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A Song of Wine and Gold

Posted on the 09 June 2015 by Kdcoduto @katydee

The singers would call it the fall that shook the realm. No one heard the bone break; few saw the blow land. But nearly all in the battle saw the great knight collapse, saw that he had finally faltered. The fall would change the course of the battle, and perhaps even the course of the entire war. With their greatest knight injured, taken from battle, how could this ragtag army ever expect to overcome their greatest foe?

The Northern King was quiet in the earliest hours of the morning, a cold sweat dripping down his neck. He had risen with the sun before all those who followed him, the men who so dutifully went wherever he managed to carry them. His sleep had been restless, despite quarters that were more than accommodating to his high ranking. He couldn’t get the taste of defeat out of his mouth, couldn’t stop thinking about the pain he had ultimately inflicted on his loyal followers both near and far. And he knew, in just hours, that the enemy would try to decimate his forces once again.

In their last mêlée, the Northern King had watched as one of his most intimidating knights, the Great Irving himself, had fallen – and all because he, the Northern King, had been unable to end the battle just when it seemed to be in his grasp.

He sighed as the images flashed through his memory. One minute, Irving seemed to be in control of the clash; the next, he was down, likely out until the next war was upon them. He was beginning to lose track of how many men he was losing, and he had to hope that his remaining Northerners could handle the task of protecting their great home on the shore.

Winter is coming, he thought to himself, and who better to weather it than the hardened men of the North? These Western lords knew naught of the perils of winter, knew nothing of what awaited them should the North fail.

He finally rose from his bed, stretched his legs – legs that no longer knew how to ache, so worn were they by war – and donned his pre-battle attire. With that, he opened the heavy mahogany door that lead into the hallway, and he listened. In the room next to his, he could hear Maester Blatt still snoring, a rumbling sound that surely was shaking the carefully hung artwork inside. Across from him, he heard Ser Shumpert beginning to stir. The King had to smile; the young knight was quickly showing himself an able warrior in even the toughest of battles.

Before he could ponder any further, another door opened down the hall. The King turned and saw the Smith Lord was also peering into the hall, clearly looking for early morning companionship. The Smith Lord had seen many kings, had followed all loyally into battle; but both the Smith Lord, who preferred to be called JR, and the King knew that he had found his rightful kingdom with the Northern King.

“Good morning, ser,” the King called down the hall. At that, JR grinned, ambling out of his room and to the King.

“Good morning,” JR answered. The King was adamant that they never refer to him as “my lord.” He was a gracious, good king, and always acknowledged how his lords and knights oft as not contributed as much to the battles as he did – if not a great deal more. Why should he be so special when together they were better?

“Shall we break our fast early, so better to ready ourselves for the battle ahead?” The King asked JR.

JR agreed, and the two began their walk down the long hallway to the ornate staircase that would take them to their beautifully catered breakfast. As they walked, JR was hungry for knowledge.

“Have you heard more about the Great Irving? Will he walk again?”

“Absolutely. All he needs is time, much like the Lord of Santa Monica. He is already two days healing and in much, much improved spirits.”

“A win in our next battle would only help those spirits, I imagine,” JR said, sipping at the water placed before him.

“I do not doubt that. His spirits, and that of the Northerners as well.”

There was a time when the King in the North was not so beloved, when the word “gracious” would never have passed the lips of the Northerners who had so loved him. “Turncloak!” they cried instead. The people had never understood why he would leave them, how he could leave them, the city that had bowed to him at such a young age; but he had to do his duty. Without his experience in the South with the Lannisterheat, he could never have brought such joy home to his people. Turncloack, maybe, but only for a time. He had always known that the North would be his true home, and he always remembered that Winter is coming.

Those days in the South had opened his eyes, had shaped him into something fiercer, stronger. The North had been growing weaker, the maesters unable to harness the obvious talent the King had. If he hadn’t left at an early age, he would have never improved, never become the King that the North needed. He would always be the one the people wanted, but only training with the Lannisterheat could prepare him to fulfill his destiny.

He was the one chosen to bring greatness to the North, to The Land.
And his time was finally upon them.

Slowly but surely, others came into the great guest hall to break their fasts with the King and JR. Maester Blatt was among the first to arrive, followed by Sers Mozgov and Harris. Lord Trystane Thompson nearly skipped into the hall, so excited he was for the impending battle.

“My good men, today is the day! The day we show these Western lords and lordlings what real Northern battle looks like!”

A few cheers went up, but it was still too early in the day for many of the men to join in the adrenaline rush of war. Lord Thompson was not phased, the hop still in his step, the twinkle never leaving his eye. As the Lord from Down Under approached Lord Thompson’s table, reaching for his own chalice of water, Thompson slammed his fist down. “Good day, ser! I see you’ve managed to stay with us this day!” Chuckles were heard around the table, and even the Lord from Down Under couldn’t help but smile. He had been forgotten after the last battle, left behind as the King and his men retreated from the day’s hard loss. The Lord from Down Under ultimately made his way back to their camp on his own, forced to remind his fellow fighters that he was one of them.

“Aye, still here, and over-prepared to show these men what a real battle is.”

“I should hope so,” Mozgov called from the King’s table. “You’re to be taking on the greatest of our enemies, that false king Curry.”

“A king in name only,” the Lord from Down Under shrugged. “I’m ready.”

