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The Lion, The Wolf and The Dragon

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"The wall is about seven hundred feet tall at its highest point if the foundations were flat. Greyguard is a hilly region which sends the wall to about nine hundred feet tall in the air, Lannister." said Lord Commander Mormont earlier.

Indeed it was very big and tall, though not as tall as Casterly Rock. The Wall was stretched one hundred leagues long all the way from Westwatch-by-the-Bridge until Eastwatch-by-the-sea. He went atop of the Wall to see the land beyond the wall for the first time. In front of his sight was the haunted forest. It was so vast that it almost covered the entire landscape until the horizons. It was his first time here in Castle Black and his second time in the north. The Wall was magnificently big and beautiful at the same time. Braenden was at awe when the Wall first came to his eyes when he arrived at Castle Black. His bodyguards too. He was the first southern lords to arrive in Castle Black in many years, Tyrion would join with him next week once the King's party was done in Winterfell. The main reason why Braenden went to the north is to meet his childhood best friend again in Winterfell but when he heard that she was taken and charmed, Braenden's heart broke. He didn't want to see her eyes again, he never entered Winterfell to join the feast. Instead, he went forward following the Kingsroad, passing through Winterfell and Castle Cerwyn, through the Wolfswood, making a stop at the Long Lake and finally to Castle Black. The journey was tiresome but with minor companions with you, you can travel with haste. 

When he first arrived at Castle Black, the brothers in black coats and furs were giving Braenden and his bodyguards queer looks. Seldom does a southern lord ever visit the Wall. Lord Commander Mormont welcomed him warmly and they retire when Maester Aemon showed his apartment. It was small and dark and cold but it had a hearth near to the bed, a washroom to clean himself and table and chairs. His apartment in Castle Black reminded him of his time in Casterly Rock when he was two until eight years old. Dark memories they were, but they were the past. Braenden came to the north to see his best friend but that went backfired. Another reason for him to go to the north was to join with Tyrion to go to Castle Black together but Braenden went along first, leaving Tyrion behind. He sent him a letter when he arrived in Castle Black, saying that he had known what happen and that he was already at the Wall. The first day, Braenden inspect around the castle. It was old, cold, dusty and much looked like a ruin. When Braenden was finally Lord of the Rock and the Westerlands, he would send some support to rebuild but it would have to wait. Convincing his lord father to sent a shipment of golds and silvers to Castle Black was pointless to his father. It would be nice to show some support to the Night's Watch from the south. 

The second day, Braenden was with a seasoned ranger, he was the master-at-arms in Castle Black. He was training the new recruits. Watching them training, they were slow and untrained. The former great order of the Night's Watch was now filled with brothers of rapers, murderers, thieves and outlaws from around Westeros. Braenden felt pity for them, but angry at their crimes they had committed. But it wasn't Braenden to judge over them. He kept it to himself. Braenden was trained at Casterly Rock by his own personal appointed master-at-arms by his father at the age of nine. He was far better than any of them below in the courtyard. Better than Jaime actually. His master-at-arms trained Braenden only, and he had taught Braenden so much about combat, both Westerosi-style and Essosi-style. He was a former veteran fighter in the pits of Meereen for about thirty years. He won his freedom at his fifth year but he continued to fight for money until Braenden's father appointed him. He was a veteran and seasoned fighter and made a name for himself around Essos, even Westeros. His name was Aren, the Gladiator. Sadly, Aren couldn't follow him to the north as he was training others in Casterly Rock too. The first time they met they quickly made a bond of friendship together. Braenden got out of his trance and he realized that he should at least train the new recruits for the Night's Watch.

He asked Ser Aliser Thorne, a slim and sinewy, dry and hard, black of eyes and black of hair streaked with grey. He was fifty years old. He had a thin smile and a sharp, cold and humorless voice. He was mean and bitter towards almost everyone. Braenden's father gave Ser Aliser a chance to take the black or to die during Robert's Rebellion. He fought on the Targaryen side. "Mayhaps I should be the one to train them, ser. If you want to have good fighters and good handlers of weapons, I should be the one to train them for a short while."

"Are you planning to take the black, Lord Lannister? If you want to then the Lord Commander would be happy to have a men like you to watch over the walls and over this sorry lots. Men like you wouldn't dare to take the chance of serving in the Night's Watch when you are priced with crimes." he replied, coldly.

