Lons had spent his entire life searching for knowledge. A never ending quest that took him down many roads, both dark and bright, straight and meandering. He’d found his fill of knowledge in a kaleidoscope of forms: economics, psychology, language, love. Now, in the last hours of his life, he’d seen the family he’d come to love with his whole being. Ser Robrik came by, the old bear of a knight still as strong and good-natured as ever. Daenerys, still the warm hearted ruler he’d known in Essos. King Natan made his appearance. The young man had much learning ahead of him, but he had a good heart and a strong mind. He’d be a strong king, and Lons was sure of it. Lyene, Saul and the rest of his immediate family drifted in, giving tearful goodbyes and promises of a duty that would be well-served. And the last to enter was a man who he’d come to have a great respect for. A friend he’d come to know as a brother. That man sat beside him, even in Lons’ final hours.
“Have I ever told you the story of the greatest Maester, man and friend I’ve ever known?” Toten said. Tears flowed freely from the both of them. Lons smiled, responding softly “No, I don’t believe I’ve heard that one Toten.” Lons said, a cough wracking his body. Both of them knew there wasn’t much time left, but it didn’t seem to matter. The world fell away and left them to their reveries. Just two men reliving a life spent in dedication and friendship. Not dedication to ideal or country, though that played its’ part. Above all else, it was a stalwart dedication to each other that had gotten them through trials that would have broken lesser men.
But, as it is said; All men must die.
They sat and spoke for what seemed like hours. At some point, Lons drifted off into the next realm. Lons felt his body slip away and knew, vaguely, what lie ahead. He had one last journey to make.
Toten sat beside Lons for some time, the aging king beside the man who had stood beside against the tide of undead hell from the North, stood beside him when all of Westeros had turned against him. Even worlds away, Lons had been at his side. He had lasted three days longer than any of the Maesters had predicted he would, astonishing everyone with his tenacitous grip on his life. Now, with his final goodbyes said, he was ready to finally leave this world.
Stonewing flitted down between the two of them, head turning to look between the two of them, before uttering the first word he had in days. The one friend he hadn’t said goodbye to bounced off the headboard, gently preening at the still intertwined hands of the men he’d travelled the world with.
“Friend.” he cawed, jumping into the air with several graceful wingbeats.
Lons felt himself separate from his body, feeling a coolness wash over him as he felt himself following Stonewing. He glanced back for a moment, seeing Toten sitting next to what used to be his body. The sight of the old king was heartbreaking, knowing that he’d lost one more firend in a long line of loss, but still had the courage to keep an open heart and keen humor. He smiled as he was reminded of the day Toten had cornered him playing Pots and Pans knights with the children at Rockfall… “Oh Gods! It’s the Melee Maester himself!” Toten had yelled. They’d laughed. Perhaps he should have felt sad, but he found himself only excited for what the next world might be. Goodbyes had been said, and it was time to move on. Tyene would be there, somewhere, he knew. Marwyn too. Gabby. All the people who had left him far too soon. He was dimly aware of the wind whipping past him as Stonewing carried him through the window of the red keep. He was soaring over the city, flying for the first time in 2 years. It was still as exhilirating as ever and he would have smiled had he still the body to do it with. Below him, the city rolled by, showing the familiar sights he’d grown to love. The city was moving on, even now. Trade flourished, artisans crafted their wares, regiments drilled in the yard…. They were moving on without him.
No, they were moving on because of him, and because of his friends. That work was past him now.
He’d set them on the path, and it was now up to them to steer the course well.Stonewing was flying towards a crevice between two buildings nestled in Flea Bottom. Lons recognized the area. He’d found Kirkland nearby. He’d met Ser Tommen Tommen in his humble roots there. Stonewing pulled into a dive, approaching the narrow passage with the same confidence that he’d had since Lons had first been given to him at Rockfall.
Lons could see the opening now, clearly glistening in the alley. Lons felt the foggy embrace of the veil pulled back from his consciousness. His work in this world was done and he’d left it to a team of legendary people to continue to run Westeros. King Natan would do more than fine. He had the genes of a warrior, and the heart and mind of a well-read and well-travelled man.
As he slipped through that final door, he heard the last word he’d hear in the world of Westeros. There was no need for him to return the sentiment. Lons had done that with a lifetime of service and friendship, and he knew they understood.
“Bye!” Stonewings voice carried across the void.
Stonewing climbed and flew North. Westeros held nothing for the old bird anymore. Other winds called to him as he climbed into the setting sun, heart following an uncharted path for the first time in the better part of a century.