House Blackjade received a visit from Jaren Sand, delivering a message relayed from neighboring House Jennek. King Robert was holding a tourney in honor of the Crown, on the fields of King’s Landing, in two weeks. They began packing immediately, and set sail on the morning tide with a ship full of horses, tents, a few servants, and a couple of guards.
Due to storms further north along the coast, they sailed along the northern edge of the calmer Sea of Dorne and disembarked at Wyl. On foot they traveled up the boneway through Summerhall before turning east to Bronzegate and heading north on the Kingsroad. Then they spotted the crows.
Just off the road were the remains of five men, unidentifiable and half-eaten. Five half-starved wolves feasted on their remains. When the group refused to be scared off, they attacked. Tilly felled their leader instantly with a single arrow through the head. The remaining wolves ganged up on Ser Rufos, but were unable to penetrate his armor and he and the others managed to kill them with little difficulty. When the last attempted to flee, Tilly felled him with another single bowshot.
The five appeared to be camping, and the wounds seemed to indicate they were killed in their sleep. The bodies of the men had nothing of any value on them, though their swords remained. The blades showed signs of recent use, and one – still in its scabbard – was covered with dried blood. They had no identifying markings on them, save one: the bloody sword had an unusual hilt with the emblem of a stag on it similar to the Baratheon stag but without the crown. Leaving the bodies in the clearing, they resumed their trip and eventually ended up at Dag’s Inn along the Kingsroad.
The reception at Dag’s was chilly. The travelers staying there seemed to quiet down and regard the group with a certain amount of scorn. None of them seemed interested in talking about it. Ramana started charming them, particularly Meg Moleskin the innkeeper’s wife who eventually told her the reason for the attitude. Apparently Adham Dannett had stopped by the inn earlier that day for a meal and told anybody who would listen that members of House Blackjade had slaughtered a number of farmers, family and all. He had a Blackjade shield to prove it, still with farmer blood on it. Not having any reason to doubt his story, the inn patrons had no wish to associate with a house of murderers or to be their next victims.
While everybody stared at Ser Rufos and the sinister-looking Berran, Ramana made the rounds and began charming the smallfolk and making inquiries. She discovered that the serving girl recalled the stag-embossed sword as belonging to a sellsword who, along with several others, had been recruited by a knight with a fox crest on his shield. Nobody knew his name or the name of his house, but he recruited and left with 6 men, leaving behind Garth the Barrel who wanted the work (which was unspecified) but was turned down. The knight, who seemed like a religious sort who wouldn’t normally frequent a tavern, told Garth he wasn’t interested in working with “locals”, whatever that meant.
Aside from some attempted groping, which stopped when the gropers were threatened with Ser Rufos, the night passed peacefully.
On the way out of the inn the group talked with the stable boy Colin Moleskin. Colin recalled that the Fox Knight had a horse, while the other six were on foot. He also revealed that one of the sellswords – “Dan or Stan or something like that” – stopped by this morning asking if any horses were for sale. When told no, the man continued heading north on the Kingsroad.
The group followed his example. Later on the road they ran into three younger members of House Claviger. One, named by one of the others as Donwald, told the group that craven killers of unarmed men, women and children are not welcome at the tournament. Berran took exception to this and called Ser Rufos who unlimbered his greatsword. The boys protested that they were “emissaries of the king” and thus exempt from this treatment, then ran off down the road.
The House Blackjade contingent continued on their way, intending to arrive at The Great Stag inn by nightfall.