Chapter summary: Ned broods in the North; Badr is getting a pottery thrown on his head, Hakutoku is musing about things, and Muu's dad is adorkable.
Slice of Life Arc part 1: Father
***Eddard Stark – 1***
Eddard Stark was standing in the warm sun, while a cool breeze ruffled his brown, shoulder length, hair; his steel-grey eyes focused on the yard below. If somebody looked at him now, Ned supposed, they'd say that he had a grave expression on his face.
It had been, nearly, two years since the death of his father and brother. One year since the Rebellion ended and he bringing his sister's, Lyanna, remains home and burying her bones in the crypts of Winterfell.
He was standing besides the railing watching his men drill with swords in the courtyard. He imagined that his son Robb and Jon would be joining them in the yard in a couple of years; they were only two years old now.
Though because Jon had shown some interest in letters and the maester indulged him, Catelyn then demanded that Robb should learn his letters as well.
"Will you come inside, my love?" his wife, Catelyn of the House Tully, asked from behind him. "It is getting cold."
Ned turned around to look at his wife, who was still dressed in the cape that his mother wore in the harsh winter and not in the spring. Her hair and face were covered with a shawl-only her eyes could be seen. They were blue, not as blue as winter roses that his sister so loved and that had grown in Winterfell; Catelyn eyes were more of a dainty blue hue.
That was to be expected however for somebody that came from the Riverlands, from the south of the Neck. Spring in the north was as cold as winter. It would take awhile for his wife to grow accustomed to the cold of the North.
"I'll be in, in a moment, Cat," he answered. He listened to her footsteps as she went back inside. Then taking a breath of familiar cold air, Ned smiled, glad to be home, in the North.
Glad that the war was over.
But bleak of the lives that were lost: his father, his older brother, his sister, the Targaryen princes and princess, Elia Martell, and countless others that would not have died if King Aerys II Targaryen was not mad.
"What is ailing you, my Lord?" his wife asked the moment he stepped inside. Her long auburn hair tumbled loose down her back.
"Nothing is ailing me, my lady. What about you, my lady?" He sat down and regarded his wife as she stood by the lit fireplace. "Still cold?"
"Yes, my lord," she answered, her expression dejected. At least that was an improvement, Ned thought. She had a downcast expression when they married, albeit the lady tried to hide it.
But then again she was meant for Brandon, and only because of his elder brother's wolf's blood and the king's madness she had to marry him. As custom dictated; if the older brother dies, the duty falls on the next in line.
"Maester Luwin said that," Catelyn started to say, and Ned wistfully thought about his son, Robb with his round face, reddish brown curls, and striking shy blue eyes, he named him after his best friend Robert, when they were still close, before he condoned the butchery of the Targaryen children, calling them dragon spawn. "Robb mastered to write his name."
"That is good, and Jon, how does he fare?" he asked and his wife's eyes flashed biliously at the name. Sometimes he wondered if she'd show more compassion for the motherless child if she knew who Jon's mother was.
But again- that secret was dangerous as most secrets were. And once told, they were no longer a secret at all. No, it was best if the words never passed his lips; Jon was after all of his blood and he made a promise to keep him safe.
He would keep his promise for the love he bore for his sister and his mother ... Lyanna was so alike Lady Lyarra, their Lady Mother, as she laid there dying of the birthing fever. Lyarra Stark died from a fever a week after giving birth to Benjen – maester later told their father Rickard that there was a malady that took hold of Lyarra's blood, tainted it so that the wound after birth didn't close well. the same happened to Lyanna, his sister - fate shared between mother and daughter.
"Jon has mastered his letters as well," she said contemptuously. It appeared that Jon did better than Robb; he supposed he will have to insure that the boy won't become stunted because of his wife's scorn for the boy.
The boy with dark brown curls, a pale face, and big dark eyes. Eyes, which were such a dark slate grey that they appeared black as the night sky.
And sometimes under certain light, he thought he had seen a fleeting flash of indigo in child's eyes.
Those times he had uneasy thoughts of the past of the Tower of Joy, of the tourney at Harrenhal where the prince's actions of crowning Lyanna as Queen of Love and Beauty came as a shock to everyone. Because, crowning another maiden instead of Princess Elia of Dorne, was so uncharacteristic of the dutiful Dragon Prince.
