(122-04-20) Impossible Mission (Pt. 2)
Impossible Mission (Pt. 2)
Summary: Lord Carolis and the Ladies attempt to retake the castle from the Skags. Lord Carolis uncovers a new wrinkle in the plot against his brother.
Date: Date of play (20/04/122)
Related: http://gobmush.wikidot.com/plot:something-is-rotten-at-winterfell

The women efficiently grab up undergown, overgrown and small clothes, glad enough to be done for the night and off to get some sleep."Open the door, Vulvai you beast!" And they are off. Dressing is rather exaggerating the point, he pulls tunic over skin, but doesn't bother with hose at this hour. Luckily it's a long cut Northern style one instead of a short Sothron Doublet, such as Ser Malcolm wears. He grunts encouragement as he does. he cocks his head, "And you are telling me because…" Though the glint in his eyes says he knows why, but is waiting for Carolis to say it first.

Like the doublet Carolis is wearing. Oh, it's a little longer than what Ser Malcolm would fancy but it still shows more than a small glimpse of cod. He tilts his head as he regards Djoller, and there's a canniness about him, though there are equal parts playfulness as well. "Because you sell wool," he says with a wink, the kind that tells a man he's in on the joke too, honest.

Madrighal stares at Lord Carolis, not particularly charmed. "If you were after wool, it would have waited until morning."

Carolis's smile broadens. He is the opposite of his stern, taciturn brother in so many ways. He turns his back on the man, a show of trust perhaps? Maybe arrogance, but his body language is easygoing, No, not arrogant. He just wants to take in the view of the courtyard (with an eye, perhaps, to that tower, but he'd never be so obvious as to glance its way). "I see there's no pulling it over your eyes. We both know which way the tide is turning, I think."

The window itself is not quite in view, but the light itself on stone would be clear if there was any, and there is no change yet. They'd have likely freed the men first and the Man at arms, would need to put on the ring mail and the short sword, so he might rush in if things go wrong. These things take time, alas. The man grins wide. Though they are not filed as rumor suggested of some of the raiders, there is still something sharklike about it. "And what are you planning to do about it, Winter Rose? Have you your Father's balls or your Mother's cunny?" The deadness of his eyes now looks… is that amusement? Maybe he is softening, though rather more like rotten cheese than fresh butter.

His accent slipped a little there, just for a moment, and a hint of the Iron Isles flavored one of his vowels.

Carolis laughs. He's got such a quiet laugh, rarely heard so much as seen in the shaking of his shoulders. "Think not on my father or mother, Master Djoller. I am Winterfell's son," he says. This his regard turns serious. Iron Islands hmm? He squares his shoulders. A man with a sense of humor, but see how it covers a simmering ugliness, Islander? "You've heard how I rally for the North, and I don't forget for a moment the blood of kings run in my veins. "What am I going to do?" He smiles, little more than a tug at the corner of his lips. "I am going to end this war."

Madrighal is so surprised by the laugh, that he actually shows it on the rather expressionless slab of meat that passes for his face. He is really looking at Carolis now, not as the reputedly soft Winter Rose, but as a Stark, "Will you rally you men then? Ride to Deepwood Mott? There's not much left in the way of fighting men hear about, them mostly having ridden off to war mouths ago."

*And thank you for telling me where my brother has rallied his forces,* Carolis thinks. "How many?" he asks. His tone is clipped now. Not that the humor has died entirely, but he *is* a Stark, and this is warfare. It would seem that, while he has his mother's pretty face, he is his father's son. One hopes not quite as sentimental and so hung up on honor he fails to see reason. Maester Haedan raised him well. "Where are they?"

The Supposed wool merchant laughs deeply amused, "How would I know. Boltons called the banners months ago and these forts are all handfuls of youths and old men, mostly. How many were in these hills a year ago? how many forts? Take ten away from each company and you've got your estimate. This whole coast's like that. Karstarks are lucky to have a hundred or so ranging their whole coast with all those little inlets and coves. They've all ridden West for your banner or your brother's or the Boltons or Glovers." This seems to amuse him mightily.

