"Ten drops in water is enough, even for a boy your size." The Maester said to him, giving him a vial to carry with him in his pocket. "Make your bed, say your prayers, and beg for the Mother to forgive what you have done. Mention this to no one. After you have taken the tonic lay your head to sleep, and soon the world shall be finished with you. With the blessings of the Gods you should wake up in the other world. Pray for mercy that you aren't sent to the Seven Hells."

Sandor nodded his head. At ten and two years he was big for his age, like every Clegane that had come before him. His size wasn't enough to save him from his brother, and he saw no future before him. He'd pleaded with the Maester for weeks, begging constantly for something that would give him relief of this horrid life, some vague thing that could make the pain of life dissipate and end forever.

His burns were bad enough, but he could not live with the death of the last of his true kin. His father was dead, and his sister had gone with him, like a lark following the sun. Her bones, though, were still displayed in the courtyard, as with the bodies of Gregor's whores. Sandor wanted to join her there, and stay dead forever, where nothing burned and there was no more terror. Only blackness, and the promise of Gregor never finding him.

He hated Gregor during his beatings- no longer for being whipped and tortured, but for the fact he always woke up alive. His brother constantly spared him, toying with him as though he were a plaything made of wood or straw. He longed to be beaten to death, or to have his throat cut, or his brains smashed against a wall, but it never happened. He always held onto his meager life, never moving to the next realm. He was stuck on this earth, awaiting punishment for whatever sins he committed against his very own blood.

His brother was already a knight made, and yet he'd still come riding from in Casterly Rock to take care of his household and Keep and beat the holy hell out of Sandor- constant, predictable, awful. Sandor already bore more scars than most warriors. His brother had no reason to make his trips back to his home- Sandor believed it was only to relieve himself from the pains and boredom of duty, and to pretend to have some freedom with his fists and his weaponry. He'd begun bringing troupes of friends with him, all anointed knights, all thirsty for the blood show that Sandor provided. Whores and kitchen girls always acted as the dessert for their free week-ends. He'd slaughter them and leave their bodies to decay in the house. Sandor was forbidden from removing their corpses in his brother's absence, so they stayed on, like guests decomposing in the gloomy halls.

Gregor was due back home in a few days, and Sandor was determined to be dead by his arrival. He wanted to be a stinking corpse by the time his brother found him. It was the only revenge that he could imagine- depriving him of the joy of once again torturing his own brother.

Sandor climbed the stair's from the Maester's room and made for his bedroom. Where he'd once had a real bedroom with a mattress and pillows, he now had a bundle of straw on the floor covered in rags. He'd been banished to sleep in a sort of closet, a small windowless cell with a candle and a chamber pot. Sandor went into his room and closed the door behind him, making himself ready for his last thoughts.

He prayed silently to the Mother- begging her to take his life once and for all. Rage coursed through his veins as a few hot tears rolled down his cheeks. His hands, pressed into a prayer, were shaking. His shoulders trembled while he pleaded with her- his wish was simple: he only wanted to die. His prayers lasted longer than he thought they would. He opened up his soul, telling the Mother of all of his sorrows and fears, confessing his sins to her openly. He wanted to go from the life in some state of purity so that he wouldn't be cast off to the Seven Hells- so that he could meet with his sister and father and mother again, and perhaps feel the love of the Maiden on him as he opened his eyes in the other world.

When he concluded his prayers he didn't bother separating the vial of liquid into water. He drank down the entire contents, and laid down onto his makeshift bed. Sleep came quickly and with no effort, like a storm descending. He knew that he was already on his way, that he would quit the Keep and the world forever. He felt almost blessed before cold darkness swallowed his thoughts. The last thought he had was of the Mother and the Maiden, and then of nothingness.

"You fucking piece of shit, wake the fuck up!"

There was a boot to his stomach, and then a blow to his face. He woke up seeing stars.

"I said wake the fuck up!"

Another blow, followed by another. He could feel himself being pulled from his room, three sets of hands grabbing at him. There was a strong set of hands around his throat, choking him, while the blow from a boot landed on his groin. He was outside of himself; he could register the pain without really feeling it. His mind wasn't sharp enough to wake itself from its stupor. He could hear himself choking and sputtering, gagging on the hands clasped around him. His legs were flailing, but he wasn't really there.

"Get up!"

He couldn't move. He couldn't focus his eyes.

He was being dragged up by the back of his head, clumps of already thin hair being pulled from his scalp. A swift punch landed on his eye and his throat constricted. There was a blow to his stomach, and the hard hit of the broadside of a sword against his back.
"Move, you piece of shit."

Gregor was giving the commands from somewhere, and it was Gregor's friends that were administering the beating. He was being dragged quickly down the hall, pummeled and beaten while his feet struggled to meet the floor. His body was moving automatically. Soon he was being dragged down a stairwell, out into the rain, through the courtyard. Every step was met with another hit, until he was well on his way back to the darkness of unconsciousness. Sandor knew that he didn't cry out, though, and that there was something to be said about that. He took his beating with the stoicism of a silent sister, completely void of expression.

His face met the stench of mud. He was being thrown into a kennel. Someone was on top of him, beating at his face, opening the wounds from his burns. His hands and feet were being tied up, and someone slipped a collar around his neck.

And then, nothing. The door to the kennel was closed, and Gregor's companions walked away laughing. He could hear Gregor's heavy footsteps approaching him- slow and deliberate.

"You want to die like a little cunt?" Gregor asked, through gritted teeth. "The Maester told me everything, you little coward shit. If you want to die like a bitch, you'll live like a bitch. You aren't a Clegane, you are nothing but a fucking dog. From this day forward, you will be a dog. You will be called a dog, live in the kennels and eat like a fucking dog. When you are one day called to court you will only be a dog there. You will die like a dog, you flea bitten shit."

Gregor kicked Sandor hard in the jaw, waking up another sea of stars in his eyes.

"Fucking dog shit." He turned away, leaving him out in the cold. Sandor stayed in that kennel for the better part of a year, until finally he was called to court to answer to his master. A dog he became.