1. Lord Mycroft’s party going towards the Deepen Hall are attacked by Mountain Clans as they camped at night in the mountain pass.
2. Lord Mycroft’s party has succeeded but with casualties
3. Half the forces are sent back to Monmouth with Ser Bryce in command
It had been a few years since Aelyn had traveled more than a day’s journey. Since Aelyn crossed the Narrow Sea and settled down at Monmouth, her life had become quite dull now that she reflected, though that may change soon enough. Monmouth and her adoptive Lord father had been stirred after Lord Tywin’s visit, but Lord Mycroft had kept it well hidden from everyone but his own household.
Ser Meyon fell in with the center column, “My lord, night is approaching we must make camp”. “See to it.”, Mycroft replied curtly. Meyon spurred his horse, returning to the front of the column. Lord Mycroft returned to his thoughts, the series of events at Monmouth have taken a toll on Mycroft, and he had been in deep thought since Tywin’s departure. Aelyn would hear Mycroft mutter verbalized thoughts from time to time, as Mycroft attempted to understand the reason behind Tywin’s visit.
An hour later, Ser Meyon called for a halt. “We shall make camp here tonight”, Meyon announced. In another hour, the flat ground had become a small hamlet of tents, with a pavillion at its center in Afallon black with silver trimmings. Aelyn had settled into the pavillion as the sky became a golden bronze. The shifting sounds of a brigandine signaled Ser Meyon’s approach, “My lady.”, Ser Meyon greeted Aelyn before approaching the pavillion. Goodwin and Wilburh opened the flaps of the pavillion as Ser Meyon approached. Maester Alistar, soon found his way inside the pavillion. Aelyn turned a bright red and averted her gaze when Bryce gave her a warm smile before disappearing into the pavillion.
Aelyn easily slipped away from the camp, with everyone busy preparing for the night. Lord Mycroft had decided to take the shorter, uncharted route through the mountains to Deepen hall, the seat of the Dulvers. There was no road here, hills and mountains surrounded them on all sides. Aelyn made her way onto a small hill, but it was high enough to overlook the valley. Leagues and leagues of forest, plains, winding rivers tangled like Aelyn’s hair in the morning.
Aelyn returned to the camp as darkness fell upon the valley. Some of the men were making supper in a large cooking fire. Aelyn followed the scent and sound of crackling grease towards supper. “Lady Aelyn”, Bryce called out. “S-Ser Bryce”, Aelyn lowered her gaze to the ground. “Have you supped?”, Bryce attempted to find Aelyn’s eyes. Aelyn shook her head, her feet shifting in the dirt. “Waylon, a stew for the lady!”, Bryce called out with his commanding voice. “A stew for the lady!”, Waylon echoed. “Do you want your sup to be brought to your pavillion?”, Bryce asked with the courtesy of a true knight. “I’ll take my sup out here”, Aelyn had a shy smile as she took the bowl from Bryce. Aelyn brushed her silver strands behind an ear and sat down with Bryce as butterflies filled her tummy.
Bryce was telling Aelyn of a tourney in the Reach when Ser Meyon came up behind them, “Have the scouts sent to the East returned?”. “No, I’m afraid they have not Ser Meyon.”, one of the Afallon men replied. “With me, we will search for them, I fear the worst in these parts.” Ser Meyon turned to Bryce, “Ser Bryce, you have the command of the remaining men. See to Lord Mycroft and his household’s safety until I return.” With that, Ser Meyon and almost a score of men rode out of the camp into the darkness of the valley. Bryce stood up and retrieved his shield, “I’m afraid I’ll have to tell you tales of chivalry another time my lady.” Aelyn gazed directly into Bryce’s eyes for the first time, “Aelyn – you may call me Aelyn”. “Of course, Aelyn.”, Bryce gave a polite nod and went about his duties.
The braziers still had a dim glow when Aelyn awoke. She had learned from her travels to wear traveling clothes to sleep if there was no solid roof over her head. She grabbed her blade, Nightshade as she lifted the fabric of the pavillion and slipped out from the rear. Aelyn could see a dozen arrows scattered, none of which found their mark. Half a dozen men were fighting Bryce and a handful of men. Some of the Afallon men were waking others, but they would not be up in time to hold the line. Aelyn knew she had to help, hold them off the sleeping men could rally.
Aelyn unsheathed her thin sword, the fire gave the black metal a deep blue shimmer. Bryce opened the throat of a man as Aelyn approached, his blood spilling out to the rhythm of his fading heartbeat. Two men approached Bryce, the one with the shortsword and dagger a few steps faster than the one with the longsword. Bryce met the man with the dagger and shortsword, but could not land a blow on the man, leaving him open to the second man. Aelyn pounced at the man with the longsword parrying his blow.
“Lady Aelyn! You shoul-”, Bryce raised his shield to block a flurry of blows from the dual wielding man. “I can handle myself”, Aelyn replied without losing focused on the foe before her, parrying his wide longsword arc. Bryce groaned, one of the two blades made it past his sword and shield. The man in front of Aelyn saw her concern, figuring her to be distracted and took the opportunity. Aelyn parried the reckless overhead swing, cut the man in two different places before burying her Braavosi blade into his chest.
Aelyn withdrew her sword from the man and lashed out at the dual wielding man attacking Bryce. He caught Aelyn’s sword with his dagger, and Bryce’s shield caught the man’s shortsword. The look of fear, regret, and shock was on this man’s face on the split second before Bryce’s longsword opened him from shoulder to breast.
Several Afallon men had joined the battle, but Aelyn could see more shadows approaching. “AELYN!”, Bryce yelled as his raised his shield, longsword at the ready. A bear of a man wielding a club shimmering with shards of steel on the end charged at the Afallon line. Wooden and steel splinters exploded from Bryce’s shield when the bear man brought down his club. Aelyn felt a hand on her shoulder as she was pulled back from an axeman trying to take her head. The guard met his axe, but the axe found the guard’s side on its second swing.
Another man flanking Bryce was about to strike when he took a crossbow bolt, a shaft sprouted from his chest and he dropped to the ground – her father and the maester was here. Goodwyn and Wilburh formed around Aelyn and brought her to Lord Mycroft. Lord Mycroft lowered his steel bow as they approached. “Aelyn, what are you doing out here?”, Mycroft asked with a tone of concern and anger. The maester turned his attention from reloading his crossbow, “She did help hold the line, mayhaps she could be of further assistance until Ser Meyon returns, will will need all hands. Their numbers are still unknown.” Maester Alistar always had a different point of view, one which not everyone would agree on. Aelyn believed this is the reason why Mycroft keeps Maester Alistar, for a different view from his own.
Mycroft turned to the maester, “No, my daughter does not even wear armor!”. “She may don armor and help with the defence.” “NO.”Aelyn could not see Lord Mycroft’s face, but it was enough to cause the maester to injure himself with the crossbow. “Goodwyn, see Aelyn back to the pavillion”, Lord Mycroft waved them off as he strung another arrow.
to be continued… (The mountain men interrogations)