Tag: Honor and Blood (page 2 of 2)

Honor & Blood, III: The Watcher

Courtesy HBO's Game of Thrones

Please note: 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.

The Story So Far: It is Year 296 since Aegon’s Landing. House Luxon is in the process of returning a trove of stolen blades to their rightful Houses. Victor Luxon has now crossed the sands of Dorne to return the final blades to House Martell. Accompanying him from Sunspear to the Water Gardens is Maester Chrysander, newly appointed to service at Moat Cailin. Cadmon Hightower, however, is nowhere to be found…

They were two, now, while three had entered the Water Gardens.

Areo Hotah was in step behind them, silent, his poleaxe leaned against the crook of his shoulder and his hand resting on its shaft. They walked at a reasonable pace, both for his Prince and for one of their visitors. They said they’d come from House Luxon, far to the north in a castle once ruined. Yet only one of them appeared to be of Northerly stock. He was broad of shoulder and long of gait, even if Hotah was slightly taller. His eyes betrayed neither mirth nor treachery, and his mouth seemed to speak only blunt truths. Hotah admitted he was taking a liking to him.

“I still don’t see why we’re here, while I do appreciate Your Highness’ hospitality.” Victor Luxon pushed Doran Martell across the pink marble floor slowly. The wheels on the chair had been freshly oiled, and made no noise. There was occasionally a metal rattle from Hotah’s armor or a scuff from Victor’s boots, but the sound permeating the hall was the rhythmic clack of the maester’s staff against the floor. The sun glistened on the bald pate of the older man, who had no hair whatsoever on his skull. Even his eyebrows were missing.

“I wanted to show you all that Dorne offers.” The Prince’s voice was set at its most magnanimous. “I can only imagine what you might have heard from the smallfolk in Highgarden on your way here.”

“I had begun to acquire a taste for your Dornish wine in Oldtown.” Victor smiled. “You can tell a lot about a people by their wine.”

“Oh? And what does our wine tell you about us, young Luxon?”

“The wine has a sweet taste, many textures and a warm finish that may burn if you aren’t prepared for it.”

“We had the pleasure of drinking it without it being watered down,” Maester Chrysander observed. “I shudder to think what becomes of it in less civilized parts of the world.”

“I wouldn’t strictly called Oldtown ‘civilzed’.” Victor Luxon was frowning. “It has its share of unruly elements. Mostly in and around the ports.”

“Isn’t your young friend something of a sailor?” Doran turned to look over his shoulder at Victor. “He has that look about him.”

Victor’s hands visibly tightened on the handles of the chair. Hotah noticed this, and the way the maester took a discreet step further away from him.

“He is not what I’d call a friend.”

“Yet you traveled together.”

The maester stepped close again as they walked. “The young master is, ah, of an opposing personality with the heir of Hightower. Born a bastard and raised in the Free Cities, his attitude can be somewhat cavalier at times.”

“He’s a green, vain, arrogant boy, and I trust him about as far as I can throw him.”

Hotah hid a smile. Victor was a capable warrior, it showed in his every movement. It’d be an honor to meet him even in the yard, trading blows. Yet he had all the subtlety of Robert Baratheon’s fabled warhammer.

“You needn’t concern yourself with Cadmon Hightower any longer, young Luxon. He has asked me for the privilege of staying in Sunspear for the time being, and after hearing his petition I’m of a mind to oblige him.”

Victor Luxon blinked. “Why would he want to do such a thing?”

“Perhaps he fancies one of my daughters. He couldn’t court them anywhere near as well from Moat Cailin, now could he?”

Hotah studied the guests. Luxon simply shook his head, looking disgusted. He thinks the boy a fool, blinded by lust and power plays. The maester, on the other hand, seemed locked in his own thoughts. His expression was distant but otherwise inscrutible.

Prince Doran picked up on it. “You seem quiet, Maester Chrysander. Shall I guess your thoughts?”

Chrysander looked to the Prince and smiled. “You might be mistaken, my Prince, at what they are. Perhaps a game of cyvasse instead, with our thoughts as the stakes?”

“That again? Do you play it in your sleep?”

“You could be a fair player, young master. I would not disparage it out of hand, in spite of your losses. It teaches much about…”

“Boredom? Obscure rules? Treachery and deception?”

