Small Council Matters – Season 5 #10 (Part 2)

Jun 19, 2015 4 Comments by

And now for the rest of the season finale discussion of Game of Thrones episode 510 “Mother’s Mercy” with Wendy and the Small Council.

Thank you for listening! Leave us a SpeakPipe audio message. Call us at 206-202-4182. Send feedback to Twitter, Facebook, or Email.

Read on for links and images.



Links:
Time magazine essay on reviewing a show without critiquing its audience
Braavos’ The Real Housewives of Westeros parody
Bonnaroo screening the season finale
Interview with Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage
Interview with Michiel Huisman (Daario)
Interview with Kit Harington (Jon)
HBO Inside episode 510 Mother’s Mercy
Interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Interview with Gwendoline Christie (Brienne)
George RR Martin explains Cersei’s walk of atonement
Interview with Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant)
Interview with Lena Heady on Cersei’s walk

Hosted by Wendy Hembrock. Recorded on 6/15/2015. Edited by Brent Barrett.

Music by Break of Reality used with permission.

Small Council Matters

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4 Responses to “Small Council Matters – Season 5 #10 (Part 2)”

  1. Kurt_eh says:

    Did anyone else expect to see Fezzik waiting with a couple of horses at the base of the curtain wall?

  2. Ken from Chicago says:

    Here’s how I think Game of Thrones should have ended S5 (and some alterations to the season over all. This one’s for Small Council, especially Jesse, the optimistic one. Keep hope alive:)

    A Song of Happily Ever After

    Previously on … Game of Thrones

    “NOOOOOO! WHERE’S MY FATHER!?! NOOO!!!”

    “Enough, Melisandre, she is my daughter, Princess Shireen of House Baratheon and she will NOT be sacrified. If the Lord of Light requires a sacrifice of king’s blood, here.”

    Stannis slice a slit in his palm to squeeze out blood on the stake Shireen would have been burned on.

    “I’m sorry about this, Shireen.” Stannis looks pointedly at Melisandre. “This will NOT happen again.”

    Stannis turns to face his men. “Men of the Iron Isles and … honorable soldiers for hire. We are almost at the goal and we will not let weather, white walkers or witchcraft oppose us. I have asked much of you and you have proven your loyalty. That loyalty will be rewarded. As such I am altering the terms of our deal and will split HALF of my kingdom to you who have been proven time and again your faith him. In a few hours we will review survey you to ask what type of land you would prefer or if you would prefer gold instead. Lastly, as winter has seemed to come early we will respond in kind by using the local forest for kindling and send to Castle Black for more supplies while we march on to victory!”

    The army cheered as Stannis entered a tent and unbound Davos, “I … made a mistake in considering the unthinkable. I appreciate your loyalty to me and my daughter. I won’t forget it. I wished I had heeded your counsel sooner.”

    “Yes, I heard, sir, ultimately you made the right choice, I knew that you would.”

    “Thank you, now I want you to arrange a tent where 100 men at a time can be assembled and surveyed. Hope and principle are powerful things but we also need to be practical and use the men’s greed to overcome their potential fear. The assemblies will concentrate their minds on the future not the present. Also adjust camp security, I don’t want any of the sellswords on guard duty or on horse security. Last thing we need is for them to start butchering the horses for meat or running off with them to sell.”

    “Aye, your grace.”

    “Lastly, send 15 men you trust to get supplies from Castle Black, plus 3 men who know the North and this accursed snowy terrain and battle tactics. Winter isn’t coming, it’s arrived.”

    = = =

    “Sire, the Lord of Light … seems … to have accepted your offering of king’s blood. The snows have melted.”

    “Good.”

    “Sire, you need to see this.”

    Stannis, Davos and Melisandre walk up to a group of his soldiers gathered near a tree. He gets to front to see what they are looking at, a bunch of men tied to a tree.

    “We caught them trying to sneak into camp this morning and, hey, where’s the leader, the one with the big mouth who never shut up?”

    “Oh, we found this,” the soldier holds up a bloody hand “He must have cut his hand off to get away.”

    “So much for Ramsay Bolton.”

    “Ramsay … Bolton?”

    “Yes, sire, he said he was son of Roose Bolton, the true King of the North in Winterfell.”

    “We will see about that,” Stannis takes the hand and gives it to Melisandre, “Here you go, even more king’s blood. You can offer this as … bonus. Thank you, that is all. Davos, where is the princess?”

    “She is teaching a couple of soldiers to read, sire.”

    Stannis nods in approval.

    “Husband, I would speak with you in private.” Selyse enters his command tent.

    Stannis pauses, looks at Davos, nods knowingly, braces himself and enters.

    “Husband, … I, I failed you. I … betrayed you. When you were away in battle, I was weak and furious you had been called away to war and in a moment of weakness … I betrayed you with another man, almost 16 years ago. I, … I do not know if you are Shireen’s true father. The man I … was with, died months later, before Shireen was born. Shireen’s always reminded me of my hidden betrayal and I hated her for reminding me, but the truth is I have hated myself, I tried to devote myself to the Lord of Light, to do penance but it has not been enough. Winter is upon us and we are on the brink of death and it is my fault for not having a child you could sacrifice and not having the courage to speaking up sooner to prevent a tragedy. I, I …” Selyse breaks down sobbing, “I don’t deserve to live. End my life, sacrifice me. I have king’s blood. Guarantee your future.”

    “No, I will not sacrifice my family any more. Besides, I too have not always been faithful to you. How can I be a leader of the country and can’t lead my own family. No, I have not cared enough to be caring enough for those closest to me. If you can forgive me I hope to make amends to you for my failings as a husband.”

    Selyse, crying, looks up at Stannis and embraces him.

    . . .

    Melisandre watches the last of the flames flicker out on her meager sacrifice. “That is all” echoes in her mind as she stamps out the embers, then turns and strides back.

    “Stannis, don’t think you can hide behind your bodygua-oh, I, um.”

    Melisandre is frozen, shocked to see Stannis and Selyse naked, in coitus, with Stannis’ back to her and … continuing, while Selyse looks up at Melisandre half-dreamily and with a wicked grin.

    “Well, the Red Witch, speechless. I, oh, didn’t think this day could get … oh …. Better.”

    Stannis grunts as he finally finishes. “Well, Melisandre, I assume you didn’t come in to see a husband and wife in marital bliss.”

    “Yes, er, no, no!” Melisandre quickly turns around, “I came to … inform you the small sacrifice of Ramsay’s hand has been made but to suggest instead-“

    “Let me make it clear, Melisandre, if so much as a hair of Shireen ends up burned, so help me the Lord of Light well be accepting the sacrifice of a Red Witch. Now, was there anything else?”

