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AGE: 37
LOCATION: the ten towers
PLAYER: echew
ABOUT: Rodrik "the Reader" is Lord of the Ten Towers, and ruler of the island of Harlaw. He has three children, though his youngest son is the official heir. Rodrik married his salt wife (it's a long story). He's brilliant, and a generally friendly person.
Joined: 28-January 15
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Last Seen: Dec 11 2015, 05:03 PM
Local Time: May 21 2018, 02:59 PM
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Oct 25 2015, 05:51 PM

Gods they'd been on the road for a long damned time! They took a ship as far as they could, to Casterly Rock. Unfortunately, part of the trip had to be made by land. The problem with that was that his knee just didn't agree with horseback, or moving too quickly on them. They'd been forced to stop more often than anyone really liked, meaning the journey took twice as long as it should have. There had been the horrifying moment of nearly falling flat on his face when he tried to walk up the steps into the red keep. There hadn't been much pride left at that point. At least there was the small victory in that most of the keep was quiet. Many of the nobles had traveled to Summerhall for a tourney that Rodrik knew he'd never make it to. The keep was quiet, though, and he preferred it that way for the time being. He could let his body recuperate without having to bother with southern manners, for the time being.

It had taken a bit of work, but he managed to get their chambers relocated to one of the lower floors. After the trip to King's Landing, Rodrik didn't have the patience to bother with all of those stairs. He at least had enough pride that he wasn't about to let servants carry him. He could do a few flights, but he'd be damned if he was climbing to the top and back down every day. Their chambers had a nice enough view - nothing like the one back home. But more importantly, it was right near the solar where Reginald had been working to translate the text. He spent more time at that large table than he had anywhere else, so far.

He was sitting sideways at the table, Rodrik had reclined in his chair, and moved a second over. There was a pillow on the seat, and he was using the armless chair to prop up his still-swollen knee while he poured over a few books. The text they were attempting to translate was in a dead language. It was a personal pursuit. Apparently he'd been hired by a wealthy Ghiscari family to translate the book - though he wouldn't name which one. From what he'd gathered so far it was a dull enough text. There was nothing incriminating or terribly useful in it. He couldn't imagine what they needed it for. Though there had been more than one suggestion that the book needed to be translated to aid his patrons in some old blood feud.

His eyes raised from the page when he realized he was at a bit of a road block, and would require a book that had wound up out of his reach. Rodrik leaned forward, attempting to reach the text like a normal person. But he didn't want to stand up. He'd just gotten comfortable! Instead, he pushed a few of the books out of his way, and picked up the raven skull cane that he'd hooked on the arm of his chair. He grasped the shaft by the end, throwing the head across the table to latch onto the far side of the book. He heard a resounding thunk that might well have left a bit of a welt in the table, before dragging the book closer.

Sep 11 2015, 06:35 PM

Do you know what is the worst kind of place to live if you have a bum knee? Somewhere with a lot of stairs - much like the ten towers! The place was quite literally made of stairs, and it could be really and truly exhausting when his knee acted up. Of course it kept him from getting too lazy. If he wanted to get around he had to strain himself to climb stairs. He couldn't take the easy path and keep to one floor for long. Of course, this same thing also kept him confined to his library much of the time. Fine, so it was more a convenient excuse than anything! He'd probably hide in his library anyway, he'd just have fewer worthy excuses.

Rodrik would still be in said library had it not been for the letter that just arrived … fine so it arrived two days past. It was a lengthy thing that arrived by ship. The letter was penned in the hand of an academic named Niels. Apparently the man had taken residence at the Red Keep. He'd been working on translating a text, and he was having some trouble with it. Flatteringly enough, someone had suggested him to aid the man in his endeavors. Originally, Rodrik set it aside, intending to mention it to Alaena that evening … but that was before he'd gotten horribly sidetracked and buried it under another book. Today it had fallen back into view. After that Rodrik thought it best to mention it to his wife now, before he forgot it once more.

Leaning heavily on his cane, Rodrik wandered through two towers before he found Alaena alone in a room, working on some sewing. Amused, Rodrik propped himself up in the door, watching her struggle with what appeared to be some of his trousers. Presently there was a gaping hole in-between the legs - one that he was fairly certain hadn't been there that morning. Only his wife would find a way to make the holes worse when she aimed to fix them. Rodrik grinned to himself as she grumbled, clearly irritated by her task. Chuckling, Rodrik finally stepped into the room, and approached the chair his wife was sitting in.

"You know," Rodrik began conversationally. He drew closer to her chair, and leaned down to plant a kiss on her cheek. "You didn't actually have to cut a hole in my trousers for better access." He informed her with another chuckle, before straightening up. "You are actually welcome to have at me whenever you wish." It needed to be said, obviously. Fine, so his humor wasn't likely to be appreciated just now. She was already annoyed, and his jokes would be ill received. But at least Rodrik found himself amusing. It was worth it. Rodrik hooked the beak on his cane over the edge of a table, before sitting down nearby.