Later Ned found out that Prince Rhaegar merely rewarded Lyanna for her valour and skill and so the Prince's behaviour was not so uncharacteristic in crowning his sister. Eddard could not even feign surprise when he found out that Lyanna participated in the joust at the tourney.
He should have known when she complained of the pains and decided to lay down in their tent.
The Mystery Knight's shield should have been his second inkling on what his sister was doing; Lyanna always claimed that the heart trees would look better if their faces were laughing. Her stitching always portrayed a laughing heart tree, along with blue winter roses and their house words 'Winter Is Coming'.
And the last inkling should have been the ransom that the knight declared; "Teach your squires' honor," the same squires that bullied the crannogman.
And the third: Thorn a favorite stallion that Lyanna owned, the same horse that the Knight of the Laughing Tree had rode in the jousts against a member of house Haigh, a member of house Blount, and a member of house Frey of the Crossing and defeated them all in that succession.
"My lord," Catelyn interrupted his thoughts. "When Jon is of the age to be fostered, would you consider fostering him to house Whent?"
A Stark going to the south again, like Rickard and Brandon. No, none of his boys, or men, of Stark blood will go south again.
Jon least of all.
He promised he'd be safe. He was not safe in King's Landing or in the South.
He had made a lot of promises about Jon to her.
He could not keep them all.
But he would keep this one at all cost.
Jon must be safe.
"We'll see when the boys are older." He gave an uncommitted answer. "Then if they'll be fostered they will be fostered together."
He saw his wife lips thin in displeasure, but she did not make any comment about this. But Ned had plans, to rebuild and resettle the abandoned holdfasts in the New Gift and Moat Cailin.
So Jon will get an education befitting his station to takeover lordship at Moat Cailin or the holdfasts in the New Gift.
He was in his father's – no his study – he still slipped sometimes, wishing that Brandon, Lyanna, and their father were alive, when a knock came.
"Enter," Ned said, and Maester Luwin, the new arrival from Citadel and replacement for Walys, who became an Archmaester, walked in.
"Here was a raven from King's Landing; it is a general notice to all Wardens from Grand Maester Pycelle."
Ned held up his hand; honestly he was not surprised that Robert wasn't talking to him; in a matter of fact Ned certainly didn't want to do anything with Robert or to receive the personal missive.
They hadn't spoken since that senseless murder, butchery, of the Targaryen children and Princess Elia Martell. Ned broke the seal and skimmed the message.
'To Lord Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North,
We are glad to announce that a week ago Queen Cersei Lannister gave birth to:
Prince Steffon Baratheon, hair to the realm. The boy is of good health, black of hair, blue of eye.
Princess Argella Baratheon. Black of hair, with streak of silver on her left side and green of eye.
Princess Elenei Baratheon. Silver of hear, with a streak of black on her right side and blue of eye.
Grand Maestr Pycelle
Ned leaned back at the chair. So Robert had a son and two daughters. Then he startled, and reread the message.
It appeared that Robert's Targaryen heritage, that enabled him to keep the Iron Throne, ran true in his daughters, and truer still in Princess Elenei. He wondered how Robert felt about the reminder that Targaryen blood runs through his veins.
Then he remembered the rumours about Lady Joanna Lannister and the King, supposedly she was his paramour – though all denied it was ever so. Perhaps, but Ned supposed that in the end it didn't matter.
Thinking about the Targaryens – Ned's mind wandered to Rhaegar Targaryen; he wondered what the Prince would have thought about this.
"Is something wrong, my Lord?" Luwin asked, his face inquisitive, standing there like a grey shadow.
"No." Then Ned looked up. "How are Robb's and Jon's studies going?" he changed the subject
"They are merely two year old. But Jon is already taking in his letters and numbers. He is progressing quickly. But bastards do grow quicker than trueborn."
That was true; bastards did learn quicker, Ned thought, but Jon could have simply inherited his father's leanings to quick study.
"Very well, maester."
Ned debated quietly if he should share the news of Robert's children in the Great Hall. He supposed he should even if it was usual, at least in the North, to announce such news when the child was at least a month old.
He supposed that he at least should call for a toast, for his household to drink to the health of the King and whole Royal family.
Two months had passed since the last Royal notice from King's Landing; Ned however was living peacefully and ruling the North as its Lord Paramount when the second message came via raven from Maester Pycelle and another soon after from one of his bannerman.
The lord in question was Lord of Dreadfort Keep, who wrote that he'd like to meet with Ned.
