An Oncomming Storm
House Wynd of Wolvesglen
Where the Wolves Howl
Lands, Industries and Holdings:
The lands of house Wynd lies far to the south in the Cocklesvale in the narrow area known locally as the Woodsway just north of the Little Bend of the Cockleswent. The mighty river here meanders southwestwardly while the Sunheath’s rise from the west towards the east, creating a narrow which house Wynd has historically ruled. Though now much diminished by war and calamities the Wynds still rule many leagues of forest from the crossing of Wyndwater in the south to its source deep in the Northern Cockelswood. The southern and eastern stretches of this land, rising swiftly up from the here rugged banks of the Cockleswent, is lightly forested and fertile though the uneven landscape makes for poor farming. The forested stretches along both the Cocklesroad and the Wyndwater as far as Woodsworth consist mostly of great oaks and lithe elms, giving the forest a light and spacious character. It has excellent game and hunts are often staged there when house Wynd hosts celebrations. The further north one travels however the darker and more brooding the forest becomes, overgrown trees of impossible age interspaced with heavy undergrowth forming walls hemming in those who travels the few footpaths of the deep Cockelswood. The terrain here is more difficult as well; ravines and sharp tree-covered rises dominated the landscape. Few men travel deep into these areas and fearful peasant’s tales still speak of the hungering Children who snatches the unwary into the dark.
Deep in the Cockleswood.
The subjects of the Two Towers are therefore for the most part settled in the southern parts of the Wynd lands, in particular near the river Wyndwater. It is far from the best farmland the Reach can provide, though in clearings and small vales the people still grows barley, carrots, turnip and other staples of the Reacher diet. Wild game is found in great abundance and though normally considered the lord’s property there are also several villages possessing the right of game since ancient times, forming an important part of their sustenance. The true wealth of the Wynd lands has however always rested upon extraction of timber from the forest, as well as the production of charcoal and other important by-products. This industry is wholly monopolized by House Wynd, and strict penalties face any unsanctioned logger. Local communities are however allowed to organize the logging activities under the oversight of an ambulating magistrate, and the timber is then delivered to the lumbermills of house Wynd in return for food and textiles. More than ten communities along the Wyndwater practise this right, with the hamlet of Glen as the largest amongst them, and the timber is floated to Woodsworth where it is processed.
Its capacity as the hub of the domains lumber industry has made Woodsworth a natural centre in the region and by far the largest village along the Wyndwater. This does not mean it is a large however, comprised of some sixty homes huddled along the Wyndwater. While small patches are farmed on the cleared ground between the village and the forest, most all the inhabitants are involved with the large lumbermill which lies at the south end of the village. The lumbermill is a water-powered affair, with a small dam straddling the river and forcing the water past the large wheel that drives three long sawblades. Woodsworth also has a market organized monthly when Glen deliver its wood, and near the settlement’s sole bridge stands a small sept to service the local faith. Glen is the only other settlement of some note on the land of house Wynd, more so due to its position than its size or worth. The thirty or so households, huddled on a small hillock near Wyndwater, forms the northernmost outpost of men within the Cockelswood beyond which lies but trackless, dark woods.
Defence, Laws and Military:
The small villages near Woodsworth are often fortified
The seat of house Wynd has since its founding been two heavily fortified towers deep in the Cockleswood at a place known as Wolvesglen. The two towers, often called the Fangs, are the only real defensive structures on Wynd lands. Yet as they straddle both the river Wyndwater and the narrow road that leads into the northern reaches of the Wynd domain, they have still proven a valuable deterrent against attacks. Both are fairly small constructions with but a single curtain wall, their fortifications insignificant if compared to castles such as Queensburry or Waterdeep, yet their ingenious situation has seen both towers endure where greater fortresses has failed. Wolvesglen’s primary forte is the inaccessibility of its towers, one located high on a man-made plateau and the second larger tower standing lonely on a towering cliff, only reachable across a narrow stone bridge. This makes them incredibly resilient to storming and easily defendable to numerically inferior defenders, yet as both towers lack a water supply their position also makes them susceptible to siege. But due to Wolvesglen’s location deep in the Cockleswoods settling for a siege is a logistical nightmare none has attempted since the tower’s construction, most opponents contending themselves with keeping the Wolves at bay in their den.
