A Song of Rock and Fire

The Greatest Sacrifice (Part One)
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13

The massive Ice Wyvern landed amidst the din of the battle. No one on the field that day could have missed it. The King of Winter stepped off of his mount, standing leagues above the soldiers around him. His greatsword swung in an arc around him, killing five men with one blow. Beside him, Lady Winter landed nearby, a cloud of snow billowing from under her mount as she crashed down. Men were crushed by the mount, its’ icy claws tearing them to ribbons. Toten and Lons instantly moved to engage them. At the rate these two were cleaving through the ranks, they would break the army in no time. Toten and the Kingsguard pushed through the ranks, slashing their way through wights and countless other horrors. Lons banked Viseryion, coming around to face the two of them. The woman, if it could be called that, moved her hands about as ice and snow whipped around in a hellstorm of razor sharp ice. Viseryion growled in pain as the ice cut right through his scales, bloodying the beast. In the distance, Dany and Gabby banked away as well. ‘Gods…they can even damage dragons?!’ Lons thought, mouth agape in terror and hopelessness.

As he circled back trying to think of what to do, he watched as Toten pushed forward, getting right up to the King, Shatterstone singing with the frost and ice of the unnatural creatures that wanted nothing more than to shed the blood of every living thing. Toten let out a roar that rose above the battlefield, louder and more proud than any man could have mustered. His blade fell, time and time again. Blow after blow fell that would cleave even a mountain in two. Lons felt his heart sink as the beastly horror just stood there and took the savage beating. He was completely untouched as Toten stood before him panting. Ser Robrik and the rest of the kingsguard had to drag him off of the creature as it began to swing at the nearest soldiers, slicing scores of men like a child stomps an ant hill. Gabby, Dany and Lons landed behind the lines as the chaos ensued. “What do we do? He took that savage beating without even flinching!” Lons said. Toten, Gabby, Dany and Lons shared looks of utter despair and hopelessness. The red priests arrived behind them, Moqorro at their head. “We are all that is left…” he said.

“We need to do something. How can we stop something so impervious?” Lons asked, seemingly trying to figure out any kind of solution. Moqorro paused for a moment. “There… is one way. It requires much sacrifice, but there is a chance.” he said. “When I was studying years ago, I had read many of the ancient rituals. You know the story of Azhor Asai?” The group nodded. “Well, this ritual is supposed to bring him back into the world. However, it requires a great sacrifice.”

“What kind of sacrifice does it take?” Lons asked, fearful of the answer. Everyone had already sacrificed so much for this war. It seemed cruel to ask for anything more, but then again, the entire realm of man was at stake. “It requires two lovers…” he said, speaking low, as if he himself didn’t want to ask this of anyone, yet knew there was no other option. “To bring lightbringer into the world requires one of the lovers to sacrifice themselves, as the legend goes. The priests conducting the ritual must also give their lives for the cause.” he said. Lons looked at Toten and Gabby, who shared their own worried look. An uneasy desperation came over the group, as if they had already known what needed to happen.

“One man chants, and pours his energy into the man who will become reborn as Azhor. Then, he must plunge his sword into the heart of his lover, but the sacrifice must be completely voluntary, as all sacrifices must be. The motive must be pure for it to work.” Moqorro looked over at Gabby, whose eyes dropped for just a moment before they regained their steel determination and will.

“I will do it.” She spoke up, breaking the silence among them.

Toten looked at her, as if he did not believe what he was hearing. “Wh- Gabby, no!” he yelled.

Gabby put her hands on his shoulders. “Toten, this is the only way… all of humanity is at stake here.”

She looked past him, catching Moqorro’s eye. “Is that all? Then what happens?”

“Well, it’s said that the one who wields LightBringer will be imbued with a great power, beyond anything ever seen before. The blade will cut even the King, or so it is said. The chanter will be given the power of all of the priests that assist as well, though all of their sacrifices must be voluntary as well.”

The other priests nodded, solemnly, but knowing that they were giving their lives for a far greater cause than any of them could have ever expected. R’hallor would be pleased, Lons’ knew, and he saw that they were as purposeful and knowing as Moqorro was. They had come here ready to give their lives and to do so on this ghost of a chance was nothing unanticipated.

Toten tried to protest again, knowing he couldn’t let Gabby go through with it. “There has to be some other way!”

“Toten…” Lons spoke. “You saw what your attack did. You are a skilled swordsman, and that thing felt nothing.

Toten nodded, tears welling up in his eyes as he realized the true despair of the situation.

Moqorro and Lons slipped off nearby to go over the chants. It was a simple one, and he would have to repeat it several times. What the ritual mainly required was the great sacrifice that would pain them to their death beds if they didn’t fall during the battle.

“Okay… I think… I think I’m ready.” Lons said.

The priests arranged themselves in a circle, with Toten and Gabby in the middle. Gabby approached Lons, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Lons…” Gabby said, a smile across her face. “Gabby… I-” he stammered, trying to search for words. What words could you give someone who was willingly laying down their life for such a cause? Luckily, Gabby spoke for him. “Take care of Toten for me.” she said, giving him a final embrace of years of friendship, mistrust and everything in between. A relationship that had truly been tested by everything the winds of fate decided to throw at them. “I’ll do my best, Gabby.” Lons replied, tears falling to the snow. Gabby smiled. “I know you will, Lons.”

Gabby went to Toten, holding him in an embrace that seemed like it lasted hours. In truth, the battle had raged on for only several minutes. Everyone wished they had more time. All wished for another answer, and yet there was nothing but loss to come.

“Toten, take care of our children for me.” Gabby said, tears of her own falling as she knew she was only minutes from leaving this world. “You are always and forever my King.” she said, kissing him as she said a final goodbye.

“And you were always my Queen.” Toten replied, the grizzled warrior broken by what he was about to have to do. “I will…” There were so many words unsaid, and yet what words could encapsulate what was about to happen? Silent knowledge of each other was all there truly was. Each person knew what the other was thinking and did their best to express a lifetime of love, companionship and friendship in mere seconds.

They stepped away from each other, knowing the ritual had to happen soon.

Lons began chanting as the priests sat cross-legged around him. The chant rose in volume, echoing louder than any man could utter it. Lons felt the words burning in his mouth as he chanted. Across from him, Moqorro exploded into flames. Lons wanted to stop, to help the man, but held himself back with the knowledge that this was a choice that they had made. A conscious sacrifice for the good of all men.

He looked up at Gabby as more of the priests burned with a deep crimson flame, their bodies disappearing into the writhing fire.

So much love and beauty was being given to the world, and they asked nothing in return.

Lons knew, at this moment, that he was surrounded by nothing but the finest of men and women that Westeros could muster. That the whole world could muster.

The last priest was wreathed in flame, motionless as the flames consumed him. R’hallor answered this final prayer.

Toten slowly drew Shatterstone, the blade glowing a deep red as Lons felt the power surging through him. The fires of each of the priests welled in him, as he transferred it to Toten’s blade, imbuing both the blade and himself with untold power. ‘Now.’ Lons thought, knowing what needed to happen next.

Gabby nodded to Toten, as he raised the blade.

No hands came up in hasty defense. No look of terror or fear.

Just the eyes of a dragon, human only in body, looked back at Toten. That same determination staring at him.

Toten’s arms shook as he held the blade up, quivering at the mere thought of hurting the love of his life.

“I-I can’t.” he muttered, sobbing as the fighter lowered the blade slightly.

As he looked back up, Gabby had grabbed the blade, guiding it into her own chest. She gasped slightly as the blade pierced her, wounding her heart as if nothing had been there. “It….was always you. My King.” she whispered.

“Gabby…” Toten stammered, grasping her hand and taking her in his arms as she slowly slumped. “And you, my My Queen.” he replied, sobbing as he watched her slowly begin to fade from the world.

“I love you.” Gabby stammered.

Toten stood a broken man in that moment. One of the last things he loved was being taken from him. He’d given so much for this war, and for the realm, that it was inconceivable that this would be wrested from his hands.

“I love you too…” he replied as Gabby’s body began to turn translucent, particles of light beginning to lift off from it. The battle around came to a complete halt. Men looked on purely awe struck. Wights and Others alike cowered back as the flames burned them from hundreds of feet away.

