If someone told me a month ago that I would be going on a journey to save a princess from and evil king, I would sock them in the mouth for spewing shit. Or buy them a drink for telling such a funny story.
But no, here I am, a small knight from the village of Oakbridge, escorting the youngest daughter of the Stark family home after helping to kill king Joffrey and pursued by the Lannisters. I originally came to the capital to try my hand at the tourney, fight a few fights, drink some expensive ale, fuck a few girls. Then everything changed when I met my old friend, Ben.
It’s strange, because if you were to ask anyone in Oakbridge, who is more likely to get us into this sort of mess, they would all point to me. I didn’t cause a lot of trouble when growing up, at least compared to the others my age I was pretty average. I have definitely been more adventurous than Ben. It was me who left home at 15 to become a mercenary. It was I who went to war to earn glory and fame.
Ben on the other hand I always considered an old man trapped inside a boy’s body. I met him when he wasn’t even 10 years old, over a decade ago. Yet right from the beginning he acted like he was the older one. He could write better than my dad, speak better than the margrave, and provided food and money to his family.
When I asked him to go to war with me, he said no. Despite explaining his reasons, I didn’t really agree with him until later. He was always cautious, never bit more than he could chew, and when he had a task he would think of a dozen ways to do it. Slow and steady, calm and measured were the words to describe him if asked. No, the oldies back at the village would be shocked if they knew all the stupid stuff he was doing.
I was pretty shocked when I met him in Kings Landing, The big cities were never his sort of thing, though I suppose his weight in gold was enough to persuade him. I noticed he was different from the start, though I couldn’t tell how. He seemed more confident and less worried. When we came to that brothel, surrounded by soldiers I admit I was expecting him to run. The Ben I knew would never get into a fight he couldn’t win. Not to say he was a coward, but the few times I have seen or heard of him confronting someone he couldn’t beat, he would always attack in a way that he could win. It was more likely he would accept the pretty man’s offer, leave the encirclement, then stab them in the back. That or run to keep Ed safe.
When the Lord spoke to him was when I realized the change. It was Lord Stark that changed him. I always admired the Starks, but so does everyone in the North. Ben was never into the stories and tales of knights and Lords, dismissed them saying only the good parts were told and the bad were left out. He was sceptical of everything he didn’t see with his own eyes. But Lord Stark had an effect on him. For the first time since I met him, he went in without a plan.
The events after that were also strange for him. Doing things with high risk, low reward. I don’t really mind the change, in fact I enjoy the adventure. I do wish I could remind him of the time I made stupid decisions which he mocked me for in the past though.
“Porridge is ready. Get up you lot.” I call to the group. Dawn has arrived and it was time for breakfast. We divide the night watch into 2 shifts, 5 hours each. I was paired up with Ethel who took the earlier shift, so I was woken at about midnight and was responsible for starting the fire and making breakfast. Pretty tired but I am in better shape than the others when they do this shift.
It has been 2 weeks since we left Gulltown. We spent 2 days sorting things with the Iron Bank and buying the necessary supplies and equipment. Since then we travelled through the roads in the Vale, and had just reached the road leading to the Bloody Gate, called the High Road. I intend to lead the group down this path and head north once we reach it. We will ride through the country till we reach the North, avoiding the Kindsroad as it will likely have scouts and soldiers patrolling. I don’t want to be spotted and investigated before we reach the Neck or Robb’s army, whichever comes first.
The group was starting to wake up, Arya surprisingly the quickest to rise. I had cut her hair and bought some red dye for her hair to change her looks. She didn’t like it but cheered up when I told her it could be washed out when we arrived at our destination. That was a lie as there is no easy way to wash it out, rather you have to grow it out and cut the dyed parts. She is still young, and a girl so her hair will grow fast, if she doesn’t want to just dye it her original colour.
I was just starting to serve food into the bowls when Brutus sent me a message. Due to his size I had him follow our group in the surrounding woods. This way he can avoid being noticed and hunt for food while we travel, cutting down on our rations. He came to me and told me of danger through the trees. I poured the food on the fire, to the groups dismay, and told them to stay on guard.
I followed Brutus for about half a mile through the woods to a small collection of trees. From there I spied a rather interesting scene. A group of 15 men wearing furs and horned helmets wee surrounding a dual wielding middle aged man and a dwarf. It wold be the making for a rather funny joke, though it got decidedly less funny when the largest of the group slashed the dwarf across his face with his axe. Deciding the men were no challenge I sent Brutus forth as I readied and shot the axe wielding man in one fluid motion.
