A Song of Rock and Fire

Shadow Warrior
For best results, play the Rocky Theme.

Jhakara awoke, or rather was awoken by her bed lurching out from underneath her. Instinct told her to fight her attacker, but all she ended up doing was flailing on the floor as Shadow-Man Sours began to yell at her. “RUN! GET THROUGH THAT DOOR! GO! YOU WANT TO BE A DRAGON? MOVE!”
Jhakara had expected it to be hard. Jhakara had been told it was hard. But she had not expected this. In a haze, she ran, or more appropriately, stumbled through the door. Before she even knew what was happening, she was running. She’d heard Toten and Natan call it “laps” before. Jhakara could run. That was no problem. By the third hour of running, Jhakara realized just what “hard” meant to the Shadow Men. She was still able to run, but it was wearing her down. Jhakara saw the waterfall only as the Shadow-Man Sours commanded her to climb it.

It was slow going, and it only got slower as he began to toss Rocks down from above her once he made it to the top. By the time she reached the top, her body screamed for an end to the training. Jhakara knew it was the only way to be a shadow-man. She told her body to shut up. Sours had her throwing knives at targets after running, proving to be as difficult as she would have expected. Her knives found there targets. Amidst all of the yelling, the Shadow-Man seemed pleased. Jhakara was glad to see she was doing well.

The next few days were more of a blur than anything. Her body adjusted to the training as quick as it could. By the end of it all, she had become more of a soldier than her days in the Dothraki Sea could have ever prepared her for. She was surprised to see the warriors so open to a woman alongside them. It was not done with the Dothraki. She had shown them, though. And she would show the Shadow-Men she was worthy too.

Sours sat down with her while resting during her training. “It’s time to practice hand-to-hand combat. You may not always have a blade or a bow at the ready.” They both settled into a stance, ready to fight. They traded blows, matching each other quite well. Jhakara landed a couple of strong blows. Sours added a few of his own. Jhakara landed a brutal uppercut, bloodying his face. Sours responded with his own blow, knocking the wind out of her and reeling her backward. He didn’t let up, but neither did Jhakara as she took him to the ground and locked his elbow. True to the nature of a shadow, he pulled himself out of it and stood back up. Jhakara followed suit.

“Very good Jhakara.” he said between breaths. “You’ve proven yourself quite well. I think your talents will be quite suited to the Dragons.” He reached into a small pack he’d been carrying, pulling the traditional black leather armor from it. “Here. This will be your armor. You won’t be a Dragon yet. At least not until you go on a mission with us. But as soon as that opportunity arises, you’ll have your chance to be a Dragon. I’m sure you’ll be carving your own dragon in no time.” he said, clapping her on the shoulder.

“Now, get some rest. And keep up on your training. We can’t have you dulled when we’re deployed. Always be ready.” he said as he left her to her thoughts.

“It is good to be Shadow-Man.” Jhakara added. “I will be ready, Shadow-Man Sours. It is known.” she said, bringing her arm to her chest in the typical salutary fashion. Maybe there was room for her in this Westeros after all. Khal Natan’s Khalassar was giving her all the meaning she needed.

But now, she wanted to rest. She barely moved from the couch the whole afternoon, except to eat. She ate ravenously, which was not too different from normal. As she lay half dozing, half aching after dinner, Toten came up to the room. “Hey, uh, Jhakara. I’ve got some stuff from the Maesters, er, Doktars. Drink this, it’ll help with the pain.” he said, handing her a small vial. It smelled strange, but that was usually the case with the medicine of the Doktars. She drank it quickly, trying to forget about the odd aftertastes so she didn’t send it right back out. “I also got this cream. It’ll help, uh, loosen up the muscles and stuff, I guess.”

Jhakara was too weak to do much of anything, and the last thing she wanted to do was have to slather the goop all over herself. “Toten, can you help Jhakara put on cream?” she said, barely able to look at him.

Toten was a bit taken back with modesty. “Um, you want me to just…” he hesitated. Jhakara offered little more than a grunt in response, affirming that yes, he could touch her without getting hit. Which was a bit different than Toten was probably used to seeing with Jhakara. She’d seen her fighting skills first hand and certainly didn’t want to tangle with her. Ready to block, he skittishly began to apply the cream. A fist didn’t come flying and he hadn’t woken up on the floor two hours later, so he must have been doing alright. He massaged the cream in, easily. To Jhakara, who had already been on the edge of exhaustion, it was enough to lull her to sleep. “Hey, Jhakara…” Toten began, before realizing she was asleep. He decided against waking her. She needed her rest, after all. He pulled a blanket over her and tucked it over her as she settled in.

“Goodnight, Jhakara.” Toten muttered as he headed back out, presumably to find the local brothel.

View
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

Jhakara stood amidst the crowd of unfamiliar faces. Some were familiar, like Toten, Lady Horse Face and Khal Natan. Others he’d only recently met. Sorcerer Lons, or Lons as he seemed to prefer. The uneasiness she felt seemed to lessen as Natan explained the ceremony. There always seemed to be more to learn. She still didn’t quite understand why it wasn’t underneath the Great Stallion’s Sky, but their gods lived in the walls, in everything. She found it unsettling to think that gods lurked between the brick and mortar of the walls, but it was no stranger than anything else she’d experienced. The demon bear near the Wall was certainly strange. Sorcerer Lons seemed frail as he went forward to pay his last respects to his wife. She had been a strong woman, from some of the stories Natan had told her. Able to kill a man with a simple prick of a needle. Maybe she was a sorcerer too. People began to walk up and pay their last respects. Khal Natan leaned over, letting her know what was happening and before she knew it, she was standing in front of the the pyre. People left items, said their final goodbyes. Jhakara had little to say. It was alien to her, but besides being inside, it wasn’t that far removed from a Dothraki funeral. The pyre lit as Lons leaned down and gave his bride a final goodbye, where no torch was necessary.
Lons stood before the pyre, running the silver chain through his hands. It was a gift given so long ago, tarnished by age, with a patina born of care and reverence. He’d always treasured the small gift Tyene had given him. Amongst all of the tokens he’d received, it was one of his most cherished. Now, as he stood before his wife’s corpse, preparing to let her leave for a final time, he thought back to Mereen. She’d died there, and he knew she’d eventually succumb to Death’s embrace once more. It’d happened all too soon, despite the twenty or so years they’d had together. “Goodbye, Tyene.” he whispered as he leaned down to kiss her one last time, steadying himself with the cane that had carried him by her side for years. Tears welled and flowed as his composure broke. In her hand, he balled the chain up. Maybe it would help her remember her beyond the veil. Or perhaps it was to help himself let go. He might never be sure. He only knew one thing: For the first time since the Wall, he felt true cold again.
The pyre burned magnificently as she passed on into whatever realm awaited her. All Lons knew, was that it wasn’t with him. The memorial slowly broke up as the embers died down, Tyene’s remains flowing to another place, another time. A new adventure. People wished him well, friends and allies offering support. He was thankful for them, and offered what kindness he could in return, but the weight of the moment muffled everything. Even Alana (I think that’s it?) left, her hand patting him sympathetically on the shoulder.
“Life and death are just two sides of the same coin.” he heard a distant, familiar voice say. He smiled at the thought.
“Those who leave this realm never truly disappear. They reside in the deepest core of our being. They walk with us in memory and action, as we do our best to honor them.” he remembered reading in a nearly forgotten religious text.

