Page 208: The Game Continues
The Game Continues
Summary: The Dowager Lady Nayland and Ser Rygar play cyvasse and mourn their dragon kings, as the Riverlands marshal for another war of rebellion.
Date: 10/02/289
Related Logs: The Ironborn invasion logs in general, none specifically
Rebekkah Rygar 
Lady Rebekkah's Chambers — Fortress of the Sevens
Several cyvasse boards, no real kings, but the game continues all the same.
10th Feb, 289AL

The siege of Seagard has been broken, the Ironmen driven from the coast, but the Riverlands still marshal to war. All over the land, invasion of the Iron Islands is being prepared for, from Riverrun to Hag's Mire to the Roost and everywhere in between. Lady Rebekkah Nayland's chambers in the Fortress of the Sevens, however, remains pretty much as it has been for the past two decades. Save that a new handmaiden - a plump, serious woman in her middle years - tends it since the marriage of her former darling, Belle. The dowager watches the new maid hawkish, for her chore today is dusting The Board. "Remember what happened to the last girl who put the pieces back incorrectly," Rebekkah croaks ominously from a cushioned armchair. Not that it's really clear what happened to that 'last girl,' save that she's gone. Upon The Board, the dowager continues to play one of her endless games of cyvasse with her mysterious raven correspondent. She has another, less extravagant, board set up on the little refreshment table in front of her chair, however. It's an old favorite of hers for day-to-day games, made of good stone with little pieces carved in painted metal. She's just finishing setting it up now, apparently expecting company.

"The woman does not know what befell the 'last girl', grandmother," Rygar's dry tone points out from the chamber doorway. "Prhaps if you were to illuminate her?" The lean knight dips a cursory short bow to Rebekkah his expression reflecting none of the deadpan humor in his words, before stepping wholly into the room toward the elder Nayland.

"Of course she doesn't, my dearest High-gar the Low," Rebekkah replies to Rygar with that canny smile of hers that's only grown sharper-edged as she's aged. "I have my reputation as a sweet great-grandmother to maintain. Besides, secrets encourage imagination, which keeps the wits from getting dull. Come here and give me a kiss." She arches her neck in that birdlike fashion. She's not an affectionate woman, but making her grandchildren show her some modicum of it seems to amuse her.

Rygar stills his steps before Rebekkah, bending his back to supply the demanded display of devotion. "Word has come from Riverrun," he notes, settling into a chair across the small table from his grandmother. "We are to muster at Seagard within the week."

Rebekkah nods sharply to that, middlingly pleased. "Walder Frey may manage to locate the rest of his levies by then. At least Rickart summoned the Mire's promptly. That was satisfactory." The praise to her elder son is given grudgingly. She's played the game of gleeful spite with him for so many years, it's more habitual now than anything else. "I keep waiting for that old toad to die, but his sons are just as hopeless, as is Lord Hoster Tully above him, so I can't even mourn too much that we bend to the Twins. The world creeps ever and ever toward mediocrity, my dearest and lowliest boy, and I doubt the men these times are made are up to the tasks presented them. If only the dragons still sat the Iron Throne. The Greyjoy vermin never would have dared…"

"With the Targaryens passed the bonds of true fealty. Rude force rules in their stead, and it is fit that this House brings to bear more brute force than any other house of the western Riverlands. Law and force are both with us, against all of our rivals, all that can unmake us is raw spite," Rygar states, with a rueful edge to his words. "It is curious, is it not Grandmother, that men such as Robert Baratheon and Hoster Tully, who so lack faith themselves, so esteem faithfulness in those below them?" Habitually, he begins to set the cyvasse pieces on Rebekkah's blank, spare table.

"Your mind is less on the Isles of Iron than on our Riverlands, I think, High-gar the Low," Rebekkah notes. "Sit, sit, sit. No one here can give me a proper game. Neither can you, of course, but you are better than most." Her eyes go to The Board. Narrowing as she watches her maid clean. "He's winning this time." She notes it with a faint smile. "Though I don't think he knows it yet."

