Note to self, don’t let Balthazar make plans.
That was my thought as the Dothraki screamers, who just wouldn’t shut the fuck up, circled me for at least five minutes; screaming their heads off and waving their curved swords, arakhs they were called, in a threatening manner.
I weathered the onslaught of sound as best as I could, vowing to sock each one of these assholes in the face when this ordeal was over.
The things I did for the betterment of this planet…
I sighed slightly, the sound too weak to be heard to anyone other than me, and waited patiently as the main convoy of the Dothraki horde finally came into view at the top of the hill.
That was when one of the riders struck. A black lasso, made out of what could only be horse hair, was thrown in my direction. I snatched the rope before it could wrap around me, and pulled.
The rope was taut, but the rider remained on his mount, still circling me in an attempt to wrap the rope around me using his centrifugal motion.
Best not hold back my strength, then.
I pulled again; hard, this time.
With a loud yell of shock which treaded more into the girlish scream territory, the rider flew off his mount, his face becoming well acquainted with the grassy ground below as his horse ran off, quickly being followed by other members of the horde.
I only had a moment to admire my handiwork as more of the lassos were thrown at me. That was how the next minute was spent. Two or three riders would attempt to lasso me, and I would dodge it. As they pulled back their rope, another two or three riders would restart the attempt.
It only took me a moment to figure out what exactly it was they were doing.
It made me frown.
They were toying with me, playing games. Just waiting for me to tire out before finally catching me, and doing whatever it is a bunch of barbarians did to prisoners.
The horde hadn’t even thrown me a second glance as they rode past. This must’ve been the norm for them. How many travelers had they toyed with in the exact same manner?
“Tch.” I scoffed and finally drew my weirwood staff, slamming its butt into the ground in what I considered to be a challenging move.
The riders pulled their ropes back, and stared at each other. The entire horde now stopped. Not many decided to challenge the Dothraki in this way, and they were all curious as to who the fool who dared to do so was.
There was some muttering in between the copper skinned men.
Seeing who was going to go first, then?
“Andal.” One of them said as he got off his horse. He was a big, hulking brute. “Fight me.”
“Yes.” I humored his caveman-speak as I pointed dramatically at his form. “You weak. Me beat you easy.”
Balthazar and Erebus were trying hard to hold their laughs in, as the man in question sent me a glare which could kill, before drawing his arakh and snarling.
These Dothraki… This fight would be a very sad one.
They wore no armor.
Likely, their entire fighting tactics revolved around sheer numbers overwhelming the enemy. How much was individual skill valued, in their society? Did they even care?
One thing was for sure, though.
This would be a joke.
Perhaps I should teach the man a lesson.
My hand grasped the hilt of Erebus, drawing it in a fluid motion- and throwing it to the side with a bored look on my face. Following that, I took a few measured steps forward, as if to say “I don’t need my sword, or my staff to defeat you.”
Then, I spat right in front of him, a universal sign of unimstakable disrespect.
I didn’t need to know Dothraki to know that he was cursing at me; I’d majorly pissed the guy off even more than I had already done.
With a cry worthy of his sheer fury, the Dothraki screamer ran to me, his arakh raised high as he went for a diagonal slash which would have cut deep into my chest- had I not been wearing an unbreakable shirt, or had Balthazar’s scales underneath.
Not that I let the sword touch me, in the first place.
A quick step to the side, and the sword harmlessly passed me by, inches away from my body. He smoothly adjusted his grip- a well practiced move, I realized- and made to cleave my head off with his sickle-like weapon.
Practiced move it may have been, but still as slow as molasses, I thought as I ducked underneath. I clenched my fist hard as the blade flew over my head, and slugged him right underneath his right shoulder.
I felt the shuddering and crack of bone, swiftly followed by a cry of shock and pain, a thud, and the clatter of his arakh against the ground.
The man cringed, grimaced and groaned as he tried to get back up, but I rewarded his perseverance with a knee to the chin, sending him into the land of blissful unconsciousness with a few missing teeth for his trouble.
I stared at his downed form, before turning and retrieving my sword and staff, taking note of the large crowd which had formed around us in the short ‘battle’, if you could even call it that.
