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You Win or You Die

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Days passed and there was no sign that the Tyrells had told anyone what Sansa and I had told them, which confirmed my belief that they’d been telling the truth when they said they wouldn’t say anything.

I had many more dreams though, some of the peaceful snow-covered mountain tops, some of the sea, mostly calm things. But there were other, less pleasant, dreams in the mix. More visions of the dead walking through a thick snow storm. Of men made of ice and magic riding dead horses. I always woke from those gasping, dreading what I would find when I looked out the window, only to find no peace of mind when I found a bright sunny day.

Sansa was invited to many more meetings with Margaery and Lady Olenna, they seemed to genuinely like her, and I was thankful that I was serving them instead of sitting with them.

That didn’t stop them from pulling me into their conversations, I’d never seen a pair of Ladies more interested in my opinion, Sansa not included. I’d always been taught that a Handmaiden was to do her duty silently and quickly, and that was what I’d always done when others were around, but these two seemed determined to throw that ideal to the wind.

Everything seemed to be going peacefully for a while, Shae and I would tend to Sansa and I’d occasionally visit with Varys for news on the war and word about what Baelish could be planning.

I’d been making one of my regular visits to Varys after tending to Sansa all day, it had been a long one and I was tired, but when Varys informed me of Theon’s kidnapping I was immediately awake and listening.

“What do you mean kidnapped?” I’d asked, I may hate him for what he’d done to Bran and Rickon, but I couldn’t help but feel a pang of worry for the boy I’d grown up with.

“It is as it sounds. He’s been taken, no one knows by whom, but he’s gone. Even my little birds couldn’t find out what happened.” Varys explained, looking truly unhappy that his spies were unable to learn anything.

“Any other news?” I sighed quietly.

“During the Small Council meeting today, Lord Tywin, told Little Finger to go to the Veil and try to win Lady Arryn’s affections. They want him to be acting Lord of the Veil.” He informed, sounding a bit like he found the idea entertaining.

“Do they really thing that once he had control of the Veil that he’ll still stand with them? And isn’t he the Master of Coin? How is he planning to do that job if he’s all the way in the Veil?” I asked incredulously, Tywin was no fool, it’s one of the reasons I respected him, so he must have some kind of plan or contingency in case Baelish turns on them.

“That’s why Lord Tyrion had been named the new Master of Coin. It would seem that Lord Tywin thinks his son would be good in the role.” Varys sounded like he agreed with the sentiment.

I shook my head slowly as I let out a tired breath. “Anything else?” I asked as I rested my forehead in my hand.

“Robb got married.” He answered simply.

My eyes darted back to the eunuch. “What?”

“Yes, a few months ago, Robb wed a woman from Volantis that had been tending to the wounded on the battlefield.” He elaborated.

I let out a chuckle, this was some of the best news I’ve heard in far too long. “You didn’t say any titles, is she Lowborn?” I asked, confused as to why Cate would let Robb marry a woman that wasn’t a Lady.

“From what I could find, she was from a minor House in Volantis, that’s all. It would seem they wed in secret, not even Lady Catelyn was present.” He answered, a small smile finding his face as he watched a wider one spread over my face.

“That’s wonderful. I’ll have to tell Sansa tomorrow, she’ll be thrilled.” I said, trying to keep my voice quiet.

“Indeed, she could use the good news. Have you heard anything new from the Tyrells?” He asked, he’d yet to speak to any of the alone and was desperate to.

“No, they don’t seem to have told anyone of what Sansa and I told them, and they’re still quite friendly with her…And me for some odd reason.” I said, finally get the chance to vocalize my discomfort with the attention.

“From everything I’ve heard, the Tyrells are a chummy bunch. But I will agree that it’s odd for them to focus so much on a servant. If you learn anything let me know, and I’ll do the same.”

I gave a nod and left. I’d planned to go back to my room and go to bed, but I ended up getting a lit candle and walking straight to a familiar tower.

There was something there. Something calling to me, and I needed to know what it was.

When I got there, I found it still vacant, but someone had come in and cleaned up, made the bed and such, it was clearly uninhabited.

But there was still a pull.

I closed my eyes and started taking small steps, hoping that by not thinking about where I was going, I would instinctually follow the feeling that I had.

I felt something solid bump into my knees and opened my eyes to find the bed in front of me.

I couldn’t keep the confused expression from my face as looked down at it, it didn’t make sense, I could feel that I was right next to whatever it was, so where was it?

Then I set the candle on the nightstand and started pushing the bed to the side, thankful for the thin rug that sat on the floor under it, so it didn’t make any noise.

Once the bed was moved I flipped the end of the rug up, so it was resting on the bed. There I found a spot in the stone floor where a brick had come loose, there was none of the cementing material around the sides of the brick.

I grabbed the candle and set it on the ground near the brick and wedged my fingers around it and started trying to lift it, it was heavy, but not so much that I wasn’t able to lift it just enough to set it aside.

Underneath I found a thick wooden box, it was old and weathered, like it had been moved and put in many places that were not gentle on it. I gently picked it up and I could feel it thrumming with some kind of energy, like there were many emotions and memories attached to it.

