lunes, 12 de febrero de 2018


Right, I happened to have noticed the opening for an anime called Baccano! with an ensemble cast and a badass opening theme (each character is introduced in an instant establishing character moment and name-tagged for our convenience) that reminded me instantly of Westeros - also, both franchises are set in constructed magical realistic worlds, though one of them is late medieval/early modern and the other is 1920s/Prohibition-era.

To cut a long story short, I was smitten with Baccano! and decided to do a Westerosized version of the iconic opening ("Guns and Roses", nothing to do with the homonymous group!). Opening which is, in turn, a homage to the opening credits of 2000 heist film Snatch, making the intertextuality in this AU three layers deep!
So this is a Westeros filk of sorts, since the song filked is instrumental. Instead of lyrics, dear readers, brace yourselves for new visuals inspired by those of the theme tune of the anime series.

PS. I made the characters correspond more or less to their Baccano! counterparts ever since I first saw the Gandors in the opening and their respective personalities just screamed out "Baratheon!" (not to mention "Karamazov!") in my mind's ear. From on then, it was finding more parallels. The trickiest bit was maybe who would be Isaac and Miriam at the opening theme, but then I thought of that Braavosi coin, and Jaqen and Arya were more than happy to fill the spot (in a Braavosi plague doctor mask and as a black catgirl!).
If you wonder why the name cards are written in Cyrillic, well, the original had Latin-lettered name cards in a Japanese show. Few Japanese people can understand Latin spelling (and envy us Europeans for having so many fewer writing characters to learn!), and I wanted to preserve that choice of spelling's idea of exotism and stepping into an alternate reality.
Think of a steampunk AU Westeros, with animesque characters, as you visualise and read.
And it works best if you listen to the tune and/or watch the original opening: Google "baccano guns and roses" on YouTube.

Dramatis Personae
Isaac Dian: Jaqen H'ghar
Miriam Harvent: Arya Stark
Firo Prochainezo: Loras Tyrell
Maiza Avaro: Olenna Tyrell (hehe)
Keith Gandor: Stannis Baratheon
Berga Gandor: Robert Baratheon
Luck Gandor: Renly Baratheon
Szilard Quates: Tywin Lannister
Ennis: Cersei Lannister (hehe)
The Conductor: Tyrion Lannister (No name card in either version)
Lua Klein: Sansa Stark
Ladd Russo: Joffrey "Baratheon"
Chane Laforêt: Margaery Tyrell
Nice Holystone: Brienne of Tarth
Jacuzzi Splot: Jaime Lannister
Eve Genoard: Oberyn Martell
Dallas Genoard: Elia Martell
Czeslaw Meyer: Varys + Petyr Baelish


SCENE I - Coin Toss
(Cue jaunty jazz music!)

On a street in a good-sized Riverlands market village, a strange foreign coin soars high over the rooftops. It's made of dark iron, more angular and significantly thicker than Westerosi coins. As the coin flips through the cloudless day sky, we see that on one side it has a monogram of the letters VMD and the inscription "valar morghulis, valar dohaeris;" and, on the other, a hooded cape without any face within. The coin lands in the open palm of a good-looking, thirtyish fellow whose angular face is stubbled and whose long crimson hair has silver streaks, like a candy cane. A petite adolescent girl looks over the slender foreigner's shoulder, her steel-grey gaze livening up after a quick glance at the coin. She skips only for once, trying as hard as she can to stifle her squeal of glee: Hoods, I win! The foreigner merely frowns and tsk-s in response, but in an ironic tone that betrays he isn't that serious.
The foreigner pulls out of his knapsack an ornate, gilt mask with a prominent beak, as well as a black hooded cloak, just like the one on the coin, with kitty ears at the crown of the head, as well as a long dark tail at pelvis height. Within an instant, the two-tone-haired man has put on the mask and a larger black cloak, while the girl's dark nutbrown mop of hair is hidden beneath the kitty ears of her hood.
Thus accoutred, both of them head for a lonely stall on the outskirts of Fairmarket. The streets they cross are empty, everyone resting in the heat of the summer day. The fellow in the plague-doctor's mask heads towards the stall in advance, eyes concealed behind the narrow slits, but a crazy sneer that no one can tell if it should be sinister or cheerful.

