent a leal man from one of our allies to watch over you."

The lantern was lifted to reveal the face of a man Maerys had never seen before, lined and tired as if worn through a dozen lifetimes. His eyes betrayed his age, though, as they were green and sharp, glancing Maerys over and sweeping across the tunnel, missing nothing. He bowed deeply, saying "M'lady Tawney. I am Saul Volmark, of Harlaw. Your father has helped shield me from crimes my kinsmen have unjustly accused me of, and in return I have sworn to protect and watch over you. Lord Tawney has arranged for me to become a servant amongst the men of this castle, three days hence, under the name Saul Netley."

He stands upright, his hair falling about his ears in dirty blond-and-grey ringlets. As he does, Maerys can see he carries several braces of throwing knives in the pockets of his vestcoat.

Maerys looks the stranger up and down. "Well met, Master Volmark. Although I am named Blacktyde now, by the laws of men and in the eyes of the Drowned God." She turns back to Quellon. "I assume Father sent along some note, or instructions on how he wants me to make use of this man's presence?"

Quellon gives a slight deferential bow, but says nothing more than "He is as much your servant as your father's, and will serve you just as your other servants and couriers. Your father merely wants to ensure that should one of Lord Blacktyde's men lay hands on you, they shall eat that hand before the day ends."

His face hardens, and he sets his shoulders; all signs Maerys recognizes as portents of having to deliver ill news. "However, your father is not deaf to the threat that Blacktyde's bitch Slandi represents, especially after her claims at your wedding feast."

Quellon pulls a small pouch from his vest, and opens the drawstrings carefully. "Here is a handful of Cuckold's Cloaks. The mushrooms resemble those used for cooking here on the islands, and the taste is not dissimilar enough to be noted in a stew or roast. Be aware not to eat of the dish you hide them in, as it will damage your child and shrivel your womb. If Slandi should eat of them, it will be as moon tea for any child she yet bears, and will make her barren."

He looks at Maerys with a sorrowful yet firm gaze. "This task is ill-suited for Saul, for the lord's cooks are keen-eyed and would be alerted immediately if a servant that is a stranger to her were to be seen. You must find someone for this task that will not raise the Blacktyde whore's suspicions, or do it yourself however you must. This is your father's gift, to secure your place in Blacktyde's court against his upstart bitch."

Maerys takes the pouch from Quellon, pulls the drawstrings tight and knots them together. "There is no shortage of rogues and mercenaries here; I will certainly find someone able to do the deed.

"As a matter of fact," she continues, as she stows the pouch and turns to Volmark, "let that be your first task. Sniff out the malcontents and the idiots in the court, and report back to me."

Maerys begins to turn away but stops, then takes a step toward Volmark. Tapping her chin thoughtfully with a forefinger, she scrutinizes the older man. "Master Volmark, tell me true: what gods do you give honour to, if any?"

Volmark gives a formal bow, and says in his near-drawl "Why, the Drowned God of course, m'lady. One day I shall rejoin my wife and son in his halls beneath the waves."

Quellon glances nervously up the dark steps Maerys came down, and says "M'lady, the light of day will soon reveal me if I do not part ways soon. I wish you the best of luck and safety, and promise that I shall assist in all ways that I can from my position in your father's court." With that, he duck back aboard the skiff, undocks a pair of oars for Volmark to grab as he comes aboard, and casts off. For a few moments, the only noise is the crash of waves, the creak of oars in their oarlocks, and Volmark's grunts of exertion and splashes from oars dropping into the dark waters.

Quellon lifts the lantern in one final gesture of greeting, a smile on his old sorrow-worn face, before he quenches the light, leaving the flickering of Maerys' torch as the only light in the cavern once again.

Austin: We decided to give you a Die-white-6.gif, since this is definitely a positive thing to have more blades protecting you, as well having a backup plan against Slandi and her attempt to pre-empt your position.

Maerys watches the boat row away, her lips pursed. She kneels and dips her fingers into the briny water, and lifts them to her lips, whispering a benediction.

"Yes, this will suit me well," she says quietly. She soaks a cloth in the water and carries it toward the steps leading up into darkness. "Welcome to Blacktyde, Master Volmark. The blood of the Blacktydes has gone thin, and you will help me take this island and rename it Tawney. All will fall into place as soon as I find you a suitable malcontent."

On the final line Maerys reaches the steps and uses the wet cloth to douse her torch. On "suitable malcontent," fade to black and cut smoothly to Ser Brynn.

