|You Are Not Your Brother|
|Summary:||At the feast to mark the return of the Flint forces from the war, not all are celebrating.|
|Related Logs:||Vague references here and there, but nothing specific.|
|Long Gallery, Cliff Watch Keep|
|The end of King Robert's War|
Two Kings, most unalike in dignity,
In fair Westeros, where we lay our scene,
From incestuous rumour break to new mutiny,
Where royal blood makes noble hands unclean.
The war is over. The Baratheon is King, The Targarrion is dead and The Stark has released his banners back to their homes. Being on the southernmost borders of the Wolf's lands, House Flint of Flints finger are the among first to welcome home their returning menfolk. Not so many knights as from other lands, but then this is the north where the Old Gods still hold sway, plenty of heavy cavalry though, knights in all but name. The smallfolk pikemen and archers have been released back to the homes and families, those that survived at least, and now it is time to warm Cliff Watch Keep once more with a feast in celebration of the great victory, and the start of a new era for Westeros.
The evening rages on within, warm spices ale flowing freely, entertainers and whores alike finding a roaring trade and tales of valour and glory at every table. Not all though, it seems are making merry, for not all have so much to celebrate. Having eaten his fill quickly, the young lordling, Einar had quietly excused himself and gone to check on his mother. Too heartbroken at the news of the loss of her eldest son, she had forgone the festivites while he could not. Having found her resting as well as could be expected and then finding himself shooed out by her attendant maids so as not to disturb her, he settled himself down on the long gallery that overlooked the length of the hall, watching silently as the rest of his family celebrated beneath.
And so ended the summer of discontent-though there is no glorious spring for House Baratheon-or any of the other houses that have lost men. As Lord Stark would be quick to note: Winter is Coming.
Winter is always coming.
As such men, lucky enough to have survived the hell that was the rebellion are now returned home-and it is their time to make merry, while others secretly haul off to their homes to weep and beat their breasts. A time of mixed rejoicing and pain-and the feast makes it tenfold. Still for young Einar's seat at one end of the long gallery, he might not notice the sounds of boot and the subtle swish of fabric, or creak of leather. But, for the youth's part a warning of a visitor is given when the bench below groans.
The stench of ale would be readily apparent on the man-tall and lean, but there's not much else to help distinguish Emrys from the other men below-save he is above. Dull green eyes watch the lad, before his cup is brought to his mouth and more of the cool amber is embibed. "Tell me, son." the thick accented voice-cut with a slight slur to the words warbles out. "What does watching do, that bein' down there doesn't?" And so Emrys turns his head regard the revelers below-his free hand comes up and a rib is present..though the meat on it is not long for the world. Emrys all but takes it off in one pull of teeth.
Having always been blessed with sharp ears and a discerning mind, the creaking of the ancient floorboard of the gallery do bring Einar notice of the approach of an intruder into his small bubble of quiet. Even so, the noise from the revelries below do mask passage fo the new arrival until he is almost upon the boy. He figures them for a servants footfall though and it is not until the bench moves beneath him that he turns to glance upon his new fellow. The man is known, but only distantly, a cousin to his Lord Father if he remembers correctly. "Uncle," is the greeting given though, respect for the elder's position in the generation above over-riding any urge for technical correctness.
There's then a pause though, as he looks back across the hall. Those that know him well would recognise that he's thinking, and not in a rushed 'quick, must answer the question' way but rather in the slower, more deliberate fashion that comes from wanting to answer correctly, and fully. "It gives distance," he starts, turning back to the older man as he does so, "it allows me to be glad for them that they are happy and well, yet does not require me to put aside everything else I feel. To forget." He leaves it there for now, folding his hands together in his lap so he isn't tempted to fidget and can not accidentally displace the pitcher of small ale that sits untouched at one elbow.
"Distance?" a laugh, that has a bit of meat flecking out onto the 'uncle's' leg. The bone is set down on the bench if only to allow the distantly known Flint a chance to pick it off and put it back in his mouth. A shake of his head, as lips find their place on his mug once more-and he drinks down deep a bit more ale. "There is no distance." he finally continues, after a full swallow that makes his throat bob. "Never will be, not for you-son." A turn of his head and Emrys regards Einar for a moment. "You're Tulketh's oldest now." a hard reality to the hurts that war can forge. "No, no..Hiding up here might give you a place to cry-an you've not earned that. Not yet." he says as eyes focus on those at the feast again. A rub of his mouth along the back of his hand and the Lord lowers his mug. "Who said by partaking in a feast, that you would be forgetting anything you've lost? That's a damned small sighted thing. That bein' happy for your kin that did survive would cause you to forget." a sniff. "Besides those men down there have lost brothers, fathers, and sons as those women have lost husbands an all sorts of kin." eyes narrowed-though they release
"You brother died in service to his liege lord. That is a fine honor to take with one when that time comes. Many others would likely shite themselves and run, but your Brother charged the line-twice. And not even your Father could keep him from that. I know, as I was there." and indeed Emrys had been onhand when Tulketh returned home to let his wife know of their loss. "Do you not think your Father doesn't feel the same pain? Aye-but he's not up here. Hidin.." And there Emrys reaches down for the other pitcher of ale-apparently not content with his own. "Oh son. There's no distance.."
