Chapter 1- Through Strength of Arms"Bryce, or Lord Greyfuir. Whatever you want to call him. He wasn't ready for all that. When you're young like we were then you wanna fight or bed every other thing you see. Add a lot of bottled up shite to that, yet get what happened at that melee." -Marlon Amber to a man of the smallfolkState of the Realm 331AL
The Iron Throne:Ruler-
King Edric 'Storm', the Scourge of Breakstone Hill, of House Baratheon. First of his name, son of Robert 'the Usurper' of House Baratheon, now sits on the Iron Throne.Status-
His Seat is The Red Keep of King's Landing.
Edric gained power in 313AL after leading a coalition of Stormlanders and Reachmen in a bloody, but short, rebellion.
His rule has been turbulent, fraught with countless small uprisings and many large ones. Most notably being then Dornish and Westerman wars for independence, and the successive Ironborn Rebellions.
Edric's current wife is Queen Lanna the Suspicious Lion of House Lannister. Daughter of Lady Paramount Myrcella of the Westerlands. They have two daughters. Princesses Roelle and Jocelyn, of ages 3 and 1.
Edric has ruled for eighteen years.
For first time since the War of the Five Kings the Iron Throne is at peace. No wars internal or external are being waged by the crown at this time.The Westerlands:Ruler-
The Iron Throne retains all traditional territories, and in part has expanded into the Summer Islands due to the efforts of the Ironborn.
Military strength is minimal due to years of civil war but has begun to rise.
Lady Paramount Myrcella 'the Perceptive Lion' of House Lannister. Daughter of Robert 'the Usurper' of House Baratheon and Cersei of House Lannister, rules the Westerlands.Status-
Her Seat is Casterly Rock.
Myrcella gained power in 327AL after former Paramount Tywell the Greatlion, son of Tommen Lannister, failed his rebellion for Westerman independence and was stripped of his titles.
Under her rule the Westerlands have been at a relative, if uneasy, peace. She has supported the crown in several small skirmishes and largely contributed to victory against the Ironborn in their last rebellion. Going against her heritage, Myrcella is one of the crown's most loyal subjects.
Myrcella's current husband is Mycah Dea, a landless Hill Clansman Lord. They have three daughters. Queen Lanna and the twins Ladies Eglantine and Tyressa; of ages 21 and 2.
Myrcella has ruled for four years.
The Westerlands are at peace, waging no internal or external wars.The Reach:Ruler-
The Westerlands have retained all traditional territories, as well as acquired the lordships of Kanet and Oakenshield.
Constant wars with it's enemies for decades has tapped the strength of the Westerlands. It's only saving grace is the immense wealth the territory holds, which has allowed Westermen lords to recover their losses.
Lord Paramount Raymund 'the Unworthy' of House Tyrell. Son of Ser Olymer of House Tyrell and Lysa of House Meadows, rules the Reach.Status-
His Seat is Southshield.
Raymund gained power in 317AL after leading the Reachmen in revolt against former Paramount Tywell the Greatlion of House Lannister.
Under his rule the Reach has known constant infighting. Many Reachmen consider him a poor ruler and often raise arms in hopes of seating other Tyrells as lords of the Reach. As of yet none have been able to accomplish said task, so Raymund remains Lord Paramount.
Raymund's current wife is Jhaeira of House Durwell. They have two daughters. Ladies Jhaeira and Jancia, of ages 26 and 22. His marriage is matrilineal.
He has ruled for fourteen years.
The Reach is currently waging an offensive war on Lord Paxter of House Wythers in attempt to reclaim lost territory.The Stormlands:Ruler-
The Reach has lost several territories to independent rulers. These include the Highlordships of Highgarden and Brightwater; the Lordships of Catswold, Holyhall, Wythers, The Ring, and Roseford. Territories claimed by other kingdoms are, Greyshield by the Iron Islands and Oakenshield by the Westerlands. The one territory acquired by the Reach is Nightsong of the Stormlands.
As a whole the Reach remains strong. Since the ascension of Raymund they have neither waged war on their neighbors nor supported them when asked for aide. The actual Lordship of the Reach though holds little power. Having lost many territories to civil war, including the powerful force of Highgarden, the Lord Paramount commands little power.
Lord Paramount Casper, second of his name, of House Wylde. Son of Lord Paramount Imry of House Wylde and Melessa Yronwood, rules the Stormlands.Status-
His Seat is Rain House.
Casper gained power in 330AL after the death of his father Imry.
A babe of just 3, Casper has yet to set course for his rule instead allowing Meryn of House Codarrion to rule in his stead as Lord Regent.