"Apt," Rygar admits to Rebekkah's observation. "The Ironborn are direct foemen. They strike with the coin of the realm: force, bereft of finesse. They can take from us nothing and threaten us naught, since their defeats at Alderbrook and Fair Isle. It is the treachery of my allies that I give greater worry toward." The jab at his cyvasse skill is taken as plain truth. "He exploits your over-dependance upon the dragon piece, grandmother. I lack the skill to do so, but your higher opponent baits your counter strikes. No doubt, he hesitates to strike out of fear of some unseen countermeasure."

"I like my dragon," Rebekkah snips to Rygar. "I am an aggressive player. He occasionally exploits my openings before I have an opportunity to close the vice. But he is overly-cautious. That trips him up. Always has." She sighs some. Though her attention does direct itself back to the smaller board. "And what treachery among your allies do you prepare our board for, my dearest and lowest?"

"The sort of treachery I am bound by rank to endure," Rygar returns tersely. "Jason Mallister's death is a curious boon to us: the Lord of Seagard's spite for us is greater even than Hoster Tully's, he would have bled our strength at every opportunity. Still, even if the kraken has removed the eagle from play, I worry that we shall be ill-spent, either for spite or ignorance. Alas and alack: too few are the lords truly skilled at war."

"Ignorance is the more likely," Rebekkah judges. "Lord Tully shall, I doubt, pick a Frey commander for the host. Though that is not entirely a poor decision. Lord Walder's spawn define mediocrity. We shall see if our Lord Paramount stumbles upon competence. Lord Mallister." She clucks her tongue. "I know not whether to pass his death off as foolishness or arrogance. Both perhaps. But, such are most men." She looks across the table at Rygar, wistful. And, for a moment, both real affection and real regret reflect in her eyes. "You should have been prince of Westeros, you know, my dear low boy. And I should have been queen."

"Whatever I might have been, I am a knight. I must serve and uphold this House as a knight, even when surrounded by preening youths and aged fools, who armor themselves in arrogance," Rygar answers the familiar musing of what might have been. "Though Jason Mallister died for his pride, as did Prince Rhaegar before him, I can see without difficulty a time and place when I would do the same."

"Men ever find duty a convenient excuse," Rebekkah says, her eyes still on The Board. "Usually to their grief in the end. Well. Some things never change. Ah, Prince Rhaegar. I often wonder what sort of king he would have made. Better than the Baratheon Whoremonger, certainly, and he had something of the dragons within him. And, his life aside, Westeros is worse for his pride. Would he do differently, do you imagine, if he understood fully the consequences of his choice at the Trident?"

"I imagine that the Prince knew full well the consequences of failure," Rygar muses evenly. "In defeat, there was only death. With his death, the dynasty of dragons was doomed." Events six years past are reviewed afresh. "But just as well, I imagine he knew the consequences of flight. It was not in him to flee a just cause. To have conceded the field to Baratheon would have preserved his life, but had he fought to preserve his life, rather than prevail, he would not have been Rhaegar."

"You know, at times I think the only man who acted with remote intelligence during the Rebellion was young Ser Jaime Lannister," Rebekkah says. "And he, alas, too late for it to really matter. It was an entirely dishonorable act, of course, and a gross betrayal of his duty. And yet…if he'd done it a month or two earlier, my dear, while Rhaegar lived…" She trails off, inviting Rygar to consider that. "…well. Aerys Targaryen never should have been placed upon the Iron Throne anyway. It was a complete accident that he ended up king, you know. His line was as unlikely to be placed there as…" She chuckles. "…as you are to be Lord of the Mire one day. Such small things, such…dutiful choices men think they are making. And they come to the ruin of us all in the end."

Rygar sniffs in sharp derision of the infamous Lannister's good judgement. "The dragons die and the cowards live in cloth of gold. Tell me Grandmother, which would vex you more," the eldest of her grandsons prompts. "That I one day might come to ruin in the pursuit of carving out a worthy inheritance for my sons- though I risk falling into the same pitfalls as did my namesake- or that I live and scheme. That I sacrifice my reputation and honor out of fear and devolve into yet another worthless vassal of Lord Walder? You know of course which of those paths is mine."

