July 15, 2011

The Windblown

Quentyn Martell (Copyright by FFG)
Quentyn Martell, posing as the sellsword “Frog”, sits in the camp of the mercenary company “The Windblown”. The talk is that the unit will marsh to Yunkai before the day is out to re-supply from the campaign against Astapor and then marsh on Meereen. He recalls that the Windblown are a young mercenary company by the standards of the Stormcrows or the Golden Company, but they have a fearsome reputation, being led all the thirty years of their existence by a colorful individual styling himself the “Tattered Prince”, the only of the six original founders still living.

Quentyn does not like the ruse he’s part of. He poses as the squire to Ser Gerris Drinkwater, since he is more safe in battle squiring than actually knighting, but he feels it’s below his station and he would prefer to do something real. In his head he ponders thoughts about his bride-to-be, Daenerys Targaryen, of whom wild rumors are abound. She is said to be mad, killing and lying as a habit, being cruel and bloodthirsty. He asks himself if she truly is the child of Aerys II, and if so, what he is to do then. His father gave him no advice for that. His thoughts then wander to the conquered Astapor, which is like a city from hell, corpses and half-starved people everywhere, most buildings burning. The defeat was devastating for the Astapori. He also remembers getting his crude equipment from the “company steel”, obviously used armor whose former bearer had died. 

The next thing he knows, the company assembles, and the Tattered Prince commands that they march to Yunkai and then continue to Meereen. Quentyn lets his eyes wander through the different units, whose leader’s names he cannot pronounce and therefore gave new ones. They are very colorful. He sees the unit of the Yellow Whale, a Yunkish trader who is real fat and can’t hold his water, stinking of piss and perfume and holding a grotesquery of slaves. The is the Girl General with a unit of beautiful men, and the Little Pigeon, a very small man commanding the tallest soldiers in the vicinity. Many other Yunkish nobles command units of fighting slaves, chained together and therefore being not very efficient and slow. 

As they march, Quentyn’s uneasiness heightens as he recalls the fighting at the siege of Astapor. The Butcher King, Cleon the Great, rode out with his “Unsullied”, fully armored, and charged the slave warriors with big success until the mercenaries descended on him, deforming the battle into butchery. When the king was slain it appeared that he was already dead, a corpse put in his armor to lift the spirits of the warriors now breaking badly. Quentyn is still sick by the bloodbath. He also has second thoughts about their whole scheme of desertion, finding it unhonorable and dangerous besides. 

Together with his two comrades they plan their desertion in the evening. Drinkwater is not very keen to do it since he accustomed himself to his new comrades already, and the Yunkish lands are not able to allow them the flight, so they have to wait until past Yunkai, and even then the Tattered Prince would try to get them back, since deserters are always punished harshly. The discussion is put to a close when they are called to the commander’s tent, where about a hundred Westerosi have assembled. The Tattered Prince addresses them, telling that they should ride out in the hills and hunt down the fugitives from Astapor, preventing them from reaching Yunkai since they are stricken with plague, and to push them in direction of Meereen if possible. When some mercenaries complain that they don’t want to be separated just because they are Westerosi, the Tattered Prince tells them that they should feign desertion into Daenerys’ ranks, where the ugly and brutal sellsword Pretty Meris will them what to do further. Quentyn has difficulties not to laugh out loud. 

In this chapter, we get another insight in the mercenary companies of the east. Clearly, they are the professionals, as evidenced by the poor performance of Yunkai’s official forces in form of the slave banners. Their efficiency cannot be doubted. It is interesting to see how they differentiate each other, having seen the roman style of the Golden Company and its discipline and order, while the Windblown obviously like to see themselves as a very colorful group, giving space to all kinds of perversions and strange customs. 

We also get some additional information about Quentyn, who has some strange reservations about his task, still being under the illusion of being in need to maintain a chivalric code of honor in a situation where the time for that has clearly passed. He does not really have any plan in mind other than telling Dany that she should marry him. He doesn’t know how to do that, he doesn’t know what to do to get there, and he has no clue what to do if difficulties arise on the way. After all, Quentyn is presented as a rather simple lord here, in no ways a match for his father Doran. He does notseem a good enough man, but he’s not an inspiration to anyone nor does he have good ideas.

It’s almost ridiculously easy for them to stage their feigned desertion, being delivered to Daenerys’ doorstep quite literally. There is no effort at all involved for Quentyn, who just harbors useless second thoughts about almost everything except the pressing matters at hand, which he leaves for his more practical yet similarly unsuited companions.  The lost of his maester clearly shows, since they are really windblown in this chapter, fluttering around like leaves in the winds of winter, going nowhere and everywhere without any drive by themselves. This can’t end good, and won’t end good, since the first real resistance, the first clash with reality outside the idealized code of chivalry Quentyn clings to will bring his downfall.

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