Якен Хгар

Behind him walks the catgirl, who has even painted whiskers on her face with charcoal. She saunters forth as nimble as a real stray kitten, the hilt of her rapier brushing her right thigh, as she follows her guardian full of youthful self-confidence.

Арья Старк

Turns out that they are stealing fruit. The middle-aged female owner of the stall (and of the home  whose front door happens to be right behind it), startled, surrendering, produces a box of ripe green pears with the following inscription on it:


That will be more than enough for the trip to Braavos, right? She nods at the foreigner's question, something like a purr vibrating in her throat as he messes her short chestnut hair, loading it with static charge, as both walk away into the countryside and he pulls off her hood with those kitty ears.


SCENE II - Around a Table in a Drawing Room

At sixteen or seventeen, a mere stripling (upper lip barely gilt by unseen peach-fuzz, limbs and shoulders but half-developed), hazel eyes sparkling with confidence framed in golden spring-like curls, is fitted for his new hat, pulling over his brow the brim of an austere affair of a boater merely decked with a mint-green ribbon, upon which a marigold-yellow cockade blooms. Though he's wearing civilian attire, his thoughts are as contradictory, of both hope and anxiety, as those of a young lieutenant on his baptism of fire. The hat is merely an excuse, a way of breaking the ice, aside from a sign of his coming of age.

Лорас Тирелл

Knotty yet gentle fingers on his shoulders reassure the soon-to-be young man, who turns around and is encouraged by the presence of his wise mentor of a grandmother. Though bent and weakened by the decades, her rapier wit has not rusted, but rather honed its edge under those silvery locks and those gold-rimmed spectacles, and the furrows on her once lovely face are as riddled with lore as the bark of a weirwood. With a wise, friendly smile, she encourages the blond youth, showing him the course to take.

Оленна Тирелл

Opposite the table sit those three brothers from an enemy clan, all three tall of frame and broad of shoulders, with shapely limbs, raven hair, and eyes of steel blue (The grandmother whispers in the stripling's ear something about a drunkard, a bigot, and a wanton). The stern middle brother, a gaunt thirty-something, looks around with a piercing stare before getting lost in his own musings. Hard are his features, as if chiselled in granite, and equally hard is the heart within his chest. Lord of Light, what has roped me into this predicament? Rather than playing these frivolous games with them, I would spend the evening studying or doing paperwork all on my own. Clenching his fists as he places the handwritten contracts on the table, grinding his teeth to bite the end of his pipe, a piercing stare turning to one so cold that it sears the world around with despisal. The world has never been fair. Someone needs to set right everything that is wrong. And everyone else is worried with their own selfish desires, leaping before they look.

Станнис Баратеон

In the middle of the table, someone rather different overreacts, guffawing in a slurred baritone: the temperamental eldest brother, the only bearded one, fortyish and overweight leaning on obese. Once more, he raises the stakes, ranting out loud and proud, though slurred, at the killjoy by his side. The stein he just drained at one deep draught was the last one, that killjoy said, and he's still thirsty. There's always this feeling in his throat, in his fevered vitals, that emptiness... that urge, for that scorching fluid... it's a flight forwards, and he'll get even thirstier tomorrow in the morn... "return sober tonight..." GODS, YOU BASTARD, WATER IS FOR FROGS! he bellows, irises glazed and bloodshot, a duller shade of blue. If he were in his right mind, the right hook which he has just given the curmudgeon in the gut would hurt. Luckily, the strong drink has sapped all the strength that was left within.

