(Ser) Gerold Lynderly of Snakewood, son of Lord Justine Lynderly and Lady Keyya Locke (of Oldcastle).
Please also look at Gerold Lynderly Character Portrait And Song
Choice entries from the journal of Ser Gerold Lynderly: “Knight, Brother, Fornicator, Lover”
Well – Maester Alwin said I should start writing this. He said I should write down my thoughts, my feelings, and then I might not be so angry all the time.
Well, I'm angry. I've been angry for a long time. Ever since father sent Kara away two years ago, he hasn't been the same. He's been colder somehow. I mean, he's always been cold and stiff – I think I can count the times I've seen him laugh in the last few years on one hand. But I never thought I'd be able to say the same about the amount of times I've seen him smile in recent years.
I think something died in him when he sent her away. And he's taking that something out on me, which makes me angry.
It's gotten worse. Father caught me drinking with the guys, and beat me in front of them. I admit, I drank a little too much – but I'm fourteen years old! I'm allowed to do that every now and again. If I'm old enough to kill a man, I should be old enough to drink as much as I want!
He didn't even talk, he just grabbed my arm and beat me. I could take him, I bet I could take him in a fight… but not like that. Not in front of everyone else. I can't believe he did that, I can't believe he beat me in front of everyone!
If this goes on much longer, I'll have to do something about it. I don't know what, but I'll have to do something.
He wants me to replace him, to be like him… and this is what he shows me? Is that really what he wants me to become? A father that beats his son and humiliates him in front of half the court?
No one's saying anything about it. It's almost as if they have forgotten. I can see it in my father's eyes though. He knows. It's almost as if he's absent-minded – if father could ever be said to be absent minded.
This morning he was standing looking outside the window – he does that sometimes. I passed by him, not saying anything, and then he turned and looked at me. He never does that. He stared into my eyes for a long-long time, all the time looking as if he were going to say something. I didn't say anything, I must have been scared – Gods know why. It was just, so… unlike him. After what seemed like an eternity, but in actuality must have just been a few minutes, a servant called out to him, and he turned to him.
Before I stepped away, he gave me that look again – and this time actually opened his mouth. But then he just shook his head, as if giving it up – ruling whatever he wanted to say as a bad idea, and just going on with his conversation with the servant. I guess I'll never know what it was he wanted to say so badly. Wanted to, but couldn't.
I've been doing a lot of thinking today. No one's saying anything, but they know. I'm sure as hell Jon knows. But he's not the type to say anything. It's queer, because I am the type to say something – but for some reason I haven't. I've just been thinking. I don't even know what about.
Ten years ago today, our mother died. Me and Jon were just four years old. At the end of her pregnancy with Kara, times were growing dark. I always thought I just remembered it that way, because they were the last memories I had of my mother. But it would make sense of me to think of the last days I spent with my mother as joyful ones, wouldn't it? I shouldn't remember them as dark.
I think there was a bad wind on the castle then. Like a dark cloud come from her Old Gods. Me and Jon never talk about it, but I think he felt the same thing too. I think he still remembers it, but keeps quiet about it – like he always does.
A week before she died, she told me a story. I think she used to tell me lots of stories, but for the life of me I can only remember this one. It was about Bran the Builder. About his childhood. He ran away from his father when he was very young – ran away to pursue his dream. To join his mother in the forest – and eventually, that is the reason he became great. He… I don't remember. His father wanted him to stay, to take his place… but Bran was meant for something more. Something better.
I think she was trying to tell me something. Maybe she knew she was going to die and had to tell me something the only way you can tell it to a four year old.
I can't join my mother in the forest, but I can join her people. I'm sure they'll have use of someone of my skills on the Wall. And once I'm there, there's not much even father can do about it.
That didn't work out so well. Damn him, curse his skin. His men were waiting for me on the King's Road to escort me back. Well planned ambush. How could I be so stupid? I was too arrogant. The old man does have a few tricks up his sleeve. He's been to wars, after all. Next time, I won't underestimate him.
Jon's been bringing me food to the cell, bless him. Father would have me starve to death. Feeding me with nothing but beets and turnips. I even had a short visit from Thomas. He's been working on that thing that would replace the servants in watering the gardens. Clever lad. Imaginative, courageous – and utterly nuts. I like him. Lynderly blood, can't mistake it. I can't help but wonder how Kara's doing. Even though she escaped father's cage, she found another cage. Was tossed into a different cage of her own. Poor sweet girl.