"I know, my lowly dear. I know. For you are worthy of better, you will choose less. That is ever the way of men. And the under-worthy, who are too stupid to know they deserve not what they hold, have power wasted upon them." Rebekkah shakes her head. "I only think worthy men could do with more selfish ambition at times, and the world would be better for it. We have already lost our chance for greatness in this age, long before you and Prince Rhaegar and Robert Baratheon and all the rest were born." Eyes still on her board she asks, "Do you know the story of the King Aerys? Not the Mad King. King Aerys, First of His Name."

<FS3> Rygar rolls Heraldry: Good Success.

Rygar sniffs mildly at the mention of good men benefitting by 'morte selfish ambition'. "It is the sword which cuts both ways, grandmother," he voices evenly to her observation, before answering her latter question. "I know of his reign and reputation. That he came to the throne after the death of Baelor Breakspear, died childless, and left as his heir Prince Maekar. As to his story.." Rygar invites, "Tell me."

"Aerys the First died childless, yes, that is his main contribution to history," Rebekkah says, with a little nod of approval when Rygar so well recalls his lessons. She was always a big one for Westeros social studies. "His younger brother, King Maekar, inherited after him. Maekar had four sons. A very safe number. Though less so in those days. The Targaryens, for all their grandeur, had an unfortunate history of…disorderliness from within. The odd spare son occasionally thought himself more worthy than his younger brother." She smiles. "Those were grand times, though. I was at the court in King's Landing in the days of King Maekar, and he was I think the last truly great king of Westeros. If only you could have seen those days, my boy, and served a knight in those armies. It was a thing of beauty, and true greatness…"

Rygar nods once at the mention of the days of Blackfyre Rebellion, and the height of the Targaryen dynasty. The last of the cyvasse pieces is set into order, and the stern faced soldier fixes his eye upon Rebekkah with keen patience and intent focus as the matron's story carries on.

"In any case. King Maekar had the pragmatism to set his spare sons on other productive ways they could serve the realm, though they likely never inherit." She settles in to play once Rygar has the board arranged. Her opening move is simple and direct, just getting her lesser pieces into position. The game rarely begins in the first for her, though she generally has several steps planned out in her brain. "One such was a boy named Prince Aemon Targaryen. Maekar's third son. He was quite brilliant, young Prince Aemon. Though few appreciated it, as it was bent toward a bookish nature. His father consigned him very early to a life of study toward the Citadel, and maester's chains. That was his duty. That would be his fate. And Westeros needed him for nothing more…" Her story does not sound done. She eyes the small board, waiting for Rygar to move.

Rygar drops his eye briefly from Rebekkah to make the opening move he had prepared ahead of time. It looks like the defensive deployment he often favors against his grandmother. The knight's eye flicks back up to the matrons as the story continues, a short nod indicating his attention.

Rebekkah's early moves speak to attack, rather more aggressive than she's employing against her mysterious opponent at the big Board. "I became quite fond of Prince Aemon during my time at King's Landing," she goes on. "We were of an age with each other. And I was…I was a girl." And there is real warmth in her tone. And real regret.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Good Success Rebekkah: Good Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Rygar sniffs quietly, nodding as his grandmother revisits the story of her youth in King's Landing. He moves to reinforce his own defense against Rebekkah's advance, even as he notes, "Women often begin their lives as girls, I am told." Apart from the one dry quip, he hears out the story without interruption.

"They grow out of it, at least. Men are ever-boys," Rebekkah says. Frowning at the board. She was not giving it her strictest attention, and she's found herself unable to poke immediately at Rygar's defenses. "We were lovers, Prince Aemon and I." It's noted in an almost off-hand fashion, though she's never spoken of it before. "And I did love him. I would have married him. He could have married me. None thought he would ever inherit the throne, it did not matter the Darrys were a poor House. But he said his brothers would have feared he was plotting…something. And he had a duty to do as his father willed. And so he went to the Citadel at Oldtown. And I returned to the Riverlands. And I was made bride to lesser men." She looks up at him.

