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 [RP/D] Hidden Dragon

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PostSubject: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:26 am

Corrine wept alone in her Solar.  The children were in bed.  Ben was off somewhere trying to maintain order during this terrible month.  Winter was always a hardship in the Vale, but after the years of war, all the deaths, all the misery, only to end up with a child on the Iron Throne?  The Seven must be truly angry.  She did not blame them.  Under the grief of so many friends gone, she was angry too.

A servant entered with a tray, bearing a pot of tea and some biscuits.  She hastily wiped her eyes so they would not see.  Appearance needed to be maintained.  She must keep a brave face for her people.  She must be brave when they cannot be.

The servant placed the tray on a small table, poured her a cup and set it beside her.

"I hope you still take lemon."  he said.

"We haven't had lemon in...." Corrine eyes widened.  She knew that voice.  That soft musical voice.  Her head snapped up to see Nathan pouring himself a cup of tea.  Her mouth dropped open as she stared at the young man.

He had grown slightly taller, but still sported the same light, lithe frame.  He was even more handsome than she remembered, like the tragedies of the last years could not touch him.  His sapphire blue eyes were harder, though.  Brilliant gemstones that regarded her now, along with that patient smirk that was both frustrating and endearing.

"I have induced many reactions from your over the years,"  he chuckled.  "but I do not think dumbstruck has been one of them."  He placed his tea on the table.  "Now, as I see it, you have two options.  You could have me arrested, or you could give me a hug.  You could, of course, do both, but I think that would be a rather mixed message.  Don't you?"
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:02 pm

Her open-mouthed shock turned to great joy, and she stood, throwing her arms around her old friend.

"Gods above! Nathan! I'm so glad to see you!"

After several long seconds of hugging him tightly, she stepped back a little, holding his forearms, looking at him as though she still was not sure he was real.

"I can scarcely believe it. I thought you were... It is so good to see you."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:48 pm

He hugged her back warmly. Technically they were not on opposite sides anymore, if they ever were. Neither were happy with the outcome of the war. Both grieved for the loss of so many innocent people. Both were sicken by the aftermath and the suffering the war had caused.

"You thought I was dead." he grinned broadly. "Most people do. That was my intent. I did burn down my brothel for precisely that effect. As I expected, no-one bothered to investigate or they might have noticed I'd liquidated most of my assets long beforehand. You must admit, I have always had a talent for putting on a good show."

"No. I managed to escape the war without a scratch. Most were not so lucky." Sadness flashed briefly in his eyes but was ruthlessly quashed. "Jon was not so lucky, but that's not really surprising. He fondest wish was to die valiantly in combat for a noble cause. Such men usually get their wish."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:13 pm

She gently cupped his sweet face in her hands, her own eyes full of sorrow as they met his.

"I am so sorry about Jon. A more valourous knight never tread this world."

She gestured for him to sit with her.

"I suppose I should have known you could not be killed so easily. You always had at least twelve plans on the go."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:50 pm

"Oh, you know me.  Always busy."  He waved his hand airily as he sat and picked up his tea.  "Most of the time I was at House Daleford.  Adham sends his love, as do, Lily, Erryck and the children.  They all miss you terribly, but I doubt you will get to see them any time soon with a mountain of snow on your doorstep."

He sipped his tea thoughtfully.  "I just recently came from House Blackwood.  There was some scuffle or other in Benjicot's absence.  Not to worry.  I took care of it."  Nathan had always been fond of Benjicot Blackwood.  "I hear Benjicot had quite the adventure recently."

"Oh? Did you hear Lord Haig Bracken is dead?  Got drunk one night and fell off his own battlements.  Terrible shame that."  Judging by Nathan's tone, he didn't consider it a shame at all.

