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A Ballad of the Dragon and She-Wolf

Chapter Text

At long last the big day had come, when Jon Snow and the Mother of Dragons would arrive at Winterfell. Seven long years had passed since Arya's favorite brother Took The Black. Before he left he rustled her wild brown hair, picked her up to give her a kiss on the forehead, then gave here a parting gift, Needle. Needle was a rapier custom ordered by Jon, crafted with her size and ability in mind, and every time she honed Needle she reminisced about him and speculated on could have been had he never left for that dreadful ice Wall.

I can't believe after all these years he is coming! Sometimes I feared we would never reunite! Arya thought to herself.

She was also eager to meet Daenerys Targaryen, the self made and self proclaimed Queen who united the Dothraki khalasars and liberated the Slave Coast. During her time in Braavos Arya had heard many tales of her exploits, often from tavern gossip and mummer's farces. Growing up Arya loved taking history lessons from Maester Luwin, and she always had a great admiration for Targaryen women. The Conqueror's sisters Visenya and Rhaenys in particular, because they were fierce warriors equal to their brother; in short everything Arya craved.

The sky was blue with few visible clouds. It was only a fortnight into the winter and there was already a half foot of snow, which greatly enhanced the brightness of the sun and made everything in sight much clearer.

Arya was surrounded by Northerners outside the walls of Winterfell, around her arm were two small evergreen wreathes she made from branches cut from the Godswood. The drums and trumpets of heralds and the blaring of bagpipes sounded and soon the procession appeared. First were the Unsullied, dark skinned pike men in blackened steel armor and lobster tailed helmets. Next came the Dothraki on horseback, they wore leather armor and blue warpaint, wielded longbows and sickle swords, and wore their black hair in long braids with silver bells that jangled with their horses' every canter.

The Dothraki! Maester Luwin told us all about them. Apparently Daenerys killed all of the Khals and all of their men follow her now. Any woman who managed to seize control of such a culture gives me hope.
Next she espied a tall and broad shouldered man with a full beard on horseback, clearly not Dothraki. He wore a helm crafted to look like a snarling dog's head and a yellow surcoat charged with three talbot dogs, he lifted his visor and looked to the crowd and she saw that a third of his face was covered in severe burn scars. Just as she recognized him gave what was possibly and attempt at a smile and rode past her.

Seven hells, how is that hateful bastard still alive?

A covered wagon appeared, and in it appeared to be the Imp and the Spider. The Imp had visited Winterfell with King Robert and his Court, right before everything in Arya's world shattered. She was eager to see him then, the notion of a grown man shorter then her was fascinating.

Following the wagon was a stunning woman who appeared to be from Sothryos, perhaps the Summer Isles. Her skin was the color of oak and she had lush, kinky hair no Westerosi had. She wore a dark wool dress and had a ring through her septum. Many in the crowd sneered as she passed by.

Jealous cunts. Arya had never been known for beauty as a child, that was what her big sister Sansa was known for. Growing up Sansa tormented her with cruel monikers like horse face and lumpy, those words stung like a hornet though Arya never believed herself ugly. She had once asked her father if she was and he told her she was a spitting image of her aunt Lyanna, a woman whose beauty tore the continent apart with war. Despite all that Arya never experienced jealousy, and looked down on women who let envy cloud their judgment of other women.

Finally Jon and Daenerys appeared. Jon wore a wolf pelt mantle and armor much like their late father wore, Arya noticed his surcoat had the Stark dire wolf and she smiled ear to ear knowing he was at long last seen as one of them. Daenerys wore a fuzzy white fur dress with a scarlet cravat, over her heart was a chained silver brooch with a three headed dragon, over her dress she wore a cape made of a white lion pelt with its maned head serving as a hood. The Dragon Queen was every bit as gorgeous as the songs sung about her in Braavos suggested. Daenerys rode on a beautiful white mare and Jon rode his dire wolf Ghost, Ghost had grown the size of a horse since the last time Arya saw him. In front of them was a tall knight in a Mormont surcoat, green with a black bear rampant. Flanking and tailing them were a diverse lot of knights, possibly the Queensguard.

“Jon! Jon! Over here!” Arya called out, but just as she did she heard an otherworldly roar and soon the royal procession was overcast with two large shadows. She looked up in the sky and saw Daenerys's two namesake dragons. Both soared through the air, never in her eighteen years had Arya beheld such a magnificent spectacle. Others were not so receptive, they looked at the dragons with the same distrust as they did with the Unsullied and Dothraki or the kinky haired woman.

When the dragons disappeared she shuffled through the crowds to the main courtyard, where Sansa and their brother Bran waited, along with many vassals. Sansa wore a wolf fur mantle much like Jon's and her bodice was emblazoned with her personal sigil: a dire wolf with the lower body of a trout, with a red heart in the top corner of the lozenge. Arya's sigil was identical, save for an ermine spot in place of a heart. Sansa wore her vibrant red hair loose and adorned herself with Southron jewelry once worn by their late mother. In one hand Sansa carried a loaf of bread, in another she held a leather drawstring pouch of salt. Bran wore almost solid black, with the sole exception being a silver medallion that resembled a raven's skull. On Bran's face was a blank, glossy eyed look, expressionless yet still unnerving.
Jon and Daenerys rode into the courtyard and dismounted.

“Joooooon!” Arya hollared as she dashed to her brother.

“Aryaaaaaa!” He opened his arms and lifted her off the ground the moment she was in reach.

“I've missed you so much.” Arya said, tears of joy rolling down her plump cheeks.

“So did I. Not a night goes by that I don't think about you! I've matters to attend to, meet me in the Godswood later and we can talk.” Jon said as he put her down and kissed her forehead. She handed him one of the wreathes and he proudly put it on.

“I've heard so much about you! Jon tells me you're quite the outlaw!” Daenerys said, she had a dimply, jovial smile that bared her teeth to the gums, made her purple eyes squint, and her thick eyebrows furrow. To Arya's welcome surprise they were of almost equal height.

“I never thought I'd get to meet a –” Arya started to say.

“They are not here for your entertainment, Arya!” Sansa interrupted harshly. Though the sisters had reconciled Sansa could still be icy. Daenerys seemed uncomfortable and Jon seemed upset with Sansa but not shocked. Arya handed Daenerys her wreath and quietly sidelined.

Jon hugged Sansa. “Arya did nothing wrong,” Arya could hear him whisper.

Daenerys walked up to Sansa.

.

“Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen,” Jon said in introduction, “my sister, Sansa Stark, the Lady of Winterfell!” Everyone glared at the foreign queen with unease.

“Thank you for inviting us into your home, Lady Stark. The North is as beautiful as your brother claimed, as are you.” Daenerys said smiling.

“Winterfell is yours, your grace.” Sansa said then handed Daenerys the bread and salt, though Arya doubted her sincerity.

“We don't have time for all this,” Bran said. “The Night King has your dragon, Viserion is one of them now. The Wall has fallen, the Dead march south.”

Chapter Text

All the Lords of the North gathered in the Great Hall of Winterfell. At center of the hall Jon and his foreign Queen turned lover Daenerys sat in front of the hearth. Sansa sat next to her bastard half brother, and glared at the silver haired Essosi whenever she crossed Sansa's eyes. The lovers wore the wreaths Arya gifted them, and Sansa was deeply irked by the gesture.

