Lady Barbrey Ryswell-Dustin by Delaney02©
|Title||Lady of Barrowton|
|Allegiance||House Ryswell, House Dustin|
|Spouse||Lord Willam Dustin|
|Book(s)||A Dance with Dragons (Appears)|
She is the younger sister of Bethany Ryswell and, through her, a former sister-in-law to Roose Bolton.  Her personal banner depicts the spiked crown above crossed longaxes of House Dustin, quartered with the golden horsehead of Rodrik Ryswell, her father. 
Character and Appearance
Barbrey Ryswell has wrinkles around her mouth and eyes, but she is still tall, unbent and handsome. Her hair is equal parts brown and grey. She is wearing it tied behind her head in a widow's knot.  She is always clad in black wool, severe in cut and unadorned.  Her dark eyes at times seem to be sparkling. 
While intelligent, she has grown into a very bitter woman over the years.
In her youth, Barbrey was very close to Brandon Stark. The young man was fostered in Barrowton, but spent much of his time in the Rills. Her father was willing to offer Barbrey for marriage to the heir of Winterfell, or to any member of House Stark. She eventually lost her virginity to Brandon. She was in love with him, and claims Brandon never wanted to marry Catelyn Tully. That match was reportedly the idea of Rickard Stark, though she is convinced that his maester put the idea in Lord Rickard's head. She recalls his name was Walys Flowers. Lady Dustin is extremely distrustful of maesters in general and refers to them as "grey rats." :
"The grey rats read and write our letters, even for such lords as cannot read themselves, and who can say for a certainty that they are not twisting the words for their own ends? 
With Brandon engaged, her father hoped to marry her to Eddard Stark, but "Catelyn Tully got that one as well". Barbrey had to settle for marriage with Willam Dustin. About 6 months following her wedding, Eddard called Willam to arms, recruiting him for service in Robert's Rebellion. Barbrey begged Willam not to go, to send his great-uncle instead, who was a veteran of the War of the Ninepenny Kings. Willam would not listen; he decided to personally lead the forces of Barrowton. 
When her husband rode off to war, Barbrey had a gift for him. It was a red stallion with a fiery mane, the pride of her father's herd. Lord Willam swore he would return to her mounted on the horse.  Willam was one of the men fighting and dying for Eddard at the Tower of Joy. Eddard Stark returned Willam's horse to Barbrey, claiming that her husband died an honorable death. He never returned Willam's bones, explaining that the body was buried in Dorne. Barbrey took note that Eddard had transported the bones of Lyanna Stark all the way from Dorne to the North.  She felt insulted and still bears an intense grudge against Eddard. 
Lady Dustin had offered men to Robb Stark for service in the War of the Five Kings. She claims to have given as few as she dared, not willing to risk the wroth of Winterfell. But she points out having her own eyes and ears within the army of Robb, keeping her well informed.  She lost her men at the Red Wedding, giving her reason to hate House Frey. 
A Dance with Dragons
Davos Seaworth spends time at Lazy Eel in White Harbor, listening to the gossip of sailors. His way of collecting information on recent events. Among others news is that the combined forces of House Ryswell and House Dustin had surprised the Ironborn on the Fever River. They had managed to burn the longships of the Ironborn located there.  Both Ramsay Bolton and Hother Umber are reportedly riding south to join the Dustin-Ryswell forces, preparing an attack on Moat Cailin. 
Melisandre reports the recent finding of her visions, the banners of northern lords who have sworn loyalty to House Bolton. Based on her descriptions, Clayton Suggs identifies each house by name: Hornwood (the moose), Cerwyn (the battle-axe), Tallhart (the three pine trees), Ryswell (the horse's head with fiery eyes), and Dustin (the longaxes crossed beneath a crown). Suggs dismisses them all as lapdogs of the Lannisters.  Jon Snow points out that the Ryswells and Dustins are tied to House Bolton by marriage. 
