The ravens arrived, en masse and unexpected. Hundreds must have been dispatched from the Citadel to ensure the dark words were received across the realm, and dozens came just for Maester Dorcas. Their quorking was so loud, the inhabitants of the small village peered out of their windows to watch the black-winged messengers cluster around the Maester’s tower.
“On withchu! Out!” Maester Dorcas hastily wrapped his heavy woolen cloak around his soft, milky body. His heavy chains clanked as he swatted at the murder that had found their way through a partially-opened shutter. Birds were streaming in, cawing furiously and some even shitting over parchment on his desk.
“Feathered bastards,” the Maester muttered. He scowled, twisting his ugly, cratered face in such a way, one bird was alarmed and quorked at having to see such a sight. Before it could fly away in fear, Maester Dorcas snatched the scroll tied to the bird’s leg.
“Mylton! Get in here, you lazy ass!” Dorcas hated the Poyndexter family and was still bitter he received their unwanted youngest son as his assistant. Although, whilst Dorcas loathe to admit, he did at times appreciate the boy’s company, naïve as he was.
The youth stumbled in, half-struggling to pull his woolen pants up over his bare, freckled arse and half-fumbling with the wire spectacles on his face. The boy was near-blind when he was forced into Dorcas’s assistantship, but Dorcas was far smarter than was appreciated by the village. Crafting some ovals with a long bit of tin and securing them over some shaped discs of glass, Dorcas was able to spare the boy a completely miserable life. The boy’s eyes were so terrible, however, the thick spectacles often slid down his face. Dorcas offered to get the leathersmith to make a band so that the spectacles could be tied to Mylton’s face, but the boy stubbornly refused, saying he looked already the part of a fool enough.
“Stop buttering your corn and hurry it up!” Dorcas yelled. “I need a light to read.”
Mylton gawked stupidly at the sight of the birds but roused himself enough to grab a thick tallow candle and get it lit for the Maester. Dorcas unrolled one of the papers and held it close to the flame. Mylton watched his face, nervous.
After a few moments of reading, Dorcas crumpled the paper in his fist. “Gather them.”
“A-all of them?”
“Are you deaf as well as stupid? All of them! We must leave, immediately!”
It had taken Mylton some time to ride from house to house, ringing his bell to alert the men. But they came, all of them, most stumbling and yawning from their mothers’ root cellars. By civil sunrise, they were all there, gathered in the square.
They were many, but still a sad lot. Lonely men, unfit for marriage, served the majority of Dorcas’s army. Some were tall and lanky, their greasy hair falling in oily waves over their bony shoulders. Some were fat with doughy faces. Most had ill-fitting armor; undersized leather that strained to remain in one piece, nippled breastplates, and rusted, lobstered gauntlets. Though in the weak light, it was difficult to be sure the metal was rusted and not coated in a dusting of cheese meal. And all had two attributes in common: each had an old, unimpressive katana in place of a sword and each had scraggly growth sprouting from his chin (or chins).
The village womenfolk were doing their obligatory duty of assisting the army with preparing for their departure. It was an undesirable task, but one that must be done. After all, most of the desirable men were off conquering other important things and serving in the King’s army. Word was, though, that they were suffering terrible defeats up in the North and the remaining unmarried and virginal women were horrified at the thought that their remaining prospects for marriage and children were the ones gathered in the square.
“Check it out, Mylton,” Orvylle sneered. He adjusted his leather jerkin, which groaned as its seams and laces struggled to retain Orvylle’s massive gut. “Ya see Gerta over there?” He nodded a few meters away where Gerta, the loveliest girl in the village, was assisting the dwarfish Walter upon his horse.
“What about her?” Mylton mumbled, a heat rising in his cheeks. He oft thought of Gerta when he was, er, buttering his corn, but he always treated her proper in his fantasies. She was the baker’s daughter, his only girl out of a brood of sons. He already lost five boys to a variety of battles, and the others were far from marrying age, so he guarded his blue-eyed treasure protectively.
Orvylle didn’t notice Mylton’s blush and confidently spat a loogie to the ground. “Watch this.” He cupped a hand around his mouth and hollered, “Oy! Gerta!” He whistled as if he were beckoning his dog. Gerta’s eyes cast downward and she snatched her basket to hurry over to heed Orvylle’s call.
“Yes, my lord,” she mumbled, still looking downward.
“What have I told you about not looking at me?” Orvylle reached over in a manner that he thought was tender and loving, but appeared brutish to Mylton. Orvylle grabbed Gerta’s chin in his paw and jerked her face upward so that she was forced to stare into his piggish eyes.