First Jon renounces his title as King in the North in order to be the paramour of Daenerys, the daughter of the tyrant who killed our grandfather and uncle, and the sister of the monster who raped and murdered our aunt. Now she waltzes into our home and Arya gives her a crown!

Fortunately for Sansa most of her vassals seemed to be on her side. A good majority of them seemed to look at Jon with contempt and Daenerys with unease, and none seemed to have any positive emotions. Unintelligible conversations were happened, but promptly halted once Jon and Daenerys called the meeting to order.

“Thank you all for coming under such short notice!” Sansa said in opening the meeting. “With the news that the Wall has fallen I called all our vassals to gather here at Winterfell. When will your banners be available, Lord Umber?” Sansa asked.

Lord Umber got up. He was a small boy in a mantle trimmed with grubby fox fur. “We need more horses and wagons. I would be eternally thankful should you spare any, my lady. And um, my lord and my queen.” Umber sat back down.

Outrageous! How dare my bannerman call that silver bushed cunt his queen, men really do think with their cocks!

“Ravens must be sent to Castle Black. The Wall is breached and invasion has begun, so the Night's Watch needs to come here where they can make a difference." Jon said.

“I will get to it right now, your grace.” The Maester said and nodded, his chain rattled as he moved.

“Your grace?” Lady Mormont asked as she stood up. “But you're not, are you? We made you a King abut now I don't know what you are! What are you now? A Lord? A bed warmer?”

Thank you Lyanna! Sansa thought, Lyanna articulated what Sansa would dare not utter.

“It doesn't matter anymore.” Jon said dismissively.

“Doesn't matter? We made you King! I persuaded my peers to do so!” The young Lady said, with loud frustration in her voice. Jon stood up.

“Don't think I don't appreciate that, because I do. You did something I can never repay, but when I went south it was because we needed allies. So I found allies and I was given an ultimatum, keep my crown and go home empty handed, or bend the knee in order to protect the North. It wasn't an easy decision, but I elected to swallow my pride to protect the North!” Jon said.
Many Lords booed or otherwise showed disapproval. Sansa grinned at the sight of it.

“Treason!” Some yelled.

“Sell out!” Yelled others.

Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf who was Sansa's annulled husband got up.

“Nobody has done more to save us from the Army of the Dead than Jon Snow. If any of us survive the War to Come they will have him to thank. He risked life and limb in order to prove to fellow monarchs that the Army of the Dead is real, and he won over the leader of quite possibly the greatest army the world has ever seen. The Dothraki are the greatest cavalry in the world, the Unsullied are the greatest infantry, and Daenerys commands them both and two full grown dragons! Yara Greyjoy commands half the greatest navy and she swore fealty to Daenerys. Though Yara is held captive by my sister hope remains she will be rescued and come to our aide. Ellaria Sand too bent the knee to Daenerys, and if she too is rescued than the forces of Dorne will come with her. Jon is no gambling man, but he has the good sense to side with the winning team.” Tyrion said with passion.

What's wrong with Tyrion? Did Daenerys brainwash him too?

“Outrageous! Why should we listen a fucking Lannister?” A voice asked.

“I know we haven't always been friends, I understand why you are skeptical. However now is not the time for politics or family drama. Now is the time to cast aside our differences to defeat a force that will kill us all!” Tyrion answered.

“My I ask how we're supposed to feed 'quite possibly the greatest army the world has ever seen'? When stockpiling food to last through a long winter I didn't anticipate food for thousands of savages and eunuchs, let alone two dragons! What do dragons eat anyway?” Sansa asked.

“Anything that moves.” Daenerys answered coldly with a smug smile.

Ser Davos Seaworth got up.

“My lady, if I may say a word?” The gray bearded knight asked.

“Proceed,” Sansa answered.

“I understand your concern about rations for all of us, its an important thing to account for. However you'll have to remember our forces don't plan on being your host for very long. Once the Night King is defeated and the survivors have regained their strength they're going to be marching south to fight Cersei. Perhaps Daenerys can reimburse your stocks for whatever food we have eaten, I have connections in Essos who could deliver some if need be. Assuming we aren't all fighting side by side in the Army of the Dead at that point, of course.” Said Davos.

He says my concerns are valid, but he doesn't realize what I truly want is for that fat assed whore to go back to Meereen.

“Thank you, Ser. Your generosity is admirable!” Sansa replied.

Davos sat back down.

The meeting dragged on for an hour, with almost ever lord and lady further validating Sansa's anxiety towards the Dragon Queen. When the meeting was adjured Daenerys went to her guest chambers while Jon walked outside to pray in the Godswood. Soon the only other person in the Great Hall was Brienne, the blonde giantess who served as her retainer.

“What do you think about Daenerys?” Asked Sansa.

“I love seeing any woman in a position of power but I'm honestly not sure what to think of her individually, my lady, but I think you've been very rude to her!” Brienne answered.

You too, Brienne? Seven Hells you can be a lackwit

“I never invited her, but she marches into my household anyway and I'm the one being rude? You know how asinine that sounds, Brienne?” Sansa said.

“It's not my place to persuade you, I'm a soldier, not an orator. You asked for my opinion and you know I would never lie to you, my lady, and it is my opinion that you have been a rude host.” Said Brienne sternly.

“Do you have any other issues with my behavior?” Sansa asked.

“As a matter of fact I do. I was horrified with how you treated your sister. Arya hadn't seen Jon in seven years and you dare to tell her she can't take more then a few minutes to greet him? That is probably the happiest moment she's had since she was eleven, but you decided to cut it short! I've gotten to know her fairly well these past few fortnights and she had has made it clear she loves Jon more than anyone in the world.” Brienne responded, she sounded even more agitated.

How can she love Jon more than me? I'm her full sister!

Chapter Text

The meeting at the Great Hall was a disaster. Sansa appeared jealous of Daenerys, or perhaps merely distrusting. Of all the lords and ladies only Lord Umber, a lad of maybe ten, seemed to give any support or respect. Even Lady Mormont seemed skeptical at best, and it was her fiery speech that persuaded her peers to crown Jon in the first place. Jon never wanted to be a King, only to become a legitimized Stark. Knighthood was not an option unless he proved himself in battle, as he did not worship the Seven. Both possibilities ended when he Took the Black. Regardless, being crowned King in the North was a profound honor to Jon and his brief reign had the same vigilance of his slightly longer tenure as Lord Commander.
Once the meeting adjourned Jon walked to the Godswood.

Last time I prayed here was with father and Robb. Or was it with Arya? Gods, I can't even recall anymore. Makes no difference, all that matters is Arya will be here soon.

The Godswood sprawled over five acres and had trees of many species, most notably ironwood, soldier pines, and sentinels. Now the treetops were capped with the winter's first snows, but the trees were so tall that hardly any snow was to be found on the rest of them or on the ground, which made the Godswood a sanctuary from winter in addition to civilization.

Jon had always been prone to sorrow and loneliness, something walks in the Godswood alleviated better than anything else. Being alone with the trees gave him a place to think clearly, and even better somewhere nobody could see his tears. Sometimes Arya would insist on coming, Jon never turned her away no matter how much he wanted solitude. She too had been an outcast, even though her name was Stark, and she never failed to stand up for Jon even if it meant resorting to drastic measures he disapproved of.

