Dark Sails – Maester Meldrik
Before daybreak, the first bodies arrived. The wolves had been had at them. Pulp and gristle was all that was left of the children. The adults faired better, leaving at least torsos. There were fourteen bodies. The mountain wolves had carried away more.
They had been a mix of families that lived in a small farm north of Talon’s Reach. The dugouts they occupied had lined one of the smaller mountain passes. The guard captain noted that the dead smallfolk hovels had been upturned.
“Probably a wildling raiding party,” he surmised.
The captain was not pleased to drag the bodies back to the castle but Maester Meldrik had commanded it. He would have torched the hovels. Instead, the captain had to drag what parts he could find through the mountains for Meldrik.
The maester poked and prodded the bodies in front of the captain. He would pause, his hands dripping in some thick fluid, just to write in a journal. The guardsman did his best to keep down his morning oats with apples and honey.
“These wounds are from castle forged steel,” the maester stated as he pried back a slab of skin and rib. This troubled Meldrik. The wildlings have either looted some black brothers and are growing braver or this was an attack by well armed men, he thought as he noted the wounds in his journal. His lordship must be informed.
Wildling attacks were nothing new in that reach of the mountains. The lawless ones generally struck in small groups once or twice a year. This was different. Everyone in the dugout was put the sword. In relation to other settlements, these smallfolk were much closer to the castle. I must make my report then gather the young for their morning lessons.
The maester hurried up from his lab to the rookery. He grimaced as a he passed young Gregson Rivers. The steward was asleep again. Laying flat across the desk and speckled in raven shit, Gregson snored as Meldrik quietly walked past.
Meldrik saw that a raven had arrived from Oldtown. Dark wings, dark words.
Dark Sails – Lord Banon Locke
His uncle seemed uneasy this morning. The attack on the smallfolk to the north was not uncommon. One of the northern patrols had come across the bodies and quickly dispatched word to Lord Banon. The messenger had given an account of what they found.
The bodies, torn apart by wolves and crows, left no tale of their attackers. There were no horse tracks in the area. The last time the northern patrol had gone by the dugouts was eight moons past.
His uncle’s mood was soured by the news. They broke their fast with hard rye bread and eggs slathered in pickled carrots. The guard left out the meeting hall, leaving only Lord Banon and Ser Lasham alone.
Perhaps the Red Priest upsets him, Banon thought. The Red Priest Reynart had only been here a few weeks but had already made an impression on the area. He had come on a black sailed frigate with talk of trade alliances with Myr. Maester Meldrik seemed to think that most of his trade was with the whores in outlying villages.
Lasham had already appealed to have the Red Priest thrown off the Locke lands, but Banon thought it best to keep the man from Myr around. The nightly fire rituals drew some business from neighboring houses. They had become popular in the region.
“Reynart has asked to move his fire rituals within the castle yard,” Banon said as he sucked on a pickled radish.
“If it pleases my lord, but I want nothing to do with these foreign gods,” he said with a snap. “Nor does my family.”
Maester Maldrik had informed Banon that Mili Locke, Lashman’s oldest daughter, had taken to going to the nightly fires. The maester had frowned on the idea, but she was as headstrong as her father. Myrish ways are not ours, the maester had warned. Family and honor mean little to those who watch the flames of R’hllor.
Dark Sails – Devan Mormont
They made a laughable ensemble as ambassadors. Devan wore his standard armor with his Bear Island coat of arms blazoned across the front. Next to him rode Red Snow, the bastard of House Locke. He wore a plain outfit and was layered in thick furs.
Wynd rode close to Red. The “highborn wildling” he was called in whispers. He was the master of the stables and one of the best trackers in the North. Even with that, no one trusted him much. Devan rarely gave him doubt, but he had seen plenty of wildling raids on his home of Bear Island to let Wynd ride behind him.
Lord Locke had given his squire a simple task. Ride down to Ice Watch, and meet the captains of the boats that had arrived. The town always had a certain sound to it, but it seemed louder.
Four ships had made a call to port that normally never saw more than one at a time. Devan recognized one. It was a trade ship from Lannisport. It’s gold and red sail stood out. That was nothing unusual. Traders from the Westerlands and even The Reach came to Ice Watch in search of minerals and ore. Devan recalled savoring some of the fruit that a Highgarden trader had brought in.
The other three sails he did not recognize. All three were as black as pitch. Nothing distinguished them from a distance. Once they reached the port, Devan could see the figureheads on the prow were all different.
The first had a kraken wrapped around a naked woman. Her face was contorted as if she was being pulled under the waves. Devan’s thought, ironmen, but they he noticed it’s details. It was ornate to the point of being gaudy. The men on the deck of the ship were tall and pale as milk and clean-shaven.
The next figurehead looks like a royal man in thick robes. His face has a broad smile. One feature of it as that the man’s throat is cut. A man with a forked beard was dressing silks around the figurehead.
The last figurehead is a plain woman with open arms. She appears to be inviting anyone to step closer. Her calm pale face clashes with the black hull and sails.
Devan pulled his horse towards the dock stable. The sooner we meet these strangers, the quicker I can get back to training in the yard, he thought as he flicked a copper to the stable boy. Wynd, Red and him walked on to the main causeway of the dock. Black sails on a blue sky.