Carolis glances back to the man. His features are grim, now. Carolis wants to impress upon the man that he is a Stark. Not a wolf like the Cub but still a son of the blood. The Shadowcat. "We will rally at Castle Cerwyn," he says. The Cerwyn's have been friendly with the Starks. Perhaps their castle is empty, perhaps it's not, but it won't matter. They'll never get there. "I will send the raven in the morning. I will address my men directly, and we will ride forth. I know my brother's tactics. He will go for a full frontal attack on Glover's forces. His scouts will see my banner. His flank will be relaxed. We pin him between my army and Glover's castle,, he'll have nowhere to go."

The man stares at him, startled again, "You wish us to… ride with you?"

Carolis arches a brow. "Is it not my army?" He turns to walk toward Djoller, each step decisive, and he draws himself to his full height. He's an inch over Cregan, in fact, though not as broad in the shoulders. He's more lean, streamlined. Small *for a Stark.* "I lived in Rickon and Cregan's shadow all my life. Oh, I grieved when my eldest brother died, but I was a child. I knew no better. I supported Cregan because he was my brother and it was my lot. Don't get me wrong, Master Djoller, I do love him. He is my brother. But I love Winterfell more. He made a mistake when he threw his lot in with Bolton and now he squanders our bannermen fighting Bolton's battle while Winterfell stands all but empty. Who keeps the seat warm? My sister. A woman. Because I was sent to the south, and why do you think that might be? I thank you for rallying this army in my name. Of course I will lead it. How else will he think I am coming to aid him? How else do you think he will let us close enough to bring him down?"

The man is wide of shoulder and alarmingly strong of chest and arm, but a half foot shorter than the Winter Rose. His eyes dart away for a moment, but he straightens, laughing, "I have rallied no army for you, but I am sure half the guard here would cheerfully ride with you as escort…." There is a very long scream cut off by a thud as a body falls from the tower on the cliff side and hits a hard ledge in the crevasse below. Suddenly, there is a small new light on the greathall and court side. The man darts towards the wide cliffside window nearest to look, missing the signal light on the arrow slit side.

Carolis glances toward the sound of the scream, but he doesn't look alarmed. "I didn't like the man at arms," he says without missing a beat. His wandering carries him close to the metal urn. It looks heavy. "I may have paid someone off to take care of him. I can't tell. They all scream the same to me." He wants to keep the Iron Islander here. Wants to pump him for more information. If nothing else, throwing the man into confusion will make him sloppy. One hopes.

Carolis glances toward the sound of the scream, but he doesn't look alarmed. "I didn't like the man at arms," he says without missing a beat. His wandering carries him close to the metal urn. It looks heavy. "I may have paid someone off to take care of him. I can't tell if it's him or one of those blithering cunts. They all scream the same to me." He wants to keep the Iron Islander here. Wants to pump him for more information. If nothing else, throwing the man into confusion will make him sloppy. One hopes.

It is good solid pewter and full of water, him not having washed up yet after his earlier sport. The man grunts his confusion and leans further out to look, trying to see if he can get a better look at the dark figure below. After all, the Winterfell heir is charming and believably treacherous against his brother.

Carolis spends 1 luck points on No! I must have my savage urn beating!.