Eventually Jon reached the the center of the Godswood, where the Heart Tree stood in front of a pond of onyx black water. Like any weirwood its leaves were still a healthy red even in winter. Jon gazed at the queer and bleeding face carved into the trunk and started to think about what his father would advise him to do in his current predicament. The trunk split into several thick and sinuous branches the spiraled out like the tentacles of a kraken.

How would he feel about me bending the knee? Would he approve of Daenerys as a daughter by law? He always taught us not to judge a child by their parents actions, so no doubt he would forgive her crime of being born a Targaryen.

“I'm here!” He heard Arya's voice say joyfully. He turned around and she was standing right behind him.

“I didn't even here you! When did you get so sneaky?” Jon asked.

“I've had some good lesson.!” Arya said wryly.

Without hesitation Jon picked her up and hugged her until her back crackled.

“I missed when you did that!” She said.

“And I missed you!” Jon said as he set her down, then he rustled her hair and kissed her forehead. “How's Needle?” He asked.

Arya unsheathed Needle and swiftly cleaved an airborne dragonfly in half.
“Good.” She answered.

“I hope you haven't had to use it on anything bigger than a dragonfly.” Jon said and laughed nervously.
“I have. Several times.”

Gods I hope it was in self defense. What did father's death and the War of the Five Kings do to her? She seems the same at least.

“Well then I'm really glad I had it made for you. It's better to have a tool you never use than to need one you lack. And thanks for the wreaths, Dany told me to tell you that was very sweet of you. She also told me she would love for you and Sansa to visit her quarters tonight for some mulled wine and refreshments.”

“I'd love to! But I don't think Sansa will though, unless there is a hogshead of lemon cake.” Arya said and rolled her eyes.

I knew something was up with Sansa!

“Well please spread the message to Sansa anyway. Dany wants to know both of you, and she might be hurt if one of you don't come. Opening up with people doesn't come easy to her and her only friend here is her adviser Missandei.”

“The really pretty Summer Islander with the curly hair?” Arya asked.

“She's actually Naathi, but yes, her. She's been Dany's closest friend ever since Dany freed her in Astapor, but I think it's important Dany makes friends here as well.”

“I've wanted to meet the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons for a few years now. I heard about her when I was with the Hound and even more in Braavos. I've always been fascinated with Targaryen women and its thrilling to see a woman with so much power. Even if she is a right proper Lady.”

“What were you doing in Braavos? Decided to rob the Iron Bank?” Jon joked.

“My water dancing instructor in King's Landing was from there, I went there for more combat training.” Arya said dismissively.

“So you were with the Hound? Joffrey's thug who murdered your friend?” Jon knew the Hound and was well aware he had become an honorable man, but it astonished him to think of Arya spending any time with him.

“Not by choice! He kidnapped me, he wanted to take me to Robb and our mother to sell me for ransom. By the time we reached them, well you know.”

Mention of Robb and Catelyn brought a barrage of emotions to Jon. He regretted Taking the Black the moment he heard Robb crowned himself King in the North, and wished he could have fought by his side much as Orys did with Aegon three centuries earlier. After the Red Wedding Jon realized he would have been killed as well, but still thought maybe he could have saved his brother. Catelyn was another matter entirely. She hated Jon, despite forgiving Ned for his infidelity. Robb had always assured Jon either he or Ned would legitimize him once Catelyn was dead. Despite this Jon never wished any harm on Catelyn, because he would never wish his half siblings to lose their mother. Being motherless distressed Jon more than anything else, so he was glad they had a mother.

“You sound awfully calm about that.” Jon said.

“The Hound taught me how to survive and how to kill. I would have been raped or killed if it wasn't for him. I think he has a soft spot for me, as strange as that sounds.” Said Arya.

“He was in the expedition north of the Wall to capture a wight. Got pretty annoyed with one of my friends but that friend can be a little too talkative. I think deep down inside he's a good man, and no one could question he's a brave and honest one. Next time I see him I will thank him for everything he did for you, even if he had ill intentions.” Said Jon.

“I thought Brienne of Tarth killed him. She wanted me to go with her. The Hound did too, that was his 'last wish.' He said he had taught me everything he knew and she was clearly a better fighter, and all I hoped to become. I wish I would have listened to them, then I could have seen you the same time as Sansa. I do train with Brienne now and she's the only woman I've met I can relate to. I could have helped you defeat Ramsay.” Arya said and hung her head.

“I wish I could have seen you earlier and that you could have been Brienne's squire, but I'm glad you weren't around before Ramsey was dead. I've seen what he did to people, I wouldn't want there to be any risk of him capturing you. I try to believe all humans are born good or at least neutral, but Ramsay made me seriously question that.” Jon said as he knelt to hug her.

Big tears trickled down her round face, she started to sob.

“I don't know everything you've been through, nor do I know what you did to survive. Frankly I don't care to know, but whatever it was please understand I would never judge you for it. You were always there for me growing up, I know it must have been hard knowing you couldn't for so long. Just realize that its not your fault! There were times I regretted Taking the Black, I even tried to desert after father died, but I've come to recognize that I wouldn't have been able to get where I am today if I never joined. Everything you went through will pay off, trust me. I wouldn't have made peace with the Free Folk, I wouldn't have had their and the Watch's assistance with defeating the Boltons, and I wouldn't have met Daenerys. ” Jon said and wiped away her tears with his finger. With his other hand her rubbed her cloaked back to sooth her.

“You're right Jon. I guess I've been used to being strong for so long I don't know how to be anything else.” She said, then wiped the snot from her nose with her sleeve.

“Crying is okay, its natural. Doesn't mean you aren't strong. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.” Jon said.

“Is Daenerys your first?”

“My first what?”

“Love, you silly head!”

“No. There was another first. A feisty ginger girl named Ygritte, one of the best archers I've ever seen. She helped me see the world in a different way. I got over being a bastard because of her, she told me there's no sense in being ashamed of something you had no say in. The Freefolk are different, they don't give two shits who your parents were or what your name is. All they care about is your actions and character. Then she died. I still think about her from time to time, often at the worst of times. I even turned down a stunning Fire Priestess because I wasn't over Ygritte yet. Not sure if I quite am now, maybe I never will be.”

“You're with Daenerys now, so I think you're moving on just fine. It is official though, right?”

Jon blushed. “I have laid with her if that's what you're asking.”

“That's not what I meant, but I suppose it does answer it. Damn boy, look at you! Attracting ladies from all over the Known World! The Hound and I had a run in with a Fire Priestess and I saw a few in Braavos, they don't ordain just any woman.” Arya said, she gave a big smile.

“I suppose you're right about that,” Jon said then laughed, “have you gotten any suitors yet? Any lads that catch your fancy?”

“No. Not yet. It will happen when it happens. I'm not in a hurry.” Arya shrugged.

“I suppose I'll get over Ygritte in due time. Truth be told I can take years to get over something. Seven Hells I still grieve over father. Before I left for the Wall he told me next time we spoke he'd tell us who my mother was, now he's dead and I'll never know the truth.” Jon said sobbingly. Arya brushed away his tears.