Роберт Баратеон

Looking away (from both the drunkard and the curmudgeon), the wistful youngest brother smirks in an ironic way. Leave them be, boys will be boys... but I like that hat, is it new? Though the corners of his eyes, unseen to his older brothers, earnestly hone in on the Reacher stripling opposite the trio on the table. Pretty hat, is it a new one? Said stripling cannot help exchanging glances (a wink and a sip) with the dark-haired young man in his twenties, with only a streak of downy shade on his upper lip, those playful sparkles in azure irises, neither icy nor glazed, betraying that he still is a child at heart. The ribbon and the cockade on the hat, the golden ringlets beneath, shimmer in a friendly light. That slight exchange, a public overture to the lovers' closet drama, feels like a tingle down the spine of the dashing Stormlander's lithe frame. Some trust in religion, and others in strong drink, as their intoxicant of choice: he, the youngest, thirsts for a nobler draught and knows of more serious fun.

Ренли Баратеон

In response, the young blond cannot help but thinking of a kiss, his heart racing, squeezing his crossed legs to stop the hardening and the throbbing in between. Affairs of state are one thing and matters of the heart are another... but somehow, though in both youths there is far more of the warrior than of the statesman, the stars seem to align for both their personal interests and those of their respective household. The Reacher draws his grandmother closer and whispers in her ear, the truth but only half the truth. She understands, indeed, the value of the alliance. Soon, he thinks as he adjusts the straw hat slightly knocked off those dark curls, the one I love will be closer than ever. Let others see, for a first impression, a marriage of convenience, best friends, brothers-in-law... he thinks as he puts the stein to his lips to cool himself, merely swallowing three or four drops at that kiss-like sip, but no deeper draught is needed, since he still thirsts for the Reacher stripling.
Elsewhere not far away, another person puts a cup away from her lips, placing the still half-empty crystal goblet on the table as she listlessly tucks a long, golden wisp behind her left ear.


SCENE III - En Tête-à-Tête In a Dark, Austere Room

She looks up into the face of the stern, shrewd statesman opposite her, eyes of mint-green yet icy and piercing, as if to sound her very core. The de facto ruler of Westeros, who made himself from the ashes and brought a new golden age to the realm, has definitely seen better days, but, in spite of his sharp features being furrowed with decades of thought, and that golden hair having frosted over with silver, he's as sound, both of frame and of mind, as he was in his thirties. A heart hardened by the loss of loved ones and the scorn of the world, a resolve to never give in to any affective impulses that would prove overtures to the enemy, and children reared from afar, detachedly, to perform their duties for the good of the dynasty. They have come of age and brought children themselves, but none of them have ever sat upon his lap. The reins of state need iron hands and a taste of the lash, so that the worst never occurs. And thus has it been for decades of rule, the shame and weakness of his own upstart boyhood light years away. But still the offspring rebels, their own free wills countering that of the State. She needs to remarry, he sternly, coldly tells her, as if there were no other choice. For there is no other choice.

Тайвин Ланнистер

The sexy blonde listens absently, gazing at the crimson draught in her crystal cup and letting it swirl in a little maelström before she can put it to her lips, to erase her golden-haired, peridot-eyed reflection in the blood-like liquid. Uh, when will he ever understand? What does he know? She sighs and sips, then peers into her reflection once more, dwelling upon the signs of fading youth in the corners of her eyes, and the first silver streaks among her gold. She's no longer a child that requires constant parental surveillance... but her weakness and the transience of youth are still the price she has to pay. Finally free from the bruises and fractures wrought by that drunken lout... but who married her off to that drunken lout in the first place? And who wants to marry her off to a mere stripling, right as she's begun her descent into the valley of years? She sighs and takes another sip. You were always daddy's girl, pampered and swaddled in red velvet... but who is the one who knows best, actually? Swaddled and reared and pampered by others, destined to shine in society with a dazzling career of power, as he detachedly looked on and planned to live your life. Her throat is parched. The thirst that cursed her first spouse is all she's inherited from his legacy. No, you were never daddy's girl. You were always daddy's golden egg. Putting the cup to her lips, she quaffs a deep draught, absorbing her own reflection with that kind nepenthe.

