Valyrian steel spun sparks from the iron shield emblazoned with a red sun pierced by a golden spear. Rhaegar Targaryan pivoted left with the blow, causing the sword to rebound to the earth. Victarion felt his wrists twist with the strain, which only caused him to grasp the mighty two-handed sword more firmly.
As he pulled the tip from the loam it had pierced, the keen-edged weapon shed soil the way his wife had shed tears the day Tommen Baratheon, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, had thrown their daughter Janna into the Karhold where she vanished beneath the waves without having time to scream for help or mercy. On that day a silence had descended between Victarion and his wife, broken only by the most necessary of exchanges.
His memories must have slowed him, for Rhaegar was now upon him, his double-bladed battle axe carving Victarion’s arm from his elbow as cleanly as a butcher preparing a lamb for his lord’s name day. The blood pulsed red-black from what remained of his limb. “Send a white raven to my wife Doreah,” he said with what breath remained.
“This I shall do,” Rhaegar promised as Victarion slumped to the ground. “But first I must ask you…”
“Be quick, for I shall not be quick for long.”
“I’ll do my best. But I’m just wondering why you have a shield emblazoned with a red sun and a golden spear.”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because, unless I’m very much mistaken, you are a Greyjoy, and the Greyjoy sigil is a golden kraken upon a black field.”
“That can’t be right. I’m definitely a Greyjoy,” said Victarion. “But I’m pretty sure the Greyjoy sigil is that sun and spear rigamarole. I remember thinking it looks like someone eating a pancake with a chopstick.”
“No, that’s House Martell. I’m right about this. Trust me.”
“Really? I bought it from Petyr Baelish. I definitely told him I was a Greyjoy.”
A crooked smile passed over Rhaegar’s face. Victarion shrugged, sending waves of pain down his frayed arm.
“Ok, if you’re so smart,” said the dying warrior, “which is your sigil, Targaryan?”
Rhaegar did not have to think before responding to the challenge. “Three black dogs on a dark yellow background. Our motto is ‘Cut us and you will cry.’”
“Hah! That’s the Cleagne sigil. And the motto belongs to the House Seaworth,.”
“No, I’m pretty sure Targaryan is the three dogs. And I never even heard of the House Seaworth.”
“Oh, it’s a real thing, alright. You don’t hear about Seaworth because it’s ruled by a landed knight, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.” Brightening, Victarion asked, “You know what they call that guy, Ser Davos Seaworth?”
“I have no idea.”
“The Onion Knight,” said Victarion before Rhaegar had even finished. “Wow, you really don’t know your houses!”
“You’re one to talk,” Rhaegar replied, idly kicking at Victarion’s severed arm. “Your entire backstory doesn’t make any sense.”
“The hell it doesn’t!”
“Alright then,” Rhaegar challenged the fallen knight. “Tommen Baratheon isn’t Lord Paramount of the Westerlands. Lord Paramount of the Westerlands is another name for Tywin Lannister, and Tommen Baratheon isn’t even a Lannister at all. He’s a Baratheon.”
“I thought a Baratheon was just a name, not a clan thing.”
Rhaegar burst out laughing. “Really? Really?? You thought Tommen Baratheon might be a Lannister.”
“Baratheon could be his middle name,” Victarion replied testily. “Tommen Baratheon Lannister. It could be!”
“We don’t have middle names!”
“Oh yeah? How about Tyrian Lannister the Imp?”
“What are you talking about, Victarion? ‘The Imp’ is an epithet, not a middle name.”
“‘The Imp’ is at the end. That puts ‘Lannister’ in the middle. In the middle, middle name.”
“By the Old Gods, you are an idiot. I don’t even know where to start.”
“Because you know my logic’s right.”
“You are so wrong. And even if you were right about the name — which you’re not — Tommen Baratheon is like eight years old. He wasn’t even born when your daughter Janna drowned.”
“I was pretty sure it was him.”
“I’m pretty sure not. And another thing, Janna wasn’t your daughter. She was actually the sister of Mace Tyrell, who grew up and married Ser Jon Fossoway.”
“Ah, to learn that she survived the waves and lived to the age of ripeness eases my passing. Thank you, sir.”
“You’re not listening. Jenna wasn’t your daughter. Couldn’t have been. She wasn’t killed by a boy who wasn’t even born yet. And the sea that you say she drowned in — Karhold — is actually a castle. It’s not even particularly close to water. And, sorry to break this to you, but Doreah isn’t your wife. She was just a handmaiden to Daenerys Targaryen.”
“The hot one with white hair and dark eyebrows?” Victarion said, perking up.
“Hey, she’s my relative, so don’t get all creepy on me. But, yeah, that’s the one. Anyway, Doreah was just a minor character who bedded Viserys, the guy with the white hair and dark eyebrows. Talk about creepy guys!”
“You got that right.”
“So, Doreah: not your wife. Right?”
“Fine. But I’ve got one for you,” Victarion said, his strength fleeing him like his blood seeping into the patient earth.
“What is it?”
“Fun fact: Rhaegar Targaryan was killed in Robert’s Rebellion before this whole series began.”
“Then who am I?”
“How the hell should I know? Why don’t you do what everyone else does? Keep a tab open to Google.”
With that, the might Victarion’s spirit fled. And then the hot one with the white hair and dark eyebrows strode firmly, proudly, nakedly, into her bath.