Carolis is silent picking up the urn. Not so much as a drop sloshes. He had the information he needed, and as much as he would like to question the man further, it would only be a matter of time before the dogged bastard figured out the screamer was one of his. He moves closer, silent as a cat. Well, this is it, then. "I do so want the most best man for the job as Lord of Winterfell," he murmurs. The urn comes up. The urn comes down. It's a solid blow, enough to stun the Islander but not enough to put him down. Djoller rounds on him with a snarl and lashes out to grab his doublet. Carolis is no match for the man in terms of sheer physical prowess, but he's quick, and he's sober, and he's not developing a concussion. Still, Djoller manages to slam his head against the window sill and pushes him precariously over it. Carolis brings the urn up again. Clang! Clang! Clang! He means to steer the man by virtue of him trying to avoid the blows, and when he's unbalanced enough, Carolis slips free and pitches him out the window. He doesn't let go of Carolis' doublet, and Carolis nearly tumbles after him, but the soft, Southron fabric tears and down the man goes. Carolis listens for the thud of him hitting the ground. No witty one-liner from him. He turns promptly and takes up the Islander's sword. There's a guard to take care of.

Despite the man's yell as he takes the long fall towards death, there is silence on the other side of the door. No guard runs in. There is yelling from some of the archers, though not as many as one would expect.

Carolis pads to the door, sword at the ready. Is there a bow here? A crossbow? He hefts the sword, getting used to its weight and balance. Those grudgingly taken sword lessons may yet come in handy. He stays outside of door-slamming-open distance and listens. Is the guard even there?

There is a very muffled gasp and a thump on the door. The sword is one of those big heavy two handed monsters. The "dagger" is more in the way of a short sword.

Carolis eases up. And he grunts as he tries to get the right grip on the two-handed sword. Islanders, so hung up on 'bigger is better.' Where's the finesse? "Who goes there?" He can feel the heat on his face where it banged against the window sill. The swelling hasn't affected his vision, but he knows an ugly bruise must be forming. He bruises so easily.

The door opening inward, Vulvai falls backwards into the room at Carolis' feet. His blood is nearly everywhere. The dowager stands off to the side so her feet might stay dry as she cleans her dagger. "It is I." Of course it is. The man's throat is neatly cut. She says calmly, "I fear there was a bit of trouble with the hostage guards. Our Steward is bleeding and I fear our captain is seeing double, but the children are safe and you've five more men. The lookout has barred the roof trap and it looks like a number of archers are crossing the Great hall roof. "What now, Lord Carolis?"

Carolis flashes the dowager a broad, toothy grin. "You must stop being so fetching or I might try to win your hand," he warns. A woman who can make a clean kill and not lose her femininity. What now? He looks around, taking only a second to assess the room. "What need have your men for arms?" Too much and too heavy for them to carry out of here if they want to make haste. "We'll direct them here, put them in the alcoves to sabotage archers coming this way." He steps over Vulvai's body and as he moves past the dowager, his hand touches lightly upon her hip. To steady her, surely. "I've my own weapons in my chamber. How do you feel about leading an ambush on the archers? If they run past in groups, pick off the last one. Be silent, get the bodies out of the way. The courtyard is a popular places for corpses tonight."

The Dowager gives him a wicked smile, "Well, you did seem to have a skillful tongue earlier." Then she is all business again, "We've three men with swords, an archer, and assorted knives and kitchen implements. Best to hand a sword to our Ivo if you've a spare. He's not clever with one, but can his hard and is better than a carving knife….." This next brooks no argument. "My Good daughter will be guarding the children and the wounded. They are softer in the Riverlands than we are." A young girl of about ten peers around the corner from above. She has her mother's hair and Grandmother's eyes. "I'll do my best, Lord Carolis." Without turning she orders the girl, "You heard the Heir to Winterfell. Fetch the men, then stay with your mother!" The head vanishes.

Carolis glances to the girl, and he gives her a solemn nod. The children don't get to be children tonight, poor things, and so they will get the respect of a soldier. "Ivo's got his pick here," he says with a nod toward Djoller's gear. Two swords, armor. Carolis seems to have no need of these, himself. "I've got an archer to have stern words with." On impulse, he kisses her. Heat of the battle, and damn she's hot. "Gods go with you." He flashes her another smile, then he's off. In his chamber there ought to be sword, bow, and armor, a full quiver. For now, he just takes the bow. Time is of the essence, and he needs to get a good shot at the roof.