Act II Scene 2

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Andrew: I would like to resolve this time
David: So perhaps this scene is where Ser Brynn is trying to act against Maerys. I'm picturing a conversation on a balcony or a mezzanine between Slandi and her Septa friend, while Brynn interacts with the kitchen folk below. Perhaps the conflict of the scene revolves around whether the Septa will find out, or something like it.
Austin: Sounds awesome to me! I like the idea of Slandi trying to hide Brynn's actions, and she'll be doubly in trouble should Brynn say something incriminating while the septa can hear.
Andrew: That's freaking hilarious.
David: What's the primary conflict? Slandi trying to keep her plans secret from the Septa? Or perhaps it's a given that the Septa is going to find out, and the conflict is Slandi trying to justify it somehow? This could even turn into a "call off the hit man" scene if the Septa is convincing enough.
Austin: Maybe the septa has picked what Slandi has realized is an exceptionally poor location for a private chat, and Slandi is trying to convince the septa to come with her to a different location before the septa sees/hears Brynn plotting with the kitchen people
Andrew: Somewhere between them? Irregardless of the method, I think the outcome hinges around whether the Septa will pose a problem in the future. Whether that means keeping her away from Brynn's plotting or justifying herself, the point is the same.

Cut smoothly to Ser Brynn. He is standing in the kitchens of the keep, leaning his shoulder comfortably on a wall. He is smiling amiably, but his eyes keep darting around. He keeps one arm pressed against his side as if it were hurt, but it becomes obvious he is using it to hold something inside his vest, against his ribs. He reaches inside with the other hand, and we catch a glimpse of a small, tightly-closed pouch before he shifts it higher into his armpit and presses his elbow to his side to keep it there. He pulls his hand free quickly as a kitchen-maid approaches and turns his pitted smile on her.

Pull back to an upper mezzanine. The kitchen's ceiling is high, and there are several arched openings near the tops of the walls. These open onto a walkway that runs along the perimeter of the room, creating a sort of partial balcony all around. Smoke gathers near the ceiling, making visibility hazy, but it is possible to make out a stairway on the opposite wall. A few corridors off the walkway lead further into the keep.

Slandi stands by one opening. Her hands, on the railing, are lit by the torches and fires below, but her face is in shadow. She smirks as Brynn leans in to flirt with the kitchen maid, but her eyes are distant. She jumps at a sudden hand on her shoulder, but relaxes somewhat when she sees that it is only Derren.

Derren leans close, to murmur towards the visibly annoyed Slandi. "M'lady, you've been neglecting your prayers. To do so in such excess would suggest that you mock the Seven in your impiety. The last time you received the blessings of the Seven you had gone nearly four full days without it, and this time nearly the full seven days have elapsed. Please, m'lady, do not tarry further and risk their ire and misfortune upon yourself."

While Slandi knows that the regular blessings is a fairly obscure idiosyncrasy, the nearly pleading expression on Derren's face makes it clear that this is a tradition the septa holds very dearly to.

"Oh--" The sudden topic is not something Slandi was expecting. Of all the things for Derren to ask about, and now! "Oh, absolutely. I certainly do not mean to slight them, it's just, the days have been so busy, with Maerys and helping to work out arrangements...you understand. And it's so very difficult to find the time, in the Iron Islands."

She carefully edges to the side, trying to rotate Derren so that Ser Brynn is out of view. Derren would notice, then ask about him in some sort of misguided spirit of romanticism. And who knows what Brynn would do then, not knowing who was watching--

She puts a smile on her face. "Perhaps..." She puts her hand over Derren's. "Perhaps you can lead me in it, later today. I'm sure I can find the time. I would not want to offend the Seven."

And it can't hurt to buy some favor, not the least with the Stranger.

Derren nodded, her face still worried but visibly assuaged by Slandi's words. She turned away from her to leave, but stopped short, noticing Ser Brynn with his hand under the armpit of his vest.

Then, a second later, she continues to stride towards the door, and through the doorway to the stairs. She had moved out of Slandi's sight before she could see if the septa had gone upwards to the rest of the castle proper, or down the stairs to the kitchen.

"Derren? Derren?" Of all the things--she's going to find out. Or be found out. Or both!

Slandi makes all haste for the stairs down to the kitchen, trying to gather her composure from beneath her rising blood. I do not need this problem. I do not need it at all. Brynn, why did you have to be such a clumsy oaf so soon? She reaches the bottom of the stairs, and casts a swift glance to see if, in fact, Derren has shown up in the kitchen. Far, far too soon. If Derren starts poking around now--and Derren, of all people! She's going to believe him, when he shifts the blame to me!

Andrew: I suspect this is a prime time to pick my die. I think.... {{bd6} it is!

"Fucking mother--" is all she says, before she realizes she spoke out loud. Naturally, Derren took the stairs down to the kitchen.

Derren is already almost across the room when Slandi rounds the base of the stairs, walking towards Ser Brynn as he attempts to casually avoid her, with little success. She is within earshot when Derren reaches him, saying with an expression of honest concern "Ser Brynn, is something the matter? You're holding your arm so tightly I'd thought you might have broken it. Here, let me-"

She reaches towards his arm, in an attempt to feel it for damage, when he jerks away and in doing so the leather pouch drops to the ground. Derren stops short, and notices the pouch, and crouches to grab it.