“I was going to say, ‘warfare’.” Chrysander’s smile was that of a teacher speaking to an obstinate student. “Your aggressive playstyle would be suited for some opponents, but you must learn to anticipate beyond the next move.”

“I deal with what’s in front of me.”

“Such honesty seems a uniquely Northern trait,” the Prince observed.

“I’ve noticed, Prince.” Victor sounded only slightly more bitter than usual. “Too many around the Iron Throne seem to like hiding daggers in their smiles.”

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t always see the threats that ally against us.” Prince Doran steepled his fingers as they approached the courtyard, where the children played as they always did. Chrysander smiled beatifically, and Victor blinked a few times.

“I come here whenever I need a reminder of what we’re fighting for.” Doran’s posture relaxed as he took in the sight. “Ensuring I never lose sight of what is most precious to me.”

“I understand.”

Doran turned to look up at Victor. “I’ve no doubt you do. Perhaps one day you’ll have children of your own, and understand more deeply.”

“As long as my sons are strong,” Victor replied. Chrysander leaned on his staff.

“I’ve no doubt they will be, young master.”

“We’ll watch them play for a time, if you’ll indulge me.” Prince Doran was now utterly at ease. Areo Hotah rested the pommel of his axe against the white marble floor. Despite the manner of the Prince’s guests, he remained watchful, as he always did. “Afterwards we shall take a midday meal, and then make arrangements to return to Sunspear where you can take ship to White Harbor. Martell is in your debt for the return of our blades and the justice done in the name of their owners. It is the least we can do to see you safely home.”

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Next: Jon

Honor & Blood, II: Chrysander

Courtesy HBO's Game of Thrones

Please note: 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.

The Story So Far: It is Year 296 since Aegon’s Landing. House Luxon is in the process of returning a trove of stolen blades to their rightful Houses. Carrying those belonging to the Houses of the Reach and Dorne, Victor Luxon has reached Oldtown. After delivering the treasures of House Hightower, the Citadel offers the growing House of the North something no political force in Westeros should be without: a maester. The Archmaesters have been reviewing candidates for three days…

He began the day he always did. He swung his body into a seated position on the small cot in his cell within the Citadel, in walking distance to one of the lower libraries. He used a cloth soaking in the bowl of water by his cot to clean the stump of his right calf, the flesh smooth inches below his knee where he’d been cut free of the dead horse. He reached under the cot for his leg. It was made of two pieces of ash, one shaped like a foot and the other taking the place of his lost leg tissue, held together with a sturdy pin of iron. He strapped it into place with the specific procedure he’d used countless times since coming to the Citadel as a novice. The leg had been his own design, perhaps the largest step in forging his link for alchemy.

He stood, ensuring the leg held, and half-hobbled to the larger water bowl on the dresser. Even with the faux leg it was difficult to move quickly without assistance. Rapid movement, like dreams of knighthood and vast sums of wealth, had been left crushed under the poor horse. He reached to the side of the bowl for the razor, washed the blade in the water, and took it to his scalp, jawline and lips. He scoured his head of hair, including his eyebrows.

I am a maester of the Citadel, he told himself as he set the razor aside. Would that we had vows like the brothers of the Night’s Watch that the realm might know our quality.

Sighing, he put on his robe and fished his chain out from beneath it. Adjusting it so it hung correctly, he next took up his staff. It was old, an oak shaft just slightly taller than he, carved with Valyrian letters and symbols and topped with a shard of dragonglass. He leaned on the familiar tool, cleared his throat and opened the door.

He had been expecting one of the pages of the Citadel, or perhaps a novice like Pate, ready to help him to the library for the day’s research, filing and answering of questions.

He was instead faced with another maester.

“Maester Chrysander. The Realm has need of you.”

The figure in the hall was shorter than Chrysander, stockier and broad of shoulder, his chain easily double that of the cripple’s. In normal clothes and not the robes of a maester, he could have been mistaken for a deckhand or thug in the employ of a pirate or dock lord. Instead, his imposing frame spoke of power and knowledge. The thing that Chrysander focused on, however, was the Valyrian steel mask the other wore.

“Archmaester. I’m honored you deliver this summons in person.”

“I’ve done it before,” Marwyn sniffed, gesturing for Chrysander to join him in the hall. The junior maester did so, his staff clacking softly against the stone with every other step. “It’s not that rare. Your predecessor in your post, Maester Luwin, was also summoned in such a fashion. Of course, that was some years ago, and to an old and storied House of the North. You are going in the same direction, but to a House much younger.”

