(123-05-29) Hunting a Most Holy Prize
Hunting a Most Holy Prize
Summary: The Red Kraken takes a hostage for the Merqueen.
Date: 29 May 2016 (OOC); IC date 1-2 months prior.
Related: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)

The morning fog is just starting to lift off the dark surface of Blackwater Bay, laying suppressive and grey above land and sea alike. Birds can hardly be seen through the haze, except when they dive down to tear fish from the bay. The masts of occasional ships graze the heavy ceiling without parting the clouds. In the far distance, Dragonstone looks like so many ghostly, jagged tiers of black rock poised to fall out of an unforgiving cliff-face.

One such ship slowly navigates through the bay on its way to Dragonstone; by the look of it, it is a merchant ship of average size with an eclectic crew; the only thing they have in common is their purpose and a look of being worn-down, having, like the ship itself, seen better days. Weighed down with cargo and avoiding the smaller fishing boats speckling this part of the bay, it's a slow old beast, the patched sails barely moving in the damp air.

Fog is a Reaver's friend and companion.

It muffles the sound of oars cutting hard through the waters, churning them as the rowers bend their backs. It masks the approach of their longship, a silhouette known and feared throughout Westeros and Essos. It is a gift from the Drowned God and protects them, and all Ironborn love the sight of fog.

"She's been spotted, Captain."

Dalton Greyjoy glances up from his small meal of fish, bread, and wine to see his First Mate standing in the door to his cabin. The Red Kraken offers the other man a smirk, but pauses to wash down his last bite with a mouthful of wine before he gives the command: "Full sails and wake the damned rowers, then. Time to catch us a Dragon."

The first mate is a hideous, grizzled reaver that's spent more time on the sea than on land, and when the captain gives his orders, by god, he spreads the word. His voice booms through the hull and then across the deck when he goes back above board, and by the time Dalton comes up to see for himself, the sails are raised and full and the slender hunting vessel is churning through the water at an aggressive pace. "She's a tired old thing, by the look of her. Might be she's got more to offer for a prize than just the dragon." He's peering through a looking glass and offers it to Dalton when he comes up alongside, even though the visibility is limited by the elements.

A figure in red all but materializes on the deck of the merchant ship. She looks out from a face as pale as a beach stone beyond the stern, and for a long moment, she seems to stare straight into the fog that yet drifts up further out into the bay. Where it's still thick enough to obscure sea monsters.

A cool wind blows through, and she dissolves like the cloud of fog that brought her.

Before long, the merchant crew begins to shout. It takes awhile — too long, not that it would matter — for the shouts to evolve from confused barks. Who could it be turns heart-sinkingly to why, when they see, clear enough, the reaver's ship. And this close to Dragonstone— ?

Where the figure once stood, the captain now stands. He is an again man, but no less sturdy for it; a short and stout man with receding silver hair and arms like tree trunk bigger 'round than his head, he looks a fair sight less haggard than all that he lords over. Shouting calls-to-action unknowingly in time with a matched voice on the other ship, he crosses those gargantuan arms and waits to face their fate head-on. They have no other choice.

"We're right close to the Dragons' nest," the first mate says, peering into the distance at the black cliffs partially obscured by fog. It's not their usual hunting grounds, this deep into Targaryen territory. "Your Merbitch worth it?" He's like a dog ready to go in for the kill, but the window of time in which there's room left for the Red Kraken to change his mind and prescribe a different course is closing, and so he makes his suggestion even though he hopes it won't be taken. The reaver lives and dies for the prize, and to take one on the Dragons' doorstep? Well, it only adds to the sport.

"Little enough, I'm sure," Dalton responds, stepping up beside his first mate to take the looking glass when it's offered. He peers through just in time to see the opposing Captain take the deck and he smirks, handing the glass back to his most trusted Reaver. "Bring us up along side her and get the men ready. I want two groups — you take one to clean up, and I'll take the other to catch our prize." Let that serve as answer enough to his First mate's question of worth.

What can the merchant ship do but wait? Sure, they try to make their getaway, but it's all for naught. Perhaps the captain spurs his men on to boulster their hearts and give them false hope that they have a fighting chance of not being overtaken — but those men that don't have a purpose above deck high-tail it below. They're not fighting men. They're no match for the Red Kraken's ship even if theirs was patched and primed to the best it could be.

All the fishing boats in sight tread water as far away from the Ironborn ship as they can get. It's only the two ships and the fog.