They stared at me for another few silent moments, before a booming cheer erupted out of the crowd.
I stared at them as impassively as I could, watching for any sign of ranged attack.
But no attack came.
Instead, the unconscious Dothraki was dragged off, and replaced with two others; one was holding an arakh, and the other, a spear.
These two were built leaner, more like contortionists than a linebacker. Would they do better than their previous fellow?
I readied myself, pulling my staff out, this time, but keeping the sword firmly in its sheath.
Time to see if this staff training paid off.
The two Dothraki men gave each other a quick stare, before nodding and turning their heads back to me.
I parried the first one’s thrust with my staff, sending it in the direction of the Dothraki who was attempting to flank me from the left, before grasping the staff by its base and sending it straight down like a hammer.
The man managed to dodge the fatal strike to his head and had it land on his left shoulder instead. A loud crack was heard as the weirwood slammed into his shoulder, instantly sending him to his knees as he wailed in shock and pain.
His fellow stopped for a moment to stare, before crying out in rage and rushing me with the ferocity of an enraged beast, hacking and slashing at my form with a fervor I had not expected.
Perhaps they were friends? Family?
I kept him at bay with a few parries, blocks, and dodges; waiting for the best moment to strike. Eventually he would tire out, and- there!
I must’ve been grinning, I thought as I grasped the top of the staff with both arms and thrust downward, into the man’s right bicep, making him cry out in pain and let go of his arakh.
Then, to my surprise, he grasped my arm holding the lower end of the staff, and let his right foot fly right into my face- or, that’s what would have happened, had I not overpowered his grip and taken the kick on my scaled, right arm.
Naturally, his leg yielded to the superior force of Balthazar’s scales, and the man fell to his knees, one of his legs incapable of supporting his own weight.
I gave the man an unreadable look, before sending him into unconsciousness with a quick bop to the back of his head, and pulling my staff out of his arm.
The women came quickly, this time, dragging the fighters off so that they could be receive treatment.
Another cheer arose as I was met with yet another Dothraki.
Truthfully, this was getting somewhat tedious.
How many more did I have to fight?
This one was astride a horse, staring down at me with a mixture of respect and disgust, before gesturing at one of the nearby slaves and barking a few words out. A man was pulled away from the gaggle and made to stand before my latest Dothraki challenger.
The slave had a lean appearance, dark,shoulder length hair, dark eyes, and a beard that appeared to be slowly going out of control.
He had no weapons, no armor; clad only in rags that did almost nothing to hide his nakedness- judging by the amount of naked people running around, I figured the Dothraki cared not for appearances.
All in all, he looked like a well-fed slave, at least.
The Dothraki on the horse began to talk in his native tongue, before looking meaningfully at the slave.
Ah, a translator, then?
“He asks who you are, and what you’re doin’ ‘ere.” The man said to me in an accent I had only heard in the slums in King’s Landing.
“That so?” I said.
“Well, he did leave out a few parts involving torture and killin’.” The man said in a monotone.
“Of course he did.” I said, stifling the need to roll my eyes. “Is he the leader, then?”
“Aye.” The man replied.
“Then tell him the following.’ I smiled and turned to look at the Dothraki. “Tell him I’m here to take his khalasar for my own. I challenge him to combat.”
The slave gave me an incredulous look, before shaking his head and turning to the leader and speaking in Dothraki. I watched as the leader’s face took on a dark shade of angry red- heh, he had nothing on Vernon’s color changes, that was for sure.
The man raged and postured, making threatening motions.
“He asked why he, the great Khal Moro, should waste his time on a pathetic wandering Andal like you, when you don’t even have your own horse.” The dark haired man said.
“You’re editing the threats out, aren’t you?” I said with a measure of amusement.
“Aye, that I am.” He replied.
“Tell him that I don’t need a horse to beat a weakling like him. Maybe he doesn’t want to fight because he’s afraid he’ll lose?”
The man gave me another long stare. “A big pair of balls you have, lad. Well, it was nice knowing you.”
This man was rather upbeat for a slave.
He told the leader of my challenge. When the translator was done, I suppressed a shit eating grin at the enraged look the man had sent me. The Dothraki began to mutter amongst themselves.
Calling him a coward in front of his own people would ensure that he fought me.
