Author: Orion159
Word count: 1273

Theodan watched as Emond's unconscious and tossing form was tended to by a group of healers. They had been brought along for this exact purpose, to save the sacrificial piece in his and Ebben's plan. To make sure that the warrior's role here didn't follow to its logical end.

Theo had hated everything about the strategy. He had hated the roles it asked his men to take. He had hated the massive risks that were involved. But most of all, he had hated the necessity of it. A band of thugs and layabouts was one thing, but a bandit clan could not be allowed even the briefest moments of existence; especially one whose leader claimed a right to the Fenshaw title.

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Now he stood within a tent pavilion, wondering if one of his best men was going to survive the night. Ebben talked with some scouts in another corner, his head bowed in thought as they gave him their reports. Theo traced the cold edge of his breastplate. He wasn't concerned about any wandering bandit groups. House Fenshaw had shattered the outlaws in this ambush, and it would be months, if not years, before they would amount to anything even resembling a threat. Feeling suffocated by the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tent, he stepped outside, into the whipping, northern air.

In front of Theo, a snow-covered hill rose up and gave way to forest at its crest. The whole thing seemed to loom over the encampment, like it could come crashing down at any moment. At its base, crouched in the snow, smiled the head of the snake.

There weren’t many bandits like Duncan Snow. In fact, Theo conceded, there weren’t many men like Duncan Snow either. If he had been standing, he would cut an imposing figure against the white. With a hard, scraggly face, and piercing eyes, he was a man that radiated confidence, and wore power like a well-tailored fur. His face was infuriatingly unapologetic.

Theodan knew how battle and war could twist a person, but he had never met someone so…so proud of his deeds. Here was a man that pillaged and set fire to the homes of smallfolk. Here was a man that tortured parents in front of their children, and then left those children orphans. Here was a man that claimed the seat of House Fenshaw as his birthright; as though he somehow deserved it. And here he lay in front of Theo, on his knees, smiling.

The anger that had been simmering inside the Captain of the Falcons began to boil as he gazed at that face. He unsheathed the bastard sword from his back. Duncan raised an eyebrow in bemusement.

“A fitting end, eh dog?” He laughed, “bastard taken by a bastard. You should write poetry.”

Bringing his roiling emotions under control, Theodan lowered his sword, slowly, deliberately, until its tip rested a few inches from the scum's melt-soaked knees.

“I’m not the one with the greatest right, Snow” he growled contemptuously, “That lies with Lord Ebben.”

The kneeling man sneered in response, “Yes, let father clean up this mess. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the opportunity to wipe his sins clean.”

Theo’s hands clenched the hilt until his knuckle were white, and the grooves forced their pattern into his palms. His vision began to redden with the anger that only loyalty brings, but Ebben’s hand came down on his shoulder and he once again brought his mind to a relative calm.

“You seem be rather fond of death, boy” the lord stated as Theodan stepped aside, “either you are inflicting it on others, or trying to provoke it prematurely from my Captain.”

The moment that Duncan’s eyes fell on Ebben, any pretense of joviality left his face, and a grim, stony glare set itself firmly into his features.

“This is what it takes for a weakling like you to kill me, Father?” he sneered, “An army, and a yowling dog with a sword at my throat.”

Ebben sighed and drew out his own sword, Gale, and held it at his side. “You are charged”, he called out so that everyone in the camp could hear, “with petty thievery, arson, destruction of held property, conspiring to overthrow a lord, assembling an armed force in held lands, and murder of the innocent.” Now he looked down at the man with thinly veiled contempt, “What are your last words, Snow?”

Duncan laughed his harsh laugh, “you think yourself the final law in this land, but you're nothing more than a cowardly fool. A fool!” This last word he shouted into the grey skies above. Ebben eyed him with wry amusement, then made to swing his sword. But before he could, a lowly servant approached from behind and smashed what looked to be a bag of horseshoes against his head. Instantly, the lord crumpled, and everything spun into chaos.

