A dance with dragons 26 ( a song of ice and fire 5)

THE WINDBLOWN

The word passed through the camp like a hot wind. She is coming. Her host is on the march. She is racing south to Yunkai, to put the city to the torch and its people to the sword, and we are going north to meet her.

Frog had it from Dick Straw who had it from Old Bill Bone who had it from a Pentoshi named Myrio Myrakis, who had a cousin who served as cupbearer to the Tattered Prince. “Coz heard it in the command tent, from Caggo’s own lips,” Dick Straw insisted. “We’ll march before the day is out, see if we don’t.”

That much proved true. The command came down from the Tattered Prince through his captains and his serjeants: strike the tents, load the mules, saddle the horses, we march for Yunkai at the break of day. “Not that them Yunkish bastards will be wanting us inside their Yellow City, sniffing round their daughters,” predicted Baqq, the squint-eyed Myrish crossbowman whose name meant Beans.

“We’ll get provisions in Yunkai, maybe fresh horses, then it will be on to Meereen to dance with the dragon queen. So hop quick, Frog, and put a nice edge on your master’s sword. Might be he’ll need it soon.”

In Dorne Quentyn Martell had been a prince, in Volantis a merchant’s man, but on the shores of Slaver’s Bay he was only Frog, squire to the big bald Dornish knight the sellswords called Greenguts. The men of the Windblown used what names they would, and changed them at a whim. They’d fastened Frog on him because he hopped so fast when the big man shouted a command.

Even the commander of the Windblown kept his true name to himself. Some free companies had been born during the century of blood and chaos that had followed the Doom of Valyria. Others had been formed yesterday and would be gone upon the morrow. The Windblown went back thirty years, and had known but one commander, the soft-spoken, sad-eyed Pentoshi nobleman called the Tattered Prince. His hair and mail were silver-grey, but his ragged cloak was made of twists of cloth of many colors, blue and grey and purple, red and gold and green, magenta and vermilion and cerulean, all faded by the sun. When the Tattered Prince was three-and-twenty, as Dick Straw told the story, the magisters of Pentos had chosen him to be their new prince, hours after beheading their old prince. Instead he’d buckled on a sword, mounted his favorite horse, and fled to the Disputed Lands, never to return. He had ridden with the Second Sons, the Iron Shields, and the Maiden’s Men, then joined with five brothers-in-arms to form the Windblown. Of those six founders, only he survived.

Frog had no notion whether any of that was true. Since signing into the Windblown in Volantis, he had seen the Tattered Prince only at a distance. The Dornishmen were new hands, raw recruits, arrow fodder, three amongst two thousand. Their commander kept more elevated company. “I am not a squire,” Quentyn had protested when Gerris Drinkwater – known here as Dornish Gerrold, to distinguish him from Gerrold Redback and Black Gerrold, and sometimes as Drink, since the big man had slipped and called him that – suggested the ruse. “I earned my spurs in Dorne. I am as much a knight as you are.”

But Gerris had the right of it; he and Arch were here to protect Quentyn, and that meant keeping him by the big man’s side. “Arch is the best fighter of the three of us,” Drinkwater had pointed out, “but only you can hope to wed the dragon queen.”

Wed her or fight her; either way, I will face her soon.



A dance with dragons 26 ( a song of ice and fire 5)