    “It … looked like a soldiers were returning from Castle Black.”

    “Good, I’ve already given Davos orders to send out scouts and on what to do. We’ll march on Winterfell tomorrow. Thank you. You’re dismissed.”

    “Dismissed!” Enraged, the Red Witch spins around to an even greater shock.

    “You heard my husband, witch. He’d repeat himself but he doesn’t like to talk, … that’s it, that’s the spot, … with his mouth full.”

    Melisandre turns and storms from the tent, fuming.

    “I told you he did not wish to be disturbed.”

    The Red Witch turns and stares daggers at Davos but he only laughs as she stomps away.

    [End part 1 of A Song of Happily Ever After]

    ( Yeah, TWO can play the multi-part game.)

  3. Ken from Chicago says:

    Previously on Game of Thrones:

    “You were sworn to protect Sansa’s mother and failed. You were sworn to protect King Renly and failed. Why should someone with your history of failure be trusted to protect Sansa?”

    “Sansa, if we could just speak privately.”

    “Just go.”

    “Come, Reek, watch Sansa become a woman, Shut the door.”

    “If you need help just light a candle in the abandoned tower in Winterfell.”

    Brienne and Podrick stand vigil watching the Winterfell tower.

    “King’s blood.”

    “King’s blood.”

    “King’s blood.”

    “We caught them trying to sneak into camp this morning and, hey, where’s the leader, the one with the big mouth who never shut up?”

    “Oh, we found this,” the soldier holds up hand “He must have cut his hand off to get away.”

    “So much for Ramsay Bolton.”

    = = =

    [Part 2 of ‘A Song of Happily Ever After’]

    “I’m sorry about the meager rations for breakfast, Lady Brienne..”

    “You did well given our lack of resources.”

    “Thank you, m’lady. How goes your vigil?”

    Sigh. “Same as usual.”

    “I could get the practice swords and for another training session.”

    “Mmm, … no, you’ve done well enough. Today you use the real thing. Get the spare sword and shield I got from Castle Black.”
    Podrick walks briskly to their tied up horses and unpacks the spare gear.

    “Yes, ma’am. Thank you, I shall not let you d- . . .”

    Brienne turns from watching the Winterfell tower. “Podrick?”

    She sees Podrick putting on the shield and wielding the sword and …

    “RUN! RUN, BRIENNE! I’LL HOLD IT OFF!”

    “PODRICK! What in the seven heavens are you-“

    “WHITE WALKER!” And Podrick runs away from Brienne deeper into the forest at an armored almost skeleton, White Walker walking slowly towards him. Podrick circles the walker while clanging his shield with his sword to make a loud clanging noise to attract the walker. Podrick then starts to swing wildly with panic overpowering his sword swings. He’s not even close to connecting. The Walker looks at Podrick with a bit of puzzlement then swings his sword at him. Podrick blocks it with his shield- – for a moment, then his shield shatters. Podrick jumps back as the shield explodes. Remembering his training, he takes his sword in a two-handed grip and swings with extra strength, wildly. He doesn’t come close to striking the walker until finally the walker holds up his sword and Podrick strikes it. Podrick’s sword shatters and he is dumbfounded. The walker holds out his sword inches from Podrick’s head, while Podrick slowly backs up until he backs into a tree.

    Time slows to a crawl for Podrick.

    He sees the walker tilt his head to the side and pull back his sword to prepare to stab Podrick. Podrick hears his heart thudding loudly in his ears as the walker’s sword begins to move forward while the thudding suddenly stops.

    “HOLD! NOT TODAY, MONSTER!!!” CLANG!

    Brienne sword lands down in an overhead arch on top of the walker’s sword, knocking it downward to stab the earth between Podrick’s feet. The walker looks down at the sword then up at Brienne as she then twists and swings Oathkeeper up to decapitate the walker- -only the walker explodes in a shattering of ice crystals covering Brienne and Podrick.

    Podrick collapses back into the tree and exhales and inhales, shaking, barely slowing himself from sobbing from fear and joy at being alive then collapses to his hands and knees, barely keeping himself from falling, when he sees a hand in his face. It’s Brienne’s hand and he grabs it as she pulls him to his somewhat more steady feet.

    “Podrick, you may not have the fighting prowess of a knight, yet, but you certainly have the heart of a knight. That’s something that can’t be taught. I’m proud of you.”

    “Thank you m’la-OW!”

    Podrick reels as he lands on the ground from being punched by Brienne.

    “And if you EVER do something half as ruddy stupid as that again, I will cut you in two!”

    Podrick chucles, “You mean like him” and gestures where the walker was.

    Brienne looks where the walker was and also at Oathkeeper. “Yes, that was surprisingly effective.” She says more to herself than to Podrick. “C’mon, I think you’ve had enough training for today, back to the vigil.”

    “M’lady, the tower!”

    Brienne turns to see what Podrick sees, what she’s been waiting for, the light glowing in Winterfell’s tower.

    . . .

    Sansa stares locked door to her bedroom, then puts her ear to it. Hearing nothing, she inserts the corkscrew she stole into the lock and starts twisting it and wiggling it until lock unlocks. She takes the candle and goes out over to the abandoned tower, makes her way to the top and lights the candle, placing it in the window. She sits down and waits for hours. She finally worries she hadn’t thought to ask what she should do after lighting the candle. Wait in the tower? Return to her bedroom? What? She looks out the window and doesn’t see anyone approaching the tower. Everyone seems to be going about their business across the yard to and from the gate, guards standing along the wall. Blacksmiths hammering horseshoes, peasantwomen doing laundry, peasants cleaning, guards training, etc. If it weren’t for the Bolton banners, it could almost seem like the days under the Starks.

    Sansa gave a final look out the window and seeing no one approach the tower made her way back down to the ground. She looked at the gates and they were all guarded, except she noticed the peasants were making their through the gates. She looked down at her dress with frustration. She’d stick out like sore thumb then she looked around furiously until she found what she was looking for and strode in that direction. She entered servants area of the castle and went to the laundry section. Peasant women stopped doing their laundry when she entered. She looked around them and didn’t see a familiar or even friendly face. One of the women asked “M’lady?”

    Sansa looked at her, then the baskets of dirty clothes, then the woman, and replied “Where is it?!”

    “Where’s what, ma’am?”

    “My rainbow frock. Ramsay wants me in it when he returns, or … else. It was in my room. One of the servants must have taken it and brought it here. Where is it?” Everyone looks confused. “Fine! You want to take my clothes?! I’ll take your clothes to my room! When one of you brings my clothes to my room, I’ll give back yours.” At that, Sansa grabs one of the baskets with dirty peasant clothes and left the building in a huff. Everyone else in the room looked at each other and just laughed.