Now that Corrine thought about it, there had been a lot of accidents happening in the last year since Jon's death.  Five of the conspirators who had turncoat and plotted against Ser Jon had died; the victims of gruesome accidents.  Two more Knights had disappeared without a trace.  Now that Corrine knew Nathan was alive, the mysterious had just become far less so.  The more despicable members of the nobility should probably count their blessings that Nathan was here sipping tea with her rather than elsewhere.
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 7:31 pm

Corrine sipped her tea with a knowing look.

"Of course. It makes sense now. I shall have to send my condolences to Lady Kerry."

Her tone indicated that Lord Haig Bracken's death did not trouble her.

"Yes, Lord Benjicot and his entourage were attacked in the Black Woods. He narrowly escaped, and was thankfully found alive. The roads grow ever more lawless as the snow makes people desperate. It has been a constant struggle. We have been giving all we can spare to the smallfolk, and waived the tax on gathering firewood, but it is never quite enough."

She managed a tiny smile as she regarded the slice of lemon floating in her tea.

"The taste of tea with lemon reminds me of better times. Thank you. Though, I expect you didn't come all this way through the snow just because you missed me. What can I do for you, my dear?"

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:31 pm

"What?  You don't believe I braved snow piled mountain passes just to see you?"

He chuckled.  "No, of course you don't."

He looked into his tea for a long moment.  "I have needed to deceive you on occasion, but I have never lied to you.  I will not do so now."  He paused.  "I need a favor from someone I can trust, and I trust very few people.  However, it is a very large favor."

He took a sip of his tea and then place the cup on the table, turning to regard Lady Marsten.

"There is a young man that I am protecting.  Isn't it always a young man."  He grinned.  "I have had occasion to save his life on two occasions.  He fought on the side of the Greens, as he felt it was his duty, although he did not desire this war any more than we did.  He is a thoughtful and quiet man, pious in nature, humble in disposition, honest and honorable.

After the second battle of Tumbleton, I searched for Jon, and found him.  Jon was beyond my ability to help.  I went searching for Jon's men, to see if any of them could be saved, and found this man.  He had been caught in a burning tent and stabbed with a longsword.  The burns were not too severe, but his wounds were.  I managed to save his life... again.

Luckily, most consider him dead, so he is not being hunted by the Blacks. I need a place to hide him.  I have... other matters to attend to, and what better place to hide a Green than a Black House?

I will not ask for your answer yet, not until you meet him.  I know exactly what I ask and I do not do so lightly.  You must judge his character for youself and decide if he is worth the risk.  If you accept this task, I will do what I can to ensure you never regret it.  If you choose to refuse, I will understand completely and there will be no hard feelings.  I only ask that you never divugle to anyone that he or I were here."

He sips he tea.  "Except Ben, of course.  I doubt I could keep you from telling Ben anything."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:50 pm

"You assess rightly. If I am to harbour someone like that, Ben would need to know. But you can trust him as you trust me. I certainly understand being dragged into a war one does not want, out of duty. I will meet this young man of yours, and hear his case. Where and when?"

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:20 pm

Nathan rises and retrieves Corrine's cloak. "May I offer you your wrap, m'Lady? He awaits at the Sept. If you do refuse, the less time we are here the better."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:39 pm

She nodded, taking a last sip of tea before accepting the cloak. Once over her shoulders, she pulled the silvery fur around her and went with Nathan to the sept.

"If I do find that I cannot acquiesce, I hope you know that I will still not speak of the matter."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:59 pm

Nathan smiled as he donned his own cloak and raised the hood. "My Lady. If I did not trust your discretion, I would not trust you with something I value far more."

It did not take long before they reached the Sept. It was empty at this hour except for one cloaked figure who knelt before the statue of the Father praying. The pair approached the kneeling figure, but waited for him to finish his prayer. Finally, he rose, turned to them, and lowered his hood.

For a moment, Corrine gave the handsome young man a confused look, then her eyes expanded practically to the size of saucers and her jaw nearly hit the floor. Fifteen years old, hair died pitch black, but none who had ever met him, as either a boy or a man, could mistake him. He bowed somberly and respectfully to Lady Marsten. There was pain in that face, and insecurity, but he obviously trusted Nathan completely.