“That would be House Luxon, I take it.”

“Your ears work fine, I see, even if your legs do not.”

Chrysander looked over his shoulder. As usual, the black cat with which he shared his cell had stepped out to follow him. Selyne’s tail was straight up, crooked slightly to one side, as she padded along silently behind the maesters. After a moment, her ears pricked up and she darted down a side corridor. Chrysander smiled. She’ll be along. She needs breakfast, too.

Over a meal of bread, cheese, fruit, cooked eggs and fresh water, Chrysander discussed the post with Marwyn. The archmaester hosted his apprentice in his own rooms, where he removed his mask to eat. His red teeth tore into an apple before he spoke of Chrysander’s purpose.

“Other than providing guidance for Lord Goddard and education for his children, I advise you to keep a weather eye towards the Wall. Ravens from the North have been most disconcerting of late. The astronomers are quite nervous.”

“I suspect the Luxons are equally squirelly.”

“Ha!” Marwyn slapped the table hard, sending an orange rolling across the floor. “A good one, but I’d watch those puns if I were you. They may not be welcome in a lord’s hall.”

“I will do so, Archmaester. What else of the North?”

“As I mentioned, Luwin preceded you, as my apprentice and as a maester in the North. You know which House he serves, and their words.”

Chrysander nodded. “Winter is coming.”

“Aye. Look well-armed to receive it when it does, Chrysander. Your charge is nothing more, and nothing less. The Realm may depend upon House Luxon standing its ground when the blizzards come, bringing Seven knows what else with them.”

Chrysander fingered the ring of Valyrian steel on his chain. “It will be done, Archmaester. The Realm has called, and I will answer.”

Satisfied, they left to proceed to the yard. Chrysander made a list of provisions, books and materials he’d need for his service at Moat Cailin, and requested the garron Aloysius, a heavy and somewhat lethargic beast too large for barding and too intractable to serve as a steed. Yet he pulled carts very well and he didn’t seem to mind Chrysander’s presence. As the cart was loaded and Selyne caught up with him, Chrysander caught sight of a man in the yard testing his strength against several squires of House Hightower. Marwyn approached, his mask back in place.

The man in the blue and silver armor roared defiantly at the six men coming at him. His greatsword, blunted for practice, nevertheless floored two before they could come to grips with him. The shield of a third was splintered when he tried to attack, and he fell away, clutching a broken arm. The figure in the armor punched a fourth in the face while parrying the blow of a fifth. Pushing the warhammer away, he glanced between the two squires who still stood, and laughed heartily.

“I knew you squirts from the South were made of suet!”

This is my new Lord, Chrysander realized. No — this is the man I must teach to follow that Lord as Gatekeeper of the North. Acid ran through his heart.

The squires attacked Victor as one. Still laughing, their opponent stepped aside from one blow, parrying another and headbutting the one on his left. As the squire staggered back, blood spewing from his nose, the broad-shouldered warrior grabbed the final one by the throat and forced him to his knees. The others staggered to their feet and called out, one at a time, that they yielded.

“I’ve only seen such ferocity and dedication to victory once before,” Archmaester Marwyn observed.

“When was that?”

The man in the Valyrian steel mask turned to his apprentice, his expression inscrutable.

“Gregor Clegane. The Mountain that Rides.”

Get caught up by visiting the Westeros page.

Next: The Watcher

Honor & Blood, I: Victor

Courtesy the Wiki of Ice and Fire

Please note: All characters, locations and events are copyright George RR Martin and the events that take place during this tale can and will deviate from series canon.

The Story So Far: It is Year 296 since Aegon’s Landing. Two minor Houses have come into contention: House Luxon, sworn to the Starks of Winterfell, and House Mortmund, sworn to the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. A savage turn of events and a tireless pursuit has revealed that Lord Mortmund had employed a Faceless Man, sent the assassin to slay noble heads of Westeros nobility, while thieves and scavengers collected Valyrian heirloom blades to keep for himself. While the Luxon forces stormed and razed the Mortmund keep, a bastard named Cadmon Storm recovered the blades and killed the Faceless Man. Victor Luxon, son of Lord Goddard, went with the bastard and John Nurem, steward of the House, to King’s Landing. At High Court they presented the blades of House Baratheon to Robert, the First of his Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. Following a decree that named Cadmon the trueborn son of Baelor Hightower of Oldtown, the trio proceeded down the Rose Road to Highgarden, continuing to distribute the stolen blades to their rightful owners…