"So I was reading today," surprise of the century right there. Surely nobody could have seen that one coming. "I learned something I had to share! It was truly fascinating!" His tone was excessively bright - just as it always was when he started yammering on about some mundane fact that nobody other than Eiya would care about. "Apparently, if you don't take your wife off the island at least once every two decades, she's sure to leave you." Rodrik informed Alaena with faux awe. It was true enough with her. She'd always been fond of traveling. Since they married, she'd spent far too much time on this rock. She hadn't complained much, but he knew it had to be driving her mad.

May 22 2015, 10:08 PM

Three days was entirely too long. Rodrik could tell you, without reservation, that he wasn't a fan of sleeping alone. It didn't used to bother him. He spent the first twenty years of life sleeping alone nearly every day. Even Brynja had barely shared his bed when they'd been involved. He preferred it for most of his life. Alone, he was free to stretch out, and sleep right in the middle of the mattress. He'd once hated the idea of curling up on one side, afraid to roll over or steal the blankets from someone else. Now, everything was different. The bed felt too big without her next to him. Every time he rolled over, seeking her warm form, Rodrik was met with her cold half of the bed, and would be startled awake once more. He hated it. He missed her in the nights, and he missed her during the days. During the days he would sit in his library until all hours of the evening. Without Alaena there to remind him that he still had to eat, he always left with an empty ache in his stomach.

He missed her, OK?! So, when Greyjoy banners were seen on the horizon, Rodrik asked for updates on their progress. He fully intended to be waiting on the dock when his sister arrived with his wife, but it would take longer to get into port than it would take him to walk down there - even on his bum knee. Once they were near, Rodrik began the long trek down the winding stairs of the ten towers, and off to the docks that he knew Alannys would be sailing for. His cane was left back in the tower. it was hooked on the edge of his desk. In his haste of leaving, Rodrik hadn't remembered to grab it. He regretted that choice by the time he was half way down the stairs. His knee seemed only to ache more as time went on. But the pain was nothing to the knowledge that he'd actually sleep tonight.

If truth be told, Rodrik wasn't sure what he'd expected when he learned that Alannys planned to take Alaena on a raid. Alaena wasn't a warrior. She wasn't someone that would find joy in the pain and suffering - especially not after having been taken in a raid herself. It wasn't an enjoyable past time. He was excited to see her again, but he'd expected her to be quiet when she returned - he also expected her to have empty arms. The first thing he noticed was her blonde hair - vastly different from his sisters. Alaena's was a different shade entirely, and he knew it was her before her face came into view. The next thing he noticed were the items she held in her arms. From where he stood on the dock, Rodrik could only make out something long and vaguely metallic looking. He raised an eyebrow, turning to her face as she stepped off the ship, and onto the dock, only to catch sight of her bright grin.

"The mighty raiders return!" Rodrik called over to her with a grin, as he took a few long strides towards his wife. He'd have pulled her into his arms, if her loot wouldn't have been in the way. Instead, he cradled her face between his palms, and leaned in to kiss her. "Tell me, love. Do you feel like a man now?" He jested lowly before kissing her once more. Part of him couldn't help but thank the gods - old and new, the seven and drowned alike - that she was back. Better yet, she seemed to be in good spirits. For all he knew, Alaena was only happy to be done with it. Perhaps she'd had a miserable time. But he was confident enough that he could ease her out of a terrible mood. But this didn't seem to be that.

Jan 28 2015, 09:40 PM

<div class="appybod"><table><td>

<div class="infocat"><b> NICKNAMES: </b> the Reader </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> RANK: </b> nobility </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> TITLE: </b> Lord of the Ten Towers </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> AGE: </b> forty </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> REGION: </b> iron islands </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> HOUSE: </b> house Greyjoy </div>
<div class="infocat"><b> PLAYBY: </b> Josh Duhamel </div>

<div style="background: url(''); width: 200px; height: 200px;"></div>

</td></table><table><div style="width: 430px; height: 350px; overflow: auto; font-size: 10px; line-height: 120%; text-align: justify; padding: 10px;">

