8.1.13

Bolton Rising - Part 37 - Sandor

It had been several weeks since Sandor had been discharged from the hospital and returned to Petyr Baelish's penthouse to continue his recuperation. The beating at the hands of his older brother Gregor had wounded his pride and had left the Hound will horrible nightmares. Night after night, he relived not the savage fight, but a terrible dread at first then a deep welled suffering. Cold sweat beaded the Hound's skin, his heart raced and he suffocated for breath. Sandor's night terrors ended with horrifying screams, the feeling of flesh burning off his face like melted butter, the charred smell in his nostrils and the looming shadow of the Mountain towering over him. It was a memory he could not place and wished to purge from his mind, yet the splinter of pained torment was always there now.

Even the Little Bird's treasured songs did little to ease his current condition and Alayne, herself, grew more depressed and worried as his mood only worsened. That's why he now stood before the front gates to the Braavosi Meditation and Recovery Center. "I can't believe I agreed to this." Sandor muttered to himself, silently cursing Littlefinger for ordering him to take a vacation and "get his shit together." The Hound knew his boss was right, but he would be loathe to ever admit it to that pompous prick!

Sandor pushed opened the gates and wandered up a long trailing path through a rich blooming garden, stopping over the walking bridge to glare below at the swarm of colorful fish that filled the large pond. Their many mouths gaped open at the surface looking for an offering of pellets. 'Trapped like me, until the big fish eats the little fish.' Sandor turned his gaze away and peered over to the main building, locking eyes with a woman who stood by the front doors. He made his way to her, carrying a single duffel bag and a scowl upon his face.

"Tell me...  Are you man, beast or monster?" She questioned intently, her green eyes assessing him with every step as Clegane came closer, not looking impressed at all by his appearance.

"All of them." Sandor replied with a clipped toned, weary from his long drive and definitely not in the mood for twenty questions. "I came seeking Syrio Forel. Where can I find him woman?"

"My father passed away last year. I'm Nala Forel, his daughter and head administrator here now." She explained, extending a hand out in greeting, which he didn't bother shaking back. "What is it that you are searching for, stranger?"

"Nothing, apparently." The Hound sighed, turning his back on the woman and walking away, intending to leave.

"Fear cuts deeper then swords... Sandor Clegane." She spoke right next to his ruined ear, catching him completely off guard as he dropped his bag and turned around, not seeing the woman anywhere around. Yet her amused laughter carried on the breeze clear enough.

"Enough with your games!" The Hound roared. "I came seeking help and this is what I get? To be mocked?" His dark furious eyes scanned the area, wishing Baelish had let him keep his gun. Clegane's trigger finger was itching for a good round of target practice.

"Calm yourself great one. I mean you no harm." Nala swung down from a tree branch and landed right at his feet, glancing upwards to meet his terrible gaze. "I've been expecting you, Clegane. Your boss contacted me seeking aid and has been keeping me informed of your situation since. I do believe I can help you find a measure of peace from your demons."

"Fuck you! Fuck him!" Sandor growled, stepping around the woman, continuing down the stone path back to his car.

"A dog who tucks his tail and runs will never have the strength to protect his Master... Or his Mistress." Nala hollered before heading inside the building, leaving him alone, stopped in the middle of the road, scarred fingers clenched tightly around the duffel bag handle.

"Fuck me..." Sandor groaned, giving his black mustang a forlorn look before trailing after the woman.

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