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 Visiting the Crone (Closed)

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Corrine Marsten
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PostSubject: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:06 am

Corrine waited a couple of days before venturing back into Hartsbridge. She took only her personal guards, and a small wrapped parcel. She had dressed in simple and sombre black & grey woollens, with high leather boots and her silver shadowcat cloak.

When they alighted at Crinda's home, Corrine instructed the guards to keep their distance to earshot, so as not to make the old woman feel outnumbered. She hesitantly approached, and knocked on the door.

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:35 am

From the outside, old crone's home looked like nothing more than a mound of dirt with a door, surrounded by trees and barren elderberry bushes.

"Come in, your Ladyship." said the gravelly voice in response to her knock, slightly irritably. "I have no need for locks."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:09 pm

Corrine opened the door and entered, closing the door behind her.

"Hello, Crinda. I have brought you some elderberry wine, and some salt beef."

She offered the parcel she held in both hands.

"I want to talk with you. I regret how things went the other day, and I want to make peace."

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:39 pm

There are three steps down into the 'cottage' which is much larger and well appointed than it might appear from the outside.  No witch's hovel this.  The furniture is rough, well worn, and might be considered 'shabby', but well made.  There is a fire and cauldron in the center of the room.  Smoke drifts upwards and out the small hole in the roof.  To one side are many shelves with a dizzying array of herbs, bottles, clay jars, and ointments.

Most notably is a large comfortable table on which lays a savage.  The man is young, athletic and ruggedly handsome, despite his left eye appearing to have been burned out with a torch.  Crinda is treating a festering wolf bite on his leg with maggots.  The man looks up at Corrine with mild interest in his one brown eye, but obviously does not know who she is.  Apparently, Crinda offers her healing skills to more than just the Marsten people.

"Ustroytes' poudobneye i ne dvigayutsya!"  she says to the young man, pressing him back down.

"Talk if you wish."  says the old woman.  "He does not speak a word or your tongue."  She continued working on the wound.  "I know you want to make peace.  You're not very good at it.  You've tried to make peace the last four years and we have had to fight two wars."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:07 pm

"If only it were that simple. I am only one person. I actually begged King Viserys to abdicate in favour of his chosen heir, to avert war, but he did not listen. All I can say is I did my best with what I had, and did my duty. It is small comfort, but things would have been worse without my intervention. The Vale would be nothing but ashes and bones. And I did manage to make peace between Houses Blackwood & Bracken. It is easy to only see the negative in someone when you have decided to do so."

Corrine put down the gift on a table that looked like it would be appropriate, since Crinda had not taken it from her.

"I am not your enemy, Crinda," she continued, gently, and in earnest.

"I did not purposely ignore you before. I wanted to speak to the others first because they are afraid. You are not. Yes, times are hard, and will be harder still, but that is why we should be co-operating, not arguing. If you have grievances, I want to address them. You scared Maester Ronnel half to death. He has done you no wrong. Please, if you want me to do something, tell me what you need. I can't help you if all I get is vague criticism."

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:09 pm

Crinda sighed irritably. "Sit down if your staying." She continued to work on the young man's leg. "I know your not my enemy. Do you think I'd call a Blizzard or a Thunderstorm my enemy?" She hobbles over to her array of medicines and retrieves a salve.

"You want to talk? Fine. Let's start with the Stepstone war. Want to explain why you sent so many of your young men to die thousands of miles away in foreign lands? Don't say it was because King Viserys told you to. I doubt anyone tells you to do anything once you've set your mind... and don't tell me is was to defeat evil brigands and make the world safer. The Vale has more than it's share of evil brigands to content with. More now thanks her high and mightiness Rhaenyra, may she rot in peace."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:45 pm

"I thought it was the right thing to do at the time, based on the information that I had. Simple as that," Corrine replied, plainly, though her voice and expression were humble.

"I believed that the Princess had enough support that it would be over quickly. I believed in what she symbolised, and when I prayed for guidance, the Gods told me that belief without action is worthless. I was convinced that, if I put my forces behind what I believed was the right side, we would triumph. But, it was not as simple as that. I am not afraid to admit it when I am wrong."

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:09 pm

"You're missing the point girl."  The old woman sighed irritably.  "Fine.  I will make it simple for you, since you like simple.

Your duty is to the Vale.

Not to the Targaryens.  The people were here thousands of years before the Targaryens came and will be here thousands of years after the last of them and their dragons are dust.

Not to the Stepstones.  You do not go and protect a strangers house while leaving your own house and family unprotected.

Not even Lady Jeyne, who sits on top of that pile of rocks called the Eyrie and hatches her plots for power.  The Gods will deal with her soon enough I expect.

