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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
I guess it's a crossover...the crew in George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire 'verse. (Spoilers for A Feast For Crows)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 922 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Ser Malcolm Shadowfield, the Knight of Shadows, was worried. He looked around at his little band—Cobb the sellsword polishing his helmet, Hoban the drover tending to the cart horses, Kaili the tinker working on the cart’s back axle, and the three passengers—Dob, the soft-spoken traveler, Simeon Rivers, the tradesman whose cart was causing the troubles, and the silent, grave Septon Book. They couldn’t stay here long, on the edge of the wood. Not with the outlaw reavers as bold as the stories had it.
Ser Malcolm’s little band had been in Saltpans a’trading not two days before the Hound had reaved it to the ground, and it was only Zoe’s instincts that had caused them to leave early. He wished she would return from scouting—what would he do without her? The Dornish archer had joined his company as a sellsword on the march to join the Yong Wolf’s host before the Whispering Wood, and had swiftly become Ser Malcolm’s right hand. When they’d fled the Twins after the Red Wedding, it’d been Zoe who kept them alive for weeks, and had found them their first jobs as merchant guards when the news of the Ironmen’s capture of Winterfell and Moat Cailin made it clear the war was over, unless they wanted to slink back to Riverrun to be useless mouths—then surrendered with the rest when the castle fell. It had been she who stood by him when they were cornered by bandits, and who had felled two of them when Ser Malcolm had convinced Cobb to change sides. And when he’d returned home to find castle and lands burnt by the Mountain, it had been she who comforted him.
A rustling of leaves announced Zoe’s return. She approached Ser Malcolm and smiled. “Serra’s just a bit ahead,” she said, “a’waiting. Soon’s the cart’s movable, we can catch up to her.”
“Good,” nodded the Knight of Shadows. “I don’t like the look of this for a night’s camp. Best get farther from the Trident.”
“How are the passengers?” Zoe asked.
Ser Malcolm shrugged. “Quiet, ‘cepting the ‘rammed Septon. Nattering on about the Seven and the good they do. You know I can’t stand that prattle—“
“And the smallfolk love it,” Zoe interrupted. “He eases our passage through the villages, just as Serra does with the lords.”
“But could he do it a bit quieter?” replied Ser Malcolm. “I’ve had enough of gods, least of his kind. Gods never saved anyone.” He spat. “Warrior guard us, just as the Mother and Maiden watched over Lady Catelyn. Hog’s arse. The gods, not the Lady.”
The cart’s axle determined to be secure, the small party moved on along the woods path. Ser Malcolm took the head, Cobb watching the rear, and Zoe slipping through the woods on the left, alookout for outlaws. After ten minutes of travel, they came upon another cart, this one more elegantly decked out. It had once been a fine coach, with bits of gilding still visible on the battered wood, and the smell of perfume managing to cling to the sides amid the travel-rot. As Ser Malcolm rode up, the left-side door opened, and out stepped a lady in a dark traveling dress.
“Did you have success in Duskendale?” she asked.
“As much as can be expected,” Ser Malcolm replied. “A few travelers to escort south, a few knickknacks to sell. The war’s bad for business.” He laughed. “’Course, your business can’t be faring any better.”
Serra smiled back. “It’s not Braavos, for sure,” she admitted. “But I’ll have your fee for this month.”
“Very good,” said Ser Malcolm. “I’d hate to leave a fine lady such as yourself by the side of the road.”
“Fine lady, is it now?” Serra jested.
“Whore, if you like it better,” replied Ser Malcolm. “Long’s you pay the fee, I’ll call you Queen in King’s Landing. Now there’s a whore, if the stories are true.”
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your passengers?” Serra asked
“But of course, my lady,” Ser Malcolm replied, turning his horse about. “Dob, Simeon, Septon, this is our other passenger, Serra, courtesan of Braavos, come to our shores in hope of better times than we’ve had.”
Dob, for all his plain grey dress and mousy demeanor, was a skilled horseman and reined his horse in, leaning far to the side in an elaborate bow. Simeon, riding on his cart beside Hoban, rose less gracefully, nearly toppling off the side. The Septon, showing as much skill as Dob, halted by Ser Malcolm’s other side, and said softly, “A knight such as yourself, riding with a whore?”
“I take what custom I can get,” the Knight of Shadows replied. “Just ‘cause a sparrow like you dislikes how she makes her living, I should let the bandits reave her?”
“It’s against the Gods,” the Septon said. “The Seven made men and women to join in lawful concourse, not coupling for silver.”
“Oh, she charges gold,” said Ser Malcolm. “And she’s worth more than your preaching.”
“I have no doubt you’ve much experience,” replied the Septon.
“None at all, she don’t service crew,” said Ser Malcolm.
Serra stepped back onto the runner of her coach. “Let’s move,” she said, “And next time you introduce me to your passengers, make sure they want to meet me too first.”
They camped that night in a clearing by a brook, chains hung between the two carts to form a little enclosure. Cobb, as usual, took the first watch, turning it over to Ser Malcolm at midnight. He had to shake the knight several times to get him awake, and when he succeeded Ser Malcolm greeted him with a haunted look before rising to take his watch.