I set it down next to me before moving the brick back into its place before placing the candle back on the nightstand and replacing the rug, I would worry about the bed when I was done here.

I sat on the edge of the bed with the box in my lap, there was a latch on the front to hold it closed, but it wasn’t locked, so I lifted it and slowly opened the box.

Inside I found a few things. One was a small toy soldier, it was old, and the paint was heavily chipped, it gave off very negative feelings. Another was a patch of faded yellow fabric with three black dogs on it, it looked old and made me feel like I shouldn’t touch it, let alone look at it. The third was the pin for a cloke, it looked like a hound, it must have been what he wore before he was a Kingsguard. The final looked like a metal pendent from a necklace, it was a circle that had been pressed, like a wax seal, in it was a hound looking up at three stars.

I reached into the box, took the toy soldier in my hand with the utmost care, then I was suddenly somewhere else.

It was a large stone house, almost big enough to be a small Keep, in front of me was a fireplace and a boy sitting on a bearskin rug, playing with some toy soldiers. I didn’t need to guess to know that the boy was Sandor.

He seemed so happy, so carefree, playing with the small wooden soldier.

Then there was the sound of a door opening and closing from behind me, the boys head shot up to look behind me and when I turned I saw another, larger, boy, I didn’t have to guess to know that the bigger boy was Gregor. The bigger boy didn’t say anything, didn’t even look angry, but I was filled with a feeling of fear and dread the was not my own.

I looked back the Sandor and saw the fear I felt reflected on his face.

Then Gregor strode toward Sandor, grabbed him by the back of his shirt, living him like it was nothing, and pushed the smaller boys face into the flame of the fire place. Screams like I had never heard filled the room, it sounded like a demon from the Seven Hells had been unleashed, and I felt the side of my face burning, as if I were the one in the fire, I let out a cry and gripped my face as I watched the scene before me unfold.

Sandor’s arms and legs were flying every which way, trying to hit or kick or get free of his older brother, as he continued to scream in pain.

The screams seemed to have drawn the attention of some servants because suddenly six men and two women were in the room, the men pulling Gregor away from Sandor, and the two women trying to tend to the injured boy, who was still howling in pain and writhing.

I didn’t see anything more before I was suddenly back in the Red Keep in Sandor’s tower, panting, sweating, and hoping I hadn’t screamed out loud. I felt the side of my face and found that it was unburned, and only held the scars that it had before.

I looked down at the soldier in my hand and finally understood the negative energy it gave off.

I put it back in the box and looked toward the patch that held the Clegane Sigil. I wasn’t sure I should touch it, the feelings that the toy held were nothing compared to what I was feeling from the patch.

I swallowed thickly and rested the tips of my fingers to it.

Rather than the visions I’d had before I got flashes, they were quick, but I knew exactly what I was seeing.

Each flash was a different sight, but each was horrible and made me sick. Images of the thick of battle, men laying bloody and dead on the ground, men getting their throats slashed by a sword, getting their limbs cut off, getting their head cuts off or split, blood everywhere and a constant din of screams and moans of the dying.

I pulled my hand from the patch quickly, my whole body shaking as I looked down at it with wide, fearful, eyes. Why would Sandor want to keep something like that? His fatalistic world view suddenly made so much sense, he had this evil thing under his bed, filling him with negative, evil, thoughts when he slept.

My gaze then turned to the metal pendent, this one had a gentler energy, there was a lot of good attached to it.

I picked it up and got flashes of a woman with dark hair smiling. She was holding an infant that was reaching up to her with a sweet toothless grin.

The vision made my heart feel warm.

I came back to the tower feeling lighter than then I had with the patch and the toy.

All that was left, was the cloke pin.

I wondered what I would see if I touched it, would it be another memory, or would I get flashes? There was only one way to find out. With slow, hesitant, hands I picked up the pin and suddenly I was in the back of a carriage riding down a road through the woods.

In the carriage with me were two men, one I didn’t recognize, the other had a bag covering his head, but I would know that armor anywhere, the man with the bag was Sandor. He was tied up and the other man looked like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. When I looked out the back of the carriage I saw a procession of people on horses and walking, some wore armor, other wore peasant clothes.

Where was I? Who was Sandor with?

The carriage hit a harsh bump that caused Sandor to hit his head on the ceiling. “Buggering fuck!” He growled, making the other man let out an amused chuckle. “You won’t be laughing when I get loose.” Sandor muttered lowly.

“Good thing you won’t be getting loose then.” The man said.

The vision ended, and I looked down at the pin in my hand, then down at the box, before tucking the pin into the pocket of my dress and closing the box.

I pushed the bed back into position and took the box and candle back to my room.

When I got there I took the pendent out of the box and put it and the pin in my bedside drawer, then I put the box, which still held the patch and the toy, into a small alcove on the other side of the room where I kept some of the gold that Tyrion had given me, maybe it being there will keep the evil things attached the patch from effecting me.

I redressed in my sleep dress and got in bed.

I fell asleep to the hope that the vision meant that Sandor was still alive and had no dreams.