He hated the South. He hated the heat. He hated the moisture. He hated the way the greens and yellows and reds of the feilds assaulted his eyes. He hated the stinging of pollen in his eyes and the way it left dust on his arms and armor. Most of all he hated the false smiles, the courtesies, the bowing and taking of knees and “m’lord” this and “m’lady” that. He missed the North, the biting vibrant cold breezes, the heft of his weapons and the comforting weight of armor on his shoulders.

He pushed John Nurem aside and set about adjusting his clothing himself. The steward bowed and muttered some sort of apology. Spineless toad. Victor appreciated all the merchant-turned-majordomo had done for House Luxon, but more often than not he just got in the way. He looked down at his sleeves, a dark blue fabric slashed to reveal the cloth-of-gold beneath, then tugged at the fine trousers of gray with their silver piping, tucked into polished black boots. The steward swept the ermine half-cloak around his shoulders, the cloth-of-gold lining catching the light from the hearth as Victor fastened the clasp, a golden acorn. Victor reached for his swordbelt and fastened it around his waist as the knock came at the door.

“They’re ready for us.”

“In a moment, Storm,” Victor snapped. He checked the hang and fit of his clothes, thanked the gods that nobody was around to stick him with any more pins, and threw open the door. Cadmon Storm, now recognized as a Hightower, stood just outside, dressed in his own finery, the hilt of the Veracity visible behind his left hip as he tugged on the white leather gloves he wore.

Royal decree or no, the stripling’s Storm to me. “Which way’s the solar?”

Cadmon gestured with a smile. “This way, my lord.”

“Yes, your lord, and don’t you forget it, bastard.” Victor had starting itching already. It was going to be a long afternoon. Despite the powerful stride he adopted to move through Highgarden to Mace Tyrell’s solar, Cadmon had no trouble keeping up. “My father did you a great boon by taking you in, considering you showed up at our gates with naught but a bastard’s name and some pretty words.”

“I’ve proven everything that I’ve said, have I not?” The bastard didn’t stop smiling. A Southron through and through. “We destroyed a potential enemy of not only your House, but the Lannisters as well, and Luxon’s growing in respect with every stolen blade it returns.”

“Just remember it’s Luxon doing it. Not you.”

“I doubt I could forget, considering how you constantly remind me.”

“And keep your distance. I won’t have you interrupting me this time.”

Cadmon placed a gloved hand over his slashed doublet. “Why, Victor, you wound me. I thought you of all people would appreciate the need to cut to the quick.”

“Not in front of the bloody king!” The insult still burned him. He’d been telling the story of how they’d come across the blades, in detail, leaving nothing out. He wanted no secrets before the king. He learned afterward that one of the small council, the pointy-beared whisp of a man everybody called Littlefinger, had started yawning. Cadmon had interrupted, kneeled before the king and laid out the Baratheon blades taken from the serial killer that had lived under the guise of a Lannister bannerman. The delivery had won them reknown throughout the Seven Kingdoms, and a letter from Tywin Lannister himself had called upon Robert to decree Cadmon the trueborn son of Baelor Hightower, but Victor wasn’t about to let the slight go unremarked.

“Just let me do the talking this time.”

“As long as you don’t do too much of it.”

Victor growled. “You try my patience, bastard.”

Cadmon shrugged, his only reply as their quick pace had brought them to the solar. He opened the door for Victor and gestured grandly for him to enter. Cadmon fell into step behind him. Sitting in a comfortable chair with the remnants of his breakfast in front of him, Lord Mace Tyrell, Defender of the Marches, High Marshal of the Reach, Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South, wiped his hands on a napkin and gestured for them to approach. His daughter Margaery sat nearby, hands folded in her lap and smiling at Renly Baratheon, who sat nearby speaking with her quietly. Nearby, Mace’s son Loras looked on, the embroidery in his fine cloak and worked into the leather of his scabbard unsurprisngly showing various types of flowers. A slender woman with long silver hair and a dignified look smiled as they entered, walking past Victor to place a hand on Cadmon’s shoulder.