Who does she play with, I wonder? Who has replaced her older brother in those games of “trick the servant” or “hide the horse-shoe”? I sometimes wonder if I'll ever see her again.
I need to put my thoughts in order. I know he ambushed me on the King's Road last time, right outside the Moon Gate. This means that he probably has eyes and ears starting from outside the Snakewood, on the road. If I go again that way, he'll probably ambush me again. I can wear plain clothes, disguising myself as a commoner – but I have a feeling it won't really work on father, for some reason.
I'll have to find another path outside. The Moon Brothers seem to be coming in and outside of the Vale all the time; meaning they probably know of a path through the mountains. It won't be easy, I'm going to have to stay away from them and outsmart them in their own territory. Territory I do not know myself almost at all. It will be challenge, for sure. And for sure it would be much more interesting than staying here, even now that I'm outside the cursed cells.
I found a path up the mountains, and left my horse behind after saying farewell in the usual way. Good horse, hardly complained about anything. It was a good horse, considering the fact he was father's favorite. I wonder if father also treated it the way I do. It didn't really seem to complain at all. Old fool, that dad of mine.
I'm now deep inside the Mountain Clans' territory. I'm not going to be able to light a fire or sleep more than a few hours each day. I'll have to travel by night and get rid of all armour but my hardened leather. Too much noise. Been a while since I've traveled without my chain outside the forest. Makes me feel almost naked.
It's not very chilly at night, so not having a fire is not too bad. My food is about to run out though, I'm afraid. And with the sheer abundance of wildlife up here, I'll be eating lizards soon. Raw lizards, at that.
Well, it took us two weeks – but those twice-cursed clansmen deposited me on the other side of those damned mountains. Those clansmen are a bunch of crazy fucks. I met a man who cut his own tongue off just to prove his manhood. Now the idiot's a mute. Great work - very manly! Idiot. And the things they do to the people they rob before they kill them, I don't even want to think about. Definitely an experience I'm not going to repeat. Bunch of crazy horse-ass wipers.
I've had nothing to eat but goat and water for the whole time. I've also been celibate ever since I set father's horse free. The sun will be down soon, and I'll be damned if I don't reach the King's Road by then and find me a good inn, with good food – and good women. After that, when I can smell the air of freedom, I'll have to consider my next actions. And actually, the ones after that. In short, a grand plan is in order. Because the Night's Watch, with its “no fucking” policy is, let's face it, not really for me.
Reading the previous page makes me think I was right in thinking I need to sit down and plan my future moves. It's been almost two months of drinking and whoring, let's face it. My coin will start to run out soon, so I'd better start having an actual plan. The previous plan worked best when I wrote it down here, so I think I'm going to do just that.
I need to find a way to earn money. But not just a way to earn money, but also a purpose. Something that I would find interesting. Something I would be able to do and keep at for a long time. My main skill is riding and handling my sword. Unfortunately, I'm not Jon. I can't just live off the forest all my life – or lead people through it for coin. I don't even have my horse anymore. Well – I've been staying in this tavern long enough though. I've blessed it with my presence enough not to feel bad about taking one of their horses. Hardly anyone's guarding them at night anyway. But after I take the horse and ride away, what then? The only thing this area is good for is breeding Freys. And I hate Freys. Ahh well, I'll start by ambushing just one. It should give me enough coin to be comfortable (if I choose my target right) and allow me to see if I like it enough.
Today was my sixteenth name day, so I decided to write here again. It's been over a year since I've written – according to the last page. Reading it over again reminds me why. It still gives me the shivers just thinking about what happened the day after. No one was supposed to be at the inn's stables at night no one!. They were never there, I've checked. Over and over again, they were never there.
So on the one night I decide to steal a horse, at the worst possible moment, the stable-boy decided to make a midnight visit to pet one of the horses. I didn't really have a choice. He saw me.