She is startled, but she slides her hands into his hair and she certainly knows how to kiss back, those deep blue eyes, so startling against her pale hair and skin looking up into his. She's not a tall woman, and must stand on her toes. His Gear is still there, thank the Gods.

Carolis is mindful of his ink trap, dismantles it neatly (as easy as removing the vial and corking it). Just his bow for now. Armor takes time, swords clank. He gathers up his quiver, and he darts off toward roof access. He's got to be up there. The acoustics are all wrong in the sniper corridors.

The men run down past Lord Carolis. They have sure feet on the uneven stairs and no armour, so they must be the locals. The girl is waiting at the door, wide eyed at the avenging Stark come like a hero out of stories to rescue them all, but steady enough despite being held prisoner more than a week. Someone has pulled the bodies out of the way, but piled near the door in case of need as a barricade. The Master at arms, the Old warrior with the limp, is sitting with legs splayed and blood in his grey hair, a straw haired boy a year or two younger than the girl coaxing him to drink something. Lady Mouston in personally binding the Steward's arm wound, and toddler weeping and clinging to her skirt. Several other children and babies of the castle are here, as is a woman with the look of a children's nurse, and a few men with old wounds, but still in no condition to fight. It's hard to here soft sounds through thick boards over the noise of the little one.

The options are: 1. breach the trap or 2. attempt to climb out the cliffside window using the piss ledge and hope that there is some way around the overhanging from the roof crenellations or 3. Climb onto the third floor tower piss ledge and climb sideways along the wall, hoping for purchase to get onto the roof above the two best bedrooms and hope he pops up on that side between crenellations. The first is hard. The third is dangerous and a tough shot to make given the Keep's height and the foreshortened angle. The second is likely suicidal.

There is also going through the assaulting archers to get to the Main Hall roof, which gives a better angle for shooting.

The trap door is one armed and armored man wide at the top of a wooden staircase easily collapsed by defenders with an axe and about five minutes warning. The stairs are intact. An iron bar with brackets holds it shut roof side.

The moon is large and bright. Figure in silhouette are shootable.

Carolis takes up his bow and arrow, and he leaves the sword and armor for now. The archer has to go. That raven needs to be sent. The dowager told him where the archer was heading, and he knew where the archer had been. Given an average-ish running speed for a man in a hurry, Carolis knew approximately where he'd be, and the young lord ran the distance to the nearest arrow slit, his soft-soled shoes making barely a sound. He was prepared to take a shot in the dark if he had to, but the moon! He had never loved it more than he did now. He nocked an arrow and fired at the first glimpse of a shadow. With the trap door blocked, there would be no allies to worry about hitting up there.

It is an insane shot. The arrow slits are not very wide and the young Lord is having to shoot straight up, essentially. Luckily he is thin for his size and his arms are long, and the Shadow cat is patient. a head pops between crenellations, perfectly silhouetted by the light of a nearly full moon. The arrow flies strong and true. The man falls past the window limp and silent.

By the time he has taken the amazing shot, there are the sounds of fighting on the floor below.

Carolis is a tall lad, and that helps. It gives him extra lean without his center of weight shifting too much. Still, there is that moment of 'perhaps I have not thought this through' as he's poignantly aware of the distance below. But when the moment comes and the arrow hits its mark, there's a rush like no other. There's no time to savor it, though. He returns to his room, and there he gathers up his sword, hastily belts it on, and then grabs his armor. He straps it on as he goes, and the first ally he happens upon, he tells, "Send the raven! Hurry!"

It's one of the castle men, a big bloke with an arrow in his arm. He nods and makes his way up the stairs to try to get Lady Mouston and the other wounded working on that barred door. Down below there are screams and cries of pain.

Carolis finds another arrow slit, once he's geared up, and he looks at the courtyard below. The moonlight is a godsend, and he's fired into his own men before. But it has been in daylight, and these aren't his men, or even his brothers. There are women and children down there. So he takes careful aim. He can tell the difference between aggressor and defender, skilled and unskilled, from a distance.

