(what is dead may never die, despite all attempts)
He finds the babe on the shore, swaddled in seaweed, the incoming tide lapping away at its small body. Aeron is only newly devoted to the Drowned God, but time means little to worship, and he knows what he must do.
The child will most likely die, but if so, that is the will of He Who Dwells Beneath the Waves.
And anyway, it is a far more cruel fate to leave the babe stranded ashore than to swiftly end its suffering. The ironborn are not much for mercy, but in this case, the answer is clear.
Except for how it is not.
Aeron names the child Ffion, for the foamy waves that carried her back to shore.
There is no such thing as a drowned woman, or a priestess of the Drowned God, but Ffion’s survival can only mean one thing.
She has been chosen.
For what? Only time will tell.
There is no love between Ffion and the drowned men, but they do care for her as she grows. Or try their best.
Most of the drowned men are young bachelors who know little about the fairer sex beyond how to fuck them, and even that is in question.
Balon, Aeron thinks, has one daughter, surely there is not much difference between two little girls.
He is wrong.
Asha will one day be a master at the finger dance.
Today is not that day.
And anyway, while Asha has been practicing with a hand axe, that doesn’t mean Ffion has–the drowned men have little use for axes, and so she doesn’t either.
Asha throws the axe, whether out of an honest attempt to play or a far more sinister reason is unknown, and Ffion falls.
That’s what happens when one is stabbed in the chest.
Asha drags the corpse to one of the bridges interconnecting Pyke’s towers to each other. She knows she will be in trouble if the body is found and so, in childish logic, she is making sure the body will not be found.
Asha drops Ffion off the bridge, watching it fall the entire way, until it splashes into the water with a high, white spray.
That’s half of the problem taken care of, now she just needs to clean up the blood.
The truth comes out, soon enough, once Balon asks his daughter. Aeron listens and sheds no tears–Ffion was not his blood, not like Asha is. At the end, Aeron only nods and says, “You have returned her to the waves. It was well done.”
Being praised by her strange uncle Damphair is not so nice as being praised by her father, but Asha nods in acceptance. That wasn’t her intent, but she is glad to know she isn’t in trouble.
Already, she is pushing this event out of her mind, shoving it into the past where it belongs. It’s not like she’ll ever see that strange girl, anyway.
She is wrong.
Three weeks after Aeron leaves Pyke, he is walking along the shores and hears coughing.
He follows the noise, and the drowned men follow him.
Clawing her way out of a tangled bed of seaweed, Ffion rises.
Aeron is silent. As are the drowned men behind him.
“What is dead may never die,” Ffion calls out, as if in question, whole and alive and impossible.
Aeron is startled into responding by rote: “What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.”
If Aeron is agreed to be the Drowned God’s prophet, then Ffion is something different. Something more.
Whether she be the Drowned God’s child bride or the Drowned God’s chosen vessel, even Balon, barely a fraction as religious as his brother, knows better than to dismiss this strange girl.
Asha, too, learns that despite name and birth Ffion Pyke is as much a kraken as she.
Ffion turns her sights to the east–to the soft and sleepy lands of soft and sleepy people.
She does not need to ask the Greyjoys to raid the Seven Kingdoms because they are ready and eager to do so, emboldened by the knowledge of having a god on their side.
It only makes sense for the ironborn to make their own attempt for the Iron Throne.
A/N: Ffion Pyke dies several more times, freaking out even the followers of the Lord of Light because that is just not natural. HA!