"I--ah--"

Slandi spends a moment in complete bewilderment, and then decides that the best option is to vacate the premises immediately. No, no, no, no! I have to think things over, figure out a new plan--

Her exit is neither subtle nor graceful. It certainly isn't discreet. Brynn and Derren stare as she bursts out of the room.

Andrew: And there we go! I think we can use a later scene, however unexpectedly, to introduce the fallout between Derren and Brynn, whenever that shows up. This might even be a turning point for Brynn. Either way, Slandi is all out of sorts and in trouble. Derren is quickly becoming a liability.

Act II Scene 3

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: I'd like to Resolve for my scene as well.
Also, I purposefully left the discovery of the actual contents of the leather pouch out. Derren might have seen it, might have seen herbs she did not recognize, or might not have picked up the pouch at all as Brynn swiped it up, whatever fits the narrative best.
David: How about if Slandi approaches Erich to convince him that Maerys is up to no good?
Andrew: I like the idea of a scene between Slandi and Erich. My thought: Erich is trying to judge whether he can entrust Slandi with the secret of his plot, because he's try ing to get as many trusted people on his side of the plot as he can. The conflict of the scene? Whether he entrusts her with knowledge of his plan.
David: How about if, instead of Slandi coming to tell Erich that Maerys is plotting, Slandi instead accuses Erich of trying to poison her. That ups the stakes between those two. And perhaps the conflict of the scene is whether Erich realizes what's actually going on: that Maerys has been taking things into her own hands. As for whether Slandi realizes... well, we'll see.
Andrew: Absolutely! I'm 100% onboard with this. It sparks tensions off of Slandi (who is really starting to look like a loose cannon, at this point), and keeps kicking things along. And it simplifies things and shifts the focus directly to Erich.
David: depending on how things go Slandi might want to bring in Brynn or someone else as a witness. Or perhaps she's brought someone along as a witness to this conversation.
Also, looking at our tilt, it occurs to me that this scene might be a good one to lay the groundwork for some magnificent self-destruction.
Andrew: Oh...I think I know exactly what witness to bring in.

Lord Blacktyde's Solar

Lord Erich has had much on his mind, namely the problem with Sparr. He stands in the midst of the room, thinking. That's he hears Slandi, barging past the guards and banging on the door.

"Father! I must speak with you!"

When Erich unbars the door, Slandi is standing there, dragging an unfamiliar figure behind her. He recognizes her as the tutor, of sorts, that Slandi brought from the softer lands...the tutor in stewardship, if he recalls correctly. Slandi is livid, her hair a mess, as she flings herself forward, embracing her father in tears.

"Father...I was almost murdered!"

Erich's face becomes a mask of confusion, going slightly pale as he tries to recall if he ordered or implied to one of his liege men that they should just off Slandi and be done with it. Recalling nothing of that regard, he hugs his daughter close, saying "My daughter, tell me who. Tell me who did this and I shall have my men bring me his body."

"It was Derren, here, who saved me, and she can bear witness to it. She found Ser Brynn trying to poison my food!" Slandi waited a moment to see the reaction. "I think he was acting on someone's orders."

Worry. Fear. Anger. Cloak me, Stranger, in these empty emotions.

Erich's brow furrows in genuine confusion, and then it shifts to worry. He is concerned that Lord Sparr has decided to impose his own assurances of the bastard's inheritance, but does not bother to inform Slandi that his concern is for himself only.

"My daughter, tell me who it is, and I shall confront them with my blade in hand and spill his lifeblood upon the rocks of the island if need be." And if the man should be Lord Sparr, I shall sheath my sword and apologize for my daughter's insolence and refusal to perish.

"I...am afraid to speak the name, father."

Slandi waits, uncertain of the best way to couch her accusation. Everything hangs upon this.

Derren raises a hand to briefly caress Slandi's back, a compassionate gesture out of place enough in the Iron Isles that Erich is momentarily jolted from his musings. She disappears to a side-table and returns with a goblet of wine, which she offers to Slandi.

"Milady," she says, "there is no safer place for you to speak the truth than in the solar of your Lord Father. These halls have seen many a law created, many a judgement passed, and if any place in the world is sanctified to the telling of truths, it is the chambers of just rulers. No evil will befall you for speaking the truth before just witnesses. Truth will out, and in the hearts of men take root, and blossom..." She cuts the sentence off there, chiding herself for almost completing the homily as she usually did, with "under the eyes of the Gods." Her eyes dart guiltily at Erich to see if he had noticed her slip. She had never dared ask what punishment the followers of the Drowned God meted out for blasphemy, but if one tenth of what she had heard from other septas were true...

Slandi looks back at Derren. "I think it's Maerys, Father."

This is it. So much hinges on this moment. If Erich listens to me, then his power will be dampened tenfold. Whatever plans Maerys has will be shambled away. I will be secure in my place.

Erich's confusion about the odd phrase Derren had cut off is washed away by Slandi's assertion. Genuine confusion washes across his face, and he stumbles over his thoughts for a moment before saying "I shall speak with her immediately. If your claim is true, then the betrayal may have merely been at her hand, or it may be the machinations of her father, Lord Tawney, seeking to meddle in the affairs of our House."