Lons stood before his wife for quite awhile. He spoke, a monologue filled with the joys of a life lived together, and the heartbreak of his loss. They’d been through nearly everything a man could experience, and they’d somehow weathered every storm. Words finally came, slowly at first. To an onlooker, he probably looked insane, babbling to himself in a monologue characterizing a life’s worth of experience. For Lons, however, it was not one sided. His words matched events from his life, days that seemed so long ago now, and in truth, were. “We were together for so much. I couldn’t bear to lose you in Mereen.” Memories of the Kiss of Life rushed back, and the look of bewilderment on her face, confusion at being thrust back into the world of the living. “I guess it prepared me for this day. Somehow.” Memories of the past twenty years flowed by like a calm brook in springtime. Not enough time to analyze, but just enough time to remember the good in all of it. “Goodbye, Tyene.” he finished as the pyre continued to burn to embers in front of him.

After some time, he found his way back up to his chambers. They hadn’t seemed this empty in quite some times. Lons found his sleep restless. The bed was not the same. Warmth didn’t seem to hold without her. He got up and glanced out of the window over the darkened streets of King’s Landing. Hanging high in the distance, was Gabby’s Star. He smiled, realizing that Tyene would never be truly gone. The star hung over Rockfall. Knowing he had his other friends and family to attend to, made the pain a bit easier to bear. For now he’d sleep, perhaps he’d find some answers there. There were no flames to gaze into tonight, that much he knew. He’d be leaving with Natan, Dany and the rest of the entourage to King’s Landing tomorrow.

(Well, I toyed with this one for two weeks. I figured I should probably stop fucking around with it and just “Let It Be” as the old songs used to say. Enjoy!)

View
Natan Lanncaster's Journal 5

I never really understood what any of it meant. Not really. Not until today. I’d caught glimpses of it before, brief windows to what it was to have lived in the time when my family lived, when I was just a babe at the breast.

I thought I knew. I thought I had the answers as so many young people do.

And then I saw my father.

He slew those men that attacked us in the forest today. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen Father in a battle. All my life and I’ve never seen him truly fight. That should have been a clue.

His face said the rest. There was such a focus in his eyes. Determination set as hard as stone in the lines of his face. But more than that, there was pain that flashed by with every swing of his sword. They couldn’t touch him. All the stories were true, but they were all so wrong as well. They missed some crucial part that can’t be told. It can only be felt.

Natan ran through the trees, darting behind bushes and across the path, laughing wildly, his sister not far behind him. They rounded a large tree trunk as fast as they could and were immediately snatched up by a giant who growled fiercely at them.

The children struggled against their father who lifted them high into the air, joining in their laughter, his hearty voice filling the air. He spun them around and set them down, starting the chase anew.

The children were chased, they chased their father, rolled in the high grass. The afternoon grew to dusk and the children clung to their father as he sat propped up against a tree. They knew love and the assurance of safety that only comes when a child is in the arms of a parent.

“It’s getting dark, Your Grace,” Ser Robrik said softly, never far from the group.

Toten looked to him. “Just a few more minutes, Robrik?” he pleaded, the hope of youth in his voice.

Robrik smiled and nodded once, a hint of water in his eyes. “Aye, just a few more, Your Grace,” he said as he faded back.

Toten held both his children a little tighter and leaned back against the tree, closing his eyes and tilting his head back as the sky grew darker and the first stars came out, one brighter than the rest, directly overhead.

I’ve been such a fool.

Father told me things…things I had never known about him, about the past. I should have realized. I should have been here. I should have done a million things. I can’t change what’s happened, but I can change what will happen next.

Everyone has been waiting for something to see.

Well I’m ready. And I’ll show them something.

I’ll show them Natan Lanncaster, exactly as he is, good or bad.

I’ll show them a king.

View
Natan Lanncaster's Journal 4

I watched Uncle Lons at the end of the funeral. Everyone had left, but I lingered near the door. I don’t think her saw me, or if her did, he didn’t show it. I felt like an intruder, watching him like that, but I wanted to see. I needed to see. What it was like to have lived that life…and to feel that loss.

Gods we were reckless across the sea, I can see that now. We thought we had it all. Watching Uncle Lons…a few murmured words and a last kiss before Aunt Tyene was gone for good…these are the people in all the stories. The ones who saved the world. I look at them and I realize…

We were just children. It’s a wonder we made it back alive.

There was a weight to Uncle Lons’ voice as he said his prayer. It was more than pain…it was…powerful. I don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve heard it before.

From my father.

At Ser Barristan’s funeral when I was two and ten. My father spoke with that same tone, the same reverence and…depth…that I heard today.

There’s never been a sept at Rockfall, or a godswood for that matter. I understood what prayer was, but not what it meant. After, I asked Father about it.

He told me: “Natan, men will keep gods as they will, sending their friends and family to wherever their religion dictates. But the one way we know they carry on, is by honoring them in ourselves. What they lived for, and what they died for, is always a part of us, so long as we remember them.”

