‘False is the hope of madmen.’
The words of Mother clenched upon his mind, as unforgiving and unyielding as the falling snow which had begun to cover the streets. He trembled to the escape that was his past, memories flickering like the candle of a lonely night to his wearied and vivid gaze into the nothing.
Watching, his callous hands searched for warmth beneath the confines of his tattered brown clothes, sharp cheeks high and deep-sat pale blue eyes scanned the passerby. The streets below the stairs where he sat crawled with life to the lumbering aurora of the fading day. Yellow and orange had taken the skies with a few stacks of clouds that passed, and in the beyond stood the marble tower of their dead Emperor.
With a shivering sigh he stood, scorned in the midst of winter-cold his poised gaze beset the darkening heavens to watch the spire, awed by the grand theatre of dancing colours. Am I better than this? He questioned himself. For thirty-four years he had lived to serve, yet the pain of his last few weeks held him back; tugging at his core. He knew the war was done and still his mind raged on and on, fuelling the fires of his regrets, and memories of The Wail.
Johrn was the name he carried, the name of the man who had stood beside his liege in the moment of defeat, a valiant amidst his brothers in arms, and none of which would ever be remembered. Facing death many realize their faults and so did he. Morals – his whole churned to the thought, in spite and torment.
Broken was he who once stood beside his Thael, the Lord of Lords: their Emperor.
“You there!” A male voice beckoned from the crowd, pressing through with strong arms his dirt raffled features and bearded chin stuck out like a sore thumb, much like his thin eyes and soft-darkened skin.
From the north? Johrn questioned himself,
“Yes?” He replied, narrowing his gaze upon the man of simple heritage while his own of nobility seeped through with ease. A callous smirk and straightened posture followed, his cold hands clasping behind his back.
“Need work?” San bellowed, nodding sideways.
Johrn’s features grew rigid for a moment before a thought struck him, “What kind?” He asked, tone colder than winter itself as he stuck to the pride of his roots.
“Caravans... need a loader, and you... seem out of place.” He chuckled.
Johrn paced downwards, edging through the snow with leather-covered feet,
“Where to?” He asked, the answer was obvious to him - east, like most people who sought a better place to live. Fools, traitors, Johrn pushed his ill thoughts aside with a forced, yet polite small smile.
“Eastwards, my friend... eastwards to the warmth, I hope!” He laughed.
“You’ve a name?” He replied.
As Johrn neared, the man’s cheerful glee grew less and less, “San....” San paused, his brown eyes stirred-frighten to the visage of the known and crude scar which Johrn carried upon his features. Scarred as if lashed by fire the burn marks were those of the traitor, the wanderer who had survived The Wail.
As though struck with regret San hastily turned to leave only to find himself in the strong grip of Johrn’s, fingers clamping around his wrist as if with a wish to break it.
Johrn leaned closer with a demon-like and blank slated gaze, “San?” He spoke.
“...Yes?” He replied.
“I will come.” He said, and ran his hand over his shaved head to clear the last of the snow.
“I-I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
The avoiding eyes and faltering tone was more than enough for Johrn to know. “You fear me?” He chuckled lightly, and pulled the man closer.
“You’re him, the one they all speak of, aren’t you?”
“And who do ‘they’ speak of, San?”
“You fought at Cersem’s side, defended him... that scar is from The Wail isn’t it?”
Johrn inclined his head, tone but a whisper, hollow as the cold brush of his breath as it pushed against San’s cheek; he didn’t need words to threaten the man, “East, you said.”
San felt no peace as Johrn released his wrist, frightened he surrendered, “Yes, east....”
“Very well.” He replied, indifferent as if nothing had happened, and added, “East it is.”