The dazzling lights drifted between the Kingsguard, slowly rising into the sky. All watched as they floated off into the night. In the distant night sky, a star brighter than any other came into being. It would come to be known as Gabby’s Star. The patron star of all sailors and travellers’, lost on seas or roads within or without. Rumor had it that it would lead you to wherever you were needed. A guiding star for all. In Lons’ pack, a loud cracking was heard and he looked to see not a new enemy, but a baby dragon, crawling from the harness on Viseryion. The creature immediately flew to Lons, bathing itself in the deep red fire that coated Lons body. The creature nuzzled him.

Toten was down on one knee, broken by the loss of his love, he sobbed for a moment. The King of Winter seemed to laugh in the distance, thinking the men had broken yet again.,

The sobbing turned into a low growl as he pushed himself to his feet and eyed the massive other with his own steel gaze that could crush a mountain.

Anger took hold as he looked upon the face of the one final enemy he must defeat.

He raised his blade, feeling the presence of the late Gabriella Targaryen.

Gabriella’s sacrifice would not be in vain. He would avenge it with every ounce of his being.

He looked across the field at the Winter King, glaring at him with a fire that was not entirely his own. He knew who it was. Everyone knew who that fire belonged to.

For the first time, the great Other knew fear as it quaked under Toten’s gaze.

“Single combat!” he bellowed as he charged across the field to meet this great foe that had taken so much.

‘This debt must be repaid’ he told himself. ‘For Gabby. For Jaime.’

‘For every man.’

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Lanncaster Log 16

The army pulsed around Toten, moving down the hill towards the Wall. Toten sat on Thorn on the hill, watching his forces move. He heard the creak of Lons’ cart wheel stop next to him. Ahead of them the massive structure of the Wall stood, stretching to either side farther than the eye could see, but ahead, where Castle Black had once stood, a gaping wound broke open the Wall, screaming pain into the air. The ice had crumbled but its pain still resonated, a subconscious pang that was felt by all.

Toten looked over and saw Lons next to him, taking in the same sight.

“Lons.”

“Toten.”

There was no other time, Toten knew. This would be where their fate, and all fates would be decided. This would be farewell in some final way.

“Lons,” Toten began tentatively. “I…I wanted to say…You know there’s…” he trailed off.

“I know, Toten,” Lons replied. The king nodded and they gazed forward another moment.

“Toten, I…I…”

“I know, Lons.”

The two men shared a look and in it was a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of respect, of pain, of loss, of love.

A lifetime of friendship.

Together they watched for several moments more before, wordlessly, the two friends parted, each marching forward to face whatever destiny had in store for them.

The dragons soared in the sky. The forces of men had arranged themselves according to Toten’s commands, all sixty thousand. Ahead of them in front of the gaping wall, eighty thousand wights, monsters, and others formed a line. He looked back at his own forces and saw fear and uncertainty. This was where many of them would meet their end. Friends and family, houses great and small all looked towards him. They needed their leader. They needed their king.

Toten loosed Shatterstone from its scabbard and held it high. “NOW!” he bellowed, and his voice seemed amplified by purpose and fate, carrying loudly over the gathered forces. “Now we ride! Here! This is our time! You have all marched together, from all corners of westeros, from all corners of the world, to fight back this evil! We will give them such a battle that your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren will sing of it! Today we are one house, one realm against the force of darkness. We will show them the strength of WESTEROS!” The men cheered as Toten rode by them, tilting spears and swords forward. Toten eyed them defiantly, willing them strength. “We will show them that we will GROW STRONG!” The men of the reach bellowed a roar of pride. “They will HEAR US ROAR!” Westerland men across the fields roared a challenge towards the Wall. “We will show them that it is THEIR WINTER THAT IS COMING!” The staunch men of the north let out with deep horn calls and guttural cheers as the direwolves howled. “We will show them that we are HIGHER THAN HONOR!” The heavily armored knights of the Vale banged shields and yelled. “We will show them that we are UNBENT! UNBOWED! AND UNBROKEN!” The dornishmen let out a bellow of fury and pride, and many of the other houses followed suit, throwing support with the king’s longest supporters. “With dragons we will give them FIRE AND BLOOD!” The unsullied troops clashed their spears, the sound echoing off the Wall and mingling with the yells of the men. “And when the battle is done, it is them who will be CAST OUT, AND CAST DOWN!” The sixty thousand men all yelled in unison, their weapons shaking with loyalty to their king, ready to battle to the end, unified, here at the end.

“WESTEROS!!!” Toten bellowed. The men took up the chant, the sound near deafening. Toten and his kingsguard raised their swords as Lons swooped low overhead, the blades igniting in one swift burst of flame. Throughout the men, weapons flared with fire as the red priests set to work. Toten turned to look at his closest friends and family, gathered close to him. His eyes passed each of theirs and despite everything, a small smile found its way to his face. Quietly, so only they could hear, he said: “To battle.” And with that he turned and led the charge spurring Thorn into action as the endless cries of “Westeros” and the beating of sixty thousand feet chased after him, but Toten would not be overtaken as he charged towards the line of wights, sword glittering and held high, into the final battle of his war.

Toten’s blade flashed. Always more enemies, more orders, more fighting. His group moved up and down the line, reinforcing where it was needed, barking our orders for the catapults to fire or for the infantry to advance. Above dragons roared and fire ignited the sky.

The battle raged on. On the western flank Toten saw the banners of house Stark beset amidst a pack of wights while on the eastern flank he could see the brighter colors of Tyrell and Wyl trying to hold back a relentless charge. The fighter in Toten knew that he could reinforce the groups. The commander in him knew that whichever one he chose, the others would most likely perish. His heart sank as he surveyed the field. The west flank was crawling with wights but the eastern flank was still being reinforced by hordes of mammoths and chariots. The men of the north are hard. They will do their best to stand. Toten called the order to reinforce the eastern flank. They charged and fought. Toten looked back to the west and saw the last of the direwolf banners fall, a distant mournful howl echoing across the field to him.

The battle wore on and still men fought with a reserve of power and soul that drove them forward. In the midst, Toten still sat high in his saddle, Shatterstone calling the names of its victims as it swung through the air. A cry from the dornish went up as they surged forward into the rush of Others that had joined the fray behind their footsoldiers. In front was the banner of the Red Viper, the orange standing out against the white of the snow. Across the field, the group of dragons led by Willem Rains ducked in and out of battle, cutting a swath through the wights, but their fights led them into the path of more of the Others, their position tenuous on the line. Again Toten knew a decision was to be made. One that would cost more lives. “Your Grace!” one of his banner bearers cried, searching for orders to relay to the field. “The dornish will not break,” Toten said, shouting orders to reform around the dragons lest their light armor open a hole in the line. “The dornish will not break.”
Amidst the dornish banners, Oberyn Martell lashed out at the front of the line. Venom was in his hands and its forked tongue bit again and again into the Others that charged at them. The Red Viper swung and speared, his viciousness matched by the other southern men around him. An icy spear found its way into his shoulder but the Red Viper did not fall from it. Nor did he fall from the second. Nor the third. A yell erupted from the Viper, but it wasn’t one of pain, it was one of defiance and fury. Still he remained on his feet, rage coursing through his body as he drove Venom into one of his assailants, knocking it down even as a fourth spear found its way into his body. Venom fell from his hands into the blood soaked snow as, still on his feet, the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell died, his body pierced but his spirit unbowed, unbent, and unbroken.

Toten removed his helm as the last of the others were slain and allowed himself a deep breath. It felt like his first one in a year. Around him, men began to cheer with victory, an echoing sound that filled the air. Toten did not share their enthusiasm. Too many. Too many dead. Too many friends. Northern men from Eastwatch rode up towards him. “Your Grace,” the captain said. “We wish to report to Lord Stark.” Anguish filled Toten as he thought of the ramifications of his choice. Robb Stark was dead, and with him, the last man in that line had also gone, and it would leave the north in a ruin. But his choice had been made, as unpleasant as it was, and Toten would stand by his decision, as his father had taught him.

The northern men moved off to join the rest of the cavalry as men began to move amongst each other, searching for friends or leaders who were no longer there. A horn blew loud and piercing in the distance, filling all ears with the deep sound of cold and fear. Toten watched in horror as more of the Wall crumbled under the terrible sound, the blue-white of the tower beyond pulsing as tens of thousands of more wights rose from the deep snows and formed to march forward. Toten took one look around at the forces left to him and knew that there was little chance. In the distance a large icy dragon flew down from the tower, a massive Other on its back. Even so far off, Toten knew it was looking at him.

