All day long, the Hound moved here and there with somebody's help, found out this and that and made one decision after the other. He had barely time to think, nor did he really know where to start, because there were just so many pressing problems.
However, he resolved to get to know each soldier and servant in Harrenhal, the Holy Hundred and even the lowest kitchen boy included. Since he couldn't recognize people by their faces he went down to the kitchens, the smithy, the stable, the brewery and the soldier's barracks and had one person after the other taken in front of him for a personal interview. In this way, at least he could hear their voices and the way the people moved and breathed. That told him a lot.
Soon, it became clear that many of those people who had been here before his arrival were depressed, traumatised, aggressive, introverted, frightened, or a mix of various of these aspects. While Ser Bonifer was supervising that the lord's orders were carried out and therefore rotating about the castle grounds Ser Will was sitting next to Sandor with a long list where he entered peoples' names and some notes about their personal background. Whenever a person was released after an interview Sandor made a little sign that reflected how he judged the character of the respective person, and Ser Will jotted down an according icon. In this way, they could keep track of who might cause problems and who was worth a better position.
Sandor was surprised how easy this part was for him. Since he was blind he didn't see the people flinch from his face and though he could hear fear in their voices he could always assume that his looks weren't the only reason for it. Moreover, their voices and word choices told him so much that in many cases he didn't feel the need to know anything about their outward appearances.
Soon, he found out that the servant who had been being raped on their arrival was named Pia. The poor thing was still so badly injured that she could barely speak – his godsforsaken brother had beaten her with a mailed fist so that her nose and zygoma had been broken, and she had lost some teeth. Pia was in such a state of shock that she didn't care if he knew who had done that to her; she was beyond fear, beyond feeling much of anything. The other women who had been bound to the pillories were in a slightly better state with regard to their faces, but they had all been raped as well. Bah, this was so ugly. He had seen much of this kind during the military campaigns he had participated in, but he had never taken a fancy to raping.
His talk with the brewer was kept extremely short. He didn't want to have anything to do with somebody who produced an alcoholic beverage. Already his head had started to pound and to demand a beer, but he kept an iron grip on himself.
The smiths were much more interesting, because he could talk shop with them about weapons. Old Ben Blackthumb was as harmless as Ser Gilroy had presented him. The most interesting person, however, was the apprentice.
“What's your name?”
“Gendry Waters, m'lord.”
Sandor pricked up his ears, although he didn't know why.
“Where are you from, Gendry?”
“King's Landing, m'lord.”
“What did you do there?”
“I was an apprentice in a smithy, m'lord.”
“In Tobho Mott's, if it please m'lord.”
Sandor was surprised. The name “Waters” indicated that he was a bastard – and he had been able to pay the fee for an apprenticeship in one of the best smithies in the capital? That sounded fishy, to say the least.
“Do your relatives have the same profession?”
“I don't have any. My mother worked in a tavern, but she is dead. Has been for a long time.”
“What about your father?”
“I've never known him.”
“Then Tobho Mott was more than an instructor for you?”
“So why did you leave him?”
“I was sent away.”
Slowly, but surely the shortspokenness of the young man was going on Sandor's nerves. And the voice with its young, but rich timbre still reminded him of somebody, and he simply didn't know of whom. It was like a flea bite he wanted to scratch. He tried to remember all the low dives he had frequented in King's Landing and the innkeepers he had known there, but at the same time all instincts told him that that was the wrong direction for his thoughts.
“Why were you sent away, Gendry?”
“I don't know, m'lord. I was a good apprentice.”
“Hm. Now tell me what you look like since I can't see you.”
“Right, m'lord. I've got... a smith's physique if you get my meaning. A few little scars from minor burnings. I've got no beard, dark hair, blue eyes.”
“Ah. Well. That was it for the moment, Gendry. You may go back to your work. You'll do your very best for this castle, will you?”
“I'd never do anything less than my best, m'lord.”
A moment later, the smith was gone. The pride in the lad's voice about his profession and his capability was still echoing in Sandor's mind and he signalled Ser Will that the youngster was promising and should be watched more closely. And then suddenly something snapped shut within the Hound and everything fell into place. Now he knew who else had had such a rich timbre, only in an older version, more jovial and with a noble accent instead of the slang of a low-born. The physical description fit as well, and so did the background story of the boy. Whoa. Now this was interesting. Bloody interesting indeed...