“Mm soh-ree, m’lord,” she mumbled. His meaty fingers were squeezing her cheeks too closely.
“That’s better,” Orvylle said. “Now, what is a fine thing like you doing up at this hour?”
Gerta carefully calculated her words in a way that the dense idiot could understand. “I was summoned, like the others, to help see you all off to battle, my lord.” Mylton hated how she called him my lord. It’s not like Orvylle’s family was held in much higher regard than hers, but as was common for the males of Orvylle’s family, their loudness and largeness commanded and intimidated many.
“You’re too pretty to be milling around with these proles,” Orvylle decided. “Waking up early isn’t good for you. It gives you wrinkles.” Gerta reached up subconsciously to touch her face. Orvylle cackled. “Not yet, anyway. Give it a kiss and be on your way. I’ll see when you when return from a successful battle.” He cocked his head to the side and Gerta obediently planted a kiss on his fat cheek. She scurried away but not before he managed to land a slap on her backside.
“You really shouldn’t,” Mylton trailed off, watching Gerta dodge the fingers and leers of other men she scuttled by.
“Shouldn’t what?” Orvylle puffed his chest and glared at Mylton. “Girls like her just don’t know it when nice men come into their lives. She’ll wake up one day and realize how much better I am than that stupid Leif.”
“Leif is dead,” Mylton reminded him. “He died in the Blackwater.”
“I know, right?!” Orvylle exclaimed, exasperated. “Plenty of time for her to get over that stupid husband of hers. He’s dead. I’m not. She’s losing out every minute she isn’t with me.”
Mylton had enough. Besides, he needed to help gather the rest of his Maester’s things and he still hadn’t gotten the ravens all caged up. Orvylle was easily distracted by another townswoman walking by with a tray of fresh buttered dark bread and helped himself to two thick pieces.
On his way back from the rookery, Mylton looked out for Gerta. Finally, he spotted her milling around in a small circle of women. He tried to be nonchalant as he approached, but in his stupidity, tripped and fell flat on his face in front of her. The ravens in their cages quorked angrily and flapped against the bars, sending feathers clouding out. The group of women erupted into laughter and Gerta simply frowned down at him with her arms crossed.
“M-m’lady,” Mylton sputtered, getting back up on his feet. He wiped mud off the front of his spectacles and hoped he didn’t look more ridiculous than he knew.
“What is it, Mylton?” she said, flatly. The Poyndexters were an unappreciated family, cast away to the fringes of the village many years ago for some awful dead Mylton wasn’t still quite sure of; therefore, no courtesies needed to be extended to him as they were to Orvylle.
“I wanted to apologize on behalf of Orvylle,” Mylton said, squaring his shoulders. “It was unbecoming of a gentleman to speak to you like that.”
Mylton was sure he saw a glimmer of kindness and understanding flicker in her eyes, but as soon as the other women scoffed and teased him, it disappeared.
“All right,” was all she said. She hoisted her basket in her arms and walked away with the other women, but for a split second did she glance over her shoulder at Mylton once more.
Mylton smiled to himself as he picked up the ravens’ cages and hurried to meet his maester. The sweet, albeit brief, look of Gerta’s face would keep Mylton’s fantasies entertained for days.
The army had ridden for five days and nights with nary a rest. There was no time to pitch tents– they were on a mission and had to snag an hour or two here and there for rest. They passed bread and jerky between them, snagging winter berries off bushes as they rode by. Dorcas, in spite of his age and frailty, lead the army with a tenacious vigor. The snows grew angrier and fiercer, but still, they pressed on.
On the sixth day, they reached the camp. Overcome with exhaustion, Mylton hardly had energy to raise the Maester’s tent and draw him a bath, but he managed it. After the Maester was dried and dressed, Mylton crawled onto his straw mat and was about to lull into a sweet, blissful sleep when the tent flapped open.
A striking woman entered, her hair long and as red as the glinting ruby around her neck. She only wore a simple red dress with billowing sleeves, and though it was below freezing out, her skin held a healthy glow. Mylton recognized her from the naughty drawings that the Maester often doodled, except her breasts were not nearly pneumatic in person. She didn’t seem to see Mylton lying there and instead called out, “Dorcas.”
“M’lisandre,” the Maestar said reverently, bowing unnecessarily.
The priestess looked annoyed and cleared her throat. She opened her mouth to correct him, then reconsidered. Instead, she nodded. “Yes, thank you, Maester, for making it here so quickly and on such short notice.”
“Who else heeded your call?”
Melisandre sighed and sat down, wounded. “Not many,” she confessed. “It.. it has been chaos. The Realm is in danger. So many men have already been lost, that the few remaining were afraid to come. Only your brave men and the men of Wyaboo and Oatakoo have responded.”