“I can't fathom the pain of not knowing who my own mother was. Whether your mother was a Dornish lord's daughter or a Fleabottom whore makes no difference to me. We don't have the same name, but I'm glad we have the same blood.”

“That means the world to me, but it doesn't change the fact that he's dead.”

“Look into my eyes!” Arya said as she put her hands on his shoulders.

Jon gazed into her gray doe eyes.

What does she expect me to see?

“I don't see anything, just your irises and my reflection,”

“Look harder,” she whispered.

Jon stared back into her eyes, alternating between his reflection and her face. Then he was reminded how greatly the two resembled one another, and how both in turn took after Ned.

“You see? He lives in us. Never forget who we are.”

Chapter Text

Cersei stood on the docks of King's Landing in full regalia. She wore her favorite winter dress, a high collared number trimmed with gold braid, on her shoulders were epaulets that resembled maned lion's heads she convinced made her look like the military leader the people so desperately needed, on her chest were her personal sigil: a lozenge half red and half gold, a gold lioness on the red half and a black stag on the gold half. Her regalia even included a ceremonial sword, it was a lightweight saber with an ivory lion's head pommel designed for being easy to carry and impressive to look at. The Golden Company was expected to land that day and she needed to impress.

She had slept well past noon, as she often did when there were no pressing matters. Most nights were spent sipping wine and sobbing about the loss of her brother Jaime. He wasn't dead, but he had left her to fight for the Dragon Queen and that wounded her deeply. Much like her late husband, Cersei liked the idea of being the monarch far more than actually being the monarch.

Surrounding her were the Queensguard, wearing blackened armor and gaunt helmets she personally selected to be more intimidating towards the smallfolk. The leader of them was Ser Gregor Clegane, a brute over seven feet tall who had been killed and revived by Qyburn, a mercenary alchemist and sorcerer who Cersei made her Hand of the Queen.

“I have most awful news, your grace,” Qyburn said as he approached her on the dock, “the Dead have breached the Wall, the Night King's invasion has officially begun!”

That is the best news I've gotten since Olenna died! Let the North and the Dead fight, whoever wins will be greatly weakened when they come south for me.

“Good.” Cersei said calmly. “Now go and deliver that business proposition I wrote up!”

“As you wish,” Qyburn said bowing, he seemed unnerved.

A horn sounded. The kraken sails of the Iron Fleet materialized, bringing with them the Golden Company. Their banners were a bloody red adorned with golden skulls, even the poles were adorned with actual gilded skulls, perhaps of their enemies. Euron's flagship was the first to dock, and Euron and the Captain of the Golden Company got off to meet Cersei.

Parading around skulls of the dead like that is disgusting.

“You wanted me to bring more troops, and here they are!” Euron said.

“Good day, your Grace. My name is Harry Strickland, and I am the current Captain and General of the Golden Company.” The captain said. He wore the company collars except for a patch over his heart of his surcoat which bore the House Strickland sigil: a black shield with a white cross through it and a white scallop shell in each corner. On his sword was a pommel shaped like a skull and the hilt was made to resemble a limb bone.

They sure love their skeletons! Cersei thought as the glanced at his equipment.

“I've been told the Golden Company has elephants.” Cersei said impatiently.

“You've been told correctly!” Harry replied proudly.

“I'm glad to hear it. If you came all this way without elephants then I would have no choice but to demand a full refund and send you back. My father hired the Brave Companions years ago, I'm sure he would have done the same had they not brought their zebras.” Cersei said relieved.

“They are magnificent beasts. I make sure we have at least a few no matter how small a job, they crush even fully armored knights like a boot on a manticore! As a matter of fact you can see some being led on shore right now.” Harry said and pointed to a ship unloading the beasts. Some towered over even the Mountain while many more were perhaps the size of a large draft horse or bull. The Iron Fleet ships had knights coming off of them while swan ships had Summer Islanders clad in gold rings and feather cloaks.

“I've been fascinated with elephants since I was a girl, my father went through great but fruitless effort to buy me a live one for my tenth name day. I got a toy herd carved from soapstone instead, and a pony. So I'm thrilled to finally see them in the flesh. Besides a good portion of Daenerys's army consists of Wildlings, I doubt any of them have even heard of elephants. Their clubs and flint spears will be useless against elephants, assuming they don't shit their loincloths and pass out first.” Cersei said chuckling.

“I've fought plenty of Wildlings,” Euron said, “they might not have the latest weapons but they fight tooth and nail. They've put up a fight against the Watch for a half a million years, still ain't extinct. Makes capturing them all the more rewarding!”

“Did I ask for your opinion?” Cersei asked.

“Nah, but you never said I had to bite my tongue!” Euron said shrugging.

“You certainly are a confident one, your majesty. I like that. Regardless on whether or not the Wildlings can fight, the Targaryen forces do contain the entirety of the Dothraki and Unsullied and both make me jealous with their battle prowess. Both have certainly seen elephants. The mercenary business has been rather dull since those two left Essos, so it is an honor to be hopefully be the last company that will fight them. If we fail then at least we were defeated by worthy opponents.” Harry said.

“You won't fail!” Cersei said.

“We never have in a failed a contract in the nearly hundred years we've been in business. It's been a pleasure, your grace, but if you'll excuse me I have a camp to set up.”

 

Chapter Text

The Hand of the Queen scurried over to the Street of Silk, King's Landing's red light district. In his hand he carried a large leather valise. Each brothel was more costly and fancy than the ones preceding it, the ones at the beginning were little more than wine sinks with whores, while those towards the end were establishments that could rival a merchant's manse. Whores in various states of undress loitered from balconies and between the buildings soliciting customers.

“Hello love! Fancy a tumble?” A whore asked from a balcony.

“Not now!” Qyburn said dismissively, without even looking up at her.

Gods willing I'll open my own establishment soon!

At the very end of the Street of Silk was Madame Chataya's, the favored whorehouse of such luminaries as King Robert, Tyrion Lannister, Oberyn Martel, and if rumors proved true, of the latter's paramour Ellaria Sand as well. Madame Chataya's was far from the largest brothel; it was a demure two stories tall, the lower one was made of black basalt was the upper was constructed with goldenheart wood. The windows were stained glass, depicting various sexual positions. From one of the corners rose a tall stone turret topped with an onion dome.

No way could I afford such fine materials, of course my labor will be dirt cheap.

Qyburn walked inside and instantly his nostrils were filled with the aroma of incense and perfume. A band consisting of a harpist, flautist, and drummer played a classy sounding but surprisingly ribald ballad about a pirate queen named Bluebush. Chataya's Girls were were diverse in coloration and body type, all exceptionally beautiful and clad in transparent silk gowns with beaded belts.

On the floor was a risque mosaic portraying two nude women with their legs entwined in the act of love. An ornate screen from Myr bordered the common room and over the ceiling hung a lamp resembling an astrolabe of rose gold and red stained glass.

“You again? What do you want? If you're here to know if any of my girls died since the last time you asked I'm glad to inform you no and all are in vibrant health. I have a Maester give them weekly checkups and I screen all prospective customers to ensure they stay that way. Try one of Lord Baelish's establishments, I'm sure one has died of pox or the clap recently.” Chataya said in her smooth Summer Isles accent. She was a gorgeous woman with skin like ebony, eyes like sandlewood, and like most Summer Islanders had a lush head of kinky hair.