I didn’t get it then, I was young and knew little and less. Now I think I’m beginning to understand.

They’ve lost so much. All of them.

I have a lot to think about. About what it means to be here.

And to be king.

View
Natan Lanncaster's Journal 3

We’ve had our fill of Winterfell and will be leaving come the morning. Or maybe Winterfell has had it’s fill of us. Lady Margery was more slippery than I thought she’d be, but maybe that’s just what it means to back in Westeros and I’ve just forgotten.

The things she said, the way she talked to me, how I responded… It reminded me a lot of some of the time in Essos really. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time, but after tonight it really came back to me. The hot sun and dust of Slaver’s Bay…

…beat down over the arena in Mereen. Natan looked down into the pit. Three large pillars of stone stood imposing in the middle of the bare dirt ground. Two of the pillars bore prisoners, their arms chained above their heads. The chains on the third pillar were empty but practically screamed, aching to ensnare Natan in their grasp. He suppressed a shudder and turned, the roar of the crowd returning to his ears as Arya and Toten struggled uselessly against the pillars.

“So young prince,” an aging man in an obscene tokar drawled, lounging easily in the luxurious box. “Enjoying?”

Natan wracked his brain, trying to figure a way to save his friends and himself, trying not to think of the sly smile playing it’s way over Skahaz’s face. Days ago he had arrived in the great city and had initially been welcomed with open arms. The ruse had done its part and before they knew what was happening, Natan and his companions had been clapped in chains while their jailors crowed over past misdeeds, and how the sorceror and the mother of dragons would finally pay.

Natan thought about the things he’d seen and heard in the city. Faces that had screamed at him and his friends in hatred as they were dragged through the streets but there was something else there. It was fear.

The king of Meereen’s words seemed muted as Natan formed a plan, weighing risks and forming words, the din of the crowd filling his ears.

“I am enjoying it,” Natan said, a sly smile spreading over his face as he turned to face Skahaz. “Almost as much as I’ll enjoy knowing that this city will be leveled quite completely.”

Skahaz fell silent instantly, his face turning to shock then fading swiftly into anger. “I hardly think you’re in a position to make threats, my prince,” he said, voice dripping venom.

Natan let the king’s anger wash over him and refused to let any doubt show on his face. Instead he continued grinning knowingly, sure that it would keep Skahaz off guard. “But I think that I am. And I think you know it too. That’s why you’re so eager to get rid of me. What you don’t know is that you’ve already lost.”

“From where I’m sitting, in this game of cyvasse, I hold all the pieces, prince.”

“You forgot about one though. The dragon. You see, I’ve been to a very interesting city. You may have heard of it. I think it’s pronounced Qarth. I don’t know if you’ve been there personally, but I’m sure that you’ve heard of what happened there when the mother of dragons brought her vengence there. How do you think she’d react when she found out that Meereen was the city that killed her only nephew? Perhaps it will come to be known as the Ghost City of Meereen.”

Skahaz stammered, his face growing red as Natan inched his way towards the lip of the box. Finally, the king found his words, growling out “Seize him.” The guards near the door stepped forward menacingly but they had missed their chance.

Natan rolled over the edge of the box and fell the short drop to the stands below. He rolled to his feet and ran bumping past another guard and leaping into the pit where his companions were still chained. The crowd roared and gestured wildly. Natan looked into their faces, the faces of the poor and the wanting.

“People!” he called in the bastardized valyrian that Meereen spoke. “Look what they’ve lowered you to!” The crowed quieted enough to hear as Natan’s voice echoed throughout the arena. “I’ve seen who you are! I know that the people I’ve seen on the streets aren’t that!” he pointed directly at the box where Skahaz stood, teeth bared.

“Many of you remember what it was like when the mother of dragons held this city, I can see it in you.” Some of those in the crowd growled assent, and turned angry heads Skahaz’s way. Guards were beginning to enter into the arena slowly, forming a wide circle around Natan. His window was running out.

“The mother of dragons made no one above any other! Yet there I see a man wielding his power like a whip over you! She left you this city. What have you done with it?” The roar of the crowd grew and people started stirring. “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT?”

Natan turned as a guard approached, a sword half loosed in it’s scabbard, a vicious blade, slightly curved and made for slashing. He edged slowly back, trying to think of how he might best the guard. The man advanced reaching out.

And then screamed as a glass shattered against his head, blood immediately gushing from several spots on his scalp. Natan spun and saw the crowd of thousands surging through the stands, pulling at guards and tearing at the nobles who tried to scurry unsuccessfully away. More spilled into the pit and rushed at the guards, taking their attention.

Natan darted forward and pulled the sword from the bloodied guards motionless form. He turned and swung hard, slicing roughly through Arya’s chains. A second slash did the same for Toten’s. “Come on,” Natan said, hauling his friends to their feet. “I think it’s time we got out of here.”

…I’m not exactly sure how we managed to make it through all those people. There were fires everywhere. And the sewers of course. Gods to think anyone would go in there willingly. But we made it, barely, living on the land until the khalasar found us.

At least we’re back home now. And I’m sure a slippery northern widow will be last of our concerns.

View
Natan Lanncaster's Journal 2

We make port tomorrow. I’m not sure what I’m going to find there, but I’m fairly certain I won’t be ready for it.

It really sank in today. I have been gone a long time.

Five years, two months, 9 days and this morning.

A long time… Maybe it’s been too long. I’m trying to put on a good show for the others, they expect that from me now I think, but I’m a little terrified of what’s in store for me…

“It’s been a long time, cousin!” Lionel Ashford grinned widely at the bottom of the gangplank.
Natan strode quickly down and embraced the younger man, though it was strange to see him garbed in black, his features those of a man and not the boy Natan had seen last. His violet eyes looked over the boy again and then past him fully taking in the lands before him for the first time.

The fog rolled back, revealing the splendor of the Wall, stretching impossibly high and far off into the distance, its icy surface glistening in the morning chill. Dozens of people, most clad in the black of the Watch bustled around, and the castle was a hive of activity, even this morning. Pale skin and the distinct accent of Westeros were abundant, in quantities that Natan hadn’t heard since he left. The air smelled familiar and the clouds overhead gave him a sense of farther south in the stormlands.