Rygar keeps his expression well schooled enough to conceal either surprise or skepticism at Rebekkah's words. "I recall another story in which you had sought admittance to the Citadel," he notes quietly, as details of various stories heard over the years are mulled over.

The Hag of the Mire's stories invite skepticism. She seems to spin lies and tall tales as a way to encourage her children and grandchildren to think her just an old fabulist. Or perhaps on the verge of senility. "I did that, yes," she says dryly. "A fool's errand. My thought was, if I could not have the life I desired in King's Landing with my scholar prince, I would make one for myself. For I was as sharp and able in scholarship as any maester. So I went to Oldtown and made a petition for admittance. They turned me away, of course. Such was not my place." She snorts. It's an old wound, but one that still brings spite from her. "I was rather a scandal, and I fear I did not make things pleasant on my father when I was brought home. After some…difficulties…I was consigned to marry Lord Nayland. And I made this my place instead. And my prince made himself a fine maester. His brothers were less successful in their endeavors. His eldest brother died of a pox he'd caught from a whore." She snorts. "The worthy heir, that one. Maekar's second son, Aerion, was one of those afflicted with madness of a kind that so unfortunately wove itself into the Targaryen line. He thought himself a dragon enough to drink a cup of wildfire and…well. He probably did breathe some fire before he died, so there is that. In any case. The Iron Throne was without a clear heir, though my Maester Prince was the rightful one to it. Save the duties he'd taken on, when he thought life had nothing else for him."

Rygar sniffs sharply at Rebekkah's comment of making a place in Oldtown, and again at talk of breathing fire. "Duties," he muses evenly as the story of the two generations-old royal succession is wrapped up. "Aegon whose grandchildren were married to produce Aerys the Second." A slow breath is drawn and let out as Rygar brings the Targaryen lineage from the first Aerys to the second.

"Prince Aemon's younger brother, yes. Aemon was offered the throne. He did not take it, though. And to prove he had no interest in fomenting rebellion against his brother, he left properly civilized Westeros entirely, and cast himself to the Wall. His duty, he felt, to preserve stability in the kingdom." Rebekkah snorts. "Men do love sacrificing themselves for their duty. I'm sure it feels very noble. And they never have to deal with the consequences, of what lesser men make of their sacrifices." She looks away from Rygar and her current game. To The Board. "When he wrote me, before he left for the Wall, he said he would have chosen differently had I been his queen. Well. Some men are, at least, wise enough to regret their mistakes."

Rygar is silent a moment at his grandmother's story continues. What can be said to such a story? When at last he does speak, the lean knight wonders, "Would he have been a strong king?"

"He would have been a good king. I would have been a strong queen," Rebekkah replies. She shrugs, moving one of her pieces on the little board. She favors her dragon too much, but she does it with impunity this time.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Success Rebekkah: Great Success
< Net Result: Rebekkah wins - Solid Victory

"What might have been," Rygar voices evenly to Rebekkah's answer. His grandmother's aggressive assault cracks the defensive line, claiming a bowman, and forcing Rygar to withdraw his pieces in defense of the banner. "I suspect that most men regret. They simply refuse to admit their mistakes. The same is true, I think, of women."

"Some make more mistakes than others," Rebekkah says, chuckling in a satisfied manner to herself as she claims Rygar's piece. "Indeed. What might have been. We still have the game, at least. Some things do endure, my dear boy, when all the rest is gone. Even if not quite how one would have wanted it to."

Rygar's attention is directed more heavily at the board, even as his ear and word are turned to his grandmother. Brows drawn and expression frowning in thought, he seeks to restore some stability to his defense, having lost the center of the board, he stubbornly seeks to avoid losing more ground. "The contests may change, grandmother, but the game is forever."