"No more than what my father had offered to you during Robert's Rebellion. No, I won't take the black but I will help train your recruits even if it is just a short time." 

He went down the dais through the small stairs down that led to the courtyard. Ser Aliser didn't follow him. His words were dark and cold but he didn't scare Braenden at all. He had faced worst people and animals than him. It was a good thing that he wore the outfit of the black brothers, it was offered by Lord Mormont this morning. It was light and good for a swift strike and attack. He left his fur coat at his apartment. He attached himself with his two longsword to his waist. Braenden mastered at every arms but his favorite was wielding two swords. He reached the courtyard a few steps later and told the trainer that he would take his place to train the new recruits. The trainer stood aside and watch him with a mocking expression. He had yet to watch how Braenden performed. He could also hear the small grumbling and scoffing with the new recruiters. Braenden armed himself with a blunted longsword from the rack behind him.

A recruiter with broad face and aquiline nose spoke, "Why should a southern lord would want to train us? I was sent to the Wall by a southern lord from the Reach. They have no place in the wall here." he complained, then the rest agreed.

"You should think twice about the crimes you have done before you have complain to me. It wasn't me that send you all to the Wall." he said to the five of the new recruiters. "Now, if you want to serve the Night's Watch well, then follow my lead."

Braenden sparred with one of the recruits. They both inched away from each other and when the trainer herald the signal, the recruit charged head on with his blunted sword up in the air. What he didn't see it coming was that Braenden simply kicked him down when he was of legs' reach and he fell to the ground. Braenden pointed his sword next to his throat, smiling at him. He was fast but not a thinker and certainly not an observant. He was too easy to be knocked down. Braenden helped him to get on his feet back and they went on training for a few hours until the wind picked up. It was getting very cold. Braenden had to return to his quarter and put on his fur coat, he lit up the hearth with some firewood himself and it warmed the room. He sat near the table close to the hearth, reading about the history of the Night's Watch that was brought to him by a brother of the Night's Watch. A small gratitude from the library of Castle Black. Braenden loved to read books. When the saw was nowhere to seen in the pale cold sky when he looked out to his window, it was already sunset. You couldn't tell where the sun was at. Then a black brother stood before his door, knocking it.

"My Lord of Lannister, Lord Commander Mormont wants to see you. He invites you to have an early dinner with him." announced the brother in black.

"I'll be there with him shortly. Thank you for telling me."

He walked up the stairs that led to the Lord Commander's Tower. He stood before the door and knock it to let anyone know inside that he was at the threshold. A voice called out from within saying that he could enter. The door opened from behind by a brother and Braenden entered the apartment. It had three normal sized room. The first one was a waiting area for those who would want to seek or consult the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. The second room when he entered was Lord Mormont's solar. A hearth in front of the solar's desk and a table for four beside it. There was a window with flaps which are opened. The hearth was burning. The other room behind the second one could be the Lord Commander's bedchamber, Braenden thought. The brother in black who had a straw colored hair and had a droopy nose and eyes of cold blue. A northerner, perhaps? 

He knocked the door on Lord Mormont's bedchamber. "Lord Commander, your guest you requested is here." he said to the door. Braenden heard some footsteps growing until it stopped before the door. It opened and revealed a large figure wearing all black of coats and furs. 

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, despite his age, was an imposing figure. He had a broad-shoulder and stern gaze. He had lost most of his hair save for his shaggy grey-white beard. He was considered strong as a bear, a resolute leader, a formidable battle commander and also fearless in adversity. He had his pet raven on his shoulder too. Lord Commander waved at the brother and he left the apartment, leaving Braenden and the Lord Commander alone in the second room. He urge him to sit in front of him at his office desk and Braenden followed. The Lord Commander's seat was a big, it was made for him specially. He lit a candle on the table and his pet raven flew to the stand beside him. "Corn! Corn!" his pet raven demanded.

"Quiet you, raven." he ordered to his own pet. "Forgive me, my lord for the food that is not yet prepared but it will be arriving shortly." he apologized to Braenden.

Braenden affirmed a nod. "No need to worry, Lord Commander. It's just dinner after all and the food can wait."

