Something dark was dangling against the walls of Riverrun, Catelyn saw from a distance.
When she rode close, she saw dead men hanging from the battlements,
slumped at the ends of long ropes with hempen nooses tight around their necks, their faces swollen and black.
The crows had been at them, but their crimson cloaks still showed bright against the sandstone walls.
"They have hanged some Lannisters," Hal Mollen observed.
"A pretty sight," Ser Wendel Manderly said cheerfully.
"Our friends have begun without us," Perwyn Frey jested.
The others laughed, all but Brienne, who gazed up at the row of bodies unblinking, and neither spoke nor smiled.
If they have slain the Kingslayer, then my daughters are dead as well.
Catelyn spurred her horse to a canter.
Hal Mollen and Robin Flint raced past at a gallop, halooing to the gatehouse.
The guards on the walls had doubtless spied her banners some time ago, for the portcullis was up as they approached.
Edmure rode out from the castle to meet her,
surrounded by three of her father's sworn men-great-bellied Ser Desmond Grell the master-at-arms,
Utherydes Wayn the steward, and Ser Robin Ryger, Riverrun's big bald captain of guards.
They were all three of an age with Lord Hoster, men who had spent their lives in her father's service.
Old men, Catelyn realized.
Edmure wore a blue-and-red cloak over a tunic embroidered with silver fish.
From the look of him, he had not shaved since she rode south; his beard was a fiery bush.
"Cat, it is good to have you safely back.
When we heard of Renly's death, we feared for your life.
And Lord Tywin is on the march as well."
"So I am told. How fares our father?"
"One day he seems stronger, the next He shook his head.
"He's asked for you. I did not know what to tell him."
"I will go to him soon," she vowed.
"Has there been word from Storm's End since Renly died? Or from Bitterbridge?"
No ravens came to men on the road, and Catelyn was anxious to know what had happened behind her.
"Nothing from Bitterbridge.
From Storm's End, three birds from the castellan, Ser Cortnay Penrose, all carrying the same plea.