|A Fenster Raven|
|Summary:||Trajan comes to ask the Naylands for a favor. No, really.|
|Date:||27 September 2012|
|The trails are worn and well tended here and the fields on either side are lush and full of wildflowers amidst the lightly scattered trees of the central Cape of Eagles. A few packed dirt trails converge with the main road from outlying hamlets around Stonbridge.|
|September 27, 289|
Ser Trajan Antabolis Fenster sits by a campsite drawing a sketch on some rough paper with a piece of charcoal a goblet of wine with a small repast is nearby. He draws a man closely resembling himaself without all his livery naked wounded kneeling before an abomination. An abomination that resembles the twisted Dark Jester - the Jester Knight or whatever appellation you would care to call this horrible mutilated man. "Something Calls me; From a Dark Place: It knows my name; And it wears my face," He repeats gleefully to himself. Other than the horrible figure on his own who apparently has come here on foot the scene is normal right? Save for the abject horror that is around Trajan. He was chasing some bandits when he first came here and two of them are alive and nearby. The rest fled. One of them whimpers and is tied up smelling of his own sick. The other is nearby and appears to be attempting to reattach his lower jaw which Trajan neatly ripped off the other day. Occasionally trajan looks over his sketch to check the unrestrained and mutilated bandits progress with a small giggle. The sight is one of abject horror - but then this man was feared even by those amongst the Ironborn that knew of him. The worst Charlton enforcer - the resident torturer of their guests. The Dark Jester.
Tyroan is too old to put on his full brigadine for a single Charlton — or Fenster — knight and two mewling wretches. And so he rides out from the town of Stonebridge with his Master at Arms, his wife, and a pair of men-at-arms, advancing slowly toward the macabre scene before him. The Steward keeps his pace down for the foot-bound men-at-arms, keeping his horse to a walk slow enough that they don't even have to trot to keep up. As the full weight of the scene settles onto the elder knight, he grunts once, "What. The fuck. Is this?" The question is quiet, evidently intended for his little group rather than the newcomer. For that… worthy… he raises his gruff, gravelly voice a bit, "You are Ser Trajan Fenster?"
Mounted on a coal-black gelding of impressive stature and girth, Anathema Nayland rides alongside Ser Bruce and her husband in a light trot. The hood of her cloak has fallen away, though the mass of her dark curls are still tucked away in the collar. Her expression is an unreadable void of high cheekbones, dark eyes, and full lips. She glances toward both of the knighted men as they approach the campfire, though nothing is said. The Nayland woods-witch does not seem at all disturbed by the dead, though she gives the living man there a skeptical eye.
Ser Bruce is mounted atop his stocky black pony, but it's likely only as a show. He neither likes riding nor has much need for it. Still, the mount is agreeable enough with having the heavy armoured manweight on its back, or at least it's not tossing its head and snorting. As soon as they come into sight of the camp, though, Ser Bruce slides out of the saddle and gives a motion and a call to the animal. It's a well trained pack horse and follows without any leading by the reign. As they get even closer, now, and the Master at Arms can make out the little camp and what's going on in it, his shield strap is pulled on and the shield grasped, Stonebridge arms facing his side. He doesn't need to do any talking.
Ser Trajan jumps to his feet and gives a theatrical bow, "I am indeed - Ser Trajan Antabolis Fenster at your service!" Exclaims the Jester Knight. "Ah and I see before me Lord Tyroan Lady Anathema and the Weapons Master Bruce of Stonebridge? Master Bruce acquitted himself very well in battle - you know the one in which my people got handed their arse."
As for the two men (who are both alive) "These gentlemen I was chasing near your border - they happened to find me dismounted and on foot. I believe the one who is trying to reattach his jaw was suggesting that they rape your neice Lady Jocelyn and her handmaiden. i had a better suggestion," Trajan laughs callously. "You know that in some parts of westeros old people chew their food with wooden teeth rather than have it ground up. I wonder whether some kindly maester will give this one a wooden jaw? Or if such a thing is possible. Maybe if he holds it in long enough it will reknit?" The bandit in question gurgles helplessly and cries - he is a large man - larger than Trajan and might have been handsome before he met the Dark Jester. "In any event they are yours if you want them - no doubt you have entertainments for them. And my table is so very far away - as much as I would like to have them as my guests." Trajan calls all of his torture victims guests.