    Sansa wrinkled her nose from the odors rising from the dirty laundry basket on the floor. She wondered if this were a mistake, but if she didn’t like being around the clothes, other people, including guards, wouldn’t either. That would work in her favor. She now only needed to wait until night fall so the guards wouldn’t recognize her on sight, unless really close up.

    “I won’t say ‘I told you so’ because that would be cruel.”

    “Father, didn’t you just say it?”

    “No, Ramsay, I was citing, oh, nevermind. I do appreciate your efforts. Is the Eye of Poppy helping?”

    “Yes, I no more feel the physical pain of having to cut my hand off to escape Stannis’ capture and near frostbite to keep from bleeding out and now I only the emotional pain of humiliation of the failed attempt.”

    “There, there, my prince, a wound in battle gives a man character and will gain the pity and support of the people,” Myranda says consolingly, while Reek barely flinches at the word ‘pity’.

    Ramsay jumps up and cold cocks Myranda in the stomach and roundhouse punch to the face to knock her to the floor. “The people will PITY … ME!?! Do YOU ‘pity’ me?! Do you?! ANSWER ME!”

    Myranda lays on the floor sobbing, fearful to move, “No, no, m’lord, I misspoke. Please forgive me.”

    “And you, Reek, do you pity me?”

    “No, m’lord, you are quite fearsome as always.”

    “There, much better! Reek, dismissed. Learn from Reek, Myranda. Now . . . I would see if Lady Sansa pities me too. Do something useful, Myranda and bring her to me. Reek learned the hard way. Now Sansa will learn too, and you will watch. When I finish with her I will show you something to pity.”

    “Well, Son, I see you have a long evening planned with your wife. I shall retire and attend to mine.”

    “Good night, Father.”

    . . .

    Myranda slowly left the royal dining room, slowly straightening up, grimacing from the pain in her stomach and the side in her head. Yes, Sansa was going pay and she would enjoy the show. It almost made the pain worth it, as she started to climb the stairs to Sansa’s bedchambers.

    Sansa slowly put on the dirty cloak, breathing shallow, adjusting to the stench. By nightfall she should be used to it and be able to flee without gagging.

    Reek stood at the entryway to his quarters thankful that Ramsay’s fury was not directed at him but at Sansa, not at Reek. Except . . . Ramsay threatened Sansa, to teach her as he had taught Theon, until Theon became Reek. But if Ramsay taught Sansa until she became Reek, what would happen to Reek? If she was Reek then Ramsey wouldn’t need Reek. No! Reek had to save Sansa to save Reek.

    Reek raced out across the courtyard. He reached the bottom of the stairs.

    Myranda felt sore all over but reached the top of the stairs.

    Reek ran up the stairs to Sansa. Time was almost out.

    Myranda unlocked the padlocked door.

    Reek was nearing the top of the stairs.

    Myranda opened the door . . . to an empty bedchamber. The smile on her face turned into a frown as she looked around the empty room. Where could Sansa be?

    Reek reached the top of the stairs . . . and found Sansa dressed in dirty clothes. Reek froze. Had Sansa already become Reek? If so, what would happen to him? “Theon?”

    Reek look at Sansa with an odd tilt to his head. Of course, if he was no longer Reek then he would be Theon again. But if he was Theon, then Ramsay would torture him until he became Reek, except Sansa was already Reek. There was no more room for Reek. He would be nothing. And Theon stood there sobbing, sobbing for Reek.

    “Theon, what’s going on? Why are you here?”

    “I’m here to save you from Ramsay.”

    “Well, well, isn’t that romantic? Reek is sweet on Lady Sansa. Wait until Ramsay hears this. You have been summoned, m’lady, to the dining hall.”

    Myranda summits the stairs with drawn bow and arrow.

    “I’m not hungry.”

    “Who said there would be eating? No, there are lessons to be learned, although I think poor Reek may have forgotten his lessons. It was easy to figure out where you had gotten to, m’lady, after Reek had revealed your hidey hole to Ramsay, but I had not realized Reek was joining you. I wonder why? You can’t be lovers. After all, Ramsay has taken your favorite toy. Unless . . . wait, does the fair lady not know about your . . . shortcoming . . . in that area?”

    Sansa’s look of confusion slowly changes as she involuntarily looks down at Theon’s pants, to one of realization.

    “Ah, the lady realizes now. You’ve been keeping secrets, Reek. This is something Ramsay will definitely find fascinating. Come, come, m’lady. Your husband awaits.”

    “And if I don’t, what’ll you do? You don’t dare kill me.”

    “Oh, I don’t have to kill you. And Ramsay doesn’t need all of you, just parts, parts to make an heir, and maybe a spare. The world being so cruel and all and then he can dispose of you, or parts of you until you’re just like Reek over her-”

    “And then what?”

    “What?”

    “And then what happens after I produce heirs for Ramsay, and he disposes of me, what then? Do you think he will finally accept you? Return the feelings you so obviously have for him which he so obviously does not share? Oh sure, he may lay with you from time to time, after all, he still a man, but actual feelings? No, no, after me he will seek out other women, maybe other wives- -but never you. And do you know why?”

    “Oh, let me guess, because I’m not pretty enough for the-“

    “No, you’re pretty enough. In fact, pretty is the myth women have been telling each other for ages. Sure a pretty face will turn a man’s head, but that’s not what most men want. They want power, dominance, fear. They want respect. That’s what they really want. Sure, there’s the rare man that likes strong women because to be loved and respected by one is rare, but most men will opt for weak woman. That’s easier for them to seek out respect. That’s what drives Ramsay, the fear of a lack of respect. The problem with you is that you are simply too strong, too tough for Ramsay. He sees your lack of fear as a lack of respect. He wants his women to be soft and weak and you’re tough and strong. Sure, you probably play act being soft and weak around him, maybe when you lay together, but he knows the truth about you. You could never fool him. Not like I have. That’s why he desires me. That’s why Theon desires me. He’s the rare man that likes strong women. That’s how he knew I would be in this tower instead of cowering in my bedchamber. Even despite Theon’s physical limitations, he still wanted my respect.” Sansa turns to face Theon, “He could have taken the easy route and avoided me after his past mistakes but he knows I respect him from admitting the truth to me. We grew up together so he knows me.” Sansa turns back to Myranda and walks slowly, menacingly towards her, “I have been raised a princess and know you could never learn even the basics of attracting men, of the way I attract Ramsay and you never will.”

    Myranda trembles with rage and shoots Sansa with the arrow- -in the arm. Sansa looks at the blood coming from where the arrow grazed her outer arm, and faints at Myranda’s feet.