Серсея Ланнистер

"Refill," she absent-mindedly commands in a slurred mezzo as the cup is picked by an odd-eyed imp, a fairer shade of blond, who lacks a name card but, nevertheless, needs no introduction. Though both the other pairs of eyes are equally green, one's stare is piercing cold, while the other's is stupidly glazed. The brightest, the most intelligent gleam in the room, is the one in the imp's black right eye, so unlike the left one he's inherited along with the surname. The odd-eyed imp refills the cup of his older sister, such a fool no matter if she's drunk or sober, as a bell rings off in the distance: he waves goodbye at the old blighter and the lady drunk, and leaves with the flacon of liquor in hand. "The bridegroom", he replies. "We shall not let the poor lad die of thirst, shall we?" There's an ironic tone to the imp's words as he shuts the door and saunters into the corridor, flacon and cups at hand.


SCENE IV - The Fiancés' Chamber

The door to the Rococo-furnished, pastel bedchamber is opened to the cupbearer imp by a redhead who looks visibly tense and insecure, quivering like a leaf on the branch, her lovely heart-shaped face strangely pale, copper-red plaits hanging limp upon a sky blue cleavage to fit the colour of her eyes; her empire waist gown is light, but chaste, with shoulder pads that look like azure wings flanking the cleavage, and a little silvery rope belt. The girl lets the imp in as he places the drinks on the nightstand table and leaves, shutting the door and winking at her. She sighs at the mirror, setting her complicated hairstyle in order, her azure irises downcast below a brow heightened by the crown of braided hair above. She would feel relieved by the fact that her fiancé is now betrothed to another maiden, but a shudder runs down her spine as she thinks of what he might do to the new Reacher bride, and how it will be for her as his wife (no matter how much the latter has confidently reassured the redhead). Now that she has come of age, the lovely bridesmaid has cast aside all childish things. First and foremost, happy ever afters.

Санса Старк

Right as the bridesmaid shuts the door and returns into the room, her former fiancé reaches for the full cup on the table to his left, as he lounges back (too casually for the sharp suit he's wearing) aiming a dart, right-handed, at the pupil of that bloodshot Cyclopean eye, the dartboard fixed to the inside of the door, poison-green irises already covered in a slight glaze of not only self-confidence, keen incisors bared in a glistening, psychotic smile in between a sneer and a smirk, too serious for this mere stripling, his back leaning against the wall and his limbs spreadeagled, lounging as carefree as any young bridegroom of rank on the eve of the great day. As his right wrist releases the sharp projectile, the left one moves towards the stripling's lovely face, splashing against the nearly invisible peach-down on his upper lip, his lips curling as they eagerly absorb the draught of liquid fire. Gulp. Right as the piercing shaft strikes the left edge of the dart-eye's pupil, the amber liquor is searing his throat and descending into his chest, to warm his heart, if there ever was one in there. The young scion is still thirsty, but actually not for strong drink or for blood, but for true love, which he never received in his short life, a violent stepfather having only kindled his own rage, a broken mother trying to fill her own emptiness by catering to his every whim. Little does he know that he will learn what love means when it's too late, that his first sweetheart is actually cajoling him, that there are tainted thorns beneath the Reach rose, and that a single drop of liquid will be enough to quench all of that burning thirst...

Джоффри «Баратеон»

Approaching from stage left, and having just donned her empire-waist bridal gown with a skirt of clustered white satin roses, just like the puffy sleeves, a lovely nutbrown girl with a heart-shaped face like peaches and cream, determined, tears off the freshly-thrown projectile from the dartboard, her amber eyes piercing and keen with a resolve as she has her back turned to the bridegroom, a friendly smile of courtesy shining with light as she turns 180 degrees towards him. She knows the young scion well, what he's done to his former fiancée, what he's done to others. That cruel, conceited little bastard will never live to break any more hearts, she thinks, his throat rising and falling as he swallows a deeper draught. He needed someone to love and who loved him in exchange, and my own cleverness added to his own egotism conceal the real intentions of flattery perfectly, for I shall never wear my heart upon my sleeve. The bride he kisses, the rim of the cup he kisses, is a trap that shall spring when he least expects it. Grandmother told her to be like the thornrose, the soft petals of her peaches-and-cream complexion and her dark hair beneath veils of lacy gauze concealing the piercing, death-laced thorns of revenge underneath.