He paid half a mind to the news his cousin was giving him, but the other half was roaming over the land now laid out before him, retracing steps he’d taken with so many people. He wondered if, like Lionel, they were all so different than when he’d left.

After racing forward his mind darted back, across the endless lands of Essos which had been his life for so long. A life all his own flashed before him. The warm sweet breezes of Pentos, wafting the smell of fruit through the garden where he sat, reading while the others lazed about in the sun. Lines of people stretching behind them as Natan delicately plucked four wooden chits from a bucket on the bay of Volantis. The deep, dark gloom and silence as they camped in Valyria. The cold sea spray splashing in his face as he called out orders on an Ibbenese ship. Jhakara being drained, held up by ropes on a rack of human bones as skeletal, beings drooled in anticipation beneath her.

A thousand other moments and adventures flashed before him, each one filled with nothing but freedom and a lack of expectations from his friends except that he be with them, so unlike the heavy weight he felt draped around his shoulders in Westeros.
The memories flowed all the way back to the start, back to the endless nights of fog in the shadow sea…

Before I knew it we were coming out of the haunted forest, that incredibly loud blast of rangers returning filled everything.

We got up to the Wall, and there she was.

I wondered, all the while we were in Essos, what it was she meant that last day. Today I found out what she meant when she said “I’ll see you when you get home.”

Just like I thought, I wasn’t ready for it.

But maybe tomorrow I will be.

View
Blood of His Blood
"i m dothrakee"

“i m dothrakee” – Common tongue lesson number #413, only 6 blows landed by Jhakara before she (begrudgingly) completed the lesson.

Jhakara walked through the streets of Pentos. They were crowded with merchants and commoners, in a bustling rush of commerce that had characterized the city since they had gotten there. It had been many moons since she’d gone with Khal Natan and his Khalasaar. Her Khalasaar had left her to die, and she had little more to do than to go with Natan and his friends. They’d stood beside her when no one else did, and she owed it to her Khal to stay with him. Right now, they needed horses. In the distance, they could see a slave master, selling several horses, among other things. Arya counted up their money, biting her lip as she realized how small of a fee they could really afford to pay. Natan spoke in broken Slaver’s Argot to the man, though to Jhakara, it sounded more like gibberish than anything else.
A massive creature towered next to the man, seeming to be a body guard. The man stood at nearly 8 feet tall, heavily muscled and wielded a hammer that matched Jhakara in height. The merchant seemed displeased, and Jhakara looked to Arya. “Lady Horse Face, what is wrong?” she whispered while Natan continued haggling. “He wants double what we have for all four horses.” Jhakara wasn’t quite sure why they did not just take the horses, but from what she had learned from Arya and Natan, it was not something that was done here. Something about property and “rights”. Jhakara didn’t quite get it, but she was learning. Jhakara looked over the hammer wielding behemoth.
“Khal Natan will have his horse. Man with no horse is nothing.” she said with arms crossed. “How? We don’t have enough money!” Arya repeated, thinking the Dothraki woman didn’t understand. “Jhakara will fight.” she said, pointing to the hammer wielding slave. “Tell him I will fight for horses, blood of my blood.”
“Jhakara, you can’t be serious….” Natan laughed. “He’ll crush you.”
“Jhakara will fight.” she repeated stoically.
Natan made the deal with the merchant.
He laughed heartily, gesturing to Jhakara. Jhakara couldn’t understand the words, but she knew that it was condescending. She’d learned what that sounded like over the years in a dozen languages. Those mouths would not speak anything again. Jhakara’s bow made sure of it.

The crowd parted, making an impromptu fighting ring. Jhakara took one side and the slave towered on the other side. She could hear various onlookers whispering in common nearby.
“Foolish woman.”
“This’ll be quick. Should’ve just stayed a whore.”
The man stepped forward, lifting the hammer skyward in an intimidating display of strength.
The crowd around fell away, and Jhakara drew her bow as the man ran towards her, hammer raised high, a guttural scream seeming to shake the earth around her. An arrow flew away, hitting him in the shoulder. It momentarily staggered him as he dropped his hammer onto Jhakara’s bow. It bounced in the dust as Jhakara barely escaped the blow herself. She reached to her belt, hand gripping the dagger she had looted from her last raid with the Khalasaar.
Another savage blow swung past her as she jumped back out of the way.
He was unsteady, needing a moment to regain his balance after such a vicious swing.
It was all Jhakara needed.
Like lightning, she dashed into him with her shoulder, the dagger finding the flesh of the fighter’s knee. He let out a scream as he fell to his knees, bringing his head down to her level. She growled at him, determined to finish the fight for her friends. For honor. For her Khal.
The man fell to the ground, twitching.
“It is done. Tell him we win horses.” she said, picking up the hammer. The man had no braid to cut. He must not have been much of a warrior, Jhakara thought. It was a hard fight, and her hands began to ache, letting her know just how close she’d come to having broken them.

“You killed my slave!” the merchant yelled, a look of fear in his eyes as he gestured wildly to Natan. “I believe we had a deal.” Natan added. Jhakara loomed over the merchant standing with the hammer.

“Horses.” she said as she glowered at him, hefting the hammer to a ready position before tossing it to the ground in front of the man. “Jhakara will need new bow too. Trade hammer. Fair deal.”

“That’s not what we agreed on!” the lanky man yelled.

“Perhaps you’d like to step into the ring?” Natan said, a wry smile on his face as he nodded his head towards Jhakara.

Jhakara tossed the dagger up and caught it dextrously, a displeased grunt coming from her as she waited for the merchant to pay up. It took effort, but she trusted Khal Natan. If this was the way it was done in Westeros, then she would try.

“4 horses.” he sighed in defeat, clutching his face in his palm. Jhakara cleared her throat expectantly “And a bow. Just leave me alone.”