    “Hmmph, so much for being strong, m’lady. Reek, stop standing there, come get her-OOOWWWWW!” Myranda yells as Sansa stabs her in the foot with her corkscrew, then pulls her legs out from under her. The corkscrew flies out or Myranda’s foot and the bow from her hand, as she and Sansa wrestle on the floor until Myranda’s on top then pulls out another arrow from her quiver.

    “You have NOTHING to teach and nothing to learn! Ramsay will be mad to learn his dear wife has simply disappeared on him and I will console him and no one will ever learn the wise, right, Reek? URK!”

    “My name is ‘THEON’!” Theon says as he stabs Myranda in the neck with the corkscrew.

    Myranda collapses grabbing feebly at her neck as blood pours out of it along with her life.

    Sansa gets up and looks Myranda’s body. “We may have to leave before nightfall. I do not want to be caught with this body.”

    A voice behind them asks “What body?”

    Sansa and Theon turn to see Brienne and Podrick at the top of the stairs.

    “Oh, that one. Well met, your grace. This is my squire, Podrick, and …”

    “’Theon Greyjoy’, ma’am”

    “Ah, yes, seven blessings, Theon Greyjoy.”

    “Hello, … Brienne of Tarth?”

    “Yes, m’lady, I’m here to rescue you.”

    “I remember. How did you get in here?”

    “It turns out a knight threatening to punish a squire for not properly securing their horses is quite a common sight that no one questions it. However I’m afraid that ruse will not work for the three of us to leave.”

    “You didn’t have to hit me for real.”

    “It was part of the ruse, Podrick. Your pain sold it.”

    “Three? Don’t you mean four?” Sansa questions.

    “Three is hard enough but four. We definitely will need another way out.”

    “I know of one, “ Theon adds, “We form ropes out of laundry and old clothes stored in the boxes here, and climb down from one of the walls.

    Sansa looks at the boxes, “There were already old clothes here? Wait, ropes out of clothes? That … sounds familiar.”

    “Yes, m’lady, your father mentioned it during one of the adventure stories he told us when we were young.” Theon says with a bowed head and a hunched posture waiting for retaliation.

    “Wonderful idea, Theon,“ Brienne notes, “We can use these rags to disguise ourselves as peasants . . . this could work.”

    Soon four peasants with laundry baskets make their way to the wall, before they start up the stairs, a pair of guards stop them. “Hey, hold up you, oh, it’s you Reek.”

    Theon turns, “Yes, what’s wrong?”

    “His lordship, the prince, is all upset his wife and girlfriend are missing, so he has all the guards looking for them. Have you seen them?”

    The other three peasants shook their heads ‘No’.

    “No, I haven’t seen Lady Sansa since this morning but I did see Myranda heading toward Sansa’s bedchambers.”

    The other guard poked into the four baskets, lifting up clothes, while Theon explained.

    “Yeah, yeah, Reek, first place we looked. It’s empty. What’s this you four are doing? Laundry?”

    The other guard looked up “Why are these clothes tied up?”

    “We got some old clothes out of storage for cleaning. We’re hanging them up in the cold wind, to get some of the stench out, m’lords. It’s easier to hang them up tied together than trying to hang each up individually.”

    The guards wrinkle their noses at the stale odors, “Yeah, okay, carry on.”

    Several minutes later the four have attached their four individual makeshift ropes into one long rope with a noose at the end.

    Podrick puts the noose under his arms and he slowly, quietly ravels down the wall, while Brienne and Theon anchors the rope, slowly letting him down to the ground, then pull the rope back up. Sansa puts the noose under her legs and sits in it like sitting in a swing as Brienne and Theon slowly lower her to the ground. Theon follows with noose under his arms like Podrick. Brienne ties off the rope and climbs down the wall. Brienne tells everyone, “Okay, follow me to the horses” and they race off to the nearby forest and freedom.

    [End of part 2 of ‘A Song of Happily Ever After’]

    [To be continued…]

  4. Ken from Chicago says:

    Previously on Game of Thrones:

    “NOOOOOO! WHERE’S MY FATHER!?! NOOO!!!”

    “Enough, Melisandre, she is my daughter, Princess Shireen of House Baratheon and she will NOT be sacrified. If the Lord of Light requires a sacrifice of king’s blood, here.”

    Stannis sliced a slit in his palm to squeeze out blood on the stake Shireen would have been burned on.

    “I’m sorry about this, Shireen.” Stannis looks pointedly at Melisandre. “This will NOT happen again.”

    “You were sworn to protect Sansa’s mother and failed. You were sworn to protect King Renly and failed. Why should someone with your history of failure be trusted to protect Sansa?”

    “Sansa, if we could just speak privately.”

    “Just go.”

    “Come, Reek, watch Sansa become a woman, Shut the door.”

    “We caught them trying to sneak into camp this morning and, hey, where’s the leader, the one with the big mouth who never shut up?”

    “Oh, we found this,” the soldier holds up hand “He must have cut his hand off to get away.”

    “So much for Ramsay Bolton.”

    “HOLD! NOT TODAY, MONSTER!!!” CLANG!

    Brienne sword lands down in an overhead arch on top of the walker’s sword, knocking it downward to stab the earth between Podrick’s feet. The walker looks down at the sword then up at Brienne as she then twists and swings Oathkeeper up to decapitate the walker- -only the walker explodes in a shattering of ice crystals covering Brienne and Podrick.

    = = =

    [Part 3 of “A Song of Happily Ever After”]

    “Report, Davos.”

    “Confirmation that Winterfell is surrounded. The men are in the surrounding forest”

    “Good, we can officially announce the siege and for the Boltons’ surrender at dawn.”

    “Sire, four people were spotting climbing down a wall to escape Winterfell. They were captured, per your orders of no escapees.”

    “Good, they can be a source of infor-, wait, how did they climb down the wall?”

    “With a rope, with a noose. They say one of them was merely lowered down.”

    “Davos, send a squad of 50 men to climb the rope, secure that point, and open a gate. We may end this siege before it begins. Have a company of a 100 men ready to storm and secure the open gate.”

    “Aye, sire.”

    “The Lord of Light is definitely pleased.”

    “The truest words you’ve ever said, Melisandre. You might make a believer out of me yet.”

    Melisandre rolls her eyes at Davos as if he’s a lost cause.

    “And I’ll have the prisoners brought to you, sire.”

    “Davos, ‘guests’, they are guests- -for now.”

    “Yes, m’lord.”

    . . .

