Early one warm Spring morning Maester Lhoomar arose and prepared to go about his usual day’s business. Eagerly awaiting his customary breakfast of bacon baked crisp and lightly toasted plain bread, he quickly set about his morning activities. As he climbed the steps to tend the ravens he noticed a new, larger bird perched near the one of the rookery windows. A bit of parchment attached to the raven’s foot with ornate ribbon confirmed his deduction that this bird carried a message meant for his master from a distant locale. However, as he approached the bird to retrieve the message the raven nervously shuffled down the perch closer and closer to the nearby window. Either due to the raven’s own nervous instincts, or due to Maester Lhoomar’s fumbling hands, the raven darted out of the window and flew off before Lhoomar could retrieve the rolled parchment.
. . .
A few days later the gatekeeper of the venerable Left-Eye Garrison entered the hall to find his master Lord Cynric Martoyk pouring over shipping schedules. House Martoyk had recently acquired a dubious, but thus far highly profitable shipping contract with the detestable House Chaney of Silverset Hill. The contract increased the typical number of shipments House Martoyk made by nearly 2 for every 3. An equally sized increase to the population of smallfolk on Martoyk lands accompanied the new contract as labor demands for sailors and longshoreman had gained. The small but highly experienced Riverwraith fleets were able to handle the rise in demand, but the wear on his ships was distressing Lord Cynric of late.
The gatekeeper informed Cynric that an elaborately dressed messenger had arrived and requested an audience with the lord of the hall. The messenger was carrying the a yellow banner with a prancing and crowned black stag- the royal banner. The messenger entered the hall and proclaimed to be in direct service to his grace King Robert Baratheon. His duty was to deliver a message downriver to Lord Erving Murrayn of Greenmire Hall, and he requested river transport and safe passage from Lord Cynric.
The messanger, named Lawrence Cartwright, demonstrated rolled parchment with an unbroken royal seal. Lawrence explained that the message was essentially the announcement of a royal tourney to be held in King’s Landing several days from now. Raven’s were sent bearing the announcement to all noble houses of invite, but when the raven bound for Greenmire Hall inexplicably returned still carrying the message the King commissioned a messenger to personally deliver the news due to his personal interest in seeing House Murrayn attend. Lord Cynric agreed to the request and surmised that it would be in his best interest to accompany the messenger downriver. In a few hours Cynric and Lawrence were aboard a river barge taking the familiar route down the Greenmire branch of the Wendwater River towards the hall of House Murrayn.
When they landed the messenger was escorted directly to the interior of Greenmire Hall to meet with Lord Erving. Lord Cynric spent a few minutes catching up with his friends and collegues Oswain Murrayn, Karl Grheyson, and Ser Merik Volmark of the swordbeak house, but very shortly thereafter they were all summoned to the great hall.
Lord Erving explained explained that the message was indeed an invite to House Murrayn to attend a royal tourney. Erving had anticipated that such a tourney may be in the near future due to word spreading throughout the realm of the recent birth of the King’s second royal son. The King, who was never one to lay by an occasion for celebration, would obviously commission a grand tourney for this event, and Lord Erving had already been planning House Murrayn’s attendance whether or not directly invited.
The invitation had thankfully arrived, and the message also detailed King Robert’s direct interest in House Murrayn attendance after hearing word of their men-at-arms skill in a recent tourney that his brother Lord Renly Baratheon had attended. Lord Erving read between the lines that King Robert would not be outdone in grandeur by his little brother’s tourney. The King would also would have great sums of royal coin wagered on houses of his home realm to backup his constant boasting of the fighting mettle of men from the Stormlands. The more houses of any standing from the Stormlands would increase the King’s chances of one of them winning the whole thing. Lord Erving used his conventional excuse that he would not be in attendance with the rest of his house due to his advanced age and the need for someone to stay behind to run affairs. He then began to issue commands and reveal his plans for those of his house that would be going.
