That night, Septa Demissus woke up sweaty after tossing and turning in bed. Not content to spend the rest of the night awake, she falls back to sleep, but this time she dreams. The noble woman with the long raven hair once again bids her to drink from a silver chalice. As a sign of good faith, she drinks first before handing the chalice to Septa Demissus. Remembering what happened last time when she drank, a half-malicious look crosses her face as she takes the chalice and she throws the contents into the dark-haired woman’s face. The noblewoman fades away to reveal the faceless men raping the same woman again, her face a fuzzy, unidentifiable blur. She awoke once more, poured herself a horn of water from the jug in her room and went back to sleep, hoping to gain a modicum of rest.
Meanwhile, Ser Kai slept as the floorboards of his room began to creak. Shallow footsteps continued to rouse the boards into quiet alarm as a shadowy figure stepped lightly upon them. When the figure reached the bed, they leaned over the face of Ser Kai and began to ramble incessantly. Already roused by the creaky floorboards, Ser Kai opened his eyes to find the old crone Nubbs standing over him, a deranged smile crossing her face. “Nubs, nubs, nubs! Comes in threes! You, me and Miridan makes three!”
“Ahhh!” screamed Ser Kai as he scrambled out from under the covers and backed against the wall. Nubbs backed away into the middle of the room and lifted her shirt, offering a shriveled, sagging breast to him as though beckoning him to breast-feed. “Yum, yum, yum; me, me, me; Miridan!” Ser Kai, his heart rate beginning to return to normal, stood up next to the bed. “Uh, thanks for the offer but I’m full,” he said wondering how she got into his room. Did I not lock the door? He thought, glancing around the room. The window was open and a cool breeze drifted into the room. His eyes lingered on it for a moment and he shook his head, That’s an absurd thought, there’s no way she could have climbed in through the window, we’re on the second floor! I must not have locked…
His thoughts were broken as Nubbs cupped her breast and jiggled it as though to make it an enticing offer. “yum, yum, yum; me, me, me, Kai, Kai, Kai!” Ser Kai remained where he was and after several moments, Nubbs pulled her shirt back down and gave an audible rasping sound, as though screaming. She quickly sprinted to the open window and jumped through it. Ser Kai, momentarily stunned, furrowed his brow before heading to the window to check for signs of the old crone. As he peered into the thick blackness outside the window, it occurred to him that he had heard neither the thud of a body crashing into the ground, nor a shriek of pain, and could not see hide or hair of Nubbs. Shaking his head in confusion he did not think to check the door, but instead went straight back to bed.
The next morning as the party gradually woke up and subsequently headed downstairs to the tables for breakfast they were treated like proper nobles again. Meg Moleskin had a cheery disposition as she served them brown bread fresh from the oven, whipped butter, blackened bacon and plates of fruit. They all watched as a mummer, dressed in a flamboyantly colorful robe, juggled knives above her head in the corner. After she finished her act by juggling the knives with a quarterstaff balanced on her head, she took a bow. Elliot smiled and tossed her a Silver Stag, wishing her a good morning before returning to his breakfast. Ser Kai seemed equally impressed and invited her over to join them for breakfast. “Of course you would invite her over,” Elliot muttered as the mummer appeared at the table and took a seat next to Ser Kai. Gilligan, deeply hungover from the night before, paid her little attention as he asked Meg to bring him more breakfast.
“So, where are you traveling to?” asked Ser Kai with interest. “I’m traveling home to Flea Bottom,” she said before introducing herself proper. “My name is Beatrice Hill.” Gilligan, tactless and blunt as usual, remarked that ‘Hill’ is a bastard name. “I am Ser Kai. We are heading to King’s Landing as well for King Robert’s Tournament. Were either of your parents of noble birth?” asked Ser Kai. “Aye, my father is supposedly a noble landed knight with one blue eye and one green eye. That’s about all I know of him though.” Elliot offered his name as well before Beatrice started in on her breakfast.
As Meg served Beatrice her breakfast Ser Kai decided to ask her about Nubbs. “Lady Moleskin, we met a strange old woman named Nubbs and she was actually in my room last night. Do you know the Nubbs I speak of?” Meg stared at him for a second before answering, “’Sounds like you’re speakin’ o’ Lady Palm an’ her five daughters, y’are. I know nothin’ o’ this Nubbs.” Ser Harvey Karp looked at him. “She was in your room last night?” Ser Kai nodded. “How did she escape?” Ser Kai scratched his head before answering. “She was lightning quick and jumped out the window. I look out after her but she was gone.” Ser Harvey scoffed, “Why didn’t your craven ass follow her?” Ser Kai lowered his eyes to the table and remained quiet.