At Deepwood Motte, Asha Greyjoy receives a raven-delivered message from Barrowton. She tries to recall who rules Barrowton, and fails. She assumes it is "some northern lord" with no affiliation to her. The message announces the fall of Moat Cailin to the northmen, and threatens all remaining Ironborn to leave the North or share the fate of Theon Greyjoy. It is signed by Ramsay Bolton, with six other signatures appended below his own. The co-signatories are Lady Barbrey Dustin, Lady Jonella Cerwyn, and four members of House Ryswell.  The four mentioned are probably Lord Rodrik Ryswell and his cousins Roger, Rickard, and Roose.  Below the signatures, a crudely-drawn giant stands in place of a signature for a member of House Umber. The message came with a scrap of Theon's skin. 
At Castle Black, Jon Snow receives a similar letter to the above, with the same signatures and a crudely-drawn giant. It also announces the fall of Moat Cailin. But includes an invitation by Roose Bolton, summoning all his leal lords to Barrowton. First to affirm their loyalty to the Iron Throne, secondly to celebrate the marriage of Ramsay and "Arya Stark" (Jeyne Poole). 
Theon notes that Big Walder Frey and Little Walder Frey each ride a grey colt, given to them by Lady Dustin. He recalls that Ramsay is forced to restrain himself while in Barrowton, always courteous and smiling. Cautious to not offend the Dustins and Ryswells, since House Bolton needs them. 
After a fruitless 16-day search for the missing Freys (Jared, Rhaegar, Symond), Ramsay gives up on finding them. With his return in Barrowton, Ramsay demands a feast from his current host Harwood Stout. Theon hears muttering from the servants that Ramsay and his Bastard's Boys are eating through their winter stores, leaving them vulnerable to a harsh winter. Pointing to supply problems in the settlement. 
That night at Stout's empty hall, Roose and Ramsay have an argument. With Theon the only other person in attendance. Ramsay complains about not having access to Barrow Hall (the seat of Lady Dustin), nor its kitchens. Roose points out that he is himself a guest at Barrow Hall, not its owner. He is not the one who takes decisions there, Lady Dustin is. And Lady Dustin cannot abide the presence of Ramsay. Ramsay suggests skinning her, but Roose points out that the price would be losing all support from Barrowton, House Dustin, and the entire Ryswell family. 
She cannot abide the presence of Ramsay Bolton as she suspects him to be responsible for the death of her nephew Domeric. Roose himself shares her suspicions, and Skinner is certain that the tale is true. She was reportedly fond of Domeric, and nurses a grudge over the subject. According to Roose Bolton, Barbrey Dustin is a woman who knows how to nurse a grude; Barrowton is only loyal to the Boltons, because Barbrey also had a grudge against Eddard Stark. She holds Eddard responsible for the death of her husband.  In case information connecting Ramsay to the deaths of Bran Stark and Rickon Stark ever leaks out, Roose expects Barbrey to be the only remaining ally of House Bolton. 
Roose decides to have the planned marriage take place in Winterfell. Also deciding, that their group and their wedding guests will march from Barrowton to Winterfell in three days. After making his decisions known, Roose leaves Stout's hall for Barrow Hall. He takes Theon with him, despite the protests of Ramsay. Roose takes Theon to Lady Dustin herself.  She expected to meet a boy, and seems surprised that Theon looks like an old man. She enquires Roose on the state of Theon's mind, particularly on whether Greyjoy is insane. Roose himself is uncertain of the answer to that question. 
Barbrey explains to Theon that is expected to give away the bride at the wedding. Pointing that Theon is the closest thing to living kin that "Arya" has. Her father and mother being dead, all her brothers also dead, and her uncles lost, dead, or captive. Theon points that Jon Snow is a closer relation than himself, a brother. Barbrey dismisses the idea. Replying that Jon is a half-brother to "Arya", bastard-born, and bound to the Wall. While Theon was the ward of Eddard Stark. Theon is the only one who can assertain the various lords that "Arya" is genuine, not an imposter. Theon gets the message, that he is to serve as a cloak for their deception. 
