Ser Darys Blackstone
Ser Darys Blackstone is a sworn sword to House Sterling and a lesser child of House Blackstone. He is the oldest son of Kenneth Blackstone, younger brother of Donald Blackstone, the Lord of the house.
Darys was sent to live with the Sterlings from a young age, having spent his life growing up with Gordon, and because he is 5 years his junior he was often his mentor. When he reached the age he became squire to Blaise Sterling. He has served with him and the house through many conflicts and skirmishes, rising to a position in charge of the garrison force.
He is a PC played by User:Jason
Path to Glory
We were having breakfast when he arrived, a young boy who I have seen around but didnt know well. He had a message for Armand, something a raven had brought. There was a notice about an upcoming event, a tournament, to be held at Kings Landing. This would be an excellent opportunity to bring glory to our house, for us to gain the favor we deserve. On a personal note, I might have an opportunity to meet Hosteen Frey on the fields of Kings Landing and best him, and this is something I crave.
Before we could leave there was important business I needed to resolve. I needed a proper squire if I was to compete, and so I went to visit Blaise and ask which boys he recommended for the task. Lord Wilhelm also needed a page, so I proceeded to find a suitable young man for his job as well. I chose Edwyn Hardy and Justin Thorne. Good boys. I put them to work immediately, brushing horses, sharpening swords and otherwise learning the skills that would someday make them knights.
The next morning we were on our way. Taking the Kings Road is generally an easy trip, and this proved to be so for most of our first two days. On the evening of the second day I spotted a murder of crows circling above a section of woods just off the road. I signaled the group to stop, grabbed my shield and moved forward to investigate. It was a gory scene, 5 dead bodies and a pack of wolves greedily feasting on them. They did not look like they had been the killers, so I returned to the others and shared my findings. Quickly we moved up, and while I watched the road for an ambush the Sterlings examined the scene more closely. Wilhelm chased the wolves away with a few pulls of his bowstring, yet he was also bitten, but not seriously.
Eventually they asked me for my opinion, and so I came forward and examined the scene. The men had been killed in their sleep, offering little or no resistance. One of them was carrying a sword bearing the Baratheon mark. If these were Baratheon bannermen we could not leave them as this, so I volunteered to stay behind with the boys and tend to the scene while the others went forward and secured lodging.
Riddle At Dags
Soon after dark the boys and I joined the others at Dag's Inn. We were tired from the hard work, so I felt a bit irritable. The patrons and staff seemed cold, at best, and I wondered what sort of rabble rousing Balen had perpetrated. But, alas, it was not the case. It seemed that instead we had been accused of foul mistreatment of the local smallfolk. This rumor was more than I could stomach. I decided immediately to speak with who I could to see what could be learned.
Given that Armand had likely spoken to the barmaid and other interior staff, I decided my best course of action was to question the stable boy. I knew everyone else was treating us coolly, so I determined that a surprise threat would engender the best response. I approached the boy and asked some simple questions, and when he was off guard thrust him against the wall and probed for more answers.
I immediately went inside and informed Balen of the nature of our alleged misdeeds. Instead of being horrified, he was pleased that they feared us. This was a puzzling turn of events, but I kept working. Next I informed the Maester and Wilhelm of what I had learned. Finally, I went downstairs.
When I arrived Wilhelm and Armand began speaking with others to ascertain more. I decided that I needed to again speak to the stable boy, but felt another ruse was in order. I warned Justin, then derided him and told him to go to the stable and check the horses, after letting him in on the plan. When he arrived inside he had learned a few more things, so finally I went out and spoke to the boy. I told him the previous attempts had been a ruse, and that we had been testing him. I then got him to tell all he knew, and finally I promised him a place in the Blackstone family stables if he ever finds himself up there.
Once inside I witnessed some strange machinations by Balen I could not hope to understand. Wilhelm must have been following his lead as well, and eventually the help was very perplexed and upset. At what I hoped was an opportune moment I moved in and utilized my courtly training (and a handful of copper) to get some small amount of information from her.
Never let it be said that a social intrigue is any less complex than a physical one. I must say I much prefer a pitched battle to a collection of posturing and near falsehoods. Nevertheless, we had gained important information. I only pray Balen again displays his unique wisdom and utilizes said information to bring us glory.
And So It Goes...
