The eve of battle had arrived, and brought with it low grey clouds and a thin rain that stung the face.
Lord Stuart of House Hudson looked to the sky, hoping for a sign that this would be his day, but the watery sunlight offered no omen, good or ill. He would have to take his chances like everyone else, and hope for the best.
Rival Lords and their Bannermen began to emerge from the mist, some lusty and eager for the fight, others nursing wounds they had sustained in battle the night before and in desperate need of milk of the coca leaf, or healing agave juice. Lord Hudson remained silent. Allowing the ribaldry and obscenities to fly about him unanswered, he spent the remaining moments of calm watching his opponents, searching for weaknesses, of which he found many.
On the battlefield, four ancient Maesters stood ready to assess the injured as they fell. Old, and wizened for the most part, one stood out as different. Lean and handsome despite his grey hair and beard, many of the Ladies, and at least one of the Bannermen, gazed upon him with desire in their eyes as he recorded events on a parchment scroll. And with this being the only song sung of the battle, because none of the other scribes could be arsed to turn out on a Sunday afternoon, not a single soul can speak to things being otherwise.
In an impenetrable Southron accent, Marco the Bard declared the battlefield open. Lords, Ladies and Bannermen surged forward, eager for mead and Red Stripe. Once their thirsts were slaked, Burgess the Bold, with the voice of a man who had slept little and made merry much, declared proceedings open, and battle was joined.
A fight such as this is an awesome thing to witness. One by one, warriors took their place on the field, only to be felled by broken glass, clumsy hands or poor knowledge of the rules of battle. Fluids, many of them bodily, flew through the air, covering the Maesters. Carrion crows hopped and pecked at the detritus in a desperate yet doomed attempt to clean up after one fallen Lord before the next was ready to fight. It was hell, and if this sounds like a mealy-mouthed and unspecific account of the battle, it is because war is carnage and difficult to comprehend, and in no way because the Maester overdid it and has no recollection of what really happened.
Soon, inevitably, Lord Stuart’s time came. Pale faced, he shouldered arms, ready to defend the fading glory of House Hudson. Flashing an anxious look at Queen Montague, whose royal coffers the battle purse was destined for should he win, he let fly.
Ten foes felled in a minute and thirty-nine seconds, with no penalties. It was a glorious, if sweaty, display of swordsmanship that perched Lord Stuart atop a pile of bloody, vanquished foes. But doubt still clouded Lord Stuart’s mind. Would it be enough? Would the immaculately sigiled Norseman, Johan of Ekelund, be faster and more ruthless? Would a Screaming Eagle swoop across the sea from The Land of the Fat and steal his prize?
Lamentably, the answer was no on both counts, forcing Maester Webster to utter the words “We’re never going to hear the end of this.” Lord Stuart of House Hudson was victorious. Again.
And so, under a sky at last free of clouds, the battle was done for another year. Maester Reedo was thankful he could journey West in time to make landfall before his new raven beshat his chambers. Maester Ives intended to journey South and home, but somehow found himself still becalmed at sunup in a strange land named Casita. Who can tell what happened to the other Lords, Ladies and Bannerman? Knowing how such tales often end, they are probably all dead…
Author’s note – I am available for ghost writing should George R. R. Martin croak before Game of Thrones has been finished. Thanks.