<div class="small"> THE FATHER </div><p>

Some say it was because the Drowned God had rejected him during the ceremony. No, most say it was because he was rejected. Whether a god had a hand in it or not, reality remained. Rodrik Harlaw hated the sea. He hated the Priests, and he hated these lands. He’d been sickly as a child. It started with a fever that struck the day after his drowning. Rather than be anointed as most infants were, Rodrik had been submerged. They’d forced the water from his lungs, but the chill remained. It didn’t seem to go away for most of his childhood – or perhaps it just kept coming back. Everyone whispered. The Drowned God was rejecting this one. It would be better to send him to meet their maker, than let him inherit. Only his mother spoke up for him.
This was all said to his face often enough. His father din't lie or try to make his son feel better. It wasn't in the nature of the Iron Born to be gentle about anything. Why should this be any different. But, at first, most of it was overheard. When he was young, there seemed to be a shred of hope that Rodrik might grow to be different, stronger, unexpected. His father was hard on him as a child, but he wasn't as ruthless. Of course what difference did that make, when ones voice carried so easily through the stone walls? Everything seemed to echo here. Would it kill someone to hang a tapestry?
He might never have known, had the situation been anything other than what it was. As it was, Rodrik had been where he shouldn't have. He'd gone into his father's chambers to play. He knew from the start that he shouldn't be there, and today was the day he learned why.
It should be a joyous occasion. His mother had been heavy with child for months on end. Finally, the babe was on the way. This would mean a sister, another brother. It would mean a playmate, and another heir for his father. It would mean another child to take the pressure off him. No longer need his own shortcomings be so grievous. His younger sibling could outshine him, and please his father. Rodrik had been anxious to hear the news. But this? This was not what he'd expected. This was not what anyone wanted.
"Was the first not bad enough?!" His father's rough voice demanded, dripping with fury and disappointment. Rodrik knew that one well - it was always directed at him. Were they talking about him? "Now this? Did I displease the gods? Are they trying to punish me?" The conversation carried in from the hallway. As soon as the demand passed his father's lips, the door clattered shut roughly. Five year old Rodrik could only wince, and try not to drop his toys. No need to alert them to his presence. That would only make things worse, if they thought he was eves dropping. He was, of course … but they didn't need to know that. He'd been here in the first place in hopes of hearing the news when his father did.
"Tis only a babe, my Lord." A second voice pointed out. He knew that voice, too. It was the favorite of his father's salt wives. She'd been aiding in the birth. "You heard her scream. Perhaps she might surprise you. A babe can't be blamed for their birth. It's a trying experience -" A resounding slap echoed off the walls. Once more, Rodrik winced. He hugged his toy (a carved pony) to his chest. His father was truly angry now. He shouldn't be here.
"You are not here to tell me what I can and cannot do." He informed his salt wive in a hiss. Rodrik didn't need to look up to picture the scene. She wouldn't dare meet his eyes right now. Nobody did when he was in a rage. "My daughter is small and weak. She'd be better off sacrificed to the gods! Clearly they already hate me, so I can't risk the insult of it!" He snarled. With those words, his hope faded. His sibling - sister, he corrected himself. She wouldn't bring peace to their family. Apparently, she was as misfortunate as he had been. At least she might understand. She could be a friend and ally.

</p><div class="small"> THE MOTHER </div></p>

A soft knock came at the door of his room, followed by a muffled voice he knew very well. “Can I come in, Rodrik? I have something for you.” His mother called gently. As always, her voice when she spoke to him reminded him of the way one might speak to a spooked horse – something Rodrik knew better than most ironislanders. Horses weren’t overly common in the area, but ponies were raised on Harlaw. The truth was that she didn’t have to be in that room to know what she’d find. Her ten year old son would be sitting sullenly on his bed, back to any windows, picking irritably at his blanket. At her inquiry, he grunted loudly, but didn’t otherwise respond. A second later, the door swung open, revealing his mother. In her arms was a large, ancient looking book.
"I heard what happened with your father today." She informed him, her tone a mix of stern and concern. Rodrik only met her gaze for a flash before glaring at his blanket once more. "It was the priest who told me. He wasn't terribly pleased." She pressed on more gently. Rodrik continued to glare at his knees. But he knew she was sitting next to him, now. He could feel the mattress sinking down under her weight. It wasn't until he felt another wave of pressure that he looked up. She'd set the book down between them, but the pages remained closed. Finally, his gaze shifted to his mother. "You know you can't talk to the priests like that." She reminded him firmly, once his gaze landed on hers. Rodrik sighed heavily, but didn't look away this time. He even went a step further. This time, his mouth opened for actual words to come out.
"Why not?! They are stupid! Someone should tell them so!" He insisted decidedly. His mother let out a choked laugh, before pushing it down. Her face was still set firmly, but there was a lightness around the corners of her eyes. Rodrik felt some of the tension fall from his shoulders at that. His mother wasn't here to punish him with this ancient tome, at least. She understood, even if his father never would.
"It isn't stupid." She insisted. "It's different, it's tradition, and it's your world." She informed him gently. At that, Brenna Harlaw turned to the book, and heaved the heavy cover back. She flipped through a few of the thick pages before turning back to her son. "I understand that you don't like it, and you don't have to. But you do have to tolerate it. You can't speak to people that way - not servants of the Drowned God." The words were serous, but delivered with gentility. She knew how her son felt about the Drowned God. He'd said it before, and he'd say it again. If the powerful old shit rejected Rodrik, why should Rodrik have to accept him? He didn't want to pay homage to a deity that everyone agreed didn't want anything from him! She was, perhaps, the only one that never pushed the matter with her son. She never said anything about it. This was the first time she'd brought it up at all, in fact.
The truth was that Brenna knew something important about her son - something that few seemed to realize. Rodrik wasn't something that just took someone's word on faith. He didn't believe a person just because they were older, or because he was supposed to. He liked to know things for a fact. He liked to experiment, learn, and find it out for himself. He wasn't someone that just followed blindly. Rodrik was a leader. He needed more proof than the word of some old man that drowned babies for a living.
"Everyone has traditions, Rodrik. We Iron Islanders are no different." She informed him, gesturing to a passage. "The Northerners worship trees - they believe their gods can see them through the faces carved into the Weirwoods." She informed him. Rodrik's nose wrinkled at the thought. He glanced at the book, but didn't really take in any of the words, before turning back to his mother.
"Do their gods demand sacrifice, too?" He asked her. She shook her head, before turning to another page in the book. Rodrik felt something twist in his chest - longing. Why couldn't he be born a greenlander? If he had his parents wouldn't have tried to kill him. His father wouldn't call him weak and useless. Life would be easier if he'd been born there. But there was no time to dwell on that. A warm hand squeezed his.
"It is said that in the neck, their houses are like boats - they will float away if you don't pay attention. They say no outsider can find where they live." She pressed on. She didn't turn another page, but she continued. "There are some parts of the world where they will cut off parts of a male's penis upon his birth, without even leaving him a eunuch. There are parts where being a eunuch is an honor, and others were men have no power at all." She informed him. Brenna flipped the heavy book shut with a loud snap. She shifted on the bed, turning to fully face her son, and take his other hand into hers.
"Everyone is different, Rodrik. The world is a big place, that is full of tradition. Every land has them. Some are strange. Some are silly, and some are horrifying." She informed him. "If you cannot see the Drowned God as a deity, see him as a tradition of our lands. You don't have to like it, but you have to respect it, if you want to rule some day." She informed him. If her son continued to push their ways aside, he was never going to have the respect of anyone. Perhaps, if he could learn a bit more about tradition and the world, he might accept it more easily. It was all about learning to play his part. Rodrik simply didn't learn by being told. He needed something to touch. He needed something to explore on his own. Perhaps books might do that for him.