He wondered why that was.
Perhaps he should ask if Lord Roose's son Domeric, who was four years old now, would be amendable to be fostered, when he's eight years old, at Winterfell so that his son Robb and Jon would have company of other highborn boys.
Robb was a Stark, and it was important that he should learn about his future bannerman.
There was another missive that concerned him. It was true that Robert and he were friends no longer, but Ned grieved for his loss as he read:
'To Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North,
We deeply regret informing you that Prince Steffon Baratheon has passed away from a fever.
Grand Maester Pycelle
And that was the main reason why Ned didn't mention that Robert had children. But he supposed that he'll have to announce that Robert had two daughters in two months time. That would have given sufficient time to see if the little princesses live past the danger of being taken by the Gods.
A firm knock made him look at the heavy wooden door.
"Come in," he called and his steward Vayon Poole entered.
"My Lord," Vayon bowed as he greeted. "Lord Bolton's banner was sighted from the watchtower.
"Very well," Ned stood, and then, "Vayon." The man turned to look at him.
"When things calm down, before winter comes, we'll need to repair the burned tower. Start making the arrangements."
"Aye, milord. Winter is coming."
Yes, Ned thought, winter is coming, and considering this was the longest summer in living memory, it was known that after a long summer came an even longer winter.
When Ned went into the Great Hall, Vayon, Septon Chayle, and Maester Luwin, who were already present, stood up in reverence to their liege lord. He nodded at them and joined them at the Lord's Table that was facing the entrance of the Great Hall.
Then he motioned a page over and ordered him to bring his wife to the Great Hall, since it was custom for the Lord's wife to be present and an actively participating in ruling just as much as Eddard was.
"My Lord." Luwin turned around, his hands hidden into his sleeves, as was his habit; he had all sorts of trinkets, Eddard found out from Robb and Jon, in those billowing grey sleeves. "Did the missive from Lord Bolton explain why he wants to meet?"
"No," Ned answered shortly, his gaze on the papers that were laid down on the table. "But I say that we'll be informed of the reason shortly; meanwhile, Poole, you were saying about lack of servants in the kitchens. What's being done to correct this?"
"Aye, I dispatched pages, into villages surrounding Winterfell; they will bring in the people, but it'll be your wife Lady Catelyn who oversees them."
"You wanted to see me, milord?" Catelyn asked as she entered the hall; she was dressed in Tully blue and mud red, a gown that was trimmed with fur for warmth.
"Yes," Ned confirmed as he stood, and guided his wife to a seat on his left that was reserved for the Lord's wife. "Since you're settled," he started to explain, "It's time to take over the duties as a lady of Winterfell."
"But Robb …"
"Robb is perfectly safe with Old Nan and the Septa Mordane that you brought from the South," Ned ruled, as he seated his wife to the chair and then took his seat.
"Besides, Robb and Jon are old enough to be without a mother's presence."
He saw her blue eyes flash at the mention of Jon; resisting the urge to remind her, yet again, that just because she doesn't like the motherless child's presence, it does not mean that he will cede his will to her in this.
No, it was final. Jon will say at Winterfell with Robb or go to be fostered with Robb. There will be no middle ground in this.
Then the Page opened the double doors, "Presenting Lord Roose Bolton of House Bolton of the Dreadfort," the page announced and the lord stepped inside.
Ned was always surprised when he saw Roose, though he often heard his father Rickon cautioning Brandon to make sure that the Bolton's knew their place as bannermen of house Stark.
"Lord Stark," Roose Bolton greeted in his soft voice, his pale eyes alert on the high table. Roose was dressed in his customary attire, black ringmail and a spotted pink cloak.
"Lord Bolton, you had sent a missive that you wish to talk about something?"
"Yes, milord. It's about the Wilding incursion and a bit of other troubling news about the Greyjoys that reached me via a travelling bard that entertained my wife, son, and myself."
Eddard straightened, and then he turned to the boy that currently served as a page. "Reginald, summon our master-at-arms and captain of the guard to come into the Great Hall."
"Will do, milord." The page bowed and hurried out of the hall to summon Ser Rodrik Cassel and his nephew Jory.
"Lord Bolton, please sit down, have some bread and mulled white-spiced wine, it came from White Harbour."
Roose nodded shortly and with a soft "Thank you Lord Stark," he walked to the side of the table and sat down. Servers quickly brought bread, sheep cheese, salt, and mulled wine to wash it all down.