"The game you speak of is not what has endured for me," Rebekkah says, with a look over her shoulder at The Board. It contains actual warmth. But then it is back to business. "I suspect my Maester on the Wall shall win our match this time. But we shall play again, together." She smiles. "As will you and I, my dear." She brings her elephant into play now, ever-pressing.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Good Success Rebekkah: Success
< Net Result: Rygar wins - Solid Victory

Rygar transitions smoothly from defense to counter-attack, managing to block and pin Rebekkah's elephant between a pair of footmen. He doesn't indulge in a smile, but the younger Nayland does turn a rather more satisfied eye back to Rebekkah at the successful defense. "The game I speak of is the one that yet lies ahead of me, grandmother. It is not the fate you would have wanted for me, but we shall see what can be done with it."

"The fate I want for you, my Rygar, is one you are worthy of," Rebekkah says. "And when you consider your duty…consider also what you want." Her eyes narrow at the successful defense. She glares at the board. Then, after a moment, smiles ever so slightly. "Not bad." She brings her rabble into play. As sacrifices, probably, but they work well enough to set up bigger moves. She's never been above killing off her rabble for dubious purposes.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Success Rebekkah: Good Success
< Net Result: Rebekkah wins - Solid Victory

Rebekkah's fodder pieces are advances in waves, and Rygar defends warily, his moves clearly still occupied with his grandmother's dragon. His moves reflect a suspicion that she will make her ultimate assault on his pieces wth the dragon and as a result, he suffers some losses for responding less firmly against the rabble. "What I want," he echoes with a sniff. "I want that an inheritance be passed to my sons. That they need not be dependant on another man's goodwill for their sustenance. I would see Ryon a Lord, and Derrick a knight. But for myself?" he glances up with a short shake of his head. "There is not enough blood to be spilled in all Westeros to sate what I want, Grandmother."

"I know, my dear High-gar the Low," Rebekkah says. She continues her advance with a footman, her dragon held in reserve. Though she delights in using it, so likely she has some master plan for its prominence in the outcome of the game. "You mourn for a king you who never was. As do I. I wonder at times if, had all I wanted as a girl come to pass, would I have made it all I dream it would have been? Regret makes the past taste sweeter than it perhaps merits."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Good Success Rebekkah: Great Success
< Net Result: Rebekkah wins - Marginal Victory

"Even had it come to pass and failed, Grandmother, the failure would have been yours, rather than fortune's," Rygar opines evenly. "Perhaps naught would have changed. But the chance- however distant- that we might yet live in a world where oaths are obeyed, and power rests on more than a sword arm.. No, grandmother, I need not the false sweetness of nostalgia to render the present most bitter." Even as he describes the battles long lost, and the bitterness of the present, Rebekkah's hordes score a masterful breakthrough of his footmen. Although Rygar defends with skill, his respect for the looming dragon still dictates his strategy.

Her dragon continues to loom as the Hag of the Mire plays her rabble. They're doing the job for her presently, though many of them can easily be swept aside in future moves. While her dragon still waits. "I do wonder if the other Seven Kingdoms will rise up in time, even after the vile reavers are slain. The Reachlords are ever arrogant. The Dornish have always barely considered themselves part of Westeros, still styling their lords 'prince' and 'princess' whoever they bend the knee to. The friendship between the North and King's Landing may well die with Eddard Stark, and it too has ever held itself apart. Part of me is glad I shall likely meet my end this summer. I only hope I live long enough to win another game with my Maester on the Wall." A pause. "And dance on Walder Frey's grave."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Great Success Rebekkah: Great Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Rygar sniffs shortly at that last amendment, but his expression remains dour and grave. "They shall," he opines on a future schism within the Seven Kingdoms. "The line of Kings is broken, Robert Baratheon's crown is built only upon strength, and shall not survive his old age. Presuming of course that the Stormlord lives to be old," he adds, curtly. "Mace Tyrell is a strutting fool, but also a coward. Perhaps his sons will aspire to the old Gardener throne. Ties of sentiment are ever fleeting among Kingdoms." Throughout the grim oration, he has at last managed to stabilize his defenses, after a deft maneuver of his archer pins down Rebekkah's line.

Rebekkah purses her lips. The only sign of irritation she'll allow herself to show as Rygar blocks her conquest of the board. "Sentiment is ever-fleeting, unless rooted in something stronger. Prince Rhaegar was loved. That is why you still pine for him, my High-gar the low, even as his rubies have sunk into the Trident forever more. Perhaps there are lords in the land who love the Baratheon usurper as well. He may at least hold the throne until his death, should that be so."

