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A song of ice and fire--chapter one

(2008-07-12 14:04:35)


The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king’s justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran’s life.
   The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran’s skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.
   But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king’s justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb. He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night’s Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.
   The breath of man and horse mingled, steaming, in the cold morning air as his lord father had the man cut down from the wall and dragged before them. Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he’d seen all this before. A faint wind blew through the holdfast gate. Over their heads flapped the banner of the Starks of Winterfell: a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field.
   Bran’s father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father’s face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.
   There were questions asked and answers given there in the chill of morning, but afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said. Finally his lord father gave a command, and two of his guardsmen dragged the ragged man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square. They forced his head down onto the hard black wood. Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. “Ice,” that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man’s hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.
   His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, “In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die.” He lifted the greatsword high above his head.
   Bran’s bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. “Keep the pony well in hand,” he whispered. “And don’t look away. Father will know if you do.”
   Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.
   His father took off the man’s head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.
   The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy’s feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away.
   “Ass,” Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran’s shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother. “You did well,” Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.
   It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. Bran rode with his brothers, well ahead of the main party, his pony struggling hard to keep up with their horses.
   “The deserter died bravely,” Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother’s coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. “He had courage, at the least.”
   “No,” Jon Snow said quietly. “It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark.” Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.
   Robb was not impressed. “The Others take his eyes,” he swore. “He died well. Race you to the bridge?”
   “Done,” Jon said, kicking his horse forward. Robb cursed and followed, and they galloped off down the trail, Robb laughing and hooting, Jon silent and intent. The hooves of their horses kicked up showers of snow as they went.
   Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up. He had seen the ragged man’s eyes, and he was thinking of them now. After a while, the sound of Robb’s laughter receded, and the woods grew silent again.
   So deep in thought was he that he never heard the rest of the party until his father moved up to ride beside him. “Are you well, Bran?” he asked, not unkindly.
   “Yes, Father,” Bran told him. He looked up. Wrapped in his furs and leathers, mounted on his great warhorse, his lord father loomed over him like a giant. “Robb says the man died bravely, but Jon says he was afraid.”
   “What do you think?” his father asked.
   Bran thought about it. “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?”





   人马的气息在清晨的冷空气里交织成蒸腾的雪白雾网,父亲下令将墙边的人犯松绑,拖到队伍前面。罗柏和琼恩直挺背脊,昂然跨坐鞍背;布兰则骑着小马停在两 人中间,努力想表现出七岁孩童所没有的成熟气度,仿佛眼前一切早已司空见惯。微风吹过栅门,众人头顶飘扬着临冬城史塔克家族的旗帜,上面画着白底灰色的冰 原奔狼。

  父亲神情肃穆地骑在马上,满头棕色长发在风中飞扬。他修剪整齐的胡子里冒出几缕 白丝,看起来比三十五岁的实际年龄要老些。这天他的灰色眼瞳严厉无情,怎么看也不像是那个会在风雪夜里端坐炉前,娓娓细述远古英雄纪元和森林之子故事的 人。他已经摘下慈父的容颜,戴上临冬城主史塔克公爵的面具,布兰心想。

  清晨的寒意里,布 兰听到有人问了些问题,以及问题的答案,然而事后他却想不起来究竟说过了哪些话。总之最后父亲下了命令,两名卫士便把那衣衫褴褛的人拖到空地中央的铁树木 桩前,将头硬是按在漆黑的硬木上。艾德·史塔克解鞍下马,他的养子席恩·葛雷乔伊立刻递上宝剑。剑名"寒冰",身宽过掌,立起来比罗柏还高。剑刃乃是用瓦 雷利亚钢锻造而成,受过法术加持,颜色暗如黑烟。世上没有别的东西比瓦雷利亚钢更锐利。









   "不对,"琼恩静静地说,"那不算勇气。史塔克,这家伙正是因为恐惧而死的,你可以从他的眼神里看出来。"琼恩的灰色眼瞳深得近乎墨黑,但世间少有事物 能逃过他的观察。他与罗柏同年,两人容貌却大相径庭:罗柏肌肉发达,皮肤白皙,强壮而动作迅速;琼恩则是体格精瘦,肤色沉黑,举止优雅而敏捷。









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