Casper has no wife nor children.
He had ruled for one year.
The Stormlands are currently waging no internal nor external wars.Dorne:Ruler-
The Stormlands have retained all traditional territories of its realm, save for Storm's End which is held by the king and Nightsong taken by the Reach, but neither has it expanded its borders.
The Stormlands are the preeminent power in Westeros. Currently it boasts the largest standing military force which has alloted the Stormlords a great deal of respect and fear. It is rumored that even the King, whom was throned in no small part thanks to the lords of the Stormlands, has even cast a worrying eye upon them.
Prince Quentyn of House Martell. Son of Princess Arianne of House Martell, rules Dorne.Status-
His Seat is Sunspear.
Quentyn gained power in the early months of 331AL after the death of his mother.
Having ruled for only a few months Quentyn has yet to set course for his rule. It is known though that many Dornish nobles have high hopes for the young Prince.
Quentyn had no wife nor children.
He has ruled for only a few months.
Dorne is currently waging no internal nor external wars.The Riverlands:Ruler-
Dorne has retained all traditional territories of its realm, but neither has it expanded its borders.
Dorne suffered a terrible and crushing defeat at the hands of Stannis of House Baratheon during it's war to throne Aegon of Essos on the Iron Throne. It has since recovered from the tragedy but has stuck to its own devices thus far.
Lord Paramount Royce of House Baelish. Son of Petyr Littlefinger of House Baelish, rules the Riverlands.Status-
His Seat is Harrenhal.
Royce's rule has been a steady one thus far, if not an uncomfortable one. After Petyr took hold of the Riverlands and banished Edmure to the Wall, the line of House Tully was extinguished. Though many Riverlords still hold anomosity for Royce and his family, with no living Tullys to press a claim for, his reign has been a secure one.
Royce is married to Lady Margaery of House Tyrell, former Queen of the Iron Throne. They have no children.
He has ruled for nine years.
The Riverlands are currently waging no internal nor external wars.The Vale:Ruler-
The Riverlands have retained most of their traditional territory, but have lost a few lordships to other realms. Namely being Kanet to the Westerlands, Shoreham and Stillfen to the direct control of the Iron Throne, and Atranta to the Kingsguard.
The Riverlands have been on the slow track of restoration for many years now. The majority of its territories being lost the Euron Crow's Eye of House Greyjoy during his reign as Iron King. Though the territories have since been reclaimed, the mark of the Iron Born has still been left on the land.
Lord Paramount Robert 'the Stuttered Falcon' of House Aryn. Son of Jon of House Aryn and Lysa of House Tully, rules the Vale.Status-
His seat is The Eyrie.
Though frail in body, Robert has been able to rule the Vale with surety for many years. Having reigned through, but not taken part in, many of the civil wars that shook the realm and the invasion of a Hill Clansman King, he has managed to provide peace of mind to his retainers and provide safety to his people. In recent years though many of his closest advisors have advised him to press his claim on the Riverlands, yet he is reluctant to attack the son of the man whom raised him. That coupled with the encroaching Greyscale upon his flesh has made many wary of his rule in future years.
Robert is married to Leana of House Frey. They have five children. Lord Jon, Lord Pearse, Lady Fiona, Lord Horas, and Lord Ondred; of ages 12, 10, 5 for the twins, and 2.
He has ruled for thirty-four years.
The Vale is Waging no internal nor external wars.The Iron Islands:Ruler-
The Vale has retained all its traditional territories, save for Ninestars which is under the control of the Most Devout.
The Vale is the second most powerful force in Westeros. Their biggest strength through the years of Robert's rule has been its avid neutrality. They have fought one war with their peers since the time of Robert 'the Usurper', that to install Petyr Baelish as Paramount of the Riverlands. Since then they have done nothing but protect the Vale. The bloodiest conflict most Valemen have seen in decades was with a petty clansman that would call himself king. A story which ended in short order.
Lord Paramount Victorian 'the Strong' of House Greyjoy. Son of Quellon of House Greyjoy and Elvira of House Sunderly, rules the Iron Islands.Status-
His seat is Pyke.
Victorian Greyjoy seceded his brother as ruler of the Iron Born, reigning as Iron King for near fifteen years. While the greenlanders struggled amongst themselves the Iron Born cut a bloody swath through the Riverlands ranging from Seagard to the gates of Harrenhal itself. During this time Edric 'Storm' would become king and deliver terms to the Reavers. Bend a knee and they would keep all lands they had taken. Euron refused, and was cut down. Victorian led a long and costly defense of the Riverlands before eventually being pushed back to the Iron Islands where he was forced to cede all stolen titles and bend the knee. In 316AL he would rebel against the greenlanders again, waging a war that lasted six years before once again being defeated. He was able to retain the seat of Lord Paramount, but only in name. Having lost all sanity and sense, whether from old age or evil machinations.