The Dothraki, Khal Moro he was called, began to shout at his people, waving his arms about frantically in some attempt to run damage control.
Was it working? It looked like it.
Heh. These people understood one thing, and that thing was strength.
“What did he say?” I asked out of curiosity.
“You really want to know?” The man asked.
“Yeah, sure.” I waved off his concerns.
“…” The man looked at me, before translating. “He’s saying he’s going to tear you limb from limb, and feed your intestines to the crows and vultures, before finally pissing on your remains.”
“How… over the top. I like it.” I smiled. “Thank you… What’s your name?”
“Eh.” The man said. “No sense in giving my name to a dead man.”
“Oh ye of little faith.” I replied. “You’ll tell me your name when I win?”
“If you win.” The slave insisted.
“When I win.” I insisted back.
The dark haired man rolled his eyes and went back to the group of slaves he’d come from.
The crowd began walking back, increasing the space around us. He likely needed that space to fight while riding. I looked at the slaves again, and my resolve hardened.
The crowd finally stopped moving, and things went quiet.
The Dothraki screamed a few words of challenge, and then spurred his horse on, determined to ride me down. I stood in place, slowly drawing Erebus and holding the dark blade high in the air.
He drew closer.
He drew even closer.
I waited still.
He was almost on me.
Now! I met the slash of his arakh with the flat of my blade, using my superior strength to completely stop his momentum, dislocating his shoulder, ripping him off of his horse and sending him slamming into the ground.
The horse kept on running as I advanced on the downed man, as if I hadn’t just taken the momentum from a sword strike from the back of a horse.
To his credit, the Khal got back up, and took his arakh in his left arm, staring at me with what seemed to be a mixture of fear and determination.
I did not acknowledge his show of resolve in face of inevitable doom..
Instead, I sprinted to his form, ducking underneath his clumsy, left handed slash and cleaving his left arm at the elbow. I gave him no time to process this information, as I twisted and sliced through his neck, separating his head from his shoulders as he attempted to cry out in pain.
Erebus was already back in his sheath even before Khal Moro’s head hit the ground.
Cries of shock met my actions, and then-
Three men cried out in rage, and rode to me, their weapons high in the air.
“Bloodriders!” The translator shouted. “They mean to avenge their Khal by killing you!”
I gave the barest hints of a nod in his direction as I faced down my newest foes. This time, I didn’t stand and wait. This time, I ran to them, Erebus drawn once more and glinting in the harsh sun above us.
I leapt at the rightmost one, tackling into him with the force of a bull and knocking him off his horse, before falling with him and driving Erebus into his heart as we impacted the ground.
Blood flew as I swiftly tore the blade out of his chest and sidestepped the second bloodrider’s horse, dragging my sword through horse and fatally cutting through the horse’s flank.
All the while, Erebus exuded an aura of extreme bloodlust, aimed right at my enemies.
The horse whinnied in agony, tripped and fell, no longer capable of supporting its weight and that of the Dothraki bloodrider on its back. It would die within minutes. The man was not so lucky, however; his body crushed underneath the horse he so revered.
The third man only screamed louder at the death of his comrades as he made to tear my head off with his arakh. I shook my head in exasperation, before doing to him what I did to his leader.
I met his strike head on, tearing him off his horse like with his Khal Moro- only this time, I positioned myself underneath him, before thrusting Erebus upwards through his stomach and out of his back, forcing him to vomit out blood and other, less identifiable fluids. After a moment of holding his weight with no visible effort, I tore my sword free from him and let his body fall to the ground.
All of this had happened in under a minute.
I had just completely slaughtered their four most strongest warriors using nothing but my sword and my upper body strength.
I stared down at his twitching body, and ended his suffering with one stroke. The sword was wiped down and cleaned even before the last bloodrider’s body stopped twitching.
The crowd before me was now looking at me in pure astonishment.
“ANYONE ELSE!?” I roared and opened my arms wide in challenge.
A few seconds passed in pure silence.
And then, they bowed and knelt at my feet.
I blinked at the sudden shift in behavior. Not five minutes ago, they’d all been calling for my blood. Now, they bowed?
“Savages.” Erebus whispered to me.
