A new experiment has begun. In Reading, Pennsylvania, a friend is running a tabletop game set in the world of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. What follows are the recollections of my character, Cadmon Storm, in a journal he keeps on his person or ravens he sends to other characters. All characters, locations and events are copyright George RR Martin and the events that take place during this game can and will deviate from series canon.
My time in the House of Black and White that sits in Braavos taught me patience and drew me deeply into an understanding of the Many-Faced God. I’d wondered as a child why neither the Seven nor the rumored old gods of the North had reached me in the ways the septons were always droning on about. It could be because, in that moment when I simultaneously delivered a soul onto death and nearly fell into its arms myself, I understood how precious every moment is, and how to live through each one without regret so one could stand before death with head held high.
The man who taught me the water dance kept my dagger. It wasn’t until I took the sword from his hand that he returned it. That same day, I thanked the priests in the House of Black and White and, wearing the clothes of a bravo, hired myself as a deckhand and sellsword to a trading ship. So it was for years, before wanderings and adventures brought me to Pentos.
I was days from turning ten and seven, a man grown by Westrosi reckoning. I had taken scars and lives alike, and as I walked through the city to make my delivery I drew in the salty sea air and thought of how different it smelled from the spray of Storm’s End and the cold loam of Dragonstone. I didn’t miss them, precisely, but I knew they were the foundation upon which Cadmon Storm the bravo had been built.
I handed the wineseller his cask and took his money. I was counting it for the third time – just to be certain – when I passed the estate of a wealthy merchant. He was a former pirate, if I remembered correctly, but it wasn’t his past or his legendary temper that made me stop on the road. It was the sight on his pavilion. I remember stepping closer, more to get a better look than to avoid the cart that rolled past, the driver muttering an obscenity in Valyrian – another skill I’d refined in the House of Black and White.
She stood at the railing of the pavilion looking out over the city. Her hair, caught in the breeze and sunlight, looked as if spun from a metal more precious that silver, more rare than gold. She was wearing a fine if somewhat insubstantial dress that was very much in keeping with the fashions of the upper-crust ladies of Pentos. What captured me, though, were her eyes. Not their color, though you don’t often see them the color of amethysts. No, it was the sadness. The longing. Though she was dressed in the manner of a guest, and the serving girls within that approached her confirmed that, she looked very much a prisoner.
A little voice in the back of my mind told me I would embarass myself if she caught me gauping, and I tore my eyes away from the sight of her. Had I not, I would have missed the two bravos moving quickly and quietly before the docks.
Now, bravos in Pentos are not an entirely uncommon sight. But these men wore grey and blue scarves around their necks that clashed with their fashionable tunics and vests. It was curious and, despite my desire to linger and gaze at the girl in the pavillion, I followed, my left hand on the hilt of my blade.
They burst into a tavern not far from the docks. It was full of sailors and oarsmen from all over the Free Cities and quite a few from Westeros. One at the bar was smiling and laughing with a pair of other men, wearing a dark tunic with a strange device over his heart: an onion, embroidered in white.
It was a device I knew well.
“Maric Seaworth!” The bravo that called the name drew his blade. “You will come with us!”
Maric looked at the bravos, then drank down the remnants of his wine. “Why would I do that?”
“Your ship has raided and taken the property of our employer.” It was the other bravo who spoke now, his Westrosi Common slightly more refined. “We’ve come on behalf of our lady, Betharios of Braavos, to demand recompense.”
“You mean you come on behalf of her husband, Symond Frey.” Maric tilted his chin at them. “Which is why he put those collars on you.”
The first bravo spat. “We are no dogs!”
“And at least we are not pirates and thieves. Not like you. Now will you come with us or shall we draw your blood now?”
Maric got to his feet. People were quietly leaving the tavern or getting into a better position to watch. “I can’t leave. My ship departs with the tide. I need to be on it, you see, as I am her captain, and we have goods to take back to Westeros. Goods, I might add, that were not taken from Symond’s leaky boats.”
“We are two.” The first bravo grinned, a smile missing a few teeth. “You are one. Odds are not good, pirate.”
“Then shall we even them?” I stepped out of the crowd, drawing my own blade. “We shall duel, bravo, you and I.”
The rough bravo blinked at me. “You will stand for this Westrosi seadog?”
“Aye. Any seadog of Westeros nursed at the same bitch I did.”
Maric smiled. “The Narrow Sea’s a cold, hard one.”
“Enough talk!” The first bravo roared as he attacked. I parried and gave ground. He was boisterous enough, but he lacked finesse. The other bravo went at Maric, but the captain was quick on his feet and had a Westrosi longsword in his hand before the bravo could get close enough to stick him. I kept mine busy, moving around the tavern and letting him grow tired and stupid… well, more stupid than usual.
Sure enough, he over-extended his thrust and I took him in the chest, just below his heart. He slid back off of my blade and staggered, looking down at the wound in shock. I raised my blade to my face in salute, then turned to the other as he backed Maric into a corner. The dying bravo somehow managed a cry that belied the escaping air from his lungs. I kept my sword on the one attacking Maric and drew my dagger with my other hand. Valyrian steel whispered through the air, knocking his final thrust aside, and a good shove put him down on the floorboards. He didn’t get back up.
The other Frey bravo glanced to see me approaching him, and that’s when Maric took him. He slapped the thin blade of his opponent aside with contempt and cleaved his neck down to the spine on the reverse stroke. The bravo bled all over his Frey-colored scarf as he sank to his knees, then fell to one side. Maric cleaned his blade and gave me a nod.
“You made that a lot easier than it could have been, friend. Thank you.”
“Any family of Davos Seaworth is family of mine.”
“You know my father?”
“Quite well. This dagger was a gift. But what would Symond Frey want with you?”
“Ransom, maybe? Who knows, and more to the point, who cares?” He paused. “The dagger was a gift?”
“Aye, when I was a lad. When he helped me leave Westeros, knowing my destiny didn’t lay in the cold halls of Storm’s End where bastards like me are seen he way a noble looks at a pile of horseshit he just stepped in.”
He studied me for a moment, and then smiled slowly. “Cadmon. I thought I recognized that smirk.”
I blinked. “When did we…?”
“Once, on the Black Bertha. Father put into port and I came aboard to see him. I was… six at the time? Anyway, he made sure to remind me what you might look like when he sent my Fury on this trip.”
“I’m sorry, Maric, I don’t understand.”
We had left the tavern at that point. While I had declared the duel, and won it outright, two dead bodies were not something either Maric or I were interested in explaining. We walked across the street towards the docks, and I caught a glimpse of Illyrio’s palace out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but did not see the maiden. When I looked back, Maric was holding a ring out to me. He placed it in my hand.
The ring was heavy. It had a thick band and fit over the long finger of my left hand. Its central accent was not a gem, but a signet of white. It depicted a tall tower with a flame at the top. I studied it for a long moment as Maric helped me aboard the Fury.
“My father had a message for you, if I were to find you. He said to give you this ring, and relay the following. ‘It’s time for you to come home, Cadmon Storm. Your destiny is calling you there.'”