Lord Jeor Mormont gave a light chuckle. "We men of the Night's Watch had been patient for thousands of years since the wall was built. We brew a good ale and kept a steady rations for the brothers. We have supplies but we are always low on it. I suppose you southern lords could contribute some gratitude to us at Castle Black as appreciation but we mostly got our supplies from the northerners." he said, brusquely. "I mean no complain to you, Lord Braenden, but we are running short on good steels and fresh food from the south. The North is a cold and damp place, not suited for agriculture. Even during autumns, our harvest had always been small."

He knew what the Lord Commander wanted. He only wished he could give what the Night's Watch wanted. "I do know that, Lord Commander. If it is within my power to control over Casterly Rock and the Westerlands, I would have sent dozens of shipments en route to Castle Black with steels and surpluses of foods and wines."

"Of course, of course. I talk of good to you, Lord Lannister. It's just that, none of the southern lords seemed to care about the Night's Watch. We have been protecting them from the darkness that lurks beyond the wall. I only request of goods from the south, that's all." The Night's Watch lost its former glory overtime since it was formed. Like the infamous chivalric order of the Kingsguard, The Night's Watch used to have a very good reputation. Now, it was nothing but a shadow of its former glory. 

He hoped he could convince his father when he returned to Casterly Rock after this journey. Sent shipments of goods to Castle Black would be hard but Braenden could persuade his lord father Tywin to do it. After all, Braenden was his heir. He would listen to his son no matter what. "Once I return down south, I will talk of this matter to my lord father about your request."

He gave him a smile of gratitude in response. "You have my many thanks, Lord Lannister. If I may ask of course," Lord Mormont asked and Braenden nodded. "If you can, convince your queen sister and your brother-in-law King Robert to send us good men to the wall. We could really use some vigil watchers and trained men from down south. Not criminals. With the wildlings kept crossing over the wall to reach the safety of summer south, I would be forever in your debt if you could grant me that request."

The Night's Watch numbers had been dwindling. They had about six hundred black brothers now. It was sad to see how the Night's Watch manpower had decreased overtime, they used to have proper rangers to watch over the wall. Now, it became a shadow. They had protected the Seven Kingdoms from the threats looming beyond the wall, such as widlings and the Others. Braenden had read about them, the Others. It gave him the chills and shivers every time he read about them. But the disturbing part was that Braenden believed in them. He didn't know why but he just believed in their existence. And with him at the Wall was an extra. It wasn't scary, it just made him feel uneasy. When he was atop of the wall overlooking the Haunted Forest, it gave him the cold shivers. The wall was built to protect the realm of men, from the shadows of the north. The Long Night, the thought of that made him even more uncomfortable than just now. After the Battle for the Dawn, with the cooperation of the First Men and the Children of the Forest, they fought together to end the endless winter.

"We need more good men. Men like you would be most of helpful addition to the wall." he said as if nothing was amiss. It got Braenden out of his thoughts. "We lost good men like Ser Waymar Royce, Gared and Will. They went for a ranging north of the wall and disappeared all of the sudden. I sent my First Ranger, Benjen Stark along with six rangers with him to find Ser Waymar, but he too disappeared." He shook his head frustratingly. "Benjen Stark was one of the best men I've ever met in my life and he went missing." Braenden understood what the Lord Commander meant. With somany untrustworthy rangers in the Night's Watch, you could only be very selective when it came to choosing your trusted men.

"He went missing? Benjen Stark? I thought he was at Winterfell to celebrate King Robert's arrival?" he asked, curiously.

The Old Bear nodded. "He was, and came back before you arrived." he said.

Braenden knew who Benjen Stark was. The youngest sibling of the late Lord Rickard and Lady Lyarra Stark. "I'm sorry for your loss." was all Braenden could reply with his sincerity. 

"Good men often lead to dead tracks when they are missing. I humbly accept your sincerity. But now, the Night's Watch could really use men to manned the walls."

"I will send words to Casterly Rock and see if there is anyone willing to join. If not then the dungeons of the Rock could give you. As for good steels and supplies, I will have that matter discussed with my father."

He smiled thinly to Braenden. "My many thanks, Lord Lannister. You're very young to be so wise and smart. I also must thank you for coming to Castle Black. Isn't your older brother coming? What is his name? The... dwarf one. Lord Tyrion Lannister, is it?" he asked and Braenden nodded. "Then I would like to have a discussion with you two when he arrives."