</p><div class="small"> THE WARRIOR </div><p>

The single most difficult task in the world? Going out for a drink. It wasn't that he had no … OK so he had no friends. Well, he had very few of them. Most of the people who could tolerate him spent so much time out at sea, that finding a companion to go get drinks with was damn near impossible. So, when Rodrik tired of drinking alone, or longed for the companionship of a woman, he was left going out alone. Well, the whores were friendly enough, at least. They didn't care who was green. They cared only for who had coin. As heir to the Ten Towers, Rodrik was a high prize, to them. A lovely red-head sat on his knee. She seemed to still be shy of this life. She was young, and new to the isles. Rodrik was the perfect mark for her - he was softer than most of the men. But even she seemed uncomfortable by the words being hurled called behind their backs.
"EY Sweetheart! How about you let me know when you are ready for a real man." One man slurred drunkenly, from across the room. Most of the time, Rodrik was a master of ignoring it. He'd grown up hearing the insults. It was nothing new. How could the same thing be insulting? He'd heard it time and time again! Perhaps if someone managed to come up with a unique insult … but he was tired of it, and it was ruining his evening. He hadn't tried making nice with the other party across the room. He'd been minding his business, and chatting with the woman on his knee. But men weren't quiet when they were drunk - least of all Ironborn. Expecting them to mind their manners, and keep their nose in their whiskey was foolish indeed.
"Bryn," Rodrik murmured gently. One hand moved up, tucking a flaming curl behind her ear, as he leaned in. "Why don't you go up, and meet me in the room?" He suggested smoothly. He left her with a kiss on her neck before she slid off his lap, and sauntered over to the stairs. One of the men that had been calling lewd comments at her all night slapped her backside as she passed, only to earn a roaring approval of laughter from his friends.
Rodrik remained in place as she made her way upstairs. He leisurely finished his drink, taking his time sipping away at it. When he heard the distant sound of a door closing, he downed the rest of his ale in one swallow, and hefted himself heavily to his feet. He wasn't uncoordinated from the drink, yet, but his body did feel like it weighed a few extra stones. There was something almost lazy about the way Rodrik moved across the room. One hand moved to the opposite, slipping an ornate ring off his middle finger. He briefly made eye contact with the loudest of the group.
"Enjoy ruining other's evenings, do you?" He inquired passively. Not waiting for a response, Rodrik moved to the buxom blonde behind the man. He held the ring out for her to see. "This ring for you if you walk away from this oaf here and now." Rodrik vowed. She raised an eyebrow at him. Her hands slipped off the man's shoulders. Without a word, she accepted the ring, and a small purse. "Another ten gold if you convince your friends to stay away from them." The woman seemed to think it some kind of joke, but a deal was struck quickly enough.
"What'n th'hell d' you think -" The man began hotly. The words were slurring heavily, his face bright red as he attempted to heft himself to his feet. A few of the other women with the group stood up, following their blonde friend off, looking eagerly into the pouch.
"Next time you think to try and ruin my evening?" Rodrik began coldly. "Don't!" He insisted firmly. With that, Rodrik turned to head off. There was a warm body waiting to welcome him upstairs, and he'd had quite enough of this company - there was a bit of a smell lingering down here. He'd prefer the floral perfume dabbed behind Bryna's ears.
Unfortunately, he'd only taken a few steps when he heard the telltale creak of floorboards under a lumbering drunk. There was the sound of a sword being drawn - there was no mistaking the sound of proper steel. Rodrik himself only bothered carrying a weapon when he was on the battle field, and he avoided that at all costs. But most of the time? He didn't need it. Rodrik took another two, long strides. His hands found the back of a chair. Without warning he hefted the chair up, swinging it broadly around. Two bodies lunged out of the way, cursing, before the chair collided sharply with a shoulder. The legs shattered, splintering off upon impact. The man swayed dangerously before crashing backwards, his head clipping the edge of a table on his way down.
Rodrik Harlaw wasn't a man that carried a weapon. He hated fighting, and he would avoid it at all costs. He liked learning about fighting in ink form, rather than blood. But, at the end of the day, he was as hotheaded as any of them. He was Ironborn, and he would fight back. Rodrik just didn't need some castle forged steel to make his point. He was proficient with a sword, a mace, and an axe, but he preferred using the world around him. Knocking a head into a table worked every bit as well as cutting their throat.