Tyroan rests his hands on his saddle, leaning forward slightly to study the strange figure on foot before him. He glances over to Anathema a moment, a bit of a confused look flashing over his face, and then he smooths his features over again, "Ser Bruce, take a look at them, will you? See if they're know fuckwits." Looking back to the Fenster, he gravels, "Not that I don't appreciate you finding these… people, but what the — " he cuts off a curse with a growl, "what is a Charlton-sworn doing wandering through the lands of Stonebridge? Last I heard, you f — " cut hits it off again, then shrugs and goes with it, "you fucks were trying, and failing, to push your way into Stonebridge at spearpoint."
Anathema sits sternly on her saddle, hands holding the reins loosely in her gloved grip. She arches up a brow at the news of her niece's interaction with the bandits, and she casts a glance toward Bruce first and foremost before she resettles her gaze on the bandits. "Thank you for assuring the safety of our niece," Anathema provides at the end of Tyroan's words, but there is something icy in her voice. She casts a glance down toward the bandits before she settles her gaze back on the strange man.
"Ser Trajan lead the charge which pierced our pike line." Bruce mentions, both for Tyroan and Anathema's sake as well as acknowledging the burned Fenster knight's prowess at arms. The man gets a nod, but that's about it. After giving a fist clenched signal to the two Guardsmen, their Master at Arms steps forward to take a close look at both men. As he does so, he clenches his hand around the handles of his shield and pulls his broadsword from its scabbard. No sense in being unprepared.
Trajan cants his head and looks to the Lord Tyroan - as he does a single line of black ichor of unimaginable putrescence runs down the mutilated part of his face which he handily mops up with some white gauze, "Us fucks? There are many different grades of fuck on the Charlton side my Lord it stands to reason that I am a grade of fuck entirely removed from all the other fuckers who fuck in that house. I am not fucking kidding." Trajan japes - it might even be funny if the scene weren't like something out of the seventh level of hell. "To answer your question though this is a chance meeting - I was set upon by bandits near your border - I happened to cross it in pursuing them far enough to run into your niece. I suggested a meeting. We may in the future be able to exchange services. But I didn't know you and you didn't know me. And I can be such a charming fellow when I am not swinging a sword at you. There are certain services that only enemies can provide one another - don't you know?" Trajan does not alter his casual stance as Bruce nears him - he didn't come here to fight.
As for the lady's gratitude, "No problem - I found much of the treatment of women noble or otherwise in the Charlton camp to be alarming. Young girls impressed into being camp whores and noblewomen left without water. Until I punched a guard that was responsible and gave them his share. Mishandling women and children is just so…. gauche… Wouldn't you agree?" And that was the apex of the Jester Knights morality - things were either in good or in poor taste. Ripping a mans jaw off and leaving him half insane with pain is apparently in good taste. but hurting women and children is a no no.
The men Bruce inspects are in good health other than the fact that the tied up one is covered in his own vomit and insane with fear and the large man has been neatly hamstrung and is down one lower jaw.
Tyroan blinks flatly at Trajan's wordplay. The trailing of… ooze… down the Fenster's face doesn't seem to affect him that much, or maybe his eyesight has started to deteriorate already and he doesn't notice it. "I'm an old man, and I'm too old to bandy words around." He seems to be sitting in his saddle well enough, despite his self-proclaimed age. "Just what is it you're suggesting, Ser Trajan?"
"Services," Anathema repeats with a threat of laugh on her lips. "What services do you expect us to provide you, Ser Trajan?" Her black gelding shifts a bit beneath her, coat shivering and shaking with idleness. She does not speak more on the threats nor acts committed against her niece and her maidservant endured. She is quiet for a moment as she regards Ser Bruce and the tortured bandit; her expression grows grim. "Ser Bruce, see that some of your men escort them back to the Tower. I want their wounds tended to, and their home be made in the dungeons."