He has no living wife and no living children.
Collectively as Iron King and Lord Paramount, Victorian has ruled for thirty-two years.
The Iron Islands are currently waging wars in the Summer Islands.The North:Ruler-
The Iron Islands retains all traditional territories, including the lordship of Greyshield and the High Lordship of The Three Exiles.
After countless years of war with the greenlanders the Iron Born are at a highly weakened state. Only House Farwynd, whom did not participate in their Liege's conflicts are at full power. A feat that has enabled them to invade the Summer Islands and take possesion of The Three Exiles. Thanks to their disobedience the Iron Born have actually managed to retain some semblance of a military, albeit a poor one.
Cley of House Bolton. Son of Ramsay of House Bolton and Lady Jeyne 'Arya' of House Stark, rules the North.Status-
His Seat is Winterfell.
Cley's rule began when he was very young. Ramsay Bolton declared himself King in the North and prepared to march south to attack the weakened Riverlands. However, many of the great northern houses refused to answer his call to arms. He was eventually slain by Lord Commander Loras Tyrell of the Kingsguard north of the neck, after Jojen Reed and his army scattered most of Ramsay's men. Cley was then taken in by Wyman Manderly whom ruled as his Lord Regent until his death.
He has no wife nor children.
Cley has ruled for fourteen years.
The North is currently waging no internal nor external wars.
The North has retained all of its traditional territories, but has not expanded.
The North is currently the third strongest power in Westeros after the Stormlands and the Vale. Loyalties are divided between those that support the Boltons and those that wish to see a true Stark returned to the Seat of Winterfell. Though many argue that having Arya as a mother makes Cley a Stark in blood at least, some doubt her legitimacy. With Rickon Stark living with his children in the Stony Shore, and the young bastard of Jon Snow being sent down from the Wall, many question their own allegiances and fear that war may come.
The sickening thunk of steel sinking into flesh rang out across the moors. Marlon had adverted his eyes when it happened, caring not to see a man taken in such a pointless way. Ethan Ryswell was a warrior of some repute in the North. Not a legendary hero or any such nonsense but surely one of it's better fighters. As Marlon watched him pull free his blade from the chest of young Barth Hayes he could see why. His opponent had surrendered before their bout had even begun, something Ethan would not accept, and for it Barth lost his life. "Seven Hells..." Marlon thought as he pressed a skin of wine to his lips and looked away. "Poor fool shoulda fought."
His min then turned to his young lord that was out there somewhere clashing steels with others in the melee. Truth be told Marlon was fairly confident in Bryce's ability to outfight most he would come across but with men like that Ethan here too. Well the sooner it ended the better. A shake of his head would be the last thing Marlon gave to the spectacle before turning away from the fighting field and heading back into the camps. Here at least he could drink in peace, or at least so he had hoped. For not long after finding a reasonably comfortable place to sit a hand would find it's way unto his shoulder drawing his attention away from his wineskin.
"Well Marlon, looking glum as usual." A hefty deep voice cut through the murmurings of the camp with deft skill. "Thought all the young folk would be in there trying to spill some blood."
He didn't have to turn to see whom was speaking, he knew the voice well. One that had gone unchanged for the two decades Marlon had been alive. A slight smile curled unto the corner of Marlon's lips as he shook his head. "And why not then is good lord Fisher taking place in the fights?"
A deep bellow wailed at Marlon's retort before a large wrinkled hand fell upon his shoulders. "Have your laugh my boy!" The man continued. "When I was your age I thought the same of the old lords that gorged themselves in the feasts halls. Then I became one of them!"
Marlon stood and turned to face the man, his hand outstretching and taking hold of his forearm whilst the man did the same to Marlon. "It's good to see you my lord." Marlon said with an earnest grin. "Your jaded sense of humor has been desperately missed."
Old Mallador Fisher cracked a wide and toothy grin as he shook Marlon's hand. He had known the old man all his life, from his first cries as a babe to the day he rode off the Dawnforest for grooming. It have been near five years since their last meeting and Marlon found himself a bit nervous as one he respected so highly gave him a look over. It was strange though to see him here. From what he remembered Mallador always detested events of this sort. He had lived through the War of the Five Kings and never took too much liking to those that played at war in times of peace. Even still, that aside, this was wondrous surprise for Marlon.