***Badr of Parthevia – 1***
Badr pushed a tuft of dark purple hair out of his eyes. For the next couple of hours better visibility and mobility would be vital for this plan to succeed.
He'd been in the front-lines of this war between Parthevia and Reim Empire for two years and a half. His son had no memory of him despite Badr being present when Esra had given birth to their boy.
Right now however he was playing a game of dice with soldiers and the other captains. They were waiting for General-of-too-many-names for Badr to care about- Katanon, to return from the meeting with the other generals.
"Captain Badr, it's your turn," one of the younger captains under General Dargul called out.
Badr smiled. "So it is." Badr picked up the four cubes, dice with equal number of plus, minus, and blank sides, and rolled them.
"Well now, Das, it appears I won, again." Badr smiled charmingly at the older captain. Captain Dasrin Pervell Nol Os Dumid. One man Badr actually bothered to remember the name of. He was also one of the few Nobels that gave a shit for the common ground soldiers.
"If I didn't know better boy I would think you are cheating," Das grumbled good naturedly, his yellow eye sharp on Badr's golden ones.
Badr leaned back and put his hands behind his head. "It's all in the wrist and luck, old man."
"Yes, yes, you have uncanny luck." Das stood up. "Now since it is getting late, and I have a feeling that the meeting between the generals will come to an end soon, it's time we turned in. Badr walk with me for a moment."
The way to the tents was quiet for a bit. Badr took a lungful of night air, smiling as he thought back on the grumpy older captain that was walking beside him. Das was in his sixties but he was still a strong man with greying hair that was once dark moss-green, according to Das.
"You advanced in rank quickly, Badr," Das said suddenly.
Badr scratched the back of his head, slightly embarrassed by the man's sudden praise "Hey you did teach me things," he trailed of with a slight chuckle.
"Not many, the most you already knew."
"Oh did I?"
"One of these days; I will drag out who your mother was."
Badr leaned back, a care-free smile still firmly in place. "Ehhh. Not my father?"
"I know who your father was boy, he was dark haired like most of the Partevian commoners. But you have your mother's colouring, don't you?"
"My mother's eyes were blue, old man. Uch!"
Das slapped him upside the head, "I meant your hair colour, you goofball." Then Das shot him a gimlet stare, "but you knew that, you tend to act as an idiot when you don't want to answer something."
"I respect you, sir, too much to lie to you."
"Fair enough, but I'll still drag your mother's history out of you."
Old threats, from an old man, Badr thought. Still Das was persistent and since Badr was drafted, the man took an interest the moment he saw him.
All because of his hair colour, then again, Partevia's Ruling family had varying shades of pink hair. Dragul and Kartanon families had green coloured hair.
Badr himself had purple hair, like his mother and like his mother's twin brother who, according to her, had purple hair so dark that it appeared black. Neither twin had eyebrows though, which along with his eye colour, Badr inherited from his father.
Weeks after that conversation with Das, Badr was on a horse and was leading a detachment of fifteen men that were picked out to go behind enemy lines.
They would attack from behind before the main force of Parthevia soldiers descended on them. Badr had a very good idea, that their number of fifteen, sixteen with him included, was not expected to survive this mission.
Well the General Kartanon could just forget it. He had every intention in winning and surviving this mission. By any means necessary. He was not above using everything his – mysterious to everyone but Badr - mother taught him.
"Now listen up," he whispered to his men that were clustered around him, his golden eyes gazing intently on them. "We have a slight change of plan."
"But our orders …"
"Our orders were to attack Reim's soldiers from behind," Badr said with a cheerful smile at the soldier, which shut him up. Badr hoped that this youngster who couldn't be older than fifteen; a wide eyed kid that on their ride here was rambling on what he would do after this one decisive battle – would survive said battle."
Realistically the Poor boy was all to green to understand that they were not meant to survive this mission. This was the reason why he was elevated to command of this particular group of young men. That nobody would miss and who were not connected to any of the important Partevia families.
Badr himself was a son of a lowly fishermen of Tison village, so he had no importance, but he was knowable enough of war, and he lead a smaller group of five men to take over a fortress that was vital, and heavily guarded, for winning this war – they were the ones that took initiative to sneak around the back, scaled the walls and opened the door to the main force.
"Now this is what we are going to do …" Badr laid out his plan.