    “Hello, lady and gentlemen. My name is Ser Stannis Baratheon. I apologize for the brusque treatment at first. We had to make sure you were not spies or soldiers. However time is of the essence. So you have 5 minutes to convince me of the truth of who you say you are or I will leave you gift wrapped at the front gate of Winterfell for the Boltons. However the truth will set you free.”

    “My name is ‘Podrick Payne’, this is ‘Theon Greyjoy’ and ‘Sansa Bolton’. I am squire to Lady Brienne of Tarth, who is the one unconscious. Brienne and I came here to rescue Sansa from Roose Bolton, and his recently legitimized son, Ramsay Bolton. Brienne had sworn an oath to Sansa’s mother before her mother died to protect her daughter and keep her safe.”

    Davos looks at the unconscious Brienne, “Hmmph, she’s not very good at her job.”

    “To the contrary, ser, she has faced many setbacks and instead of giving up, even when Sansa rejected her help, Brienne stayed true to her cause, invaded the heart of Boltons’ base and rescued Sansa from a beast of a husband who brutalized her on a nightly basis, tortured poor Theon for months, mutilating him into becoming a eunich. From this monster, Brienne rescued Sansa, and would have gotten her to freedom with no thought of reward for herself merely to honor her promise to a dead woman- -except your forces cowardly ambushed us and even then Brienne, outnumbered still fought to save her charge until she was overwhelmed by superior numbers. She is an honorable knight, an honorable woman and if you aim to kill us then I am proud to be by her side.”

    Stannis is taken aback by so fierce a defense and looks to Davos and Melisandre and sees similar reactions.

    “Perhaps I was hasty in my judgement, Squire Podrick,” Davos replies.

    “This would seem to be a sign of the Lord of Light, m’lord. If a lone knight and squire can be this successful then ….”

    “Yes, indeed, Melisandre. Well, Lady Brienne must be quite formidable to inspire such a defense.”

    A soldier brings a note to Davos, who nods to Stannis.

    “Good news all round, I have just received word that my men have succeeded in breaching the gate and securing it by means of the very rope you four used to escape. You have turned a siege lasting weeks or perhaps months into a battle that will be over in hours. I will have to thank Brienne when she wakes. Guard, escort my honored guests to our field hospital. Mend their injuries, provide food, water, a change of clothes. Assign two guards for each of them to escort them. After we have liberated Winterfell tomorrow, it will be safe for them to leave.”

    . . .

    Ramsay wakes to the sound of horns. Several bodies on the dining hall floor are mute witness to the intensity of his rage the overnight before fatigue and the eye of poppy forced him to sleep. The sound of horns blaring at first enrage him then confuse him. They are not his father’s usual arrangement. He goes to the window to look out on the courtyard and for the second time in as many days he feels actual fear.

    In the courtyard, an army had set up station near the front gate with torches lit on the walls surrounding the city. In the middle of the courtyard, a pole is planted with a white flag on it.

    “PEOPLE OF WINTERFELL, YOU ARE LIBERATED BY STANNIS OF HOUSE BARATHEON. ROOSE BOLTON, WINTERFELL IS SURROUNDED! YOUR GATES HAVE BEEN BREACHED. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. THERE IS ONLY SURRENDER. I AM AN HONORABLE MAN. COME AND DISCUSS TERMS. YOU HAVE ONE HOUR.”

    . . .

    An hour later, Stannis and Davos are standing by the white flag, alone.

    “M’lord, I still say this is a mistake. The Boltons are vermin without honor, who will say or do anything for their own advantage, lie, cheat, steal, kill for their own selfish interests- -especially their chief rat, Roose. He will betray you at a moment’s notice. He has flayed men, women and children, taken hostages, promise alliance only to betray allies for personal gain.”

    “Calm yourself, Davos, we have discussed this-well, speak of the chief rat and it scurries forth.”

    Roose Bolton and his aide-de-camp approach and stand across from Stannis and Davos.

    “This is a good start, Roose, needless bloodshed can be avoided. My army has surrounded Winterfell. There is no way out. What are your terms to end this quickly.”

    “Ah, the liberators of Winterfell, it’s good to me you in person. My terms, my terms, my terms,” Roose looks to his second, “What are my terms?Ah, I know, “ and he looks back at Stannis with a wicked grin, “My terms are you to leave this city. If you wish to continue south to King’s Landing, do so with my blessing. Perhaps your army needs to stock up? Give me a list and I will leave the supplies OUTSIDE the gate. And you will start leaving within 1 minute, or else.”

    Davos asks “Or else what?”

    Roose’s second turns around then turns back to face Davos and the second has a wicked smile as well.

    Then soldiers come streaming out, each one pulling a peasant with their arms tied and a knife to their throat out into the middle of the courtyard all lined up.

    “Or else my men begins killing the hostages one by one. You are indeed an honorable man, Stannis of House Baratheon. Your reputation does indeed proceed you. You would not let your name be spoken of being the cause of the deaths of 200 innocent people in a naked grab for power. No, no, you will do the ‘right’ thing and leave me in peace.”

    Stannis looks at the squirming peasants, then to Davos, then closes his eyes and visibly sighs. Roose smiles grows wider seeing victory being snatched from the jaws of defeat. And then Stannis opens his eyes and stares at Roose with iron resolve and Roose’s smile falters.

    “No, Roose, my legacy will be to wipe the land of vermin rodents like you from it and to free GENERATIONS of innocents from your filth! You threaten innocent people yet they are strangers. My second, Davos, is my closest friend for decades. And he knows what you can’t begin to understand. Show him, Davos. Show Roose what he’ll never understand.”

    Davos holds up his hand and removes his glove to reveal the stumps where his fingers used to be. “My fingers were caught off because I stole from m’lord. Sometimes sacrifice has to be made for the greater good.” And Davos drops his glove to the side.

    And a hundred archers from Stannis’ army fire into the hostages then another salvo fires fire arrows into Roose’s 200 soldiers.

    Roose has a look of dread as he turns from the burning soldiers to face Stannis.

    “YOUR legacy of terror ends this day, King Roose of House Bolton! NOW you WILL kneel before me!”

    Roose slowly sinks to his knees. “I surrender.”

    “And I accept your surrender,” Stannis steps past the kneeling Roose, “TO THE REMAINING FORCES OF HOUSE BOLTON, YOUR LEADER HAS SURRENDERED. I HAVE NO ILL WILL TOWARDS YOU. ALL WHO COME INTO THE COURTYARD, KNEELS AND SURRENDER WILL LIVE. ANY WHOM WE HAVE TO FIND WILL BE EXECUTED. ANY WHO TAKES AS HOSTAGE A CITIZEN OF WINTERFELL WILL DIE A SLOW, AGONIZING DEATH LASTING FOR HOURS- -UNLIKE YOUR LEADER’S.”

