Turn, slave, and fight.
What art thou?
A bastard son of Priam's.
I am a bastard too; I love bastards. I am a bastard
begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valour, in
everything illegitimate. One bear will not bite another, and
wherefore should one bastard? Take heed, the quarrel's most
ominous to us: if the son of a whore fight for a whore, he tempts
judgment. Farewell, bastard.
The devil take thee, coward!
- William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
Ser Maldred Rivers is a fellow with two fathers, one a great lord, Walder Frey, the other, like himself, a bastard, Walder’s eldest base son Walder Rivers. It is a curious and contorted story.
At the time of the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Lord Walder Frey, already in middle age and contentedly married to his third wife, of House Crakehall, did not, of course, accompany his Tully liege to battle in person. Instead, in what some considered a slight and others (mainly of the Twins) shrewdness, he sent a contingent led by his bastard son, who was already distinguishing himself as the House’s best field commander.
Back from the wars, a victor and a veteran, came Bastard Walder – but not alone. The girl riding on the crup of his saddle could have passed, some said, for a Lysene. Certainly her hair was yellow, and abundant, her complexion milky. As they approached the Twins by moonlight, both tresses and skin acquired a greenish tinge – whether from nature, or trepidation.
What followed was an unholy tangle. It became known in the castles of the Twins, much to the third Lady Frey’s ire, that Bastard Walder had relinquished his new Stepstones prize of war and offered her up as a present to his father. It was unlikely to have been a wholly willing offer, but soon enough, in any case, it was rescinded. Tiring either of his new mistress or his fiery wife’s complaints, Walder let the girl return to her first captor.
So it was that when she bore a son neither lordly nor bastard Frey were certain they had fathered it, or indeed eager to admit to doing so. It was a small matter to them, who had the charge of the seat’s latest brat. But it was not to be regarded as so unimportant by the child himself.
Named Maldred by his mother, Myrilla of the Stepstones, the boy was left to her rearing in an abandoned wing of the castle for some years. Whoever his father might be, this left him the better class of bastard – a whore’s son, not a peasant’s, and living relatively softly. Too softly for Bastard Walder, who, unwilling even to risk a milksop for a son, took the lad on as a squire of sorts just before his tenth nameday (not a matter of profound celebration).
Maldred Rivers was becoming a perverse and a difficult child in his way, lippy and slippery, defending himself with stinging rebukes as often as backhanded assaults. Uncompromisingly, he referred to Walder Frey as ‘lord father’ and Walder Rivers as ‘ser brother’. Perhaps endearingly, he dropped this pose for his favourite relation, his aunt, or sister, Jaimera Frey, and addressed her with deep respect always as ‘lady aunt’.
As the youth was proving a swordsman and archer just about out of the common run, and could sit straight in the saddle long enough to be unhorsed respectably, he was fitted out in arms by Lord Walder before the battle of the Trident, and knighted by his least loved kinsman Ser Hosteen Frey with a savage blow on the shoulders and ears after it, despite the fact that House Frey had foregone to strike a blow in the Rebellion.
Humdrum years passed as a household knight, hunting occasional wrongdoers through fen and swamp, and few things were notable about Maldred, save his cutting sarcasm and his devotion to his aunt (or sister). When he needs must joust, he wore her favour, though but rarely carried it far. Then, but lately, the Greyjoy Rebellion came.
At the Battle of Alderbrook Ser Maldred Rivers was not the only Frey, nor the only bastard, to stand out, but he was, by a stroke of luck, the only bastard Frey (his putative father Bastard Walder lay out of action with a touch of the pox). At the relief of Seagard, an attribute that had seemed formerly only to cement Maldred’s unsavoury repute – he is a left-handed swordsman – proved of great use in duelling across spiralling castle staircases. But he accompanied the vengeful Rivermen no further, a light wound preventing him from joining the assault on the Iron Isles. A light wound, or, if you believe illwishers, a preference for his ‘aunt’ Jaimera’s company.
The tricky little injury was apparently a long time healing, but when Jaimera Frey was sent to unwind certain legal controversies around and about Stonebridge, it was as if it had never been. Ser Maldred Rivers leapt up and begged his ‘lord father’ the favour of escorting and guarding her. To amused smiles all round, the boon was granted.
But while Lady Jaimera's mission appeared to fall by the wayside amid the gathering signs of war, Maldred, it seems, took the chance to follow his own path. Long after his lady aunt had returned to the Twins by a deceptive route, Maldred loitered in Stonebridge - perhaps to distract foes from Jaimera's true journey? In any case, the day before hostilities formally commenced he picked up an order from the Stonebridge smith, before riding fully armed back in the direction of the Twins in turn.
Certain rumours hinted at Maldred's presence in all manner of districts since - Heronhurst, the Roost, even back in Stonebridge? - but what's for sure is that he next turned up officially at the new-reared settlement of Highfield, now acting as escort to a cousin, Lady Lyanna Frey. From Highfield he departed in haste and dudgeon, to join his 'lady aunt' on a new mission - to Broadmoor Keep. He's perhaps an unlikely choice to attend an embassy either to former Charltons or Haighs, for an unaccountable yet unsheddable story insists that he fought against both Houses recently, in the cause of Nayland.
This knight in his later twenties is in his way a tough-looking proposition - but it is a subtle, stoaty way. More sinew and manouevrability is manifest in his long limbs than muscle. His height, a couple of inches shy of six feet, is neither exceptionally short or towering among the clan of the Crossing (for the blue-grey blazon on his surcoat and light gabardine marks the young man out instantly as a Frey, even if one tainted by the bar sinister of bastardy). A hand-and-a-half sword (to use the polite term) is strapped diagonally across his back, but the dagger at his side looks as if it sees more frequent, and practical, use. His eyes mirror the dismal surface of a pale mere, his hair its composite murk, showing itself here mud-brown, here wheaten, even with occasional glints near to green, like corroding copper. His smile is in constant employment but firmly confined to his mouth.
Allies and Foes
- The Cover
- House Frey
- House Charlton
- House Tordane
- House Terrick
- House Mallister
- House Nayland
- House Haigh
- House Erenford
- House Westerling
- House Camden
- Other Noble Houses
…Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue?
(aeliana aemy alric arabella catryn erik evayne event logs lyanna maldred martyn nathaniel nedra ozric robben stafford)
(aemy alric arabella bastien brennart ceinlys daryl erik event firth garion ilaria jaimera kamron katrin laryssa logs lyanna maldred martyn mortimer muirenn nedra perrin robben saffron visenya)
(aemy aeron alric arabella bastien brennart ceinlys daryl erik event firth garion ilaria jaimera kamron katrin laryssa logs lyanna maldred martyn mortimer muirenn nedra perrin robben saffron visenya)
(aemy aeron alric ceinlys daryl erik ilaria laryssa logs lothar maldred nedra robben sabriel social)
(daryl garion kaelea liss logs maldred pariston robben sela social trajan)