"You can not just send soldiers to pick flowers, we are not women…" The soldier that opened his mouth staggered back a couple of steps when Badr looked at him, golden eyes cold – "You will pick those flowers, soldier, because the juice that we will extract can colour our hair yellow – the hair colour that is prominent in Reim – so that we can go into camp and taint their water with a sleep powder …"
Then he gave the soldier a slightly evil smile. "And for your sake, I strongly suggest you don't go around telling people, women especially, that picking flowers is a woman's job." Then his smile really turned downright evil. "Unless, you really don't want to attract any ladies."
"We don't have any sleep powder …"
"Yes we do."
"Pick the damn flowers, soldier that is an order." Badr's eyes flashed in irritation, "I will worry about the details."
It was a good thing that he packed an assortment of useful things in his saddlebags. Some ingredients for medicine there could be used to make a sleeping powder.
After the soldiers picked those flowers, Badr instructed them on how to make the paste that they put on their hair and were to leave there for a half an hour. It was good that it was required for a serving soldier to have a short hair or they'd be held up for weeks with that paste on their heads.
***Later,the same day in a pitch battle***
The battlefield was utter chaos, even when they halved the Reim force with sleeping drought, they still outnumbered them.
But the Patevia soldiers had better armour, stronger swords and spears, and their archers were more accurate.
But then again, there were Reim archers on higher ground, sniping down his men. Well Badr decided to do something about that.
He galloped toward the chasse of Reim crossbowmen – leaping from the horse's back just as arrows impacted the poor animal, which fell to the ground riddled with armor piercing bolts.
The Reim crossbowman were no match for Badr's skills with his shamshir, so they were dispatched in a matter of minutes.
***Many months pass***
The war was finally over and it was about damn time too.
All of the fifteen men and the main force of ten thousand strong died with the soldiers of Reim in that one decisive battle but they brought victory and the end to the war.
Badr didn't remember much, it was all a blur of blood, screams, and dying men, and he knew that he killed a lot of people. But he was alive, which was mostly thanks to him mastering Magoi Manipulation – so he could stop his blood from spilling out of his body when his leg was severed during that battle.
Magoi Manipulation saved him on that day, a technique taught to him by his mother; Zeruya Jehoahaz Abraham was a very old woman, who retained her youth and beauty for centuries before meeting, and then settling down, with his father Ardeth of Parthevia.
His father Ardeth, who was a fisherman in Tison, taught him how to live off the sea and the land.
It was Zeruya, however, that taught him how to fight with a sword, how to read, how to fight hand to hand, and speak and read the Torran language.
But most importantly she taught him how to use Magoi, how to listen to the Rukh, and how to ward himself from his uncle.
His uncle was the reason why Badr set up traps into his infant son before he was dispatched; after all there was no guarantee that Badr would survive the war to teach his son all the things Zeruya taught him.
For example: the truth about Alma Torran and the whole truth about David Jehoahaz Abraham, Zeruya's twin brother.
If Uncle David attempted to posse his son he'd have lots of trouble and maybe, just maybe Sinbad would be able to contain him safely. Provided that Badr doesn't return, or die before teaching Sinbad his heritage.
But it appeared that he would survive to teach his son something, since he was returning home.
Without a leg and full of scars, but alive to return to Esra and their son, who he hadn't seen since he was a month old. He still remembered the night Sinbad was born – he was there after all - Esra nearly crushed his hand.
Badr hummed, sprawled on his side, as the cart with him and his things carried him through the desert toward Tison village. He would be home soon.
He walked with a help of a walking stick to their little house at the south of the village. When he neared the structure he noticed a figure working in the back on the garden. He walked by a clucking chicken and a rooster that Esra kept for eggs.
She herself was tending to the legume and salad that grew in abundance this time of year.
"H..." Badr started to say, when Esra let out a shriek, turned around, and threw a pitcher of water right at his head.
"Not a welcome I expected," he commented while rubbing his head, the clay shards from the water jug spread out around him. Badr was pretty sure there was some of the pottery tangled in his heir as well. "Hello love." He smiled up at Esra who was watching him bug eyed.
"I thought ... Badr …I" She fell on her knees beside him. "I'm sorry; I didn't know it was you. I thought that it was dratted Thessal again."
"Meh I rather get a pitcher in the face from my wife than a hug from that girl in the tavern."