</p><div class="small"> THE MAIDEN </div><p>

Her name was Alyvia Kenning, she was three years his junior, and she was the pride of her house. Fierce from her first breath, she was everything a proper Ironborn woman should be. It was considered a true honor that she was even considered for his wife - especially given the way people whispered about him. Many thought it a poor match. They said she'd be better suited for one of his four cousins due to inherit their own lands. But she was to be his bride. Perhaps he should have been eager for the marriage. It was the envy of many, and she would be his.
Honestly? She was pretty enough - dark hair, dark eyes. She was beautiful in a hard way. In the weeks he knew her prior to the wedding, Rodrik never knew her to smile. She was a somber woman, and she knew the whispers. Her husband-to-be was green as a spring day in the Reach. He kept to his compartments on ships, because he never did find his sea legs. The Drowned God had even rejected him! He was destined from birth to be a piss-poor lord. For him, it was an honor to marry her. But to her? She was stuck with him. At least it was a worthy title to pass to her children.
In the ceremony, and the festivities afterward, she didn't smile, she didn't laugh. There were no jokes or friendly banter. The woman barely met his eyes at all. In the bedding she didn't sigh, groan, or whisper words of encouragement. She didn't wince or protest, either. It was like the Drowned God had already claimed her. But it was done. They were wed, and none could change that, now. For better or for worse, till death would they part.
When all was said and done, Rodrik lay flat on his back, one arm resting across his forehead. He stared up at the canopy above his head with dead eyes. His head was so full of different traditions and beliefs, he could scarcely remember which were meant to be his own. Promises before a white tree - face carved, dripping with sap red as blood. Crimson leaves strewn across the forest floor beneath their feet. A glamorous sept, rehearsed vows, the blood of a maiden. The blessing of R'hllor, fire, darkness. Did it matter if his wife was a maiden when she came to his bed? She wasn't, regardless of intent. But what did it matter? A virgin's blood couldn't save this union. They were doomed, and it was better to accept that now.
"Stay if you wish - if not the servants would be most pleased to ready your rooms for you." Rodrik announced dully. He swung his feet out of the bed, allowing them to fall to the stone floor, faintly warmed by the fire burning nearby. He took two long strides towards his wardrobe, and extracted a long, thick, blue robe. The sash was still being tied about his waist as the doors to his chambers were hefted open, and he left.
The day had been long enough already. Rodrik certainly didn't wish to prolong it further. He'd prefer to spend the rest of his evening in solitude, bearing only the company of his books, than the dead fish that was his wife. Or perhaps Drowned Woman would be a more apt description. They were as different as night and day. Even in her silence, he could feel the judgment rolling off her. He'd sleep more comfortably on the chair in his library. At least there something productive might happen.