"Lady Marsten." he said in a soft but firm voice. "A pleasure to meet you again."

Before the Lady Corrine Marsten stood Prince Daeron Targaryen.

Corrine simply stared at the man for many moments. Words completely abandoned her. In all the time she had known Nathan, he had never once asked for a favor or even reward for his help. Now he asked her to protect the life of someone he cared about...

But he was right. It was a very big favor.
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Two big surprises in quick succession left Corrine's mind spinning. She curtsied out of habit, still frantically trying to formulate words.

"Greetings, your grace. Forgive my amazement. I did not expect... this."

She looked to Nathan anxiously.

"If I did not know you as I do, I would ask if you were serious."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:53 pm

"I thought you were going to prepare her."  said Daeron softly.

"I did." replied Nathan with a smile.  "I told her what you were.  I just didn't tell her who you were."

Daeron rolled his eyes slightly.  "My apologies, Lady Marsten.  I sometimes wonder at our friend... and I am not 'your Grace."  I will never be 'your Grace.'  Nor have I ever been 'Your Grace.'  That title belonged to my Father, and now my cousin.  I hope he gains more joy from it than my Father ever did, although I think it unlikely."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:46 am

"Oh. I see..."

Corrine looked between the two young men warily.

"So, you are not seeking the throne?"

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:11 am

"What has the Iron Throne ever brought my family but misery, my Lady." He shook his head. "No. I do not desire the throne. As the third son, I never expected to sit there, and would not take it now if it was offered freely." He shook his head. "Perhaps, in another time, if I thought I could do some good, I might have taken it... but the Iron Throne poisons all who sit upon it. It has poisoned my family for over a century and will continue to do so long after I am dead... which would have been sooner rather than later, were it not for Nathan.

Given the mysterious circumstances surrounding my death, I am sure there will be many pretenders that seek to climb those steps in my name. Let them follow that path of destruction if they wish. I will have none of it. My family is dead. My friends are dead. Tessarion my beloved is dead." At he mention of his dragon's name, the pain in his face becomes excruciating for a moment and he needs to take a breath. "There is nothing the Iron throne can give me that can replace what I have lost."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:28 am

His visible grief touched Corrine's heart, and she almost moved to comfort him, but she stopped herself.

"I understand. I don't think I've ever heard so much wisdom from one of the royal family. If you wish to live a new life, that is commendable. I... would like to help. However, I have no wish to be embroiled in royal politics, nor draw more ire towards my House and family. Thus is a big favour to ask. But Nathan has vouched for you, and I trust him."

She let out a slow exhalation, steeling herself before speaking to Nathan again.

"So, what cover story do you propose?"

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:53 pm

"The groundwork for that has already been laid." smirked Nathan. "You did not think I would take half measures? Lady Marsten, allow me to introduce... Jon Daleford.

His mother was Luceria, a distant cousin of House Velaryon who died in childbirth. His Father was Brandelar Daleford, forth son of Cedryk Daleford who died at the end of the first Stepstone war. Adham will confirm all this, but his lands are far enough away that no-one is likely to ask. Adham has met 'Jon' and agreed to help, but does not know his true identity. You, I, he, and presumably Ben, are the only ones that do.

There is no-one currently in the Vale that would recognize him even without the dyed hair, with the possible exception of Lord Royce, and you can hide Jon in a closet if he ever shows up at your gate unannounced. Even Lady Jeyne has never met him, and many who would have recognized him, either Black or Green, are now dead."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:13 pm

Corrine nodded slowly.