"That so many forsook their oaths to follow him, I do not the man is loved, Grandmother," Rygar returns on the subject of Robert. "But the line of dragons has gone, and King Prey now sits the throne. However strong and loved he might be, a line of deer cannot endure in a world of hunters, and by his victory, Baratheon has given every Lord in the Seven Kingdoms a bow."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Great Success Rebekkah: Good Success
< Net Result: Rygar wins - Solid Victory

"And whoever wins the next game may be an even lesser man then the Usurper," Rebekkah says. She makes another advance with her footman, but frowns a second after she does it. Rygar can take that piece, and press forward at little obvious risk to whatever she's planning with her dragon. "Who would take the bow for the Riverlands, I wonder. We shall not be reaver slaves again." Her reedy voice is almost fierce. "Though the House Tully holds little ability to shoot so far and high, I think."

Rygar sniffs sharply, as he advances to claim Rebekkah's footmen, committing his horsemen to a counterattack, finally capturing the elephant. "In that Balon Greyjoy has done us a service, Grandmother: there shall not be enough left of the Iron Islands to threaten us for a generation." A slow exhale as he muses, awaiting Rebekkah's move. "The Blackwoods and Brackens will set upon each other at first opportunity. The Mallisters fade, but the Freys are too cautious. Lord Walder does nothing but age, and Ser Stevron does nothing but wait. Alas and alack that the Darrys are so diminished, there is no more venerable House in the Riverlands."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Good Success Rebekkah: Great Success
< Net Result: Rebekkah wins - Marginal Victory

"The Darrys. The house of my birth," Rebekkah says, with a sad sort of smile. "What will be left of me when I fade away myself, I wonder sometimes." She looks across the table as Rygar takes her elephant. "You, I suppose, my High-gar the Low. All of you. Such as you are." For once, she does not sound particularly disappointed in the Nayland brood she spawned. She advances more of her rabble, intending to make this a bloody contest, since Rygar's doing well. "I am sorry your sons shall never know the dragons."

Rygar loses his horseman in the exchange, as Rebekkah prevents the intended threat to her precious dragon piece, and once again theelborate back and forth of the cyvasse match favors the elder Nayland. "As am I," Rygar admits to Rebekkah's last. "As to what shall remain of any of us, time alone will tell, Grandmother."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Rygar=cyvasse+mind Vs Rebekkah=cyvasse+mind
< Rygar: Good Success Rebekkah: Failure
< Net Result: Rygar wins - Solid Victory

"Time alone always does," Rebekkah says almost philosophically. Her beady eyes look down at the board and, finally, she moves her dragon into position. Though she seems displeased to do it. The elephant was, it now appears, more important to her long-term strategy than was readily apparent. The use of her dragon now is an aggressive effort to avoid defeat, and leaves it open to taking if Rygar makes use of the opportunity. "If nothing else, I still enjoy my games. You have come along not-too-poorly, Rygar."

"Cyvasse is an exercise of the mind, a whetstone to the wit," Rygar quotes back a remembered saying that he had heard years before as he keenly studies Rebekkah's advance of the dragon. Considering for a moment, after looking for a prepared counter-blow with which his grandmother might be baiting him, he commits his catapult and trebuchet against the dragon, seeking to take the prized piece between his own artillery.

The dragon is taken. And the path to final victory open. Rebekkah snorts, placing her remaining knight so at least Rygar will have to bleed for it a bit, but his triumph - at least in this round of cyvasse - is inevitable. "Well. At least one of you listens to me."

Rygar has lost the majority of his pieces by the time he manages to bring the trebuchet into position to threaten Rebekkah's king. "I thank you for your words, Grandmother. And for the round," he adds. "I will send word when the campaign is resolved," he promises of the war ahead.

"Fight well, my High-gar the Low. I would like another game soon," Rebekkah says, reaching out to touch Rygar's cheek in a gesture of affection that's actually genuine. Loving grandmother that she is.