View
The Tale of the Lonely Knight
Dogs of the Military

Micah watched from the shadows of an alley as a Lord and his company rode through the snow-fallen streets of the city. The men had journeyed into Gulltown to track and capture him, he was sure of it. Micah didn’t have many people he could trust in, not after the battle at the Wall. It seemed like some kind of dream from long ago that he was knighted by Robb Stark before one of the bloodiest battles he had ever witnessed. The knight clenched a fist around the dagger in his waist band, recalling that less than a handful of men had survived to tell the tale, himself included. He could count the remaining men these days on one hand, but he had only ever heard whispers about their lives, never having seen or spoken to them himself in twenty years.

The call of guards from down the street grew louder when the horses were pulled to a halt, giving the Lord with no name a chance to step out of his gilded chariot and stop into the nearest tavern for a reprieve from the northerly winds. Micah refused to return to the North. There was no one worth serving in those lands. He knew that Arya Stark held power up there, one of the few descendants remaining in the Stark line, but Micah laughed at the thought of serving a woman. What did a woman know, after all? It wasn’t often that a Queen held such power over a kingdom. The only such time fitting was for Queen Regent Daenarys Targaryan, but that was due to her ownership of live breathing dragons. Micah stood well clear of her. He knew how to fight white walkers and men, but surely not dragons.

Once the party entered the tavern, Micah stepped from the shadows and casually strode down the edge of road. A sentry was posted just outside of the doors and he wondered whether they would even let him in through the front entrance.

“Hi, Mister,” a small feminine voice issued from an open window Micah had just passed. He cringed and spun around, coming face to face with a little girl no more than seven. “Hi,” she smiled.

Micah held up a gloved finger and shushed her, turning his attention back at the tavern. The sentry had not moved. A convenient barrel of mead was along the side of the shop, so Micah leapt atop it and hoisted himself onto the roof. The feel of snow and ice beneath his fingertips made him grin, feeling that he was back in his element. Soldiers never forgot their training.

The propped up window over the kitchen would be the easiest way to get around the guards and into the building to eavesdrop. That way he could discover what their true intentions were and whether he had anything to worry about, or even if it might be someone he’d be able to band with. The skylight opened easily on its crudely created hinges, and Micah slid his way into the kitchen. The owner was stirring up some hash in a kettle and shook his head when Micah straightened up from his fall.

“What?” Micah dusted off his black jacket of soot and snow. “Like you’ve never thought of putting a rope ladder there.”

“My old bones have enough of a hard time with the front steps, let alone attempting your acrobatics,” the gray-haired shop keeper answered. He continued to stir the couple rations of hash and ham while Micah took an empty cup and placed it against the kitchen door. “His name is Lord Gregor Harlaw. Give someone a bit of land and he immediately thinks he’s a lord.”

“I know who he is,” Micah scoffed, placing his ear against the hollow cup. The owner shook his head, knowing that Micah never admitted his shortcomings. Ever since the knight helped him fight off a band of misplaced bastards from his land, Micah stopped by at least once a month to catch up on old times, and to claim a hot meal and bed as payment. He always helped out the old man best he could, and considered him a guardian of sorts.

“You’re all they’ve been talking about,” the old man scraped some rations into a few bowls and handed them to Micah. Micah stared a bit dumbfounded at first, not sure what he was supposed to do with the cup if three bowls were being shoved into his arms.

“Mathis, one is quite enough,” Micah stared at him, holding out his cup. “Of course I can’t eat unless I have some of your finest mead as well.”

“Not for you,” Mathis swiped the cup from his hand, roughly setting it down on the stone counter top. Micah cringed at how filthy the counter was an realized it must have been a while since they were cleaned. Probably not since a couple months prior when Micah had cleaned them himself. The old man wasn’t kidding when he said he was getting up in age. His wit however seemed to be sharpening itself.

“You’ll take this out to them if you plan on spying,” Mathis handed him two more bowls. Micah awkwardly juggled them on the crooks of his arms and hands. “And don’t draw your sword like last time you faced someone in my tavern. I don’t care how pretty you think it is.”

“Aye,” Micah groaned, waiting for Mathis to open the door for him.

There were five men sitting at the bar. The lord was in the middle of them with a map spread out amongst them. Micah couldn’t tell what it was from the kitchen doorway, and as soon as they heard him enter the map was instantly rolled up and stowed away.

“Ah, Brewer,” one of the men held out a hand and motioned with a come hither gesture. “Hurry with those, we must be on our way.” Micah gave each of them a dish, noting the hands they grabbed with and which side they hung their weapons. “Tell the owner it’s good he’s got a pot boy. Or rather, pot man.” The other guards in the group laughed heartily. Micah wasn’t pleased. These men were definitely not worthy to fight with. He just needed to discover whether they were a threat to him or not. Micah pretended to do busy work behind the counter, cleaning off the polished wood and rearranging glasses and containers of ales and mead.

“I heard he ran away from the Wall, my Lord,” one of the men said. “As soon as he was knighted he tore off. Don’t have the slightest to why dead Robb Stark would give him the title.”

“That’s why they call him Ser Micah the Crestfallen,” another man spoke up. “He’s a miserable wretch of a knight ‘cuz no one wants to take him on under their family name. Won’t see him sporting a new crest. That’s certain.”

“No matter,” Lord Gregor drummed his fingers against the bar. “We will take out this so-called knight who’s been killing my forces and the region will be all the better for it. Some have even taken a liking to his methods and decided to take the law into their own hands.”

“We can’t be too far behind him, Lord Gregor,” another of the men replied. “Sightings have been reported all around this area of the city. Not more than a day off.”

“You know what I heard?” Micah said, still wiping the inside of a glass from behind the counter. “That he stumbled upon a group of ruffians besmirching his name. And their black tongues were cut from their mouths within minutes. All except one so the tales could continue to be told.” All of the men gaped at him. “But of course they’re just rumors. No one even really knows what this knight looks like.”

“Indeed,” the lord scrutinized Micah’s face. “Brewer, what else do you know of this derelict knight?”

“I know he’s searching for a new allegiance to a worthy house, Lord Gregor,” Micah said. “You are a lord yourself, are you not?”

“I am,” the man straightened his fitted coat, glittering with rivulets of gold. Micah wondered if his whole life savings was invested in that single jacket.

“But you would never house such a criminal,” Micah set down the glass and leaned in closer to him, voice now barely a whisper. “Would you? All that power under your command?”