"Heard the Black Fox made you Castellan. Must have been a busy few years heh?" Lord Fisher spoke as he pulled a seat over to Marlon and sat down. "Have to say I was surprised about all that. Not you gaining the title, the boy getting Cerwyn." The old man coughed prompting Marlon to hand him his wineskin.
"We were too if I'm being honest. I don't think Lord Bryce ever thought he'd be a seated lord." Marlon crossed his arms and chuckled a bit as Mallador took a long swig from the skin.
Lord Fisher wiped his mouth before tossing the wineskin back to Marlon. "He has an two older brothers if I'm not mistaken." Mallador nodded to himself in confirmation. "Something happen there?"
For a moment Marlon thought not to answer. He felt as if talking about things would be betraying his lord's house. Then again most people already knew of the affair that led Bryce to come into power, most certainly Mallador did and was now simply goading Marlon in to answering. "Wyl, the middle brother." Marlon stopped for a moment, then shook his head before continuing. "He ran off and married a commoner behind Lord Harrion's back."
"Yes, yes. I heard something about that." Lord Fisher said whilst he scratched the white stubble jutting out from the bottom of his chin. "So good Lord Harrion disinherited him then."
Marlon shook his head. "No, well not that I am aware of. He just made it clear that the oldest brother William would rule Dawnforest and Lord Bryce would get Cerwyn."
"That's certainly a way to prove a point I suppose. Don't think it would've worked on my girls though." Mallador smiled. "Tough like their mother."
Marlon let a grin slide across his face as he thought back to his youth in Stony Shore. I had been years since he had even thought about Arsa, Lord Fisher's daughter. She had been just a tad younger than him then, always clinging to his heels whenever he went out. She had been a knobby kneed tomboy then but Marlon had since heard she had grown very beautiful. Strange how that always tended to happen.
"Hello?" A voice drew his attention back to reality. "You in there lad?" Mallador called as he looked to Marlon with a curious expression.
Marlon's cheeks flushed red for a moment before he nodded. "Sorry about that, my mind wandered. What were you saying?" Marlon spoke as he tried to reclaim a bit of composure.
Mallador grimaced and rasied his voice a bit, pointing his finger as he went on. "Your Lord! The Black Fox. He's taken position as one of the Bolton commander right?"
"Not yet, but soon." Marlon answered as he wondered the reason for this line of questioning. "House Greyfuir is one of the only houses in the North that were raised by the Boltons. They've fought for them since before Roose took the North." Marlon went on. "I'd be more strange if someone other than Bryce received such an offer."
"So he has love for the Boltons then?" There was malice in Mallador's voice, but not much. If you didn't know the man you would be hard pressed to notice it at all. "Good. Another gifted young warrior ready to die for our Liege Lord."
Marlon raised a brow as he looked towards Lord Fisher. Something was wrong, certainly, but what? It wasn't like him to so carelessly say things of that nature in a place where anyone within earshot could hear him. Had old age taken the man's mind? No, not from what Marlon could tell of him. "My Lord..." Marlon said softly as he leaned forward.
"Don't worry lad, no need to be so damn uptight." Mallador laughed a bit before looking back to Marlon. "But, since you're already in that sullen mood I'd like to ask something of you."
Marlon looked to th ground and shook his head before returning his gaze to Lord Fisher. "Of course my lord, what do you ne-..." A cry interrupted his answer, followed by the appearance of one of Lord Bryce's men.
"Master Amber!" He called. "It's Lord Bryce, he's been hurt in the melee!"
"By whom!" Marlon said in near disbelief.
The man answered: "His brother!"
The melee had come to it's final moments. Two men remained standing, both tired, both clutching wounds. Marlon had pushed his way through the crowd so that he could better see the situation, his mind forever turning from fear of losing his lord. Ethan Ryswell had taught everyone earlier that a life was not safe on these grounds and that one motivated to kill would do so without any bias. So Marlon watched on as Bryce and his older brother William circled one another.
"Go on and give up already little brother." William smirked as he twirled his blade in hand before pointing it towards Bryce. "You never could beat me in a spar and that arm of yours isn't going to heal itself." Marlon's eyes flitted to Bryce as William said this, noticed to splotch of red soaking through his lord's tunic.
Bryce sneered. "A lot has changed since the last time we went at it." He raised his sword with his good arm whilst positioning himself. "I doubt even Wyl could beat me now." His words were hard, but his body was clearly weakened.