"Is there any new recruits coming up to Castle Black?" Braenden asked.

The Lord Commander shrugged. "We have a word from Winterfell that the bastard of Lord Eddard Stark will be joining the Night's Watch. I got this message from Benjen Stark when he arrived. There are some as well coming down from the south. A Tarly boy if I can recall."

This alerted Braenden Lannister. His old friend, Jon Snow was going to be a brother of the Night's Watch? Why? It dawned in him. When Braenden went to stay at Winterfell at the age of eight for a few months, Jon had told him that the Lady Catelyn despised him. He felt sorry for him but they grew to have a good bond. It was a pity to have him sent to the wall. But since the Old Bear had been requesting for honorable men, Jon would be a welcome addition to the order. Braenden was a year older than Robb Stark and Jon Snow. Braenden was much closer to Jon rather than Robb since Braenden and Jon had a similar background, but Braenden had much worst. He did not want to dig into his past anymore. He cast that aside. Jon Snow, he remembered him. 

"I have known him when I was of eight years old. That Jon Snow of Winterfell. Always the quiet and lonely one but I know him. He is a friend to me that time. I guess I can spend a little more time in Castle Black. I'm sure my brother Tyrion would arrive with Jon Snow." No matter how sad it was for his friend to join the Night's Watch. Braenden was actually eager to see him again. It had been eight years since he last saw him along with the rest of the Stark family. Very eager actually. 

The black brother from earlier had arrive with the dinner and set on the table. Two baked trout, boiled and covered with oyster sauce and salted. A hard bread one each for Braenden and the Old Bear. A potato soup with vegetables in it as the side dish. It was simple and dull but Braenden couldn't refused it. It was food and the Night's Watch had a trouble rationing their supplies now. Braenden was only glad to be served like this in Castle Black. It was a harsh place too. He wondered how will Tyrion and Jon Snow fare here. It had been only two days since Braenden arrived. They ate their meals with minor talks about the politics of Westeros, the news across the Narrow Sea and the wildlings. The Old Bear Jeor Mormont had been annoyed by this. When they captured the wildlings and question them, they kept saying that they were running away from the white walkers, Lord Commander said, but he didn't believed it. He gave them to the swords then. He drank his soup as the Lord Commander continued his tale.

"Our last captured of the wildlings was making their way towards the wolfswood. We captured them and question them again, same answer in return. Claiming that they were running away from the Others and the dead." 

"I must confess, Lord Commander, that I actually believe in myths and legends." Braenden admitted.

He chuckled and took a gulp from his mug of wine. "Superstitious nonsense, my Lord of Lannister. They are just story after all. The threats we've been receiving was only the wildlings and the howling of direwolves in the haunted forest. Nothing more."

After having his dinner with the Old Bear, Braenden retired to his quarter. He bathe with hot water and a soup to wash himself. After washing himself, Braenden slip into his tunic and breech. He would always wore his necklaces that was given by his mother. He treasured it a lot. The golden lion pendant and the Lady of the Rock's medallion his mother used to wear when she was alive. Genna gave his mother's gifts to him when he turned one years old. He remembered the letter as well. He remembered what his mother wrote on the letter. Very well. Let it be known that my fourth child, be it a boy, is forbidden to join the Night's Watch and the Maesters of the Citadel under any circumstances. He smiled when he recited that line. His lady mother Joanna wouldn't want him to join the Night's Watch or to be a maester. When he was five years old, Braenden actually got accepted to be a maester of the Citadel but was dreadfully backfired. When he was eight, he left Casterly Rock to join the Night's Watch, only to be backfired again by his father. Night dawned in and Braenden could hear the brothers in black having their supper in the common hall, cheering and laughing. Braenden didn't know what it felt like to be a brother of the Night's Watch. The thought of joining the Night's Watch dread him. 