“Perhaps,” Lord Gregor sneered. “All any dog needs is to be broken correctly and they’ll listen to anything you say.”

“Is that so?” Micah straightened up, his hand nearing the dagger on his hip.

“To anyone with any sense, yes,” he replied, fitting his gloves back on. “This should be sufficient, Brewer,” the Lord threw a couple of coins onto the counter top.

“Let me properly thank you for supporting my master’s trade,” Micah lightly smiled, but it came off much more like a grimace. He walked around the bar and half bowed in front of Lord Gregor.

“Yes,” he sneered at the gesture. “If you were such a knight, you would be just the obedient type required.”

Micah withdrew the dagger from his belt and stabbed it into the lord’s side where his armor did not cover. Lord Gregor cried out and fell to his knees. Instantly his men pulled their swords on Micah, who drew his in return. He bolted for the door, forgetting that their sentry was posted out front. They stepped inside, weapons drawn, but Micah surprised them and swiftly slit their throats. He barreled through them and led the other men outside. The four soldiers circled him in the street and Micah considered the options. Every outcome was a win in his favor, and he grinned. Two of the men charged at him and he parried their advances. Thrusting his sword backwards he impaled one of the guards and used the body as the shield when one of the further guards threw a dagger at him.

Micah counted down the remaining soldiers in his head. He spun around and ducked when a blade flew over where his neck had just been. He felt the wind of it against his neck and slashed his own sword against the antagonizing man. The leg came right off and he screamed on the way down to the ground. Micah picked up the injured man’s sword and wielded both of them at the remaining two. They charged at Micah, who quickly disarmed the one man and took out his legs with a swift kick. The knight braced his footing when the other soldier went in for his head. Their swords collided in a stand off, leaving Micah worried about the previous guard’s whereabouts. An arm went around Micah’s neck and he choked, losing the battle with the guard who still had a sword. The only way out was to drop an elbow into the grappling man and dart away to catch his breath and grab another weapon. He managed to pull one of the daggers out of a dead soldier and snapped it at his assailant. It drove right into the soldier’s chest and he fell.

Micah picked up a sword and stood to his feet, hefting the weight of it in his hand. He skirted around the screaming soldier whose leg lied yards from where it should be and backhanded an arcing draw across the last guard’s chest. Blood sprayed from the wound and the man collapsed in the street. Micah slowly walked back over to the screaming man and drove the sword into his throat, leaving it there like a challenge to anyone else.

He turned around and walked back into the tavern. Lord Gregor was behind the counter looking for a bit of cloth to stuff his wound. On seeing Micah he picked up the dagger that had pierced his side and threw it clumsily. Micah held back a smirk and bent down to grab the dagger, he didn’t have anything to wipe it off with so he placed it underneath his belt for the moment. The sword in his hand was ready to pierce the soft, yielding flesh that waited just beyond his grasp. Cleaning the world of false, cruel men was just one more task on his agenda. The list was long, and disposing them was the easiest way to remember which ones remained.

“You-you’re him!” Lord Gregor shrieked. “ser Micah the Crestfallen!”

“I did give you a chance,” Micah held out his arms, slowly walking around the bar area. The lord tried to scramble over the counter top, but couldn’t muster it due to his shorter stature, and held his own sword out in front of him in defense. Lord Gregor thrust forward awkwardly and Micah disarmed him, sending the sword clattering across the tavern floorboards. All of the pleading in the world did not prevent Micah from driving his most cherished weapon into the stomach of the lord standing before him.

“But I am no dog,” Micah growled before pulling the sword back out, crumpling Lord Gregor where he stood. Micah cleaned his sword and dagger on the lord’s clothes before putting them away.

“What did I tell you about fighting in my store?” Mathis shouted from the kitchen door. Micah blanched and sheepishly looked up at the tavern keeper.

“I er—-” Micah tried to think of an apology. “I remembered when fighting the guards,” he shrugged in defeat.

“Clean this up,” Mathis demanded before going back into the kitchen to grab a mop and bucket. “You know, for all the good you are, Micah, an awful lot of trouble falls in your wake.”

“And you think I shouldn’t have stood up for myself?” Micah eyed him. Mathis gestured towards the body behind the bar and Micah sighed at the chore that lied before him.

“I think you should have left it alone,” Mathis said, watching Micah drag the body of Lord Gregor out the front door. Micah had to move a couple of the sentry soldiers as well from the archway, groaning at the amount of blood that had seeped into the wooden floor underneath them.

“Plenty of men and women alike will say negative things about you, Micah,” the old man said. “But it’s how you react to them that matters. You can’t kill everyone who insults you.”

“Why not?” Micah questioned, grabbing the mop and slopping it around a bit in the bucket before applying it to the reddest stains.

“Alliances are only made worse through war,” Mathis answered, nodding his head in approval of the work Micah was doing. “You may never truly find someone to accept you, if you cannot accept and forgive their own mistakes.”

“Battle is all I know, Old Man,” Micah said, moving on to the area behind the bar. “And I will not rest until I find someone worthy of my skills.”

“If you’re hoping to become a knight to someone as kind and courageous as King Regent Toten Lanncaster, then you are sorely mistaken,” Mathis sighed. “Men like that do not approve of cold-hearted renegades such as yourself.”

“I’m not cold-hearted,” Micah grumbled, finishing up the mess he had made. “Thanks for the talk, Old Man, but I have to continue on my way.”

“You can stay for a little while longer, Micah,” Mathis shook his head. “You haven’t even eaten yet.”

“Your kindness is appreciated,” Micah half smiled as he put away the mop and bucket. “But I have to be on my way, Mathis.”

Micah nodded to the old man and left through the front door. He decided to retrace his steps and possibly look for a new house to serve in the Riverlands.

“Hi, ser Pooh Shoes,” the same little girl popped up from the nearby window. It startled Micah and he gave the girl a quizzical look as he passed, taking a glance down at his boots to realize that he had indeed trodden in something of horrible stench. “Pooh Shoes! Can I come with you?” She followed in his step.

“No,” Micah barked, wondering why this strange child was following him. “Go back to your parents, child.”

“But I don’t have any parents,” she trilled, running to keep up with him.

