Position: Duke of Keswick, Marshal of the Order of the Pendragon
Group: Order of the Pendragon
Resides: Keswick town, Keswick
“Aye, the mountain folk are a queer lot. They’re not like us, that much is true. Oh, they’re nice
enough, welcoming to travellers, always happy to host you and feast you. They get so few
visitors, y’see? But they’re not like us, no. They’re old. Very old. They say, ‘Our ways are the old ways.’ And from what I’ve see, that’s true.
Hard places breed hard folk, that’s what you Keswick lot say, isn’t it? Well there’s no place in the whole of Albion so hard as the Dragonspine. No place even comes close, to my mind. Do you know there’s one of the mountain folk at the Royal court? Oh aye, there is. Not often they leave home. Aye, y’see ’em at the spring markets, peddling their warm fleeces and their strong mead, and their trinkets and tools of flint and slate. But they head back up the passes into their high places, as soon as they can. Don’t like it down here – too flat, too warm, too soft. But this one, he’s here for the long haul, so they say. One of the ancient ones, he is, who’ve dwelt in the high places since the egg was laid! Perhaps you’ve heard his name? He spends his time here in Carlisle.
Wyndrake Winterheart’s what they call him. Aye, that’s him – your eyes give you away, duck; I see you’ve heard his name. He’s your Sheriff, isn’t he? He’s here with his bailiffs and his Pendragons. Mighty in the faith, is that one. But they always are, the Winterhearts. Some of the fell folk say that they’ve the blood of the Pendragon in their very veins. Aye, though it might be better t’say the Pendragons have Winterheart blood! Descended from Old King Coel, both houses, so the legends say. Coel Hen, the Winter Heart himself – you know that old story as well as I, duck.
Just a legend though, I reckon. An old tale, from the old times. Arthur and his lot, they were proper nobles, that lot. Not like these mountain folk, no. But the tales roll down from them fells just as swift as the snows fall – when the old line was lost, and the King drowned at sea, his sister was in Lyonesse. Her son, the King’s nephew and
true heir, well he disappeared from Lyonesse – not long after that, so they say, a Winterheart girl married a young man from Lyonesse. Aye, you see what I’m saying. There’s royal blood in them Winterhearts, you best believe it.
No, I’m not sure why he’s down here. They keep to themselves for the most part. They range the fells and the passes, keeping the travellers safe and fed, and keeping the dark and dead things in check. Oh, they take that duty seriously, you mark me! You can’t pass from one side to the other without one of them seeing you. Their rangers are like ghosts in the snow. Puts a dent in some of my more… lucrative ventures, I can tell you!
Aye, but the folk up there, his folk, I should say, on the shores of the Wintermere – they say
something strange happened a while back. He went missing up on the heights. There was a
snowstorm, or an avalanche, or something… well, he was lost. His granddad, Sir Royston- yes, THE Royston Winterheart – they say he shouted so loud the valley shook. He lost his daughter, did you know? Wyndrake’s mother? Aye, in the heights, to a storm. They found Wyndrake, naught but a babe, blue, swaddled in his ma’s frozen arms. Breathing, they say, but only just. Would have killed anything else, but them fell folk – oh, but they’re hard to kill! Brought him back though, didn’t they? Them fell folk and their old magic, and that bloody White Dragon of theirs!
Well, he came back, two weeks later, from this snowstorm, he did. And he was different – that’s what they say, the fell folk. Nothing they could put their finger on, mind, but there was something. Something in his eyes, one lass said. Said he took Royston aside, and they talked for a night and a day, and at the end of it he just took a horse, one of them heavy, fell-bred things, and left. Just left, like that.
Well he’s here now, isn’t he? He’s the Sheriff, and he’s the, whatsit, the Marshal? Of the Order of the Pendragon? Worked his way up quickly, that one. He spends his time with the Archduke. Aye, the Dreadlord. Works for him, and for Thomas, the Duke of Keswick. I’ve heard he’s even on first- name terms with that new Queen of ours! He would be though, wouldn’t he? The mountain folk treat them Winterhearts like kings. Very well thought of, they are, aye. Shouldn’t think it’d be owt diff’rent down ‘ere – Winterheart, very old name, that.
Well, I don’t know what he’s doing down here, but you mark, duck – it’s something. Aye. If it’s enough to take a fellborn lad out of his mountains and into the Royal Court, it’s something bloody big! So whatever happened to him up there – bugger me, I shudder to think.”
Account from the Raven King’s Arms, Carlisle, Midwinter 1112. The Yorkman claimed to have been trading in the Dragonspine, with the folk who dwelt there.