Rivers of Blood
Ser Curnden Rivers
Weary and wary. At 25 Curnden has had enough of war with its senseless violence.
To be completed.
Curnden sits with his back to the cold stone of Bloodwater Keep, looking out over the bleak landscape, an apple in his hand and a flagon of ale on the ground at his side. As the bitter taste of the beer washes around his mouth, his mind drifts back over the years. Slowly he starts to speak.
“Twenty five now, and almost half his life in service to Ser Torrhen. Twelve years since he’d laid in wait for the rich, posh fools. Twelve years since he and his gang had beaten them and stolen their silver. Twelve years since his mother had revealed the truth; that his father was Ser Torrhen himself; that Ser Torrhen made sure that they were provided for despite a numerous bastards he must have sired. Twelve years since he’d been too ashamed to hold his head and look her in the eye. Twelve long years since he pledged his loyalty to House Fisher.
There’s no denying that he was nervous on his approach to the lord. Thirteen years old with little to offer, but “those are the choices we make” his mother had said, and it was the only thing that really stuck with him. He pledged himself to Ser Torrhen’s army, and found that he had a knack for fighting. Back in those days he’d relished the idea of becoming a noble hero, a throwback to the Age of Heroes. He liked to think that he fought nobly, but there’s no such thing. A man can only fight violently and viciously. Anything else just gets you killed. Those are the choices we make.
In the beginning he’d ached for battle, for the chance to prove himself. His effectiveness got him promoted. As a young eighteen year old sergeant he had men under his command. Maybe that was when it started to change. Sometimes he’d imagined what it must be like to have men to order around, to do what you tell them to do. Like a king. It only lasted until his first battle in charge of his little group. Once people start dying because of the decisions you make, the glory of command quickly collapses around your ears and you can only feel the weight of guilt at lost comrades and friends. Those are the choices.
Trouble is… trouble is, serve long enough and you’ll soon find yourself fighting soldiers who were once friends, and fighting with soldiers who were once enemies. Suddenly the evil scum are your best buddies, and your former comrades in arms the evil scum, until the dawning realisation. We’re all best friends. We’re all evil scum. Those are the choices. You fight your friends at the whim of some lord, and the trouble is you can’t even bring yourself to hate him because god knows the weight he must bear if you feel it with the small number at your command.
He knew that the old king was bad news. It was obvious to all, but Ser Torrhen had made his choice and pledged his loyalty, and maybe that’s something to admire in a man. That’s all you can do. Make your choice and see it through.
Twenty five now. Maybe there’s a nice woman waiting round the corner. A small cottage somewhere. No trouble. Ah well, those are the choices. Maybe in the end they send a man mad. Maybe that’s why I’m sat here talking to myself about myself. What’s in this ale anyways?"