(121-11-06) Hour of the Bat

Ser Edmund Lonmouth arrives in the Council Chamber shortly before the hour of the bat. The knight of skulls and kisses smells of sweat and soot. He is arrayed in his customary black and crimson livery with a purple cloak pinned back with a silver skull broach. He falls to one knee as is appropriate for a mere knight in the presence of one of the most powerful Lords in the Seven Kingdoms. "My Lord of Hightower, the hour is late, but the dead may soon outnumber the living if we do not take matters in hand…"

Ormund sits at the end of the long council table, looking weary, but certainly very much awake. "Indeed, Ser," he says dryly. "They may do regardless."

Ned rises and looks to the Lord of Hightower. The man looks as tired as he feels. "My Lord, I spoke with Maester Leandro I believe our only recourse is to close the city gates and harbor, forbid travel abroad until the plague is contained. We must burn the dead. The Septons may be wroth, but we haven't time to bury the dead. Lastly, my Lord, we will need swords and laborers… give me leave to empty the dungeons and conscript those who are not the King's subjects…"

Ormund blinks. For a bare instant, it looks as if he might have been surprised by this suggestion. He might even look impressed. Then again, perhaps not, the man is good at hiding his feelings. He says, "Can you control them?"

For an instant Ned does not speak, as he considers Lord Ormund's question. "Yes, my lord, though I may have need of more swords, from your personal guard and that of Lord Lorant Tyrell's other bannerman, if I can prevail upon them, my Lord."

Ormund nods at that, sharply. "You may." He pulls a sheet of foolscap from one of the piles at his right hand and begins to write, rapidly.

Ned Lonmouth dips his head to Lord Ormund. "There are two more matters, my lord. The pit. I would suggest digging the depth two mens' height at the edge of the River Road, just beyond the Citadel and Hightower, my lord. And dreys and horses, I need your permission to conscript such dreys and horses as the plague requires, my Lord."

Ormund shakes his head. "It will foul the river. Make your pit along the Blackcrown road, beyond the tourney grounds. From whom would you conscript horses?"

Edmund is silent for an instant, considering. "Aye, it would, my lord. Blackcrown Road, my lord. Horses, my lord? From merchants and landed knights, if we have need of more draft horses. I would see to it they are returned after we have dealt with the plague my lord."

Ormund nods again. "Can you write, ser?" he asks, sealing what he himself wrote with a blob of glossy wax.

Edmund looks down upon the sheet that Ormund has just sealed. "Aye my lord. My mother's Maester said I had a fair fist." Ned looks at the blob of sealing wax and spares Ordmund a grave expression. "The watch will put an end to this, my lord."

Ormund hands the sheet over to Edmund and nods to him. "Let us pray that you are right," he says.

Ned takes the sheet and nods to his liege lord. "Aye, the Stranger has been right ravenous my lord. I pray he's had his fill and the mother and maid make him relent." Ned drops into a bow "forgive me for being brusque my lord, but with your leave I will let my officers know your will."

The Lord nods. "Do not delay," he says, grave and brisk.

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