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Ulfric felt the air rushing past his faces as a fist attempted to collide with his temple. The breeze mingled well with the scent of fresh grass and soft mud around him. The sounds of shouts for help and of those in pain was an odd juxtaposition for the knight. The world around him might seem at peace if one did not pay close enough attention. He marveled at how a day that had started so quietly could erupt into the chaos of noise and action around him.


It began when Pymon awoke him from a slumber. Since Ulfric and Artemis’s less than spectacular fighting at the Tourney, Pymon had seemed to wait, impatiently, for them to be ready to train again. Their foul showing had left the recluse repulsed and irate at their lacking prowess. Ulfric knew that his training master would be up to something when he briskly through his door open that morning. The clattering of heavy iron on stone had been a better wake up call than the trumpets of battle, if only because Pymon had issued the sound.


A considerable, and uncharacteristic, smile upon the hermit’s face would have been misleading to anyone else on any other day. Ulfric knew better. He had only seen such a face when training with the solitaire under particularly taxing conditions. Pymon spoke, “You have made me look a fool.” Ulfric felt a familiar queasy sensation entangling itself in his gut. Pymon continued, “Your armor and your sword have made you weak and lazy, today we will award you for your crutches. You and your friend will go out and teach others of their arrogant use of crutches. Today you will fight.” And with an ominous gaze, Pymon left the room in a gust as the door followed his exit. Loose papers fluttered. A dusty tome of Aegon's story seemed to glow, and Ulfric remembered the power that he had wielded. Ulfric realized the only way for him to gather such strength.


He would fight.


Pymon gathered his pupils and proceeded to bring Ulfric and Artemis to a tourney ground just outside the large walls of King's Landing. Jaxson had initially joined them, but after a speedy bit of good news from Croll Norrey, they had abandoned the group of fighters. Upon reaching the fighting grounds, Pymon instructed Ulfric and Artemis to find opponents and fight.


Ulfric had chosen from a group of knights with bright banners. While Ulfric could identify none of them, he knew enough of their armor and squires to expect a ready fight. A fire burned in his belly as he approached the largest knight of the group. Ulfric began, “Ser I challenge you to a fight, on even terms, in hand to hand combat.” The knight did not take kindly to the offer, and suddenly hollered a series of profanities at Ulfric. Words of racial disgust for Dornish swine fumed from the irate knight. Every word filled Ulfric with the racial discourse of knowing more of sands and deserts than of woods and fields of grass. Each sentence forced him to decide. Should he back down and disobey his teacher? Would Pymon treat him any better? The words became indistinct to Ulfric as the fire in his belly grew into an furor of heat at the insults to Dorne rang through his ears. It was as if the very flames of the Dornish sun gave him strength, and without allowing the fellow knight to finish, he had raised his ungloved hand in a fist, and threw a heavy punch.


The feeling of sweated brow and flesh on his knuckles was oddly satisfying to the son of House Uller. His strikes were wild and ferocious, like the strikes of a Dornish mountain lion. He felt alive again. Ulfric could sense the blood rushing through him and he could smell the confusion in the air as he continued to pummel the unkindly knight.


A moment that had been so full of stillness had erupted into chaos and Ulfric felt as though he could read his foe’s moves like a maester to a book. Blow after blow were traded as the knight regained his senses and counter-struck. Despite having the opening advantage, Ulfric discovered a thrillingly equal match to his strength in this knight. The pain in his face and torso built up and he feared that his equal may outlast him. As a sinking sensation filled him, Ulfric was awash with his ghosts and demons. As if the breeze about him were made of those he had failed in his quest for glory.


For a moment the anxiety of his past left Ulfric wavering, but the fire in his soul coursed through him. The pain in his limbs ebbed. His ghosts became allies and traveled along his fist and into the opponent. His fury was soon made real in the form of pain inflicted upon his adversary.



The time he spent bringing himself to this moment was interrupted, and the past of hours of the day drifted like sand from the tops of bluffs. Ulfric was suddenly returned to the moment. When an opening appeared to him, Ulfric shot his fist, with the speed of an arrow fletching through the air, in an uppercut. The hit immediately knocked his foe out, and as the unconscious body fell to the ground, Ulfric felt a sensation of victory that he had desperately needed. The day had began with such unexpected rigor, and had been filled with twists and turns like the labyrinth of King's Landing.


As the intensity of the fight left him, his surrounding came into focus. He had ignored Artemis’s shouts of pain and only just noticed the destruction that Pymon had inflicted on several of the knights that attempted to intervene. The group had left none but their squires to pick up what was left of the knights. The splendor and vanity of their house sigils seemed to lose their luster as their owners had been vanquished.

The light of the sun seemed brighter to Ulfric. The air tasted sweet as baking bread. The blades of grass between his toes felt soft and lush as a carpet as he walked back to his friends. The fight may have been an utterly random occurrence to the knights, but for him it had been filled with a purpose that he hadn’t known at first. It had rekindled his fighting spirit. For the first day in a long time, Ulfric felt as free as the day he learned to swing a sword, as if a part of him had been found and given back to him.