    And Stannis turns and stabs Roose in the throat with a dagger. “Your days of betrayals are over, vermin!”

    “YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO SURRENDER IN THE COURTYARD!”

    Stannis walks past the already kneeling aide-de-camp and picks up Davos’ glove and returns it to a shakened Davos and he walks up to Melisandre still staring at the burning soldiers, as he already hears the sounds of soldiers rushing to the courtyard. “Sometimes you don’t have to burn down the house. Sometimes the smoke alone will scare out rats. Oh and this is for you.” Stannis holds up his bloody dagger, “Actual blood from an actual king.” Melisandre smiles knowingly as Roose’s body suddenly catches fire.

    Stannis returns to his tent with Selyse and Shireen waiting.

    . . .

    By that afternoon, all of the Bolton forces had been rounded up and imprisoned. The few who had remained hidden or tried to escape were summarily executed. The handful who were caught trying to use Winterfellers as hostages were captured and tortured until their scheduled execution on the morrow. Several reported seeing Ramsay fleeing during the hour Roose parlayed for surrender.

    A vast feast was set in the dining hall and extended out in the courtyard for the commoners. Stannis was seated at the center of the wide dining table facing the dining hall. To his right were Selyse, Shireen, Davos and Melisandre, to his left was an empty chair, Podrick, Sansa and Theon. Everyone was rejoicing except Podrick, who said he was ill, Theon, who was almost as reserved as Stannis, though he was spotted smiling several times at Selyse and Shireen who was asking why the men were killed for being afraid. Stannis explained their presence may life uncomfortable for the Winterfellers and unsafe for his men to do their job of securing the place. Plus it was a rule, a law he had given. He had given his word. If he broke his own word then it would undermine the people’s trust in him as a ruler if he was breaking his own word. He hadn’t noticed a palpable charge in the air, not at first.

    “So you see, princess, no one is above the rule of law, not even royalty, not even rulers,” then Stannis looked around and noticed the dining hall had quieted as the guest of honor had arrived. Podrick looked even sicker. Sansa smiled slightly, still wondering about the news that Podrick had revealed. Theon maintained his calm composure. However many of the guests at the front table and in the rest of the dining hall were abuzz, gazing at the lady knight stride in, formally dressed in her suit of armor, cleaned and polished to perfection.

    Stannis stood up, “Ladies and gentlemen, our guest of honor has arrived, Lady Brienne of Tarth, for whom we owe many thanks, for it is by her bravery that, instead of in a long stalemate, during which the Boltons’ reign of terror would have been extended and concentrated like a cornered animal, we are here today, having already liberated Winterfell from the cruel, torturing, raping, murdering menace of the Boltons,” and Stannis applauded a strong, sober, steady applause, as everyone in the dining hall gave Brienne a standing ovation as she reached the empty chair, reserved for her next to Stannis. Brienne turned to the audience and bowed slightly then turned back to Stannis and did not bow.

    “We have not been formally introduced, I am Lady Brienne of Tarth, sworn protector of Sansa Stark, sworn protector of Arya Stark,” to which Sansa turned in shock at hearing her’s sister name said out loud, more so than her own name, “sworn protector of Catelyn Stark, sworn protector and king’s guard to Renly of the House Baratheon, First of his Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. I was at his right hand when you, with Davos at your side, and Renly parlayed over the claim to the Iron Throne, when you threatened to destroy him in a single day’s time for challenging your claim, when Melisandre, your Red Priestess, warned him of his sins that the night was long and full of terrors and terrors there were the very next night as a shadow with YOUR face appeared and KILLED King Renly!”

    Brienne unsheathes her sword and Stannis steps back against the wall

    “While the Red Priestess may have forged the monstrous shadowy weapon of smoke and blood magic, you, Ser Stannis are the one who wielded it against your own brother! Or do you deny it? Do you swear by the Seven, by the Old Gods, by the New Gods, by your precious Lord of Light, by the lives of your wife and child, by all that you whole near and dear to you that you are innocent of the murder of Renly?!”

    The dining hall is deadly quiet as Stannis mouth opens and closes and nothing comes out, and the audience is shocked by the simple words that are heard.

    “Father, why do you hesitate? Is it true?”

    Stannis turns to Shireen and slowly nods.

    “Why, Father? That was against the rules, the rules of law. He was your brother, family. How could you?”

    Davos answer, “He was seduced, bewitched by the Red Witch, he is a good and honorable m-“

    “No. It was my choice. My responsibility. I am the ruler, the burden falls to me. I sought a quick, easy way out of our conflict. I was impatient and short-sighted. Lady Brienne is right. Melisandre forged the weapon but I wielded it. I . . . killed my brother. I killed King Renly. The law is clear. The punishment is death.”

    “Father, no!” Shireen runs to Stannis and hugs him, and he hugs her back.

    “Princess, I’m sorry, but it has to be this way. I broke the rules. Remember this, even rulers are not above the rule of law. You will Queen after me. Lady Sansa has already been named Wardenness of the North and will not contest you if you claim the Iron Throne. Those are rules. Go on, go to your mother. Listen to her. Look at me. I have broken the law but by admitting the truth and accepting the punishment, I restore my honor. Remember me,” and Stannis looks up from Shireen to Selyse and Davos, “Remember me.”

    “Brienne, go on, do your duty.”

    “For the crime of murdering King Renly Baratheon, you, King Stannis Baratheon are sentenced to death,” and Brienne draws out her sword fully, “Do you have any final words?”

    “Thank you, for restoring my honor.”

    Brienne looks at Stannis and nods, then swings with all heart the beheading blow.

    “Father!”

    “Husband!”

    Davos closes his eyes.

    Melisandre looks away . . . and sees the Bolton banners lit on fire, as she had envisioned.

    Brienne sheathes her sword and kneels by Shireen. “I’m sorry you had to witness that. I have fulfill-“

    “Arrest her! ARREST HER, NOW!”

    Guards, as if finally woke from sleep rush over and arrest Brienne.

    Sansa tells Shireen softly, “M’lady you can’t do this, you can’t have Brienne executed or even sentenced. You have not been officially sworn in as queen yet.”

    Shireen, with tears streaming down her face, looks up at Sansa, “I didn’t. I called for arrest. I will be coroneted tomorrow, THEN I will sentence Brienne. Tonight we will mourn for my father.” Guards bring a cloth to cover Stannis’ head and body while everyone leaves the dining hall. Davos oversees the arrangements while Selyse takes Shireen to their quarters to comfort her.