“I'm not one to ask the same question twice of the same person, but I have heard that Ser Bronn of the Blackwater is currently here, and I have royal business with him.” Qyburn said, taking discrete glances at Chataya's figure.

She was tall and built like an hourglass. Her breasts were the size of grapefruits and unencumbered by a brassiere, he could see her teats straight through her gown. Another glance down gave him a glimpse of her cunt. The gold color of her gown contrasted brilliantly with her dark skin, the shoulders were enhanced with parrot feathers and the skirt had two side slits which revealed her long, toned legs. Besides the gown she wore large hoop earrings, a septum ring, a bangle, an anklet, a necklace, and many rings on her fingers and toes; all of which are made of jade and carved with motifs that appeared to be from Yi Ti.

A full set of Yi Tish jewelry must be exceedingly difficult and costly to acquire. Chataya certainly spares no expense on anything. A damn shame I'm here on royal business. Perhaps I'll pay her visit one of these days. Those toes were made for sucking!

“He's in the turret. Follow me.” Chataya said than turned around, her jade jewelry clinking as she walked. Qyburn stared at her buttocks, which were the size and shape of ripe melons and could be faintly seen through her skirt.

When they reached the top of the turret Chataya knocked and announced the Hand of the Queen was with her on official business. Once her announcement was made she returned downstairs to entertain her patrons.

Qyburn opened the door and found Ser Bronn laying naked on a satin canopied bed, surrounded by three plump whores with tits and ass that put Chataya's to shame though they were too heavy for Qyburn's liking.

These girls look like they will all survive the winter, though I reckon their excess flesh will not. A man who favors such women is wise to enjoy them now when winter is still young.

“What the fuck do you want, hedge wizard?” Bronn said irritably y as he sat up and raised his hands in the air.

“I want many things, but I am here to because the Queen needs your services.”

“Go on!” Bronn said as he got off the bed and stood up, his member was starting to go back down. He poured two glasses of brandy from a pear shaped crystal decanter on the nightstand. The three whores stayed on the bed and started necking and fondling each other.

“Queen Cersei wants you to fulfill a contract for her.” Qyburn answered.

“I ain't a mercenary no more, I'm an anointed knight now. Not a landed knight yet sadly. Want some brandy? This is some serious gourmet shit, its made from Tyroshi pears.” Bronn said as he handed Qyburn a glass.

He is certainly anointed with the Lysene perfume those whores are wearing.

“I appreciate your offer but no, today is a busy day and I need to be sober. When I'm done with you I'm negotiating a clandestine prisoner exchange.” Qyburn replied politely but firmly.

“Well no sense letting such a fine drink go to waste. Here you go ladies!” Bronn said then poured it all over the whores on the bed, they cheered him on as he did and then they proceeded to lick it off each other and giggle obnoxiously.

Gods this so called anointed knight is utterly amoral and devoid of inhibitions. No way he'll turn down this job.

“Funny you should mention not being a landed knight, Cersei plans to pay you with your own keep.” Said the Hand.

“Well shit wizard, that was all you had to say!” Bronn said then clapped his hands.

“You must ride North to Winterfell, where you will meet the Queen's brothers. As I'm sure you know the Queen's relationships with her brothers are well, complicated.”

“That's an awfully nice way of saying 'she fucking despises one brother because he's a dwarf and loves her other brother to such an unnatural degree she fucks him' ain't it?” Bronn interrupted and let out a hearty laugh. He took a drink of his brandy.

Cersei wasn't joking, he is a blunt one.

“Well yes, however she despises both of them now. When Tyrion killed their father he fled to Essos and became the hand of the quote unquote Dragon Queen. After a long, dull, and frankly waste of a meeting with the Targaryen pretender Cersei agreed to send Lannister forces North to fight the Army of the Dead. However it was a bluff, and that greatly outraged Jaime. Jaime tried to talk her into keeping her word, but when she refused he stormed out on her and rode to Winterfell. Cersei wants you to kill both of them, using this!” Qyburn said as he pulled a crossbow out of his valise.

“Ain't this King Joffrey's favorite toy? That inbred little cunt loved pointing it at anyone who inconvenienced him.” Bronn said as he picked up the crossbow.

“Why yes it is. Not only that, it's also the very weapon Tyrion used to murder Lord Tywin on the privy. Cersei has quite an appetite for poetic justice. Will you do it?” Qyburn asked.

“If it means getting a castle then yes! Both of those blond shits have been promising me a castle for seven years, should've bought me one sooner.” Bronn said and took another drink.

“Then it is settled. It's a long ride to Winterfell, I'd recommend beginning the trip once you are done with your ladies. Have fun and safe travels to you.”

 

Chapter Text

Foamy waves crashed onto the beach near King's Landing, seagulls flew overhead cawing loudly and sea lions could be heard from a distance. It was dusk, and the sky was in a half dozen hues of pink. Theon Greyjoy got out of his rowboat and walked over to the strange old man who was waiting for him. The old man carried a torch and wore a shabby gray robe with a chain that had links of black iron, bronze, silver, and Valryian steel among other metals.

I don't think he's a real Maester, chain or no chain. A Hand of the Kin badge? How did a phony maester end up with such a high position?

“Admiring my chain, are you? Its actually the second once I've forged, to replace my original when the Citadel stripped me of it. My name is Qyburn.”

“And I'm Theon, thank you for meeting with me.”

“Oh no! Thank you for arranging this exchange. The balance of power is rather lopsided at the moment. Cersei has all the Lannister forces and just received the entire Golden Company, while her rival Daenerys Targaryen will likely lose most of her admittedly impressive army to the Night King and she has zero political support beyond her paramour. Your sister and Ellaria Sand are both known supporters of Daenerys and releasing them will help balance the power dynamic especially with a good chunk of the Iron Fleet and the forces of Dorne, which means this war can last even longer. Assuming the Army of the Dead doesn't take us all, of course.” Qyburn said calmly.

What is wrong with this cunt? Why would he release two enemies of his Queen? Why does he want the war to be prolonged?

“I have fulfilled my side of the bargain, one barrel of kraken's ink, and another of leviathan oil.” Theon said, pointing to the two barrels in his boat.

“Most excellent, both substances have fascinating qualities and are criminally understudied. I look forward to doing experiments with them, at very least I will have some quality alchemical bases for potions and poisons for some time.” Qyburn said.

“Why are you helping me? What would you want the war to last?” Theon asked.

“Because wars bring crisis, and crises in turn bring opportunity. Queen Cersei prizes my advice and pays handsomely for my military designs and research. During a time of peace she may not be so eager to seek my counsel, and certainly wouldn't be so generous a patron.” Qyburn answered.

“But what if she catches you or Daenerys takes the Iron Throne?”

“Good question. I have considered both, and those are risks I am willing to take. Now come with me, I'll lead you to the dungeons. Don't worry about the barrels, I have assistants who will take them back to my laboratory.” Qyburn said, then picked up the skirt of his robes a few inches and started heading towards a smuggler's cave.

Qyburn is so calm for a madman! I should be thankful for his madness, a sane man wouldn't free such valuable prisoners for a sea creature's bodily fluids.