He turns to look at Slandi, his eyes softening for a moment as he says "In any case, I am glad you are safe. Stay with...Derren, for the time being, until we get to the root of whoever tried to poison you."

As Slandi nods and ducks out of the room with the septa, Erich turns, striding over to the open window, fuming with anger. Damnation, Slandi is an upstart, but not one to make accusations lightly or without evidence. If Maerys has gotten some wild idea in her head to upend our plans, all could be lost in the span of hours.

Then he paused, and turned, musing to stand before the blazing hearth. No; she bent to my will with little fuss, so there's every chance that she would be just as malleable to her father's whims as well, may the Drowned God take both the Tawney fools.

Austin: And with that, I'll take a Die-black-6.gif. Maerys' actions are absolutely terrible for Erich, doubly so now that he is caught between ensuring that his daughter is not slain by his wife (Because the stealth-septa is aware of the attack and would likely spread the news if she did die) but also making sure he doesn't harm Maerys' and their "unborn child."
Andrew: ...yep. This is officially gonna end in tears and blood. Probably more blood than tears.:
I also have the suspicion that it won't be terribly hard to find material for Maerys' scene...I wonder what she'll do when she finds out what Slandi is accusing her of.

Act II Scene 4

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif Die-black-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
David: This time I think I want to resolve. So far Maerys hasn't had a lot in the way of setbacks; let's see if this is when she finally starts to fall.
Austin: I'm thinking a direct confrontation between Maerys and Ser Brynn over the attempted "poisoning." What do you think Andrew?
Andrew: I think the scene should definitely explain what happened between Maerys and Brynn, and why Brynn might have been in support of her now--then we just need the injection of awful potential. Let's say...maybe she had specific leverage over Brynn? Thoughts?
Austin: Perhaps she used her feminine wiles on Brynn three or four months back...
...and no longer has to use quite so large of a false pregnant belly?
Andrew: Oh, shoot. I think there's the makings of something potentially big here. How would it fit together, in a concise way?
Austin: Maerys was thinking Brynn was trying to kill her, so she seduced and screwed him to keep him happy with her. Now her pregnancy is beginning to show, and she's discussing with Brynn of what she should do, as Erich will discover her pregnancy when she begins the "labor" of the fake pregnancy. Erich wouldn't have impregnated her specifically because he knows how many ways it would screw his plan for the bastard's inheritance sideways.
David: Holy shit, I've been sitting on an awesome scene for just this sort of thing, looking for a chance to spring it. I know I'm resolving, but can the scene please be somewhere very public? Perhaps something like a grand feast celebrating the impending "birth" of the Blacktyde heir?
Andrew: I'm on it!

Location: the Blacktyde Dining Hall

It is another magnificent feast, thrown to celebrate the impending birth. Erich and Maerys are at the head, Slandi seated by Erich, taking a careful sip. The past few months have been...interesting. The fuss with Maerys back then was not as large as she had hoped, and Slandi can't pin down why. I set everything up. Surely, he ought to have thrown Maerys out. What did I miss? And why hasn't Brynn caused merry havoc with everything yet?

Brynn himself is at one of the lower tables, near an exit, glancing up from time to time at the head table.

Erich shifted in his high-backed wood seat, and his gaze drifted across the rowdy hall until it settled on Slandi. She had been quieter than Erich had expected as of late, and he had two of his men assigned to follow her at a distance ever since her allegations against Maerys.

Maerys had proclaimed ignorance to Slandi's claims, and further questioning had yielded little, but Erich was no fool as to let the plan unravel at this point. His sworn man Burboros, a refugee from across the sea, was seated near and down from his wife. Perhaps she had noticed his shadowing of her footsteps, perhaps not.

In any case, Slandi had not mentioned any further attacks, and so Erich believed that the liberal seasoning of his men around his wife and daughter had been an effective balm for the problem.

He was idly amused as Maerys swatted another hand that sought to reach for her distended belly. She had been fussy throughout their farce, wisely keeping prodding and cooing hands away from her leather harness, but as of late she had even refused to let Erich see her without a gown on. Doubtlessly the straps had worn her skin or some similar superficial disfiguration, but Erich was content to let her have her fussings.

Maerys eyed the people queueing with their gifts. One by one they approached, murmured practised compliments, handed their gift to her attendant and shuffled away. This line would be far longer if I were in my father's hall, she thought, and let out a faint sigh.

From the nearest table Volmark glanced up briefly at the sound of the sigh, then resumed his scrutiny of the gift-bearers. No, his name is Burboros now, Maerys thought, at least, until he chooses yet another one. The man had worked hard at being Maerys' eyes and ears over the past months, and had shown his loyalty to her and her father several times over. He had even somehow convinced Lord Erich that he was loyal to the Blacktydes, and been assigned to shadow Maerys. My mother always told me: if your husband cannot be handsome, let him at least be stupid.

