The Eyrie.  A castle built from stone and sky, high enough to compete with the mountains in the distance.  Any coming upon the Eyrie cannot help but be awed that man would dare challenge the gods with such a structure, but despite the wonder of the architecture, it was a cold place, home to a cold woman and her son.

Lady Aron, wife to the late lord Aron, once Hand to the King, Robert Baratheon.  A daughter of the river dwelling Tully’s, and sister to the northern Lady Stark, Lady Aron was once a woman of quiet beauty, but it had long since been lost in the cold wind and lonely echoes of the dark castle she had inherited with the death of her husband, and the eroding of her sanity.

Now her whole world was her son, young Robert Aron, a weak, simpering child growing swiftly in years but slowly in mind, and learning all too well the lessons of instability at his mother’s knee.

Tyrion stood before the assembled lords and ladies of the Eyrie with as much dignity and courage he could muster and called to the crowd.

“Do I have a volunteer?” he asked.  No one answered the call, and soon muted whispers and snickers of derision could be heard.  Tyrion turned to take in the entire room, willing someone to come forward.

The audience room was circular, with tall carved doors at one end, and a raised balcony on the other where sat the Lady Aron with her son.  A single staircase curved along the wall to his left, providing the only access to the balcony, and that was well guarded with knights of the Vale.  And in the centre of the room was a rather large, but oddly enough well constructed hole in the floor, a hole all referred to as the Moon Door, for the audience room was so high up within the castle that the hole opened into thin air, granting any who dared to lean over its edge a glimpse of the valley floor far, far below.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Tyrion Lannister, the stunted, misshapen, dwarven son of one of the realm’s most influential men and families feasted on wine and sweetmeats every night.  But a chance twist of fate brought him here, bound and chained before the unstable Lady Aron and her court.

Tyrion spared a swift glance for the red haired lady standing a few steps below the Lady Aron, dressed in thick furs and bearing the badge of her house, a large direwolf.  Lady Stark was the reason he was here.  Her lord and household had hosted his family and the royal court, during which time her second youngest son Bran fell from one of the crumbling towers on the old estate and almost died.  As far as Tyrion knew, the boy yet lived, albeit he would never walk again.  And after his dagger was found in the hand of a man paid to kill the boy as he slept, Lady Stark believed him guilty of all crimes real and imagined.

So when she found him, eating in a quiet tavern, alone but for a single manservant, she seized her opportunity, and seized him, dragging him across hill and dale to the house of her sister, Lady Aron.

Tyrion had spent more than a few nights in the uncomfortable, open air cells that the Eyrie boasted, before finally being able to bribe the simple jail keeper Mort into granting an audience with the Lady Aron.

At first glance one would never know that the two ladies were sisters, for while the northern winds has shaped the already robust Lady Stark into something strong and unyielding, her face flushed with life and her eyes bright with anger and sorrow, her sister was thin, almost skeletally so, with a sharp beak of a nose, wild, bright eyes, and pallid complexion.  Her son, the young Lord Robert was a spitting image of his mother.  And it was only after studying the two high bred ladies for some moments side by side could some perhaps see the common ancestors the women shared.

“I will champion you my lord,” called out a strong, clearly feminine voice.  Tyrion drew himself from his thoughts and turned with the others to find the owner of the voice.

All eyes turned to regard the speaker.  A slender woman stood in a voluminous robe of various shades of yellow trimmed in a thin band of black.  A dark yellow sash cinched the robe closed, showing off her narrow waist as she stood with her hands tucked into long draping sleeves.  Her black hair was pulled back into a tidy bun at the top of her head and held in place by two polished sticks of ebony, each with a single band of deep yellow at the end.   Her piercing dark almond shaped eyes looked over the crowd swiftly from a strong yet pretty olive toned face.  Her full, bow shaped lips lifted into the slightest hint of a smile as she glided forward to stand next to Tyrion.

Tyrion looked up at her, managing somehow to hide his shock at such a champion as Lady Aron spoke.

“You cannot champion for the Imp!” she screeched, referring to a derogatory nickname much of Westeros had given to Tyrion.  “You are a Sister of the Four Winds!  Not a knight or a member of these lands!”

The woman lifted one shoulder slightly in the barest hint of a shrug.  “Where in your rules and laws does it say that a champion must be a male knight of Westeros?  The lord called for a champion, and I answered.”

The anger on Lady Aron’s face quickly melted to malicious glee as she saw an easy victory for her champion.  “Very well, if the Imp will consent to being defended by a barbarian woman,” stressing the one word and putting as much venom and mockery in her tone behind it as the gathered nobility chuckled, “then by all means let us continue.”

The woman turned and bowed to Tyrion, holding up the first two fingers of her left hand, the rest of her fingers clasping her right fist before her chest.

“My name is Mei-Ling, a Sister of the East Wind,” the mysterious woman introduced herself.  “My Lord Tyrion Lannister, will you accept me as your champion?”

Tyrion returned her bow as gracefully as he could with his hands tied in front of him.  “My Lady Mei-Ling, it would be an honor to be championed by a Sister of the East Wind.  We dwarves and barbarians need to stick together,” he added with a grin.

Mei-Ling smiled softly back at him as the knight took his place before the Moon door.

“I do not condone fighting women for it is not honorable,” he addressed Mei-Ling.  “But as you are a barbarian championing a man without honor I will find it my duty to rid the world of you.”

Mei-Ling inclined her head to the knight and undid her sash, opening her robe and gently lifting it off her shoulders before letting it slide to the cold stone floor and pool around her feet.  The room erupted in gasps of shock, lust, and indignation as they saw what she wore underneath.

Supple leather boots molded almost perfectly to her feet and calves blended into black leather pants.  A band of leather beginning at her right hip, coming up across her left breast, around the back of her neck and back down again ending at her left hip and held in place with a single band across her back was all that kept her modest.  Blades glinted all along her person.  A three pronged dagger as long as a forearm called a Sai was strapped to each thigh, with an additional dagger tucked into each boot and a belt of small throwing knives encircled her waist.  Every eye in the room was drawn to the lines of her lean, supple body.

She looked again to Tyrion, ignoring the whispers and stares around her.  “Do you wish me to take him down swiftly or give them a show my lord?” she asked, laughter dancing in her dark eyes.

Tyrion was not adverse to the image she had cut when she took off her robe, and he paused a moment to regain himself, seeming to consider her request.  “Well with so many people out for my blood and now yours, I think we should give them a proper showing,” he said at last.  Nodding to Mei-Ling, he continued.  “Make them wait.  That way when we win it will be all the sweeter.”

Mei-Ling inclined her head to him before stepping forward to meet the knight and bowing to him.

“May the Goddess smile upon us Ser Knight, and the Winds bless our blades.”

The knight, chivalrous as he was, could not help but return the bow though he remained silent.

Both champions faced the child lord Robert.  “Whenever you are ready my darling,” Lady Aron whispered into her son’s ear.  The boy grinned as he gave a shrill shout, “FIGHT!”

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