Your duty is to the VALE.  You took an oath to protect these lands.  Your husband even has the  title Protector of the Vale.

Now, tell me girl, honestly.  If you were standing in my shoes, how would you rate your performance since you kicked your Mother out of her seat and took that duty for yourself."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:31 pm

"My mother didn't care for the people. She let her most loyal supporters die from her inaction. Would you rather have had her? Closing all the gates and letting you all freeze to death? She wouldn't have cared what any of you wanted. She would have sent our soldiers South too, and would certainly not be bringing extra food and waiving the wood-gathering tax.

Corrine sighed heavily, her shoulders slumped defeatedly.

"Even if it were solely about duty, my duty is not just to The Vale. House Marsten is sworn to House Arryn, and House Arryn is sworn to the Crown. What the Crown commands, House Arryn must do. What House Arryn commands, House Marsten must do. If I don't stay loyal, I put my family and lands at risk. Would you want to gamble on who would replace me? At least I'm trying, Crinda. I am sorry that I made a decision that did not go well, but berating me about it helps no-one. I cannot ressurect the dead or make Winter go away. What do you want from me?"

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:52 pm

Crinda waved her hand tiredly. "Perhaps your right. Your Mother was always a bitch, but at least I could usually talk some sense into her. I don't seem to be able to get through to you."

She paused for a moment. "Do you see this young man? If you were a part of his tribe, he would die for you in an instant, without hesitation. He would also expect the same of you. It's about community. It's about the tribe. Yes, they help other tribes when they can. Yes, they go to war with other tribes too, but it is the bonds of community that hold them together. Without that, they are just a loose band of people scrabbling in the snow."

Crinda looked at the young Lady with that straight gaze of hers. "I am not saying you should not do duty to the Oaths you have made. I am saying you should put your duty to your people FIRST. Up till now, all your decisions have been for the good of others or to a higher ideal. I am not questioning your decisions, although I disagree with them. I am questioning your priorities. What good will your oaths be to the Arryns and the Targaryens if your people perish?"
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:15 pm

Corrine looked in pity at the wounded man, her brow creased in thought.

"I understand. More than you think. I am trying to make amends. I know I am flawed, and I make mistakes, but I do care for you all. I can't change the past, but I'm doing my best to ensure it does not happen again, and trying to keep as many people alive as possible so we can eventually rebuild."

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:02 pm

The old woman sighed. "Well, none of us are perfect. Me least of all."

The man got off the table and dressed his hard warrior body again in hide and furs. After they exchanged pleasantries in the tongue Corrine could not understand, the warrior moved to leave. Corrine's guards were shocked at the emerging warrior, but a few sharp words from Crinda and they let him pass unmolested. The old crone closed the door and slumped down in a chair opposite the Lady.

"I know you cannot change the past, and perhaps if you have learned from it that is all I can expect."

She sighed. "You live in a different world from your people. They do not care who sits on the iron throne, or if there are pirates in the Stepstones. I cannot heal the wounds that run deep in Hartshorn. Perhaps you can. I don't know."

She wiped her mouth with her hand. "I am dying, Lady Marten. I am a good enough healer that I know that. Perhaps six months. Perhaps a year. When I am gone I will not be here to champion your people or point out your mistakes. I will not be here to tend the Godswood or your people. I will not be here to negotiate with the Clansmen."

She shakes her head. "You are a good person, but I have seen what is coming in my mind's eye and it makes me afraid. You will be tested. Cronesmonth will be bad. Diremonth will be worse. If you finally stand as a shield for your people, perhaps you will be the leader we need yet. I truly hope that you are."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:12 pm

Corrine looked Crinda in the eye.

"I will do all I can. I will be the shield. I swear it by the Old Gods and the Seven. I do take what you say seriously. I will continue to listen as we prepare for what is coming. The Godswood will continue to grow. You have tended it well. Would it help you, in these final months, if I sent someone to help you?"

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:23 pm

"I am looking for a successor, but the Old Ones have not shown them to me yet." she frowned and shook her head. "I wish they would get on with it. They might have all the time in the world but I do not."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:32 pm

"Hmm. This, I admit, is new territory for me. Our godswood is so young. But I'm sure there will be someone suitable. Is there anything I can do to help that process along? What sort of person is needed?"

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:51 pm

As if on cue, Luke entered the old woman's home. "Hey you old hag. What's with all the guards? What have you done this ti-" He choked when he laid eyes on Lady Marsten and nearly went into a coughing fit.

"Well, someone who knows the land might be a good start." said Crinda, grinning evilly. "Unfortunately, Luke does not have a talent for healing. He can bind wounds well enough. He does know the woods like the back of his hand. He's a good helper, but I don't think he's not the one."