He realized he couldn't sleep. He slip into his normal wear with his fur cloak to protect him from the cold of the north and armed himself with his two longsword strapped to his belt. He walked out of his quarter and closed the door behind him. Braenden looked around Castle Black from where he was standing on the dais. He had three options where he would want to go. First was the common hall where the black brothers were currently having their supper. Second was going atop the wall again. He had been there for three times already. Third was the library vault, located underneath Castle Black. Braenden had never been there so he made his way there. Maester Aemon resided there, at the library. The thought of meeting the old maester made him warm. He was kind but blind. He entered the library, it smelled of old and dusts of ages. But he couldn't help but smile. The library of the Night's Watch was considered to be ancient, more so than the Library of Oldtown. Braenden was in a treasure, he thought. There were bookshelves of books of old, the languages of the children of the forest and scrolls from Valyria. So many good topics to choose for little time. He picked one of the books from the bookshelves and sat himself quietly at the long table. It was hard to concentrate reading the books with the men above cheering and laughing of late night. It was cold dry here in the library. He closed the book and returned to its original position. He returned to his quarter, slip back into his tunic and breech and went to lay on his bed.

He thought of the girl he used to spent his time with when he was at Winterfell. She was only four at that time and he was eight. her high cheekbones, vivid blue eyes and thick auburn hair. Sansa Stark. She used to be shy towards Braenden when he was brought to the Great Hall of Winterfell but as they soon get to know each other, Sansa would always bring Braenden to the godswood and make snow castles and talk cheekily. She was quite rebellious from what he could remember. Always disobeying her mother's orders and skipped her lessons from her septa just to spend her time with him. One time, they would discuss about them getting married and they even shared some light kisses. A childish thing they had done, but Braenden couldn't help but smile remembering that moments. Even the Lady Catelyn proposed this idea to her husband, Lord Eddard. But his lord father Tywin refused the idea and brought Braenden back to Casterly Rock. He missed her. And with the arranged betrothal of Sansa with his nephew Prince Joffrey the Illborn. He would rage, but his heart made him felt broken. That was the reason why he didn't enter Winterfell and continued along the Kingsroad to reach Castle Black. He wondered if Sansa still remembered Braenden. Their memories together was one of the moments Braenden cherished the most. Not wanting to think anymore of that, Braenden pushed it aside and tried to sleep. As he closed his eyes, he remembered the words of his mother when she told him before he go. 

You, my sweet little Braenden, will be my light and my golden lion, said his lady mother to him.

In the next morning, Braenden remained in his quarter. All dress and ready for the day. His hearth had been newly lit and breakfast was brought to his quarter. Not only that, Braenden received a letter from Winterfell. From his brother Tyrion. He break his fast first with burnt bacon, scrambled buttered eggs and a white pound cake. His drinks were of brown ale. It was good when he drank it but he still prefer water and milk and wine. He quickly finished his breakfast and opened the letter and read what his brother had to reply to him.

Dear brother,

I'm sorry for what King Robert had done to arrange such betrothal. When I speak to Lord and Lady Stark, they question me of your whereabouts. I told them you were busy in Casterly Rock. As for the Lady Sansa, she didn't even ask of you. I'm truly sorry little brother. I will arrive Castle Black on the next week with Jon Snow, the Bastard of Winterfell along with a few more recruits. After we spent our time there, we can travel further down south to Highgarden and maybe even Sunspear. Father disapproved of us to go travel around across the Narrow Sea but perhaps around Westeros he would consent. Wait for me at the wall and do reply if you can. Again, I'm sorry for your Lady Sansa.

Your brother Tyrion

Braenden sighed. He didn't want to think of Sansa. The thought of her just shattered Braenden's heart and soul. He crumpled the letter with his hand and threw it into the hearth. Watching the letter turned into an ash when the fire consume it for fuel. But Braenden couldn't blame Sansa for that. He knew. It was Braenden's fault for leaving Casterly Rock late. He arrived at Winterfell three days after the King's arrival and learnt that Sansa was already engaged to Joffrey. She hurt Braenden internally, but he couldn't blame her. Maybe she had forgotten already. Maybe, Joffrey was her sweet rose after all. No matter who his nephew was, he wasn't his proper nephew. He was a spawn of his older sister and brother, Cersei and Jaime's. Abomination. Myrcella and Tommen was far better than Joffrey was. They were sweet, kind and shy. Braenden liked them, even if they were the product of incest. They were gentle too. Maybe Sansa wasn't meant for him. If she wasn't the lady of his suit, then who? Well, Braenden was too young anyway to find a suitor so he had all the time he needed. 