The Courtyard is empty. There might be men in the gate towers still alive and at their posts, but the few men visible on the walls are slumped, likely poisoned, and the rest are trying to fight their way up the tower. The archers are likely now in the tower.

Carolis joins the fray. Not his usual battlefield, but the principles remain the same: put holes in the other guy without letting him put holes in you. "It's me," he tells one of the swordsmen as he comes up behind him. No use startling the man already keyed up in attack mode. He takes his shots carefully. Arrows are precious without a supply line.

The men are a bit cut up, but they do seem to know what they are doing. The other Mouston archer casts lord carolis a grateful look as his quiver is empty. The stairs really only allow one, or at most two if the second man has a really long reach to strike and is twisted to favor the defenders. The men in front assaulting the locals look to have been then men in Mouston colours from dinner, who likely were asleep in the Great hall when this started. They are slow, clumsy with drink and from the looks of things, the Mouston men, though without armour and now bleeding here and there are holding steady. It is the two surviving archers on the enemy side that are the problem. The angle is bad, but the better of them is managing to hit now and then, and one of three remaining Mouston men looks unlikely to ruse, having an arrow in his eye.

Carolis hands off some of his arrows to the other archers. He's got a long reach. He's got a reputation for a reason. He leans, twists, and lets fly. The arrow hits solid, and the archer comes down. He leaves the easier shots for the other Mouston archer, even if it exposes him to return fire. He nocks another arrow and tells the swordsman by his side, "Hold onto me." So that he can lean further. Get a better shot. Thud. Another archer tumbles down. Arrows whiz past him. One bounces off his armor. Fwip! He lets another arrow fly. It opens up the stairs. They gain ground.

Once the enemy archers have joined a number of their less sober colleagues on a bone breaking arrow studded fall down the stairs, one of the men below bellows in the accent of Skagos, "Hold! Truce! Have you our commander?" In the relative silence rhythmic thuds and the crack of wood can be heard above.

Carolis glances around at the others. He won't overstep his bounds, but if they defer to a Lord of Winterfell, he takes up the job. "He's fallen," Carolis calls back. "Let down your arms, gather in the courtyard. We will not kill unarmed men, but if we see so much as a hunting knife, we will end you." He's got that powerful voice, and he glances around to make sure it has carried to his own people as well as theirs.

The voice yells, "Yield." His tone is appropriately defeated. They withdraw, tripping over the bodies of the wounded and the dead. There is a large CRACK! from above and muffled, mostly feminine cheers. They do drop their weapons down to the eating knife, but there is no guarantee the gate towers are empty and the Courrtyard could easily become a kill box. One of the Mouston men goes for the "wool merchant"'s armour. Another starts stripping Vulvai. The other one still standing stays to guard the Heir of Winterfell. Sheepishly he says, "They were nigh upon us and there was naught to do but grab the arms and fight as we were to hold the stair. The Dowager in her pale, blood fleck cloak stands quiet behind. "They've broken through and will send to your men, Lord Carolis."

Carolis offers the swordsman a thin smile and claps him on the arm, mindful of injury. "You held the line. Good man." He turns then to the dowager, and he inclines his head so lowly it is close to a bow. "Good. My thought is we imprison the Skagosoi in the tower where you were held. We will need to gather the wounded in the great hall, ours and theirs. We should shepherd the littles somewhere safe where they don't have to see the cleanup."

There it is, that look Cregan's men often give him in the eyes of the Mouston Man at arms as he looks on Lord Carolis. The look they all keep giving Lord Carolis this night. The Dowager Duchess nods, "I'll see to it the small ones are safe. If you see my Grand Daughter please send her along to help. She's good with a needle. If the Great hall really is clear, you can reach the gate towers from the gallery."