"You, you're home now. You won't be dispatched again?" Esra asked her amber eyes locked on him. He was almost certain that she hadn't noticed his lack of leg yet. It was a good thing that he wore robes that reached his ankles – but then again, Badr supposed it would be good to tell her and not let her discover his injury.
"Esra, they discharged me because, well, they really have no use of me, unless it's for bait."
With that he patted the place where his leg once was, and Esra paled. Badr winced. This was the expected reaction, he supposed.
"You – you idiot!" she screamed, tears falling as she tackled him into hug. That was an expected reaction as well.
"I'm fine, I'm here."
"He told me you were dead. That all who fought at the border was killed in that battle." Her voice was muffled, but Badr could hear Esra clearly. He ran his hand, to comfort her, from the top of her raven head, and then lightly tugged her plait.
Something he'd done since they were little children playing. Esra usually chased him with a stick, after he played a prank on her.
"I'm the only one who survived," he told her quietly. Even Das died in that battle, though he lived long enough that Badr told him bits and pieces about his mother, before the old man died.
Including that she still lived, probably. She just left sometime after Badr and Esra married, and that she was about 1,800 years old. That made Das spit out the alcohol he insisted on drinking while dying.
"Do you want to see Sin?" Esra suddenly asked, then stood up and offered him a hand with a wide smile. "He has grown so much."
"Of course he did, I haven't seen our son for two years." Badr accepted his wife's help, not that he really needed help to stand up, he did fight with his leg severed off, and not that Esra would ever hear that detail.
But it was a nice feeling, Esra's hand in his, her wide smile, laughing amber eyes in a heart shaped face.
"Mama, who's thiz?" a small voice said; Badr studied the little guy, big gold eyes, purple hair with one strand sticking up, a chubby baby face, as Sinbad studied him in return.
"You are my papa, aren't you" Sinbad stated, looking directly at Badr. He could only nod, he couldn't speak, even after the boy leaped into his arms, yelling papa and hugging him fiercely.
MONTHS passed and Badr settled down into the quiet life in the Tison village. Mostly fishing with his father's old boat and net and helping his wife where he could.
At noon he usually went to the tavern to sell some fish and to find out what's happening in Partevia and to have a drink. He usually got a drink and food and company if he asked for it or not.
"Hey there Badr." One of the tavern's serving women sat down beside him. "Did you know," she leaned tantalizingly over, so that he could see deep down into her cleavage, "that King Davashadill IV proclaimed for all the Partevia that we are standing at the turning point in our history…"
"Mah Margo," the other serving girl, sat down at his other side, draping all over his lap, almost, "you are telling Badr something he already knows, after all he is a War Hero."
Badr sighed, ever since the war ended, soldiers were going around giving people money. Esra had come home with a heavy bag of gold, already. Badr knew that this wouldn't go on for long; sooner or later the Nobles would demand something more precious than money as a payback.
"What a blessing!" a man with a bandana at the nearby table shouted. "We can live like this because of the war."
The other man – this one with his hair loose and free- with that man laughed. "The country gains more territory and we get money."
"This is like heaven!"
Idiots, the lot of them. Badr drained the tankard of ale. "Whahaha" – he laughed. "Bring more alcohol!" he called out to the girl that was not hanging onto him.
"Oh talk about luxuriates," The man with loose black hair said, smiling at Badr. But his dark eyes flashed enviously at the food and drink spread before Badr. He knew that guy; that one was the one Esra wanted to really throw that pitcher of water at.
The man with the bandana grinned. "That is because he is the hero of our village. The only man to survive that mission at the border – Badr."
"Yes and Thessal – the guy with him was sniffling around his wife while he was away. The man was so persistent in pestering Esra to marry him, because she was a widow, that it annoyed his normally peaceful wife into thinking violent thoughts – which resulted in broken pottery and Badr with messy and wet hair.
"Oh! You are here" – Soldiers entered the tavern; he didn't know the commanding officer but he knew why they were here.
"Sir Badr! We've been looking for you. You are the only one in this village who hasn't claimed the reward. Please come and take it," the captain was saying.
"Bring them in," the Partevian caption called to his soldier's outside- who then brought in five heavy sacks of silver and gold coins.
The captain then stepped forward again. "These are the King's reward to Sir Badr," he said with flourish.
Badr eyed the money, while the tavern patrons discussed the battle; the amount of money – he had enough of that – Esra got the bag of gold. They didn't need much for the simple way of living they liked.
