Page 169: Of Truth and Trees
Of Truth and Trees
Summary: Kate comes to meet with Lord Blacktyde to discuss the possibility of taking prisoners, when she learns a hard truth as to why the Blacktydes are in Tall Oaks at all.
Date: 1/2/289
Related Logs: All the Tall Oaks invasion logs, including: Vairy Vert and Sable: Tall Oaks
Kathryna Lord Blacktyde 
Old Oak Tavern
The building is small, cramped but the floor is well loved and the timber that it is made of is strong. A scattering of tables and chairs are always changing in position most nights and the area can be cleared for dancing, hay or field grasses thrown down to keep the rain that seeps in from creating a muddy mess. A large hearth takes up one side and at every time of the year it is burning due to the shade of the trees. The atmosphere is one of aged companionship and simple pleasures.
Mon Jan 02, 289

The preparations for the assault on Tall Oaks keep are well underway. The weirwood which stood south-west of the keep has been cut down and its branches hacked off. The trunk has been bound tho the frame of a wagon, as a battering ram, while the branches are being tarred from pots brought off the longships, and readied for loading into a small, crude catapult. A house or two has been dismantled to construct standing shields to screen the Ironborn near the front from arrows out of the keep. The sack of the town is well underway but finding Lord blacktyde himself is as simple as asking, as the chieftain's headquarters occupies the Old Oak tavern.

It's not immediately after the battle, after all, Kathryna had to go back south to one: show her face to Greyjoy and party with the other Ironborn at the mostly successful raid and two: act like she cared. But after a sleepless night or so, and a lot of thinking, she's ridden back north along the hidden ways Sarojyn so well showed her, determined to perhaps do something to help her once allies. A few questions around and she's easily directed to the Old Oak Tavern. She's almost consistently in her maile these days, black leather long coat lost with the rest of her things in the Roost's guest room. It's alright, there were plenty of cloaks and clothing for the taking with the sacking of a town. She steps forward, giving a small nod of gruff respect in the man's direction. "Lord Blacktyde.

The sable cloaked Ironman looks up. He too is dressed in maile, albeit with the helm removed, and sitting on the table before him, alongside food and drink. The Blacktyde lord has several of his men about him, and appears in a visibly black mood. "You didn't come with us," he observes plainly of the woman. "And you're no sort of messenger I've ever seen. Who are you?"

Kathryna gives a slightly deeper bow in his direction before straightening. "Lady Kathryna Harlaw. Half the damned reason you all are successfully here." She opens her cloak a touch, flashing the leather belt which holds a sheath for her sword. It's fastened by a leather worked crest of House Harlaw, the best proof she can give that she is who she says. She does not, otherwise, shy away from his dark mood or soften herself in the least.

Blacktyde snorts, turns his head and spits. "The lady thinks too highly of herself by half," he opines flatly. "What word from the south? Has the Prince taken Seagard, yet?" Idly reaching for a flagon, he takes a swallow of whatever drink is within, intent on continuing his meal while Kathryna speaks.

Kathryna shakes her head quietly, messy white blonde hair jerking over her shoulders with the motion. It will soon need cut or put into dread locks lest it get in her face in the heat of a battle. "No word other than the siege continues, as far as I know. And the lady has been spying in these lands for the turn of three moons. She knows this land that you currently now fight better than any other of Ironborn blood."

"What's to know?" Blacktyde prompts with a snort. "Two hundred treacherous rats trapped in a timber hall. If you're the spy, then I have you to thank for being sent to this worthless wood, rather than looting the riches of the Roost." He doesn't sound thankful.

It's just the half a beat of a heart, but a touch of surprise crosses her pale features. Kate then smirks a hint deeper. "If you consider them so worthless, then go south and help with the Roost. They could use far more back up anyway, the castle far harder to take than this little keep. I'll take them as my price and you may leave. And there is plenty to know. Back paths that make the journey far shorter to the Roost among them."

"Couldn't even if I wanted," Blacktyde sneers. "When the bloody Prince of fucking Pyke tells me to raze Tall Oaks, and cut enough masts for a hundred longships, that's what a man does." The exquisite sable cloak rises with a deeply drawn breath. "But after what those lying wretches did to Baelor, I won't raise this place until every Camden is hanging dead from a tree and every splinter they ever built is ash," he promises, dire of voice. "I only hope the weirwood survives after ramming down their gates, so I can have a mast of my own carved from it."

Kathryna keeps her face steely and emotionless, even if there is a sick wave through her body at that news. They're here for the masts. Wood they probably wouldn't have even known about if it wasn't for her. She just draws a quiet breath in, tossing a cold look to the door so he can't see that brief sickness in her eyes. "Lying wretches?…What did they do?" She asks roughly.

Blacktyde's ire is clear, the gruff man's grief well masked by anger at his own words. "Baelor and his men were first to arrive. The Treefolk had holed up inside the hall, and he walked out under a white flag to offer them a retreat. The damned boy said that he came to kill warriors, not to slaughter women and children, and when his offer was given and he turned to leave, they filled his back with arrows." Curses are spoken by the men around Blacktyde, invoking revenge. "There will be no drop left of Camden blood to be spilled before I leave this place, Harlaw."

That news makes her eyes go wide, letting a flare of anger decorate her features, though he can assume whom it's towards or why she feels it. Kate shakes her head quietly and grits her jaw, breathing out through her nose. "…Fools… careless fools…" She breathes out. She takes another breath and growls out. "Death would be too quick for them, you know. I'd demand a few of them as my prisoners. My Iron Price. I will be sure their suffering is long and hard. Pyke wouldn't have even known about this little hole in the woods if it wasn't for me. I'll ensure their suffering and service and you needn't see their faces again."

"Stay for the storming, Harlaw, and any smallfolk you can take will be yours," Blacktyde offers with a gracious air. "But the Camdens are mine. I'll sew my sails of their skins if there are tanners enough to do the work, after."

Kathryna rolls her eyes coolly…"And what use are small folk? At least a Camden or two is trained with a sword and can read. I want prisoners of use, not just mouths to feed. I will not be a kind mistress, Blacktyde, I assure you that. You can have your damn trees, I just want my price in men."

Lord Blacktyde regards the woman with a sneer, though he muses a moment, before answering. "Fight well and kill many men, Harlaw. And AFTER, we'll see what price you've earned. No promises, no oaths until after I've made Baelor a pyre of Camden Keep. That's the best you'll have of me."

Kathryna narrows her eyes just a touch as she hears that, expression going ice cold. Slaughter some to save a few more. They'd all be dead anyway, no? She smirks coldly in his direction, eyes flickering around the room with a careless little laugh. "Your men need the help of a girl to take care of some treelords? Fine, fine… I suppose I can show you all how it's done. But I get my prisoners afterwards and I will kill anyone who tries to take them from me. You have your price and I have mine."

"As I said, 'girl'," Blacktyde repeats. "I make no oaths. Your reward will be appropriate to your deeds, as is our way. Nothing more, nothing less." The Ironlord's own expression twists in a cruel leer. "Not even a Greyjoy would demand more than that."

Kathryna 's jaw tightens a touch more, about to say something, but she catches herself. "Fine. It will be a good fight." And with that and a cool, single nod, she turns on the ball of her foot and heads for the door. She has a fight for which she must prepare.