“Well, we will just have to make do with what we’ve got,” Dorcas said, pleasantly.
“I am ever grateful for your service,” Melisandre said, rising. Her dress clung to her body so spectacularly, Dorcas had to pry his gaze away. He bowed again at her departure.
Mylton tugged the blanket over his head. Just for tonight, the lovely red woman would replace Gerta in his head story.
Refreshed, refueled, and rehorsed, Dorcas’s army as well as the combined armies of Wyaboo and Oatakoo took off for the North. The red witch led the motley crue of wannabe knights and soldiers through the dangerous and wretched path toward the Wall.
As the days past and grew colder, men began to drop like flies. The Shannon boy from Mylton’s village succumbed first. He fell from his horse, mumbling something about his sugars, then never awoke from his wheezing sleep. They propped him against a tree, in hopes that perhaps he would eventually wake or serve as a fine meal for the hungry wolves. But they could not take him, large as he was, so they ransacked his bag and shared his hidden stash of sweet buns and candied fruits.
A handful of Wyaboo were lost the following day. It was a surprise they lasted as long as they did, given the choice of clothing of navy skirts, white buttoned shirts, and sailor scarves that were hardly conducive to thriving in a wintery climate.
Mylton was certain his time would be coming soon. No matter the number of layers he had on, the cold bit through him relentlessly. He lost most feeling in his hands and toes and his teeth chattered so much, he feared he would crack all of his teeth. Only the thought of Gerta pushed him through. If he could make through this ordeal, certainly she would welcome him as a hero.
Finally, the armies reached close to the Wall. The scent of death was heavy in the air. The horses were nervous and whinnied unhappily, their eyes darting to and fro on alert for predators.
“Now, this is what we have been waiting for, my boys,” Dorcas said. “This is our chance to proof our worth to the Realm. They will finally see us and Take your katana and fight like the men you wish you were!”
Awkwardly and not at all in sync, the army clumsily withdrew their old katanas and wielded them mightily above their heads. Immediately, three or four lost their heads to wild swinging by their neighbors but there was little time to mourn their deaths as a tremendous flood of wights came rushing over the precipices of the enormous Wall.
Mylton gaped in horror. Full skeletons, partially decomposed corpses, freshly-made wights, all of them spilled over the Wall with naught a care for the hundreds of feet they had to fall. Their bodies piled upon each other, mounding like an ant hill at the base of the Wall. Surely the impact would have shattered their unearthly bodies into pieces, but the moment each wight hit the ground, they took off running toward the neckbearded armies.
Mylton grasped his katana in one hand and the reins of his horse in the other. This was it. If he could not prove himself victorious and help save the Realm, at least he know he’d die with honor. “For Waifu!” he screamed. The roar of his village men rose around him and they valiantly rode to meet the wight army.
The air filled with the sound of metal crashing against metal, the agonized screams of the wounded and dying, the shrieking and rattling of the undead. Horses were split open, their riders crushed under their broken bodies. Men’s heads were lopped away, their bodies skewered upon icy lances. All around him was death, but still, Mylton persisted.
His trusty katana parried blades and his reliable horse managed to leap and race away from scourges. He hurried through the masses, following Orvylle and Dorcas who were both surprisingly still alive and astride their horses along with the red priestess. Baffled, Mylton spurred his heels into his horse’s side, urging her to catch up. He then noticed what the trio was seeking: four ghastly beings on their own undead horses, observing the battle unfolding before them with such a piqued, human interest. One figure was larger than the rest and commanded a frighteningly regal presence.
“The Night’s King,” Mylton gasped. “Hyah! Hyah!” His magnificent steed found new strength and sped up with Mylton swinging his katana at wights that lunged at them. Within moments, he caught up with Dorcas, Orvylle, and Melisandre. Together, they cut their way through the wights and bravely challenged the Night’s King and his white walkers.
Mylton could sense the surprise on the ungodly creatures’ faces, but it was masked by bemusement and annoyance. Orvylle cared naught and brandished his katana threateningly. Before he could finish swinging his katana, the King swatted him effortlessly with his icy sword and sawed the poor fat boy in two.
Dorcas and Melisandre gasped, rearing their horses back. Mylton screamed girlishly and was bucked from his horse. He fell unceremoniously near the feet of the King.
Mylton whimpered and pissed his breeches, crawling backwards on his hands as the King alighted from his horse. The cold ground chilled Mylton’s hands. Is this where they’ll make my grave? he wondered. Or will I rise up like one of the cursed undead? His heart wept at the thought of never returning to the village, of never seeing Gerta again, and never partaking in the joys of earthly pleasures. He looked up toward the sky, where the clouds were breaking and a bright sun peeked through. To feel its warmth one last time…
“Mylton!” Melisandre screamed. “Your spectacles!”
