A Song of Ice and Fire: Blood and Stone
Second son to Cedric Tallystan
It is sometimes said that the first son is shaped in the image of the father, and the second son lives in the shadows. Well, for the first ten years of his life, Fendrel’s paranoid, decrepit father had been trying to drag him into the fearful shadows beside him. Where a father was supposed to stand in the sun, sweep his arm across the seven kingdoms and promise his son that in his blood ran life and power and the world was his to master, his father Cedric shook his stump at the sky and hollered of danger, death and destruction to be the only thing outside of Hammerstone’s firm, impregnable walls. Fendrel grew to hate his father, to hate his fear and suspicion, and to hate the walls of Hammerstone that so confined him.
In his teenage years, Fendrel fought his hardest to avoid what his father both preached and embodied. Cowardice, paranoia, suspicion, reservation, hesitation, these were the virtues of the meek. In this aversion to his father Fendrel developed a strong respect for his brother Rowan who too avoided following in those fearful footsteps. It was those early teenage years that were the closest he ever felt to the name ‘Tallystan’, following his brother from town to castle, to visit his people, to survey his lands, to talk with his banner houses, to dine with nobles and speak of the future. Change seemed so tangible to him then, he saw it in his brother’s eyes when they spoke of action and the future. Fendrel dreamed of something brilliant and white and glorious rising out of the piss-stained shadows of his father’s cowardice and fear, something mighty and proud from within the walls of Hammerstone.
Though as the years went on, Fendrel began to properly appreciate the nature of his birth. Rowan was the heir to Hammerstone, Rowan would be making the decisions and leading the battles and attaining the glory; Fendrel would always be second. A life in the shadow of another was no life at all; Fendrel wanted to make shadows and never to stand in them. Hammerstone once again tasted bitter and suffocated his liberty. He did not hate Rowan but he hated the black portcullis, he hated the sound of ‘Tallystan’ in his mouth. The castle stood so tall and fierce that there were only shadows to dwell in. Suddenly, the thought of an even taller, greater Hammerstone only filled him with dread.
Fendrel begun to dream in only two shades: black and white. In the white dreams he had shining white armour, a brilliant snowy cloak and the fiercest, sharpest sword he had ever imagined. In this white dreams he stood in front of the Iron Throne, a member of the Kingsguard, known by all. In these dreams he lived and breathed glory, he fought and defended in the name of the King, in these dreams everybody knew his name. In these dreams he wasn’t Fendrel Tallystan, he was Fendrel the Fierce, or Fendrel the Furious. It was a future where he could tear away the suffocating bonds of ‘Tallystan’ and build something new for himself away from the walls that bear his past. In the white dreams his very name would seethe with glory and he would be far away from the mountains of the moon.
In the black dreams, he was colder than he’d ever been. In the black dreams he stood atop the frozen bulwark known as The Wall, with a rusty old sword in his hand, clad in dirty black leathers staring listlessly into the thick fog of the north. He was cold, and not an ounce of his blood ran with glory. It was all nameless, thankless duty. And yet, it was still better than the walls of Hammerstone. Fendrel was grimly determined that whatever journey his life would take, if he could not succeed in attaining a position within the Kingsguard, he would not die just to be buried alongside all the others in the crypts of Hammerstone. In his mind there was no half-way, it was either commit or withdraw, deliver or disengage; it was either the Kingsguard or the Wall.
At the ascending age of twenty-one, Fendrel Tallystan retains the essence of these fancies; it is all or none. Avoiding the fearful footsteps of his father, as well as the hollow complexity of nobility and intrigue that his brother was growing increasingly proficient at, Fendrel had begun to pursue the intricate simplicity of combat… and he had found it fitting. As he trained in the art of swordplay and the skill of horse-riding, the joust and the hunt, he befriended his father’s younger brother Archibald, and found in him a counsel he had thus far lacked. While his Uncle taught strategy over zeal and rationality over determination, Fendrel still respected him for the virtues his father lacked. It was Archibald he talked to of his victories in duels, his successes on hunts (for beasts and for women) and it was Archibald he asked to take him from the Mountains of the Moon somewhere more exciting. Though, he never mentioned his dreams to Archibald or anyone.
Fendrel remembered his father’s withered stump trembling in the air as he walked from the courtroom beside Archibald, on the journey that ended in his knighting. He remembered imagining his father’s ire as he spoke his vows before the Warrior, the Father (just as good a father as his had been) and the Smith. It was the first of many slights to come, in a life of heedlessness towards family legacy and empty myths. It was the beginning of his life of success and ambition, of all or none. It was the white cloak or the black, and either end he resolved that every step would be away from Hammerstone.