Toten leaped back into Thorn’s saddle. “Ser Robrik!” he called loudly, voice carrying over the men.

“Reform the line!”

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Dragons and Pawns
"Death must never be in vain."

Lons soared above the battlefield, the icy wind tearing at his body and mind. Even with R’hallor’s presence within him, he still felt chilled. Viseryion roared mightily as he doubled back, trying to burn the living ice that set upon them like demonic dragons. Lons ducked to the right as Viseryion let loose a massive jet of flame, scorching one their pursuers. Flames shot from Lons’ hands as well as he dealt his own damage. The dragon dropped from the sky, dissipating into mist as it fell through the low clouds. One last dragon remained and Viseryion turned on it, the beast wanting revenge as much as any man on the battlefield. Lons climbed into the clouds, Viseryions wings carrying them quickly as the icy vapor enveloped them. As predicted, the wyvern followed, trying to attack Lons from below. Viseryion dropped out of the clouds, wings folded in to gain speed. His claws raked into the icy flesh of the wyvern. It was a boon to Lons to watch it fall from the sky, shrieking all the while before it hit the ground with a distant thud. As Lons dipped down he surveyed the battlefield, trying to see where he could help the ground fighters. In the distance, he could see Rockfall banners clashing with the Others. The monstrosities seemed poised to quickly overrun the small force. On the other side of the battlefield, the Night’s Watch tangled with their own assault of wights. The shambling hordes outnumbered them by an obscene amount. Lons had expected many things of his return home, but holding lives in his hands had not been one of the choices he ever wanted to see.

In a distant memory, Lons and Selmy sat in a courtyard after lunch one day, playing a game of Savass. The old knight moved one of his lesser pieces across the board, blocking the movement of his dragon. It would buy the old man some time, Lons noted. In reality, it was a good move, despite him losing a piece. He would be able to get his more important pieces out of danger with the sacrifice of only one unit. “That’s quite the move, Selmy…” Lons said, rubbing his chin in thought. Barristan laughed. “Yes, but the important thing to remember… when your on the field and the din of war is all around, these pieces aren’t just bits of wood and paint. They’re people. Faces, names, people you’ve probably lived with, broke fast with. Even friends. And you may have to make those decisions some day. His tone was serious, as if he wanted to really impart this lesson. Lons nodded. “Hopefully I’ll never be in that position.” He moved his dragon in, taking the pawn. He looked at the piece thoughtfully, thinking of friends from home, friends he’d lost on the road with Danerys. Selmy moved his piece. “Your move, my friend.”

Lons circled for a moment, knowing that a decision was needed. He could either save the Night’s Watch or the Rockfall Men. He glanced left, seeing Ghost and Jon Snow among the fray, slashing left and right, Ghost tearing into the direwolves that rushed them. On the right, Jance Morgan railed against the Others among the Stormlands men. He dove towards the Rockfall banners, hoping the Night’s Watch would hold.

In his heart, he knew they wouldn’t hold. Viseryion dove on the Others that slammed into Jance and his forces.

“Viseryion, burn them. Burn them now!” he screamed, his voice barely audible amongst the clash of steel and the roar of battle below. The Rockfall men surged forward, pushing the lines back and rallying against the assault. Lons had saved their lines. He could hear the men cry a collective roar of gratefulness and violence as they pushed forward. As Lons circled back, hoping he could make it to the Night’s Watch in time, he flew overhead just as Ghost was rended to ribbons by the wight direwolves. Jon Snow went down as well, sword swinging all the while, until the sword arm, and Jon himself were cleaved in two. Below him, the last of the Night’s Watch died. He cursed loudly, knowing that the decision was made and there was more work to do. Now was not the time for grief.

They served their realm without question, and Lons was not going to waste that. He set in to help Gabby tangle with her own group of wyverns.

Selmy’s voice rang in his head again.

“Whatever choice you make, that’s the choice you’re dealt. It’s what you have to stick with. There’s nothing to be done to change it. That’s just war, boy.” Lons could see the old man, hear the fatherly tone in his voice. He was as wise a sage as he was a knight. “My own decisions haunt me, in the dark of night. But in the end, that’s what a commander does. People die in war. But, they also know this is a possibility when they head out to fight. Don’t let their sacrifices be in vain. If you honor them in that way, you’re as good a battle commander as any.”

Lons nodded against the wind, the icy gales buffeting Viseryion and him. Viseryion flew on, unmoving. Lons tapped the back of Viseryions head, commanding him down. The great beast responded, diving in on the mass of dragons circling Gabby.

“A sacrifice is a loss of life so that another may prosper. A willing gift of life that allows the many to prosper at the loss of a few. The trick, my dear warrior, is to repay that gift ten-fold.”

The line came from some long forgotten tome he’d read years ago.

Even in death, the Night’s Watch would protect Westeros, buying those few critical moments for the line to reform and eventually beat back the horrors of the north. Lons would have to write their stories too, someday. This was a true new age of legends, and he had watched several fall just moments ago.

He dove back into the fray, energy poured into fireballs while Viseryion wreathed the night in flames, incinerating one of the pursuing ice dragons. He would pay it back. That much he was certain of.

Another dragon fell, this time shredded by Rhaegal’s claws .

He would pay it back in every ounce of energy he poured into his magic, every drop of misty blood spilled from the devilish creatures that threatened his home.

The debt would repaid.

Those lost would not be in vain.

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Lanncaster Log 15

Toten stepped heavily through the flap of the large meeting tent, the dark and cold of the late winter night whispering in after him, made so much darker and colder by the loss he had just sustained.

Toten had expected the tent to be empty but Ser Robrik stood before a brazier, its flames low and dim, the set of Robrik’s shoulders heavy.

“Robrik…” Toten’s voice was laden with pain. Robrik turned, facing the king and seeing a face that was furrowed in sorrow. Tears old and new stained the younger man’s face.

Toten’s eyes didn’t focus on Robrik but roamed over the inside of the tent as if searching for something that wasn’t there.

“He…he saved me, Robrik.”

“He did his duty to you, boy,” Robrik said heavily. Toten looked into the old knight’s eyes. “It could have been me, Robrik. He died instead of me…”

Fresh tears leaked from Toten’s eyes and he rubbed at his beard. “First it was Loras, Robrik,” Toten stammered out, voice soft. “Now Jaime…how many men have I killed?”

Toten’s thoughts turned backwards. He saw men being run through with swords or pierced with arrows. He saw the cavalry from Rockfall crumble under the walls of Highgarden, men he had known most of his life. He saw Tygor, calling out to him with that easy dornish smile that then turned to horror as a sword emerged from his chest. He saw Eddard, his father’s friend, a sword twisting in his heart as he watched his wife’s throat cut.

He saw Loras, pierced by many arrows, dead on his feet, pushing Toten out the window of the Twins, dozens more shafts poking through his body. He saw Mace Tyrell’s body lying motionless, dried blood staining his doublet. He saw Phinlan and Samson, white, unnatural bodies shuffling forward through the snow.

He saw the flash of Jaime’s golden hand as it flew over him protectively as they tumbled from their horses. He saw the stark white weirwood shaft emerging from his chest. Saw the light fade from his green eyes.

Robrik’s face emerged from the others, its sternness breaking through the ghostly images of the past. “You didn’t kill anyone, boy. Those men, they died for what they believed in. For what we all believe in. We all make choices in our lives, Toten. Those men chose to give their lives for you. They chose to risk their lives for a man that they loved.” His eyes cut into Toten’s solemnity. “They’ve given you the chance, Toten,” Robrik said, his hand falling heavily on Toten’s shoulder. “Now it’s up to you to choose what to do with it.”

Toten embraced the man tightly, clinging to his wisdom as if it were a raft in a storm. They stayed that way for some time, Toten letting the pain and anger flow freely from him, Robrik accepting it, an act of protection all its own. Eventually Toten stepped back, hurriedly wiping a hand over his face roughly.

“I’ll choose, Robrik,” the king said, meeting the old knights eyes. “I’ll choose to make it count.”

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Lanncaster Log 14

Toten stood before the raging flames, his cloak wrapped and flapping around him in the backdraft from the flames rising up from Ser Jaime Lannister’s funeral pyre. There was no noise but the roar of the flames, though Toten could feel the thousands behind him, watching intently, as if in waiting. Snow, white and heavy as the white cloak amongst the flames fell thickly around him.

