Rouse the Slumbering Morn
The next morning, the dawn sunlight pierced the windows of Holdfast Castle - at least those that pointed in the right direction. One of Godwyn's dog's lifted his head and, as was his custom, licked Godwyn's face by way of telling him it was time to get up.
On the floor of the room - Volf raised his voice a little hesitantly.
"Sir ... I need to p!ss and the dogs won't let me up."
"Glamurgh!" Godwyn said indistinctly from underneath a shaggy head. "What?" He pushed himself up on his elbows and stared blearily around the room. "Kenrith," he said, nudging his brother. "Are you awake?" He nudged him harder, just to be sure.
Kenrith grunted loudly as Godwyn's hound shifted on the bed and stepped on his crotch. "Ooof... I am now..." he grumbled as he rolled out of the warm sheets and winced at the cold of the floor.
In the early morning light, Godwyn could see Kenrith's deformed left arm. It was not merely lame, but twisted up at his side as if it wasn't connected in the same manner as his right arm at all. It was tiny and twisted, and compared to the rest of Kenrith's muscular body was as fat as a baby's arm. It looked as though he never allowed the limb to see daylight, which gave it an almost ghostly paleness. It had flopped free from his sling as Kenrith danced from cold foot to cold foot while he pulled on his stockings with one hand. It seemed he had his own way of accomplishing each of these tasks with only one hand, as he had rolled his clean socks up the night previous so that he could slide them on with only one hand.
Godwyn shivered and looked away from Kenrith, mastering himself with some difficulty. "The pot's under the bed," he said to Volf. "Off him! Off!" he ordered the hounds. He clapped his hands together loudly, then stared down at them, swallowing. He flexed his fingers, as though to assure himself that he had two good hands, both healthy and working.
Kenrith apparently didn't notice Godwyn cringing, but he did notice his arm flopping free. He removed the sling he had been wearing and moved to the wash basin. After breaking the thin layer of ice which sat atop it, he proceded to splash it over his face and torso amidst another series of funny noises. It was, of course, frigidly cold. The only thing which he didn't flinch from was washing his lame arm... he didn't seem to feel the cold there at all.
After this was done, he replaced his sling with a clean piece of cloth, already tied loosly, and dressed from there.
Volf rose and used the chamberpot, but waited until Kenrith and Godwyn had finished before performing cursory ablutions; more, it seemed, for form's sake.
Godwyn dressed quickly, and while he chose more formal clothing than for a normal day, it was certainly not his very best.
Still shivering, Kenrith said "I'm going to go for a jog to warm up before breakfast. You're welcome to join me, or not, as you will."
"There's a rabbit that breaks its fast near the keep most every morn, the dogs are convinced they'll get it one day," Godwyn said with a smile. "It gives us both exercise to start the day." He clapped his hands again, "Come on," he called, "We're going for a run. Where's the rabbit? Where's the rabbit?" The hounds leapt to their feet and began baying, clearing recognizing that they were in for a run.
"You, too, Volf," Godwyn said as he opened the door and let the hounds rush out into the hall and towards the stairs, their cries resounding throughout the keep. "A run will do you good."
"Yes, Sir," said Volf. He followed the brothers down the stairs and into the courtyard.
Godwyn let his brother lead the way and set the pace, his face set in a broad grin. It was clear that just having his brother back once more was enough for him for the moment.
"So, brother... it is good to be home, but events have moved so fast we have had little time to speak about all but immediate matters. What have you been doing these last years?" he began broadly.
Godwyn shrugged as he ran. "Little enough," he admitted. "Practicing my fighting as much as I could, with men of the guard when they had free time and some of the lads from the village. Hunting." His grin grew wider. "Spending time with Lilly at the Goose and Gander. That sort of thing."
Kenrith grinned at his brother's mention of spending time with Lilly. He didn't know who Lilly was... but wasn't so dense he couldn't figure it out.
"Have you given any thought to what you'd do with your life, if given a choice?" Kenrith asked a few moments later.
Godwyn was silent for several minutes, then said quietly, "I used to have a dream that you'd come home, take over as Lord of Holdfast, and appoint me your captain of the guard. I'd lead the men to do your bidding while you restored the glory days of the Hardy family, eventually making yourself the trusted advisor and close friend of the Lord of Winterfell." He fell silent again for a bit before continuing. "But it's just a dream. I don't have the wit to be a good captain. I've watched Anders, and while I don't like him, the men do. He's a far better captain than I could ever be. Win him to your side, and he will be a great boon."
"There are always more than two choices, Godwyn. I remember you saying that you will be no knight... and I respect your decision, and think I undestand why you have made it. I have sworn before old gods and new, and have a different stance on the matter... but I understand why you have taken your own. Still, you might seek to serve Winterfell, marry, and raise a family rather than take the Wall," Kenrith suggested.
"'There has always been a Hardy at the Wall,'" Godwyn quoted. He smiled a little sadly. "Mind you, from time to time I've thought that it would be just as well if I went to the Wall after I was a little more seasoned...."
"And there always will be... though I do not propose to send our Uncle against his will, it may be he will choose as much for himself in a few more years. It may be that I myself will not marry... and that some day, your son will take my place after having been raised to it. You might fall in love with an older woman, marry her, and bury her... to later serve on the Wall. Many things might happen. And recall... it is not as though there are no Hardies on the wall now, though they are old men still..."
"Uncle Mallador could wait a bit for me to join him, I suppose." Godwyn looked thoughtful. "I wouldn't turn from that duty to serve Winterfell, though. But if Holdfast needs me...."
"Holdfast needs you, and another dozen where you came from... and a few score skilled masons... and who knows what else. But what we don't need is a war within the walls. As it stands now, Godfrey and Celia are stewards of Holdfast... and we have some quite dangerous guests. We shall see what we reap of this day." Kenrith said somberly.
Godwyn's face assumed a stubborn look. "That shouldn't be," he muttered. "You are heir, you should be acting in Father's stead. There's no need for a stewardship."
"I agree... but I might have done the same in Father's place. There was no way for him to know what the south had made of me, and no way for those who would follow me to know either... In time, gods willing, he will recover some of his strength and see me for the man I am... perhaps not the man he would wish I was, but ready to rule in his stead if need be... provided I have wise counsil in Sewell and the like," Kenrith said in pieces. He wasn't winded, but he saw no need to lose his breath making long speeches while he ran.
Godwyn ran beside him silently, his face showing his disapproval of the situation.
After another couple of minutes of silence, apart from the sounds of Godwyn's hounds, Kenrith changed the subject to hunting in the area.
After the jog, Kenrith led the group to the great hall (after they cleaned up a bit).