"Bandits are hanged on this fief, Ser Trajan, not tortured. I don't care what you claim to have seen them do or say to be perfectly honest. The law is clear. This one, however," Bruce motions with his sword at the one missing his jaw, "will not make it back to the gallows for a hanging." There's a *shick* as the basket hilted broadsword is slid away. Instead, Bruce removes his short dirk and motions it at the jaw-less man. "M'lady. This one should be put out. I would want the same." Whether that man indeed wants to be sent to the Stranger is something that he doesn't appear to take into consideration.
Trajan sighs, "Verbosity does need to render one effeminate my Lord or even evasive. My own family shared your opinion however and my eldest brother and wife had this done to me." He points in a rather general sense to himself. "It is difficult being the runt of the pack at the best of times. Worse when you have been mangled into some form of demonically sick freak - but enough about me," he puts one hand on his hip and wipes another trail of black ichor. "The service is related to my little tale of tragedy. A certain elder brother of mine is planning on staging a little coup. This may not concern you - Fensters killing Fensters but as jaded as my cousin Alric is he has been consistently sympathetic to the idea of peace with your house. I believe we have an aunt who is related to you by marriage or somesuch he told me? Varag on the other hand," Trajan laughs, "My eldest brother Varag - he is a real monster. I may be able to give him reason to come out this way…." Trajan leaves the rest unsaid. The implied service.
When Lady Anathema asks for further qualification Trajan elaborates slightly, "I do not believe we have yet a formal peace treaty - making it quite risky of me to come here. Unfortuantely I am worthless as a hostage. My brother varag might be better - he saw to it that I was - entertained whilst I was in bandit custody. You can take action on a problem that I cannot. In exchange I can tend to securing a more permanent peace for you. Or at least stall things to the best of my ability so you can regroup for an inevitable round 2 of warfare. I think you will find the Charlton's can be quite persistent when they want something. When they want answers to questions that must be asked they even employ me…" Enough said on that last point.
To Ser Bruce, "What is this innane obsession with the noose? Is it more humane than the axe or drowning? All are punishments. The liberal application of terror to the bandit class may not be humane to them but how many does it deter from turning to banditry? I would say many… the problem is how do we quantify the number of bad things that are not happening because we have punished them severely? I am more concerned with being humane to the innocent victims of these terrible criminals," despite his best attempt at mummery Trajan sounds terribly insicere when he speaks to Bruce about this.
Tyroan nods at Anathema's order to Bruce, and nods again — sharply this time — at Bruce's statement. "The rule of law stands in Stonebridge, Ser Trajan." He nods definitively at Bruce's unspoken question, then turns his attention back to Trajan, "So you want us to fucking capture your brother for you. So that he doesn't overthrow the current branch of the Fensters. So from what I know, you Fensters are poor as shit. It wouldn't even be worth the ransom."
"See it done, Ser Bruce," Anathema permits. "I would like the other taken back to the Tower for proper justice, but we are caring executioners." She casts a glance toward the rambling bandit, her expression once more closed off as her thoughts rumble about in her head. She casts her gaze aside back toward the Fenster knight. Dark eyes flash dangerously, and her lips curve with a faint smile. "Ser Trajan, perhaps you are behind on current events, which astounds me as Ser Bruce has pointed out that you are responsible for several Stonebridge widows. Or perhaps you did not hear that Lord Walder Frey suspended further altercations over Stonebridge." Her voice has a certain edge that suggests she is not amused. "Furthermore, I highly doubt you are capable of securing anything for us, Ser Trajan. But, still you come to us seeking for us to do your dirty work for you. If your brother seeks to plot a coup, tell your Liege Lord."