Toten had stood at the head of the table in the long hall of a small town with a forgotten name deep in the north some days back. He had looked over the gathered lords, knights, and generals under his command.

“You, Grey Worm,” he’d said. The unsullied warrior had snapped to attention. “How many wars have the unsullied won?” The bronze skinned warrior paused for a moment before answering. “Unsullied have won many wars.” Toten had nodded, mouth set in a hard line. “They even beat the dothraki, didn’t they?” Grey Worm voiced his assent. “Fifty thousand rode against the three thousand unsullied. They threw their blades at our feet.”

Toten’s voice was hard. “And how did they win?” Grey Worm glanced around the room. “With discipline, and training.”

The fires of the pyre crackled higher and within them Toten could still the gleam of Jaime’s golden hand resting on his motionless body, swaddled in the white cloak he had earned back.

“Lons,” Toten called across the long hall. The former maester rose to his feet. “How many battles has lady Danerys won?” Lons’ eyes met Toten’s. “Many. And she has won all of them.” Toten nodded harshly. “How did she win?” Lons’ eyes burned with a distant light. “With persistence and swiftness. And dragons.”

“Red Viper,” Toten said coarsely, facing the man next to him at the table. “Your Grace,” came the terse reply. “How many battles have we won?” Oberyn Martell’s shoulders slumped in a sort of defeat mixed with relief and a small chuckle. “All of them,” he said back. “That’s what I thought,” Toten said. “How?” The Red Viper lowered his head somewhat. “With loyalty. Fierceness. And because we had you.”

The gold of Jaime’s hand began to run as the heat took its toll. The fire burned with an intense heat, so much that the gathered masses stepped back a few feet. All but Toten who stood rigidly near the flames, resolute in his vigil for the fallen knight.

“Ser Jaime,” Toten had called in the hall, his voice growing louder. “Yes, Your Grace,” the knight had replied. “How many battles did your father win?” “A great many, Your Grace,” Jaime said, a wry smile on his face. “How?” “With cunning and tactics, Your Grace,” he’d said, the smile spreading wider on his face.

“Lord Stark,” Toten called, turning his heavy tones on the young man. “You won back your home, did you not?” Robb Stark voiced his assent humbly. “And we did it with strength. And honor.”

“Ser Robrik!” Toten’s voice boomed. “How many battle did you win in the rebellion?” “A great many, Your Grace,” Robrik called back, his large voice filling the hall. “And we did it by not breaking. By staying true to our calling.”

Toten had turned his voice to address the full room. “And what happened on the field of fire, when all of westeros rode against the three dragons of Aegon the Conqueror? And we have three dragons with us now, don’t we?” The lords and knights had risen to their feet, slamming their tankards in fierce agreement. “We have dragons, unsullied, and dothraki!” Toten bellowed. “And we have all the men of westeros! What force could stand before us? Together we will make a battle like none have seen! And together, we will come home!”

He had waited for calm before turning again to Oberyn. “How many battles are we going to win, Oberyn?” The dornishman, who had remained sitting before rose, and clasped a hand on Toten’s shoulder with a grin. “All of them.”

The logs of the funeral pyre collapsed, snapping and popping in the heat, bringing a finality to the ceremony as Toten turned, snow crunching under his boots.

A mass of faces stood before him. Many he knew as close friends. Many more he didn’t, nameless faces that had sworn themselves to him and his service. So many bodies that had followed him into the near promise of death, for no reason other than he had asked. So many souls that needed guidance from their king.

“We will not forget these men,” Toten called out over the last rush of flames. “They were here for the same reasons that you are. Because they believed in something greater than themselves. Because they trusted.” Toten glanced back at the flames. “Because they were good men. Good men. They will not be the last. But we will make sure their sacrifice counts, that we will give them the world that they sought and fought for.” He drew his sword. “Because we are good men! And good men do not fight for themselves, they fight for their friends, their family. For other good men! They fight for their realm!” He shouted the last, raising Shatterstone high, the last of the flames glittering off its dark steel. The gathered men shared his challenge, roaring a chant to the sky.

Toten remained silent, letting them yell. For the first time he was grateful for the heavy snow and wind.

It masked the tears that rolled softly into his beard.

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A Last Letter
When inspiration hits, it gets good.

Lons huddled in the dim candlelight of the tent. The snow and ice seemed to penetrate everywhere. Even in the tent, a layer of ice glistened on pretty much everything. He sat in the shifting light, penning what might be his final letter. With what he’d seen so recently, he’d felt the need to send a final letter to Tyene. Stonewing stood on his shoulder, bristling some of the snow off his feathers. He’d been far less talkative that usual, though he still seemed healthy enough for all intents and purposes.

Those blue eyes still seemed to be staring at him. It was as if he couldn’t get them out of his head. They just pierced into his very soul day and night. He sighed and continued to write. He had to get the words down while they were in Winterfell. There might not be another chance.

“Dearest Tyene,

The journey North has been cold and harrowing, but we’ve been making it through as best we can. There has been more snow here than I care to think about. Luckily, we have the dragons to help us contend with it. For weeks, we’ve been losing men to the fogs that would encircle the camp. The fires were stamped out by the cold itself. Embers died away and anyone caught outside of the light was likely not heard from again. Eventually, Toten and I stumbled across the true cause of this. It was one of them, Tyene. They truly aren’t legends. I wanted to believe they were anything but real. I saw one with my own eyes. I can still see it’s blue eyes glaring at me from the darkness. I’m sure you can relate, from what we experienced with our…. magical endeavors. My point isn’t to scare you. I just want to take this moment to tell you that I love you. With every ounce of my being, you have helped me get to this point. But right now, the realm needs men like me, Toten and Dany. Any of the men brave enough to stand up here deserve far better than what we’re able to give them. Having finally fought our enemy, I see now how dangerous they can be. But this foe is real, and even if we do win…will come back. If I don’t make it back from this land of snow and ice, I know you’ll raise our child right. I’ll entrust Toten and Dany to see to your care as well. They are good people and I know they will help if I ask them to.

Please, if I don’t come back, let our child know how important the Wall is. That this threat is real, and must never be forgotten. The Night’s Watch is a vital part of our realm and needs to be kept strong. This predicament is solely because of the state the Watch has been in. I want our child to know this. Let her know what good we did here. If I don’t make it out, let her know that I died serving the realm, serving you and her. Let her know of all the other heroes that will no doubt fall out here. I suppose I just wanted to send this raven out while I still had the chance at Winterfell. In a days time, we will be marching North to meet the enemy, this time en masse. I will do my best to make it back.

To the flame of my life,
-Lons”

Lons sealed the letter with the candle. Stonewing hopped over, bouncing his feet across the wax. “Fitting.” Lons said with a weak smile. ‘Dark wings, dark words.” he thought morbidly. Things were going to get much worse. He was certain of only that. He had to be ready for anything. There was a good possibility that they could all die on the bloody tundra. He wasn’t sure he was ready for this fact. The candle was snuffed out by a gust of wind through the flaps of his tent. He sighed and crawled into his bed roll. He would need rest for the battles upcoming.

As he closed his eyes, all he could see was those ice blue eyes gazing at him. He felt a chill that rocked him to his very core. It seemed to freeze his soul, even with R’hallor’s blessing. The last thing he heard as he slipped into sleep was Stonewing quietly croaking. “Fight.” “Win.” “Die.”

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Lanncaster Log 13

Toten stood at his customary spot halfway up the small set of stairs to the Iron Throne. His armor gleamed and his shadowcat cloak fell in a soft pool on the higher stairs, its warmth fending off the winter chill which was creeping into the castle despite the raised fires.

His wife sat behind him in the Iron Throne and Lons sat in the smaller throne, usually reserved for Toten, just off to one side, looking tired. Oberyn lounged easily on a table at the bottom of the stairs.

The Queensguard was arranged at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at the king and queen, adorned in their white cloaks and varying armor.

“I’ve summoned you all here for a reason,” Toten began. “In light of many events, both past and forthcoming, I have seen fit to bestow upon you tools for the kingsguard to use.”

“Ser Vindin Tyre,” Toten called, and the knight in question stepped forward, kneeling briefly. Tommen Tommen passed a pale green scabbard to Toten who held it out to the knight from the Reach. Ser Vindin pulled the blade. Valyrian steel greeted his eyes, folded metal tinted with hints of green. A pale gold filigree of flowers curving its way up the blade. The pommel was that of a closed rose, waiting to bloom, the crossguard made into twisting green vines. Ser Vindin stood awestruck for a moment. “It’s name is Burr,” Toten said proudly. Ser Vindin kneeled again. “Your Grace,” he murmured. “I am deeply honored.” He stood and returned to his place, strapping his new sword into place.

