Summer Ship: The Ballad of Dany and Yara (Part 2)

The old woman stops at an obscure corner wall of Crakehall and brushes away the brittle coating of ivy. This reveals a small door of rotting wood and rusted iron. The door had been built as a servant’s entrance, then used as a hidden entrance for old Lord Crakehall’s many serf mistresses. When he died, the door was forgotten. She shoves the door, cursing her age and weakness. If only she hadn’t lost the necklace. After a long struggle, the hinges finally open with a wheezing creak.

Melisandre creeps through the narrow passage, brushing aside cobwebs and trying to ignore the rats nibbling at her toenails. She finds a narrow opening and crawls through into a main corridor. All is silent. A rickety, circular staircase stretches up to the highest tower of Crakehall. She begins long, exhausting climb.

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Arya brushes a stray lock of golden brown hair from her merry hazel eyes. She studies her opponent. Brienne is twice her size, but Arya is used to that. Almost everyone she spars with is far larger than her agile but resolutely delicate body. No, what troubles Arya about Brienne is the woman’s exceptional skill. Brienne had slowly but steadily been wearing her down, urging Arya into daring feints and then dashing aside, paring each of Arya’s strokes with effortless grace.

Arya was proud of herself for scoring a couple points with the blunted practice swords. She had heard stories of the famous lady knight Brienne of Tarth since she returned to Westeros and helped Dany secure the Iron Throne. Before this match, Arya had suspected that the tales were wildly exaggerated. As soon as Brienne arrived in King’s Landing, Arya had challenged the Knight to an amicable bout. But the rumors weren’t exaggerated. Not one bit. If anything, Brienne is better than people say.

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Brienne’s finely honed sense of timing tells her that Arya’s focus is wandering. She struck with a hard, decisive beat attack. Arya meets the first three blows with admirable strength, but finally yields under Brienne’s unceasing barrage. Arya is knocked on her butt, needle soaring in the opposite direction and landing with a decisive clatter.

“Drat!” Arya cries with good-natured dismay. “I yield, I yield. You are the superior warrior.” Brienne sheathes her sworn and helps Arya to her feet. They bow playfully. Danny, Yara, and Tyrion, who had been watching unobtrusively from the crowd, break into raucous applause. Other spectators join the clapping, gazing affectionately at their beloved royal couple. Brienne and Arya bow respectfully to their sovereigns and accept towels from waiting servants. They quickly dry off the sweat trickling down their neck and arms.

Dany beams. “Well done! You’re both extraordinary fighters. We should have a Tournament. The women of Westeros will be swooning.”

Brienne blushes.

“That isn’t necessary.”

“Can we? I won’t even mind being trounced by Brienne if I can impress Lady Aspeth.”

Yara claps her hands with delight. “Now that’s a fine idea. Tyrion, do we have the funds in the treasury?”

Tyrion contemplates while Yara and Arya stare pleadingly at the clever dwarf.  “I think we could fit in a Tourney during the Midsummer Festivities.”

Yara and Arya whoop with delight. Dany smiles indulgently, and even the ever serious Brienne cracks a small smile.

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The two fat tower guards play dice, ignoring the faint pounding coming from what appears to be a stone wall. Melisandre slips into the adjoining dining area where a small, simple meal of cheese, bread, and ale is waiting. She takes a small glass vial from her sleeve and pours it into the ale. Then she slips back into a secluded corridor and waits.

Hours later, after the guards have eaten and drank more than their fill, Melisandre watches their faces turn red.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” the smaller of the two men moans. Then the screaming starts. The guards claw wildly at their throats. One tries to vomit but can’t stop gasping.

“I. Can’t. Breathe.”

The screaming stops. The guards collapse. Melisandre leisurely strides out from the corridor and towards the fallen men. She turns each body over, examining their lifeless, glazed eyes.

She walks to the wall. The pounding stops. Melisandre inspects and pushes each stone, meticulously working her way along the wall. Finally, Melisandre finds what she is looking for. She pulls a stone from the wall to reveal a small window, made to pass food and water to the prisoner within. She pulls it away and is immediately struck by the stench of human waste and unwashed flesh. A pile of rags moves ever so slightly. It’s a woman: dirty, emaciated, but alive. Just barely.

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Cersei Lannister tilts her chin up. Her cold emerald eyes meet Melisandre’s gaze.

“Who are you?” the Mad Queen whispers.

Melisandre smiles.

“A friend.”

THE END

p.s. What do you think? Do you want a part three? Do you care what Cersei and Melisandre are up to? Do you want to read about the Midsummer Fair? How about Arya and Brienne as heartbreaking Lady Knights who joust and battle for a fair Lady’s favors? Are Dany and Yara good rulers? Anyone you don’t see who you’d like to read about?

I read so many amazing comments last week and can’t wait to hear what you have to say this week. This is for YOU and I would love to continue the level of interaction. I’m having like the most fun ever.