(122-12-27) Value
Summary: Hellan Stark plucks Kellan Karstark out of the Fist and Falcon.
Date: 27/12/2015
Related: None

Fist and Falcon Tavern
Sphinx Street

The Fist and Falcon's sign shows a gauntleted fist with a hooded falcon sitting on it. The establishment is a tavern only, and offers no sleeping rooms. It consists of a single, large, low-ceilinged room, the timbered walls covered with old smoke-stained plaster. It is decorated with battle-damaged shields and the mounted heads of stags and boar.
There's a single large fireplace along one wall, with a high hearth for seating. A heavy, battered wooden bar stands opposite. The rest of the room is occupied by weighty oaken tables, marred by generations of men picking their sigils into the wood with knife-tips.
The Fist caters to the tourney-ground crowd, being close enough that a man fresh from a fight and with a thirst on him need not go far to satisfy it. It offers meads, ales, ciders, and wines of all types. One can also buy hearty, simple food in large portions — thick brown stew, sausages, hot meat pies, and meats roasted with potatoes and onions.

It's the hour of the wolf, and the moon is high in the sky. The Fist is no place for a woman at this time of night, lest she be selling her skin. The men are piss drunk and rowdy, brawls breaking out with hardly a whisper of provocation. The customers here are a rough sort. Fighting men. Knights, some. Others of dubious moral code and allegiance. Not enough coin in their purses for good beer or wine. Not enough to buy clean women. Just enough to drink to forget, to usher out one day and ring in the next.

Kellan Karstark is a big man. In a crowd of big men, he is bigger. A hulking mass of Northron stock, with broad shoulders and a full beard, hair as long as a woman's. His voice carries, booming, as he regales his fellow drunks with a war story, dramatically overexaggerating the play-by-play trading of blows. But the twist at the end is that he fought not a man but a bear. He describes the creature, for few have ever laid eyes on one themselves, and hauls up the corner of his shirt to show them a rake of claw marks he won for his efforts. Even those who'd heckled him believe him when they see the scars, and someone buys him a fresh pint for the effort. Maybe it's what he was after all along, for Kellan ambles to a seat and heaves himself down into it to guzzle his prize.


The voice is strong and deep, and carries as well as any commander — a woman's voice, all the same.

Clad in plain dress of grey-blue, fine enough but rough-hewn compared to the standards of the south, and a cloaked hood trimmed in fur, the figure — tall, herself, for a woman — steps away from the timbered wall, striding only a few paces before halting. Hellan has not been here long, else she would have drawn more attention, although a burly man wearing a sword, a long-suffering look, and the Stark colours stands behind her, a reminder that she isn't to be trifled with. "The fiercest bear you've ever tried to tangle with was Maera Mormont, and you certainly didn't win, by my accounts. Come here."

Kellan is intent on ignoring the sound of his name, even though it would seem to come from a woman. Maybe especially because it comes from a woman. No woman as knows his name has any good reason for seeking him out here. His throat works, head tilted back, as he downs the swill in his mug. Chugging. With what time he has left.

It's good he did it, because he cannot avoid Hellan long, and the soldier in him cannot ignore the command in her tone. She comes away from the wall and he turns to see her, his movements slow, lumbering, heavy with ale. He punctuates her words by slamming down his tankard upon the table top, the wood quaking beneath the force of his fist. Maera Mormont. The very reason he has yet to return to the lands from whence he came.

He spits on the ground, but over his shoulder, away from Hellan. He sucks air through his teeth, making a quiet sound like a hiss. But he shoves back the bench and stands, taking slow, heavy steps toward Hellan. He notes her colors, and those of her man. "My lady." Like an errant child caught doing something naughty he shouldn't have. He does not meet her eye.

Hellan lifts her hands and takes handfuls of fur trim, pushing her hood slowly back; better to see him without it, although the absence of shadow better reveals her dark hair and her pale, striking features. Mormont features, the weathering of age and a difficult life intensifying them. Her eyes are the colour of thick ice, and just as cold. "I caught word of you, casting about from winesink to tavern." The same could be said of Hellan — at least, by those who dare whisper it — but she bears no sign of such trespasses, sounding, in fact, as sober as the dead of winter. "Is there a reason a man of Karstark is set upon wasting his life and his sword?"

Kellan is further chastened when Hellan pulls back her hood and reveals herself. Their eyes meet briefly when the hulking Karstark lifts his to look at her face and confirm her identity. Then he lowers his head again. Repentant. Guilty as charged. Kellan stands there, for all his mighty size, like a man facing the axe, ready to receive his sentence. "Lord Karstark's last words to me, before I rode south: Don't think of coming north of the Riverlands unless it's with Maera Mormont for your brother's bride." His words are gruff. Low. Hateful. And Maera Mormont refused the contract his father offered months ago. Refused to negotiate it.

Hellan's mouth had already been set in a grim line; after the man speaks, it pulls further. If she had her axe of Bear Island legend now, surely she would be the one to swing it to his guilty head. "The fault is Lord Karstark's," she says instead, lowering her voice. "Maera cannot be won. Her choices are her own. He should have realized that before sending you on a doomed errand." She takes one step forward, staring coolly upward.

"Just the same." Kellan says, sounding every bit like he knew it was a fool's errand from the beginning. "Can't go north. Won't fight for the south." He holds his hands in front of him, palm clasped to wrist. His stance is wide. Powerful. But maybe it's just on account of his size that it seems that way. The Karstark looks up again, when Hellan takes the step closer. Sobering, under her cool stare.

"I hate to see a good man of the North, a loyal warrior," there's a sharply assessing pause, Hellan's powerful gaze taking in Kellan in full, from his stance to his perceived loyalties, " — fall into… disuse." The thought is, frankly, disgusting, given her punctuating grimace. Her lifts her chin, jaw strong. "You will come to the Stark manse and you will right yourself," she states plainly, seeming to choose for him.

Kellan has been like a stray dog, put out into the streets by Maera Mormont, abandoned in the wake of her refusal. But all a man like him wants is to fight and to drink and to fuck, and just two of the three things will never really cut it. Hellan offers him the opportunity to regain it all, and now he stands to his full height, like to show her that he still has things to offer. He'd been a bit pissed earlier, when she separated him from his tankard. Now he is relieved. "Aye, my lady. Aye, I will." Obeying orders comes easily to him. It's figuring out what to do without them that's led him to his current trouble.

Hellan is a woman accustomed to giving orders, be they once upon a time on the field of battle or servants and those sworn to her kith and kin — and likely those who are not. When Kellan accepts her charge of him so readily, she looks pleased with herself and with him, a smile ghosting if not fully moving her lips. She lifts her hood back atop her head, the shadow cutting into her cheeks, hollowing them. "If you don't come now, I will assume you have fallen into your cups again and there will be no second chance." She turns abruptly. Her walk toward the door of the Fist and Falcon is slower, gauged and purposeful.

The Stark man lumbers after with his head down, eyeing Kellan sideways with something that might be pity.

"I'll not disappoint you, me, my lady," he swears. They're as good as marching orders, and Kellan does not disobey marching orders. He falls in line after Hellan, avoiding the pity in the Stark man's eyes. His own stay fixed on her back. Maybe he walks a little taller, a little prouder, for it all. Purpose. Even if sobering up will be an unpleasant first task.

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