"Humane? I never said anything about humane. Hanging is the law here because it is final and expected. One engaged in banditry can expect to be hanged. That is all there is to it, Ser Trajan, and all there will be. I'm not willing to blabber on any further about it." If Bruce is paying attention to Trajan's offer, he's not letting on. The man simply stands with his dirk out in one hand, shield in the other, motioning at the jawless bandit in front of him. "Listen, lad. Whatever you've done, it's over now. If I don't end you, your jaw will go rot and gangrenous and spread to your head. It's not a good end. So, go now to the Gods and be judged." Anathema gets a nod before Bruce steps around the bandit. His dirk moves to slide at the base of the jawless man's neck before it slides forward. The steel is sharp and pointed, sliding easily up through the neck and the death is instant. The knight withdraws the weapon as quickly as he'd slid it in, watching the body collapse.
DUMP: Belle has slit the database's throat.
Trajan twists his horrible head around to view Tyroan - not detered apparently by this round of rejections - he was a confronting lunatic and had to be persistant in any set of negotiations. "But of course we are poor - which is why we would never be able to pay the ransom which is also why…" he leaves the rest unsaid.
To the Lady Anathema, "Lord Frey's edict will stand until the Charlton's confect a fresh insult. They are creative. I doubt my liege lord would be inclined to pick sides on this one. But your ladyship is right to insist that I prove that I can offer you something - that is rational. Given time I will do you a small service - beyond niece protection. Something that demonstrates I have the capability to assist you. A gesture of goodwill. As an asker of questions I am privy to many facts. Facts that people do not want known - and that can prove advantageous. And I have made many widows - the best ones I made were Rock and Salt wives." Trajan's famous monstrosities came from the Ironborn invasions.
To Bruce - dark eyes rolled, "Your god is a lunatic Ser - what else would make men immortal in the afterlife and hold them in existence purely so they can suffer. And that is what the Seven do - I have been there and come back. It…. changes you." To say the least.
Tyroan shakes his head at Trajan's words, "Stonebridge won't fucking break the Lord Frey's agreements. Take your dirty work off my lands." He gathers up the reins again, "And shut your mouth about the Seven, Ser." The Nayland may not be a pious man — he may even be rather impious — but he's not about to allow someone else to slander them. That's his job. "If you can't find your way off Stonebridge land, I'll have some of Green Quarter 'gently' haul you back to Charlton lands."
Anathema spurs her tall horse forward with the clomp of heavy hooves even as the body of the tortured bandit falls. At this perch, she can loom over the strange little man. She stares down into his eyes without an ounce of fear, and perhaps just a touch of her own madness. If rumors are true, they say she is a direct connection to the Old Gods themselves. "You have provided my niece with kindness, so I will allow you to respectfully leave and return whence you came. Next time you come upon these lands and disrespect the law that we keep, we will not be so lenient. Know that I'm not interested in the woes of the Charlton's vassal. If Lord Alric cannot protect his birthright, then he does not deserve to hold it."
Bruce scowls at Trajan's appraisal of his Gods, leaning down to wipe his dirk off on the former bandit's tunic before the blood can clot and sliding it back into its sheath. He'll have to go back and oil it down anyways once he gets back; there's always bits in the grooves of the metal that escape detection. "The Gods judge all, Ser. See that his body is buried or burned, and if it's the latter that you don't burn down any land with it." Grabbing the other bandit, the one whose jaw is intact, bound and covered by his own vomit, he leads him to the two Guardsmen who've been on escort. They know what to do without any being told to.
Trajan rolls his eyes, "I do so try to protect people from their own folly - but why do nobles have to pretend to be so noble," he says out loud to himself. Trajan has walked here - well most of the way here - and without any escort - all of his errands were run alone - and now it looks like he would have to deal with his dangerous older brother alone. Walking off the side of the road Trajan finds an old rusty spade and makes good on Bruce's suggestion of digging the other fellows grave. Apparently not above this menial task despite being a noble knight.
To Lord Tyroan, "Take strength in your virtue then Lord I guess we shall see eachother anon. Fascinating theological discussion." An immpecably polite monster was this Jester.