"Aye," is all the first mate tells his captain in reply; Dalton's wish is his command. He strides away, yelling out orders to the men and preparing them to link up with the merchant vessel and board her. They're close enough that it doesn't take much longer, a quarter hour maybe or a half of one at most, to finish their descent upon their prey. When they get close, the men aboard the Kraken's ship begin the boarding process, slinging hooked ropes over the side of the smaller ship, so that they come up alongside each other close enough to board but not so near as to blindside.

The men have already been divided, and now they wait for the captain's order, ready to climb over with him and secure their prey. Even in the ethereal fog, those on the deck of Rhaera's ship can make out the fearsome, terrifying features of the Ironmen just waiting to be let off their leashes. Some of them take up a chant, and then more and more join in, and it echoes out over the water like a dirge.

Even as the Ironborn take up their chant, Dalton Greyjoy strides forth from his cabin wearing a leather brigandine over a chain shirt. In his hand is the Valyrian steel longsword, Nightfall, and he wins easy passage through the hordes of his men to take an elevated position along the rail. As he rises into view, his men grow quiet, straining to hear his command, waiting eagerly to do what they do best. The Red Kraken revels in that silent moment, where men hang on his word, ready to slaughter on his behalf for nothing more than a share of the spoils. Finally, he speaks, quietly, calmly, but still he can be heard by those nearest him and the word will travel in an instant…

"Kill them all."

And then he's away, onto the merchant vessal, his longsword carving a bloody path below decks, the men chosen by his first mate beside and behind him.
<FS3> Dalton rolls Blades: Amazing Success.

The crew of the boarded vessel scrambles away from the sides of their own ship, overrun. As their expressions freeze on their faces at the sight of the reavers, they scarcely need to raise their hands to relay their meaning: surrender, surrender. Their own silent chant is unheeded. Most of them don't have time to scream.

The merchant captain stands his ground with an ill-fated shortsword in hand while his crew is cut down around him. "Why us, reavers!" he shouts. "You'll find a better plunder far from us!"

He doesn't know his own cargo.

Below deck, the hiding crew — all men — are reduced to easy targets in cramped spaces; in corridors and corners, behind and between crates. Some have locked themselves behind the doors of cabins, but none are barricaded so strongly as the captain's quarters.

The first wave of reavers storm the ship and cut down everyone in their path. Everyone except, of course, the precious dragon that is the unwitting captain's most valuable cargo. The captain is forced to his knees before what's left of his men, though their numbers are rapidly dwindling, and left in that pitiful state for Dalton to deal with. Once the deck runs red, the din of men fighting and dying and crying out for mercy gives way to the sound of screaming below deck as the reavers rush down to complete their infiltration. At this point some of the men from the second wave, led by the first mate, come aboard the vessel. It all happens very quickly, with the practiced ease and grace of a choreographed dance.

No one is shown mercy — even some of those who flee over the side are soon rounded up by the two slower vessels that comprise Dalton's small group of longships. Witnesses must not be allowed — any could potentially summon help for the Septa as the Greyjoy returns to Oldtown with his prize. Dalton himself cuts down nearly a dozen in his path before he finally finds that one door that's barricaded better than the rest. With a smirk, he sheathes his named blade and holds a hand out to a Ironborn beside him. "Ax," he demands and one is promptly placed in his palm. Without hesitation, he sets to work turning the strong wooden door into timber, at which point he hands the ax back and gives the order for his men to wait in the hold while he steps through the hole that used to be a door.

Beyond the splinters, beyond the easily toppled furniture, crates, and sundries stacked up to fortress the room, in front of the sloping windows that provide a view toward the angry lapping waves and the encroaching longships, is a small wooden desk and chair. It is there that Dalton's treasure sits as plain as day and as aberrantly pastoral as a painting, surrounded by the captain's trappings as if they were her own: the maps, the eye-glass, the compasses. The septa's plain garb is covered by a heavily hooded cloak of dyed red hide and wooly trim, but where her station among the Faith is hidden, her face is not. The pale face, with its fine, regal bones. Rhaera stares at the Greyjoy with eyes as dark and deep as the Blackwater.