Once in the cave Qyburn lit a second torch for Theon and led him deeper down. Eventually the tunnel reached a barricade with a door in the middle that had a dial cypher. Qyburn dialed the correct combination and the door was unlocked. Cells were carved into the tunnel's walls, with barred fences that exposed the manacled prisoners. The sights and smells reminded Theon painfully of Dreadfort's dungeons, and all of the torment he suffered at the hands of Ramsey Bolton. Just when Theon thought he was beginning to move on from that ordeal he was reminded of it, much as he was whenever he had to piss or change his pants. Before reaching King's Landing Theon had shaved to minimize chance of being recognized, and he just now realized he would never need to shave again.

From a distance Theon could hear an unpleasant shriek. With every pace it grew louder and more shrill. “Niiiiiiiii! Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”

“Ugh! What is that wretched sound?” Theon asked as he plugged his ears.

“That's just Hollering Hugh. He's a project of mine. I went into a tavern and slipped a potion I had just concocted into a random stein of ale, so I could see its effects take hold on an unsuspecting subject. A few minutes after drinking it he started sweating like a lord hiding a whore under his bed from his wife! Got so hot he disrobed and started throwing stuff at people. So he was arrested, and I've been observing him in his cell ever since. He firmly believes chanting 'Ni' will protect him from astral demons. He's a landed knight, I thought surely his House would pay his bail but they haven't. Probably a huge embarrassment to them. Now that I have discovered a way to make a sane person mad I am looking for a way to cure madness. Will be most useful since I fear Cersei could very well become as mad as Joffrey or Aerys! There is also a distinct possibility he indeed is seeing demons or some other type of astral entity, which opens up a literal new world of research potential.” Qyburn said.

This freak is no better than Ramsey. Perhaps Ramsey is better because he never insisted what he did was in the name of science or magic.

Eventually the chants faded away. Theon unplugged his ears and breathed a sigh of relief. He was still dangerously close to suffering painful flashbacks, but the anticipation of being reunited with his sister helped him avoid that.

“Ah here she is!” Qyburn said as he unlocked Yara's cell.

“Theon? Is it really you?” Yara asked.

“Yes, Yara! It's me!” Theon said cheerfully.

Yara stood up and hugged him firmly. Her once shoulder length hair had grown noticeably. She looked grubby, she wore trousers and a sleeveless shirt both made of sackcloth. On her arms Theon noticed she had many tattoos, both forearms had ink depicting unnatural relations between woman and mermaid, which made Theon painfully aware of what was missing from him.

“Your brother reached out to me through a few intermediaries and we made a deal I would release you and Ellaria Sand in exchange for some materials for academic research. Here is the key to her cell, just keep walking down the tunnel. Their aren't any other Salty Dornish women locked up in here so she should be unmistakable. I will be leaving now. Ellaria would probably shank me if we crossed paths.” Qyburn said then turned around and scurried off.

“Fuck that cunt irks me. Takes a lot to unsettle me, I've seen so much crazy shit.” Yara said once she was certain Qyburn was no longer within earshot.

“You have no idea!” Theon said, they started walking to search for Ellaria's cell.

“I was just waiting for a gaoler to show up to my cell and tell me Cersei wanted my head at dawn! I'll never be able to repay you for this. One of her thugs was sent to flog me for information, I'd make some bullshit up once I got bored of it.” Yara said.

“There is no need to repay, you did everything in your power to rescue me from Ramsey even though father forbade you!” Said Theon.

“Difference is I fucking failed you!” Yara laughed.

“But I jumped overboard when Euron boarded our ship, its my fault you were captured.” Theon said and hung his head.

“Guess we're even then.” Said Yara.

“Yara! I thought you'd never pay me a visit!” A sultry accent said. The siblings stopped and saw it was Ellaria. She still wore the very dress she wore when she was captured, it was tattered and disheveled. Her hands were bound in shackles coming from the ceiling.

“I didn't expect to either!” Yara quipped as she unlocked the door and freed Ellaria.

“You're good with chains! I love that!” Ellaria said lustily then planted a kiss on Yara. They squeezed each other's asses and took turn pressing their faces into the others' tits.

I knew this would happen!

“Come, we need to get going so we can escape before a gaoler catches us! We need to reach the docks!” Theon said urgently.

“What exactly to do plan on doing once we reach the docks?” Yara asked as they started hurrying to the exit.

“I found some crewmen still loyal to you, they will help us take back your portion of the Iron Fleet.” Theon replied.

“Good work brother. I'm not thrilled you didn't pay the Iron Price to free me, but perhaps its better you didn't.” Yara said.

“Getting to see you again is worth any payment!” Ellaria said to Yara.

Yara laughed. “You almost flatter me.”

“Pretty soon you'll both be free.”

They passed Hollering Hugh, who threw a glob of shit at them and narrowly missed.

“Gods the gaoler needs to sell that mad cunt to Euron, have him join the Silence!” Yara said only half jokingly.

“I looooove a screamer!” Ellaria moaned.

“So do I! Just not a raving lunatic!” Said Yara.

“Qyburn made him go mad! He's an experiment subject!” Theon told them.

“Fuck that's sick! Almost reminds me of – never mind, no need to bring him up.” Yara said.

“Being an experiment subject is a dream of mine!” Said Ellaria.

Is everything a crass joke to Ellaria? Why does Yara want to fuck her so badly? Maybe I'm just jealous she can still fuck at all.

Eventually they reached the outside of the cave, where several Ironborn were waiting for them, all fully armed and carrying torches. All of the reclaimed ships were anchored on the beach. One of them stepped forward and handed Yara a large pink conch shell. Yara grabbed the conch.

“Where do you want us to take you?” The crewman asked Yara.

“First I need you to take us to Ichthys Cove, we need to lay low for a while. Then we will head down to Dorne to drop Ellaria off, finally go back home and I will take back the Seastone Chair. Euron has the rest of the Iron Fleet here in King's Landing, so taking it back should be a breeze. Once I'm wearing the Driftwood Crown and I'm Lady Reaper of Pyke I will wait for Daenerys to give her orders, and I'll make them so.” Answered Yara. Ichthys Cove was Yara's secret hideout. Theon had never been there, but had heard it was quite cozy for such a place.

“Yara, would it be alright if I took one of the ships and some of the crew to Winterfell? I wish to undo my wrongs to the Starks, and fight for them against the Night King.” Theon asked.

“My dear brother of course it is! Relay the message that you've freed me and Ellaria, you should get to Winterfell before we reach Sunspear!”

“Thank you so much, Yara!” Theon said gratefully.

“And thanks for everything, brother!” Yara said then turned her eyes to Ellaria. “Wait till you see Ichthys Cove. I've got a little manse built there, we'll be able to take a good bath and put on some fresh clothes!”

“And cut our nails!” Ellaria purred making a scratching gesture.

Yara hugged Theon and kissed his forehead. “I wish you good fortune Theon. Go make the Iron Islands proud! May the Drowned God watch over you!”

“And may he watch over you!” Theon replied.

“Alright you dogs, let's get on board! What is dead may never die!” Yara shouted to the crew, then blew her conch with all her breath.

