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January 23, 2019 Fiction

Slugmaster

Natalie Villacorta

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[SPOILERS] GOT Season 4, Episode 4, “Oathkeeper,” Recap: Was Daenerys Right to Crucify the Great Masters?

By SLUGMASTER on Sun April 27, 2014 11:42 p.m.

Dear Citizens of the Seven Kingdoms,

My mom taught me that sometimes, it is better to be kind than right. This is easy to espouse when the stakes are whether Dylan double-dribbled, whether “irregardless” is a word, or whether to invite Johnny to your pool party even though he didn’t invite you to laser tag. But when it’s a matter of life or death, justice outweighs mercy.

Tonight, we saw Daenerys order the crucifixion of 163 Great Masters along Meereen’s streets. We heard their cries. One Great Master for every slave child they crucified along the road to Meereen, where Daenerys marched to free its slaves and become its queen. These dead children were the Great Masters’ warning: Stay away from our city. But Khaleesi was not deterred, and she looked each child in the face before she had them buried.

Tonight, we heard her trusted advisor, Ser Barristan, urge her against retribution, to answer injustice with mercy.

“I will answer injustice with justice,” she replied, before ordering the Great Masters’ killings.

We know she will pay for this decision, but I get why she did it. I would have done it too. She’s got to show the Great Masters that she’s in charge now, and they better listen, or they’ll wind up dead. As her guard/lover Dany tells her in A Storm of Swords, “All rulers are either butchers or meat.”

I don’t want to be meat. I’m a meat-eater. I can’t stand vegetarians. They’re weak and unnatural.

My dad’s girlfriend used to be a vegetarian. Actually, she was worse than a vegetarian; she was a vegan. Dad convinced her to start eating meat again within days of their moving in together (he makes a mean pork fried rice). See, I told you plant-eaters were weak. They can’t even stand up for their principles. But even though Donna eats meat now, I still hate her. I’ve got good reasons.

She was Dad’s secretary, the Podrick Payne to his Tyrion Lannister. They started having an affair when I was in elementary school, and then, two winters ago, a fortnight after I started high school, Dad finally left Mom for her. That’s when I started getting into GOT. After Dad left, Mom was too depressed to continue policing my media consumption.

Yes, I only got into GOT two years ago. This is why, while I’ve been reading Watchers on the Wall since it launched, this is my first post. I’ve been intimidated by those of you who have been reading ASOIAF since GOT came out, but in 1996, I hadn’t even been born yet! But I’ve caught up on my reading—that’s 4,228 pages (694+768+973+753+1040) in 730 days, thronies!

I’ve learned a lot about revenge from GOT. The best strategy for striking back against your enemy is to take away the things they love. Since I can’t take away yoga, and Donna's parents live in an RV whose location is unknown to me, I’ve decided to capture Donna's cat, Charlene. Donna doesn’t have any kids, so she’s inappropriately obsessed with Charlene. Her Instagram feed is just pictures of the sack of bones in various states of leisure (not that I follow her!).

Tomorrow, when Donna calls for Charlene, her daughter will not come home. Everything the witch prophesied will come true. This. Is. Fate.

Mon April 28, 2014 5:18 p.m.

Dear Free Folk,

This afternoon, right after school, I drove over to Dad’s house. I made sure no neighbors were around, and then I opened a can of Fancy Feast. Mixed in with the Tender Liver was homemade Strangler—the same poison that killed that blonde bastard Joffrey Lannister on his wedding day—god, I love that scene, when Joffrey’s face turns purple, and he clutches his throat and starts bleeding from his eyes and nose. I looked up the recipe in A Storm of Swords. George R. R. Martin says the Strangler is made from “the leaves of a plant” extracted with a “wash of lime” and “a rinse of sugar.” He isn’t specific about the variety of plant, so I just grabbed some poison ivy from the backyard.

After placing the can of Fatal Feast on the floor of my car, I called Charlene’s name. I only had to wait a minute before the furry skeleton emerged from the woods across the street.

“Come here, baby,” I cooed, mimicking Donna's disgusting baby voice. Charlene hesitated; usually I kick her when I see her, so she must have been confused. But then I showed her the present I’d brought her, and she bounded through the open car door. I slammed the door behind her, threw the car into reverse, and headed for Winterfell.