Once Dalton lays eyes on his target, sitting pristine and regal, he flashes her a savage grin and settles his hand on the hilt of his blade while letting out a weary sigh. For a moment, he just grins at her, gore-spattered and sweaty, before he hooks a thumb over his shoulder towards the wreck of a barricade. "Didn't you hear me knocking?" he asks, friendly as can be. His eyes turn away from the Targaryen to inspect the captain's belongings, appraising each one with the eyes of a Reaver, gauging their worth and searching for a prize worthy to sit in his own cabin. "The Merqueen sends her regards," he continues, poking at a stack of maps and charts for one he doesn't yet own, "As does the dog, I expect. Where is he, by the way? Fuck him and ditch him, did you? Can't say he's going to be very pleased. Not that you need worry, of course, since I'll be killin' him the next time I see him."

Her straightforward stare on Dalton gradually travels to size him up the way he sizes up everything in the cabin, catching here and there of bits of blood and gore. He says The Merqueen, and she smiles. While not insincere, exactly, there is something distinctly off about the expression; and in the way she too slowly tips her head to one side while she watches the Ironborn captain. "How thoughtful of her," she says without sarcasm, as though she is, in fact, touched that the Merqueen would go through all this trouble. She pronounces her words as precisely and nobly as any high-bred Crownlander; they are slow and lilting, however, giving her rich tone a strange quality. "The dog?… oh… I suspect… you won't be seeing him, I'm afraid…" She bows her head as if in impromptu prayer. When her it rises, her eyes are immediately on Dalton again, vividly curious. "Are you the new Cotter?"

"Cotter was a mutt," Dalton declares with a grunt, off-handedly dismissing the notion of him being a replacement for the thug, "A mutt who was content at the bottom of the heap." Finished with his inspection, Dalton moves away from the Captain's possessions and comes to a stop directly in front of the Targaryen Septa. "Makes a man wonder what you did to turn him from the Merqueen's service," he admits, eyeing her up as if he has a very good idea as to what exactly it was that turned him. After a moment of inspection though, he simply shrugs and gestures to the door, "Sorry to say but I had to kill a few of your traveling companions. Look on the bright side, though, my cabin is much nicer than this pile of shit and sticks and you'll get to see Oldtown again."

Rhaera appears unfazed — even pleasant — as she listens until he says the word Oldtown. Her sable brows jut downward, her lips quick to affect a pout. "Why should I go to Oldtown," she complains, albeit in a sweet — sickly sweet — voice. She rises from the chair to properly face Dalton; by the time she stands straight, she is just a few inches shy of his height. "I only provided Cotter with what he wanted." A flicker of amusement lurks behind her gaze before she enlightens, "What any mutt wants," she nods her head every few words, to punctuate, "to know his lineage."

Dalton maintains that cock-sure grin as Rhaera stands, unfazed and pleasant as she is. When she informs him of Cotter's reason for betraying the Merqueen, he offers a surprised reaction that is so over-played, it's nearly mocking. "How very mysterious," he responds, waiting a beat before he reaches out to try and quickly clamp a hand around her elbow and lead her towards the door, "Never been one for mysteries, though. Come on, then. I'm sure the crew'd love to meet ya'." He stops suddenly, looking back at her with yet another overacted expression, this one of regret and guilt, "Terribly sorry, forgot to introduce myself. Lord Dalton Greyjoy, the Red Kraken." He turns to continue onwards, then stops again, throwing over his shoulder, "Stick close. The boys get a bit grabby with women after a fight, especially high-born greenlanders like yourself. Stray too far, they might not realize you're with me, and… well… I'm sure you can imagine the rest."

"Yes," Rhaera confirms straight away that she can imagine, but sounds more intrigued by the notion of seeing real life reavers than horrified, as a good septa. "Red," she repeats on a delay, twisting her mouth upward as if slowly realizing a thrilling joke. She maneuvers around the desk to follow the Red Kraken easily enough, although she tries to take her sweet time even through the small quarters. She resists his pull on her elbow and is dragged while she steps around every bit of stray furniture and every splinter. He said to stick close: now, stepping in close against his hold, she's practically breathing down his neck. "I thought krakens lived in deep water," she speculates whimsically, voice low. "Isn't deep water where mysteries live?"