He went to the courtyard and inspect the training of the recruits again. This time, Ser Aliser was the one to actually train them. There was more recruits on the ground than yesterday. Braenden counted eight new brothers, excluding Ser Aliser. He showed an example of how to knock down a person, in a harsh way. Ser Aliser always spat on them, mocking of their skills in combat. Braenden felt sorry for the lads. He watched Ser Aliser trained with a boy, no more than fifteen years old. Braenden thought of what crime he had committed until he had ended up to join the black. The boy swung his sword across Ser Aliser's position but he ducked away and quickly push the boy to the ground and beat him at his face. After he was done, Ser Aliser got up and spat beside him. His dark gloves were even darker with the blood around it.

"Weak. Boy like you deserved to be thrown away as soon as their mother gave birth to you." said Ser Aliser, "You're worthless more than the swords your holding. Even the Night's Watch is no place for you. Get up! Train more, the lot of you." With his harsh voice of command, they all quickly find their partner and spar against each other with their blunt swords. Aren wasn't like this when he trained Braenden, he was mean at times but only for the good of training him. Aren was far faster and better than any of them. He taught Braenden how to fight and defend himself so well that he almost perfect the arts of combat. He had much to learn though.

Braenden watched the recruits training in the yard. He was bored watching them sparring as they train. Their flexibility of moving their arms to swing the swords were not proper. All they do was head on in, hack and slash like a wildling. A barbaric style. Some even used longbows and composite bows with arrows, shooting the target practice. There were others as well, watching the new recruits training. They were the seasoned rangers. What they do was only mocking and spitting at the new recruits. But it was their right to make a joke out of them. The more pressure they put on the new recruits, the better they become. Though it would also mean that driving the recruits crazy. 

"I pity the new recruits if I were you, Lord Lannister." said a rough familiar voice beside him. He knew the person's voice well. The Old Bear Mormont. He stood beside Braenden with his big hands resting on the fence of the dais. "Ser Aliser may be harsh but it is necessary to discipline these sorry outlaws."

Braenden nodded and understood what the Lord Commander meant. "Of course. Though the boy Ser Aliser sparred with just now was fifteen of age, maybe younger."

"We need hard and strong man for the Wall. The boy will have to endure that harsh training of Ser Aliser then." 

"Indeed." Braenden agreed. "My master-at-arms trained me harshly but with good manner, and very well."

The Old Bear's face turned cold and stern. "We need harsh trainers to train ill-disciplined and immoral bastards like them," the old man said, "They weren't raised like us in Castles and Keeps, they're commoners, not bastards."

"I'm still wondering why Jon Snow would want to join the Night's Watch. Sure, you need good and honorable men but still, even if he was treated badly by his step-mother, he could do better than taking the black." Jon could have better ways to live his life down south rather than joining the Night's Watch. He could join a tourney and be a knight if he was willing to. Too late now. 

"When they feel out of place in society and civilization, what's more of a better way than to join the Night's Watch with that they are feeling, Lord Lannister?" He replied, grimly, then sighed. "With the bastard you carried with, you are treated worst than a commoner by the lords and ladies down south. They may have no place anywhere, but here. Taking the black. If you truly do believe in the Others and the rising of the dead, then you know that we need men for the wall. Any men that can be available to take post on the battlements. Not just halt the wildlings from crossing the wall, but to stop the White Walkers too. This wall was built after the Long Night. And you know the rest."

Braenden knew the rest, he did. "Of course. Forgive me, Lord Commander, of my ignorance. I will send recruiters to Castle Black once Tyrion and I got down south." Tywin would certainly be persuaded to sent some outlaws and picks of the dungeons in Casterly Rock for that. It had been eight thousand years since the Wall was built, not long after the Long Night. He continued, "Don't worry, Lord Commander. The Wall will stand should they ever arrived."

He nodded, yet kept his stern and worried face. "I pray for that, Lannister. We are the only guardians that guards the realm of men. You know our vows. And if the Others ever attack the Wall with the politics and squabbles happening down south, I fear we have very little chance of survival." he said.

