Cold rain mercilessly assaulted his form, and although his heavy coat and leather armor shielded him from the sky’s fury, Grayne was soaked to his bones. He wondered if it was possible for one’s soul to be drenched as he rushed through the streets of Lannisport, looking at houses and businesses with a single careful eye. On an ordinary night, the tall, well-armed Northerner would have looked out of place and raised the suspicions of the elite City Watch. However, he was all but invisible as guardians and criminals alike huddled in doorways and under overhangs to avoid the rain, even though at times the rain seemed to fall sideways. Even ‘ladies of ill repute’ were wisely inside warmer locales. Eventually, he found the building for which he frantically searched. The only thing of note that belonged to the humble door was a small golden seven-pointed star, a symbol that indicated a faithful of the Seven, the seven gods worshipped across Westeros, lived within the structure. He pounded on the otherwise nondescript door with his damp fists. The dark streets seemed to absorb and dull the sound from the rapid impact of his furious knocking.
Suddenly, the door swung wide, and light rushed into the street illuminating Grayne’s bedraggled and soaked shape. The tall, proud northerner looked not unlike a sad, wet dog under the deluge of water that sprayed from the sky. A tiny grey-haired man stood in the doorway, bathed in warm light emanating from the open doorway. “Come in! Quickly! It is wretched out,” the old man grabbed Grayne and pulled him inside without asking who he was or what he was doing at his home in the middle of the gods-forsaken night. The soaked warrior did as he was bade.
Grayne stood silently as the man closed the door behind them. He looked the frail man up and down, noticing his neatly trimmed head of grey hair, his gaunt form wrapped in a weathered housecoat and his piercing blue eyes that seemed brighter in the light of a single candle. “Forgive me, father,” Grayne said as a puddle of rainwater coalesced beneath him.
“My son, why are you here? How man I help you?” asked the tiny, frail man as he pulled a heavy chair along the wooden floor with a scraping sound.
Grayne sat down on a hard wooden chair and shifted back and forth trying to get comfortable. After failing to find comfort in the seat, he said, “I have heard you are a respected holy man of the Seven. I wish to confess my transgressions. I have done wrong and I seek the forgiveness of the Seven. I have committed a failure of spirit. Will you hear my evil deed?”
The bedraggled holy man sat in a soft chair across from Grayne. The chair looked black in the limited light of the single candle. He leaned in to say to the soaked traveller, “I do not pretend to communicate to the gods, my friend. I cannot speak for, or with them, but I know that if you speak the truth from your heart, they will hear you.” The man scanned Grayne’s weathered and war-torn visage with his brilliant blue eyes for some insight into the man’s past. Looking into his one good eye, he saw only pain. “Go ahead; tell me. What have you done?”
“i betrayed a woman, a woman who had treated me wrong, but more than repented for her own failure of spirit. I left her to die, and I know I am a moral coward.”
“Tell me,” said the holy man.
Grayne quickly explained the years of torture and his love for Summer. The elderly man listened with quiet respect as Grayne described in a few sentences the pain and horror of years in a desolate holding cell and his strange relationship with Raven.
“I find commendable and no sign of weakness your ability to forgive this woman for her role in your abuse,” said the man after struggling for long moments to absorb the tale.
“I always felt as if I was using her. Does that make sense? She was able to repair my teeth for me, and she had been a good travelling companion.”
“Yet, you bore her no love?”
“My love is for one woman.”
“Continue,” said the holy man, seeking a conclusion to the story.
“We knew the Ironborn liked to raid the villages up and down the coast, but we didn’t anticipate an attack while we were in town,” Grayne said looking down at the puddle below his chair.
“It was a raid?”
“A hundred of so Ironborn attacked from the south by land, and a few ships blocked escape by sea.They moved quickly, killing any men who stood against them and carrying off any women they could grab. I sent Raven running, but they had the village surrounded. I could do nothing as the Ironborn took her; they snatched her up as she ran. I dispatched the ones I faced easily enough, but there were two dozen between me and those who took her screaming through the streets. She called out to me, begging me to save her, but I did nothing. I ran like a coward.”
The grey-haired man’s previously welcoming demeanor faded as he squinted his eyes in judgement and asked, “Why? Why did you not help her? Were you afraid?”
Grayne closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. After a few moments, he replied. “Yes, but not for my own life. I knew I could never wade into such a throng of armed men and hope to live. I couldn’t help but think of the woman I loved, the woman for whom I had suffered so much. I knew I couldn’t save Raven without risking my future with Summer.”
The elder priest looked horrified and sad at the same time as his face drained of color and his eyes opened wide. “You left your companion to the mercy of the raper ironborn?” he asked, knowing full-well the answer.
Grayne’s silence mirrored his inability to save Raven .
The old man’s words shot from him like an accusatory ballista,.“Why do you tell me this story? Why do you come to me in the middle of the night…awaken me…for what? Do you seek the forgiveness of the Gods? I do not know what to say.” The holy man stood up from his soft chair and stormed about the room. “Your actions…your inaction…is without forgiveness!”
Grayne closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He filled his lungs with warm air and said, “I had hoped someone would tell me I am not a monster.” With that, he stood and said,” I am sorry to have wasted your time.” He slowly, but determinedly, strode to the door, but before he could pull the door open and flee back into the cold wet night, the holy man asked him to stop. The elder priest stared at him and stood motionless contemplating Grayne and his story. Without expression, he slowly shook his head and said, “May the old Gods and new have mercy on your soul.”
Grayne slunk back into the cold wet night alone, and without the mercy he sought.