As the battle loomed ever closer, the King brought his men together. He had done this just days before, except then he was flanked by the Great Irving. He couldn’t help but think of Irving’s absence; it had been noticeable that the great knight was gone since the last battle. Now, in the moments before the next clash, it was like an ache, a wound to his army that he wasn’t sure he could heal – no matter how many men he called in to fill the spot.

“We have much and more to prove this night,” the King started. As he began speaking, calmly and slowly, his men gathered closer. Ser Shumpert looked up to him, eyes wide with anticipation; JR stared at the ground, wringing his hands as he listened. “We are fighters, first and foremost. We hail from the North, with the strength and grit of our fathers and forefathers. We’ve lost one man to these golden warriors, and we will not lose another. I refuse to see one of you taken out by some reckless golden fool.” The King could feel the heat rising to his face, could feel the anger over the Great Irving’s injury finally spilling out. He had buried that pain away until now, now when he could act on it. “If you think these men are better than us, fine. If you think their talent in the art of war greater, fine. Be intimidated; feel your fear. But do not doubt for a second who is truer, whose heart is more honest. If you think, for even the briefest of seconds, that there is an army out there with greater purpose than us, find them.” A cheer went up before the King could finish. Every face was turned toward him; even Maester Blatt was enraptured. “Leave it all on the battlefield, men. Will we be defeated by warriors again?”

“NO!” dozens of men screamed. “NO, NO, NO.”

“Final words?”

Lord Mozgov rose to the task, one arm raised in the air. “For the Great Irving, for the Lord of Santa Monica, for The Land, for the people of The Land, for those who need this victory even more than we do!”

The battle started quickly. The King of the North and his men arrived at the Oracle’s great battlefield just as the false Western king Curry and his men did. Curry, flanked by the oft-reviled knight Ser Klay, looked perfectly composed, ready to fight as flawlessly as he had in their previous meetings. Curry was among the best fighters the West had to offer; in fact, the King knew, Curry was even better than himself in many regards. Curry’s eye was accurate, his execution deadly. Surrounded by the right men, Curry was proving to be the greatest opponent the King had ever faced – and possibly would ever face.

Someday, they will sing songs of these battles – though whether the songs are about him or me, it is too hard to say, the King thought. Perhaps we will each have our own song.

The House of Black and White watched over the battle. They trusted their Many Faced God would choose the real and true victors, the King and his men who were meant to rule; the Northern King had his doubts, though, knowing that Western knight Ser Draymond Green was a favorite visitor to the House.

As the battle raged on, the Northern King realized that a no-faced god was more like to aid him in victory than even one face of the Many Faced God.

The Northern King felt his bones growing tired; no matter how much he fought, the assault didn’t stop. Knights with names he didn’t remember, lords with names he should have known, it made no matter – they all came for him. He watched as JR, the Lord Smith, struggled to keep up with the pace of his enemies; he saw Ser Shumpert try and try to land even one blow. Lord Mozgov was completely out of sight; was he even still alive? Lords Harris and Miller were blurs at best throughout the fight, and the Northern King wondered multiple times if he should give up once again. He thought he could hear the House of Black and White laughing at him.

And all at once, in the middle of the great Oracle battlefield, a cry could be heard. The Northern King stopped, as did many of his men; almost all of the golden warriors fell to the ground in angst. The Lord from Down Under was engaged in combat with the false king Curry, the most impeccable fighter in the field – and yet all could see that the Lord from Down Under was wearing the false king down, stripping him strike-by-strike of his greatness. Curry could do nothing against the fresh-faced lord; he swiped, the Lord from Down Under dodged it. Curry would duck from one hit only to take another. Curry’s men were in both awe and terror; the Northern King could feel the electricity pulsing and quickening among his own men. Reinvigorated by the Lord from Down Under, the Northerners renewed their attack, the taste of vengeance in their mouths. As the Lord from Down Under landed a final, possibly mortal, blow to the false king, the Northern men around him followed suit, clearing out the flailing remaining Westerners.

Few hours passed from the start of the battle to the end. It was hardly full dark when Curry called for retreat, accepting defeat.

“You Northerners,” he said, shaking his head. “You damn Northerners!”

A few of the Northerners grinned, but none said anything in response.

Frustrated, Ser Klay finally yelled, “You’ve yet to see the last of us! We will meet again – and we will meet in the North!”

At that, the Lord from Down Under laughed. “Even better. Fight us surrounded by our people – you’ve seen nothing yet.”

The golden warriors fled; as they left, the sounds of the Northern King’s men celebrating followed them all the way to their camp. And the loudest among them was the Northern King himself who, as Curry lead his men away, yelled with all the force his body could muster. It was a wordless yell, a victory scream that held all of its meaning in its sound. There was no mistaking it.

Once back at their camp, the Northern King looked to his men, men who had weathered perhaps the greatest battle yet.

“Ser Klay is right, of course,” he said to his men, his voice hoarse from yelling. “They will come for us in our home; the battle is won, the war is not.”

The Lord from Down Under spoke up again. “As I said before – good. Fight us surrounded by our people.”

The Northern King nodded and grinned, his biggest grin in some time. “These golden men have no idea how strong even the most common of our people are. Their noise alone will be great and true.”

“For the North!” Lord Thompson yelled.

“For the North!”

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