Story the Fifth
Ten of Wands
(Tyrionsa: Copper Spun Into Gold)
There was once a decent fellow, so honest that he lost his head. But he had a lovely daughter, who had just left the provinces up north for the royal castle, and of whom it was said at court:
"All that copper thread on her head, with the ransom her brother will pay, will be spun into gold." Or so the Queen Mother believed. For the realm was broke, and full of corruption, and teetering upon the brink of war.
So the maiden was led into a bedchamber full of silks and jewels in cool colours, to fit the colour of her eyes, and string instruments she could play like a virtuosa. It looked like a wonderful parlour, but was actually a gilded dungeon.
And the King of all the land, a mere stripling as stubborn as he was cruel, packed her by the wrists and said, with piercing green eyes:
"Now set to work and polish your courtly graces, for we are awaiting your lord brother to pay the ransom; and, if he does not accept our conditions and spin your copper hair into gold, and nip a war in the bud, you must die. After all, there's traitor's blood in your veins..."
Then he shut the door in her face and left her locked inside.
So poor Sansa sat down on her bed, tears in her azure eyes, and she did not know what on Earth she was to do. At last she broke into sobs and tears.
Suddenly, there was a friendly knock at the door, it opened gently, and there stood a little imp with odd eyes (the right one black, the left one green), short crooked legs, and a shock of platinum hair with golden streaks.
"Good evening, traitor's daughter. Why are you crying so bitterly?" he kindly asked her.
"The copper on my head will be spun into gold, a ransom paid will bring me home to Winterfell, but I have not a clue on how it's done."
"I know how to play the game of thrones," the imp replied. "Every day around this time, I will sneak into your bedchamber and teach you how to treat them. The Queen Mother is my all-but-perfect older sister, after all..."
"I would give you anything; this lilac hairnet, for instance," the maiden replied.
And the imp spread out a cyvasseboard on the bed and challenged her to a game of cyvasse. It was so hard thinking that her head ached and she grew sleepy. Of course Sansa lost the game.
"It will take ages for you to master," the imp replied. And they played cyvasse that day until nightfall, when, exhausted, she wearily drew her royal blue bed-curtains and wished the odd-eyed imp goodnight.
And she slept the good sleep of the innocent, drifting away to her native hinterland and to snowy eaves among conifer woods, until the dawn crept up the waves in the next morn.
A few hours after the sun rose, the King and the Queen Mother came, and both golden-haired royals were astonished at her mastery of the courtly ways, but their icy hearts were lusting more than ever for the precious ransom. Thus, when she was left alone with His Grace, he pinned the traitor's daughter to the wall and, holding his shortsword to her throat, hissed into her face:
"If you value your life, 'Princess' of the North, and those of your friends and kinsfolk, I hope that every single fire-kissed hair on your head, and also on your limbs, should be spun into gold as soon as possible." In sooth, young Joffrey was pleased beyond measure at his little game, but his thirst for pain, and the realm's thirst for gold, were not yet quenched. "And, if you succeed, this time you shall become my queen."
Sansa's heart sank in her chest, like a lead weight.
"She's only a traitor's daughter, and a traitor she will become; it's as true as the Wall of her home is made of ice. But I couldn't find a better wife if my men went to search, from Dorne to Winterfell... for she has not even shuddered as I pack her by the wrists, tickle her throat with cold steel, toss her to the ground... Even though Lord Grandfather mentions the Tyrell girl over and over again. Like, what do I know about a complete stranger?" the young ruler thought to himself.
When the maiden was alone, her skin as bruised as her self-esteem, in her bedchamber, the imp appeared on his short stumpy legs once more, and asked in the usual friendly way: "What would you give me in exchange for another lesson?"
"I have nothing more to give," she sighed.
"Then, promise me your own hand in marriage."
"Doesn't he know that I'm his nephew's fiancée?" the traitor's daughter thought. And, besides that, there was no other way out of the predicament. The imp might not be a pretty sight, but he was friendly and clever, completely unlike her crowned betrothed. So she promised the odd-eyed imp what he demanded. And they set to work once more as usual.
When the King came in the morn, and found everything as he desired, he straightaway packed his fiancée by the wrists and, dragging her into the throne room, proclaimed her officially as his bride... but was interrupted by his own lady mother and lord grandfather, and by an old dowager dressed in the Reacher fashion: Olenna Tyrell, the grandmother of the bride.
And Sansa thought of the future queen whom she would soon get to know, hoping that she would give her spouse a taste of his own pain... and, all of a sudden, she remembered the imp. She had not made it to Winterfell yet, the war had reaped countless casualties... and the Tyrells were now officially allied with House Lannister thanks to this engagement... She really hoped that the odd-eyed, stumpy-legged little imp would keep his word.