Barbrey did not follow Roose Bolton in his march to Winterfell. She arrives at a later point with baggage train, bringing with her Theon and "Arya". She had insisted on having custody of "Arya" until the wedding day.  She attended the wedding of Ramsay and "Arya" (Jeyne). though Theon does not mention her activities. He does, however, take note of her presence in the wedding feast. She sits near the end of the high table, to the left of Theon himself. Nobody else was willing to approach him. 
She observed that Theon was not eating and pointed it out. He did not bother to explain that his broken teeth made chewing an agony. She converses with him anyway. Observing that Wyman Manderly would have them believe that his pork pie is the best any of them have tasted. She also takes note of the apparent happiness of Manderly. She describes Mandely as almost dancing, while serving pieces of pie with his own hands. She believes the man is trying to drown his fears, as she considers Wyman "craven to the bone". She expects the fat man to piss himself with the eventual arrival of Stannis Baratheon. She does not doubt that Manderly would like to kill them all, but doubts the man has the courage to perform the deed. 
She turns her attention (and that of Theon from Mandely to Roose Bolton himself. Pointing how closely Roose observes Manderly. How Roose avoids tasting any dish and any cask of wine which Manderly has not touched first. She offers her personal assessment of Roose, and speculates on his ambitions. With the Lannisters a "spent force" and House Stark mostly gone, Roose might aspire to more than mere lordship. She believes that Roose aspires to the position of King of the North. With Fat Walda Frey as his queen, and the support of Lord Walder Frey behind him. In her view, the only obstacles would be Stannis and perhaps Manderly. But in that case Roose will "remove" them both, the same way he removed Robb Stark. She asks a seemingly rhetorical question:
"Who else is there?" 
Theon points that Barbrey herself could serve as an obstacle to Roose's plans. Lady Dustin admits that she could indeed be an inconvenience, if she makes that choice. She knows it, and Roose knows it. That is why Roose tries to maintain her favor. She is about to say more when three maesters (Henly, Medrick, Rhodry) enter the Great Hall, and she quickly changes the subject.  She converses a bit concerning her distrust of maesters and the agendas of the ones at the Citadel in Oldtown. Her chat is interrupted by Roose, who rises to give a speech.  When the wedding feast ends, Lady Dustin was among the last persons to rise from their seats and exit the Great Hall. Theon finds himself missing her company, finding the Hall suddenly oppressive. 
Following the wedding, Ramsay insists that "Arya" must be clean prior to any of their sexual encounters. Since "Arya" has no handmains of her own, Theon is tasked with preparing baths for her. Theon regularly borrows servingwomen from Fat Walda and Lady Dustin to help with the baths.  While wondering around the yard of Winterfell, Theon notes that squires had built snowmen in the shape of various Lords. A single "snow lady" was shaped after Barbrey Dustin. 
Theon is finishing his meal in the Great Hall, listening to "Abel the Bard" (Mance Rayder) singing. Dustin enters sweeps into the Hall, and has two of her men bring Theon to her. She and her men have been searching for an entrance way into the Stark family crypt. They have already fruitlessly explored undercrofts, cellars, and dungeons. She wants Theon to lead to the Crypt. Pointing that all her favorite Starks are dead. Their small group find the entrance hidden by rubble and snow: great chunks of shattered masonry, burned beams, and broken gargoyles. Her men spend about an hour shoveling through the snow and shifting ruble. Her serjeant, Beron used an axe to pull open a frozen door. But the entrance was finally open for their Lady. 
