(122-04-12) An Audience with Lord Ormund
Players:
Ormund..Hellan..Malcolm..

Visitors on horseback, heralding news, arrived at the Hightower, led by Lady Hellan Stark, looking grim and regal in her wolfishly furred cloak too warm for the weather. She was surrounded by a number of men in the Stark colours, adding presence and importance to the visit — beyond the fact that she visits at all, no familiar face to the lofty tower. After requesting an urgent audience with the acting lord, however, it is only Hellan and one accompaniment that entered the council chambers, and she now stands looking just as grim. Politeness and greetings curt and passed, it is time to get down to business.

"You may have heard news of raids along the northeast coast," she states. "I come bearing more news. Unfortunately, it is worse news."

Ormund doesn't seem surprised. Somebody must have told him they had arrived, in all their glory, before ushering them in. Either that or he's practiced at not seeming surprised. In any case, Ormund looks up from his papers when they enter. The room is lamplit — this lower part of the Hightower is a heavy fortress of fused black stone, and would be forever dark but for the glow of all its lamps. "I am sorry to hear that, my lady," replies Ormund.

Malcolm is in his good clothes, hair and beard freshly trimmed and died and very neatly groomed. He follows behind Lady Hellan, head down and posture deferential. He bows and then stands quietly.

Hellan nods, somber. She may not be the matriarch of the Starks by precise measures, but she might as well be as she stands as their representative here in the council chambers. "As was I to hear it, my lord. A messenger from the Karstarks came to us, only nights past, with a closer account of the raids. They've reached a village just north of the Neck, half-burned before they could be driven back. By description, they sound like wildlings, though there is some speculation they could be from Skagos. There is every indication that they will continue their rampage." Ominously, with a quiet conviction and a dark look, she adds, "And I would believe it. They sound hungry. And something must be done."

Ormund looks at Hellan gravely, raising one eyebrow a touch. He says nothing, though, just waits.

Malcolm adds, "Lord Stark has not returned home, and we have sent Ravens to My Lord. He's left the fort where he was staying, the funeral being past and are not sure if he's reached the fort he was riding to as yet."

"While I'm certain the efforts to chase them off will be taken upon the Starks in the North and our bannermen, action from the south may soon be warranted, knowing the nature of these beasts, especially at the rate they travel along the coast. I wouldn't leave it too long and let them roam free," Hellan says but, noting the slightly caustic turn of her voice and how close it sounds to giving the Lord of Hightower unwarranted advice, she goes silent and watches him closely. There's an air of something else — more resting at the tip of her tongue. She spares Malcolm a short-lived glance.

The younger man nods to Hellan. "I see," he says. "And what has Lord Stark said?"

Malcolm blushes under his deep tan, "Nothing as of yet. He was out hunting when news came and we are not exactly sure how to reach him…. Which is how we came upon the other matter, My Lord. When Tellur Snow and I were out riding in hope of finding signs of him." He gives the Lady a pleading look.

Hellan half-suppresses an annoyed roll of her eyes when Malcolm says what he does. She was just going to lie; it sounds better. As for the other matter, however, she dips her dark head, frowning in a way that might be, or at least look, sympathetic to Malcolm's cause. "An unfortunate event of another sort," she tells Ormund regrettably. "I will let Ser Malcolm tell his account … and remind you that he is a sworn ally to my family, as well as a good and honour-bound knight." She may pass out from saying so many nice words for Malcolm's cause. For now, she stands still and stiff.

Ormund nods. "I will keep your raiders in mind," he says, "And inform Lord Tyrell. But surely I cannot rush to Lord Stark's aid without his request." He smiles dryly, then looks to Malcolm. "What is it, then, ser?"

You say, "We did not find Lord Stark. We did find a woman gathering herbs and a lost brachet. Judging from the state of the dog we thought her Master or Mistress might be in distress, so followed her back to find a tent in Beesbury colours full of wine skins with torn women's clothes inside and the woman herself, naked and slain and likely violated. I heard a horse coming, and not knowing if it was the murderer returning. I ordered we hide in hopes the rider's reaction would tell us if he be guilty or not. Tellur Snow and I hid, but the woman did not. It was the Bastard of Beesbury by his Sigil and equipage, dressed in half armour and fully armed, while we were lightly armed and dressed for the hunt, not war. He fell upon the woman, choking her and admitting to his crimes. The brachet attacked him, likely recognizing her Mistress' murderer. I had no choice but kill him quickly lest he murder and violate the woman as he did the other. This was in the woods just North of Old Town." His eyes stay cast down and though his tone is polite, he can not entirely hide his disgust at a Knight preying on unarmed women."

Ormund looks a little startled at this sudden tale. "I see," he says. "/What/ bastard of Beesbury? You're just guessing by his garb? And whatever did you do with him?"

Hellan simply regards Malcolm, waiting.

Malcolm blushes again, "I fear I know know Beesburies on sight, having never met any at Tourney. The man had a reversed sigil and everything was yellow and black striped from tent to tabard. We… left them there, thinking you or your men might want to look at the place yourselves."

Ormund nods, and sighs. "I see," he says. "I think you ought to take my man Camillo, and collect Ser Bastard and take him to Lord Beesbury and find out. Where is the woman?"

Malcolm says quietly, "Covered her with stones. The animals had already feasted, but best to protect what was left."

Ormund raises his eyebrows. "Ah," he says. "I meant the one you saved. Unless you failed to, and yet killed this bastard anyway?"

A shadow of an amused smile passes across Hellan's face for Ormund's manner; she stays quiet, letting Malcolm tell the tale.

Malcolm smiles crookedly, "Released back into the wild. She's none of our household. I expect she wanted a bath, given what he was doing when I killed him and how much blood got on her as a result. Likely she is about the city somewhere. My Lord, if any trouble or blame come from this, let no blame fall on Tellur Snow. It was my decision to follow the hound, lest there was assistance to give, and my choice to rescue the woman the only way I reasonably could given the disparity of arms between us."

Ormund sighs, "Who was she, do you know?" he asks. "It might do well to keep her in mind, if someone must stand for you."

Malcolm sighs too, "I fear she would not make much of a character witness, given her profession, and it might be best to keep her out of it."

Ormund coughs a little. "Who?" he asks, coldly now.

Malcolm says with real disgust, "The Witch Isador. She'd not have been in danger if she'd more sense and followed directions, but I could not in conscience let her be killed and raped in front of me."

Ormund grimaces as well. "I see," he says. "You are right. She's no witness you want to call on. Do you know my man Camillo?"

Hellan, frowning, seems to have no love for anyone called a witch either, and her calm silence agrees with the both of them.

Malcolm smiles with a dark sort of amusement, "I do. I will take him now if you like. I would much like to get this business done with. What are the chances of them wanting a trial by combat, would you know?"

Ormund nods. "Take him, with my warrant," he takes a piece of paper and begins to write, "That if trial of any type is demanded, it shall take place here, as the crime occurred in my woods. Unless it didn't?" He doesn't look up from his writing.

Malcolm bows deeply, "It did, My Lord. The killings both took place on your land."

"Thank you for your judiciousness," Hellan tells the Hightower; it sounds more a fact — he has acted judiciously — than a compliment, though the gratitude is true enough.

Ormund nods to Hellan. "And your information, my Lady. I appreciate your wisdom."

Ormund folds the paper and seals it before handing it to Malcolm.

Malcolm bows low and takes it, "Thank you My Lord and My Lady for your patience."

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