    That night, Stannis Baratheon is cremated at a funeral attended by his Selyse, Shireen, Davos, Melisandre, Sansa and Theon. Meanwhile Brienne is held imprisoned with Podrick maintaining a vigil for her safety.

    The next day, Davos coronets the new queen, Shireen of the House Baratheon, First of her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. She promises to be queen of royal and commoner, that she realizes even good people can make mistakes, so she will be firm but fair to all.

    Queen Shireen names Ser Davos Seaworth, “Hand of the Queen”, annuls Sansa Bolton’s marriage to Ramsay Bolton and names Sansa Stark, “Wardenness of the North”.

    Finally Shireen has her new Queensguard to bring in Brienne before her in chains. The queen waits for Brienne to speak and after a minute of silence, sees that she’s not going to speak, “Brienne of Tarth, you are summarily sentenced to death. Guards, take her away for execution.”

    Brienne notes the portrait of Stannis on the wall and Stannis on a small throne of her own and remains calm and resigned to her fate as the head of the Queensguard unsheathes his sword to carry out her beheading and is puzzled by him- -when he holds the sword to Queen Shireen’s neck!

    “You little welp! You dare to sit on MY throne! I worked for that throne! I earned it! Ah, ah, ah, back all of you unless you want THREE rulers killed in as many days.”

    The rest of the Queensguard back away slowly.

    Ramsay gets behind Shireen, to her left while holding the sword in his left hand under her neck and with his right arm knocks the helmet off his head.

    “Ooh, that was hot. That’s better. Plus I was getting tired of hearing all you hypocrites pretend to be so high and mighty, so noble. We Boltons know who we are without pretense. You lot lie to each other and yourselves. Brienne sought petty revenge for an upstart who rebelled against his older brother. Stannis murdered his brother to get his army. Even the Starks supported the men who killed the king they were sworn to protect. At least Brienne I can respect for getting her own hands dirty. As such, and for dispatching my father’s murderer, I offer you your release.”

    Brienne looked from Ramsay to Shireen, to Sansa, “I saved your life at great risk to mine own. You should have done more to help me,” Brienne tells her then slowly walked over to Ramsay’s side, with chains between her hands and the ones between her feet rattling.

    “Don’t worry my love, I still want you and your would-be lover, Reek. Yes, my darling bride, I haven’t forgotten about you, or Reek. Don’t you know, I took his favorite toy? I castrated him like a steer. Now he’s more woman than man, right, Reek?”

    Barely audible gasps are heard around the throneroom as people involuntarily looked at Theon, who stood staring at Ramsay. Ramsay only laughed but with no mirth in his eyes.

    “Now here are my terms for the queen to live: A carriage loaded with gold and two stout horses. I will trust Brienne and Reek to handle the horses while I ride with the queen, and my queen, my blushing bride, Sansa, to a suitable seaport. There we will have a second first wedding night since this welp has annulled our wedding,” Ramsay looks up from Shireen over to Sansa, “Ah, tears of joy from the blushing bride. And then we will enjoy a wedding sea trip to parts unknown.”

    Everyone in the room tensed up.

    “Well? Chop, chop. I don’t have all day.”

    “No,” Theon said tersely.

    “Reek, what did you say?”

    “My name is ‘Theon’ and I said ‘No’. If you kill her, you’ll never leave this room alive.”

    “Well, the mouse roars. Come, come, Reek, now’s not the time to try to impress the crowd into think you have grown a pair, literally. You more than most know I have ways of cutting up and cutting down the fair queen without killing her but making her wish she dead. Right, Reek? You can attest to how many days, weeks, months that I can extend the pain. How many times did you beg me to just kill you and get it over with? Ha, ha, ha, I actually lost count.

    Sansa slowly walked toward Ramsay while he stared and even Brienne glared menacingly at her then looked away.

    “Theon is right. The answer is ‘No’, Ramsay. You think we are all play pieces in your board game to be moved around at will,” Sansa says and glances to her right, “But you forgot a very important piece, while you were obsessed with me, tried to impress me, there was one who genuinely was impressed by you, obsessed with you, devoted to you, until you pushed her aside and forgot about her but now she sees the true you for the monster you are. Now she will wait no more for you. Get him, MYRANDA!”

    Time slowed as Ramsay turned to his left to see who Sansa was looking at and prepare to defend himself from her attack. Meanwhile Brienne took the chains between her hands and whipped them around and knocked away the sword that he had unconsciously moved from under Shireen’s head as he turned left. Shireen squirmed to get away but he knocked her unconscious in the chair as Brienne charged and pushed him back against the wall and slammed him several times against it.

    “I don’t…” Slam! “…fight for…” Slam! “…Boltons!” Slam!

    Enraged, Ramsay headbutted Brienne and grabbed her chains to whip her away and send her sprawling to the floor before heading back to Shir-SWORD!

    “This ends today, Ramsay,” Sansa says, having retrieved his sword and now wielding it right at his face. “It seems only fitting since you talk of toys to take away your favorite toy.”

    “Oh, you don’t want to do that. You loved it. Deep down you know you wanted it dee-URK.”

    “Not that toy, idiot,” Sansa wearily says as she jams the sword through Ramsay’s mouth.

    Ramsay gurgles a bit then falls down dead. Shireen recovers in time to see Brienne pick up the sword and hand it to her, “Your grace.”

    Selyse runs over to hug Shireen. Davos has the guards remove Ramsay from the throneroom. Melisandre follows the body of Ramsay, the son of the former king. Servants tend to the needs of Sansa, Theon and the other ladies and gentlemen of the court.

    Shireen turns to Brienne “Why?”

    “As I said, I don’t fight for the Boltons.”

    “But you could have had your freedom and be rich.”

    Brienne smiled wistfully, “Yes but there are some things I can’t live with, things worse than death itself and siding with the likes of him, being in his debt . . . no. I couldn’t do that.”

    “Is-is that why Father let-let you-“

    “Yes, child. From what people have said and what I’ve seen, your father was a good man who made a bad choice. He was able to hide his responsibility of making that mistake from others and even from himself. However when finally confronted with it he couldn’t live with the guilt so he confessed and accepted the punishment for making the bad choice.”

    “So, if you hadn’t have shown up he would still be alive?”

    “Yes, but the guilt would have still been hidden away inside him. But the guilt acts as a poison, taking away joy from you, even from the bad choices you made thinking you would benefit from them, and in the short term, some bad choices can benefit you, but in the long term you suffer and sometimes other people suffer as well. From what I hear, you almost suffered, when the army got stuck in the snow and the red priestess wanted to sacrifice you.”

    Shireen looks down to the floor and nods slowly.