“What is dead may never die!” The crew echoed in unison.

Chapter Text

am had sat out the Great Hall meeting, he felt he had little to contribute and that people would write him off as biased due to being Jon's friend. Admittedly, Sam was biased. However after learning the truth about Jon's identity Sam felt uneasy around Jon. Knowing Jon was no Northern bastard but a trueborn Targaryen, born in Dorne of all places, and rightful heir to the Iron Throne changed the way Sam felt about him. Sam didn't give two shits when he believed Jon was a bastard and was happy for him to learn the truth, but it still disturbed Sam to realize that his best friend's entire identity was built around a lie.

“Why didn't you go to the meeting Sam?” Gilly asked. She was breastfeeding Little Sam in a rocking chair.

Seven hells! How do I explain this to her?

“I hate meetings, rather dull if you ask me.” Sam said and shrugged, half truthfully. Gilly actually discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna, Jon's biological parents, had been married when she was glossing through a Septon's diary; but she didn't understand why that meant anything. She was prone to being confused by Southron customs and Sam avoided that whenever he could.

“I thought you'd be happy for Jon! I still don't understand why you Southroners care whether your parents are married or not, but I can tell Jon is upset because he thinks his parents aren't. Why haven't you told him?” Asked Gilley. She put away her tit and got the other one out for Little Sam to resume eating.

“Because finding out everything you know about yourself is wrong can be very upsetting, so I need to wait for the right time to tell Jon.” Sam replied.

“Even if it's good news? I wish Craster wasn't my real father, I'd be so happy if I found out my father was someone else. Anyone else!” Gilley said.

Sam looked glanced outside their window, he saw Jon and Daenerys walking over to Drogon and Rhaegal.

Gods how who are we going to tell Little Sam is his father? Me or Craster? If say I am then he will be crushed if he learns his true father was also his grandfather, but I don't think he'd want to grow up knowing the truth.

“Sometimes I wish my father was somebody else as well, but he is a cruel man as was yours. Jon loved Ned, idolizes him truly! Everyone loved Ned, he was a devoted Lord and father. Jon is very proud believing he is Ned's son, I fear he might be upset to learn that Ned was his uncle. Being Ned's nephew just wouldn't be the same I suppose. His true father was a wonderful man as well, but most people believe he was a monster.” Sam said.

“It shouldn't matter whether Ned got his mother pregnant or not. What matter is that Ned raised him to be the man he is today, and he's a good man.” Said Gilley.

“You're very right about about that Gilley. But you have to realize Jon suffers from melancholy. Always has as far as I know, certainly for as long as I've known him.” Said Sam.

“Melancholy? What's that? Some kind of fruit?” Gilley asked.

“No, you're thinking of melons. Melancholy is where you get a feeling of being sad all the time, and are plagued by sad thoughts. Sometimes it has a clear cause, but usually it just shows up like an unwanted guest.” Sam answered.

“I didn't know there was a word for that, but you're right. Jon does have melancholy. I can see it him, he has sad eyes.” Gilley said. Little Sam had fallen asleep, Gilley put her tit away and started burping him.

“That he does. I've been trying to pull him out of it for seven years now.” Sam said. Once again he looked outside the window, he saw a group of men on ponies and a wagon with several crates on it near the main gate.

Are those lizard lions and shadow cats? He's here!”

“Sorry Gilley but I have to go now! I'll be back for supper, goodbye!”

“Goodbye.”

They kissed on the lips and Sam gave Little Sam a peck on his chubby cheek. Then Sam rushed out of their dormitory and down the stairs as fast as he could. When he reached the courtyard he saw a a short man, no more than five feet tall if that, with a full beard and dreaded hair tied up in a bundle. The man wore a tunic made of shadow cat skin that left a shoulder and pec bare, a belt and sandals of lizard lion leather, and around his neck was a copper torque shaped to look like a lizard lion biting its own tail.

That's the House Reed sigil. It really is him!

“Samwell Tarly, I presume?” The short man asked.

“It is he. And you must be Lord Howland Reed!” Sam responded, then glanced to the shadow cats and lizard lions in his company.

“You're funny! What gave it away? This necklace or the fact I'm only taller than the Imp? Don't mind them! They're wearing muzzles and are trained to only bite when their masters are under attack, my people are much more in tune with beasts than most Westerosi.” Howland said.

“Oh I'm not afraid of them. Well maybe I am, a little. There are shadow cats north of the Wall, but I've never seen one, and I've not seen a lizard lion either. We don't have lizard lions in the Reach.” Sam admitted.

Most of Howland's party were fellow Crannogmen, with only one taller than him standing at maybe five foot three. However Sam noticed there was another in his party that was clearly not a Crannogman. He was over a foot taller than Howland and appeared to be a Summer Islander but he had lighter skin and his hair had looser curls than any of the few Sam had seen before. Certainly dressed like one with a green and red feather cloak and carrying a goldenheart bow.

“This is my ward, Kulungu Waters.” Howland said introducing the Summer Islander.

“Please to meet you, my name is Samwell Tarly!” Sam said.

“Likewise!” Kulungu said as they shook hands, he had a deep, assertive voice with an accent of a well off King's Landing resident. Sam noticed his sword had a fine antler handle and that his necklace consisted of a string of antler tips.

Must be hunting trophies or such.

“Jovan! Kasuku!” Kulungu said as he clapped his hands.

A blue-gray parrot flew out of the wagon and landed on Kulungu's shoulder.

“Yes my lord?” The parrot asked.

“Say hello to my new friend!” Kulungu commanded.

“Hello to my new friend!” The parrot said.

“This is Kasuku. Jovan should be appearing soon.” Sam looked to the wagon and saw a slender furry creature come out, it looked like a monkey but had a muzzled face and ears more like a cat. Jovan's fur was silver and its saucer eyes were purple.

“A Little Valyrian? I've never seen one alive before. The Citadel has a stuffed one, most of its fur is missing because students rub it for good luck before examinations.” Sam said.

“You're the first person in the North to recognize one. Most assume he's some sort of queer cat. Kasuku and Jovan were parting gifts from my mother, she gave them when I was sent to be fostered by Lord Howland. Her menagerie is perhaps the finest in King's Landing.” Said Kulungu.

I wonder why she sent him away, and to the Neck of all places. Maybe he'll tell me some time, I can't just ask him such a thing.

“Alright Kulungu, I need you to help the others unload the supply crates and set up our camp. Once it's set up maybe get a bonfire going and cook some Bog Basin, I'm sure we'd all love a taste of home. Now I need to speak with Sam in private about the reason I was summoned here in the first place.” Howland said.

Kulungu nodded. Once most of the crates and barrels were unloaded Howland got onto the wagon with Sam. All that was one the wagon now were a few crates with holes drilled in the top. Bran was sitting not far off, staring blankly.

“We're going now Bran, you can sit up here with us and we'll put your wheelchair on the wagon!” Sam said.

I'll join you later. I'm waiting for an old friend.” Bran said in a calm monotone.

How is he going to do that? Will this old friend push him over to us?

“As you wish.” Said Sam. The wagon took off.

“He's probably waiting for my daughter, Meera. I brought her along. She pulled him on a sled all the way to the Wall when wights attacked the Cave of the Three Eyed Raven. I suspect they may be more than merely friends, none of my business really.” Howland Said.