I had to agree as one of the Dothraki dismounted and approached me.
“Khal. Name?” He struggled with the words.
“…” I stared at him for a few moments, before nodding. “Harry.”
The Dothraki man bowed again, before turning to the people.
“Khal Harry!” He proclaimed and raised his arakh high in the air. “Khal Harry!”
“Khal Harry!” They began to chant.
Oh for god’s sake…
I made my way to the translator slave, who was looking at me in a strange light.
“Your name, then?” I smiled.
“Bronn.” He replied. I almost didn’t hear him over the shouts of “Khal Harry!”
I gave him a scrutinizing look, before nodding. “Bronn. Well met.”
I turned, and began to walk through the crowds, before stopping and turning back to the man. “You coming?”
A few hours later, when all of the celebrations had died down- with extremely lousy food, I might add- and night fell, I found myself sitting down by the fire.
Bronn was still gorging on some horse meat like it was the finest dish in the lands. He’d been pigging out the whole time. How long had he not eaten?
“You’re going to be sick in the morning, you know that?” I said as I watched him scarf down the meat, before grabbing another piece.
“Hadn’t eaten in days.” Bronn replied. “You’d do the same- err… Khal Harry.”
I snorted. “You can just call me Harry.”
“Right.” Bronn replied. “Harry, it is.”
He looked at my bandaged up right arm. “What’s wrong with your arm?”
I followed his line of sight, and shifted the bandages slightly so he’d see what’s underneath. Bronn stared at the black scales for a few moments, before raising his eyes to meet mine.
“…The infamous Blackscale, then?”
“You’ve heard of me?” I was a little surprised.
“Aye, that I have.” Bronn replied. “Huge bounty on yer head- not that anyone bothered to collect.”
Is that so..? I supposed old Tywin Lannister must have put it up, meaning it was a non issue, at this point. The only way that bounty would still be up, is if Tyrion would be the one sending them to me; that was about as possible as pigs flying.
“Tell me more.” I said curiously. “What do the people say about me?”
“Rumors mostly.” Bronn admitted. “I remember talking to a man at the Crossroads Inn that said you defeated both the Kingslayer and Barristan the Bold in single combat. The bartender had told him to stop weaving fanciful tales.”
“He was right.” I confirmed. “That happened in Winterfell, when the King Robert was coming with all of his Court.”
“Truly?” He looked at me in another light. “What about beating the Mountain?”
“Also true.” I confirmed. “I killed him during the Tourney for the Hand of the King.”
“No wonder you beat the Dothraki cunts, then.” Bronn spat to the side when mentioning the Dothraki. “If you can beat the strongest swordsmen on the continent.
“Have they had you, for long?” I asked without any tact, figuring this man wasn’t the sort to appreciate it. “If you’d heard about all that, then you couldn’t have been here that long.”
“Few months in Essos. Here.. A few weeks, I would say? Maybe a month…” Bronn replied, finally sitting back and patting his stomach. “Not sure. The days just end up lumping together in one big cesspool.”
“What brought you to Essos?”
“I’m a sellsword.” Bronn said bluntly. “Joined up with a company in Pentos after the war in Westeros broke out. Bad move on my par’. Damned captain of ours took a bounty to fight Dothraki. Didn’t end well.”
I snorted. “Understatement. Any of your fellow sellswords still alive?”
“Doubt it.” Bronn said immediately. “Dothraki aren’t too keen on enslaving sellswords. Too many and they’d overwhelm the khalasar.”
“True.” I said. “Why were you different?”
“I can speak Dothraki, for one.” Bronn said. “Most of them can’t speak a word of Common, as you could tell.”
“Yeah, about that…” I hedged.
“You want me to be a translator, don’t you?” His tone was ironic.
“If it’s not too much trouble.” I said sheepishly. “I want to lead these people, and I can’t exactly do that if they can’t understand a word I say.”
“Aye, that much is true.” Bronn said. “And, what do I get?”
“Your freedom?” I smirked.
Bronn was quiet for a few seconds. “Fair enough.”
“I was jesting.” I said quickly. “I’m going to free all of the slaves in this khalasar.”
Bronn winced. “That certainly won’t go over well.”
