The Hound

Half-consumed by flame
and half-consumed by ire,
assuming a fearsome name
and so fearful of fire,
he drinks deep of wine
and the dregs of despair,
serving a green-eyed line
that is golden of hair;
despising his butcher brother,
that slaughterer of men,
and loving no Father or Mother
or any among the Seven.
In both court and in war
he barks like a beast,
fed on table scraps for
guarding those at the feast
until the chained fires light
upon the blood-soaked bay,
burning away the night
to make a hellish day
over the Blackwater
while he flees the flame,
coming to the daughter
of the man who lost the Game,
taking from her a kiss
and asking for a song,
tears falling with a promise
to do her no wrong.
Thereafter he flees
as a stray on the run
as smoke stains the breeze
and the kingdom comes undone,
the war raging on
within and without his heart,
but in the War for the Dawn
what will be his part?
He steals a wolf pup
in the hope of a job,
but sees her brother sup
headless within a mob
and then, by the Trident,
he meets a gang of cutthroats
all vicious and strident
whom he slaughters like goats,
but not before injured
by a blade in the thigh,
his heart not so inured
from the thought he will die,
and so he asks for ease:
for the Stranger’s gift,
but the pup grants no release
and gives but short thrift,
taking his gold, and his horse,
and leaving him without pity
to set a seaward course
to Braavos, the free city.
He dies, in a sense,
from the rot growing within
and is reborn in the silence
on an isle of holy men.
Living once more
as a gravedigging cripple,
he walks the quiet shore
and counts each ripple
sent out from the war
that he has forsworn
to atone for misdeeds
and the guilt he has borne
for all of his deeds.
But there will come the day
when he must leave the isle
and enter again the fray
to fight for the Dawn while
facing down his own death;
when the Night descends
and he sighs his final breath
as the daylight ends.
Will he say a prayer?
Or utter just a word?
Maybe a gruff puff of air
or just “Little Bird”?

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