One of Duncan's guards quickly bent down and sliced the restraints on his legs, but before he could get the arms free, the other guard crashed into the pair, sword swinging. Theo dispatched the treacherous servant before he could do any more damage, and was about to help the loyal guard, until he heard a rumbling sound coming from above. Looking up, he witnessed four massive logs rolling down the hill, straight for the encampment.

Pausing only to shout a frantic warning, Theodan hefted the unconscious Ebben over his shoulder and sprinted to clear the killing field, the weight of his armor meaning little while in the grip of adrenaline. Behind him, Theo could hear the panicked cries of retainers and servants as they struggled to do the same. Suddenly, he felt his heart drop in his chest, but didn't stop moving until he was sure to be out of the logs' range. Theodan turned, fearing what he would see.

The logs hadn't reached the campsite yet, though Duncan and his accomplice had somehow managed to slip past them, but Theo couldn't have cared less. Emond was still within the tent, and no one would be able to flee fast enough with his massive bulk in tow. Horrified, he watched the snow-covered logs careen closer and closer. They were slowing down, but not nearly enough to save those still caught up in the canvas. The sight pained Theodan too much, and he was forced to avert his gaze before the impact.

But when his ears were met not with screams and crunches, but a mighty crash, he jerked his eyes back to the scene. And what he saw left him laughing in amazement. The log that would have smashed into the tent had been stopped, and in the collapsed canvas an immense shape was outlined. Where the log met the cloth, a clean slice could be seen, with the sheen of valyrian steel peeking through.

The threat past, the figure slumped down to the ground, and the scurrying mounds of the healers could be seen attending the once-more unconscious Emond Roebeck. Theo readjusted the grip on his lord, and trudged back to camp. The snow was picking up, a fact which he silently cursed under his breath. Duncan, and his remaining men would be next to impossible to track in this mess, but there were more important things to take care of. The rest of the bandit agents would need to be ratted out, and the injured cared for. Besides, he thought to himself, it will still take years before there are enough bandits to even come close to challenging the House again.

With that in his mind, Theodan began barking out orders. They were going home.

















Older version



Theodan watched as Emond's unconscious and bleeding form was tended to by a group of healers. They had been brought along for this exact purpose, to save the sacrificial piece in his and Ebben's plan. To make sure that the warrior's role here didn't follow to its logical end.

Theo had hated everything about the strategy. He had hated the roles it asked his men to take. He had hated the massive risks that were involved. But most of all, he had hated the necessity of it. A band of thugs and layabouts was one thing, but a bandit clan could not be allowed even the briefest moments of existence; especially one whose leader claimed a right to the Fenshaw title.

Now he stood within a tent pavilion, wondering if one of his best men was going to survive the night. Eben was talking with some scouts in another corner, his head bowed in thought as they gave him their reports. Theo traced the cold edge of his breastplate. He wasn't concerned about any wandering bandit groups. House Fenshaw had shattered the outlaws in this ambush, and it would be months, if not years, before they would amount to anything even resembling a threat. Feeling suffocated by the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tent, he stepped outside, into the whipping, northern air.

In front of Theo, a snow-covered hill rose up and gave way to forest at its crest. The whole thing seemed to loom over the encampment, like it could come crashing down at any moment. At its base, crouched in the snow, was the head of the snake.

There weren’t many bandits like Duncan Snow. In fact, Theo conceded, there weren’t many men like Duncan Snow either. If he were standing, he would cut an imposing figure against the white. With a hard, scraggly face, and piercing eyes, he was a man that radiated confidence, and wore power like a well-tailored fur. His face was infuriatingly unapologetic.

Theodan knew how battle and war could twist a person, but he had never met someone so…so proud of his deeds. Here was a man that pillaged and set fire to the homes of smallfolk. Here was a man that tortured parents in front of their children, and then left those children orphans. Here was a man that claimed the seat of House Fenshaw as his birthright; as though he somehow deserved it. And here he lay in front of Theo, on his knees, smiling.

The anger that had been simmering inside the Captain of the Falcons began to boil as he gazed at that face. He unsheathed the bastard sword from his back. Duncan raised an eyebrow in bemusement.