Off all that is said, and all that there is to say it return, it is a quite, yet earnest, "I did not come here to cry, only to watch" Is Einar's first response. No, the need for that has been and gone, although he does not consider it likely that it will not return in the coming days and weeks. "I partook," he then adds, glancing down to where his father can be seen alongside Asmund, "I took the place next to my Lord Father," the place that should have been either his mother's or his brother's, had either of them been there, "I simply took my leave once my hunger was sated." His tone suggests it's not an apology, or an excuse, just a simply explanation. As for his father? The lad takes another look at the man below, eyes not leaving him as he answers, "I think my Lord Father feels it as acutely as we, my brother was everything to him. I think though, that he is more able to hide that than I." Or the womenfolk of course, but then they're not expected to be as strong and resolute. "I think also," he adds, after another moment of silent contemplation, "I think he would think less of me were he to know that I have not his strength, so I choose to hide that from him. He has not missed me while I am here but were I still down there, I think he would know."
His gaze is brought back up to the gallery as the pitcher is moved, but he makes no effort to stop it from being claimed. Truth be told he'd largely forgotten it was there, having become caught up in watching those below instead. "You are not the first to tell me my brother died a hero," he confesses thoughtfully. "It is said in many a song and tale that the heroes die young and so here to it seems to be true. I thought, when the news first came, that were I able to change things then I would have stopped him from being that hero and brought him back safely to his Lady Wife. In doing so though, I do not think he would have still been the same man, and I am not sure which is worse."
"So you did." That much is acknowledged, that Einar did indeed take the place where his brother was to sit. Still- the older lord doesn't press further beyond that. And then he looks back at the young man, his mouth screwing up at some thought, before it is pushed away. "Oh that is where you are wrong my son." Ermys says with a faint chuckle, but it does lack the mirth that should be in any man's laugh. "Your father is not hiding his pain, because he lost his son. He celebrates his life today. Nor did he hide his pain when he died." A shrug there-for it is no son that Emrys has to bury or burn. And it is no sad tale to his wife that he brings.
A turn of his head and there is a grunt to punctuate that Einar is right, and soon the other pot of ale has replaced the first in quenching the northern lord's thirst. "They do. That is why you don't want to be a hero, son." And there he looks back towards Einar. "Be a man first, and a warrior second. Do not be a hero. Being a damned hero only ends with you dead. Being a man-that's harder than throwing yourself on someone's spear." a kiss of his teeth and the older man leans back for a moment in quiet contemplation before he simply moves to rest on his thighs. "You can never change fate-it is always coming, and it will leave a broken mess in it's wake. So do not fight it, but don't do nothing."
It seems that something that Emrys has said has given Einar pause, for once again there is a prolonged silence before the lad makes any kid of reply. "I had not considered," he says quietly, looking down at where the edge of the balcony meets the air of the hall "that my Lord Father has had more time with the news." To him and those others left behind it is fresh and raw, but for those who marched it must be old. Not forgotten or discard, but old enough to start to heal at least. "Do I do him an injustice in that?" Now he's thinking about it he can not imagine a scene where the grief was not there, raw and naked and the realisation causes him to blink a couple of times.
It is fair enough to say though, that the lad has no intentions of being a hero, having set his heart upon becoming a Septon instead. That though was gone now, and he knew it. A father needs and heir in the same way that man needs to breathe. Had he been younger, he might have protested that it wasn't fair, that he had other plans. As it was though, by the time his father had summoned him earlier that very afternoon, he was already resigned to his new role. "I hope that I am never put to such a test as my brother was, if he could not come through it then there is little chance for me. I shall try though, for what else is there for a man to do?"
"You do yourself injustice in that. For him, he will want what is best in you for this House, as he did with your brother." A sniff, and the older Flint does manage to crack a bit of a mile there, but it drops down before he is taking another sip of his ale. "Son-you run a thought that has run over every second to last son that a man has had before you." A laugh there dry and crackling like the hearthfire down below. "But- one thing to keep in your head, young man, is that you are not your brother." And there a fist coils up and the 'uncle' moves to swing at Einar, if only to just knock him in the chest or shoulder-whichever is the clearest shot. "So do not worry about what short comings the man before you had. You will make your own mark and when war comes in howling and gnashing her teeth-you will meet it and see the Dragon." A pause there as the last of the ale is drained and a belch sickens it's way out before he's patting his chest. "When you see the dragon-then you can figure out if you'll come out tested from it's fires. But do not worry and second guess. That'll only end in you with food for crows, trees and worms."
Einar flinches. Spotting the fist and the swing he's reacts instinctively and starts to move away. It's less than a moment though before he brain catches up and he realises that it's not an attack, just a point being made. As he relaxes again the blow clips his shoulder and he turns to look up at the older man. He's hoping that 'the dragon' is a metaphor given the newly vanquished foe and thankfully, from the words that follow it seems to be the case. An actual dragon? That he really would not want to have to face and just for a second, his expression shows it. Recovering himself quickly he resists a sudden urge to chew his lip by reaching for the ale that he had liberated from the servery on his way up here. Or the empty vessel as it now appears to be. So much for that then. Next comes the realisation that despite all that is going on in his head, he still hasn't actually said anything out loud and should probably rectify that. "I think," he starts yet again, maybe the faintest hints of a smile at the corner of his lips, "that I would make poor food for crows, and trees, and worms. Not enough meat on me."
Emrys finally cracks a smile there, before he is rising up and looking over the edge of the gallery. "There you go." he adds, apparently his mood for the lighter-only then does he turn to snatch up the bone and toss it down to the party below-likely to start a fight with what dogs have been allowed to run about the hall. A glance is given back to Einar and he reaches over to wipe his hand on the boy's tunic before he is moving to head back for the stairs. "I am sorry for your loss." the northern lord hesitates there. "I am. But, do not let that loss define what life the gods have given you." A nod there, before he is walking down-likely in search of more ale-or to part the waters.