The Lords of Winter

King's Landing I

Erik Writes his mother

Mother,

It is I, Erik. I fear our trip to King’s Landing is already a disaster, and we haven’t made it to the city.

After we made the King’s Road, we headed south. All through the North, the Peace of Lord Stark held, and we had no difficulties.

Then we crossed the Neck into Tully land. Soon we spotted a Murder of Crows. Investigating, we came upon a Murder of Men. Five unarmored men, slain in their sleep. Their armor still piled up against the trees. They looked like soldiers, and had a few silvers still on their bodies, and we found a large empty sack that may have contained more.

One of the dead man had a hilt with a Stag on it, but no crown. It must have predated the War of the Usurper.

We proceeded to an inn, Dags Inn, where we were met with open hostility. It seems our house was blamed for killing some of the Dannet’s useless small-folk. A Sir Adlern Dannet had ridden through, holding a shield with our device on it, and told a tale of mass murder of his people by House Slayton soldiers. There was a severed hand in the shield, said to be from a Slayton.

I thought to stifle these rumors at the source, and challenged anyone who repeated them to a duel, but the craven southerners moved to overwhelm us with unbeatable numbers. It would have been a glorious death, I’m sure I would have taken dozens of them myself, but I had our mission to think of. And I would much prefer to make the other man die.

We heard of a Fox Knight who had been in the area before all this trouble, hiring only outsiders for a mission, and paying well. We think he was hiring butchers and murderers to wear our colors while attacking the small-folk. He was regarded as a highly religious man, probably the southern seven. And a humorless man at that. He fought on the losing side of the War of the Usurper.

We moved on and found another inn, just out of King’s Landing, called the Great Stag. There I encountered a drunken lout with gold coin all over his table. He was bragging of killing small-folk dressed as one of us! Said the Fox Knight liked him because he was against the King.

Our house may have been set up by some plot of Targaryen loyalists. What with the failed wedding, we have a bad name in Tully’s land. It may be the plot is bigger than just defaming us, and we are being used as a convenient scapegoat.

I found a man of good birth, Ben Fred of House Ferring to witness the man’s talk. Sir Fred was also interested in Emma and promised to testify for us in King’s Landing.

Maester Lassen and our Master of Mint drugged the drunk, not that that was an epic feat, and kept him in the Maester’s room.

The next morning, Sir Ben Fred was dead. I had to bludgeon the Maester’s prisoner to keep him quiet. He seemed willing to testify himself the night before, but he was in his cups, so who knows? Now he is none to pleased with us.

Now we go to King’s Landing. We are flying the Ignatius banner, as our own attracts all sorts of unwanted attention. I fear we must clear our name before we can find a man for Emma and a Lord for our House.

Your bewildered son,
Erik

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Balthazar

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