As the line to greet and bless Maerys begins to subside, a few goblets begin being clanked on worn oaken tables, and calls for Erich to speak a few words can be heard above the murmurs of the assembled guests. Erich stands stiffly, raising a placating hand before clearing his throat.

He began to speak of his hopes for his son as a Reaver of the Iron Islands, but as he speaks his eyes sweep the crowd, seeking out strangers and those unknown to him. Lord Sparr had been less than pleased lately, likely due to poor fishing seasons and slim opportunities for his captains to plunder leaving Erich with a disappointingly-small pile of gold with which to attempt to placate Sparr.

After sending him a raven with the news about not being able to fully meet the latest tithe, Sparr had responded with a messenger on foot, who gleefully stepped ashore only to deliver Erich a hand-carved wooden box, dripping water from one corner. Lifting the lid had revealed the bloated corpse of his raven, pockmarked with the visible signs of fish from where it had been suspended in the open sea to rot away before being sent. Since then, Erich had seen the shadow of Sparr's knife in every corner, and had doubled the guard around his personal chambers. Some noted his new behaviors and hushed words were said when they thought him out of earshot, muttering about if he had lost the nerve to lead.

The Drowned God take them all, he thought as he carefully sipped from his goblet. I'd rather they think me as mad as a Targaryen then suffer the same fate as that damned bird. He couldn't see anyone who he didn't immediately know, but even then he remained alert; No doubt Sparr had supporters amongst his liegemen, as most of them were loyal to his grandfather and father, who were feared reavers and warlords in their day. Erich knew that amongst the sworn men he commanded little respect aside from the legacy of his forefathers, and he had no doubt that a weighty bag of Stags tossed onto the table before them would have them spilling blood over who got to gut Lord Blacktyde first.

Maerys watched her husband as he spoke. His beady eyes, red-rimmed from lack of sleep, darted around the room nervously. Looking, no doubt, for conspirators in every shadow. Her lips tightened into a predatory smile. Not once in the time we have been married did he guess that he had anything to fear from his own wife.

Suddenly Maerys was conscious of Slandi looking at her with unconcealed curiosity. Maerys forced her smile to relax into a more neutral expression and looked away. God drown me, I need to better keep my thoughts off my face. What did Slandi find in my expression? Surely I haven't let anything slip? She's no idiot, that one, though she hides it well.

Meanwhile, Erich was coming to the end of his speech. "And now," he said, "a few words from my lovely wife." Maerys smiled sweetly and with a quick glance at Slandi stood up to tell those gathered how happy she was at being their Lady, and how proud she was to be carrying the heir to their throne.

As Maerys went to sit, Erich's eyes suddenly widened in alarm as he noticed a small dusting of sand near her feet where she had stood. Making as if to leave for the lavatory, he leaned in for a moment when he pulled parallel with her, muttering "Dearest wife, you appear to have sprung a leak."

When her gaze dropped and noted the sand with a gasp of alarm, Erich hissed "Meet me in my solar in a few minutes. We can't risk it ripping further, not now of all times." He ignored her look of curiosity at the last part of the statement as he stood, belched loudly, and made a show of moving towards the privy. As soon as he rounded the corner, however, he made a right turn instead and with long strides reached his solar, slamming the door shut and carefully locking both the old, rusted iron latch as well as the newer brass one he had fitted last week.

As the feast went on, Slandi's mind turned back to the promise she had made at another feast. In one month's time, she had said, she would select the hand of the man who had claimed her with the iron price. It was Derren, of all people, who finally objected to it and talked me out of it. What possessed me to follow her word? Has the faith of the Seven made me that weak? Now--what's done cannot be undone.

Her thoughts moved between that and Maerys, whatever that woman's plans were. She sat, restless, until--

Father? What are you whispering to her about? And why have you left?

She turned to Maerys, saying, "Good...mother...have you somehow offended my venerable father? He seems to be in a great hurry."

Maerys managed a tight smile in Slandi's direction. "He is not offended, daughter, merely... feeling some discomfort. I will see to him." Maerys stood and made to follow Erich. In the corner of her eye she saw Volmark stand to follow her, evidently still playing the part of her shadow Burboros.

As she made her way to Erich's solar Maerys fumed quietly. The stitching on her leather belly was supposed to hold, although she supposed it was stretched to its limit now that the farce was in its ninth month. She felt along the seam until she found the hole, smaller than the tip of her smallest finger but large enough to let out a thin sprinkling of sand. She pinched it closed and stopped at the solar door.

Maerys tried the door and found it locked. She knocked, but at a sound behind her she turned, sharp words for her husband on her tongue. Instead of Erich's face, though, she saw the pox-scarred Ser Brynn. He flashed blackened teeth in a brief smile, and then steel glinted in his hand.