Ah, Cregan, the alpha wolf, proud leader of the pack. Carolis keeps a stern countenance of competence and strength. It's for their sakes, that he must be the leader they deserve. It would be a lie to say it isn't uplifting. It's terribly uplifting, and the higher one is uplifted, the harder one stands to fall. This is why men like Cregan cannot afford to be afraid. There is so much to fear a man would crumple under the weight of it. He nods to the dowager and says, "Of course, milady." To the swordsman and remaining archer, he says, "See to it the Skagosoi are imprisoned. The rest of Lord Mouston's men will sweep the castle for stragglers." He claps both men on the shoulder again. The need to feel connected; that much he understands. "I will go meet my men, and we'll convene in the great hall. By the gods, I hope it's not so full of the wounded there's no room for us."

They arm the servants, the Lady Mouton's women, the entertainers, and the older children. A sweep is made. The cook is dead in the tower with the archers. One must have had time to make a stab before succumbing. The gates are raised and men ride in. Lady Lylla apparently quite sensibly hid in the scullery, and once summoned forth, joins her mother and the nurse in tending wounds.

Carolis doesn't rest on his laurels while others do the dirty work. While he awaits his men, he helps with piling bodies of the Skagasoi who fell near the gates. It isn't until hears the thudding of hoof beats that he steps away to meet them. He conveys the events as horses are handed off to the stable boy, and he escorts his men to the great hall. On the way, he calls for paper, ink, and a quill. There are several ravens to send out before dawn. How long has it been since he's slept? Just a little while longer and he'll be able to catch a nap.

There is of course a mob of survivors waiting to thank and praise the Heir to Winterfell. The Lady Mouston herself is characteristically restrained, but he gets that fleeting smile of approval, genuine and truly glad to have her young ones safe. The Lady Lylla is all effusive praise and a great deal of wanting to hang on his arm. The Dowager eyes the tired looking Stark, "Might you rather have a bite to eat and some cool ale and a chance to write your letters in quiet, away from all this bustle?"

Carolis greets the people solemnly, but not without warmth. He is not the entertainer just now. He is the military leader they've risked their lives, some of them even dying for. Lady Lylla is chastely and kindly handed off to the tending of the wounded with her skilled hands. He takes the dowager's hand, lifts his to his lips, and he says, "Milady, from the gods' lips to yours." He presses a kiss to her knuckles. Then he rises and lifts his hand to get the attention of the great hall. Tired, but not down yet. He chooses his words with care, and he keeps it short and sweet. He's not the only tired one, and there are those far worse off than he is. He gives gratitude for the bravery of Lord Mouston's people, and he impresses upon them that they've fought well and hard. Their Lord will be proud of them. A raven will be dispatched to Winterfell. Assistance will be offered to safeguard the castle. House Stark commends them. His standing orders are tend to the wounded, gather the dead, and rest.

When it's done, he asides to the second among his men, "Defer to Lady Mouston. I'm going to be in my chamber."

There is a cheer at this promise. It has been a nightmarish couple of weeks, though the entertainers for the most part were not aware they were in danger until it passed. Meanwhile, the dowager has been giving quiet orders and a few serving girls go back through the keep door.

The Men, of course, are obedient to the Heir of Winterfell's command.

Carolis retires to his chamber, and he writes letters swiftly. To his brother, to Lord Cerwyn, to his alleged army at Deepwood Motte. So many ravens. Cool, calm, his hands don't shake. However? By the old gods, Cregan had better marry soon and produce a dozen sons. Maybe his helpful younger brother should arrange for a meeting with Lady Lylla. Once the letters are handed off to be sent, he undresses, and he crawls under his covers, and he closes his eyes. Just a nap. That's all. Someone will wake him when they need him, surely. He'll just rest his eyes.

The moment his head hits the pillow, he's out like a light.

It is the Dowager herself who supplies the ink and parchments and the dowager's hands that set the tray with bread, stinky cheese, and ale my his elbow. Shadow cat quiet she is and closed mouthed. She takes the parchments herself, promising to see them sent, and once the door is closed, none come to disturb his rest.

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