“Ser Hubert Humphrey,” Toten continued, and the next knight approached. Again Toten passed a sword, this one with a deep blue scabbard. Its hilt was made into fine feathers that flowed up into wide sweeping wings that made the cross, curved downward, a small falcon head peeking onto the blade. Sharp twin lines of blue streaked up the steel to meet at the point. “This one is Talon,” Toten said, and Ser Hubert nodded, resuming his place.

“Ser Lance Swyft.” The knight pulled a sword from a dark blue scabbard. So dark it almost seemed black. The pommel was that of a star, shooting up to where dragon wings mad up the cross. The star’s trail flew up into the blade, running into a double fuller down most of the length. “It’s name is Whisper,” Toten said to the dornish man’s smile.

“Ser Gerold Dayne.” The Darkstar sauntered forth, the greatsword Dawn across his back. A wry smile widened on him. “I already have one of those, Your Grace,” he said snidely. “You may find this one to your liking as well, Darkstar,” Toten said, handing over a pink scabbard. Ser Gerold scoffed but pulled the sword anyways, revealing a blade with a dark sun on the pommel, bursts of orange light spreading from it. The design was replicated above, the bursts stretching out into sharp orange points that made up the crossguard. “It is called Dusk,” Toten said, eyes meeting the Darkstar’s. Ser Gerold nodded solemnly. “Thank you, Your Grace,” he said, stepping back into place.

“Ser Brienne of Tarth.” The large woman knelt. Toten passed over a dark green scabbard. The woman pulled out the sword, admiring it. In the pommel was a large sapphire, cut into a dulled point. A matching pair of sapphires sat on either side of the blade at the crossguard, sharp points shooting lines of blue down the center if the steel straight down to the tip. “This one is called Maiden,” Toten said, looking into the honest face of the first female knight. “I thank you greatly, Your Grace,” she said, before returning to her place.

“Ser Jaime Lannister.” The Kingslayer stepped forward, a strange look in his eyes as Toten handed him a red scabbard. Ser Jaime awkwardly but effectively strapped it around his waist with his good hand before pulling the blade. A large white lion graced the pommel, mouth open in a silent roar. The blade was tinted with red throughout, giving the steel a dark tint. “You made me a valyrian steel blade?” Jaime asked, incredulous. “Technically, Lons made it,” Toten said, nodding back at the former maester who inclined his head from his seat. “I just gave him the guidelines.” Jaime’s mouth worked soundlessly in a rare moment of speechlessness. “Ser Jaime,” Toten said, meeting the Kingslayer’s eyes. “It’s name is Oathkeeper.” Ser Jaime nodded and sheathed the blade. “You earned that sword, Jaime,” Lons piped in from behind. “Thank you, cousin,” Jaime said as he resumed his place. “And thank you, Your Grace.”

“Hand of the King,” Toten called, turning to Oberyn. The Red Viper hopped off the table and approached the king. “Toten,” he began. “I’m quite flattered, but you know I’ve never really been one for blades.” “Good,” said Toten, accepting a long parcel from a squire. “That’s why I made you this.” The king pulled a cloth from the parcel to reveal a long spear. Its shaft was intricately detailed into small dark scales that curled down to the haft end. The other end melted up into the open mouth of a snake, a leafed spear tip of valyrian steel gleaming out of it, a long slit down the end to make the forked tongue of the viper. Oberyn twirled it easily, thrusting it through the air. “It’s named Venom,” Toten said. The Red Viper smiled with a small laugh. “Thank you, Toten.”

Toten turned to face the last man who shifted his weight uncomfortably. “Lord Commander Ser Robrik Cassel,” Toten called out proudly, beaming at Ser Robrik. The old knight stepped forward hesitantly. “Your Grace, I don’t need any sword, it’s too much, and I’m not deserving of such a thing.” Toten pushed a pure white scabbard into Robrik’s hands and the old knight quieted. He slowly pulled the sword. Its pommel was quite plain, heavily crafted to the perfect balance. At the top of the hilt, a large direwolf stretched out its open mouth, the valyrian blade sprouting from within it. The crossguard was rough, cut into rock-like imperfections, angling outward. The wide fuller set into the blade was bright white and on either side, twin dark green stripes ran parallel down the blade. “Its name is Patriarch, Ser Robrik,” Toten said quietly. He could see tears well up in the old knight’s eyes as he said the name, but Robrik was too proud to let any fall. He cleared his throat. “It’s a good sword,” the lord commander said roughly, his voice thick with emotion.

“A good sword for a good man, Ser Robrik,” Toten said. Robrik stepped back into place at the center of the line of kingsguard.

“Kingsguard!” Robrik yelled out in his commanding voice. The seven members in their white cloaks drew their new swords. “Salute!” Each raised their swords in front of their faces and the dropped to one knee, swords propped on their tips before them.

They stood and sheathed their weapons and took their places around the royal family, each as loyal and true as the white linen draped across their shoulders.

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Lanncaster Log 12

Three dragons circled a fleet of ships in the distance, the ships flying Targaryen banners. Toten stood on the bow of his flagship, Stonebreaker, studying the distant fleet, assessing the numbers rapidly. He stepped down to Robrik and Gabby waiting for him.

“We need to land first. If we can get to the castle first, we can hold it and the beaches. Balerion the Black burned Harrenhal, but those dragons are not Balerion. It will take them time, time that we can use.”

Gabby studied her husband carefully and nodded. “I’ll get to my ship,” she said. She stepped close to Toten and leveled her voice at him. “I’ll see you soon, Toten.” It was not a question, but an order.

Toten nodded and Gabby was ferried off to her own ship, the Dragons already waiting. Toten returned to the bow with Robrik, his eyes darting over the enemies, always studying for the advantage. Over the water a faint roar echoed past the waves. “Get the men, prepared, Robrik,” Toten ordered. “We’re going to hit hard and fast.”

Toten leaped over the gunwale of the ship as it crashed its way up onto the beach. He landed heavily but rose quickly, Shatterstone already in hand. The doors built into the ship crashed open and Toten was joined swiftly by his kingsguard, swords drawn and together they charged up the beach, slaying the ironmen that rushed down at them from the hills, Toten always in front. The boy that had first come to Pyke was gone, and in his place was a man, intent on reclaiming all that was taken from him on those beaches all those years ago.

Toten stared across the land on Pyke at ten thousand men, many dothraki and unsullied slave soldiers. More crowded on scores of ships still out to sea. Behind him, his own forces gathered, formed into perfect formation to counter any sudden attacks. A small part trotted forward with a banner of parlay. Toten turned to Robrik. The old knight’s mouth was set in a hard line as he looked over the enemy. He would never say anything, but Toten knew what the lord commander was thinking, he’d grown up studying that face.

Toten spurred Thorn forward, his kingsguard, Oberyn, and Robb Stark following. As they met, the knights across from them removed their helms, revealing Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jorah Mormont.

“Lord Lanncaster,” Ser Barristan said. “It’s been some time.”

“Yes it has,” Toten said in measured tones. He respected few men more than the former commander of the kingsguard, but the man sat in front of an opposing army. One that threatened his kingdom and whose leader was blackmailing Lons.

“There’s no need for any senseless death here,” Selmy said plainly, spreading his arms to take in all the surrounding forces. “We have not come to fight a war against you, as our letters should have related to you.”

“Are you proposing a cessation of hostilities?”

The old knight nodded. “You’ll remove your ships from the docks. Those who are landed may remain,” Toten said, mind still focused on potential battles. He would not be caught unaware by this other Targaryen’s forces. Selmy considered for a moment and spoke. “It will be done.”

Toten inclined his head. “Then we have terms.”

“I believe I should lead the khaleesi’s forces through the gate first,” Ser Jorah said, the group looking towards the gate of Pyke where the unsullied hurled rams against it.

Lord Stark approached from Toten’s other side. “I should lead the attack,” the boy said. “It was my father who won the last battle here, it should be I who does so this time, especially since Sansa was forced to marry that beast.”

