Character: Byryn Highsun
House: Freitas
Kingdom: Dorne

"Look, there it is!", exclaims Gareth as he cranes his neck out the front of the covered cart and points toward the horizon. Byryn pulls his attention away from the leather bound book in his lap. He forces aside the dense cloth at the rear of the cart, soaked in the recent rain, and leans back to catch his first glimpse of their destination. A cool gust of wind flows past Byryn's face as he traces a line from Gareth's extended finger across the plain. Far off in the distance, a towering lighthouse peeks over the landscape. The Citadel was drawing near at last.

Gareth, a boy no older than ten, trembles with excitement. He bounces around in his seat, jostling the other passengers. Byryn scans the faces of his fellow travelers, all many years younger than him. Their expressions vary as much as their backgrounds. Peirse was the only other Dornishman. He seemed indifferent to the whole affair and had remained quiet during the weeks of travel, passing the time by staring down at his feet. Twins from the Reach sat next to Byryn, and Gareth's enthusiasm seems to have spread to them as they chatted about the limitless possibilities which await them. Holte comes from the North and is exceptionally well traveled, often entertaining the others with tall tales of his journeys. The last traveler, Faren, a child of noble birth from the Stormlands, wore a scowl. He is the second son, sent away by his parents to become a maester so that he cannot interfere with his older bother's succession.

It's been about four years since Byryn has seen his mother and father, and he was eager to tell them about the crisis at King's Landing. After he parted with Anōkhā, Byryn made his way to Sunspear. Anōkhā had split the remaining herbs they had after their trade in the free cities. Byryn was left with an ample supply and intended to fund his trip to the Citadel with the stock. The stay in Sunspear also provided an excellent opportunity to see his parents. Though he couldn't wait to talk with them, Byryn was nervous. He had to inform them about his decision to leave for the Citadel, and went through the situation in his mind over and over.

I'm going to leave a legacy of knowledge, not children. Don't worry, the Highsun name will carry on, if not in body in mind. People will remember the Highsuns for centuries. No, maybe that's overstating it, I don't want to seem unreasonable. What if they don't understand? I can't give them any more false hope of grandchildren. I hope they're not too upset. Maybe they'll be distracted by the tales from King's Landing and I can slip it in. I don't want to pull any tricks. I should be honest and upfront about it.

He coughed as he made his way down the dusty streets following directions engrained in his memory, the Dornish sun beating at his back. Byryn stood, mouth agape, as he stared at the abandoned facade before him. His family's business had been here for his entire life. The windows were shattered and the door thrown off its hinges. Byryn stepped into the building, pulling his clothes over his mouth to avoid choking on the the layer of dirt which he kicked into the air, leaving footprints on the stone floor. Sunbeams breaking through the front provided the only illumination. The shelves were barren, the counter empty, and anything not nailed down was gone. Dismayed, Byryn turned to the neighboring shops.

The first store he walked in, Byryn did not recognize the owner who greeted him with a warm, "Hello, how can I help you, sir?"

"Do you know what happened next door?" Byryn questioned, looking through the wall toward his childhood home.

"Oh," the shopkeeper took on a less welcoming tone, "those old folks passed away some months ago."

"Thank you," Byryn replied flatly, and stepped back into the blistering heat. The sweat on Byryn's face felt cold. Chills went through his body as he stood, frozen in place. Dark circles appeared in the dirt as tears began streaming down his cheeks. Byryn collapsed against the wall, without the strength to stand. Byryn's mind filled with regrets.

He thought of things both spoken and unspoken. Promises broken and goals unfulfilled. Time wasted. Time was rushing by. It had already swept his mother and father away while Byryn remained oblivious to their final moments. Byryn lifted his head to see the sky fading into blackness. The stars were dim, dotting the canvas of the heavens. Byryn remembered his father teaching him various names of constellations and his mother reading stories about the historic figures that embodied those names. She would joke about how Highsun may one day be spoken alongside those legendary characters. Byryn looked to the stars and sought out the brightest two he could find. He slowly moved his gaze from one to the other. As his eyes settled on the second glint, he whispered, "Highsun," with a fleeting smile.

A deep pit in the road jolts the wagon. Byryn nearly bites his tongue as his teeth slam together, sending a sharp pain through his jaw. Gareth, who was hopping around moments earlier, is flung to the floor with a thump. Faren chuckles as Gareth jumps up before swiftly going to his seat, gripping the bench to avoid being tossed around once more. Byryn peers out the side again to see the gates of the Citadel are close.

Two immense green sphinxes flank the entrance. The one on the left has the face of a woman, with the other having the face of a man. They stare, unblinking, watching as men come to take the vows and begin new lives as a maester. From a distance, Byryn felt as though the sphinxes were passing judgment on each person to come between them. As the cart crosses through their gaze, their judgment appears to shift to acceptance.