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The Fate of the Vale

Posted on Thu Nov 10th, 2022 @ 3:25am by

Mission: To Oldtown, With Love
Location: The Eyrie

Lady Sharra sat the weirwood throne of the Eyrie. Her eyes were red but her face was otherwise hardened. She felt desperate. Cheated. The family gathered around her meant to be supportive. She knew that. But they felt an ever more oppressive wait on her. Ser Halys Arryn, the Knight of the Gate and the heir to the Eyrie if her husband and son were never found, was only a reminded of the loss. His eyes always seemed on her throne. Elia, who was serving wine to the gathered lords and ladies, seemed an insolent reminder of her husband's disloyalty. She suspected everyone. Distrusted everyone. Was it the hill tribes? Who had helped them? Did Halys want the Eyrie? Or was it the Lannisters? They had made promises to the hill tribes during the War of the Five Kings. Didn't a Lannister always pay his debts? Or even the Royces? As loyal as they seemed, none had forgotten they were Kings of Mountain and Vale before the Andal invasion. She knew she was not being rational. She could not help it. Her mind stewed constantly.

"My lady..." Elia was saying as she stepped close with the wine.

"I am thinking, bastard! I don't need to drink!" Sharra snapped. All eyes were immediately on her. Elia stepped back.

Halys frowned. "My lady," he began gently.

"Do not speak to me as if I were a child, Ser Halys," Sharra said. "I hold the Eyrie in my husband's stead while he lives." There was dead silence following that statement. A man could not simply be presumed dead, body unfound, unless he be missing seven years, but none still expected to find the Lord of the Eyrie alive.

Shifting the fussing infant in her arms, Lady Melicent looked visibly shocked. Perhaps not at the outburst but at what reaction it might illicit from her sleeping babe. "Come now cousin. I'm certain Ser Halys didn't mean it like that." Her baby began to stir, but settled itself into a new position. "No one is disputing what tradition dictates in this situation."

Her husband, Lord Allard Upcliffe was a long standing fixture at court in the Eyrie. He had met his young wife there, a cousin of Lord Arryn, or the late Lord Arryn if rumours were to be believed. Allard was in no mood for squabbling and women’s prattle. He drained his cup loudly and waved it in the air for more.

Elia walked over to Lord Allard and poured more wine into his cup. "My lord," she said politely.

"We are all family here," Ser Robert chimed in, looking from his brother to his cousin, Lady Sharra. "We are making every effort to find Lord Yohn and determine exactly what has happened."

"My husband was not happy at the Great Council," Sharra said. "That was known. For better or worse, Yohn was not a man who hid his feelings well. He would have been..."

"You are distraught, cousin," Halys said more firmly, before Sharra said something that could not be taken back. "You need to rest."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Sharra chided him. She gave him a pointed look that turned to Robert and Allard. "So you can all discuss what an irrational woman I've become in my grief. You are still my knights and bannermen." Sharra stood up, angrily.

“No one seeks to speak ill of you cousin, or speak of irrationality.” Melicent said, pulling her infant son into her chest. “But rest would do you well. And in the meantime, plans can be made for a search as Ser Robert said.” Lady Upcliff looked in the direction of her Lord Husband for words in support of her and those gathered. She received nothing besides a sigh and the continued gulps from his goblet.

Maester Petyr stepped into the room. "The search is over," he said somberly. "Word from Stone. They have found them."

"They are well?" Lady Sharra said excitedly.

"Forgive me, my lady," the maester said. "They have found the bodies."

"You will examine them to determine the cause of death," Halys insisted to the maester. "They are to be placed on biers in the sept after the Silent Sisters have prepared them and there lie in state for seven days with prayers said thrice daily. We will make another search of the surrounding woods for evidence of enemies. Only after he has been honorably laid to rest shall I leave for the royal wedding."

"My lord husband did not intend to go," Sharra said sharply. "You would run off to Oldtown while the Vale is mourning."

"After the period of mourning," Halys insisted, "and it is not a pleasure trip. The Vale is one of the Six Kingdoms. Relations with the Crown are of utmost importance."

Sharra glowered. Halys looked at her. She still sat in the weirwood throne. He seemed to consider for a moment and then he started towards the door. "Lord Upcliff, Ser Robert, I would have your counsel."

“My Lord.” Allard emptied his cup and set it aside. He let his hand find his wife’s cheek to caress a moment. He then nodded towards Halys and followed him towards the door.

Halys led them into the solar and closed the door behind them. "I do not wish to encourage Lady Sharra's speculation, but I am worried there is more to these deaths than is immediately apparent. If it is a chance accident, so it is. If the hill tribes or some other bandits have grown too bold, they will face justice. But the odds the Lord of the Eyrie and his son should come upon such by chance strike me as rather low."

"Who else could it have been?" Robert asked.

"I don't care to speculate without evidence," Halys answered him. "I can think of many with possible motives."

Part of Allard admired Halys for stepping up, the other part was just thankful to be spared the continued whining of the women.“Please, speculate,” he said as he crossed his arms. “It may raise questions in us we hadn’t considered before.”

"Lord Yohn's abstention at the Council and his disdain for both contenders might have offended lords on either side," Haylys began. "However, since he did not offer his support to the Greyjoy rebels, he might also have been the target of enemies of the Crown seeking to destabilize the Realm even as they lost the Iron Islands themselves. There are also personal motives, of course. I do not know how things stood between Lord Yohn and his bastard daughter or her mother or any later lovers her mother might have taken. She was from Lhazar, I believe. Shepherds and far from here, yet I remember tales that one of them wielded powerful magic against Daenerys Stormborn a few years before her invasion of Westeros." He frowned. He found it distasteful to speculate so personally. "There are, of course, the hill tribes and they remain our most likely suspects, yet I can't help but think they would not have acted so recklessly without the promise of assistance from outside.”

Allard nodded, he and his house, secluded on an isle, were thankfully unaffected by the hill tribes. “Who might assist the hill tribes?” He asked, “The Riverlords? The Northmen?”

"It could be practically anyone," Halys noted. "The hill tribes have never needed much encouragement. I hope to see more of where we stand with the other Great Houses at the wedding. While I am gone, I intend to ask Lord Waxley to come to the Eyrie and to oversee the search for the killers, if they have not already been found."

"Lady Sharra's Father?" Robert asked, surprised. "She's not fond of you right now."

"Lord Waxley is a loyal and honest man," Halys said, "and in a position to ease her mind. Rising to power under such tragic circumstances, I know some will suspect me. I intend not to give them cause. I will also ask Elia Stone to travel with us to attend the ladies. She might know something useful and her presence clearly troubles lady Sharra."

"Having Elia along could also send the wrong message to Lady Sharra." Allard asserted. "It may look, to Sharra at least, as though the two of you are conspiring against her and her late husband's memory."

"You might be right," Halys agreed.

"Then you'll leave her?" Robert asked.

Halys paused, considering. Then he shook his head. "She would never find welcome in Lady Sharra's service and I won't put her out so soon after her father's death. I'm afraid I have inherited my cousin's responsibility. She can cause no offense among the servants."

Lord Upcliff let out a breath rather audibly as he shifted his weight. "Yes, my lord." He accepted the logic of the new Lord of the Vale. "I am ready to accompany you to the Reach as well. Lady Millicent will stay behind with the babe, and to keep Lady Sharra's company."

"Very well," Halys agreed.


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