Me and Brutus were walking down the Kingsroad, travelling for the second day in a row now, when we finally arrived in Winter town, the largest town beside White Port in the North. There were supposed to be about 200,000 people living here, though the numbers fluctuate around the year, with the highest being about 300,000 in winter, and built right next to the Winterfell stronghold. Winterfell is considered one of the most magical places in the kingdom.
It was built by the Stark forefather thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder. It is built over a natural hot spring system that gives the surroundings mild temperatures that can allow food to be grown even in the Long Winters. Some say that the cause of it is that a giant dragon, far larger than any of the Targaryens, was killed and its body was buried under Winterfell where its body heats the area even to this day, the theory has never been proven or disproven yet.
When we arrived, I paid the entry tax at the gates and entered the town to find a decent inn. The competition would start 5 days from now, in that time I need to register and look at the competition. The inn I found was a small one by the gates, like always they didn’t allow pets inside the rooms so I paid for a stable for Brutus. I didn’t need to worry about sleeping with him, he is fully bonded with me now and there are few people who would risk angering him. He broke through to 1st tier about 2 years ago and gained a lifespan similar to mine. He is still in is growing years yet he is over 100kg already looking like one of the biggest dogs in the North, far surpassing what a normal Alaunt should grow to and looking like a large variation of a great dane. He is intelligent enough to read facial expressions and tones as well as recognize uncomplicated sentences, he won’t randomly attack anyone, and if someone tries to harm him, he can signal me with qi, and I can deal with it.
After finding an inn, it was still the morning, we decided to explore the town on the way up to the registration office. Winter Town was definitely the biggest city I had ever seen, past life included, yet it was at the same time a lot more humble and quaint than I expected. Part of that would probably due to it being the summer still and the busiest time for the city would be when winter comes and everyone crowds here to get warm. Right now, the city is at about half capacity, though more people are arriving by the day to see the tourney.
Around lunch time me we went to the main market where the smells from the variety of different meats and baked goods had us both watering at the mouth, that scared the piss out of a man who was buying skewers and when he turned around saw 2 hunters staring in his direction with a hungry gaze. He calmed down when we walked past him to buy the same as him, walking off embarrassed at the misunderstanding. The market didn’t just have the common and respectable establishments. It seems even the home to the stoic Starks can’t avoid the oldest professions in history. Down the side streets there were a number of brothels and gambling dens, sign and subtle hawkers attracting customers. The pleasure girls were quite odd from what you would expect, due to the cold they didn’t put girls with skimpy clothes, flaunting their breasts and asses, although the clothes they wore were lighter than most others, their clothes showed their full figures hiding inside of dresses, and used light make-up and interesting hairstyles, with subtle gestures leaving a tempting and mysterious looks. They almost reminded me of winter lillies, stem and flower.
I will have to check out their establishment later, if the prices are reasonable then i will go before the tourney, if not then I will go after when I have some winnings. Don’t look at me like that, yes, I'm talking to you Brutus, I was married to Elina, I loved her very much, I was loyal to her for 18 years, but she isn’t in this world, and I am going through puberty. It was not something that I expected as someone with the mind of about 56 years but it appears puberty is based primarily through hormones as opposed to mental. In fact, when I went through puberty the first time I didn’t notice it as I experienced it slowly and didn’t know how else to act, just like everyone else, this time I can see the changes in my behaviour, and a healthy release would be necessary, I won’t become a monk for the rest of my life.
After unjustly rebuking Brutus, we made our way to the top of the city where the registration office was. This is where visiting nobles come to announce themselves, and will be taken to their residence, or in the case of myself I need to pay the entry fee for the tournament and be authorised.
The entire process took about an hour, half waiting in que and the other them verifying my identity, a letter from the margrave and Ethan helped with that, when I finished, I turned to leave when I noticed Brutus was missing. I sent a signal to him which he responded with the all clear, finding him licking a pair of children. They were a pair of boy and girl, the older was the boy about 13, black, curly hair stroking Brutus on the back, while the girl was about 6 or 7, long brown hair and was currently laughing as Brutus licked her face. “Brutus come.” I call him. I usually have no trouble with Brutus playing with children, he usually has a soft spot for them, but these 2 were clearly nobles, I could tell from the fine clothes, and I have no intention for waiting for their guards to come round the corner, swords waving because they think their ward is currently being eaten.
“Apologies Ser, we didn’t know you were the owner of this fine hound, my sister and I were just walking around when he came up to us and started sniffing us. He must have liked it as he began licking Arya and I couldn’t resist petting him. My name is Jon, Jon Snow.” the boy, they were siblings apparently the hair colour is odd for siblings, though the Snow makes sense, answered. In the North if a noble has a bastard then they will have their last name be Snow, designating them as illegitimate, unless the king says otherwise. I hear that the other lands have similar rules, but just call them by different names.
“No worries, I was just wondering where he went. My name is Ben, son of David, of Oakbridge, and this is Brutus. I am not a knight so there is no need to call me Ser.” I introduced us and corrected their mistake, I was wearing chainmail and wore a sword on my hip, my bow was at the inn.
I spoke to the 2 for quite some time, finding them to be delightful. Jon was a capable young man who was training in swordsmanship and was very proper for his age, the girl on the other hand was nothing like you would expect of a noble daughter. She was headstrong, spirited and curious. The 2 of them had left the castle, I found out they were Stark children to my shock, and they were out here to see the competitors for the tournament. I almost ran for the inn the moment I heard they were Starks, but Brutus’s whining combined with Jon’s offer to give me the list of melee competitors convinced me to stay. When an hour had past, we heard several guards calling their names and they went off before they would get in even more trouble. I likewise made myself scarce and headed to the inn where I am staying.