</p><div class="small"> THE SMITH </div><p>

Unlike most, Rodrik knew that when boys came of age in the main land, they squired. They were sent off to another, they were taught to fight, and to be a man. It gave them a chance to get away from their family, grow, and find their self. Ever since he was young, he'd wished it was a practice they adopted on the Iron Islands. OH what he wouldn't give to be sent to another family for a few years. Alas, that was not his world, nor his tradition. There weren't Knights in the Iron Islands. There were captains. So, when he came of age, he began working on a ship. He started at the bottom, slowly working his way up. But, when he was on land, he had another hobby.
It started when he was twelve. Rodrik went into town, and spent some time around the most popular blacksmith near the Ten Towers. For days on end he'd just watch. He learned by watching. After a while, the blacksmith started explaining what he was doing. A few months later, after a trip out to sea, Rodrik even got to get his hands dirty. He spent months on end out at sea. He went on fishing and raiding trips. But every day he was on dry land, he spent learning to blacksmith. It wasn't a common trade. Most men preferred to buy their steel, and leave forging to the lesser men. But Rodrik liked getting his hands dirty. He wasn't exceptionally fond of fighting. But he did like knowing how things worked.
This little obsession took the better part of his life to master. After the age of sixteen, he knew how to make a blade, horseshoe, and a vast number of other things. His interest spread to a more delicate work. In addition to not squiring, the Iron Islanders weren't overly fond of jewels and finery. If you wanted the glitz you took it. Jewels and delicate metalwork were things you paid the iron price for. Wives getting delicate necklaces were gifts from a raid. Buying them was out of the question. But he could make them.
It was frustrating, and Rodrik was anything but a master. But he understood the art, and he finally finished something worthy. It was worlds from perfect. The chains forged on the mainland were delicate. They were works of art. This was the tinniest wires he'd managed to work with yet. But compared to the mainlanders works, it was large, and clumsy. It was still better than what most noblewomen wore, here. The necklace was wrapped in a purple handkerchief, tucked into one of his pockets. There was a pendant with a newly polished sapphire in an intricate silver casing. There really was only one woman in his life he'd even consider giving it to.
"Lanny?" Rodrik called from the doorway, once he'd located her. "Are you busy? I have a secret." He informed her. Like himself, Alannys had always longed for a life on the mainland. She'd always rejected the ways of the Ironborn, to a degree. Perhaps it wasn't quite as extreme as him. But she was the only one that understood. She was the only one the might appreciate a gift like this. His own wife would refuse to touch it, without having paid the iron price. Well it wasn't like he paid the gold one! What was the harm?

</p><div class="small"> THE CRONE </div><p>

The voice could be heard out in the hall, berating the sentinel outside his study. While it wasn't common for guards to follow around lords on the Iron Islands, Rodrik asked them to keep people out of his room when he wanted to be alone. Of course, by now, both his wife and his sister had learned this. Gods it was eerie how similar those two sounded through six inches of oak. A guard meant he was well, irritable, and simply didn't want to talk. So, that meant the guard was going to get hell from whoever wanted to see him. There were only about three men that Rodrik ever asked to stand between himself and the women in his life. All of them were well over six feet tall, barely read, couldn't write, and loved their weapons a bit too much.
Rodrik had been locked up for a bit over the past twenty four hours. There were four half-eaten meals piled on a table. Every few hours a servant showed up to try and entice him with more food, and to refresh his pitcher of water. But the focus of his attention? A smattering of books spread out across a massive, ornately carved table.
The table was unlike anything you'd see in the Iron Islands. In the Iron Islands, you paid the iron price - never the gold price. You took what you want. If you had something ornate, you'd better have taken it from someone. Furnishings were simple. Keeps were meant to serve their purpose, not look pretty. Rodrik told everyone he took this on a raiding trip. Few understood, but they never understood why he insisted on taking books rather than salt wives, either. Most continued to laugh about the green Harlaw to inherit the Ten Towers, and let him carry on. The truth was that the raiding trip had been an excuse to pick this up. The books atop it? Those, he actually had stolen. It was the best way to get your hands on the good books. No Maester would part with the truly valuable books. But if you held a blade to their throat, they had no choice.
Nobody in the Iron Islands could truly appreciate how impressive Rodrik's collection of books had grown over the years. He had ancient texts that had supposedly been lost in the ages, or in fires. He had histories of every land. But his obsession with literature wasn't one that he shared with many of his kinsmen. So, when he locked himself up for days on end, obsessing over something new, his family had little patience to wait for him to finish.
Today, it would seem, something had come up. No doubt whatever it was could wait for tomorrow. It was his father's business, anyway! Nobody wanted him running the keep, anyway. There were a dozen cousins they could turn to before him. So, you can imagine his surprise when the door opened. Perhaps he should have looked up, or at least stopped reading. But Rodrik did neither. He could hear the heavy footsteps - heavier than his own. His sister Elaena and wife both seemed to walk like a giant. Thud. Thud. Thud. There was power and aggression in each step - something common among iron islanders. They walked heavily, as if they were on deck. A heavy footstep meant grounding yourself, and reducing the risk of falling.
"You're still going at it?! Have you even found a new book yet?" A hard voice demanded. Rodrik didn't need to look up to pin the voice on his wife. His gaze stilled on the book, but he didn't turn towards her. A long, uncomfortable silence hung between them, even as he pulled over a second book, to check a passage. "Your father's ship finally returned." She informed him, there was something dangerous in her tone, but Rodrick couldn't bring himself to care about what it might be. Finally, sighing, he looked up at her.
"You expect me to believe he wants me to come welcome him back?" He demanded evenly. Rodrik leaned back in his chair, arms folding across his chest as he entered a glaring match with his wife. Her face was hard, unflinching.
"Your father is dead." She informed him irritably. "It's your people that need you." She reminded him. Her arms folded in turn, mirroring him. "Your sister is heartbroken, if you even care." She pressed on. The truth was that Rodrik couldn't imagine Elaena crying - but she had been close to their father. Regardless, he wasn't. He didn't entirely care how broken up she was. Elaena would rather privacy to grieve. At least she'd save face. The last shoulder she wanted was his.
"I'll be out for dinner." Rodrik agreed, finally. His gaze shifted back to his book, the dismissal obvious. Was he upset his father was dead? Should he be? More than grief, Rodrik felt stress. Nobody had ever wanted him to inherit. He'd rather hoped his father would live long enough for Rodrik's heir to take over. Perhaps it might pass him over entirely! Today had come too soon, and he wasn't ready to face it just yet.