I am the shield that guards the realms of men. Braenden Lannister remembered their oaths. He said to the Old Bear, "Winter is Coming, truly. The Starks are always right on that but it will autumn that is coming for us before then. We'll have to wait a few years before Winter finally sets in. But when autumn finally finished, let's hope that it won't be the next Long Night." I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

When Braenden reached the common hall, his two bodyguards were there as well, having their noon meals at one of the long table. There were few black brothers as well sitting near to the hearth. Braenden took his seat next to one of his bodyguard. Braenden only accepted two bodyguards because he wanted to travel faster. With many company riding alongside him would made the journey a little longer so Tywin picked his best of the best from his bodyguards to follow his heir. He knew their names, Ovar and Rend, both were brothers and served for more than seventeen years in the Lannister Lancers. A black brother with broad face and gray of hair with stern looking face brought Braenden his lunch. Pork sausages and seasoned chicken meat, Braenden could smell it. A plate of a slice of apple and grape pie. A bowl of beef stew and a mug of ale. Ale. Braenden preferred mead over ale but he didn't mind drinking ale all the same. He ate them.

"When is Lord Tyrion's going to arrive, my lord?" asked Ovar to Braenden.

He place a piece of chicken meat into his mouth. "Soon, next week. When he arrives we'll have to spend a couple of more days then we'll be heading south to Highgarden then Sunspear."

"The black brothers been giving us queer looks." this time it was Rend who said it. The look on his face was disturbed. "We didn't talk to them but still they're just giving us the creepy look."

"Aye," agreed Ovar, "We never leave our weapons out of our sight. It's just that it's better to get out of this place as soon as possible."

"Tyrion won't be here for long. We have many places to go, and maybe we'll even visit the Narrow Sea." Tyrion just wanted to piss on top of the Wall, that was all he wanted to do when he wanted to visit Castle Black.

"Lord Tywin would never allow us to let his heir go visit the Free-Cities. It's dangerous there."

It was true that his father wouldn't let Tyrion and Braenden go visit the Free-Cities of Essos. Even when Tyrion wasn't his heir and Braenden was, he wouldn't just let them go to a risky continent. "I said we might. My father will allow us to go to Highgarden, Sunspear then finally back to Casterly Rock." Braenden said and the brothers nodded. Tywin would never allow any of his children to go around without guards. They continued to eat their lunch. Braenden cut a pork sausage in half and ate it, swallowing it down to his stomach. 

As they ate, Braenden could hear the unrecognizable words from the black brothers around them, laughing and eating and drinking. It didn't make him feel uneasy yet he felt they don't belong here. Whatever the feeling was, it made Braenden and his bodyguards like an unwelcome foreigner. Braenden took a sip of his stew. The hearth of the common hall was burning brightly with extra piles of firewood next to it ready to be used as a fuel. The dais of where the Lord Commander, Maester and the other officers and senior rangers remained empty. The servants of the kitchen went around serving the black brothers with food and drinks of ale and mead. The ale was really good. When he arrived at Castle Black, he brought with him some fine wines from the south like the wines from the Arbor, gold and red. He passed it to Lord Commander Mormont as his gift to the Night's Watch. He finished his main bowl after placing the last pieces of seasoned chicken meat into his mouth. 

A black brother messenger came into the common hall, without rush. He was in his black wear and black coat of grey furs. He was holding a rolled parchment with a red seal on it. He looked around as if he was looking for someone. When the messenger's eyes stopped at Braenden's position. He began to walk to his seating position slowly, remaining neutral. Ovar and Rend noticed the black brother messenger's presence. Their hand on their swords' hilt but they remained passive, waiting to draw out their swords should any threat comes. When the messenger stopped at their long table, he handed the parchment to Braenden.

"It's yours, Lord Lannister, from Casterly Rock." said the messenger. He left without any words adding. Braenden took the parchment and open it.

To my youngest son and heir, Lord Braenden Lannister,

You are to immediately called back to Casterly Rock with your brother Tyrion. You two have have many things to learn yet and the news from Winterfell has reach me. Never mind that now. Lady Alysanne is much more of a suitor for you. Come back to the Casterly Rock. Things are not going well for the southerners and the northerners. 

Your father, Lord Tywin Lannister.

Braenden laughed lightly. "So much for his sincerity for me. We'll go back to Casterly Rock as soon as Tyrion arrive here." he said to Ovar and Rend.