On my way home from Dad’s is a garden center where loads of barn cats roam. Too many to count. And they don’t get them spayed so they’re always making babies. It’s irresponsible, if you ask me.

But today I was glad for the cat frenzy. I parked my car in the gravel lot beside the field where they grow flowers and left the car door ajar. Then I pretended to browse the annuals for a while, choosing a multi-colored Snapdragon to erase any suspicions. When I returned to the car, all that was left of Charlene was the empty Fancy Feast can; she’d licked it clean.

Ser Barrister would be proud, I think. I answered injustice with justice and mercy.

Mon April 28, 2014 9:24 p.m.

My fellow crows,

Tonight I went to Dad’s for dinner and GOT debrief. When I arrived, he asked how I wanted my steak cooked.

“Bloody,” I replied.

I handed Donna the snapdragon. My goal was to raise her spirits, thus enhancing the blow when she discovered Charlene was gone.

“Beautiful!” she said. “Thank you!”

“Sure thing. Where’s Charlene?”

“Oh, she’s still outside, probably hunting. The other day she brought a baby rabbit home and you could see the poor thing’s eyes frozen wide-open in terror. Horrible.”

“That’s not horrible, that’s awesome,” I said. “You may have to chain her up in a dungeon, like Daenerys did with Rhaegal and Viserion, so she doesn’t murder any more little girls,” I muttered.

“What’s that?” Donna asked.

“Oh, nothing.”

“Steak’s ready,” Dad called from the porch.

Donna's attempt to contribute to our GOT convo is really pathetic. I suspect she leaves the room during the gory scenes because she always gasps with surprise when Dad and I discuss the latest death. Like I said, she’s weak. But yesterday’s episode was pretty G-rated, and surprise, surprise, Donna thought that Daenerys should have spared the Great Masters. Dad agreed with her!

Rejuvenated by protein, I was in a generous mood after dinner. I offered to wash the dishes. Donna went outside to call Charlene in. “Charlene!” she called from the front door. “Charleeeeeeene!”

Calmly, I rinsed the bloody meat juice off the plates, off my hands. I wondered what there was for dessert.

Donna came back inside as I was drying the steak knives. “Charlene’s not coming,” she whimpered to my dad. “What if something happened to her?” Her face was twisted up in distress.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Dad said. He pretends to like Charlene, like Donna pretends to like GOT, but I know he couldn’t care less.

“But she’s old; she can’t run as fast as she used to. What if a fox got her?”

“Cats stay out all night, there’s no need to panic, Donna.”

“No. She’s never not come home. I’m going looking for her,” Donna said. She grabbed a flashlight. 

“I’ll come with you,” I offered. I grabbed a shard of dragon glass from the drawer. With such heroics, she would never suspect me now.

We crossed the street, to the open field bordered by thick woods. Donna called Charlene’s name.

“I hope a Wildling didn’t get her,” I muttered. “Or worse, a white walker.”

“What?” Donna asked.

“I said, it’s pretty wild out here, but it’s a nice night for a walk.” Buttercups were just starting to pop up in the long grass, and lightening bugs glowed in the trees. We reached the center of the field.

“Let’s split up,” I proposed. “I’ll go right and you go left.”

“Good idea.”

Had she learned nothing from GOT? Splitting up is always a terrible idea! I turned right into our neighbor’s yard, and then I circled back around to Dad’s house and snuck inside. Dad was out back cleaning the grill. I grabbed a Klondike bar from the freezer and then took my time eating it on the side of the house, concealed by azalea bushes.

In the distance, I heard Donna calling for Charlene. Her voice sounded desperate, close to tears. The ice cream began to taste chalky. My stomach ached; perhaps, I was reluctant to admit, because I’d insisted on eating my steak practically raw. I threw the last third of the ice cream bar into the bushes.

“No luck,” I announced upon reentering the house, arranging my features into a look of dejection, shaking my head.

Donna was darting around the living room, breathing too fast. Dad was trying to calm her down with Sauvignon Blanc; you know how those Lannisters love their wine.

Donna said she was going to email the neighborhood listserv and make missing cat signs.

“Doesn’t that seem a bit premature?” Dad asked.

“No, this isn’t like her. I can just tell something’s wrong.” The woman was sobbing now. Looking at her, I felt my stomach ache again. Injustice met with justice, I told myself.