"Milady." he bows, trying to recover.

"Is that my shadowweed boy?"

Luke nods and hands her the satchel he is carrying. Crinda takes the satchel and hands him a few silver. The young hunter pockets the money, then stands there, not quite sure what he should do.
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:00 pm

"Hello again, Luke. It is nice to see you again. I hope my guards did not distress you."

The lad's tension and awkwardness was palpable, so Corrine addressed it in the best way she knew how; with a gentle smile, a soft voice, and soothing words.

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:18 pm

"Luke has been traveling to the Lyras herb fields for me since he was, what?  Eight?" said Crinda.

Luke nods.

"Of course, that's not the only reason he goes to House Lyras now." the old woman smirks.

The hunter's eyes widen, blushing, he gives Crinda a glare that clearly says:  Shut up you old hag.

"Most of what I have here he has gathered for me.  Still doesn't know the difference between a bleeder mushroom and an angel mushroom, but you won't find a harder worker so long as you leave him to his own.  He's none too fond of you since his Father got eaten by a dragon, but I think you realize by now he's not alone in that."

Luke glared at the old woman venomously.  Had Corrine not been there, he looked like he'd have happily strangled the old hag on the spot.
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:25 pm

Corrine was suddenly struck with guilt. Another life made worse by her actions. She too felt like telling Crinda to shut up, but instead kept her attention on Luke, her expression going from friendly to sorrowful.

"Oh Luke... I did not know. I'm so sorry."

She clasped her hands tightly in her lap to keep them from fidgeting. She did not know what else to say to him, and that made her anxious.

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:34 pm

Luke looked at the ground.  "It's alright.  It was his choice to go."  ...and leave me alone.

Of course, it wasn't alright.  It was very far from alright.  But that is what you said, wasn't it?

"I should... um... deliver these rabbits to the trading post..." he trailed off, desperately wanting to leave, but feeling he couldn't until he was dismissed.
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:41 pm

"Of course," Corrine replied, still feeling deeply awkward.

He says it's alright, but doesn't everyone say that? It's just what you say to be polite. No wonder he looks like he's about to have a tooth pulled when he's in my presence. I'm responsible for his father's death. How can I ever make amends for all this death and suffering? I'm a fool.

She glanced questioningly between Luke and Crinda.

"Do you two need a moment alone?"

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:58 pm

"I think we are done." said Luke evenly as he glared at Crinda.  He bowed politely to Lady Marsten, turned stiffly and walked out.

"I am sure neither you or he are pleased over that," said the old woman as she returned to her chair. "but truth must come out or it festers.

He's as hard as valyrian steel on the outside, but soft as clay on the inside.  Be careful with him.  He'll break before he bends.  His Father was a Wildling, come down from the north.  Worked in your Mother's and then your service for many years.  Never did fit in though, for all he tried.

Luke doesn't try at all.  The townsfolk call him muttblood.  Then a few years ago he was found fooling around in a barn with young Aerin.  That pretty much nailed it for him.  Being a muttblood was bad enough.  Being a pillow-biter muttblood?  Those of the Seven, at least, treat him like dirt.

It's gotten better for him a bit over the last two years.  He built a cabin out by the lea.  Stays out of town as much as he can.  There's a boy in House Lyras he sees, although I don't know much about him.  Mostly he just does what he needs to every day.  The townfolk haven't a clue how much he's done for them over the years, and I'm not sure they would appreciate it if they did.

It's what I have been saying.  It's all about tribe, in the end.  Who is in the tribe.  Who is not."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:12 pm

Corrine shrugged a little.

"One of my closest friends was that way. I do not share the Seven's disdain for such people. I can imagine he's had a hard time of it though. Poor soul. He seems like a good lad. He's agreed to help with hunting and gathering firewood, which I hope will help the community. I don't expect forgiveness, but I'd ideally like to keep people from actively plotting my demise."

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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:30 pm

"Nobody wants your demise." waved Crinda.  "Not them, not I.  They are just hurting, grieving and afraid.  They have good reason to be afraid.  The war dissolved into chaos.  There are bitter men from both sides roaming the land who want payment for their blood.  Kings Landing is surrounded by a vengeful northern army.  The Riverlands and half the Reach are burnt.  We in the Vale are actually lucky.  I hear the town of Lefford is a smoking ruin."
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PostSubject: Re: Visiting the Crone (Closed)   Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:40 pm

"It is. While I understand the desire of some people for revenge, and the desperation of others who are displaced, I cannot abide terrorising and violence towards innocents. King's Landing might as well be a world away right now. Safeguarding these lands is my priority. The resources are stretched paper thin as it is, but I hope this talk has at least shown you my sincerity, and commitment to doing better by my people."

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