Note: This is a work of fiction and dedicated to perhaps the best television series on court politics produced in the last decade.
In the immortal lyrics of Eminem, “I smell something in the air that’s making me HIGH!” These are the words that came into my mind as soon as I entered there; the place where the raw fragrance of the Gods dwelled. It was almost like I had transcended the mortal world and been transported to a higher level of being. I imagine that is how it must feel to be on Mount Olympus or Mount Kailash or Mount Sinai whichever way you lean.
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It was summer in Upper Westeros, the season that isn't quite apparent there. The city of Winterfell doesn’t have summer at all but that year something was different. The sun shone with such brilliance as it hadn’t in a very, very long time. It was only in legends that I had heard of the sun melting the eternal snow that covered our land. But that year was not only memorable for its summer but also remembered for the bloodshed it caused because of the sun.
It was the year that Danerys Targaryean, Mother of Dragons had reclaimed the Iron Throne of Westeros, the seat of her forefathers; as the rightful Queen of her people. The Lannisters of Casterly Rock had finally been crushed and every last remaining person who bore the arms of the Lion had been put to the sword. It was a glorious day indeed when the Queen ascended her throne with her three fearsome dragons that she had herself hatched in the fire of the husband’s funeral pyre.
Now, allow me to introduce myself. I am Jon Snow, the bastard of Lord Ned Stark of Winterfell. I am now the Hand of my half-brother Bran Stark, the King in the North. I’m writing this record not to capture the history of what happened in the days to come after the Queen took her throne, there are official records for that sort of thing. I am writing this down so that future generations may bear in mind that although ‘Winter is Coming’, it is not as bad as when Summer rears its head upon us.
It was indeed destined that Summer should come on the day that the banner of the Dragon unfurled over the Iron Throne. What happened next was not the peace and calm we all thought would follow the return of the Queen. A sudden summer ensured that the Northern Wall, erected by my ancestor to keep out the Wildlings and White Walkers started to melt and grow weak around the castles that had stood watch upon it for six millennia.
A beautiful, mysterious and rare summer had been born that would ultimately come to be known as the Red Summer by those who managed to survive it with the onslaught of those beyond the wall who saw the perfect time to attack Westeros and seized the opportunity. When the snow melted off the earth below us, it also melted off the only barrier which protected the civilized world from the barbarians and with that came the crippling blow in the form of the massive savage attack which tore apart the kingdom.
I was outside the capital reassessing our strength against our foes who would attack any day now and then I chanced upon a fragrance that was unlike I had ever had the chance to smell before. It was tantalizing, just touching my nostrils and withdrawing. It was pulling me it seemed towards a hill and like the hand of a seductress; it grasped me and led me to the top of the world. I felt weak at the knees and it was as if my legs had turned to stone from the overdose of the scent that permeated my being. I closed my eyes and lied down in the long grass to savour that which was already holding me captive without chains.
I have since named that plant the lemongrass. It has a strong flavour of lemon but also a tangy under-taste that belies attempts to compare it to lemon. Upon study, I discovered that the plant had no flower or fruit but only leaves from which it emanated this powerful fragrance that held me in my world of bliss in a time when it was a scarce commodity and especially for a soldier like myself.
It is said that I was awakened by the Queensguard who had been stationed to patrol the castle grounds. They had noticed my armour gleaming in the morning sun and had come to investigate. They realized that although I was lying like one who had passed on to the other world, I still had a pulse and had carried me into the castle. When I awoke, they said that I had been missing for three days. I had been so lost in the fragrance that I hadn’t even noticed that I had lain next to the rotten and smelly bodies of three Wildling scouts who had died lost in the world of the lemongrass.
If I had not been carried out of that field, I would have met the same fate as those poor creatures but fortunately the Queensguard had encountered the plant before and had decided to get it planted all around the castle walls except the main gate so that trespassers would meet the same fate as those scouts.
It was by sheer luck that the guards had seen my armour in the long grass and had come to investigate. They had been able to carry me to safety without endangering themselves to the enamouring fragrance of the lemongrass only because they had covered their faces with pieces of cloth. They had already experienced the power of the lemongrass over the senses and although they longed for it, they respected it enough not to evoke their power of smell, lest they get lost within its fragrance and forget their duty to their Queen.
In the war that did start eventually when the wall fell, many of our men and women fell to the blades of those wild ones from beyond the wall, but many more of the enemy died unawares by giving in to their senses in the fields of lemongrass and dropping their weapons in ecstasy as the feeling of pure joy overtook them.
Queen Danerys finally led us to victory but at great cost and she had no other option but to grant Bran Stark Independence in the North as recompense for his valuable contribution in holding out on the northern front as long as was necessary for her to organize all her other vassals into the sizable army that won her the war. King Bran lost Winterfell to the marauding armies but won back the pride and honour of our family by being crowned King of the North.
And that is why I’m glad that Winter is Coming…
This post has been written for the Godrej ‘Inspire a Fragrance’ contest.