Yet for all their defences, natural or man-made, the lands under the Wolves of the Cocklesvale are fare from peaceful, and have a long history indeed of trouble caused by brigands and robbers of all stripes. The Woodsway is for the most part safe, and the Wynds keep a strong guard on both Woodsworth and the river as far as Glen, yet few who can afford it would travel these roads without armed escort. With the lord Wynd’s madness since the war the brigands have been getting bolder as well, with even a few scattered attacks on travellers of the Woodsway in recent years. In the deeper, trackless parts of the forest however the laws of the King and lord Wynd does not rule and many are the miscreants, criminals and unfortunates which hides there. Some of the larger robber bands are thought to number more than a hundred men and some of the villages furthest from Wynd garrisons are forced to pay a silent tax to the leaders of these groups. In an effort to reign on the situation Rechildess Wyrvel have commissioned the lumber magistrate of Woodsworth as a trail judge and granted him soldiers with which to execute the law. The current magistrate, a John Redden, has shown little zeal in executing this latest role though his patrols and well organized garrisons has seen the worst miscreants keep away from populated areas.
Like so much else in the Wynd domain their military assets too suffered greatly during the War of the Usurper and the madness of lord Wynd, yet even weakened the Wynds military power is respectable. Foremost amongst the soldiers of Wolvesglen are the capable sergeants-at-arms known simple as the Wolves of Wynd. A unit with a long pedigree, stretching back to the first lord Wynd, they have traditionally fought on foot as heavily armoured infantry, polearms being their main armament. The Wolves are still reckoned as a powerful fighting force, containing many veterans of the Rebellion, and currently under the leadership of Ser Oddwyn of Glen they have been scattered across Wynd lands in an effort to reel in the bandit threat. Aiding them in this is a standing unit of scouts and woodsmen, popularly known as the Foxes, which house Wynd has traditionally recruited from amongst the able men of their domain. Wolvesglen is also well garrisoned, though many of these men are but recent recruits chosen by Ser Robert Wyrvel. Finally, in times of conflict, the men of Glen and Woodsworth are obliged to march to their lords aid and has since the conquest been permitted to own basic infantry equipment.
Standing and Influence:
House Wynd as through the long years since it’s founding always been a respected member of the Cocklesvale nobility, with a secure economic base and a reputation as ferocious warriors. Traditionally they have controlled the lower reaches of the Cocklesroad, from Pittleput to Wyndwater, and though some of this land was confiscated in the wake of Robert’s successful rebellion the house still holds the crossing at Wyndwater. As the militarily second most powerful house in the Lower Cocklesvale, eclipsed only by the newly founded house Logane, the Wynds also remain an important power in the Lower Cocklesreach should violence erupt once more.
Well-connected however house Wynd is not. Traditionally the Wynds have been the primary bannermen of house Bywater and many of their older alliances lay with the houses of the northern Cocklesvale. Since the end of the War however these ties were forcefully broken, and though Lord Wynd was once a valued companion of Lord Bywater his illness has seen all contact cease. This has left house Wynd increasingly isolated, the lords illness and the heirs young age also stopping any attempts at new marriage alliances. The Wynds only real bond to the wider world now goes through the eldest sister of Lord Wynd, namely Rechildess married Vyrwel. Her husband is Robert Vyrwel, uncle to the young lord Vyrwel, but despite the close familial relation there seems to be little support to garner from Darkdell. The recent dramatic events at Wolvesglen revealed however that house Wynd is currently deeply fractured, its three female members striving to forge their own conflicting alliances.
The Wolf of the Cockleswood. Benjen Wynd in the year following him gaining his lordship.
It is said that all Wynds are wolves, a breed apart from the other noble houses of the Cocklesvale, and while this for the most part is little but smallfolk talk it also holds a kernel of truth. For it is commonly known that house Wynd can trace its roots to the far north of Westeros. The man who became the first lord of Wynd was born in the deep reaches of the North as Benjen of Northwynd, fourth son of a guard serving the house Karstark at Karhold. His exact date of birth remains unknown, but likely it was in 21 BC. Even less is known about Benjen’s early years but as a forth son of a minor retainer Benjen likely received little education and was destined for little more than the duties of a guardsman. This it seems did not become the young man however, for as the stories tells it he fled home aged but fifteen in pursuit of glory and adventure. It is said he saw the North for the last time a little over a year later when he boarded a ship at White Harbour, but where he went from there is not recorded. Benjen’s name reappears however in the Chronicle of Maidenpool as the lieutenant of a mercenary band called the Wolves in BC 3, hired by Lord Mooton for his war against house Brune. The Chronicle recorded how the Wolves played a crucial role in aiding lord Mooton avoiding the ambush at Dyre. The Wolves are spoken of as fierce fighters, many northerners and sistermen amongst their ranks, as well as excellent scouts led by a northman named Robert Snow. As the conflict petered out the following month, drowned in bogs and bad weather, Benjen and his band remained at Crackclaw serving various petty lords. Soon however they entered once more into the service of Lord Mooton who marched on the newly landed “Conqueror”.