“Well, I think I’d better go home now. Got a calculus test to study for. Thanks for the meat!”

“I’m sorry about Charlene,” I added, and my voice sounded quite convincing. 

***

When I got home, Mom asked how dinner was. I told her about Donna losing her shit over Charlene.

“She was acting like Cersei when Joffrey died,” I cackled. “It’s a cat, for fuck’s sake.”

“Wouldn’t you be upset if Caesar was lost?”

“Caesar wouldn’t get lost. He’s a dire wolf. He can tear a human to shreds.”

“Caesar is not a dire wolf. Caesar is a schnoodle.”

“Whatever.”

After such an adventurous day, my loyal crows, I’m exhausted, so I must bid you goodnight!

Tues April 29, 2014 12:13 a.m.

Dear Brothers of the Night Watch,

I can’t sleep. My skin itches. I’m worried some poison ivy oils got on my skin when I was making the Strangler. I’m bleeding from scratching myself so hard. Images of Caesar trapped in a cage plague me. Caesar falling into a snowy pit. He howls. He cries. I must save him.

We all know what’s going to happen now that Daenerys has crucified the 163 masters. The survivors are going to revolt, and she is going to lose her grip on Meereen. Justice will be met with still more injustice. Peace will never be possible, so long as the houses keep murdering each other as pay back for earlier murders.

I took Donna's cat, and so she will slaughter my dog. And then, she will marry my father and bear him a son, who will then murder me so that son can be his heir. Ok, maybe that’s a little far-fetched. And I’m pretty sure Donna already went through menopause. She may never even find out that it was me who took Charlene. But I’ll know. Lord Varys, Master of the Whisperers, will know. The Many-Faced God will know. And then, I’ll never get my chance to be Warden of the North. What would Ned Stark do?

I want Donna to feel the pain I’ve felt, the pain of being left behind, and not by someone who has died, which would be less painful, in my opinion. Because when someone leaves you in life, they’re still out there; they just have a new life you’re not a part of. And that new life, it torments you like an itch you cannot stop scratching in your mind.

Tues April 29, 8:32 p.m.

Dear Oathkeepers,

This evening, on my way home from school, while stopped at a light, I saw a huge sign tacked to a telephone pole a few cars ahead: LOST CAT. $100 REWARD. The poster had a picture of the missing cat, but I couldn’t tell from where I was whether it was Charlene.

The light turned green, and I slowed down to get a good look at the sign. The cat was gray, like Charlene, but much more voluptuous. The poster’s edges were curled; the phone number was smeared. Pulling away, I caught the cat’s name: Anastasia, the princess of cats. Had she ever been found? Was her family still waiting, or had they given up hope?

Instead of taking a left, which would bring me home, I went right, towards the garden center. When I pulled up, a chain was drawn across the entrance. The place was closed for the day. I parked my car and hopped the chain.

It was so quiet that I could hear water dripping from the hanging plants onto the gravel below. I stepped lightly on the rocks.

“Charlene!” I whispered, peering under the wooden tables of flowers arranged in neat rows. Nothing but empty plastic plant trays.

I cracked open a can of Fancy Feast and waved it in the air. Several cats slunk out of the shadows; they moved towards the fishy scent and then ducked away. They, being real animals, preferred the taste of freshly caught mice.

“Charlene,” I said, louder now. The periwinkle sky was darkening, the streaks of peach from the setting sun thinning as it sank even lower in the sky. Soon it would be dark.

“Char-leeeeeeene!” I was yelling now. I jogged through the rows of annuals, to the perennials section at the far edge of the garden, calling the cat’s name. I peered between stacks of clay pots. I ran through the field where flowers were blooming, the knee-high grass scratching at my scabbed legs.

“Charlene?” My voice had grown desperate, close to tears.

Out of breath, I sat down on a bench in the shaded plants section. Blood pounded in my ears. I inhaled deeply until my heart rate and breath slowed, and I could hear beyond my body. A rustle issued from the hostas. I froze.

“Charlene?”

If my life were a GOT episode, at this moment, the score would have been silenced; the rustle would have been followed by a crunch of rocks underfoot, and, after a moment or two of taut suspense, out would emerge Charlene, transformed into a bigger, beastly version of herself.

“Charlene?”

But my life is not a TV show. The rustling leaves were only a breeze.

image: Carabella Sands


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