“Victarion Greyjoy was killed by Ser Jorah some days ago,” Selmy spoke. “Your sister is quite well back on the ships. As is the lady Tyene.” Toten saw his generals stiffen as their loved ones’ names were mentioned. Victarion slain, Toten brooded. His fist clenced tightly. I had hoped to meet him here. To settle all of this. And of course they would levy hostages against us. But they have one other one as well. Lons…

“I will lead the attack,” Toten said, his voice commanding authority. His eyes drilled into Selmy. “I have unfinished business on this island. I failed here as a boy. I will not do so again.”

Selmy met his gaze with a steely resolve. “As you will, Lord Toten.”

Shatterstone sang with the tune of battle, ringing as Toten marched through the castle, slaying those ironborn who found themselves in front of him. Blood sprayed over his armor as he parried and swung, tearing a swathe through the castle. He sprinted onto the first drawbridge as the ironborn tried to lower it, but Toten made his way into the guardhouse befor they could cut the ropes, his sword cutting through their bodies first. His kingsguard swarmed after him, each white cloak stained red as they tore quickly to the next drawbridge, stringing up ropes of their own to rush their way across.

Toten led the way towards the hall where the seastone chair awaited. His knights were close behind, as were Selmy, Jorah, and their soldiers. The few remaining soldiers they encountered either yielded quickly or were cut down.

Toten rounded the last corner and saw Gabby, wiping blood from her daggers before sheathing them. Blood ran from several cuts across her face and bare arms. At her feet was the man who could only have been Euron Crows-Eye, a mangled mess of a wound where his one eye should have been.

The king rushed into the room and up to Gabby. “Gabby, are you all right? You’re bleeding.” The queen started to reassure her husband as Toten began to look around the room. His eyes found Lons’ familiar face standing only a few paces away. “Lons,” Toten cried. “Lons, help Gabby, she’s been hurt…”

Toten’s eyes widened and turned back towards the man he had not seen in almost five years. “…Lons?…”

Toten and Gabby stood on one side of the room, the knights of the kingsguard, the hand of the queen, several of her Dragons, and the warden of the north behind them.

Across from them stood Danyers Targaryen, Maester Lons, Selmy, Jorah, and several of the woman’s soldiers.

Toten looked in shock over his friend’s face. It was much the same as he remembered it. Memories flooded him as he looked him over. His gaze shifted to the woman and his mouth set in a firm scowl, teeth clenched painfully. I won’t let her dig her claws into him any longer. Lons is back where he should be now, and no force in westeros will let her spin her lies any further, dragons or not.

Toten extended a hand out towards Lons. “Lons,” he said, voice dripping with relief and the pain of absence. “It’s ok, Lons. She can’t hold you any longer. You’re back, Lons. Finally back. Come home, brother.”
Lons didn’t move from his position. His mouth moved in a strained way, as if something were fighting its way out of him. Toten’s eyes narrowed in confusion. Why didn’t Lons come over? He couldn’t be afraid of her warriors, not with Toten there. Why after so long didn’t Lons come to him?

“I…can’t, Toten,” Lons managed after a moment. “I sent the letter…I’ve come a long way with Dany, and I can’t leave her now, but I have missed you, my friend.”

Toten’s mind raced back to the letter he had crumpled in his hands some weeks before. He shook his head, not wanting to believe. “But it was all lies,” he said meekly. “Wasn’t it?”

Lons dropped his head. “It was the truth, Toten.”

“You…you serve her?”

“…I do…”

Toten felt as though a blow struck him hard, deep in his core, piercing the solid protection of his armor to settle deep in his heart, a gaping wound like none he’d ever felt before in any battle he’d ever fought. It threatened to stagger him on the spot.

A mask dropped over Toten’s face as the betrayal washed over him. His teeth clenched and his eyes darted to the horrid woman standing next to Lons. She had taken him away, sunk her foul claws into Lons and pulled him away with the allure of her dragons, using them as leverage, something Toten would never have, to keep them apart.

His eyes locked back on Lons, anger making his hands shake as they reached towards the crown on his head. He plucked it off. “Here,” Toten snarled at Lons, baring his teeth. “Take it,” he threw the crown to the ground at Lons’ feet. “It means nothing now.” Toten whirled and stalked toward the door where several of her men stood. His hand twitched at his sword, waiting for a reason. “Get the fuck out of my way!” he roared, shoving his way past them.

Toten stumbled through the halls of Pyke, hands grabbing at his hair, breath coming in quick gasps as he staggered away from the throne room. He let out small streams of curses in between gasps. He shouldered his way into a room and found it filled with items. He looked at it for a moment, panting.

A wordless roar erupted from his throat as he picked up a desk and smashed it against the wall, shattering it and dozens of things on it. His fists punched through glass and wood, feet kicked through tools and doors. “No!” he yelled, breaking a chair over the hearth. “I don’t care how many dragons she has!” More yells mixed with sobs broke through until Toten found he couldn’t see through the tears welled up in his eyes.

A voice spoke up behind him. “You feel better now, boy?” Toten turned, trying to blink away the tears and saw Ser Robrik come into focus. “How could he, Robrik? He was my brother…” The old knight sighed. “He’s been gone a long time, Toten. He’s seen things we can’t even dream of. But just because he has new friends, it doesn’t mean he’s forgotten about his old ones, or what that friendship means.”

“You remember what it was like for me after the last time I returned from this place. How I was. It was Lons coming to Rockfall…he saved me, Robrik.”

“I know, boy. You each followed your own path. But sometimes different paths can lead to the same castle, Toten.” Robrik waited for a response that did not come, before turning and walking from the room, closing the door behind him.

Toten sat at one of the less damaged desks in the room, on the one chair he’d missed in his destruction, staring intently at the wood grain, picking pieces of shattered glass out of it, pondering how he had come so far only to have it all cut out from under him. He hadn’t left the room for two days. Gabby had had meals brought up to him, but it largely remained untouched save for the wine, which he had much of.

From out in the hallway a clicking sound grew louder, like a specter straight from his past. He could hear his father’s heavy footsteps echoing down the corridor, the swish of his cloak against the dusty floor. The haunting noise stopped for a moment before several sharp raps came at the door. Toten stiffened and the now crooked desk creaked.

“Toten,” came Lons’ voice. “It’s Lons.” Toten scowled, trying not to make any more noise. “I know who it is,” Toten said gruffly. There was a pause. “Toten,” Lons pleaded. “Please talk with me.”

Toten waited again, not sure what to say or do, emotions running through his mind.

“It’s not barred, if that’s what you’re asking,” he said, his voice rough and haggard. He heard the door creak open without looking up. The clack of Lons’ cane filled the room as he came over and Toten heard the bed groan wearily as Lons sat on it.

“Toten…”

“It’s been a long time, Lons,” Toten said thickly, the words heavy on his tongue.

“It has,” Lons said, cautiously. “I’ve thought of you and your family each day since I’ve left.”

“I’ve never felt so wounded, Lons. I’ve taken blows, terrible ones through this war.” Toten turned a pained face towards Lons, his eyes red and face unkempt. “None have been so bad as this. When I see you with her…”

“I may be serving Dany now, my friend. But I have never forgotten our friendship.”

Toten stood suddenly and Lons jumped slightly. The taller man walked to the window and gazed out at the frost covered island below him. “The last time I came back from this island, Lons… I was broken. I never told anyone before, Lons, but…you were the one who helped bring me back from that.”

“Do you remember why I left westeros in the first place? It was to protect you. You, Gabby, the children. I did it for you.” Lons sighed deeply. “The iron throne, all of that bullshit…none of that matters compared to our friendship.”

Toten looked out the window as a tear rolled down into his coarse beard, the cold wind biting against it. He wanted to rage against Lons, to cast him from the room, curse this new woman, call them enemies, and be free of him forever. Toten turned from the window, ready to declare his anger. But his eyes didn’t see an enemy before him. They saw Lons, standing softly, his shoulders slumped humbly, eyes shadowed with a gloomy tension. He saw the brother he had left in King’s Landing. The brother he had grown with in Rockfall. Toten Lanncaster saw a friend, old and true. A weight fell from him, the rage and hurt fading like snow melting in spring, leaving only the deep love and friendship that had been with him since the beginning.

Toten brought his hand forward, a timid smile twitching the corners of his mouth. Lons took his hand. “It’s good to have you back,” Toten said softly. “Brother.”