“Oh, my brother will be jealous. I get to see how handsome his son is before he even reaches Oldtown.”

“You must be my aunt Alerie.” Cadmon took her hand in his. “I’m so pleased to meet you.”

I’m going to be sick. “Lord Mace, I have no wish to overstay my welcome. May I present you with these blades of House Tyrell, taken from…”

Mace held up a meaty hand. “I did hear tell of most of this tale from my son Loras, and from Renly, when they arrived. May I see the blades?”

Victor knelt and laid out the bundle they’d made of the blades of Tyrell. Loras walked over to look down upon them as Mace leaned toward the opened canvas. He reached down and picked up the broadsword from the bunch, the central feature of its hilt being a golden rose. A matching dagger was beside it, which Ser Loras picked up.

“These were my father’s blades,” Mace said. “They said he’d fallen from a cliff, looking up and not minding where he was going. There was always something odd about that story.”

Victor nodded. “Regardless of how they came to be parted from him, they are now yours once again, Lord Mace.”

“And well I thank you for that. You do good service for your house, Luxon, and for that of your liege lord. I shall not forget it.”

Victor stood, adjusting the leather belt around his waist. He was eager to wrap this up and get into more comfortable clothes. Lord Mace invited his guests to dine with him that evening, which Victor accepted before he left the solar, leaving the bastard to speak with the woman from Oldtown.

“Victor, if I might have a word?”

He turned, to find the well-groomed Renly Baratheon following him into the corridor.

“I apologize for my brother’s brusque nature in King’s Landing. He’s so unflatteringly impatient during high court. You understand.”

“I do.” Victor shifted on his feet. “I took no offense.”

“It simply seemed unfair to extend the potential for knighthood to one such as Cadmon Hightower, and not do you the same courtesy.”

“What are you saying, my lord?”

“If you wished to squire for me, or perhaps Ser Loras, all you have to do is ask. You fought alongside us in the Greyjoy Rebellions. Your quality as a warrior is known. Why not add the reknown, respect and rewards of knighthood? What say you?”

Victor stared to Renly for a long moment. Then, taking a deep breath, he answered.

“I appreciate the offer, my lord, and I would be interested in squiring for a knight, but not for you, nor for Ser Loras.”

Renly blinked. “I beg your pardon? Why ever not?”

“You know why.”

The king’s brother narrowed his eyes. “I am attempting to extend you a courtey and opportunity, ser. You’re letting prejudice blind you.”

“The truly blind are those who still profess to love you while being ignorant of what you really are.”

“And what, exactly, am I?” Renly hand drifted to the hilt of his sword. It was one of the swords Cadmon had brought back from Mortmund’s ruin. Victor scowled and said no more, backing up a step and turning away.

Victor strode back to his quarters with haste, fueled by hatred. Was Renly simply trying to expand his collection of admirers? Victor didn’t think he was Renly’s type. He was burly where Ser Loras was slight, direct in speech where Ser Loras was circumspect. He was of the North, and Ser Loras of the South. Maybe the queer cock doesn’t discriminate, Victor thought bitterly. He slammed the door of the quarters behind him, which earned him a shriek from the bed chamber.

“Did… did it go well?”

The face of his wife poked out from the other room. Victor glared at her as he pulled the golden acorn open and yanked the ermine cloak from his shoulders.

“Lord Mace has kind things to say about House Luxon, now, giving us one less overt enemy in the South.”

“Oh, that must please you!” She moved to help him undress, her fingers slightly clumsier than those of John the house steward. She might have been on the homely side and not terribly bright, but she as at least a woman, and her hands on him working with his clothes didn’t make him so uncomfortable. “Tell me, was Lord Renly there? Or Ser Loras? Oh, he’s so elegant, with his floral armor and his…”

“Yes,” Victor hissed, exasperated. “He was there.”

Jaine giggled. “Oh, forgive me, my lord, he’s just so…”

“I know what he is. You owe me no apology.”

She responded by giggling more, especially when she was helping him out of his breeches. He sighed. Once again, the ship has left the dock with no one on board.

“Shall I help you relax, before we’re feasted by Lord Mace?”

“We have time, yes.” At least it’ll shut you up. Would that I could silence Renly or Ser Loras or that bloody bastard Storm as easily. He resolved not to think on those men any longer, however, as his wife began. Such thoughts would just be strange in this situation.

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Next: Chrysander

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