Thus, by early 2 BC, the Wolves had joined the combined Mooton-Darklyn force which marched upon Aegon at his landing, confident in their superior numbers. Captain Snow and his men made up the core of the scouts and pickets ranging ahead of the force, led personally by Lord Mooton’s eldest son Florian. But not even halfway to the Blackwater Rushes Florian Mooton was shot from his horse by a black-fletched arrow as the scouts fell in an ambush near Brindlewood. Robert Snow followed suit, slain in the first minutes of fighting. Their commanders dead the mercenaries threw down their weapons after but little bloodshed, their position hopeless. And thus it was that Benjen Wynd first meet Aeron, called the “Griffon”, in the Brindlewood, for Aeron had led King Aegon’s scouts and showed mercy upon the men who surrendered. Their pickets dead or captured the Lords Mooton and Darklyn never learned of the monster which faced them and marched on, meeting Aegon’s forces near the Blackwater. It is said Benjen later witnessed the ensuing annihilation of the Mooton-Darklyn force by Balerion the Black Dread and on the spot it is said he swore to serve Aeron and his new King. Thus started what in time would become a warm and heartfelt friendship, for Benjen and Aeron is said to have been like kindred spirits, adventurous yet calm of demeanour, kind to the vanquished yet merciless to any foe.
This was the start a lifelong bond and also the war of the Conquest, for the friendship between Benjen and Aeron was one born in war and suffering. They fought long and hard together, and though less prominent in the folklore then his lord, Benjen Wynd quickly proved both his mettle and loyalty. It was the ferocity of Wynd and his Wolves which saved Aeron’s life as he lay wounded in the Battle of the Wailing Willow. Benjen was the first man to volunteer to go south into the Reach with Aeron when the king bid it, and it was Benjen who volunteered to stay beyond in the Cocklesvale to lead astray Aeron’s pursuers after his ascent. He fought at the Reeds, at Hindhall and at Whitebridge crossing, and countless smaller battles besides. Though perhaps most famous is the tale of how he fought the Castellan of Waterdeep ser John Bywater, commonly known as the “Butcher of Bywater”. While the latter is often depicted in popular tales as a monster in the most literal sense, as having been horribly malformed, massively hairy, and in some renditions actually as a literal anthropomorphic wolf, there is little doubt he was a man of fell reputation and a heavy hand. It was during the pursuit after Aeron’s bride-theft that Benjen is said to have stayed behind with a few of his Wolves, leading the Castellan on a long chase through the depths of the Cockleswood. For near on three months Wynd and his Wolves harassed the gathering armies of the Cocklesvale, commoners still commemorating such events as the “Battle of the Beer”, the “The Mummers of Whitebridge” and the “Bonfire at Bywater”. It was during this last attack, as Wynd and his men burned the Gullet Garrison and the supplies therein, that he faced ser John across the battlement in single combat as the entire city watched below. They are said to have fought with the savagery of animals as the fires licked up around them, Benjen eventually felling his foe and throwing the corpse to the roaring flames before diving into the moat.
For his services to lord Aeron, now Bywater, and to the new king of all seven kingdoms Benjen Wynd was granted lordship as the Conquest came to an end. He was given land formerly belonging to Lord Redvers, where the vale was at its narrowest, set as a loyal guard against invaders heading for Bywater. Benjen married as common woman, a girl out of Woodsworth, and thus started the line of Wynd. The Wolf of the Cockleswood died shortly after the First Dornish War in 14 AC, but his line continued through the years. Since the Conquest the years have for the most part passed peacefully in the land under the Wynds, their main occupation being to keep the roads free from brigands and bandits. Lord Thorren Wynd, known as the “Headsman”, who ruled during the reign of King Viserys I was particularly successful in this endeavour, lining the Cocklesroad from Wyndwater to Wolveswatch with the heads of criminals. Also remember from these distant days is the beautiful Roselin Wynd, named the wildest she-wolf ever to prowl the Cockleswoods. Local tales still whispers how she had the three elder brothers Holden murdered, one after the other, so that her husband would inherit the castle Holdfast. Lady Roselin’s scheming is remembered in the song “The Wolf in Ladies gowns” while the popular “Wolf in the Rushes” commemorates the vengeful massacre of Rushends inhabitants by “Red” Robin Wynd’s men following the Blackfyre Rebellion.