The boy had… I say boy, but he was probably just a year or two younger than the at the time. He had messy brown hair, a pale complexion and blue eyes. I never knew his name, but I'll never forget his face. I'll never forget his shocked eyes, looking right into me as they winked out. Remembering that face still chills me, but I can't put it out of my head. Even now, more than a year later – I still can't.
I've killed other men since. I promised myself I wouldn't. I even thought about giving up fighting for a while. But as my stomach began rumbling and my coin-purse was empty, I had no choice. At first I thought I could just rob them without killing them, knocking them unconscious and binding them… but I soon discovered that knocking a man unconscious isn't that easy. You really have to know what you're doing.
So I killed men, I've killed women, I've killed horses and I've killed little girls and boys. It never becomes easier, but their faces are all jumbled. I've even lost count by now. But I'll never forget the face of that first boy – the look in his eyes the moment he turned from a person to a piece of meat.
Well, apparently you can't go on robbing Frey nobles alone without getting noticed by brethren you never knew you had. I was cleaning my sword on the cloak of a dead guardsman after a my weekly ambush when I heard clapping coming from the thicket behind me. I hadn't even noticed those silent bastards. There were six of them, and they didn't give me much choice but to come with them. I stayed silent enough, nodded and complied. I was so scared I'd even forgotten to actually loot the bodies. Poor old bastards died for nothing.
They brought me to their leader, a hedge knight by the name of Ser Lyonel. When he asked me my name, I knew that presenting myself as Gerold Lynderly will probably not be a good idea. These guys seemed organized by the looks of their camp, and word would surely reach father rather quickly. I panicked and gave the first name that came to mind. “Tombstone,” I said. And at their puzzled looks, I added, “That's how people call me. My birth name is Thomas Stone.” I hope my little brother won't mind me besmirching his good name. As good a name as he can have as a bastard.
They were mostly in the same business I've been in the last year or so. Robbing Freys. There were quite a few Freys to rob, and this band – Lyonel's Brotherhood – were organized enough not to get caught by them. They really knew what they were doing, and seemed eager to have another able hand join them. What the hell? I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and have some company as well.
Lyonel assigned me to his tent. I think he suspects I'm not all that I say I am and wants to keep a close eye on me. I'll have to be extremely careful around this one. He's been a highwayman for twenty years, apparently. Ever since he had an unfortunate incident with a Septon at a tourney. He told me that not only will he not be allowed to ride in a tourney since that, but that if he'd be recognized in any of the Seven Kingdoms, he'd probably be imprisoned and hanged. Must have been quite an unfortunate incident.
I managed to hold out for three months, but last night I broke. It was past midnight in Lyonel's tent. We've both had our pleasure and were lying on the mattress. I told him my real name, and quickly enough – I was telling him the whole story. I don't know why. He didn't even ask. He never asked.
There's something about him. The traces of silver in his hair, the firmness in his eyes. His half smile which he seems to save only for me. If I didn't know better, I'd say I actually loved the man. I didn't even think myself capable of it. It never really happened before.
He didn't question it, didn't ask anything. He just listened, and nodded. The only thing he said afterwards was “Your secret's safe with me, lad.” and hasn't so much as mentioned it since. I don't think he ever will. He still calls me “Tombstone” around the men.
I can't really read that man. He cares about me, I'm sure about that – but there's something more. Not something he can gain from it – that's not it. There's something he's not telling me, something on which I can't quite put my finger.
We've been expanding in the past few months. We've grown from being a small (yet organized) company of bandits, to a force to be reckoned with. Our excavations have been growing bolder and fiercer, and I've recently been given the rank of “Captain”, giving me the honor to lead the men into battle on some of those bold excavations.
Last month, we've ambushed a company of twenty armored horse. Not even Freys, they were simply traveling north through the King's Road. Looking through the bodies, we've discovered them to be Karstarks, returning home from some sort of noble visit… Where to? Gods know. They weren't carrying lots of coin, but their armor, weapons and horses will help replenish our stock, with all these pennyless new recruits.
In between excavations, I've been charged with training the others with the sword. I've become a sort of master-at-arms around the camp. Which gives me honor. Lyonel doesn't say anything, but I know he's proud.
Our scouts have spotted a bunch of mercenaries combing our woods. They're clearly after us, and they clearly don't know these woods at all. We could probably just sit and hold out for a month or two, and they'd give up. But I don't think the men are disciplined enough to do it. In addition to the fact that those mercenaries are quite well equipped. I think we can definitely put that equipment into use, and Ser Lyonel seems to agree.