During their descent to the crypts, Dustin complains about "Arya" weeping. Roose is displeased, as the northmen still love the Starks. The sound of her weeping might turn them against the Boltons. Even the Hornwood men serving Ramsay probably find this a painful reminder of Donella Manderly and her fate. The Freys may not care, and Dustin herself has no love for the Starks. But those tears and wails hurt their cause.  When Theon does lead her to the level of the modern Stark graves, Barbrey speculates concerning the lower levels and their current condition. She claims to have never been down there before. 
While observing the statues of former Kings, Dustin enquires on their names. But then insists on specifically finding the tomb of Eddard Stark. She notes that a longsword is missing from one of the tombs. Neither she nor Theon can identify the occupant of that tomb.  She later finds more longswords missing: those of Rickard Stark and Brandon Stark.  She explained much of her history and story to Theon Greyjoy.  She claims to have been watching for any sign of Eddard Stark's bones. They had been send north by Catelyn Tully, but never got past Moat Cailin. She intents to get hold of the bones, supposedly to feed them to her dogs. When preparing to leave the crypts, Barbrey reserves a last "lingering" look for the statue of Eddard. 
Dustin during the ascent from the crypts. Just after exiting the crypts, she warns Theon to not repeat her words to anyone. Theon gets the message that he either holds his tongue, or loses said tongue to Lady Dustin. She notes that Roose trained Theon well. 
Snow continues falling on Winterfell, day and night. The long-expected enemy, Stannis, has yet to arrive. During a conversation mentioning Stannis, Lady Dustin offers her own take on the subject. She believes that Stannis is lost in the snowstorm, leagues away from Winterfell. Likely dead or dying. If the snowstorm continues, Stannis and his entire army will be buried beneath the snows. Theon silently agrees, but fears that Winterfell and everyone in it will share the same fate. 
The following day, Hosteen Frey and Wyman Manderly have an intense argument. With several of their men ready to join them if the two came to blows. Barbrey Dustin and Roger Ryswell use quiet words to calm everyone down. Roose himself stays silent. Theon recognizes uneasiness and a hint of fear in the eyes of Lord Bolton. 
Following the murder of Yellow Dick, Roose asks "Abel" to sing at the Great Hall. Providing entertainment to the gathered crowd. "Abel" initially chooses moody songs, and Lady Dustin asks for something more cheerful. The bard replies by singing first "The Queen Took Off Her Sandal, the King Took Off His Crown", then "The Bear and the Maiden Fair". The Freys join the singing, and a few northmen slam their fists on the table to the chorus. 
Theon takes a long walk outside during the snowstorm, then returns to his chambers. He is still stripping off his wet clothes, when summoned to the Great Keep. Roose Bolton, Barbrey Dustin, Roger Ryswell, and Aenys Frey are all expecting him in the solar. Reports of his recent wandering have reached them, making Theon a suspect for a recent series of murders in Winterfell. Lady Dustin asks Theon to take off his gloves, and examines his missing fingers. Aenys instists that Theon can still handle using a sword or dagger. Dustin laughs at the Frey and calls him a fool. She claims that Theon hardly has enough strength to handle a spoon. Not enough to use a dagger, and certainly not enough to wrestle with Yellow Dick.  Theon privately wonders whether Dustin has told any of the three men about the crypts and their missing swords. 
Aenys suggests Wyman Manderly and his knights as suspects. Dustin replies that "night work is not knight's work". She then turns the conversation to the Red Wedding. If Wyman hates the Freys, it is because the man lost kin at their Wedding. But the Umbers, Flints, Cerwyns, Tallharts, and Slates all had men serving with Robb Stark, and all lost them at the Wedding. Therefore all have reasons to hate the Freys. Roger helpfully points out that the Ryswells and Dustins of Barrowton also lost men there. With a "feral smile" Dustin makes clear that she too bears a grudge against the Freys and announces:
"The North remembers, Frey" 
The following day, Theon recalls that the Ryswells were one of several houses sworn to House Stark for countless generations. Making their current loyalty uncertain. 
References and Notes
- A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 28, Jon VI.
- A colt is a male horse below the age of four.
- Pages 536-548