After breakfast, Ser Kai offered his companionship to Beatrice. “Well I’m not so sure I want your companionship,” she said with a slight smirk. Elliot offered the companionship of the group and everyone else murmured their consent. Ser Harvey decided to keep a watchful eye on her. “Can you fight as well as you juggle?” he inquired. “I can take care of myself, it’s tough to live as a traveler without fighting skills,” she replied. Ser Harvey nodded slightly and dropped the issue.
“Do you still plan to wear your sigil so prominently?” Elliot asked Ser Kai. “What? Oh, yeah, it would probably be best not to with these rumors about us flying around.” Once again Ser Harvey scoffed, “Too craven to show pride in your House now,” he muttered but agreed that it might be best to remain low-key going forward. They all said goodbye to Meg Moleskin and took their leave of the Dag’s Inn. Ser Harvey was first to speak after they mounted and returned to the road. “So where all have you been?” he asked Beatrice, ever suspicious of the stranger. “Here and there, wherever the gold takes me.” “Have you been out looking for your father?” asked Lyanna Hobbs. “Yes, been out looking for him too.” “Have you heard the rumors about House Miridan?” Beatrice dismissed them, stating that she didn’t care.
On the road many rumors could be heard from the random groups of travelers. Mutterings about House Miridan and the Fox Knight abounded.
“You know, I heard that the Fox Knight was recently spotted heading West.”
“Fifteen women, children and farmers them Miridans done slaughtered.”
“I heard that the Blood Crabs are still terrorizing the Miridan lands.”
“You ‘ear about Ruban Piper? He was set to marry Iris Dannett but she done split! No one’s seen ‘er since.”
“That Adham Dannett may ‘ave determination, but I ‘eard them savage Miridans is gonna be competin’ in the King’s Tournament o’er in King’s Landin’ as well. That Ser Kai and their bloodthirsty armsman Ser ‘Arvey Karp.”
As they continued down the road, they spotted three nobles from House Clavier heading towards them. One of them carried the sigil of House Clavier, three yellow arrows on a black field. They were a new Landed House, only established because they fought valiantly with Robert Baratheon in the Battle of the Trident, so they did not recognize the Miridans without their House sigil. As they approached, they were muttering about the Miridans and their brutality, but before they passed each other, the three wished the party a good day and boastfully proclaimed that they were emissaries of the king. “We are heading to Harrenhal, but we first need to stop by Casterly Rock. We need to give out these personal invitations to King Robert’s Tournament. You all must have come from an inn, have you heard anything about the Dannett slaughter? Adham Dannett himself says that it was the neighboring House Miridan who slaughtered their innocents; tragic.”
The emissaries continued down the road and the group decided that they had to do something about these rumors. “It will be out of the Westerlands soon, it’ll become more than a matter that Lord Tywin can put to rest, this will become a matter of the Realm,” said Ser Harvey. They all agreed that they needed to do something, so they decided to send Lyanna Hobbs ahead to see if she could find traces of the remaining mercenary. Elliot volunteered to escort her, as it was always good to have someone watch your back.
The shadows grew long as the light faded, and it was not until darkness set that Elliot and Lyanna arrived at a much larger inn, the Inn of the Great Stag. Elliot and Lyanna entered and were immediately approached by a cloaked man, his face hidden in the shadows from his hood. “Elliot, Lyanna, please come with me,” his raspy voice barely a whisper. Elliot and Lyanna nodded and the three of them left the inn together.
The cloaked man was Ser Kyle Stillwell, captain of the Grey-Talon Irregulars. He extinguished the torches on the side of the inn one by one as they passed to keep the darkness close. They finally arrived at the empty stables before he started with his report.
“There were fifteen women, children and farmers killed in the massacre, and the Dannett’s are indeed blaming House Miridan,” he began, “But it’s likely you’ve already heard that. Know now that it’s true. We have twenty Grey Cloaks and two Fists of Talons that have been sent by Lord Miridan down to King’s Landing. They have already arrived, or will soon, and I will be leaving as well. They look as commoners so will be difficult to detect with all the activity. Lord Miridan and Lord Dannett have been conversing through ravens in regards to the massacre, and Adham Dannett passed through here a day ago – he should have arrived in King’s Landing by now. There have been no suspicious activities here of late. That is all I know, I must head down to King’s Landing.” With that, he left the stables and headed off to King’s Landing.
After the swift departure of Ser Kyle, Lyanna looked at Elliot, wondering what to do next. “I suggest that we get inside,” said Elliot as thunder began to rumble and rain began to drop, “The others will get here when they do, and in the meantime we can see if we can learn anything new.” Lyanna nodded and followed him into the Inn of the Great Stag. The inn was a veritable hub of activity, and much larger than the Dag’s Inn. Elliot watched as comely serving girls brought a variety of different dishes to guests and smiled. Mmm, they all look so tasty, and the food looks good too.