Lons smiled, relief coloring his features. “You too, Toten. In fact…I brought something for you from Essos.” The maester stepped out of the door and quickly returned, bearing a large metal object. He turned it and held it out to Toten, revealing a magnificently crafted shield that bore a large rock in the middle, cracking out through the rest of the metal.

Toten’s mouth opened as he took it gingerly. It was surprisingly light in his hands as he inspected it. “It’s incredible, Lons. It’s…”

“Valyrian steel,” Lons said. “I made it for you.” Toten was awestruck, speechless. He strapped the shield on and gawked. Lons waited a moment and then turned to leave.

“Lons…”

The maester turned back and Toten swept him into a crushing embrace, years missed friendship shared between them. They parted, Toten with a wide smile on his face. Lons turned again to leave and opened the door. Ser Robrik stood in the doorway, arms crossed.

“You boys feel better now, do you?” The two younger men exchanged a look and turned back to Robrik, trying unsuccessfully to contain grins. Robrik grunted. “That’s what I thought. Now get moving. There’s work to do.”

Toten strode down the halls of Pyke. His face was cleaned and trimmed. He wore a smooth doublet of dark green and deep gold. His new shield was slung over his back, over the rough fur of the shadowcat cloak, Shatterstone hanging from his hip, crown sitting low on his head.

The doors of the meeting room swung open with a mighty groan and creak. Toten stood framed in the doorway as all heads turned his way. His wife smiled at him in that way she had. Toten strode forward into the room, head held high, and took the seat at the head of the table. He inclined his head towards the woman at his left. “Lady Danerys.” The mother of dragons nodded back with a small smile. “Lord Lanncaster.”

“What’s this?” Gabby asked, holding up a small, beaten package as she and her husband packed to leave Pyke.

“I’m not sure,” Toten said, taking it from her. “I must have missed it when I was cleaning up.”

“Well open it, you fool,” Gabby said, playfully pushing on Toten’s arm. Toten sat in one of the chairs and pulled off the small strings that held the package together, opening it gingerly. A dark green rock greeted him and Toten removed it, studying it. It was cut in the shape of a mountain, tall and imposing. Toten set it on the desk and looked beneath it. Numerous glass jars sat in the bottom of the box. Toten pulled one out and looked at the label. ‘Pepper – Dorne.’ He took out the next. ‘Juniper – Lys.’ On and on it went. ‘Saffron – Volantis,’ ‘Paprika – Qarth,’ ‘Anise – Yunkai,’ ‘Basil – Astapor,’ ‘Sage – Mereen,’ ‘Cinnamon – Yi Ti,’ ‘Mint – Asshai.’ Each label was written in Lons’ hand and with each new jar Toten felt new tears roll down his cheeks.

Toten stood on the bow of another ship, sailing back east, Lons close by. In the distance the coast of westeros was beginning to take shape. Toten put a hand on Lons’ shoulder. “Can you see it, Lons?”

“I can. Lannisport.”

“No, Lons,” Toten said, a purposeful tone to his voice. “Home.”

Preparations were well underway for Lons’ wedding to Tyene. Casterly Rock had all but been transformed by the Targaryen women and their cohorts, flowers and meals being brought in from as far away as Dorne. Toten did his best to stay out of their way, but made it his job to see to security, a task that Lons was also passionate about.

Toten walked back towards his chambers, looking to avoid another job from Gabby. He opened the door to his chambers and found Danerys folding up several cloths on the desk. “Oh,” Toten started. “Lady Danerys. My apologies.”

“No need for apologies, Lord Toten. These are your chambers after all. I’m just here to collect some fabric for your wife.”

Toten stood awkwardly as Danerys gathered the cloth and moved toward the door. She reached for the handle on the oaken door. “Lady Danerys,” Toten called. The Targaryen turned to face him.

Toten gathered his thoughts, still unsure of his feelings towards the woman.. “My lady,” he began. “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but know that my duty is to this realm. If there is a threat to it, I will do all in my power to stop it.” Across from him, the mother of dragons nodded her head. “That being said,” Toten continued. “If there is to be a war, you’re going to need me. You may have dragons, but I know these lands. I know its people. I know what they’ll fight for and how far I can push them, how to raise them against an enemy. You need to understand this. I’ve fought a war here for five years and I can command these people.” He looked hard into her eyes, studying them. “If we go into battle and I give an order, you need to follow it. If you do not, it could mean the difference between winning and losing. And if what you say is true…we can not afford to lose.”

Danerys raised her eyebrows as Toten spoke, looking like no one had ever spoken to her in such a way before. Slowly, she nodded. “I understand, Lord Toten,” she said carefully. “I know how to follow orders when I need to.” Toten bobbed his head and Danerys took her leave, leaving Toten alone with thoughts of the future.

Toten walked down the corridors of Casterly Rock, his armor freshly polished for Lons’ wedding, a small parcel under one arm, his cloak rustling against the floor. He reached the chambers that Lons had been using and raised his hand. He let out a heavy sigh and rapped three times on the door. The door swung open and Toten faced Lons, dressed in the strange robes he had worn since arriving in Westeros, though they were freshly cleaned. The maester invited him in and Toten stepped over the threshold. Danerys was sitting at a small desk near the window. “Lady Danerys,” Toten said, surprised to see her. He looked between her and Lons. “I can return if this is a bad time.”

“No, not at all,” Danerys said, standing. “I can leave if you require privacy.”

“You can stay, Lady Danerys,” Toten said, looking towards Lons. “There’s no need for you to leave.” “What’s going on, Toten?” Lons asked him.

Toten set the parcel on a table and opened it as he began to speak. “I know you’re having a red priest at the ceremony, but you know we have westrosi traditions as well. I had the tailor prepare a few things. I wasn’t sure…I…” he stammered, eyes flitting between the other two. “I didn’t know if perhaps you needed a cloak for the ceremony. I have this,” he said, laying out a cloak with the white chevron and sun over red of house Ashford. “Or I wasn’t sure if…if it was…” he trailed off as he laid down a second cloak, the sigil of house Lanncaster bright upon it. “Or I thought perhaps if those were not acceptable, that perhaps,” he reached up and unclasped his shadowcat cloak, holding it before him.

A smile brightened Lons’ face as he slowly extended his hand towards the shadowcat cloak. “It’s the only thing from home that I have,” Toten said softly. “Thank you, Toten,” Lons said, taking the cloak in one hand. He handed his cane to Toten as he began to fasten the cloak on.

Toten gazed at the wooden cane in his hands. The top was that of a dragon. But the dark wood was familiar to him, it had come from a dark sycamore that grew just above the castle at Rockfall. His father’s cane. The one he had given Lons after his injury. Toten lost himself in memories as he looked at the cane, feeling its weight in his hands and the smooth edges his father had crafted.

He looked up to see Lons in the cloak, reaching out his hand for the cane. “Thank you, my friend,” Lons said, taking the cane and making his way from the room, the click of the cane fading down the hallway.

“He never lost it, you know,” Danerys’ voice came softly from Toten’s side. “Not through sea voyages or battles, or riding dragons. He always kept it with him.” Toten nodded stiffly, not trusting himself to speak, lest his voice betray the tears that threatened him. Danerys smiled gently as she picked up the cloak emblazoned with the rock of Lanncaster. She reached her hands up to Toten’s shoulders and clasped the cloak there on each shoulder from behind him slowly. She moved around in front of him and smoothed the cloak over his armor with gently precision. Toten looked down at her as she did. Lons had befriended this woman he thought. If she was good enough for him, that was more than enough for Toten. Danerys finished her work and stood back, turning to leave the room.

“Danerys…” The mother of dragons turned back to the lord of Rockfall.

Toten held out his arm with a smile. “Shall we, my lady?” Dany returned his smile and slid her arm through his and together they left the room, eager to share in their friendship of Lons, and ready to forge a new friendship of their own.

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Allegiances tested

(So, uh, this was pretty much stream of consciousness/brain dump style. I don’t want to touch it, but who knows. I think it turned out alright."

Lons hobbled up the stairs of the ancient castle. The hallways were unfamiliar to him, save the monotonous, echoing report of his cane down the hallway. He approached the door, setting his load down near the door. He stopped for a moment, trying to ready himself for what would come. It had been a few days since he’d seen Toten. Hell, it already felt like another lifetime. Four years gone and he was reunited with a crown thrown at his feet and a goodbye filled with pain. He thought of the friends he’d lost on the journey home. Some were lost many moons ago but still just as vivid in his mind. Others were lost merely days ago. Marwyn’s death still burned inside him. Those couldn’t be the last words that were spoken between Toten and Lons.