"I think I can help. I'd like to find you a role here as well. I'm afraid I don't think I could justify simply leaving you in a room by yourself. I hope you are not averse to work."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:20 am

"I am not averse to work, Lady Marsten. I prefer it." he said, then continued more softly "I think I need to be active right now." He thought for a moment. "Perhaps a squire to one of your Knights. Squires are active and largely ignored. I am young enough... and I think Jon Daleford would like to be Knight some day. You are taking a great risk to help me. It is only fitting that I repay your kindness in whatever way I am able."
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:31 am

"Good. I can think of a few suitable people you could squire for. We cannot give you preferential treatment, but I'll do what I can to ensure you have a decent life here."

She tried to ignore the tightness in her chest, and extended a hand towards Daeron.

"Welcome to House Marsten, Jon Daleford," she offered, with a friendly smile that did not reach her eyes.

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:24 am

Rather than shaking her hand, Prince Daeron falls to one knee and kisses it, speaking the words:

"I promise on my faith that I, Daeron Targaryen, will in the future be faithful to the lady of House Marsten, never cause her harm and will observe my homage to her completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit."

Corrine was dumbstruck once again. The entire situation was surreal. Daeron Targaryen, heir to the Seven Kingdoms was speaking the sworn sword oath to her in his true name, in the Sept, under the sight of the Seven. She was so stupefied her mind went blank. For a moment, she could not recall the words of response, even though she had spoken them countless times.
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:51 am

Speak, you fool! The Gods have their eyes on you now!

"I... I... I promise... on my faith... that I, Lady Marsten..."

She stammered as she tried to force her mouth and mind to co-operate. Though, with each word, she regained a small amount of composure.

"will, in the future be faithful to your sacrifice, never betray your trust and will be mindful of your service, rewarding loyalty in good faith and without deceit."

Her heart raced, and she realised she was holding her breath. She tried to inhale deeply but silently, feeling foolish for being so flapped.

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:14 am

The silence seemed to extend forever... then was shattered by Nathan with one of his bright laughs.

"I can't wait to see Ben's face."

Nathan grinned broadly, then gestured to Daeron to draw his sword.  The young man did so, handing the sword palms out to the young whore.  Corrine immediately recognized it as 'Deception'.

"You can't wear this anymore.  It will draw too much attention."  He turned and offered the blade to Corrine.  "A symbol of my faith and loyalty."  He smirked.  The irony of giving her a fake Valyrian steel sword named Deception as a symbol of his loyalty was obviously not lost on him.  "Should you need my help, place this sword before the statue of the Stranger and I will come as swiftly as I can, although I cannot guarantee how swiftly that will be."

It was only then that Corrine realized that Nathan no longer wore Deception.  It was now 'Orphan-Maker', Ser Jon's fabled Valyrian steel sword that he wore on his hip.  Fitting, perhaps, given the number of orphans Nathan had probably made since Jon's death.  The Gods did love their little jests.

[House Marsten gains a permanent +1 to House Fortune rolls due to Nathan's influence so long as 'Jon Daleford' is well and remains in their service.]
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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:02 pm

"Thank you, Nathan. You have always been a good friend, even when I did not fully realise it."

She turned the sword in her hands, never having looked at it closely. It was a well-made forgery, for certain. Almost a pity that it would now have to be hidden away. She stood it upright, point gently touching the floor, her hands grasping the hilt, in a stance not unlike that of the Warrior. She gave Nathan a sad but affectionate smile.

"It's fitting that you should have Ser Jon's sword. I think it's what he would have wanted."

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PostSubject: Re: [RP/D] Hidden Dragon   Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:54 pm

"Thank you." he smiled. "I think so too. I shall pass it on to a Knight eventually. Someone as bold and brave as he was. Someone who hungers for all the joys of life as he did. Someone who was not afraid to live life to the fullest. He died as he would have wanted: gloriously in battle for something he deeply believed in."

Perhaps he meant what he said, perhaps he would pass on the sword, but the look in his eye said that would not happen until it had tasted the blood of every man who had betrayed the Bold Ser Jon Roxton.
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