William lunged forward letting his blade lash out and find Bryce's time and again. The sound sound of steel hitting steel filled the arm as the crowd stared on in utter silence. "Ya!" Bryce let out a scream as he parried William's sword then countered by thrusting forward. William took notice and jumped back, putting distance between the two of them.
"Not pulling any punches I see. If you weren't so slow that might've caught me." He mocked whilst he delievered another flurry of strikes. William clearly had to upper hand and was exploiting such. Many times during those moments of attack he could have disarmed Bryce, but did not. Winning wasn't enough, no. He had to humiliate his little brother. "Come on then Lord Black Fox, show is the terrible skill you have!" He attacked again.
Marlon adverted his eyes. He couldn't watch a thing as this unfold, and for each minute that passed he was more the thankful he had not taken place in the melee. It was hard for him to believe someone like Bryce would lose so badly. He had trained with his, saw him fight in mock battles more times than he could remember. His lord possessed great skill with a blade. Much more so than that sloppy mess William was demonstrating for the crowd at this time. Was his wound really so bad it would effect him this much?
A cheer then rang out across the moors. Marlon turned with halfhearted expectation, knowing his young lord had fallen to the blade of his brother. His eyes went wide. Blood spattered across the dying grass as a man wailed in pain. A Greyfuir had fallen, but not the Black Fox. Bryce stood above his older brother with sword in hand, eyes cold and unmoving from his squirming form. "You're ego is gonna get you killed one day William." Bryce said as he tossed his sword down and reached out to aide his brother.
"You tricked me you little shit!" William said half angry and half impressed. "I thought your arm was no good." He looked to the bleeding wound on Bryce's shoulder before looking down to his own forearm. "Like mine is now."
Bryce smiled as his brother stood and the healers rushed over to have a look at the both of them. "Aye, that's what I intended." Bryce's hand drifted to the shoulder of his tunic before ripping open the slightly torn fabric. "No more than a scratch but it bled plenty. Should be better in a week or two." He then looked to William's arm. "Your's may take a wee bit longer." An understatement for sure. Bryce had sliced through his brother's arm-guard and deep into his flesh. It wasn't a fatal nor maiming wound, but one that would limit use of his arm for a good while.
"Bah!" William pushed Bryce away and began walking away, but not before calling back. "Black blood little brother! Black blood!" To which Bryce smiled and shook his head.
Marlo too smiled. Words could not express how relieved he was that his friends hadn't gotten himself killed on some fool's folly. The crowd had hence began to disperse, some walking by and congratulating Bryce, others heading to their tents to rest and prepare for the journeys home. Marlon waited until most of the hoopla died down before meeting Bryce and walking back to their camp.
"That was risky and stupid." Marlon said as he threw his hands into the air and shook his head. "You gave him a dozen openings. What if he would've finished you off from the get go and not played your little game." Marlon chastised Bryce as best he could, but no matter his words his lord continued to grin.
"He wouldn't have, trust me." Bryce answered simply as he nodded to a passerby wishing him well.
Marlon crossed his arms and sighed. "I'm sure that's what Hayes thought this morning too before Ethan Ryswell plunged his sword through his heart." He went on. "Point is you never know what can happen when people are caught up fighting, so don't go taking those kind of chances."
Bryce continued not to look at Marlon, simply laughing as his cohort spoke. "He wouldn't kill me. Destroy my reputation and publicly shame me, yes, but not kill."
"And how are you so sure of that my lord?" Marlon asked as sarcastically as he possibly could.
Bryce stopped and turned, staring Marlon in the eyes before saying in earnest grace. "Becuase, he's my brother." Then his hand found it's way to Marlon's shoulder. "Now, I'm going to get stitched up. You go enjoy yourself whilst we're still in camp. And no, that's not a request."
For a moment Marlon paused as he watched Bryce walk into the crowd, navigating his way through the series of tents, before taking a step forward after him. He felt as if he needed to apologize for what he had said. They were brothers and clearly that meant a lot to Bryce. If in any way he had crossed some boundary by insinuating William would have hurt him he needed to rectify it. However, before he could continue after his lord a figure stepped into his path.
"That was some show wasn't it?" Mallador said as he stood in front of Marlon offering him a mug of ale. "Thought your boy was going down the entire time. Lost a good bit of coin there."
If it had been anyone else Marlon would have pushed past them and chased after Bryce, but not Lord Mallador. "You aren't alone in that regard I'm sure." He said taking the mug.
"Now then, why don't we go somewhere private and finish these drinks my boy." Lord Fisher said as he draped his arm around Marlon's neck, his face drifting close to Marlon's ear as he continued in a hushed tone. "And I can tell you just what it is I'd like to ask of you."