To the Lady Anathema, "I have never been so gracefully told to fuck off this is one for the memoirs surely," he smiles a horrible sight. About Jocelyn, "I have many friends some on both sides of our conflict - two friends in total in fact Lady Joclyn and Lord Alric," two friends more than Lady Anathema probably thought he had in total. When she goes on about Alric not being strong enough to hold his seat and therefore not worthy of it, "Are you sure we aren't related? You sound like my father. Fare the well."
To Bruce he salutes in respect - he had after all seen the man fight.
Tyroan turns his horse about, although he keeps watching Anathema until she too turns aside. He doesn't respond to the Fenster's japes and jibes, but he does start grumbling under his breath, a sullen sort of monotone as he starts to guide his horse back in the direction of Stonebridge, still at that slow footman's pace.
Even if the Master of Arms was to leave the burning of the body, Anathema is not about to leave it in the hands of someone who has no grace for Gods. "Leave him," she commands sharply. She does not back up her horse, her fingers clasping harder on her reins as she waits for the man to cease his actions. It appears that while her niece may find him a friendly sort, Anathema would rather see what the slippery robes of his entrails may tell her. She says nothing more to the man as he waits him to go about his way.
Trajan holds his hands up in assent and slams the shovel down - the handle breaks and he jumps aside in alarm. Hell's fool didn't get a share of that great celestial quality called dignity. Hopping aside from the small whole he gathers his effects and hits the road, "So impressed with all you do; tried so hard to be like you; Flew too high and burned my wings; Lost my faith in everything; licking up devine debris; Taste the wealth of hate in me…." One of hios more desolate compositions - but it seems to cheer the Jester up. Void as he was rejection clarifies some of the more cynical observations that he has made about the world. His voice trails off as he disappears into the dark.
Tyroan halts as Anathema drives off the Fenster raven, resting his hands on his saddle pommel again, "We're sending someone back for the body then, Ana?" He waits as the Fenster disappears, shaking his head before he adds, "What a sad, broken young man. Guess that's what failure looks like for a youngest son." There's a bit of pride in that statement, a little huff as if to draw a distinction between his own position as a youngest son and that of the Dark Jester.
The Northern Witch does not speak until the bad omen is out of sight. She gently starts to turn her horse around, and she bows her head a bit to his question. "Send for the Silent Sisters if you must, but his body must be burned. Merely buried, and that man's taint would have seeped into our lands." There is no doubting her superstitiousness when it comes to the dead. She guides her dark horse up beside her husbands, and she glances back after where the Fenster had gone. "We will need to prepare talks with Ser Aleister, and soon. I want to see these things put to rest, Husband. I will not have our family dragged into the blood and mud that your brother's sons have caused." She is quiet a moment before she adds with a darker, quieter voice. "Ser Riordan may be asked to pay for the crimes he committed against the Charltons. This war was started because of his actions, and his actions must be that which bring us peace again."
Tyroan arches his eyebrows, "Are you going to want every bandit's body burned, Ana?" He waits until she catches up with him once more, and paces his horse behind the footmen, "But yeah. We need the talks to come soon." Her mention of Riordan's possible fate causes him to go silent for a long moment, "Rickart's almost as pissed with his sons as I am with those incompetent fuck-heads." Now that his horse is started, he folds his hands over the pommel once more, "I doubt he'll complain if Lord Frey wants him punished."
"No," Anathema says, perhaps a bit tersely to her husband. "Just the ones who were tortured by whatever that man was. I will not see their tortured, stained bodies allowed to decompose in our lands." She then sighs. "We cannot have the talks here, perhaps at the Twins or Heronhurst. I should send letters along to begin such arrangements." She glances over toward him now, allowing him to lead her back to their home. "If Ser Riordan is punished, then perhaps we can begin to lay foundation for neutrality instead of hostility with Ser Aleister."
Tyroan grunts softly at the response, then nods, "Fair enough." He nods at the sighing suggestion, "Heronhurst. Less travel. And we get to go across the bridge while they have to cross the ford." And get wet. Okay, so maybe that's a little spiteful, but just because you're old doesn't mean you can't have some good, spiteful fun. "We'll see what's required. If Riordan is punished, and no Charlton is, we look weaker. That doesn't mean he can't be the worst-punished."