“A fitting end, eh dog?” He laughed, “bastard taken by a bastard. You should write poetry.”

Bringing his roiling emotions under control, Theodan lowered his sword, slowly, deliberately, until its tip rested a few inches from the scum's melt-soaked knees.


“I’m not the one with the greatest right, Snow” he growled contemptuously, “That lies with Lord Ebben.”

The kneeling man sneered in response, “Yes, let father clean up this mess. I’m sure he’ll appreciate this opportunity to wipe his sins clean.”

Theo’s hands clenched the hilt until his knuckle were white, and the grooves forced their pattern into his palms. His vision began to redden with the anger that only loyalty brings, but Ebben’s hand came down on his shoulder and he once again brought his mind to a relative calm.

“You seem be rather fond of death, boy” the lord stated as Theodan stepped aside, “either you are inflicting it on others, or trying to provoke it prematurely from my Captain.”

The moment that Duncan’s eyes fell on Ebben, any pretense of joviality left his face, and a grim, stony glare set itself firmly into his features.

“This is what it takes for a weakling like you to kill me, Father.” he jeered, “An army, and a yowling dog with a sword at my throat.”

Ebben sighed and drew out his own sword, Gale, and held it at his side. “You are charged”, he called out so that everyone in the camp could hear, “with petty thievery, arson, destruction of held property, conspiring to overthrow a lord, assembling an armed forced in held lands, and murder of the innocent.” Now he looked down at the man with thinly veiled contempt, “What are your last words, Snow?”

Duncan laughed his harsh laugh, “you think yourself the final law in this land, but you're nothing more than a cowardly fool. A fooooooooooooooooooooooool!” This last word he howled into the grey skies above. Eben watched him for a while in wry amusement, then made to swing his sword. But before he could, a lowly servant approached from behind and smashed what looked to be a bag of horseshoes against his head. Instantly, the lord crumpled, and everything spun into chaos.


One of Duncan's guards quickly bent down and sliced the restraints on his legs, but before he could get the arms free, the other guard crashed into the pair, sword swinging. Theo dispatched the treacherous servant before he could do any more damage, and was about to help the loyal guard, until he heard a rumbling sound coming from above. Looking up, he witnessed four massive logs rolling down the hill, straight for the encampment.

Pausing only to shout a frantic warning, Theodan hefted the unconscious Ebben over his shoulder and sprinted to clear the killing field. Behind him, Theo could hear the panicked cries of retainers and servants as they struggled to do the same. Suddenly, he felt his heart drop in his chest, but didn't stop moving until he was sure he was out of the logs range. Theodan turned, fearing what he would see.

The logs hadn't reached the campsite yet, though Duncan and his accomplice had somehow managed to slip past them, but Theo couldn't have cared less. Emond was still within the tent, and no one would be able to flee fast enough with his massive bulk in tow. Horrified, he watched the snow-covered logs careen closer and closer. They were slowing down, but not nearly enough to save those still caught up in the canvas. The sight pained Theodan too much, and he was forced to avert his gaze before the impact.

But when his ears were met not with screams and crunches, but a mighty crash, he jerked his eyes back to the scene. And what he saw left him laughing in amazement. The log that would have smashed into the tent had been stopped, and in the collapsed canvas an immense shape was outlined. Where the log met the cloth, a clean slice could be seen, with the sheen of valerian steel peeking through.

The threat past, the figure slumped down to the ground, and the scurrying mounds of the healers could be seen attending the once-more unconscious Emond Roebeck. Theo readjusted the grip on his lord, and trudged back to camp. The snow was picking up, a fact which he silently cursed under his breath. Duncan, and his remaining men would be next to impossible to track in this mess, but there were more imposing things to take care of. The rest of the bandit agents would need to be ratted out, and the injured cared for. Besides, he thought to himself, it will still take years before there are enough bandits to even come close to challenging the House again.

With that in his mind, Theodan began barking out orders. They were going home.