The Marsten Memoirs

A small regional game centered on House Marsten and the Vale of Arryn.
 
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 Witches Words

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Corrine Marsten
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PostSubject: Witches Words   Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:13 pm

It was one of Corrine's handmaidens, Bren, that told her of the old and somewhat infamous herbalist railing against her in Hartsbridge market square, listening intently as her loyal servant helped her style her hair that morning.

Corrine was no stranger to criticism, but this particular story reminded her a little too much of the fanatics who attacked the Green Door Inn eight years ago. Angry smallfolk who felt that violence was the only solution to feeling abandoned by those who were supposed to protect them. The memory chilled her bones more than the icy air that hung among the mountains. Could something similar happen here?

She was quiet and pensive as Bren helped her get ready for the day, and, once she left her chambers, sought out her nost trusted voice of reason, her ever-faithful husband.
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:16 am

Directions to Lord Marsten were easy to find and a small adventure to follow. It started of course in the training yard. Here Ser Paul, once known fondly as Pudgy, sends his Lady to the castle stores. Here house steward, Gareth Stone, quill and parchment in hand, kindly points to family crypts. Again a step behind, the guard, Martin informs her Lord Ben stopped at their deceased child's resting spot and was headed to the dungeon. Welton the ancient guardsmen of the deep cells relayed that the Lord had come to interrogate a thief and left only moments ago for the Godswood.

Here at the center of the ornate garden she had built with the help of the Coldbrooks, sat her dutiful husband. He seldom used the beautiful stone bench placed beside the now tall, but young heart tree. Instead he chose the rock cropping overlooking the tiny pond near the tree's feet. His elbows rest upon his knees and his jaw is cupped in his hands. Blue-gray eyes search the branches of the tree. The auburn hair and beard are heavily streaked with gray and in need of cutting. Despite his slight unkempt appearance, he seems every bit the noble Lord.
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:48 am

She knew she would weep if she lingered too long in the family crypts or little Isara's memorial garden, so she hurried on to the Godswood. The frost crunched beneath her feet, alerting Ben to her approach. She looked up at him, sat upon the rocky outcrop above her head, and smiled.

"You've been all over today, my love. I followed a trail all round the castle to find you."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:04 am

He turns to regard her with a loving smile, as he slides to the frozen ground. His back straightens with a small amount stiffness. The cold or one of numerous old injuries, either a possible cause.

"The days grow shorter. One must be up and accomplish much before the sun falls. I only wish I had more time to devote..." He looks back to the heart tree. "You have knews? You did not trail me to play in the snow and cold I take it. Though you know me as always ready if that were your plan." His playful crooked smile emphasizes the truth to his statement.
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:01 am

"While that could be fun, I'd need you to promise not to cheat again. I draw the line at sneaking up behind me and putting snow down the back of my dress. I think they must have heard me shrieking as far as Oldtown."

She stepped toe-to-toe with him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:41 pm

He drapes his heavily clothed arms over hers to pull her warmth into him. A small dry kiss finds her forehead.

"No games. I promise. Though I did warm you up afterwards if i recall. What is this news that has brought you out into the cold?"
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:25 pm

"I suppose you did. And you are easy to forgive."

She smiled, though it faded as she formed her thoughts.

"The woman in Hartsbridge, the one people say is a witch, she is railing against us in the town square, getting the other smallfolk riled up. They say she's voicing what everyone is thinking, that it is our fault for their losses in the war."

She squeezed him around his waist and put her ear against his chest.

"It's got me troubled. It's upsetting. Like we have not also suffered."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:22 pm

Ben lowers his chapped lips to the top of his lady's head. Thick arms tighten around her slender form. Surely she did not have enough clothing on if he could embrace her so.

"Gareth told me as much, whilst we double checked the stores this morning." Our suffering while great, will never reach what they feel is their level of unjustices. We sleep in blanketed beds with servant stoked flames. They sleep on straw with barely lit fires. He would not tell her theses thoughts now. Perhaps later after he had reassured her that they could make things right.

"Swift action is needed. This bit of smoke if fanned will lead to flames."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:35 pm

"I know. I don't think it would be wise to ignore it. Hearing it reminded me of the Green Door Inn. If we don't help our people more, they could do something like that to us. But after all the mistakes I've made, I don't trust myself to choose the right course of action. That is why I sought you out."

She turned her face upwards to look at him.

"Will you counsel me? You're the person I trust the most."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:12 pm

He gives her a look usually reserved for Bethany's youthful hesitations and fears. A soft smile and glimmer of insightfulness follow. This woman, who had championed her house through numerous turmoils, still doubted her abilities.

"My dear, you don not need my counsel. You are Lady Marsten of Hartshorn. Our house still stands, as do its people. After one of the greatest conflicts the seven kingdoms has seen." A moment of silences follows.