Erving tasked all his house’s men-at-arms to enter every contest they could. Increased participation meant increased odds at House Murrayn claiming a title in one of the challenges. For Ser Merik and Karl Grheyson he gave the additional reasoning that a win by one of the two would grant Lord Erving a clearer path to issue them lands, and a knighthood in Karl’s case. Such an action would enable him to create an additional banner house to integrate his martial forces across his lands a little better. Further, sending an anointed knight and a common man-at-arms as the house’s best challengers would protect them from any sort of oppositions antics that might jeopardize the chances of one type of man or the other. In Karl’s case it would give the house a chance to embarrass the sons of houses of higher nobility, and would thereby increase House Murrayn’s acclaim.
The lord emphasized his interest in his house besting House Wendwater at every opportunity. House Wendwater’s beneficial location in the Crownlands meant that they swore fealty to his grace directly. Erving’s time spend isolatingly rebuilding his house over the last several years meant that their enemies the Wendwaters had ample opportunity and time to sweeten themselves to the royal court unabated, and now was a chance to break some of that. To that end Lord Erving had set the hall’s smithy, Duke Silver, to hammering out arms and armor that would make the house’s men appear gallant in all their livery, and aid them in their events.
Lord Erving relayed the reasoning behind requesting the service of Maester Lhoomar for his house from the Citadel. Said by some to be one of the brightest young minds the Citadel had ever produced. The last few months evaluation by Lord Erving, however, found Lhoomar to be highly skilled in the reference and recitation of libraries, but underskilled in putting written knowledge into practice. With several realms noble houses all gathering at King’s Landing, there would undoubtedly by a gathering of all those houses’ maesters at a Conclave held by the Grand Maester in service to the King. This would be an opportunity for Lhoomar to join with others and discuss, debate, compare notes and observations, and partake in the sort of long-winded conversations that maesters enjoy. In particular it would give Lhoomar an opportunity to hear the insights of maesters in service to Murrayn’s enemies.
Erving began with Lord Cynric by thanking him for providing protection to Oswain during their last journey, but for this trip to King’s Landing he had other matters for the old pirate lord to attend. Erving expressed distress over Cynric’s daughter, and only heir, the young lady Corynne’s lack of a marraige arrangement. If anything ill should befall Cynric then the rights to House Martoyk might spark a suitor war. Erving had never made it a command of his vassal before, but as of this hearing he commanded Lord Cynric to increase his efforts to find a match for himself and attempt to produce a male heir. Otherwise, he commanded Cynric to find a match for Corynne. The trip to the royal capital provided an excellent opportunity for Cynric to increase his visibility, not to mention the tourney event and warm weather would mean that King’s Landing would by swarming with noble ladies. Erving finished with Cynric by threatening that if he couldn’t ensure the future prospects of his house then Erving would do it himself- through the fumbling quill of Maester Lhoomar.
Lord Erving addressed his only son and heir last. Erving had barely spoken to Oswain since his return from the Buckler’s recent tourney and wedding, and it was because he was greatly displeased by his son’s actions there. Oswain had, among other things, agreed to a marriage arrangement between himself and Autymn Wendwater, the youngest daughter of House Wendwater. By joining the two houses Oswain had removed any chance for Lord Erving to take back House Murrayn’s ancestral lands, that the Wendwater’s currently occupied, except through some kind of scandal or treachery. Lord Erving had spent his entire life struggling to remove the supposed disgrace of his house caused by the fabricated actions of his father by House Chaney. Erving certainly didn’t want to tear all of the work he had done by suddenly becoming the lies that House Chaney had falsely spread about his family. He commanded his son to go to King’s Landing and make all appearances sound. To joust on behalf of the honor of Oswain’s betrothed. To seek out the High Septon and the royal office. With any luck, or even divine intervention, perhaps someone would challenge Oswain’s for Autymn’s hand, or a high office would not give blessing and the joining could be undone. Lord Erving also reminded his son that he would be carrying the house’s name and banner at royal court in Erving’s stead, and to be vigilent of anything foul afoot by the Chaneys or Wendwaters.
Lord Erving closed the gathering by reminding the all of the house’s words- “He Who Wagers, Triumphs” -and let them depart to begin their preparations for departure. Later, Maester Lhoomar expertly affixed a message indicating House Murrayn’s intentions to attend the royal tourney to a raven, and sent the bird on its way to King’s Landing.