“I dreamt of Oldtown, Sam. I was young again and my brother Egg was with me, with that big knight he served. We were drinking in the old inn where they make the fearsomely strong cider.” (A Feast for Crows)
“It’s short for Aegon. My brother Aemon named me Egg, he’s off at the Citadel now, learning to be a maester.” (The Hedge Knight)
“Why Egg?” asked Dunk, after downing his second tankard of ale at the inn aptly named the Quill and Tankard. Aemon had recommended the cider – fearsomely strong, and the inn’s main claim to fame, apparently – but Dunk decided to stick with ale.
Egg’s face reddened. “I told Ser Duncan you were the one who named me Egg,” he whispered to his brother.
“Why Egg? Well, the short answer is, because I could not say Aegon properly, when I was a little boy. The second syllable always came out strangled, so Egg it became, and Egg it remains,” Aemon said, gazing fondly at his brother.
“And what is the long answer?” queried Dunk.
Aemon took a long swig of his cider, before replying. He grimaced, slightly, as the cider went down his throat. It was barely noticeable, and you would have missed it if you were not watching him as closely as Dunk was. Egg also stared, with a wary and puzzled look on his face. From his reaction, Dunk surmised that drinking strong ciders had not been one of Aemon’s customs before he came to the Citadel.
It did not surprise the knight to notice later that his squire looked very relieved, relieved and reassured, when Aemon pushed aside his empty tankard without asking the innkeeper to fill it once more to the brim with the fearsomely strong cider. Having one brother with too much fondness for drinks must be more than enough for Egg.
Only two years separated Prince Maekar’s third son from his fourth, but Aemon seemed much older than Egg. Dunk had expected to find a meek, timid and bookish boy – his only notion of what young novices at the Citadel must be like – but aside from his obvious love for books and learning, Aemon Targaryen was proving to be somewhat of a surprise to Dunk.
He was grinning, when he finally replied to Dunk’s question. “Why Egg, you asked, Ser Duncan? The long answer is, because Egg was always falling down, ser, when he was learning to walk. He’d try to stand up, and he’d fall right over, and he looked just like an egg. He was just about as tall as the length of the dragon’s egg they had put in his cradle. A plump babe, Egg was. Chubby, some might say. Adorable, I called him.”
“I was not plump. Or chubby,” protested Egg.
He made no protest about being called adorable, observed Dunk, somewhat amused.
“I was a healthy babe, our grandfather said. Healthy, rosy and glowing,” Egg continued.
Aemon nodded, and said, to Dunk, “His cheeks were definitely rosy. Like apples, they were. I was always eager to pinch them, but I knew he would not like it, so I never did.”
Dunk stared. At Egg’s cheeks. They were not looking very rosy now. He wondered what the boy would do, if Dunk ever tried to pinch his cheeks. He’d threaten to throw Dunk into the river, most likely, as he had threatened to do to the girls in Dorne who were fond of rubbing his shaven head for luck.
Egg glared at Dunk, as if he could tell what the knight had in mind. ‘Don’t even think of it, ser,” he muttered a warning. “My cheeks are not for pinching.”
Aemon had a sweet smile on his face, as he continued reminiscing, “I used to sit on my mother’s lap while we watched Egg in his cradle, and we’d sing to him the Song of the Seven, to soothe him to sleep. He would open his mouth very wide, like he was singing alongside us, and then my mother would have to close his mouth after he fell asleep.”
Egg sighed. “No one ever sings for me these days, to soothe me to sleep,” he said, wistfully.
Surely the boy did not expect Dunk to sing for him, after telling Dunk that his singing was worse than an ox wallowing in mud?
I’ll teach you how to be a proper squire, lad, but I can’t – I won’t – sing to soothe you to sleep. Even your father would not ask that of me.
He tried to imagine Prince Maekar singing the Song of the Seven, or any song, to soothe his children to sleep. The picture Dunk conjured in his mind was more alarming than soothing. If he was the one being sung to by Prince Maekar, he would stay awake the whole night, he was sure of it.
“Perhaps you and Ser Duncan should pay a visit to Summerhall,” Aemon said to Egg. “Father will sing for you, I’m sure.”
Try as he might, Dunk could not tell if the remark was made in jest, or if Aemon was being serious.