After a brief glance to the heart tree he continues. "You must do what you do best. Care. Walk with the people. Talk with the people. Hear their concerns and do what we may to bring them some comfort."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:45 pm

She nodded thoughtfully, her eyes sad.

"I will do that then, though you are wrong about my need for counsel. I need it more than ever."

She released him and moved to face the bold little heart tree, its white bark making it look like an extension of the snow at its feet, save for its crimson leaves, defying the cold. The very symbol of their family, trying to grow strong through adversity.

"How many people do you think suffered and died because of my choices? Hundreds? Thousands? Septon Arlyn said he had a vision, that the Seven spoke to him and told him I'd unite the factions and bring peace. But he was wrong. I was wrong too. We may have our Black ruler, in a roundabout way, but the cost was so high. It haunts me. It makes me struggle to trust myself now."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:24 am

"I run the tally most days in my own head. It is accompanied by the numerous ghastly floating heads of the ones I knew well."

Spinning on his heel he turns with wife. Sliding up behind her, he encloses his arms around the small frame. His bearded chin with the beginnings of frost, lie upon her shoulder.

"No course you could have chosen would have steered us from the war. You did try for peace. Gods bless you and the others. Most often peace is only found at the end of a sword. There are exceptions, but rare.

Our losses could have been tripled or greater if not for the decisions you have made. Our family, our people and these lands all burnt to the ground. We stand, they stand. You need only help them understand together we survive. Divided winter wins and all our losses are for naught."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:45 am

She felt comforted by his words and embrace, leaning backwards into him a little.

"You are right, as usual," she sighed. "I think the interminable cold is getting to me. I am given more easily to despair these days. Perhaps it is the fate of Summer children."

She took his hands and squeezed them.

"Will you come with me, when I go to address the town? Perhaps we could distribute some extra food, or blankets. I can't bear to have them think we don't care for them."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:16 pm

Absently his fingers caress the gloved hand in his own. He eagerly excepts the pressure from her.

"Cold? No. This is a beautiful morning." Cold frozen whisker tickle her rosey cheek as warm lips press against it. "We will go and take what can be spared. This winter may last.

Perhaps afterwards we should convene a meeting with the 'witch', Ronnel, the Septon Aeryn, the mayor, and others interested in helping and not disrupting. The old one... Rhaemon, he may be of help. He has seen more winters than most."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:54 pm

"Good idea. The people are low on morale. We need to find ways to buoy their spirits, and not let them freeze or starve. It's my sacred duty to protect them, and I'm not doing enough right now. With both Jaime and Corys being so ill, I've been neglecting everything else."

She sighed heavily, looking up at the sky.

"The Gods are testing us again."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:28 pm

"Only thier champions accept these challenges. Others curse them or cower. Fail or fly they will lift us up if we are true."

Ben had always had faith, skewed, but belief none-the-less. This war had tested it. Pulled it. Twisted it. Many more faithful men did not return to thier families as he had. Some came home to no family.

Ben looks over Corrine's shoulder to thier hands resting upon a flat stomach. A belly flat for near 2 years now. He thinks back to Nathan's jibe and smiles. Then his focus returns to his hands. They had been on numerous occasions covered in the lifeblood of both friend and foe. They now lay against the cradle of creation.

"Arlyn may well have been correct. Just off with how and when. There are still pieces that need be pulled together and things to be set right."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:01 pm

"You speak wisely, of course. I am sorry for being so morose. We have much to be grateful for, and we have survived worse than this."

She turned in his arms and hugged him, standing on tiptoe to wrap her arms around his neck, her breath warming his ear.

"Let's go into town and sort this out. I'll feel better once I have done some good. And let's spend the evening with the children."

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:37 pm

Without warning he squats low pulling her over his shoulder and stands, as easily as when he does so with the children. "Then let us be quick." He says in to her flanks. Then begins the trek back to the castle proper.
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:51 pm

She squeaks in surprise as she is suddenly hoisted up.

"Unhand me, you brute!" she commands, kicking her feet and giggling through her attempt at outrage, her sombre mood dissipated by Ben's playfulness.

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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:01 am

Once through the gate and into the castle proper Ben gingerly sets his lady wife to the cleared stone floor. Marq and Devin exchange knowing glances at the peculiar actions of their Lady and Lord. The two like most other inhabitants of Hartshorn had grown accustomed to the pairs atypical noble relationship.

"Well, the children love taking a ride. They will be quite jealous that mother had a turn without them. And more so when they find we are going to town without them."
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PostSubject: Re: Witches Words   Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:09 pm

"I'm sure they will cope. They're afraid of Crinda anyway. Well, Bethany isn't, but she's an abberant child who fears nothing. We can take them riding soon to make up for it."

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