“Then go back to that home you were staying in,” he tried again.

“I’m Elisia,” the girl beamed. “Hey, that’s a really shiny sword. Can I touch it?”

“No!” Micah spun on her, taking notice of her outstretched hand. She quickly withdrew it
back to her side. “You really are a Pooh Shoes,” she giggled.

“I am no such thing,” he snapped. “I am Ser Micha the Crestfallen. And I’d watch your tongue before I cut it from your mouth.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” Elisia smiled. “I seen you with Old Mathis the Brewer. You’re nice to him. You’ll be nice to me too.”

“You see those men out in the street?” Micah gestured to the dead soldiers. Elisia turned to look, then looked back and slowly nodded. “I did that. And no little girl is exempt.”

Elisia pouted, but didn’t say anything back. So Micah turned and carried on his way. A couple paces further and he felt something sting across his ear. Another second later and a familiar dagger thunked into the close by wooden beam. Micah immediately checked his side, only to find that his dagger was missing. He pulled it from the wood and turned on his attacker. All that stood there was the little girl with a scowl on her face and arms folded across her chest. Had he almost been bested by a small child?

“I want to go!” Elisia threw a fit.

“You’re too young,” Micah responded. “Go back.” He considered tying her to one of the horse posts, but thought it a bit inhumane. “The outdoors is no place for a city girl.”

“I ain’t city,” she huffed. “I’m from the North and my parents left me here. So I’m going with you. I’m not gonna be left alone again.”

“Fine,” Micah eyed her, understanding how she felt. He too did not want to be alone any more. “But if I tell you to run and hide, you do as I say.” Elisia nodded her head vigorously. Micah handed his dagger to her, knowing she would need some form of protection, and that she was good enough of an eye to use it properly.

Someone like Toten Lanncaster, Micah thought to himself. Yes. The Starks have always spoken highly of him.

View
Muster
A Numbers Game

- A CURRENT CENSUS OF MUSTERING CAPABILITIES OF THE LORDS OF WESTEROS -

THE CROWNLANDS

Lord Paramount: Prince Natan Lanncaster

King’s Landing
Grey Cloaks: City Watch – 2,500
Dragons Special Unit – [Unknown]

2,500 [Verifiable]

Westeros’ Standing Army
Foot – 10,000
Cavalry – 5,000

15,000

Standing Royal Fleet
War Galleys – 200
Fire Ships – 30
Support – 20

250

Dragonstone Bannermen Muster
Foot – 7,000
Cavalry – 400
Ships – 100

7,500

TOTAL - 25,250 [VERIFIABLE]

*Note – The Royal family also has access to four fully grown dragons and dozens of smaller dragons of various size, age, and combat capability. This alone makes the Crownlands’ mustering total greatly skewed when considering actual military might under the royal family’s direct control.

THE STORMLANDS

Lord Paramount: King Regent Toten Lanncaster, Warden of the East

Rockfall Bannermen Muster
Foot – 30,000
Cavalry – 15,000
Ships – 50
Dragons Special Unit – [Unknown]

TOTAL - 45,050 [VERIFIABLE]

*Note – Stormland armies contain a mixture of knights and simple heavy cavalry, leaning towards a higher number of non-knighted cavalry. Stormland foot is often an even mixture of spear, archers, and men-at-arms, but Stormland armies tend to form strategies based on stout and strong ranks of men-at-arms battalions. Their navy tends to rely on war galleys from its coastal lords, but their numbers are reduced as many Stormland ships are currently in service to the Royal Navy.

DORNE

Lady Paramount: Princess Arianne Martell

Sunspear Bannermen Muster
Foot – 15,000
Cavalry – 10,000
Ships – 150

TOTAL - 25,150

*Note – The Dornish have never had large numbers, but their passes can defend against armies many times their size, and they are masters of hit and run tactics. They have a large share of knights, but on average Dornish troops are lightly armored and very mobile. Spearmen, Hopilites, and light cavalry allow the Dornish to harry enemies many times their size. They are also one of the few armies in the world who have mastered the art of mounted archery. Only the Dothraki of Essos can claim to overshadow them.

THE REACH

Lord Paramount: Lord Loras Tyrell, Warden of the South

Highgarden Bannermen Muster
Foot – 30,000
Cavalry – 35,000
Ships – 200

TOTAL - 65,200

*Note – Nearly all of the Reach’s cavalry are heavily mounted knights. They may not be as maneuverable as some cavalry, but there are few that can stand against the might of the reach in full cavalry charge. Their foot is often competent, but not noteworthy when compared to the other kingdoms of Westeros, often relying heavily on smallfolk.

THE WESTERLANDS

Lord Paramount: Lord Tommen Lannister, Warden of the West

Casterly Rock Muster
Foot – 35,000
Cavalry – 35,000
Ships – 200

TOTAL - 70,200

*Note – The Westerlands are the richest of all the seven kingdoms, due to their abundance of silver and gold mines in the western hills. A well rounded army, the Westerlands are famous for fielding scores of longbow archers and knights in battle. The Reach and Vale have slightly more knights per cavalry on average, but the difference is small and inconsequential. It is important to note that in war the Lannisters are famous for their hiring of mercenaries, and can field anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 more units in such ways.

THE IRON ISLANDS

Lord Paramount: Lord Theon Greyjoy

Pyke Muster
Foot – 2,000
Cavalry – 1,000
Raiders – 15,000
Ships – 400+

TOTAL - 18,400

*Note – The Iron Islanders are not soldiers in the direct sense. They can field some cut and dry cavalry and foot units, but the majority of their forces would be considered raiders, quick striking warriors that attack by the sea from their quick and agile long ships and then are gone once more. The Iron Islanders are little match for a true army-to-army clash on land, but there are few that can defeat them at sea, and as such the western coast of Westeros has feared them for many centuries.

THE RIVERLANDS

Lord Paramount: Lord Patrek Mallister

Riverrun Muster
Foot – 20,000
Cavalry – 19,000
Ships – < 50

TOTAL - 39,000

*Note – If there is a ‘typical’ army in Westeros it belongs to the Riverlands. Riverland armies contain even numbers of cavalry, foot, archers, and truly all the cogs that move an army can be found well represented in the Riverlands. Though more often than not they draw on their many small folk to fill their ranks more than any other part of Westeros. The Riverlands have never be the mightiest part of Westeros, but they have proven worthy opponents in war many times in the past.