</p><div class="small"> THE STRANGER </div><p>

One thing many seemed to forget was that Rodrik Harlaw was, indeed Ironborn. Even he managed to forget it as he sat at that table. There was no keeping the disgust from his face as he watched Commander Sharp eat his dinner like some savage. Rodrik politely picked at his meal – the only one at the table bothering with things like eating utensils. Commander Sharp, on the other hand, had finished his chicken, and set into the bone. He’d finally managed to splinter the thing, and was attempting to suck the marrow out of it. Rodrik was so busy watching the man eat, face painted with thinly veiled disgust, that he almost didn’t notice when the man spoke.
“Why the hell should any of us follow you, boy?” The man demanded in a raspy voice. The words were garbled by a mouthful of half chewed food. Rodrik barely heard the question, his gaze entirely too focused on the man’s mouth. “You are green is what you are! Your fool of a father should have passed Harlaw to your sister!” Commander Sharp insisted boldly. Rodrik didn’t know if the sister mentioned was supposed to be Elaena, or his older sister. Of course, either would be a more popular choice than himself. Both were more acquainted with the ironborn way than he was. Rodrik had fully expected this reaction when he ascended as Lord of Harlaw. It was only natural. He’d openly disliked the ways since he was young.
“Edgar,” Rodrik called absently, gaze still trained on Commander Sharp for a moment, before shifting to a boy standing by the wall, behind him. “Siren’s Cry is in port, is it not?” He inquired calmly. The boy nodded mutely, brows furrowing uncertainly at the question. “Good. Go bring me the captain, please.” He requested. Rodrik wasn’t a proud Ironborn man. He barely followed the old ways, and he had no respect for the Drowned God. But he knew. He wasn’t a fighter. His strength lie in his mind and his memory. Rodrik Harlaw knew every ship in his command, and the captains of most. He knew Siren’s Cry, even if he’d never been on board. It was considered more of an errant pirate ship than a proper vassal of house Harlaw.
The meal pressed on after that. Around the long table were five men – the commanders of Rodrik’s fleet. They were men of lesser noble houses, and commoners that worked their way up. Many of them had been favorites of his father. Well, Rodrik had been Lord of Harlaw for near a month now, and one thing had become clear. It was time they had a little heart to heart. As they carried on, each man voiced their opinion, some agreeing with Sharp, though none as eagerly as him. Finally, the boy returned. Behind him was a man who had clearly been found at the bottom of a few pints.
“AH! You must be captain …” Rodrik drew to his feet, moving closer to the drunk man, hand extended. His words trailed off as he waited for the captain to offer his name. “Pike,” he responded after a breath, his words only slightly slurred. Clearly the summons had sobered him up some – his body just seemed to be trying to catch up. “Captain Pike! Good to meet you.” Rodrik greeted him smoothly. He stopped behind commander Sharp and clapped a heavy hand on the older mans shoulder. “Commander Sharp here seems to think that I am a green boy who has to convince everyone to heed their vows to house Harlaw.” He explained amiably. “Do you agree?” He asked pointedly.
“No, my lord.” Pike responded hastily. Pike’s face flushed. He looked uncertainly from the older man to the younger. There was no telling what feud he’d been sucked into. But there was no question about who’s side you wanted to be on.
“Fantastic!” Rodrik almost sounded happy, at that. But there was an undeniable note of threat in his voice as the word passed his lips. The hand on Sharp’s shoulder tightened, his fingernails biting painfully into the older man’s shoulder. “A congratulations is in order, Commander Pike.” Rodrik announced. Finally, his hand left Sharp’s shoulder, moving to the plate in front of the man. Rodrik grabbed one end of that splintered bone – the longer end. “You just got yourself a promotion.” He informed the man merrily. That same note of threat was in his words, as his gaze shifted to Sharp. In a flash, that splintered bone had plunged into the soft, pulsing side of Sharp’s neck.
Everything happened at once. There was a gasp and a gurgle from Sharp. His hands moved up, instantly. They attempted to grasp the bone in his neck. But hardly anything was protruding, and what was free of his skin was already slick with blood. His panicked fingers couldn’t gain purchase on the bone. His other hand was at the table, scrambling around for anything - the fork or knife he’d never touched, perhaps! There were hushed voices around the table, one or two loud and angry. Some of the servants gasped in horror. But it was the scrape of chairs on the stone floor that caught his attention. Rodrik whipped around, steel blue gaze narrowing on the man moving.
“Nobody touch him!” Rodrik snarled. “Sharp wanted to know why any of you should follow me, and some of you agreed.” He reminded them. This is your answer.” He concluded savagely. He strode back over to his own chair. “You will answer me because this is my birthright, and you are sworn to house Harlaw.” He informed them crisply. “No, I do not like the old ways! I am green as a summer’s day, and I do not want to give my men cause to fear me. I’d rather everyone keep their life in tact!” He informed them. “But you will follow me, and my rules, or I will be forced to play by yours.” He informed them sternly. “Does anybody else have a bloody problem?” He demanded, gaze raking around the circle.
Perhaps it had been a bit excessive. Rodrik didn’t like it, but he understood this world. These men didn’t responded to respect and calm reasoning. They responded to brute force and fear. If he could get these men to do as he said, then they could keep their men in line. There need be no reason for him to rule in a way he didn’t want. All he needed was the elite under his control. They could handle the rest. It was excessive, but these men would know to fear him. That was all he truly needed.
“Wonderful,” Rodrik insisted easily. His gaze shifted to the newest commander, who still stood frozen in the doorway, drunken stupor clearly gone. “Take a seat, Commander Pike! They were just about to bring desert in.” Rodrik suggested smoothly, gesturing to the seat currently occupied by Sharp. “Go ahead and push him aside. He won’t care.” Rodrik suggested. Sharp was still clinging to life. He gurgled defiantly at the suggestion, though the sound was weak. It was taking a moment to bleed out with the bone still in place, but he wouldn’t last much longer.