David: I'm taking a Die-black-6.gif right now

The world seemed to slow down for Maerys. Ser Brynn put his knife through her leather belly, sinking it a few inches in before tearing it out. Maerys sagged against the cold wooden door to Erich's solar. Brynn's smile wilted as he saw sand pouring out of her instead of blood. Volmark's throwing dagger caught Brynn in the side of the neck. Brynn crumpled and Volmark disappeared into the darkness. The door opened and Maerys fell backwards into Erich's arms. Erich's face changed from puzzlement to shock as he saw the sand, now red and sticky with blood welling from her abdomen.

The last of the sand poured out of the false belly to mingle on the floor with Maerys' blood and Brynn's. Erich looked at her still-rounded belly with shock and confusion before yelling for the guards and for Maester Saltburn.

Act II Scene 5

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Andrew: I should definitely establish. Dang you David for taking the last black die!

The week before the great feast.

Slandi took a deep breath, considering everything carefully. There was to be the feast celebrating Maerys' impending child. Lord Erich had heard her accusations of the woman, but hadn't done anything about it...yet. May the Stranger curse my father's impotence. There was also the matter of her promised hand in marriage...but no, surely had been settled. Instead, she looked back at the man whose arm she had caught.

"Brynn," she said. "How pleasant to see you again. Paying a visit to the Lord and Lady, were we?"

Brynn scowled but didn't make any move to extract his arm from hers. "Don't mock me, Slandi. This ain't over yet." He fell into step with Slandi, their footsteps echoing hollowly down the grand corridor of Blacktyde Keep.

"I've...noticed you here and there some. After you screwed everything five ways sideways, I thought that was it for you. I really was disappointed that you handled things so poorly with the poisoning. Running into a poor uninvolved woman like that? How clumsy of you." She looked Brynn directly in the eyes. "I haven't forgotten my word, you know. But I'll need you to show me that you're more than a bumbling buffoon. I need you to show me your worth."

Brynn's breath quickened, his eyes at once angry and hungry. He squared his shoulders and stepped toward Slandi, driving her back. After a couple of steps her back hit the wall, and he leaned into her until she could feel his breath on her lips. He smiled slightly, showing his teeth. "Buffoon, am I? I can think of a few ways to... show you my worth. Hm, Little Miss Blacktyde?" Brynn's hand came up to catch a loose lock of Slandi's hair.

Slandi caught her breath, and felt herself shaking a little. You bastard. Don't you even think about it. She reached with her hand, up between his legs, and squeezed hard, digging nails in. "I didn't know you wanted to become a eunuch, Brynn. You should've told me earlier before I promised to marry you."

Brynn yelped like a kicked dog. He scrambled backward, out of Slandi's death-grip, and spent a few moments catching his breath before speaking. "Some husband I'll make if you rip my nuts off, you crazy bint." He coughed, spat, and tried to stand up straight.

"So what do you have in mind? I can tell you're plotting something: your eyes are open."

"You know that feast this week? I want you to raise hell. Kill Maerys, kill the child, kill Lord Erich. Get out alive, and you will be the Lord of this place, I swear. And if you should consider telling anyone--I'm watching."

She raised her hand, flexing her fingers as though they were a claw.

Brynn's eyes narrowed. "You just don't give a shit any more, is that it? 'Fuck it, kill them all'? That's no way to do it. If I draw steel in the banquet hall your father's men'll be on me before I have time to shit meself. Maybe I'll have time to kill Maerys, maybe even her and Erich both. But I'm not getting out of there alive.

"If you want me to do this, then I'll do it in a way that doesn't get my throat cut. After all, there's not much good in a title if I don't live to enjoy it."

"Since you're so clever, why don't you come up with your own method, then? All I care about is the results."

Slandi crossed her arms, frowning.

David: Andrew gets a Die-white-6.gif because Slandi is getting Brynn's help one way or another.

Brynn absently scratched his cheek. "Maerys can easily be be ambushed when she takes one of her frequent trips to the privy. Getting poison into your father's wine is the tough part. Now listen close..."

(camera pans back, away from Brynn and Slandi conspiring)

(Camera pans out of doorway, to reveal Derren behind the edge of the doorway, clearly within earshot of Brynn and Slandi's conversation and with a horrified expression on her face as the plotting continues)

Her hands shaking, eyes wet with tears of fear and worry, Derren clasped the silver seven-pointed star on the thin chain around her neck, heedless of its exposure as she whispered. "Father, Mother, Crone, grant me strength and wisdom to guide Slandi away from her path. She acts from greed and the rage of a slighted child; Let me lead her from this darkness, and into-"

Her voice cuts off with a gasp of surprise as Slandi and Brynn end their conversation and Slandi begins walking towards the doorway. Derren quickly slips the star back under her clothing, wipes her eyes with her grubby sleeve, and comes to Slandi with a broad smile. Slandi, her mind aflame with concerns of Maerys and her father, pays her little heed as the septa begins walking alongside her.

"M'lady, perhaps we may speak later this evening? There is a matter of great urgency which I wish to speak with you about..."