They were scarcely able to glance around the room when the remainder of their party arrived. Once everyone was together, the proprietor Marta Taverner greeted them all casually, and several in the party ordered beer. She told the party to have a seat and that her three daughters, each of whom Elliot had already spotted, would be serving them.
They analyzed the room as they sat down, determining that the only suspicious person there was a man sitting at the bar weeping in his drink and throwing money around like a Lannister. Unable to find a table close enough to be in earshot, they settle on one with a good view. Beatrice decided that a performance was in order, and the man watched in a strange state of melancholy delight. After her performance he flipped her one Gold Dragon and she sat down next to him at the bar. “What’s the matter?” she asked politely. He blinked at her, wiping away the remaining tears in his eyes, “They…they shouldn’t have died,” he slurred, sniffling and looking down into his drink. “Of whom do you speak?” Beatrice asked. “It don’ matter,” he grumbled, “They was fifteen, women and children they was.” Beatrice inquired further, asking if he’d witnessed what sounded like an atrociously horrible scene.
As Beatrice tried to learn from the drunk, Elliot and Lyanna informed the rest of the group of what Ser Kyle had told them. After hearing the confirmation that there were indeed fifteen with women and children as the rumors claimed, Ser Harvey, ever suspicious, snuck closer to Beatrice and the drunk and leaned against the wall, within earshot and out of sight. He had been watching them from afar and was tired of not knowing of what they spoke. As Beatrice continued to pry, the drunk rambled and repeated himself, finishing his drink and demanding more. She tried to gather more information from him but he just shot her a contemptuous look, rambling again. With that, Ser Harvey learned that the drunk was speaking of the fifteen in the Dannett massacre, and returned to the table to fill in the others.
“We’ll need to take him and make him talk,” proclaimed Ser Harvey. The group agreed. “Let’s get some rooms,” someone suggested as they began to strategize, and Elliot and Gilligan nodded, seeking out Marta Taverner. “I can persuade him to confess his sins,” offered Septa Demissus, “We can get him alone in a room that way. I’ll pray to the Seven and absolve him of his sins. After that you all can enter and interrogate him.” Ser Harvey nodded and the group agreed that it would be the best way, now hoping that they could find a room, or preferably more than one.
Meanwhile, Gilligan and Elliot flagged down Marta and Gilligan spun a long yarn about them being emissaries of King Robert. Her eyes lit up instantly. She had originally offered them only one room, but now offered them two others; one that she was saving for a relative and the other already reserved for the rich drunk at the bar. They smiled and thanked her before returning to the group to inform them that rooms were secured.
Everything went according to plan. Septa Demissus escorted the drunk to an out of the way, large and windowless room on the second floor to absolve his sins through the Seven, while Gilligan, Ser Kai and Ser Harvey awaited the Septa’s signal to take over. Elliot meanwhile, had other plans. He had stayed behind to seek out Elsie, one of Marta’s daughters. Once he spotted her he slyly asked, as convincingly as possible, if she would join him in one of their rooms for a romp in the hay. As tempted as she may have been, she turned down his offer. “Sorry hon, but I’m one of Marta’s, I’m noticeable ‘round here. If she find out I been shirkin’ me duties she’ll fire me on the spot. I needs this job, hon. Sorry, can’ do it.” Elliot, disheartened but understanding, nodded and left her to her work, heading upstairs to one of their rooms on the third floor.
After Septa Demissus left the room, Ser Harvey entered the room, followed by Ser Kai and Gilligan. Ser Harvey closed the door and stood against it drawing his sword. The sharp sound made the drunk look in alarm. “What’s your name?” asked Gilligan in an indifferent tone. “H-Hamish. Hamish Flowers,” the drunk stammered. Gilligan smiled, “Do you know who we are? We’re from House Miridan.” Piss dribbled down Hamish’s leg at the sound of the name and the sight of Ser Harvey’s naked steel. He approaches and relieves Hamish of his weapons. “You could end up dead, or an asset,” said Gilligan slyly, locking eyes with Hamish. “I- What we did was wrong,” said Hamish sullenly, “It was the doing of the Fox Knight, not our choice. If I can help, I’m yours.” Gilligan smiled. “Then tell us everything you know.” “W-well, after the massacre we planted the shield. He said we needed to…for House Dannett. A-after that…I had to kill them you see, the other mercenaries that were with me. H-he let me live, the Fox Knight did, and for that I had to kill them.” “But why are you alive at all, he could have easily killed you all himself, so why let you live?” It’s because…I’m a Targaryen Loyalist, like him. He must have figured the Realm needs more Targaryen Loya-”
“I think we’ve heard enough,” Ser Harvey interjected, “We seem to have our proof. This man is our key witness and can testify to our innocence before King Robert to have this whole ugly business washed from our hands. We’ll just need to keep him protected as we escort him to King’s Landing.”