“Huh, what?” He looked back at the group and saw that the King hissed and cowered away from Mylton.
“Your spectacles, you idiot!” Dorcas yelled. “It’s scaring them!”
The sun shined brightly as the clouds swept away. Delighted, Mylton realized what they were fearing. He triumphantly raised his spectacles and focused the sun’s light on the white walkers. They hissed and shrieked as the glass magnified the sun’s rays and began to smolder little bits of their bodies.
“It’s not enough!” Mylton cried. Then, a wave of brilliance washed over him. “The katanas! Use them!”
Dorcas knew what needed to be done. He grabbed Orvylle’s katana, handed it to Melisandre, and the two of them angled the gleaming edges of the katanas under the spectacles. In an instant, the light amplified and flashed with a gleaming golden greatness at the white walkers. The thick glass lenses funneled the sun’s power into intense beams with such a fury, the white walkers immediately burst into flames. Their horrid howling and screeching were all that could be heard as they were engulfed in the unyielding fire. It took only moments and they were gone.
All around them, the wights fell, truly dead and unmoving as they now had no masters to control them. The remaining armies, wielding their stained katanas, erupted into cheers that surely were heard all around the Realm.
“You did it, my boy!” Dorcas cried, slapping Mylton on the back. “You saved the Realm!”
Mylton blushed. “It was nothing,” he said, sheepishly.
“My lord,” Melisandre wept, falling to her knees in prostration. “It was you. You were the Neckbeard that was Promised.” She pulled open her dress to reveal her massive, warm breasts. “I am yours to serve.”
Mylton tipped his helmet. “Thank you, m’lady, but there is a certain someone back at home for whom I’ve been saving my virginity.”
News of Mylton’s greatness spread quickly through the Realm. By the time he returned weeks later, the entire village was out in the streets, screaming and crying out for him. Lords from all over came with gifts of thanks and servitude. He was knighted, granted many plots in many lands, and offered the hands of beautiful daughters. But he dismissed those gifts; he wanted only one prize of all.
During one nightly celebration, Mylton wandered through the drunken, happy crowd to find Gerta, in all of her buxom glory, sitting at a table surrounded by a gaggle of adoring males.
As soon as Mylton was noticed, the men murmured excitedly and jumped up, bowing subserviently and giving great thanks to their hero. Mylton smiled smugly, accepting their lauds and praises. “Now on with you,” he said, shooing them away like one would an annoying child. “Except you, m’lady.”
Gerta could hardly keep her eyes from rolling out of her head. “Yes, hello, Mylton, thank you for saving the world.” She said it with such muted and forced enthusiasm, it caused Mylton to pause.
“But, m’lady,” he implored. “I saved the Realm! For you! It was you that kept me going, just the thought of your sweet face and nice ass motivated me to destroy the white walkers and come home to you in my bed.” He was getting annoyed and quickly.
Gerta sighed. “Look, Mylton, that was great and all. I mean it, I really do. But you can’t just expect me to just fall head over heels for you and spread my legs just ‘cause you killed the Midnight King or whatever his name was. I hardly know you! Most of our interaction has been you staring creepily at me from across the road or hitting on me in really inappropriate ways. It really makes me uncomfortable that you’re forcing yourself on me like this!”
Mylton couldn’t understand. He wasn’t like the other guys. Sure, they were soldiers-in-training or men with great, marketable skills to provide for a family. But he had sweet katana skills that helped saved the Realm! He was better than those guys!
“Sorry, Mylton,” Gerta said with a genuine sadness. She patted his arm. “Maybe in another life. At least we can be friends, right?” Without waiting for an answer, she sashayed away and linked the arm of the handsome kennelmaster’s son. Giggling together and glancing over their shoulders at Mylton.
Mylton curled his hands into balled fists. He stood there, fuming silently, for a few moments until Melisandre suddenly appeared.
“M’lord,” she gasped. “I’ve been searching all over for you.” Desperate, the skank grabbed his hands and beamed at him. “I shaved my nethers, as it pleases you. Shall we celebrate your victory?”
Mylton glared toward the direction of Gerta, who had now disappeared in the crowd. “I need you to do something for me.”
“Anything, anything,” Melisandre said. “What does m’lord ask of me?”
“I need you to make one of those shadow babies,” Mylton said. “I have someone I need to take care of.” Smirking, Mylton adjusted his belt from which his trusty katana hung. “And make sure that baby can use a katana.”