As her voice continues, fading down the hall. Brynn remains where he stood. His eyes narrowing, he gently caresses the hilt of the knife on his belt, watching as the septa with Slandi move out of his sight, before turning to spear an apple from a table with the knife and take a juicy bite out of it.

Act II Scene 6

Current dice pool: Die-white-6.gif
David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Austin: I'll Resolve for my final scene.
David: How about another flashback scene, a couple of months before the banquet. Erich's bastard is born disfigured with Greyscale, making it an unsuitable heir. The conflict of the scene, then, can be whether Erich finds a new way of securing an heir.
Andrew: I like it!
David: I think Maerys could certainly be in this scene.
Andrew: I can't not be Lord Sparr.

Two months before the banquet

Exterior, night. A tower of Blacktyde Keep. Far below the waves can be seen breaking on the rocks at the base of the tower. At the top of the tower a single small window is lit. A woman screams in pain.

Cut to interior. Maerys and Erich are standing at the top of the tower stairs, outside a wooden door. Torches burn in sconces, and down the stairs the backs of two guards are barely visible. The door is ajar, and Maester Saltburn's face is visible in the gap. He is middle-aged, tall, his greying hair still showing a little of the orange of his youth.

Maerys clenched her fists. "Well then shut her up somehow. we don't want the whole town hearing her. Give her the milk of the poppy."

Maester Saltburn winced. "I am doing what I can, my Lady, but for this sort of... um, complicated birth the milk of the poppy is not advised."

Maerys frowned and started to respond but the woman screamed again, and an older woman spoke from behind the door: "Maester, come here. I need your help." The Maester bowed an apology and shut the door.

Maerys spun to face Erich. "What did he mean complicated? What is wrong?"

Erich's face has been paled for hours, ever since the delivery started, but Maerys has noticed him being oddly shut-in the last month as well. She can see him wring his gloved hands in anxiety, as he says in a quiet, strained voice "I've no idea. I am a Captain of the Iron Islands, not a damned midwife!"

His voice rose to a shout near the end, half-aimed at Maerys and half towards the window and the ocean beyond, containing the fickle gods within that threatened his plans.

He glanced down at his gloved hand, careful to be sure Maerys was not watching where his attention was drawn. From within the room, Sparr could be heard swearing at the Maester before the sound of a smahed table or chair could be heard. Damn him, damn him, the Drowned God take him! Ever since... He took a deep breath, clenching his left hand in frustration while his right remained fixedly relaxed.

Ever since I lost my damned finger, I was worried this might have happened. The last thing I needed was him to witness it before I could take care of the bastard.

His breath caught in his throat, as the crying within the room abruptly decreased in volume, and the clear wailing of an infant could be heard. Erich was about to relax, when a voice erupted from the room loud enough to wake half the island.

"ERICH BLACKTYDE, YOU THRICE-DAMNED SON OF A WHORE, WHAT HAVE YOU WROUGHT?"

Maerys started at Lord Sparr's bellowing voice and looked questioningly at Erich. She mouthed the words "why is he here", getting only an impatient shrug in response.

She started to push open the door but it was yanked open from the other side. There stood Lord Sparr, his bulk filling most of the doorway. Maerys took an inadvertent step backwards as he looked menacingly back and forth between her and Erich.

"My Lord Sparr," Maerys said sweetly. "What a pleasant surprise to meet you here. Welcome back to Blacktyde Hall." She smiled pleasantly at the irate Sparr but, Erich noticed, seemed to be carefully staying out of range of his balled fists.

"DON'T SPEAK TO ME, BLOODY-FACED PISSPOT COW!" Sparr yelled, spittle flying from his mouth.

He rushed forward, shoving Erich back towards the stairs. "GO DIE IN THE HOVEL YOU CAME FROM!"

Erich stumbled backwards, losing his footing for a gut-wrenching moment before managing to catch himself on a torch sconce. Doing so however has brought his lambskin gloves into full view of Sparr, and he strides to level with Erich, drawing his sword and levelling it at his gut.

The guards frantically point their spears towards him, but he doesn't even glance towards them, and they hesitate to attack should Sparr slay Erich in turn. Maerys lets out a small strangled cry of alarm, and Sparr turns momentarily to yell at her "I WILL HAVE SILENCE OR I WILL HAVE YOU BLEEDING." She cuts off her crying, shoulders still shaking with the quieted wracking coughs.

Sparr leans forward towards Erich, the tip of his blade drifting from his throat to the glove holding the sconce. In a threateningly quiet voice, he says "Well, looks like not everyone here is privy to your...affliction, you son of a bitch. Take off your glove. Now."

His eyes darting between Sparr and Maerys, Erich slowly releases the sconce as he unsteadily gets to his feet. Removing the left glove is difficult with the clumsiness of his other hand, and Maerys gives Sparr and Erich both a confused look.