Badr stood up and with one step he was by the soldiers and clapped them on the shoulder. "Sorry, I don't need it. There is no reason for me to accept a fortune like this."
Then he smiled at them. "Thank you for bringing them all the way to Tison. But I'm not taking them."
"But-but, according to the rule ..." the captain looked perplexed. Taking pity on the solder, Badr nodded.
"Ahh if that's the trouble, I see. Well then, I'll use it to buy drinks for everyone in the tavern. Then it won't cause you problems."
And with that he walked outside, without turning back. He walked all the way to the shore, where his boat was tethered to the pier.
War huh, he thought. Everyone was so delirious about the war. Then again they didn't fight, they just received money – the starvation, cold, and thirst didn't touch them.
Is it all right to continue like this? He asked himself this question many times. But no matter how many times he thought of it, he could not change the way this country was headed. Solomon forbids the Dungeon rising somewhere near Partevia.
He really couldn't do anything else but continue with his life, head to the sea, catch tasty fish and head home - To his wife and son.
Badr thought as he sailed away, because Esra and his son were precious; turning, he grabbed a net to catch that tasty fish … only to stare at his sleeping son. His three year old son, who sneaked into his boat and fell asleep, who was blinking awake …
"Daddy!" he shouted, jumping into his arms with the enthusiasm of a three year old boy.
Badr finally found his voice. "Sinbad WHAT are you doing here?!"
His freaking out was ignored by his child, completely. "Daddy, daddy! Look sea!"
Sinbad darted from one end of his fishing boat to the other. His golden eyes were wide and full of wonder when he watched the sea.
Badr sighed; the boy was like he'd downed a gallon of coffee today. "Yes, yes, it's the sea. But Sin, you can't come with me."
A blink of big golden eyes was all that Badr got from his son.
"Nah, never mind," he ruffled Sinbad's purple hair, sighing; he didn't understand, Badr thought, "It's daddy's fault for not being careful." Can't blame the three year old…a distant thunder made Badr look in the distance; it was not good, there were dark clouds rolling toward them.
"Daddy there …land," Sinbad said.
"Don't worry; daddy will get us to safety." Badr then made sure that Sinbad was safely tucked in the boat. "Now be a good boy."
It was a crazy storm; Badr had a hard time steering, but the most troublesome thing was visibility, it was so dark he could not see the bow of his boat. At this rate, they both would capsize, Badr thought, and if that happened, that would mean … both of their deaths. It was a sobering thought; he must somehow make sure that the boat didn't capsize.
"Daddy," came his son's voice, and then Sinbad pointed at something in the distance. "It's this way."
The child spoke with confidence, so Badr decided to go the way Sin pointed out.
And suddenly they were out of the storm.
"Howlay daddy!" Sinbad laughed happily.
Now that was simply amazing … and a bit worrying, since a lot of potential meant a very big target for Badr's uncle.
*** Ren Hakutoku – 1***
Hakutoku was standing on the balcony of the palace in his country of Liàn Kingdom. The kingdom he was left to rule in place of Empress Toku, his mother and her royal consort; Piandao, his father - who was a general in the army, master sword master, calligrapher, and sifu.
They both passed away; his mother from an assassin attack, and his father died when he confronted those assassins.
Hakutoku could not prove it either way but there were only three suspects that he suspected who could send those assassins.
His mother in law, Hong Shuunki – she was the head priestess of an order that called themselves 'Ath-Thāmin' – eight pointed star'. He was unsure of that woman's motive, but she was always strange. It was a good thing that his wife Gyokuen wasn't slotted to take her mother's place. In fact Shuunki told both of them that Gyokuen would never head that order, that she could personally guarantee that.
His wife was glad of that, and privately Gyokuen confided in him that while she loved her mother, she was feeling unease while around her or any of the order's priests.
Hakutoku shared her concerns; Shuunki was, when you meet her, poised and graceful and kind. Always a perfect lady of Liàn Kingdom –but sometimes when she was present, he felt a shiver run down his back.
At such a time he would take a hidden glance at his wife's mother. Sometimes Shuunki would look at him from the corner of her eyes, just like he did, and have smile on her face, which she either hid behind the sleeves of her clothes or showed openly, disguising it as a courtly smile for the ambassador. Sometimes her face would change, her eyes and mouth would become like a face of the statues that littered the palace – demonic - At moments like this he felt like the person before to him, the person in front of him ... was not human, but something vile, wearing the skin of Huang Shuunki. The thought itself seemed so ridiculous that he did not believe it himself. It was just a sudden feeling when he looked – but then he blinked and nothing was out of place.