"There are no mysteries in the deep," Dalton replies, actually seeming genuine for once, his eyes back on her just before the splintered door, "There is only death and the Drowned God." He eyes her steadily, thinking a moment, considering her face studiously, then finally he flashes his nearly ever-present grin again. "Septa, I think it's time you learned about the Drowned God. The Iron Isles don't offer us much, so we learned to take what we want and need from others, like pale-haired Septas. However, what the Isles don't provide, the Drowned God does, washing it up on our shores and steering us to where it is held by our foes. So to him we give back what we can spare." He raises his voice, speaking outside the cabin to the hall, though his eyes remain on the Targaryen. "Fetch a barrel of sea water and bring it to the deck." He pauses, then adds with a laugh as he continues to lead Rhaera topside, "And bring me the Captain of this damned boat!"

By the time they emerge topside, the captain (still on his knees) has taken to sniveling indignantly, knowing the end is nigh and perhaps resenting that he wasn't afforded the same quick death most of his crew was. The first mate is standing, towering, over him, a sneer on his grizzled, sun-wizened face. The barrel that Dalton called for is still a work in progress, but while he was in the cabin with the septa, his men sent most of the dead to their watery grave; that task is still underway, and there's a stack of corpses waiting to be tossed overboard. A pair of men are pulling up saltwater by the bucket, running it to the barrel and back again. The captain hardly knows what he's in for.

The wayward septa is well and truly intrigued by the Ironborn lord's description of the Drowned God, that stare of hers fixed upon him as it has been almost without falter — but when he calls out for a barrel of seawater, she has the wherewithal to begin to look to and fro, intrigue switching to suspicion as the Greyjoy crew comes into sight. "I do not need to know any more about your Drowned God," she rebukes, digging her heels into the ship's blood-slicked wooden boards.

"Where's your sense of intrigue and mystery, now, Septa?" Dalton calls out, loud enough to draw the attention of his crew, which further draws some guffaws as he practically drags the woman towards the slowly filling barrel of sea water and the captain on his knees. "Captain! I don't suppose the dear Septa told you who she was running from when she fled, did she?" He grins and earns another laugh or two from his crew as he offers the Septa to a walking wall of muscle who slings an ax on his back to accept the prisoner.

Dalton meanwhile crouches down so he's at a level with the stout, wimpering man, "Did she tell you she was being hunted?" He pauses, watching him with a twisted smile, his voice dropping low, "It's her fault, you know… That this happened to you and your crew. If she hadn't involved you, you'd be sailing into port by now." He laughs in the man's face, then stands again and eyes the barrel, now full enough for his purposes. With a hand, he stops the buckets and gestures to a pair of Ironborn to raise the Captain up to his feet and lean him over the barrel, face just above the water. "Come here, Septa," he demands, though he's more talking to the crewman holding her. "What is dead may never die!" he calls out, recieving a chorus of "But rises again, harder and stronger!" from his crew. With a grunt, he grips the Septa by her hands and attempts to force them onto the back of the Captain's head so that they can push his face into the sea water together.

Rhaera squirms once, hard, when she's thrust into the grip of the ax-wielder. A second time when she's shoved in that grip toward the merchant captain. Her mouth hardens grimly from a clamped jaw. Her hands are nothing against the captain's head; slender fingers to be molded, lifeless and passive, by the Ironborn man. The longer the merchant's head struggles in the barrel, the stronger the woman's focus becomes, until there is nothing else but the drowning. She leans in closer to the splashing seawater, as close to the drowning man's ear as she can get without sucking water herself in order to offer him humble prayerful words as he fights for air that isn't there.

"My dearest captain. All of the gods must hate you," she says a reverent, dulcet whisper, "to let you fail so exquisitely."

The septa's grip becomes her own, and she pushes down with all her strength and determination.

The crew of reavers observe this ritual with a rapt sort of respect, although when their captain offers up that familiar refrain in honor of the Drowned God, they take it and carry it, the words of all those many men at once forming a monotone, but chilling, chorus. It's just the right soundtrack for the moment, and the foggy endless grey provides just the right atmosphere.

Dalton can feel when he stops having to force Rhaera's grip, when she commits fully to drowning the Captain. For a moment, just a moment, Dalton's surprise loosens his grip, but he recovers quickly and holds to the man's head until finally his struggles cease and he lets go. His crew watches the Red Kraken, and he watches Rhaera, considering the Targaryen Septa for some time. Just when the silence is beginning to get awkward, Dalton nods to his men and orders them to chuck the fresh corpse on the pile before he leads Rhaera onwards over a newly set plank and onto 'The Crimson Sabre.'

Silently, he directs her past a signgificantly less blood drenched deck and into a similarly gore-free hold until he reaches his cabin and throws open the door.