Маргери Тирелл

He takes the dart from his fiancée's hand without even casting a glance at her, betraying his own self-absorption. And she smiles in response, with a flick of the wrist, proud and contented upon seeing that his eyes are upon her, that the thorny hook is deep in his throat and all she has to do is to reel him in, before turning towards the red-haired maid of honour for a conversation en tête-à-tête. The projectiles fired by the golden-haired lad for a pastime turn to throwing spears and grenades upon a real battlefield, fired in earnest against targets of flesh and blood.


SCENE V - Two Lovers On the Run

Explosions all around them. Grenades to the left, grenades to the right, harpoons and throwing spears from both Northern and Southron military hidden behind every ruined wall, every fern or bush... It's a flight forwards, and both of these people, her right hand in his left, have to run for their lives, lest a projectile from their persecutors should strike either of them, right as their relationship is already fire-forged. The younger of the two, an adolescent in a sky blue lieutenant's uniform, appears visibly excited, her azure eyes shining with light as her rippling, shapely limbs tense like springs under pressure. One might take this short-haired, ashy blonde maiden for a young man, given her masculine physique and facial features. Towering head and shoulders above her partner, riddled with youthful freckles and acne scars, she looks over her shoulder to see if there anyone has caught a glimpse of them... Once she lost her chance and her niche, and she's still presumed guilty of that crime she didn't commit, but now all of that means nothing to her. All that is on her mind is the fight-or-flight response, and she values her own life far less than that of the disowned enemy heir, faint with fever and blood loss, for whose life she is responsible, and for whose life she now even cares, dragging the weary cripple forwards, her right hand tightly clasping his left. Another grenade explodes to their right, right as she shoves both of them aside. Not all of her innocence is lost, and she has always been doing her best for the sake of those she loves. One look behind more, and her eyes shine with transitory confidence: they're both safe for now, but how long will it last?

Бриенна Тарт

The touch of strong warrior's fingers reassures him, the thirtyish cripple's left wrist as cold and limp as a dead fish. The forward motion of her iron legs urges him forth, his own lower extremities heavy as if laden with lead. No refreshment cools his throat, but her clear azure springs are enough to quench all his fever-thirst. The voice of command of the freckled lieutenant, that awkward stripling (if she could be called a "stripling"), and her steady breathing as they run forth, encourages the febrile commander, though his throat is parched, and his head is heavy, and he's worlds away from home and twin sister, and would rather surrender and let himself be struck where it hurts the most, and shut those weary eyelids of glazed mint-green orbs, like leaves through glass, never to awaken. The crimson uniform with golden facings is all worn and bereft of glitter, the clean-shaven face is now thorny with stubble (now darker, pale with blood loss as he is), the golden hair buried beneath dark greasy grime, the scorching stump of the right wrist (that arm in a sling) throbs and, though freshly disinfected, sends dark poisoned blood up the veins, setting his whole self on fire... He imagined death so much it feels more like a memory. Far from drawing-rooms and officers' mess halls, as a prisoner of war on the run bereft of his surname, the strings that once restrained him finally cut, he becomes a person of flesh and blood, his nature weighed down by heat, thirst, fatigue, illness, pain... but also encouraged by hope. What he felt for his twin sister is not the true love of his innocent, blue guiding star.

Джейме Ланнистер

Her strong right grip in his limp left wrist, the commander and the lieutenant storm hand in hand across enemy lines, through fire and ice. She leads with all her strength, no matter how much it wavers, and he wearily follows, riding the coattails of her youthful impulse, no matter if that exhaustion should mean the end of his life, a demise which he once saw as far more inglorious than falling upon the field of battle. Ever since he was cut at the right wrist, the world is turned upside down, or rather like a reflection in a mirror, while she finds herself a counterweight to her childlike insecurity. A maiden hopes, a warrior despairs. And their threads of life entwine in parallel.