“How come?” I asked, though I had a good idea of what his answer would be.
“The Dothraki… Well..” He pointed at a couple who were fucking in public, and then another few who were as naked as the day they were born. “They’re not what you call civilized.”
“I can see that.” I grimaced at an old naked lady and quickly looked away. “So saggy…”
“Aye…” Bronn mirrored my own look. “More importantly, these Dothraki, their entire way of life is by raidin’ and rapin’. They won’t let those slaves go- not without a fight, at least.”
“I see…” I nodded. “I might have a few ideas on the matter.”
I got up and stretched, walking among the people who cheered in my presence. Bronn followed swiftly.
“Let’s get the most important people, here.” I ordered. “No time like the present.”
Bronn muttered something about insane nobles, before doing as I asked. It took a while, and a whole lot of shouting, but the heads of this Dothraki army were finally here.
Five lieutenants, in all.
Assuming three quarters of the Dothraki were fighting men, that meant they had about fifteen thousand men. Three thousand for each lieutenant. A not insignificant number.
I wondered, for a few moments, if they actually planned out their attacks beforehand. What sort of tactics did they use?
Questions for another time, I supposed.
“Khal Harry.” They said at different intervals of time and gave curt nods. I supposed they weren’t happy with the fact they had a new leader. Ah, well. I wasn’t happy with their practice of slavery.
“Kos.” I said. “I have my first orders, to you.”
I looked to Bronn as he began translating.
“My first order is to release all of the slaves.” I said clearly.
Bronn hesitated, but said the words.
One of them stood up, looking angry, but I took a step forward, glaring at him with a cold fury. He did not relent, or shrink back.
“Such insolence.” I said and walked to the offending Dothraki, before smacking him with enough force to send him to the ground. “You will obey. Or you will die.”
I turned to the others. “Anyone else wish to challenge me on this?”
I waited for Bronn to translate, before looking back at the remaining kos. They all shook their heads, though the one I had smacked to the ground muttered something under his breath.
“What was that, boy?” I asked threateningly, inwardly laughing at the older man’s incredulous face when he heard Bronn translating the word ‘boy’. The guy had to be in his thirties.
The anger seemed to override his survival instinct, as he got right back up and started shouting at me.
“He says that you don’t even have a horse.” Bronn translated as he kept shouting. “Why should he follow you, half of a man?”
“Half of a man?” I turned to Bronn, completely ignoring the steadily fuming Dothraki lieutenant. “What does that mean?”
“Dothraki think of men without horses as half men. Unworthy.” Bronn added at the end of his statement. “I’m surprised only one of them is telling you to go fuck yourself, really. Your demonstration must have shaken them up quite a bit.”
“My demonstration, huh?” I smiled slightly, before raising my hand. “How about this, then? HESTIA! COME HERE!”
A long moment passed.
The annoying lieutenant opened his mouth, but snapped it shut as he looked over to something behind me. He pointed.
“Dragon!” All of the gathered Dothraki shouted and screeched as Hestia flew overhead, flapping her massive blue wings and causing a few bursts of wind before finally landing next to me with a loud thud.
She bowed her head in acknowledgment of me.
“Hestia.” I smiled and started petting her.
“Harry- you- what- what are you-” Bronn looked like he was about to shit his pants. Huh. He’d maintained an indifferent, unflappable attitude up until now.
Dragons tended to fuck people’s days up, didn’t they?
“What?” I said innocently. “You said the Dothraki view a mountless rider as less than human, right?”
Bronn merely stared up at the great she-dragon.
“Well, here she is.” I gave him a shit eating grin.
I didn’t notice the entire khalasar dropping to their hands and knees in utter subservience until a few seconds later.
“Maybe I should have led with Hestia, rather than have a pissing contest with an entire tribe on my own…”
“Aye.” Bronn agreed, still staring at the dragon. “Would’ve saved yourself so much fucking time, and taken me out of slavery much earlier, eh?”
“…All’s well that ends well?”
“Oh, come on!” I protested. “It would have made the difference of half an hour, tops!”
“That’s half of an hour that I lost!” Bronn argued. “The way I see it, I’m owed.”
“Keep telling yourself that, mate.” I grinned suddenly. “Keep telling yourself that.”