We planned an ambush. We're thinking they don't know quite how many people we have, so we're putting everyone in on this. It's not going to be easy – reports say they have almost two hundred men, and quite a few horse too. We're likely going to take heavy losses, but there's simply too much to gain.
We're dividing our host into two forces. Ser Lyonel's going to lead a small force of veterans, about fifty men, who're going to harass their forces and draw them into a forest clearing we know well. We call it “The Weeping Fields” because of the willow trees closing it off.
Once there, just as Lyonel's force rides out of the clearing – leaving their men exposed, my force (the rest of our host, about two hundred men) are going to flank them, box them in and cut them all down. We know that clearing well, and it's very easy to hide even a large force there without being noticed.
He wasn't supposed to engage them. He wasn't fucking supposed to engage them. That daft old fool. That pig-headed, annoying, close-minded, beautiful and wonderful old fool.
I only noticed his state when the battle was done. I ran and knelt by him as soon as my eyes caught him. I didn't notice he'd cut his hair and dyed it black. I hardly even noticed he as wearing my armor.
There was no pretense of bringing him to the Maester. Just by looking at him I knew he had just a few moments. So I did the only thing I could do, I held his hand. He found it hard to talk, but he asked for his sword. I gave it to him, and with great effort he lifted it up to my shoulder and knighted me. He didn't say why – he didn't even ask me. He just did it. “Rise, Ser Gerold Lynderly,” He told me.
Almost as an afterthought, he asked me if we won. I replied that we did, and he smiled. I don't know if he could see the puzzled expression on my face, the look I had of trying to form a question I couldn't even fathom. Couldn't begin to think about but knew this would be my last chance to ask. But his last words to me, were “Glory will come lad, don't look for it. Live a good life, Ser Tombstone.” I stayed with him the whole time, our whole company standing around – but it didn't take long. He died with his sword in his right hand, my hand in his left and a peaceful smile on his face.
Goodbye, Ser Lyonel.
It took us a long while to clear The Weeping Fields. Burn all the corpses, strip them of all their armor, weapons and valuables, gather the horses. Been a good month's work. And now, we find ourselves with the very real and unanswerable question of “Where do we go from here?”
The company's leadership is mostly divided between three people now: Ser Corbray, Sour-Faced Albett and Gyles Rivers. No one really wants to fill Ser Lyonel's shoes – I can't really blame them. For all intents and purposes, we're still named “Lyonel's Brotherhood”.
I've had a lot of time to think in this past month. People have offered me their condolences, but I think most of them have been uncomfortable talking to me about it. Fuck them, I don't care. I'm not going to be ashamed of anything, let alone my love to the greatest man I've ever met. Ser Lyonel's grave is not much. We buried him under an oak tree and carved his name on it. Beautiful and modest. I think that's what he would have wanted.
One day, as I was sitting by his grave – Erik came to me. He was one of the men who fought under Lyonel during the battle. We talked for a while, and he told me Lyonel refused to tell them why he cut his hair, dyed it black and wore my armor. That much I knew already.
Erik was a veteran of many battles though, and he told me something I did not know up until then. He said that for some reason, the mercenaries were very eager to specifically attack Lyonel. And that once he'd been hit, they tried to route – to leave the area – as if that were their only objective. We caught them just before they managed to escape though.
Could Lyonel have known something? Did he know the mercenaries were hunting for me specifically? He must have. And if that were their only objective, I know who's the person who hired them.
So, dear father, what do you hate more: your son being a sodomite, or him being an outlaw? Do you dislike those facts enough to try and kill him, your own blood? Well, whatever it is, you killed the man I loved father. And that blood debt is something you can be sure I'm going to repay some day.
Very, very pleasant surprise! Jon found us. My twin brother came looking for me, and he did it. It's been almost four years since I last saw him, and as opposed to me, I think he only changed for the better. I didn't think a man existed who could sneak past all our camp guards and scouts, and surprise me while I was watering the trees. Let alone in a forest he did not know. He scared me half to death.