The other possibility was Kai Kingdom; their ruler was always trying to assassinate members of his family. Ever since Toku's younger sister Ursa married Lu-Ten, the ruler's son of that kingdom. If all the heirs of the Ren family died, Lu-Ten would have been ruler of Liàn Kingdom.
The third possibility was Gou kingdom, the daughter of that kingdom married his younger brother Koutoku, having a wife however didn't stop his brother to make his wife's servants into his concubines. He already fathered three daughters with them. Fortunately, his wife had given birth a month ago – they named the boy Kouen. It appeared that naming him 'crimson flame' was appropriate for Kouen inherited eye and hair color from his mother – all Gou people had hair and eyes in varying shades of red.
But to prevent further strife, something would have to be done. For the sake of his two sons, for the sake of his wife, for the sake of his brother's family, and for the sake of his people
The three nations must unite as one. Liàn kingdom must unify the two neighboring kingdoms Kai and Gou under its banner, forming a unified Empire – The Kou Empire.
"Are you worried?" Gyokuen voice interrupted his thoughts. He turned to see his wife dressed in a pale blue hanfu; silk rustled as she came closer, her braided and pinned up black hair swaying as she walked, with, almost a three year old Hakuren in her arms.
And their first born, Hakuyuu, who was already passed his sixth birthday, was walking by his mother's side.
Gyokuen's silver-blue eyes sparkled in humor, "We came to rescue you from your dreadful thoughts. Didn't we, dears?" she directed the last at their two sons.
"Father," Hakuyuu said in a somber tone. Hakutoku smiled, his eldest was, even at such a young age, such serious child, and he read like a grown man and could reason like one as well.
He knew what his advisors were saying; that only two children were not enough, and he should take another alongside Gyokuen. But really that was not necessary. Two were enough.
Gyokuen could still have children, according to Falan the court Magician – there was a cure for her weakened constitution after Hakuren's birth.
***Sixtus Alexius - 1***
He was getting married today, to a former slave, much to the annoyance of his family. But he really did not care.
Meliora was the love of his life, a mother of his three year old son Muu.
He fell in love with her when he was a boy. She was at the time the one the standing on the auction platform, to be sold.
Sixtus could remember that day clearly; seven slaves were standing on a revolving stand and around each slave for sale hung a type of plaque describing his or her origin, health, character, intelligence, education. Hers said: Meliora : Age: 5 years approx –Fanalis from Dark Continent- healthy as a horse; strong – stubborn – For: hard labor/or fighting.
His father bought her as a present to him, since he heard that Fanalis were very a strong race and he deemed them useful for guarding his son and Meliora was young enough to be trained to be a perfect guard dog.
But, she was never a guard dog to him. No, for Sixtus, Meliora was a beautiful person with cute kitty eyes under her red hair. She had a sense of humor, and loved to eat fish. So they went fishing a lot, whenever they could.
But then he caused a scandal, by freeing her – and now he'll cause) another by marrying her.
Sixtus could not be happier; they would be a family, Him and Meliora – and Muu would receive his name – he was already his son, now he would bear his family name – Muu Alexius.
"The Father's face is stern and strong,
he sits and judges right from wrong.
He weighs our lives, the short and long,
and loves the little children."
Next chapter in Slice of Life Arc: Mother – POV's Ren Gyokuen, Esra of Partevia, Cersei Lannister and Catelyn Tully Stark
Animosity toward Robert from Ned – don't worry bromance will be back between the two – so whoever is panicking because of Ned's POV chill.
Same for the readers that detected coldness toward Cat and are panicking about that– they are married for a year, year and a half – they don't even know each other yet. The love between Ned&Cat will come.
Zeruya Jehoahaz Abraham (OC) is twin sister of David Jehoahaz Abraham, YES Aladdin's granddad. Zeruya is still alive somewhere on the Dark Continent.
Shuunki is currently possessed by Arba. Exact time when Gyokuen was possessed by Arba is unknown. It was in the years after Hakuren (second son) birth but before Hakuei conception and Hakuei Ren is 8 years younger than Hakuren.