The next day we continued on our way, making good time progressing toward Kings Landing. The day was fine, until we happened upon some noble youths trekking north. Immediately they began berating us and calling us names, saying we had ravaged the smallfolk and Dannett lands. I moved forward and defended our names, and asked them for proof, of which they had none. Balen seemed unmoved, but Wilhelm did not like the disturbance. I recognized the boys as members of House Clevenger, and their conduct chafed me, so their faces were burned into my memory.
When we arrived at The Great Stag the spectacle was even greater than previously seen. Everyone leered at us, and clearly the Dannett rumors were spreading and were carrying weight with the locals. This was a disconcerting turn of events, yet still Balen was unfazed. He believes that the potential terror this could bring to bear in future endeavors is much more important than our reputation with the smallfolk.
That evening, I met a local man who related a story to me about a man he called The Fox Knight who was hiring mercenaries to do a job. This guy was only taking applications from outsiders: he wanted no locals. This sounded strangely like the machination for our framing, so I was quite interested in his tale.
Once I had all of the answers I sought out the Sterlings to share what I had learned. They also had learned some more clues about our predicament. It seemed our trip in to the big city tomorrow would be littered with accusations. We were fully prepared, or so we thought.
The next morning a traveling merchant, loaded down with wares from head to toe, asked to accompany us. His name was Rog Thanders, and he was interested in safety in numbers. I agreed, but informed him that the decision was not mine, but belonged to Lord Balen. When the others arose they agreed to his accompaniment and we went on our way.
Early that afternoon we heard a cry from the forest, followed by an arrow hitting Wilhelm in the shoulder. Immediately I charged forward at two brigands who made themselves known on the side of the road. Wilhelm hit one with an arrow, while I subdued the other. Since the first arrow came from the woods, I disarmed these men and rode off into the woods to find the original attacker. Once in the woods I found a perch constructed up in a tree, and nearby some horse tracks. When I followed those I was dismayed to find they led to a river, so it would be difficult to determine where he crossed and which direction he went on the other side.
Back on the road, we questioned the brigands and bound them hand and foot. They insisted that 20 archers were defending them, but the evidence did not back their assertion. They produced a crude writ which empowered them to act on behalf of Alfric Dannett to avenge the incursion on their lands. It was misspelled and clearly a phony, and coupled with their description of Lord Dannett (which was completely inaccurate), it was clear they had been misled by a premeditated ruse, albeit a not particularly well concealed or clever one.
The delay cost us dearly, and we were not to arrive at Kings Landing until well after dark. The town itself was sealed, and the guards demanded they be allowed to search us before letting us inside. They indicated that only bandits would be about at such an hour. I had nothing to hide, and so cheerfully submitted to the search. The others also fell into line, and we were at our inn (arranged by Armand) relatively quickly.
Prelude to Tournament
The next morning I accompanied the boys to find us a suitable place to assemble our pavilion. Balen instructed me that I should also scout a second location, because he was prepared to barter our prime position to another, later arriving house, for acceptable favors. Again he demonstrates his talent for strategic thinking.
That evening I asked Balen if I should approach the Dannetts and see if we could resolve our differences amicably, yet he felt a later time would be more suitable. We all spent some time at the inn, and it was good to be relaxing for an evening.
The days leading up to the tournament were mostly spent training and doing simple chores that the Sterlings set me upon. Each evening we met back at the inn, and we made some acquaintances there. We also heard much boasting from a knight known as ser Natan Lugas. He was certain he would win the joust, and he also had many a story of conquests, on the field and in the bedroom, told loud enough to educate the entire establishment. His younger brother, Orton, however, seemed much more amiable, and he introduced himself to us and apologized for his brother.
One evening while we gathered at the inn, we met a man who was also interested in this 'Fox Knight'. He informed us that he had been on his trail for years, and he worked as a protector of the Kingswood. Because of the enmity they showed to one another, Arkay, which is what we had learned was his name, challenged him to a duel at some well known clearing in the wood. We were asked to accompany him to be his witnesses, and we agreed. He had also recruited two Dornishmen as well.
The next day we all saddled up and followed into the wood. Fearing a trap, we left multiple notes with family and other acquaintances as to our whereabouts and exactly how long they should wait before raising the alarm. Eventually we found this clearing, but the antagonist was nowhere in sight. After a brief search, Orton suggested we all stay out of sight and he would act as if he were Adham Dannett, Lord Alfrics son, and call him out.