SCENE VI - On a Porch in the Friendly Shade

Shutting the locket with the picture of a young woman and her children, as bronze-skinned and raven-haired and lithe as himself, the dashing Dornishman breathes a heavy sigh, until his lungs are utterly empty. The smiles of his dear sister and little niece, the sparkles in their black eyes, and the innocently sleeping infant, bring back painful memories of happier days, of before the tragedy that he had been powerless to stop. That's why he told his paramour that he wanted to be on his own for a while. On his own, well, actually, accompanied by his kin at heart. No matter how much he's detached himself, those thoughts always return, like highwater in the evening. And, like the tide ebbs, they will ebb as well. For lustrums he has always been fleeing forwards, never stopping in the same place for too long, with a paramour in every port, now as a learned scholar, now as an officer of fortune, now as a socialite with a penchant for risqué games, his reputation always preceding him in advance. Ever seeking sensations, temptations, elations; his joys as vivid as his sorrows, and vice versa, drinking the cup of life at deepest draughts, quaffing the bitter hangovers as well as the intoxicating euphoria. Half-opening the locket as his chest heaves once more, he peers into the picture within, then closes it shut once more.

Оберин Мартелл

Shutting his weary black eyes, he flashes back to the grim sight of her headless form lying prostrate in a pool of blood, her daughter's in the same state by her side, the infant crushed against the wall, but the young Dornishwoman who tried in vain to protect her children from strong, bloodthirsty men of war, over her own life, dominates the lurid composition.

Элия Мартелл

It takes only an instant for his eyelids to jerk back open and drink in the bright sun of a new cloudless day. This is harsh reality, and he's gotten used to it for decades, though it's shocking every single time. Sooner or later, before midlife sets in (the good all die before thirty-five), he will return home. Quench that burning thirst for revenge, along with that burning thirst for life and experience. And confront the ones who took his sister and her children, dying himself quickly and violently, but finally in peace. The countdown has just begun.


SCENE VII - Playing a Board Game in the Drawing Room from Before

Stroking his sharp salt-and-pepper goatee, a slender, shrewd entrepreneur lingers before his side of the cyvasseboard with concentrated grey eyes, calculating all the possible positions that his pieces can move to within the honeycomb of hexagons. The poker face remains as he lingers on each piece for a while, thinking as logically as it has allowed him to rise in status, all the way up to pleasure-parlour baron. Of course he admires his present opponent, that innocuous-looking foreigner (who knows if there is something deep and red like a stab wound between his thighs?), hated by some and dreaded by everyone... They're both strangers in high society, giving a reason for their mutual awe. Finally, still with that fixed expression, the goateed bourgeois in the silver mockingbird tie reaches for one of his white dragons, making a move he has thought of for an hour.

Петир Бейлиш 

Opposite the entrepreneur on the same cyvasse table, the overweight fellow in the silk kimono has a poker face as well, but a more innocent one that, combined with his lack of hair on both head and face, and his plump frame, makes him resemble the storybook egg Humpty Dumpty, but dressed in a kimono of lilac silk brocade with a wisteria pattern. It's true that his feminine appearance and friendly smile make him look far more innocent and less cold than his opponent, but he knows everything there is to know, every single detail and every single person entwined together with everyone else, how the changes of no consequence will pick up the reins from nowhere, in a tangled web of chance not unlike the tightly-woven silk and gold threads that make up his soft yukata.


The two dark cyvasse crossbowman pieces which the eunuch has moved against the entrepreneur's white dragon are a tall Braavo in a doctor's mask, with that long beak over two-tone hair (crimson with white streaks, like a candy cane), and a nimble dark catgirl with eyes as grey as steel.
Thus, the circle is closed.

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