Despite their seclusion and reputation as wild foreigners however the lords of Wynd has for the most part proven both competent rules and fierce warriors, though with some notable exceptions. The most infamous of these exceptions was Lord Benfred Wynd, the second so named, who ruled from the reign of king Aegon III to king Baelor I. Known as a giant of a man he travelled extensively in his youth, but once lord of Wolvesglen his mood became violent and dour. He nearly beat Lord Septel to death over a petty joke and it is said he was fond of flogging his servants. Lord Benfred begot no children of his own, neither with his wife Myranda Preston nor any other woman. His wife he blamed for being dry, a claim only silenced when she begot a bastard with the Captain of the Wolves, and ill tongues blamed Lord Benfred for loving more with his young squires than with any woman. In the end his line was broken with his death in AC 163, leaving his far abler nephew the new lord Wynd.
This flare for unreason and violent madness appeared to strike again in 282 AC when the ruling Lord Erik Wynd lost his mind following the death of his only son and wife. It is believed that it was the savage death of his beloved wife Corenna, formally of Appleton, which drove him over the edge and ended with his attempted murder of his daughter. Lord Erik’s madness, coupled with the confiscated land and isolation the house suffered following the War of the Usurper, has left house Wynd in a precarious position without clear lines of inheritance nor a firm ruler. Following the daring theft of lady Sansa Wynd by Aeron Bywater and the Young Cockerels the house looks poised to descend further into chaos, torn between factions fighting for its future.
Notable Household and Relatives:
Lord Erik Wynd, age 37, deposed Lord of the House.
Lady Corenna Wynd (Appleton), died in AC 282 aged 31, former Lady of the House. Hailing from one of the primary vassals of house Ashford Corenna was considered a good match in her youth, and something of a beauty as well. She married Erik out of love and is said to have been a strong and wilful woman. Her death shattered house Wynd.
Ruling Lady Sansa Wynd, age 19, Heir to the House.
Aunt Rechildess Vyrwel (Wynd), age 39, older sister of Lord Wynd.
Ser Robert Vyrwel, aged 40, husband of Rechildess. He is a small twig of a man who acts as the commander of house Wynd’s forces.
Zhoe Vyrwel, aged 21, only daughter of Rechildess. Married to house Falwell in the Westerlands.
Ser Wylham Vyrwel, aged 20, Castellan of Wolvesglen. He is a well-built and tall man who recently became Castellan. He remains unmarried and should Sansa disappear he would be the natural heir of Lord Wynd.
Erik Vyrwel, aged 13, second son of Rechildess. A pampered but not inept little lad who serves Lord Hargrove as his squire. Small like his father but stronger.
Alise Wynd, aged 32, younger sister of Lord Wynd.
Maester Ondrew, aged 30, Maester of house Wynd. He is a solid looking and fairly young man who is quite skilled in the many trades of a Maester. In particular he is interested in astrology, and though he dislikes it, he has also gained a deep knowledge of madness and the frailty of the mind.
Ser Oddwyn of Glen, aged 51, Captain of the Wolves. An old veteran from the time before Eriks madness and a tireless supporter of his lord. He likely died as lady Sansa escaped.
Ser Jonelle Vyrwel, aged 19, Master of Arms. A recent addition to the household he looks quite young, with charming green eyes.
Ser Rickon Merryweather, aged 36, former Guardian of Lady Sansa. A large, sturdy fighter who have known lady Rechildess since youth.
The current disposition and position of house Wynd has, due to recent events, become one of the most crucial political questions in the entire Cocklesreach. This is no small part due to the indisposition of Lord Erik Wynd, which means several factions within the house currently vie for power. Lady Sansa Wynd, the legal heir to the lord, is currently engaged with ser Aeron Bywater and her faction closely aligned with this house. Lady Rechildess Vyrwel has close ties to house Logane and through them to house Hargrove. Lady Alise Wynd meanwhile has connections to house Wallon, though these appear more peripheral.
Elsewhere house Wynd is very much bereft of allies and its relations with neighbouring houses is far from easy. In particular there has long been tension between house Wynd and Septel over duties and rights on the Cocklesroad from Wyndwater. The young house Strongbow, partly founded on relinquished Wynd lands, is another hostile neighbour.