THE NORTH

Lord Paramount: Lord Robyn Stark, Warden of the North

Winterfell Muster
Foot – 6,000
Cavalry – 10,000
Ships – 125

TOTAL - 16,12 5

*Note – The North is both the largest land area in Westeros and also its least populated. Thus the Northmen have never been able to muster large numbers of forces, yet brilliant lineages of war commanders as well as stout use of the nearly invincible Moat Calin has kept the North safe from its enemies in the past. They have quite a few ships via the port of White Harbor, but their greatest strength lies in their heavy cavalry, few knights, but all terribly deadly, and likely one of the fiercest cavalries in all of Westeros.

THE VALE

Lord Paramount: Lord Harrold Arryn

The Eyrie Muster
Foot – 11,000
Cavalry – 20,000
Ships – < 75

TOTAL - 31,000

*Note – The Vale’s true strength lies in its mighty mountains and stout gates, leaving them not needing to rely on great numbers to win their wars, but when pressed a large number of fierce knights can be brought to bear on their opponents, and the Vale military is never stronger than on large open ground.

WESTEROS TOTAL MUSTERING CAPABILITIES BETWEEN ALL LANDS

335,375

Attachment: I am not sure why you wished a comment on the Dothraki military ability as well, I assure you, they have long sat across the Narrow Sea and they will continue to do so for a long time yet, and even if they were to sail across they certainly would not do so banded together under a single Khal. Such a thing has never, and will never happen.

As it is, taking into account the various supposed Khalasars and average sizes of each currently on the Dothraki sea, altered as much for accuracy as possible, I would pose the number of all Dothraki Khalasar warriors summed together to total as follows:

3,500,000

View
Natan Lanncaster's Journal

Natan Lanncaster’s Journal

My father gave me this journal for my name day present. I am five and ten.

And I am heir to the Iron Throne.

Father told me that this journal guided him through some of his hardest times, through the war of the Five Kings. I’ve read through all the stories. But that’s all they are to me.

Stories.

Still, I understand why he gave it to me, so here I am, trying.

Sometimes it seems like that’s all I do is try. Aunt Dany wants me to be the king. But how can I? I know that I’m supposed to be, but when people talk about the king, they aren’t talking about me. They’re talking about my father. The man who saved the realm.

That’s not me. I’m not a king. Or someone who can save a realm.

I’m only Natan Lancaster.

How can I be what the realm needs when I’m only me? I’m not strong like Arry or Toten. I need them more than they need me.

Aunt Dany says that I’m almost ready, that I should take the throne soon. If I walked away from it I don’t think Father would mind one way or the other. And I’m not sure that I would either.

They call me Prince. But what is a Prince but a boy who is not ready for the mantle of responsibility that the people are so eager to heft upon his shoulders?

I asked Uncle Lons about it once. He told me that responsibility isn’t something that people find. It’s something that finds them. Maybe he has the right of it.

All I know is that I’m Natan Lancaster. And that will have to be enough for now.

Natan Lanncaster’s Journal

Aunt Dany is getting impatient. I can tell. She keeps telling me that it’s time, that I need to step up to the throne.

Well I’m not ready. She doesn’t understand. No one in this country is looking for someone else to lead them. No one is looking for Natan Lanncaster. They want what they’ve always had and who can blame them?

Arry’s getting restless. She keeps talking about doing something drastic but she hasn’t let me in on any plans yet. I see how she looks at people at court, or when she gets ravens from up north.

Things have just been so different with El at Casterly Rock these last years. She barely sends word anymore and when she does it’s usually to say how she should could be doing a better job. I miss her. I know Father does too, but he’d never say it. We’re traveling to the Rock soon, but I don’t know what kind of reception we’ll get.

Sometimes I wish we could get away from this place. Be done from all the courts and responsibilities that everyone wants to give me. Go somewhere where we can just be us.

I’m sure Westeros would get along just fine without me.

Natan Lanncaster’s Journal

We’ve been here for three months. Three months in the Shadow Sea. I was so excited when Arry talked me into running off from the Rock. Now…I’m not sure what to think. The gold I used to buy us passage out of Lannisport is all but gone. One dragon left. Not enough to get the captain to stay any longer. Not enough to get him to turn back. And I fear not enough to keep us going once we get to Asshai.

No one told me how dangerous it was here. Even now, with our supplies almost gone, I want to stay. I want to see her again… I want to know her, and have my mother back.

I thought it might have been made up, the way the dockworkers always spoke of it, but sure enough, our first day deep within the fog…I saw her.

She told me that she was proud of me, and that she was sorry. Can you believe that? She said that she was the one who was sorry. I’m the one who ran away from everything that her and my father built. I wept. By the old gods and new did I cry. The future king of Westeros sobbing at the gunwale of a ship.

I wasn’t the only one. Arry hasn’t wanted to talk about it, but I know that there are plenty of people holding her here. Toten too. He’ll never say a word, but I can hear his tears in the night.

We talked for so long. It’s hard to tell time in this place, but it must have been hours. And that was only the first day.

I’ve barely slept for weeks. Sometimes I just sit with her and we don’t say anything at all.

And then there’s him. My father’s father. My namesake. When people talk about my family, they either talk about my parents, or they speak of Natan Lanncaster. He speaks to me about happiness, and how glad he is to see what his family has become. How he believes in me. A man that I never met but am still so connected to.

How is it that they can find so much solace in me? I have so much to live up to. I don’t think that I can be the man they want me to be. I’m not my father. I never will be.

I knew that we’d have to leave eventually. Part of me knew it. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I’d see the captain night after night, slipping him more and more gold to make him stay.

But she was right. I know that now. This morning she told me I had to go. I begged her not to make me, to find some way for us to be together. She reached for me and I swear that I felt her touch on my face. I told the captain to make way for Asshai. We should be there soon, already the fog is growing thinner.

It’s all for her…and it always will be.

I’ll never forget what she said to me, I swear it.

“Natan…let it be…”

And I will.

I will.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.