It has been 5 days since the attack on the brothel and I have been living on egg shells the entire time.
The first night, while i sent everyone to stay on board the ship, I was waiting in my room in the inn, fully armed, with a candle on by bedside table and a bucket of oil by my feet. I was not joking when I said I would use the docks burning as a signal. Brutus was waiting outside, and if he smelled trouble, he would signal me and then run back to the docks to warn and protect the others. At the same time, I would throw the bucket at the wall opposite the window followed by the candle.
I feel sorry for the owner and other residents but this is as desperate as it can get. I have made myself the enemy of the Lannister family and they have one of the strongest presences in the city. If they were to go all out in their revenge, they could bring 100 men easily to have me killed. They could forge any number of crimes to justify the act after I am dead and no one would be able to refute them, not even Ned.
I have already scouted a number of escape routes. After the fire is started, I would leap from the window to the nearby rooftop, and from there to the next roof. The gap between the buildings from opposite streets are about 20 metres, and a normal man wouldn’t make the distance. I am not normal. Even if the distance was twice that, if I flared my qi I could still grab the edge of the roof. As it is I can just jump from street to street without the use of qi,relying only on my superior muscles.
If they see me they won’t be able to follow, but it is much more likely they will be too distracted by other things. The fire will catch the eyes and alert the other residents in the surroundings something is going on. It would be just a few minutes before the streets are filled and the Goldcloaks are on their way. Any pursuit will be greatly hampered and I can make it to the docks where we can escape.
Fortunately, this plan was never enacted. There was no army coming to kill me, no assassins either. The morning came and we were all safe. I wasn’t sure if that meant we were not going to be attacked ever, but I wasn’t going to take the chance. The crew was told that until we leave they were never to be more than a 30 minute run from the ship. Elsa was not allowed more than 500 metres from the ship, under threat that if she went past it, I would tie her to the main mast. She was not happy.
The reason I didn’t leave immediately was because I had to make some arrangements with the bank. I didn’t plan to return to King’s Landing for a few years, if ever, but all my money was in the bank here. Since it was clear that we weren’t being attacked immediately, I decided to risk delaying our departure till I could arrange a transfer.
I could have just withdrawn the gold and put it on my ship, but that is a lot of gold, and I don’t really trust the entire crew yet. The Ravens are loyal to Ethel and Captain Curt has proven himself to me, but the rest I barely know. Though I can trust them to do their job, especially since between myself, Ed, Nathan and the Ravens I control the largest armed group on the ship. There is a total of 25,900 dragons in my account. That is enough money for all the crew members to live a life of luxury. It is enough for a group of them to risk their life for. Though I am not afraid they will succeed, if they do something stupid and kill my family or friends then that is just not worth the risk.
The Iron Bank offers a special service for transferring accounts to banks in different cities. This is very useful for criminals who have saved a lot of money and need to run without being able to return, or when powerful families want to relocate to other areas of the world. The Iron Bank issues several written documents that signify the amount that I have in my account and which city I will now be withdrawing from. They have several transfers within their organisations a few times a year. On one of those occasions my gold will be transferred, usually by ship, to the area of my choice, in this case White Port. White Port is the largest port in the North and under the authority of House Manderly, who are loyal to the Starks. The great part about this system is that even if the ship with my gold is stolen or lost, with the written documents I can still access the same amount as the bank will replace the lost income. There are two downsides to this action.
The first is cost. The Iron Bank charges for just about everything. In this case they charge 10% of the total sum transferred. I withdrew 900 dragons and kept it in a small chest to act as emergency spending on the journey north, so the bank will receive 2,500 dragons to transfer my 22,500. It is a lot but it will be worth it if I avoid potential disaster of losing all of it or something more important. Besides I was originally planning to spend a lot more on the ship and crew. The fortunate encounter with captain Curt helped to save me some funds.
The other problem was the time it takes. It requires signatures from myself, several witnesses and the bank clerks from both banks. Even after paying for express transfer via raven, it still took 4 days to get it all done and receive my receipts. All throughout the days I was waiting I was on edge, expecting the trouble planned on the first night to come for me.
A soon as I receive the receipts I placed them in a waterproof tube, thanked the clerks, and left with Brutus. I told everyone this morning to be on the ship by noon and ready to leave the second I get there. I had already pushed my luck waiting this long to leave and have no intention to stretch it further. I had just left the building with Brutus, the wind blowing my hair. Might be windy, hopefully that will help us rather than delay us. I have very little knowledge of sailing. We left the city through the Mud Gate and were heading to the docks, when Brutus started sniffing the air.
He barks at me and sends a signal to indicate the Starks. “Ned, Here?” I ask. He shakes his head and signals for females. “Sansa or Arya? Or could it be Catelyn?” I try to specify. He taps his foot twice the indicate the second option. “Where is she?” I ask him to lead me. He bounds down the streets to the left of where the docks are. As we round the keep I see Arya, dirty and crying, carrying a fencing sword with a mustached man and Nymeria beside her. The man draws a sword and gets into position when he sees us, but lowers his guard a moment later. He seems to recognize me.
Nymeria starts barking, though Arya doesn’t realize, and bounds up to Brutus. Though Arya overestimated the ability to keep up with Brutus in terms of size, I can see where she was confused. Nymeria is already about 50kg, about the size of an average adult dog, with sharp teeth and wild fur.
“Arya! What are you doing here and who is this?” I ask and get ready to plant a knife between the man’s eyes if the answer isn’t a friend. Brutus is also ready to jump between Arya and a potential assailant.
“Ben? Ben!! Quick you have to help, the keep, guards fighting, and and ….” she appears to finally acknowledge her surroundings at my voice. She runs to me and starts shouting about random things before breaking down and collapse, exhausted. I hug her tightly and wait for her to calm down. Instead I address the man before me.
“My name is Ser Ben Baskerville, knight under Lord Stark. Who might you be sir?” Normally in a questionable situation like this I wouldn’t give away my name or allegiance but this is also a test. In this open area with no one around, if he showed any signs of hostility to either my name or House Stark then I would end him before he gets a single word out. If his follow up answer is either unbelievable or not to my liking I may still kill him. I have been very stressed over the past few days and killing a potential enemy will give me a great sense of relief. The primary reason I am keeping him alive for now is as a source of information into just why Arya, who last I heard was in the Red Keep, has suddenly appeared.
“My name is Syrio Forell, the First sword of Braavos. I am Lady Arya’s dancing instructor, under the employ of Lord Stark. It is good to meet you Ser Baskerville, your skill at the Hand’s Tourney was quite the accomplishment.” He greets men with a light bow. I see no hesitation in his movements and no anger in his eyes either. He is either telling the truth, or a really good actor. Either way he has passed for now.
“Very well Syrio, let us vacate the area for now. I have a ship where we should be safe for the moment and you can explain the situation to me.” I tell him and lead Arya who has tired herself out back to the docks.