He wasn't lying when he said it was a more comfortable cabin than the other Captain's. Plush, comfortable furniture sit along the walls including an overstuffed armchair and a feather bed. Statuettes of naked women and various animals litter every available surface, as do several pouches and chests stuffed to the brim with jewels and precious metals shaped into trinkets and coin of every major currency in Westeros and Essos. Oddities of various sorts are placed haphazardly throughout the cramped space, including several ancient looking wind-instruments with bizzare etchings on the sides made of bone, wood, gold, and everything in between.

"This, Septa, is your new home until we make land in Oldtown. Get comfortable."

Rhaera touches everything in arm's reach on her way inside, leaving wet fingerprints on every curiosity. Since she's told to get comfortable, she unbuckles the front of her cloak and lets it fall where it may on the floor, pooling, blood red, around her feet. Revealed is the plain garment she's been travelling in, the colour of straw, dirty water, modesty; the head-covering fallen from her head, the long, light blonde hair of her heritage escapes in wisps. She turns to Dalton and states, "You have been most gracious. For a reaver. Of… I assume… such reputation." She smiles and ducks her head down, this time modestly, or at the very least, in a mimicry of such an innocent thing; as though he is a charming prince and not her Ironborn captor. A pointed pause. "The Merqueen must be very powerful."

"She has power," Dalton concedes, but then his grin grows stern as it fades away, "But not over me." He closes the door, sure that his first mate is more than capable of seeing to the business of getting them back underway to Oldtown as soon as possible. Without missing a beat, he begins working at the buckles, leather strips, straps, and various clasps holding his brigandine in place. "She amuses me," he admits, pulling the leather bit of armor off his torso before he begins working at the less involved clasps keeping the chain shirt in place as well, "That, and she may be of some use." This ammendmant comes with the loss of his mail and he begins to stalk towards Rhaera, offering her a grin as he passes her by, bare-chested and bloody, seaking a discarded tunic on the feather bed.

The septa watches him openly, pivoting to keep her eyes on him at all times. Although her smile is gone, it skirts at the corner of her lips, a constant impression. "That is why you seek to please her," she states like fact but with a hint of whimsical question.

Dalton tugs the tunic on over his head and snorts, rolling his eyes at the Septa's statement. "She's stubborn. She won't give up what I want if I try and take it, even if she has to die to spite me." He grunts and flops lazily into the armchair, letting his eyes drift and muttering something about forgetting to bring a whore along. "Do you want to know what the best thing after shedding blood is? A cunt and some rum. I have one…" He cracks one eye open at Rhaera, staring at her for a moment too long, before he reaches over to the table beside him and draws a goblet from it. "So stop trying to piss me off before I decide to take the other."

Rhaera drifts through the cabin, farther from Dalton; her steps seem haphazard, light as feathers, but bring her toward one of the statuettes. "Forgive me, Lord Dalton," she says, and her soft words seem a mockery; over-acted, if not quite so heavily as his were in the other cabin of the doomed ship. She runs a finger delicately over a carved stone woman, as though appreciatively feeling its make — across the throat. "I did not realize I was angering you. What did she pay you to find me and her shadowcat…?" She leans down to look at Dalton from around the other side of the statuette. "Not what you want…"

That question actually makes Dalton grin through his weariness. His eyes open and fix on Rhaera, his mouth twisted in a cruel smirk, "I did it as a favor." His amusement is evident at the news that capturing her didn't even warrant a price, "I couldn't pass up the chance to take a Dragon right from its nest, especially not when it meant killing the Mutt." He chuckls, adjusts his position, and then finally lets out a sound of annoyance before he rises and makes his way to the bed to rest his limbs and eyes. "You're free to go where you want — try and escape over the edge and we'll just fish you out again, but remember my warning from earlier. They'd kill to have a taste of Targaryen cunt." Dalton, on the other hand, despite his earlier threats, is seemingly more content to rest.

Indeed, the news that she didn't earn a price does not particularly please Rhaera; she stands straight and makes a dour face as she turns away from Dalton and the bed. Despite that — and every one of the Greyjoy's words that follow, the warning about fleeing over the side earning darker spite than the other — she says, "You flatter me," with apparent — but amused — sincerity. "After all, only my mother's name is Targaryen."

Rather than roam, Rhaera plants herself down in the chair he abandoned, places her hands upon each of its arms as though it is her new throne, and watches Dalton Greyjoy in his bed.

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