We sat and talked about home for hours. It's so good to hear his voice again, to have him by me – to just talk, and forget the last six months ever happened. So much has happened in Sunkenwood ever since I left. Thomas was growing to be even crazier and brighter than I could have imagined. Kara came back, and father? Well, some things never change, apparently.
Jon wants me to come back, he seems rather unclear about why I'm here – why I'm doing this. But he doesn't understand. How can I blame him? Lyonel's Brotherhood is something you feel, not something you understand. I've convinced him to stay a few months, I hope that will do the trick. I hope he agrees to remain with us. Gods know we need a man like him. And besides, he's my twin brother – and he's a taste of the home I've missed for the last few years.
Jon's been proving even a greater asset than first thought. The man's skill with a bow, his stealth and tracking skills as well as his healing hands have saved more lives and won us more skirmishes than I can count. He's agreed to stay, grudgingly – but I think deep down he enjoys this freedom as much as I do.
Jon also told me that father declared me dead, declaring me “The Hero of the Weeping Fields” for my brave fight against the dreadful outlaws known as “Lyonel's Brotherhood”. Cynic idiot. He declared me the hero of the battle in which he killed Lyonel.
We've put aside thoughts of home for the time being. But I had to give him a promise I did not like giving. A day will come when the two of us will return home. It's important to Jon, in a way I can understand, even if not relate to. So I'm going to do just as Lyonel said until then. Enjoy the present, not fear the future and be content with what I have now.
The day has finally come. The day in which me and Jon start our long journey to Sunkenwood, back to the ever-so-loving arms of our dear father. Jon thinks of this as “coming back home”, but I can't bring myself to think of it in those terms. How can I be coming back home when I'm leaving all my friends here? Leaving the people who became almost brothers to me. This is my home. Lyonel's Brotherhood. This is where I grew up, and the only thing making me leave is loyalty to my twin brother, and the promise I'd given him.
I told them I'd be back. It would take time, but Lyonel's Brotherhood hasn't seen the last of Ser Tombstone, Ser Gerold Lynderly.
Well, it's been a very long day. But it feels somewhat nostalgic to be sitting in my childhood chambers, writing in this old book on the desk I'd left seven years ago. It's near Dawn, and we just returned from an audience with father. He debriefed us about what actually happened during the years I was away. I wanted to smack him the whole time, but I just smiled and nodded.
I'd apparently been a mercenary in the service of house Lynderly, and then been gravely wounded during the Battle of the Weeping Fields. I just had to guffaw. Had I lead those foolish mercenaries, we would have won.
Jon wasn't much help either. Just sat there quietly, not saying a word. Father was so smug, not even heeding the fact that his blatant lies had been exposed by me walking through his castle gates. I'll kill that man one day. It would take time, but I would kill him, and it would be painful. The bright side is that I had a chance to have a long talk with Kara and Thomas – the real Tombstone. Kara had grown up so much, and changed so much. There's very clearly more to her than meets the eye. I'll have to find out exactly what – but there's plenty of time for that.
Thomas actually built a fountain in my memory when he thought I was dead. Sweet boy… well, man now. He's also grown so very much. We talked for quite a while about all the things he's been building. I think the Seven Kingdoms haven't seen a man with such a mind ever since Bran the Builder, if the stories can be believed. I think the greatness of our house will owe much to his keen mind in the years to come. To be honest, I missed them all. All but father. And it's good to be in Sunkenwood again, even though I still can't make myself call it home.
Fuck, fuck fuck fuck!! Well, this is not something I'd care to have repeated. And I don't think any amount of care or weariness could have prevented this from happening. This is not of my doing in any way.
He was just a plain servant. Granted, I hadn't seen his face before, but who remembers the common servants' faces anyway? He looked good enough, I talked to him for hours, and he peaked my interest. So I took him up to my chambers, and just as I was about to undress him, he removed that silly hat of his, untied his hair and revealed himself to be my sister!
She didn't say anything, my dearest sweet and innocent Kara. She just smiled and left the room, leaving me gaping. Gods be good, she fooled me. Well, my varied tastes are no secret in the castle, but even so. I'm still shaking.
Well, at least now I know there's more to her than meets the eye. Curse my blindness, I didn't know such forms of disguise even existed. What have they been teaching her in that Silent Sister convent?