You depart on your quest

With your pack attached to your horse's saddle, your trusted family blade in its scabbard, and instructions to King's Landing in your hand, you set off for the Iron Throne. Nervousness swells in your stomach as you pass through the familiar gates of your family home and onto the well-travelled road. It has been years since you last left your home, and you have never completed such a trip as this. You find yourself missing your page and siblings already, but you know that your familial duties are more important than your personal feelings.

Your first day of travel is uneventful, and you spend most of it mulling over your mother's words. In the evening you come across the Crossroads Inn and decide to stop for some food, drink, and sleep.

You settle into an empty seat and begin to eat, paying little mind to the busy room. Slowly, however, you realize that you are really at a crossroads - who would have thought the inn was true to its name? - as people are discussing news and events from the furthest reaches of the known world. Intrigued, you decide to order another glass of ale and listen closely.

"I don't know about you, but King Robert still has my loyalty. His alliance with the Lannisters was the best thing that happened to this country, mark my words."

"I heard this from a drunkard, so take this with a grain of salt, but his brother is serving on the Wall and said to him that strange things are happening there - men disappearing, terrifying noises and unnatural cold. I would not want to be there, you can bet on that!"

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"I heard one of the Targaryen children survived the Usurper's violent takeover and is living in the Free Cities. Wouldn't that be a good surprise for our dear King Robert, now!"

"My allegiance always has and always will lie with Pyke. The Ironborn are the only ones who know how to rule, aye, and if one of the Greyjoys don't end up on the Iron Throne I daresay I'll eat my boot."

"The Lannisters are powerful, sure, but in my eyes, you have to keep your eyes out for the Dornishmen, especially the Sand Snakes. They do not carry the namesake of the most cunning animal for nothing, and some say that the time for revenge for the Martells is nigh...."

You start to feel that familiar tingle in your stomach that you usually feel before you spar with your family weapons master: the feeling of anticipation, that you are on the edge of something important, triumphant and exciting. You did not realize just how fractured and large the realm was, given that you have spent most of your time within your family's land. You did not get a chance to meet outsiders often, and now that you have, you are humbled by how little you know. Curiosity ignites inside you now as you carefully consider what you know and what you just heard.

Should you follow your mother's words closely and continue on to King's Landing? Should you make your own path and side with the Targaryen heir, upholding the old bloodline? Should you choose a new house, forsaking your family's alliances and carving out your own place in the world? What of the strange tales from the Wall? While the Wall is full of criminal men, they would be glad to have someone trustworthy and well-trained, and the intrigue is eating away at you on top of all the other news you have heard. You shake your head quickly at that one - the Wall is not an option for you at this time. What of the other houses, then? You have heard great tales of many of the great houses. The Lannisters, with all their power, wealth and charm? The Martells, with their cleverness and beautiful but deadly land? The Starks, a good and honest, but exceptionally strong people? The Tyrells, upon first glance so soft but at heart so intelligent and resilient? Who would make a good ally, as your mother prompted you to seek?

Additionally, you assess your worth to the houses. True, you are trained as well as a knight is - it would be quite easy for you to make a good living as a sellsword. Then again, that life presents more peril and uncertainty than, say, a court official. Then again, you never did like the grey areas of politics and back door dealings. This is a true dilemma before you.

Well, you decide, nothing a good night's sleep won't help solve. You flip some coins onto the tavern table and head upstairs to your room.

1. Crossroads Inn (group prompt): 

Read an anticipated book.