"Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, lef..."
"Jay, please." Ser Kevin snapped.
It had been two days of non stop travel. Two days without food. Two days without sleep, and Ser Kevin Nolan's patience with his squire had worn thinner than Steven McClaren's hairline.
It was mid-day and the sun was continuously beating down on them from up above. The last leg of their journey was through some farmlands with few trees for shade and their heavy leather armour wasn't making matters any easier. As long as they didn't get sidetracked they'd reach the Macronfort early tomorrow morning.
Ser Kevin would allow them to rest tonight at a dilapidated and abandoned farmhouse he knew on the very edges of House Bolton's lands. It should be safe there, at least for one night. Suddenly he realised that he could only hear the sounds of his own footsteps.
He spun round and could see no sign of Jay Spearing. He'd been along side him only moments ago and there was nowhere to hide in any direction. Ser Kevin retraced his steps, with his hand slowly sliding down to the hilt of the sword he'd stolen from one of the sleeping Knight's Watch guards.
He continued walking, but he was disorientated. The lack of food, the deprivation of sleep and the relentless heat had begun to make him delirious. He gulped back the last mouthfuls of water he'd rationed and trudged in what he thought was the right direction.
"JAY!" He cried out across the empty field.
Then he saw him. On the ground in a heap. Jay had collapsed. He ran as fast as his tired legs would carry him, but it was barely faster than walking. Eventually he reached his fallen squire, who was led face down in the dirt, and there was something sticking out of his upper back. He'd been hit by an arrow. But from where, there was nothing for miles around them. He snapped out of his delirium, bent down and lifted Jay up and over his shoulder. Jay was still alive, but remained motionless.
"Stay with me Jay," He growled. "I'll get you a scouse pie if you just stay with me."
Ser Kevin travelled as fast as he could, turning round periodically to check for anyone who might launch another arrow. Before he knew it he could see the farmhouse. The sun had now lowered significantly in the sky and the heat was slightly more bearable, even with the added weight of his squire. It was a long time since he'd been here. It was more desperate for repairs than it had ever been, but it could provide shelter and more importantly cover. Ser Kevin gave one last scan of the horizon for any followers before they entered.
There was still no sign of other life. He kicked open the door. It was hanging by only one hinge and that probably wouldn't be for much longer. He lowered Jay to the floor. He tried to rouse him from his unconsciousness, but to no avail.
"He'll wake up eventually."
Ser Kevin, startled by the voice behind him scurried across the room and drew his sword.
"There's no need," The stranger, a man, lifted his arms away from his sides and did a small twirl. "I am unarmed, I can assure you."
A prolonged silence filled the room. Ser Kevin stared without blinking. He had seen nobody for miles, and moments after entering the farmhouse a man had appeared from nowhere.
"This is my farmhouse and you are trespassing." Ser Kevin blasted, still holding his sword firmly.
"This was your great grandfather's yes Ser Kevin," The stranger responded. "But it is no more yours than it is mine."
He felt the colour drain from his cheeks. This man knew his name, but he'd never met him before, at least not since he'd left home. The stranger had not moved from the doorway, although this may have a lot to do with Ser Kevin's refusal to lower his sword.
"Wh... wh... wh... who are you?" Ser Kevin stumbled out.
As he said it, the man took a few steps into the room and through the door came five more strangers. Five more men. He was exhausted and the thought of fighting one man filled him with dread, let alone six.
"We represent The Seven, but my name is Richard Scudamore," He smirked as he spoke. "and I'm very pleased to meet you."
"Wh... wh... wh... why are you pleased to meet me?" Ser Kevin had begun to tremble.
"Because I need to deliver a very important message," Richard's smirk had broken into a wide crooked smile. "And you are just the man to help me deliver it."