Kermit did not remember his father well. He had been young when Lord Elmo had ridden to war, to fight at Rhaenyra’s side—young enough that his father still spoke to him as if he were a child, though he was a man grown and newly knighted. “When Elmo returns, Elmo will tell you such wonderful stories, all right?” his father had said, his red hair blowing in the wind. His father always baby-talked him that way, calling himself “Elmo.” Kermit had never known why. He’d been three-and-ten when the war had broken out, and surely his father should not have treated him like a child. But Lord Elmo had, and only now did Kermit realize how much he missed it.
His father had given him another hug. “Now be good, and heed Byrd, Kermit. Now, smile for Elmo. Go on, Kermit. Smile.” But Kermit had been unable. He’d felt near tears, in truth. “No smile for Elmo?” his father had asked. “Does Elmo need to tickle Kermit?”
Kermit had shaken his head. He didn’t remember much of his father, beyond his red hair, but he did remember that Lord Elmo had loved tickling, and he had tickled Kermit until he’d laughed and smiled before mounting his great steed and ridden off to his death, his bastard son Oscar and his younger brother Cook at his side.
It was thus that Kermit Tully learned that life was not a song.
“Come now, Ser Kermit,” Byrd had said. Byrd was Castellan at Riverrun, a tall and lanky man with a thatch of yellow hair and an easy demeanor. “There’s no use being sad. Lord Elmo would not have wanted it.”