</p><div class="small"> R'HLLOR THE LORD OF LIGHT </div></p>

After all these years, the Ten Towers finally have a proper heir. Your daughter Eiya would have inherited, even though you and Alaena already had a son. Your first son, Kris, is a Pyke, and he will never be legitimized. What is the sense with another son, and so many cousins with the name Harlaw? It is your fault that your firstborn will never inherit what is his by right. But you know you would do it all over again. It was a long road. It was painful, stressful, and dangerous at times. But you know you don't regret anything? How could you with your third child placed in your arms? How could you regret anything that led to their birth?
Your wife is as different from this world as humanly possible. Around you, everyone worships the drowned god - but she is a follower of R'hllor. She worships fire rather than water. She is from the main land - a former lady of the Queen. But there is a strength in her that few bothered to see until she took the name Harlaw. You saw it from the day Ormr tried to take her as a salt wife. She didn't cry or faint like some simpering lady of court. She fought and clawed, trying to defend herself. Even with a head wound, she fought back. She didn't let the fear hinder her. Who wouldn't be afraid knowing they were being taken captive? But Alaena was always strong, and that might be what you loved most about her.
You never meant to fall in love with your wife - especially not when you'd been married to another. But it happened all the same. It was a slow thing, and you knew you were in too deep before you had a chance to pull away. Officially, she had been your salt wife, though it was a horribly applied term. you never claimed her as your own in a physical manner. The two of you spoke, and played games. She challenged you in Cyvasse, and you let her win, even though she was terrible at it. She asked about your books, and accompanied you on trips across the island. You feared it would all come crashing down when the Queen arrived with Lord Stark at her heels. But the two of you survived even that.
At the time, the path seemed long and exhausting. Looking back, however, it didn't seem so bad. You didn't remember the hardship. You don't remember the pain of finding out that Alyvia had been killed, and took your unborn child with her. You barely think about the knee that was shattered as payment for keeping your head. You remember going to the King and sharing your speculation of dragon eggs on Harlaw. You remember the day Alaena told you she was pregnant with Kris. You remember holding your son for the first time, teaching him to walk, and realizing that your daughter was just like you. It was not songs she wanted - it was you reading her some dull text. It was you that could put her to sleep, when Alaena couldn't. It was the good things that shone through, and you knew you would do it all again.


<td><div class="infocat"><b> PLAYER: </b> Echew </div></td>
<td><div class="infocat"><b> YOUR AGE: </b> twenty five </div></td>
<td><div class="infocat"><b> EXPERIENCE: </b> ahm a newb </div></td>
<td><div class="infocat"><b> LOCATION: </b> in the desert </div></td>

<div style="width:280px;"><div class="vert"><div class="ironislands"> RODRIK DECLAN HARLAW </div></div>

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