The Valorous Bastards
Alain Karstark: Alain Karstark was born 18 years ago, a younger cousin to Lord Roland Karstark. At the age of four he was taken to Deepwood Motte to foster at House Glover. His sister was promised to the heir to House Glover, Riathan Glover. On the eve of their wedding, the Ironborn of House Hoare and Wyk raided Deepwood Motte, sacking the town and taking captives. It was wholesale slaughter, the town was in the middle of festivities and was taken by total surprise. Alain’s brother and sister were both murdered in the attack, and he was taken back to Pike by House Hoare. The boy was scarred and bereft, having seen the rape and murder of his sister before his eyes. An Ironborn warrior left him with a jagged facial scar across his left cheek, almost taking his left eye. The eye itself healed, but the iris turned red; a permanent reminder of his capture and imprisonment. The first two years were hard, as hard as the Island of Pike. As a ward awaiting ransom, the sons of House Hoare abused the lad and forced disgusting menial tasks to him and he was physically abused constantly by the other Ironborn boys, who viewed the Greenlander as a weakling. After a serious beating, Maester Levitas cured the lad and demanded to his Lord that he take in the lad as a steward, before he was killed. Lord Harran Hoare agreed, after all a dead boy would bring no ransom. Levites made a wager with Harren, if the boy could best Harren’s own son in arms by twelve he was to be accepted into the ranks as a ward, just as any other nobles son had the right to. Harren agreed, thinking the maester needed a new pet. Alain listened carefully to the maester, who taught him deception was the way to survival. The young captive Karstark learned much from his tutor, and he became hardened by the maester, learning the keys of influence by aggression and power through force. He had the local smith teach him swordplay and crafting weapons. Soon the young lad was all sinew and lean muscle. He learned to focus his anger on survival and cunning and waited for the day he could have his revenge.. The maester also taught him of leechcraft and reading. He had grown despondent waiting for his uncle to pay his ransom, he had had no ravens from the north in response to Lord Harren’s request for gold. He feared his uncle thought him dead, and there would be no ransom paid. Alain decided he had to find his own escape, his own way in the world to survive. Young Karstark used his knowledge of the body in his swordplay, striking deadly accurate at vulnerable points in ones armor and flesh. By twelve Alain was an impressive youth, well schooled in the arts of swordplay and the ways of the Ironborn. He even had himself drowned, falsely giving his captors the idea he had converted to the drowned god. His ruse worked well, and the day came for Harren’s son to challenge his upstart captive. Harren and his son’s were anxious to humiliate the lad. And they were stunned at his ability at the warrior’s moot, where Ironborn children proved their fighting skills and were accepted into the ranks of the wards, young boys pledged to a warrior. Alain was challenged by Harren’s son, and asked his father for the use of edged weapons instead of practice weapons. He said Alain’s uncle would not pay his ransom because he was worthless, and if he was truly a man, he would have to become an Ironborn, forgetting his past and family. The battle would be to first blood. Alain agreed. Alain defeated Harren’s son and broke his arm in the fight, and immediately demanded his right to warriors ward. Harren agreed, impressed with the lad. One warrior stood and said he would take the young man as ward, Tyrin Seareaver of of Wyk, Captain of the Blue Hag. Alain became a reaver, striking the lands south of Wyk, and became the bane of the Lannisters and Tyrell’s. For eight years he raided with the crew of the Blue Hag. The Ironborn no longer watched him as carefully as they had, and let him go on sorties with them inland. One day while raiding deep into Lannister lands, he left a bottle with a note at the place of the battle, telling the Lannister forces of his identity and where the location of the next raid would be. Finally, his moment or revenge had come. The crew came into conflict with House Lannister and Tyrell, who had set an ambush up on the western shores. The battle was thick and bloody, and The Lannister and Tyrell forces were victorious. For some reason his heart wasn’t feeling the pride he thought he should for his victory. Betraying this crew was something different, dishonorable even. Karstark had grown fond of Tyrin Seareaver, and many of the crew. They were Ironborn, nothing but thieves and murderers. But what did that make him? What had he become? He watched in silence as the captives were hung and their bodies put to the torch. He was then taken prisoner by The White Lion of Lannister, until his father sent his ransom and men from the North to escort him home. Six months later he was back in Karstark lands. His Uncle welcomed him but was distant, embarrassed by the inability to come up with the ransom sooner. Feeling Betrayed Alain went to the Godswood to ask the old gods for forgiveness, and to reaffirm his oath to them. He was knighted by his uncle the next day, and offered to make marriage arrangements. Alain was put off. Once again his Uncle was trying to be rid of him, and force some unwanted marriage upon him. Knighthood was no consolidation either. He felt out of place among the lords and their polite ways, and many of his family members did not know him. It was not the homecoming he had expected. He has since come to White Harbor to fight in the Grand tourney, It was unexpected he would be fighting Ironborn, But you relish the idea.