Like rain falling on them, I fired 8 arrows in just 5 seconds, during which Brutus had mauled to death 3 more. The final men ran away screaming about demons. They were skilled at escape, knowing how to zig-zag between the trees to avoid further shots. I still got 2 of them, and sent Brutus after the remaining. After checking for any other threats and finding none, I greeted the 2 men left of which the scarred dwarf was one.
“Greetings gentlemen. I hope you don’t mind the intrusion I was feeling a bit restless and needed the exercise.” I joke to try and relieve the tension. These men just went from a bandit encounter to being faced by a bear like beast and a master archer. I order Brutus to lie down when he returned, in an attempt to reassure them. “I was just passing through when my hound, Brutus here, noticed you were in trouble and wanted to help.” I say as I pat Brutus on the head.
“Hound? Get real. I have seen every beast from here to Dorne and I have never seen a beast as big as that.” The middle aged man indicated his disbelief. He did put away his smaller weapon and lower his sword, so at least he didn’t think we were here to kill them.
“Forgive my friend his manners, he and I have just gone through a rather traumatic experience. I must thank you kind Ser, for you have truly saved our lives.” The dwarf speaks to me. I am surprised by his mannerisms as they are similar to that of a nobles. When I pay more attention to his clothes I can tell that though they have clearly seen better days, they are undoubtedly of superior make. “Allow me to introduce us. I am Tyrion Falwell and this companion of mine is called Bronn. We were making our way to the Bloody gates when we were beset upon by these rough characters.” As he introduces himself he reaches under the fallen axe wielder, pulling an intricate ring from beneath.
This almost confirms he is a noble. This is surprising because dwarves are held in low esteem in Westeros, usually they are found in circuses or freakshows. He calls me Ser out of politeness, or perhaps thinking I am a knight of the Vale, as unlikely as it should be. I am wearing common clothes under my armour typical to sell-swords, so he shouldn’t have guessed if I was a knight. “Might I ask if this Ser is heading West? As you can tell we are rather lost at the moment and would greatly appreciate the escort. I can pay for your services, rather handsomely, if you require it.” He rolls the ring in his fingers for a moment before presenting it to me.
I take it in my hand to inspect. It is finely crafted gold, with delicate and numerous engravings. Seeing little disadvantage, I agree to escort him to the Bloody Gate Where threats of hill tribes will be much lower. We are heading the same route and will be walking beside each other anyway. Denying him would get no advantage and he hasn’t recognized me, the most well-known of the group so there should be no trouble. Besides the other man looks to be a good fighter judging by how he handled himself, and experienced sell-sword. Someone that is used to the Vale would be welcome.
As I brought them back to camp, we talked for about several things, mostly our respective reasons for travelling to the Bloody Gate. I told him the arranged story for how we were escorting the young Lady of House Charlton home. Red hair is quite common in the Riverlands, so it was believable, and would explain why a group of men were travelling with a small girl. When asked about Brutus, I told them he is the mutt of a dire wolf and a great dane and ended it at that. They didn’t show any signs of hearing about me or Brutus, so it should be fine to travel with them to the Bloody Gate. They will also give us another alibi if we are questioned. Besides, disposing of the bodies is easy in the Vale. Just slice their throat strip them of belongings and toss them off the hills or forests. If found the Hill tribes, like the previous fellows, would be blamed
Tyrion says he was the second son of Lord Mace Falwell of House Falwell in the Westerlands, and was trying to return home. Bronn was a guard he hired to escort him back, unable to afford more as his father doesn’t favour him too highly. He informed me that if I was willing to help him return home, he would be willing to pay a substantial reward upon arrival. I rejected his wish as I had my own charge to escort, and with the war going on it is not safe to travel far, I warned him.
We joked for a while when we made it back to the camp. The men asked who these two were and I introduced them as our new travelling companions till the Bloody Gate. They had their weapons out and Arya on top her horse surrounded, in case the trouble was too much and we had to run. With the immediate danger relieved the men dismounted and started to clean the camp. It was when I was asking Bronn if they wanted to share our horses, when I heard a shout.
“YOU!!” Arya called out, pointing at Tyrion. She had a look of anger and rage on her face, while Tyrion was looking at her in confusion. “You were at Winterfell! You are Tyrion Lannister!” She announced to all our surprise. I turn to look at him, marvelling at the chances. Tyrion had a concerned look on his face, staring at Arya’s face while trying to place her
I last heard of Tyrion’s name from his brother at Baelish’s brothel. Remembering now, it was his capture by Catelyn Stark and her sister that caused Jaime to fight us in the first place. I had never met the man before and didn’t expect to be involved with him either. Before I could say anything, I was grabbed from behind and a knife was placed to my throat.
“Sorry bout this lad. Nothing personal.” Bronn said from my side.