Barristan II (The Winds of Winter)
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|The Winds of Winter chapter
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Barristan's gut feels twisted from nervousness as he rides through the gates. He knows that the feeling will go away when time slows down in the chaos of battle. The silver mare is easily outpacing the rest of the cavalry; Barristan is pleased because he intends to outrun the Widower and strike the first blow. The Yunkai’i are totally unprepared, and Barristan closes in on the Harridan, the largest of the trebuchets. The Stormcrows take up the cry, “Daario!” and “Stormcrows, fly!” Barristan thinks that he will never again doubt the valor of sellswords.
There are only thirty yards between the horse and the Yunkai’i legions by the time any defense is mounted. The air fills with arrows. A squire for the Stormcrows is killed, and a bolt pierces Barristan’s shield. There are three horn blasts, and the pit fighters emerge from the gate behind them.
Barristan glances back to see the pit fighters. There are about two hundred of them, but they make enough noise for two thousand. One woman stands out, wearing nothing but greaves, sandals, a chainmail skirt, and a python. Barristan is a bit shocked at seeing her bare breasts, and thinks that this day is sure to be her last. The pit fighters are mostly shouting “Loraq!” and “Hizdahr!”, but some do call out “Daenerys!” Larraq is hit in the chest with an arrow, bringing Barristan’s attention forward, but the squire keeps the banners held high, and shakes it off.
Barristan has reached the Harridan, but a Ghiscari legion six thousand strong has lined up to protect the huge trebuchet. They are six ranks deep -- the first rank kneels and holds their spears pointing out and up, the second rank stands and holds their spears out at waist height, and and the third rank holds the spears out on their shoulders. The rest have small throwing spears, and are ready to step forward when their comrades fall.
Barristan knows that a maester’s chain is only as strong as his weakest link, and identifies the companies of the Yunkish lords as the weakest of his immediate foes, certainly weaker than the slave legions. In particular, Barristan targets Paezhar zo Myraq, the Little Pigeon, and his Herons. The slaves chosen to be Herons were freakishly tall before they were put on stilts, and wear pink scales and feathers and steel beaks. Barristan sees that they will be blind because of the dawn rising over the city, and likely to break ranks easily, so Barristan turns away from the legion guarding the trebuchet at the last minute, and heads for the Herons.
He cuts the head off of one of the Herons and his lads join the fray. The silver knocks one Heron into three others, and they all fall over. In a moment, the Herons are scattering and running away, led by the Little Pigeon himself. Unfortunately for the Little Pigeon, he trips over the fringes of his bird armor, and gets caught by the Red Lamb. Paezhar begs for mercy, saying that he will fetch a large ransom. The Red Lamb only says “I came for blood, not gold” and knocks in the Little Pigeon’s head with his mace, splattering blood all over Barristan and the silver.
The Unsullied begin marching through the gates, and Barristan sees that the Yunkai’i have missed their chance to effectively launch a counterattack. As he watches more of the slave legions get slaughtered, mostly those who were chained together and could not retreat, he wonders where the Yunkish sellsword companies like the treacherous Second Sons have gone. The Unsullied finish lining up outside the gates, implacable even when one of their own number falls with a crossbow bolt to the neck.
Tumco Lho draws Barristan’s attention to the bay, asking “Why are there so many ships?” Barristan remembers that yesterday there were twenty, but now there are thrice that many. His heart sinks, as he reasons that the ships from Volantis must have arrived. Then he sees that some of the ships are crashing together.
He asks Tumco, whose young eyes can see more clearly, to identify the banners. Tumco says “Squids, big squids. Like in the Basilisk Isles, where sometimes they drag whole ships down.” Barristan replies, “Where I’m from, we call them krakens.”
Realizing that the Greyjoys have arrived, Barristan's first thought is “Has Balon joined with Joffrey, or the Starks?” But he remembers that he’s heard that Balon is dead, and wonders if this has something to do with Balon’s son, the boy who was a ward of the Starks. He sees that ironmen are coming ashore, fighting the Yunkish, and says, surprised, “They are on our side!” The Yunkish sellswords did not come to meet his charge because they were already preoccupied with the ironborn.
Places and Terms Mentioned