Malcolm dreamed. Blood and fire, the torches of the Freys’ hall shimmering in memory, as the crossbow bolts fired. He had been outside, and unarmed, but he knew something was wrong. When he came to enter the hall, his way had been barred by four burly Frey men-at-arms, but he’d seen the net falling over his King, seen the blood on the floor and the drawn swords…in the dream he grabbed a pike from the hands of one of the troopers, killing its owner before his head was crushed by another’s warhammer…but he knew it had been different. Knew he’d tried to shove through them, unarmed, and been dragged away, then fled on foot, hunted like a wild boar, while in the hall his King was murdered, slunk away into the forest, praying to all the Seven to wake him from this mad dream…but the mad dream had continued through the fall.
Ser Malcolm considered his passengers. The Septon was a septon, earnest for all his godliness, but the knight misliked how he moved. Too stealthy, too skilful—he’d wager the Septon had seen his share of fighting before taking the cloth. His features didn’t reveal his origins, but by his age the Knight of Shadows wagered the Septon had been of fighting age in Robert’s Rebellion. The other passengers gave him no more ease—Dob said nothing of his identity, but he was also a fighting man, either a knight or a thief by the finely-crafted hilt of his sword. And Simeon Rivers…a Riverland bastard merchant, with a Maester’s chain despite his youth. Almost certainly not what he seemed as well.
Ser Malcolm’s reverie was interrupted by a low whining noise coming from the merchant’s cart, as if the cart’s frame was being twisted. It stopped, then came again, louder, accompanied by what sounded like a human voice…then two. Drawing his sword, the knight came to investigate.
The door to the cart was barred, but the door itself was loose, and Ser Malcolm was able to wrench it open. Inside was lit only by the starlight coming from behind him, and he was nearly blind, but the figure hunched over the box in the cart was undoubtedly Simeon Rivers.
“Checking on your merchandise at this hour?” Ser Malcolm asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am,” said the merchant Maester.
“And what could be so valuable you had to check it now?” asked Ser Malcolm, striding over to the box.
Rivers stood to bar his way. “I don’t believe it’s your business,” he said, but then stopped for it was too late. Ser Malcolm had seen the body of the young woman curled up in pillows at the bottom of the box.
The girl rose, looking nervously over the edge at Ser Malcolm, then back at Simeon Rivers. As Ser Malcolm looked, surprised, the cart shook as another man climbed into the doorway. The Knight of Shadows turned to see Dob, sword in hand and grey robes cast off, standing in the white cloak of the Kingsguard.
“As I thought,” Dob said, “Smuggling.”
“Who are you?” asked Ser Malcolm. Simeon Rivers cringed to the back of the cart.
“Ser Larence of Dobvale,” Dob replied, “Appointed to the Kingsguard to replace the disgraced Kettleblack. It appears I’ve caught a…rather big fish, I’d say is the word. Perhaps a wolf.”
“I’m not sure I understand your meaning,” said Ser Malcolm, imposing himself between the Kingsguard knight and the box.
“Why,” said Ser Larence, “Why don’t you ask Maester Simeon who this girl in a box is?”
Ser Malcolm turned to the frightened man. Rivers glared back, defiant. “She’s my sister, Tam Rivers.”
“And why is she in this box?” Ser Malcolm asked.
“Because she’s no Riverland bastard,” interrupted Ser Larence. “This here’s the Westerling girl.”
Ser Malcolm stole a glance back at the girl in the box. He’d only seen the Young Wolf’s queen twice, from afar, but now that it was mentioned the resemblance was uncanny.
“The Westerling girl,” the Kingsguard continued. “With the Young Wolf’s child in her belly. Come, Ser Malcolm, your lord has returned to the King’s law. There’s no shame, and much gold, in turning her over to me.”
“You won’t have her!” said Simeon Rivers, lunging past Ser Malcolm dagger in hand. Ser Larence contemptuously slammed his hilt into the Maester’s face and kicked his dagger aside.
The cart rocked again as another figure climbed in. With instinctive speed, Ser Larence turned, extending his point and taking the figure full through the stomach. Ser Malcolm stepped up to stand beside him, and found himself looking down at the bleeding body of Kaili.
The night was still warm, but to Ser Malcolm it felt as cold as deepest winter as they laid Kaili out on the grass. “By the Seven, I didn’t know,” Ser Larence kept repeating. “I thought it was Cobb, come to fix me.”
Zoe had bound the wound with strips torn from one of Serra’s shifts, but Kaili was still dying, the shift stained through with blood, black in the starlight. Simeon Rivers knelt over her, hard at work, while Hoban and Serra stood by with Jeyne Westerling, Hoban’s cloak wrapped around her. Cobb stood grimly by Ser Malcolm’s side. Finally Simeon rose, arms covered in drying blood.
“I can make her live,” he said.
“Good,” said Ser Malcolm.
Rivers looked at the ground nervously, then up to the knight. “But I won’t, unless you let us go. Me and Tam…Jeyne.”
“What?” exclaimed Ser Malcolm, sword leaping into his hand.
“I’m not afraid to die,” said Rivers. “But if I die, so does she. You’ve been in combat, Ser, you’ve seen stomach wounds before. You know how crucial the next few minutes are.” Slowly Ser Malcolm’s sword fell to his side. “Kaili’s life for Jeyne’s. That’s the deal I’ll make.”
Ser Larence turned on them, eyes aflame. “This is a travesty. There are chests of gold and lordships for the man who brings the Wolf Bride in. Would you throw that away for a tinker girl?”
On the ground Kaili moaned in pain. Ser Malcolm nodded to Cobb.
Several days later a band of riders led by the Red Priest Thoros of Myr found a headless body in the cloak of a Knight of the Kingsguard in a clearing near the Trident.
Thursday, December 14, 2006 7:04 PM
Friday, December 15, 2006 4:15 AM
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