Rodrik Bolton awoke to the sound of a camp coming to life, and wiped the sleep from his eyes. Much as he hated sleeping in a tent, this morning made an improvement on yesterday's awakening. His anger at that incident was mollified when he stepped outside and saw the guards Lewys and Varamun tied to stakes outside his tent, wrapped in just enough clothing to stop the Northern winter night from killing them. Or so he had thought. The tall one, Varamun, was hanging limp away from the stake, and the icicle formed on his nose told of him hanging in that position for longer than a living man could have endured.
Lewys was leaning back against the post, his face blistered and chapped, tears and drool frozen to his face. Whatever impudence had once inhabited him would have been scourged out hours ago, and Rodrik knew this was the tipping point that would turn him towards hatred or undying loyalty. While his brother might be better at breaking a man, Rodrik knew better than no other how to put one back together.
"I had thought to wake you with a bucket of water, but on reflection it would take too long to chip it off afterwards," he mocked. "I can see you are a stronger man than your partner here. Yesterday you called me coward — other men would have had your tongue, and don't think I didn't consider it, but the very mercy you call cowardice stayed my hand. Yet I hope last night has shown to you that while I may not have your previous master's bloodlust, one cannot grow up a Bolton without a good measure of cruelty. You have seen out your trial, and seen it out well-" he glanced at the quickly cooling body on the other stake "- and today you will be properly clothed and horsed, and ride with me in my treaty with the King. I treat men well whom I give a second chance, but no man gets a third." He cut Lew down with a dagger, and two squires rushed over to bear the groaning man into the tent.
The Bolton camp sprawled under the wall of Winterfell. Rodrik had never had the command of his House's full force before, and wondered why his brother would entrust it to him, especially on a mission so tenuous. He had chosen his generals, splitting the force into three; his own men would be led by Hard Harald, and his brother's by Lidless Jack — he did not want one of his brother's confidantes in charge of a whole wing of his army, however much Marys insisted they had common cause. The third force was a small screen of fast horsemen, scouts and sentries and messengers. Finally, Rodrik's personal entourage, captained by Horben, whom men called "Horse" for his size and dullwittedness, but whose loyalty and dependability could equally earn him the comparison. Also with Rodrik were the maester's boy, the frozen man being dressed in the tent, and the banner-bearer who approached him now. The Bolton tradition was to flay a prisoner before every battle and carry the hide as a banner, but Rodrik's was an old piece of leather, the remains of a convicted murderer from several years ago. However, today he wanted to make an impression.
"Petyr, there's a man tied up outside my tent. I hope your skills are not dulled from neglect, as I want his skin on a pole when we enter the King's Great Hall in an hour."
"Oh no, m'lord, grinned Pete the Butcher. ""Our blades are sharp"."
edited 30th Jun '12 4:55:35 AM by johnnye