Her look becomes that of abject horror and revulsion, as the other glove comes off to reveal a grey hand, fingers flaking like poor masonry and stiff to the point of nearly being immobile. The middle finger is missing after the first knuckle, a mark of a failed attempt to cut off the Greyscale before it spread.

Erich waved his hand at Maerys with a weak smile, but flinched as she turned to retch and cough against the far wall. Sparr merely regarded it coolly, taking a measured half-step away from Erich, while the two guards who had been covering Sparr leapt back as if stung, one of them holding their hand over their face as if to avoid any malign vapors coming from the infected hand.

Then, an unearthly and unnatural sound began booming throughout the hall; Sparr, chuckling, and then laughing as he sheathed his sword. "Blacktyde, I had every right and desire to gut you like a damned Tully trout. But now? Now I'll let you slowly suffer your own death and damnation if cowardice does not cause you to slit your throat first."

He turns, and strides out of the hallway. Behind him, the cries of the infant in the background had been getting higher pitched and more insistent, but peter out in a series of unhealthy gurgles before a cold silence falls over the hall, the crashing of the waves outside the only sounds before the maester clears his throat.

"Erm, Lord Blacktyde, sir. The child...the child has died, sir, likely from the disease, and the saltwife expired from the labor. What should we-"

Erich cut him off with a wave of his diseased hand, causing Saltburn to step back before the lambskin glove returned. "Dispose of the bodies, weighed down in irons so no-one sees or questions them but the Drowned God and his fishes."

Whelp saved us the trouble of killing it at least, he muses, before looking to Maerys's form as she leaves the hallway, still coughing in disgust. Well, perchance I'll be able to give her a tumble at least and keep Slandi from butchering whatever legacy I have remaining.

Austin: And with that, I will gladly take a Die-black-6.gif, as Erich both had the scene go terribly for him, as well as basically run dry of other options without knowing it yet.

Aftermath

David: Die-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gif
Andrew: Die-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
Austin: Die-white-6.gifDie-white-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-white-6.gif
David: Let's do this! I roll... Wow! I roll Die-black-6.gifDie-black-1.gifDie-white-6.gif, for black 1. Maerys is not looking good here!
Andrew: Yeah, it's looking pretty bad for me, too, let's see... Die-black-3.gifDie-black-6.gifDie-white-2.gifDie-white-6.gif Black 1 as well!
To reiterate from the Aftermath: "Horrible. You are probably dead. Other people, probably innocent people, are as well. There is no justice, there is no mercy, everything is utterly, painfully screwed and it is all - all of it - your fault."
Austin: And I've got Die-white-1.gifDie-white-3.gifDie-black-2.gifDie-black-5.gifDie-white-6.gif So I think my final tally would be White 3:
White Three: Grim. The stress and trauma from your little adventure are going to haunt you forever - bits of your soul are destroyed and you are missing a piece or two. In a few years children are going to cry when you get too close. All your plans have ended in complete ruin.

Die-white-6.gif This is Erich, greyed with stubble, smiling before breaking into laughter out of sheer relief, as he reads the raven telling of news of Lord Sparr's death during a raid on some crannogmen villages.

Die-white-6.gif This is Slandi, discreetly leaving the feast through a side door.

Die-white-6.gif This is Maerys, falling backward into Erich's arms. She raises a bloodstained hand from her pregnant, bleeding belly to Erich's face and whispers, "This child was yours."

Die-black-6.gif This is Erich, grey hair now formed into a short clipped beard, standing over a grey stone statue of the Mother marking a grave on a cliffside. The spray whipping from the ocean wets his face, wrinkled in sorrow and regret.

Die-white-6.gif This is Slandi, boarding a ship to the North of Westeros.

Die-black-6.gif This is the furious Lord Balon Tawney at the prow of his flagship Maerys, sailing to Blacktyde at the head of an armada flying not only the Tawney scourge of nettles but also House Sparr's yellow X and standards from a handful of other noble Ironborn houses.

Die-white-6.gif This is Erich, his face clean-shaven and smiling for the first time in more than a year, as he courts a lesser noblewoman, fair and beautiful, from one of the Blacktyde islands.

Die-black-6.gif This is Slandi, in a ship wrecked just north of Lannisport, struggling onwards as the crew lies mostly dead in the wreckage.

Die-black-6.gif This is the stone marker of Maerys' grave, standing askew and ignored while weeds choke her final resting place; in the distance children play near Erich, who has almost forgotten Maerys's very name.

Die-white-6.gif This is Erich, holding his newborn son, wracking sobs of relief echoing in the bedchamber as he sees that his child has been blessed by the Mother and is free from the rot of greyscale.

Die-black-6.gif This is Slandi, destitute and starving in the Lannisport streets, crumpled over a makeshift shrine to The Stranger, clinging to life.

Die-black-6.gif This is Erich, the scars of torture visible under his tattered cloak, as he sits crouched and weeping openly near a worn stone burial marker of the Mother, and three new cairns of rock, each marked with a crudely handcarved and wind-worn wooden Mother as well.