The plan worked, and he engaged his opponent in battle with ardent fervor. Eventually, however, he noticed one of us, and this enraged him. He would not believe we were here only as witnesses, and after he won the initial engagement, he charged Balen. I could not let him hurt my master, so I stood in his path and we fought. He would not listen to reason, and was soon near death. I tried to get him to surrender by disarming him, but he pushed me down. When I got up, Orton, who had snatched his blade, joined the melee and also struck him. Eventually, even after all of our pleas for surrender, he succumbed to his wounds in battle. It was a needless death.
After much anticipation the pre-tournament ceremonies finally commenced. All of the participants paraded through the streets and we attended a lavish feast. We saw the Dannetts for the first time at this event, but they did not make eye contact. We also saw the Lugas clan, and learned their sister is known as the Black Widow of Casterly Rock.
After the meal King Robert gave a rousing speech discussing the upcoming events. We were all duly excited by the prospects. This excitement was short lived, however, for before he could conclude his monologue Adham Dannett spoke up and accused us of the misdeeds we had heard so much about. We, of course, professed our innocence, but they insisted on their righteousness in this cause. We suggested that we go into a side chamber to plead our cases, so the King could finish his ceremonies.
Both sides plead their cases passionately, and in the end it was a juxtaposition of two circumstantial cases with a similar number of witnesses. Robert declared that he could not find us guilty on the evidence presented. Adham was not swayed, however, and he insisted that we be allowed to settle the differences on the field, in combat. I informed him how foolhardy this would be, a child of his experience has no business jousting against me, but he would not relent. So it was to be.
Let The Ceremony Begin!
Because of the dramatic events of the previous night, my bout with Jason Mallister was switched so I would face young lord Dannett in the days first match. It was a rousing affair, but as predicted, he could not stand before my might. Lord Dannett was completely unhorsed, and lay on the ground in pain. I rode to the front of the King and asked his forgiveness for the debacle, and thanked him for the opportunity to prove our cause.
The rest of the days events progressed much as would be expected, except that The Hound, Sandor Clegane, lost in his first match. Lord Wilhelm and Armand both bet on the days action, and seemed to enjoy themselves, but they were also annoyed by the appearance of some veiled woman. Both Blaise and James also did well and advanced.
The next day my fortune continued, and I was again able to defeat my foe, Gladden Wylde. The family fortune was smiling upon us and James and Blaise continued their winning ways. That evening, while we rested at the inn we were again deluged with preposterous stories from Natan Lugas. It would be music to my ears to have a night without his blathering.
The following day was one of trepidation, for my opponent would be Edmure Tully, our liege lord. That morning, before the contest, I journeyed to his tent and offered him my best wishes and luck, and he returned the favor. When we faced one another on the field it was quite a show, each of us hitting and moving in for two runs, but on the final my blow hit him square, and as he rode off he could not keep his saddle, and he fell to the ground. I saluted him, and gave him strong congratulations. The other two family representatives also continued to do well. My excitement was replaced with apprehension when I glanced at the brackets and saw who my next opponent would be: Loras Tyrell. He is a formidable man, even at his young age.
That day was also the first day of the archery competition, and Lord Wilhelm fared well. He advanced with one of the days highest scores. There were no surprises in that competition, or at least none I could glean. I must admit that my knowledge of archery is severely limited.
The night before my match with the Knight of Flowers I did not sleep well, for I was overcome with nerves. That morning, when I awoke, I found a box outside my door, and inside it was a note and an ornate knife. The note offered me good luck. I was happy for the wishes, and prepared myself well for my bout. When finally it was my time to take the field I was ready. Looking across the field at his gleaming armor and finely crafted linens it finally hit me how great an honor this was. We both rode strong at one another, but in the end I defeated him by the narrowest of margins, neither of us able to unhorse the other. My next opponent would be Blaise, meaning of course, that one of us advances for sure, a fate James could not duplicate for he was eliminated.
In the archery field, Lord Wilhelm again performed exceptionally well, and advanced on to the final round. He would face Jon Snow and Theon Greyjoy. The tournament turned into a fine showing for Houses Sterling and Stark, and we had clearly shown that the Seven were smiling on us, and confirming our righteousness in the Dannett matter.