    “But your father stopped it, because it was a bad choice he could not live with. He would rather face death than to live with killing you, because it was the right thing and because he loved you, right?”

    Shireen’s cries silently and nods.

    “That’s why he accepted the punishment because it gave him a clear conscience, and he wouldn’t feel ashamed of what he did. That’s why he thanked me for restoring his honor. He wouldn’t have to worry any longer that the secret would escape and taint his reputation or yours by association. These are hard truths for most adults to face, much less a child.”

    Shireen looked back up at Brienne, “So that’s why you didn’t say anything when I sentenced you to-“

    “Yes, I made my choice and already accepted it could mean my death and it was choice I was willing to live with. For many people faced with life and death choices, it’s easier to make the choice that lets you live, at least in a little longer, but poisons you from the inside from enjoying the rewards of your choice. It’s a lesson few people and even fewer rulers have the wisdom to appreciate.”

    Shireen looks away.

    “What’s wrong, your grace?”

    “I-I’m confused. Your words are true and part of me wants you to be in my Queensguard, to lead it and the other . . . it still wants you gone.”

    “It’s okay, I understand. The memories are too painful, too fresh and I’m a reminder of the pain. If you’ll permit, I will take my leave. I do have another Stark sister to find.”

    Shireen slowly nods, then looks very haughty, “Yes, you have my permission to leave, Lady Brienne,” and Shireen breaks and smiles a little, “I’ll resupply you, your squire and your horses for your noble quest.”

    Brienne curtsies, “Thank you, your grace. Oh there’s one more important matter we need to discuss.”

    . . .

    Brienne sat at the end of a rectangular table in a small room while Shireen sat at the other end. Davos and Melisandre sat on one side while Sansa and Podrick sat on the other.

    “Thank you all for joining,” Shireen started, “Lady Brienne has some news of serious import to give. Lady Brienne?”

    “Thank you, your grace. I’ll make this brief. A white walker was spotted north of Winterfell between here and Castle Black. I would have thought such things were bedtime tales for children until I saw a shadow kill a man. Podrick and I destroyed it, but if there is one, there may be others coming. I doubt an army made it past Castle Black without them sending a raven as warning, especially since Winterfell is the first major town south of the Wall. I say this to prepare you for what might come.” Brienne looks pointedly at Melisandre, “The Red Priestess might need to be safeguarded more than anyone here, beg pardon, including the queen. She is the closest thing we have to a real live dragon in our times. She may be our final line of defense, your grace.”

    “Thank you, Lady Brienne. Anyone else have anything to add? Sansa?”

    “The old stories say to fight the white walkers to use fire.”

    “Quite correct, young one, the Lord of Light’s cleansing fire is the best ointment to cure the white walker plague, as proved by you’re and Lady Brienne’s presence here.”

    “Yeah, actually, Brienne and I didn’t have time to try that since everything went so fast.”

    “They how did you and Brienne survive?”

    “Well, it was Brienne, one moment it was about to skewer me when Brienne knocked its sword to the ground and then shattered it with one swordstroke.”

    “A sword stopped a white walker?! Weapons made by man are shattered by the walkers. Why would you lie on so important a matter?”

    “Hold your tongue, priestess, he doesn’t lie. See here,” and Brienne draws her sword at a surprised Melisandre, “Oathkeeper did shatter the walker, not get the other way around.”

    Davos looks at the blade, “Wait, is that Valeryen steel?”

    “I believe it is.”

    “So this could be another defense . . . if we had weapons made of them. They are rare weapons indeed.”

    “Anyone else?” Shireen asks.

    Sansa says, “While at King’s Landing, several of the Lannisters mentioned getting reports of a young princess who had three baby dragons across the Narrow Sea. I only overheard it a few times, your grace.”

    “Hmmm, white walkers, a red priestess and dragons? Oh! My father’s campaign for the Iron Throne sounds easier. Thank you for all your counsel, and I will consider how best to prepare the people.”

    . . .

    After a feast and a good night’s rest, Brienne gets up early and sends Podrick to prepare their horses to leave. She is surprised by Sansa showing up wanting to accompany her.

    “Beg pardon, ma’am, while I do appreciate the offer, I think it would be safer for you here, plus Lady Shireen needs you far more.”

    “Her?”

    “Yes, if she opts to continue her father’s campaign for the Iron Throne, she’ll need someone who knows the Houses, know the people and someone who can watch over Winterfell in her absence. If she opts to stay in Winterfell, she’ll need someone to mentor her, and to soften some of the harder lessons she learned from her father, as well as help the people prepare for the worst of winter. Also, you need to face a hard truth as well.”

    “And that is?”

    “Theon. I understand his betrayal cost your parents’ and several of your siblings’ lives. I’m not saying to forgive him, even though he has suffered plenty, you need to decide if he needs to be executed or if you need to accept what he has done. Either way, to continue letting hatred fester in you is its own poison. Running from facing that choice on a quest doesn’t negate the poison, only hides it while it continues to fester and grow in you. It’s best you face it here.”

    Sansa pauses then simply says, “Thank you, Lady Brienne, safe journeys.”

    . . .

    Theon sat in his room staring out of the window for the first time in years unsure what to do. Servants had brought him breakfast and he ate it without thinking and now sat staring out the window, when a knock on the door indicated the servant’s return to pick up his dishes.

    “Theon?”

    Theon jumped at the sound of Sansa’s voice and quickly opened the door.

    “Good morning, Theon, we need to talk. May I come in?”

    “Of-of course, ma’am,” Theon said as he opened the door wide for Sansa to enter and closed the door.

    . . .

    Brienne walked out to the stables as horses were being fed, cleaned, She walked past a squad of guards getting ready to go out on horse patrol. There at far end was Podrick readying their horses, and talking to one of the guards.

    “Good morning, Lady Brienne.”

    “Good morning, Podrick, what’s going on?”

    “Good morning, Lady Brienne of Tarth, I am the squadron captain. Queen Shireen has tasked this squadron of guards to escort you and Ser Payne on your quest to find Lady Sansa’s sister, Lady Arya, to guard your lives with our own, to keep your counsel and to follow your orders.”

    “Well, my orders are you should remain here.”

    “That’s is the one order the Queen explicit told us not to follow.”

    Brienne sighs heavily, “Children, you save their lives and this is how they repay you. Well, Podrick, you’re going to get lots of training at least. Captain, are your men ready?”

    “Aye, ma’am, just give the word.”

    Brienne looks over the squadron appraisingly and pleased, nods, and gets onto her horse, followed by Podrick getting onto his horse.

    “The word is given,” as Brienne leads them off to find the last living lady of House Stark.

    [End part 3 of “A Song of Happily Ever After”]

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