He knocked on the door.

A rustling of fabric and creak of wood were his only response.

“Toten…It’s Lons.”

“I know who it is.” A gruff, pain filled voice spoke. The tongue was hardly familiar. It was not the man Lons had left behind. Not the man he had expected to see. He was a mere shadow of the man they had been what seemed like so many years ago.

“I only want to talk…Please Toten, just talk with me.”

“The door’s not barred, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Lons took that as permission enough. He swung the door open, revealing a room that looked like it had been hit with a mountain. Tables were overturned and splintered. Chairs lay strewn in pieces across the floor. A wardrobe stood riddled with holes and listing on a broken leg.

‘Seven hells, this poor man…’ Lons thought.

He had to make him understand. Memories flooded back. That first day when the two had met raced back into his mind just as vivid as his breakfast. A dreary day, as per usual in Rockfall was when they had all returned. Toten had been bloodied in the battle for the very same isle they now stood upon. Victarion had nearly killed the lad. He had dealt with so much. Lons had helped him through it, carefully helping him through the problems. It wasn’t all him, of course.

Ser Robrik had guided the boy, helping him learn how to cope with the inevitable results of battle. Many hours spent talking, practicing drills to keep his mind off of things, or to force him to face his demons.

“Toten… I know this must be difficult, to say the least.”

Toten sat, grim faced with an unkempt beard at a desk across the room. He gave no response, barely an acknowledgment of Lons existence.

‘Damnit man, you’re one of the few friends I have left.’ Lons thought. ’You’ve got to talk to me you golem of a man.’

Toten finally spoke, surprising Lons slightly.

“Lons, it’s been a long time.”

“I know… it certainly has.” Lons replied, setting down a small bundle on the bed, which seemed to sag as if the frame itself had buckled under some tremendous attack.

There was a silence between the two of them, and Lons thought for a moment that he’d lost him. Suddenly, Toten spoke up.

“I never felt so broken. When I see you with that woman…I’ve taken blows that no man could stand, but that…” he trailed off, falling silent. The pain was clear on his face.

His words hit Lons like a battering ram, still, he pressed on. Losing another friend to anything other than death was not going to happen. He couldn’t let it.

He couldn’t take it.

“When Marwyn asked me to go to Qarth, it was for this reason.” Lons chimed in. “I may be serving Dany, but I have not forgotten our friendship.”

“You know Lons, when you left, you were my brother.” Toten added. “Now, gods, it’s been so long…”

“ Do you remember why I left Westeros in the first place? It was to protect your family. You, Gabby, the kids…everyone. I did it for you.”

Toten stood and walked to the open window where the chilled sea breeze blew in through balcony.

“The road may have led me down a different path, but I am still your friend. The Iron Throne, all of that bullshit… none of that matters compared to our friendship.”

“Not a day went by when home didn’t cross my mind.” Lons continued, still sitting amidst the ruins of the room; amidst the ruins of a friendship once so strong.

Toten turned back from the window and approached Lons. The two locked eyes for a moment, tears threatening both of them. (Danielle Steel edit: And they kissed longingly.)

Toten thrust his hand forward. Lons clasped his hand and they shook. A weight seemed to lift off the room.

“It’s good to have you back…brother.” he said, a smile on his face for the first time since Lons had seen him.

Lons smiled, glad to have his friend back. He was glad to have this all behind him. He’d gained a new friend in Dany, but it would be worth nothing if it meant losing everyone else he cared about.

Lons stepped back outside, grabbing an item from the hallway.

He held the shield out for the warrior. It was a finely crafted item, bearing a cracked rock hammered into the shining finish. He’d spent quite a lot of time on it. In fact, there were several shields that hadn’t met his approval arming several of the Unsullied.
“I figured it was fitting. Just a small bit of something from my travels. It’s Valyrian steel, made in Asshai.”

Toten took the shield, looking it over. He clasped it onto his arm, lacing the leather straps together. A grin came across his face. For the first time in years, Lons saw Toten’s face brighten.

Lons smiled, turning to walk away.

“Lons…”

Lons turned. Toten looked as if he was a changed man. No longer did he appear gaunt and shrunken. He was the same lord that Lons had left so many years ago.

Toten embraced Lons, the two friends glad to see the other after so much happened to them. So much had changed them.

After a moment, Toten held Lons by the shoulders.

“It’s good to have you back, brother.”

“It’s good to be back.”

Lons turned and left, leaving the spices on Toten’s bed, unmentioned. Spices from every corner of the world lay in the small bundle. Lons may serve a new queen, but his allegiances had never changed. They’d only grown.

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A flip of the coin
"Lons Marywn Death Post of Feels Doom.doc"

Lons leaned against the gunwale. Two broken chains draped across his hands. Everyone seemed sullen, even the dragons flew with less vigor and flash than they usually did. Lons mind raced with memories. He saw hundreds of evening spent with his mentor. Evenings spent talking of fantasy, reality and everything in between. Philosophy, magic, ethics… no topic was left untouched by their two kindred minds. His mind settled on one of these myriad of evenings. Lons and Marwyn, sitting under the open sky just off the port of Old Town.

“Perhaps the Dothraki have something right…” Marwyn muttered after spitting a wad of sourleaf out, a sight Lons had grown accustomed to.

“They certainly know how to fight. Or so I’m told. A superstitious lot as well, from most of the reports.” Lons added, taking a swig of “Firewine”, something Marwyn had found while travelling. It was a strangely spiced wine, but Lons had learned to enjoy it. And Marwyn had always enjoyed talking of his travels.

“That’s…true, I suppose. But the superstitions aren’t all superstition.” Marwyn said, spitting out the rest of his sourleaf. His smile stained red from the juices as he spoke in the low lantern light.

“They say, that when a warrior dies, his spirit goes to ride the sky with the Great Stallion.”

Lons laughed. “Certainly there is no Great Stallion…”

Marwyn’s face turned serious as he spoke. “Perhaps not a stallion, but I think there is merit to the idea. A man is not gone forever. He lives on in what he has left the world, whether it’s something as simple as a kind word, writings, a smile and a handshake. Everything a man does impacts the world around him. When we go, we leave that behind. What we teach, show, play, love… all of that leaves an imprint, a ripple if you will, on the ocean of time.”

Lons nodded, encouraging Marwyn to continue. He sat in silence, simply absorbing the conversation.

“I would wager that this ripple, connects the two worlds. Life and death. They are truly the same thing. Like the ancient sorcerers used to believe. Death magic and healing magic are just used to different ends, they are the same.”

Lons smiled. Marwyn’s charisma was certainly bringing him to see his point. Perhaps it was the wine, but Lons could understand the old man’s ramblings.

“You aren’t going to die on me now, are you Old Man Marwyn?” Lons said with a laugh.

Marwyn chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry about that boy. I’ve got some years ahead of me. But, like every man and beast, that day comes for us all. The trick is to leave behind what good we can while we are here.”

The old man turned to watch one of the ships slowly rowing out into the bay on the dark water. Few ships left at night, but the captains that did were certainly skilled. It took a strong heart to navigate the harbor with nothing save the torchlight. Luckily for them, the moon shone full, easing the journey.

“Death is just one more adventure to a new land. One day, all of us will pull out of port, just like this vessel here, to witness a world larger than we ever thought possible.”
‘I hope I leave some goodness behind in you boy.’ Marwyn thought idly.

Over the years, Marwyn would come back to this conversation as he and Lons spoke. His mind was at ease, the more he taught the young maester. Maybe there was good to come out of the citadel, even in a time where magic was a laughingstock.

One day, Lons would come to know the truth about magic, Marwyn decided. He’d seen it in the flames before.

Lons snapped back to reality as Viseryion let out a mighty roar that echoed across the ocean. In the distance, another fleet approached, flying Targaryen and Lancaster banners.

Lons looked out to the waves, then down at his chain… and Marwyn’s chain.

“Best of luck on your new journey, old friend.” Lons said aloud. “We’ll speak again someday.”
With that, he let the chains drop into the dark waters.

Viseryion roared again. Lons wondered if Marwyn existed somewhere in the great beast, somehow part of the great power that the creatures exuded.

Lons smiled. Marwyn would have most certainly proposed such a theory.

The chains slipped into the water without a small splash, leaving a ripple in it’s wake.

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