“Meera deserves some kind of award for that. Without her we would have never-”

“Don't say it! Wait until we have reached the Heart Tree!”

“Whoops, I'm sorry.” Sam said and hung his head.

“So how did that raven you and Bran sent manage to reach Greywater Watch? We don't have a Maester, let alone a rookery, plus it's a moving target. I was only able to keep in touch with Ned because I had a special white raven who knew the Greywater scent. Poor bird died a few years back.” Asked Howland.

Moving? Is Greywater watch a boat or on wheels? Maybe its built on a giant turtle or such!

“You'll have to ask Bran!” Sam shrugged.

They crossed over into the Godswood.

“Fair enough. First time in the Godswood?”

“No,” Sam said, “I've spent a fair amount of time here ever since I arrived in Winterfell. I'm a worshiper of the Old Gods.”

“But you're from the Reach. I'm not aware of any Southron Houses that keep the Old Gods besides the Blackwoods and their bannermen down in the Riverlands, and they're descendants of Northern exiles. Much like the Manderlys and their ilk being the only followers of the Seven up here. Of course Ned and Catelyn chose to raise their kids to follow both pantheons. Is your mother a Northwoman?” Howland asked.

“No, she's a Florent. I'm a Reachman through and through. Horn Hill doesn't even have a weirwood, our Godswood is just a garden really. When Jon and I Took the Black I decided to take my vows in front a Heart Tree instead of the Sept. We were the only two who did so, Jon was the only Northman who joined that cohort. I figured the Seven never answered my prayers before so might as well give the Old Gods a chance.” Replied Sam.

Howland laughed. “I've witnessed the magic of the Old Gods first hand, I've heard convincing stories of the powers of both the Drowned God and the Storm God, and have it on good authority R'hollor has made himself known. But I've never met or heard of anyone who said the Seven have ever done shit. Except the Stranger of course.”

“And that's why I left the Seven. I've seen the Old Gods work their magic too, we're going to need it in the War to Come, that's part of why we summoned you. Does Greywater Watch have a Godswood?” Sam asked.

“It does not. But the Neck has so many trees I like to think of us as living in a giant Godswood. We keep several small trees in shallow ceramic pots, we prune their branches and roots to keep them small. They start off as cutting of a full grown parent. I intend to give one of my weirwoods to Jon, so he may take the Old Gods with him wherever he goes.” Howland answered.

“So you raise trees the way some monks do in Yi Ti? I read about something just like that one of Lomas Longstrider's books.” Sam said with excitement.

“Perhaps, but I know nothing of Yi Ti. Alright, here we are! Haven't been here in eighteen years.” Howland said as he got off the wagon and took the crates down. The mouth and eyes of the Heart Tree seemed to be bleeding far more than usual. Howland grabbed a crowbar.

“I know today you've seen lots of things you'd only seen in illuminated manuscripts or stained glass windows,” Howland warned, “but what you're about to see will probably be pretty alarming. Take a deep breath before I open the crates.”

“Oh those pets are nothing at all! I've seen giants, White Walkers, wights, cannibal tribes, mammoths, you name it! Go ahead and open it.” Sam said with over confidence.

Howland cracked open the first crate and in it were three human like creatures no more than three feet tall, dressed in clothing made of woven grass. They had flat faces with pointed chins and prominent cheekbones, hair like moss, pointed ears, skin that was either blue gray or gray green, and their hands had three clawed fingers and a thumb.

Sam started feeling dizzy, almost as if he hadn't drank any water all day or he stood up to fast. His vision started warping.

“Hello!” One of the creatures said.

Now Sam's vision was almost entirely black, he dropped and was unconscious by the time he hit the ground.

 

Chapter Text

“So nice to finally be able to speak to you alone.” Daenerys said.

“Likewise, I hate crowded meetings.” Jon said.

They were walking over to Drogon and Rhaegal, Jon figured he would give Daenerys a tour of of the North and by dragon would be the most efficient way.

“I only saw her for a few minutes but I love Arya already. Very thoughtful of her to give us those wreathes. You're lucky to have such a sweet sister.” Daenerys said.

“Hahahaha! Sweet? Arya has been called many things, but sweet is not one I'd ever heard.” Said Jon in an amused tone.

“Everything you've told me about her makes me think she is! I can tell she loves her big brother, will do anything for him. Sounds like a sweetheart to me! What are some of the terms other people have called her?” Asked Daenerys.

“Wild, unpredictable, angry, strange, the list goes on. Been years since I heard anyone else talk about her. I must say I agree with the first two.” Replied Jon.

“Anger isn't always a bad thing. Millions in Yunkai, Astapor, and Meereen would still be slaves if I wasn't furious with the injustices I witnessed!” Said Daenerys.

I never thought of it that way.

Most people had no idea, but Jon had been angry for most of his life. Everyone who knew him well knew about the deep sadness in his heart, but he disguised his anger well. He was angry at those who mistreated him for being a bastard, angry when people mocked Arya for being true to herself, and even angry at his own father for refusing to tell him who his mother was.

“Have you told her I invited her and Sansa for mulled wine tonight?” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, I did. She's very excited about that, she admires you.” Jon answered.

“Excellent, I hope Sansa will come too.” Daenerys.

I hope Sansa will too, but I doubt it and so does Arya. I don't want to tell Dany just now, it will ruin the mood and maybe Sansa might come anyway.

“Arya said she would relay the invitation to Sansa.”

“Good.”

The dragons were perched on top of a naked hill covered in snow. A pile of charred bones a herd of elk was in front of them. Both looked excited as their Mother and Jon walked up. Daenerys hopped on Drogon effortlessly.

“Time for a riding lesson.” She told Jon.

Is she mad?

“I've only ridden horses. Riding a dragon seems scary.” He said in protest.

“I'm a dragon! You've ridden me! I don't let very many people ride me, its a great privilege to ride a dragon and I think Rhaegal will grant you that privilege!” Daenerys said teasingly.

“That's completely differ- alright! Fine! I'll try!” Jon said.

Jon grabbed one of Rhaegal's spines, then a higher one with his other hand, and used them to climb his way onto the green dragon's back.

The hardest part is done, I suppose. Gods she makes it look so easy!

“Now you just need something to grab on to, and hold on tight! No different than fucking really, except you don't have to worry about finishing early or the other finishing at all! You've mastered that, riding a real dragon should be a breeze!” Daenerys said and laughed heartily.

Jon grabbed the two thickest scales within reach. Once he did Rhaegal unfurled his wings and took off. As they became airborne the turbulence made Jon instantly regret what he had gotten himself into, and glad he hadn't eaten yet.

Why couldn't she just like me ride behind her like she did when she saved me and the boys North of the Wall? Besides it would have been nice having her between my legs, I'd much rather hold onto her hips than scales!

Soon they were soaring over the land, going high into the air then dipping back down and clipping the tops off trees only to go back up. As they passed Winterfell onlookers scurried away, except for Arya who waved from the ramparts eagerly. When they got high enough the might castle looked as small as a child's snow fort. Villages were hardly even visible, and the only animals that could be seen were a herd of mammoths.

Great, more Freefolk tribes are coming! Mammoths should crush wights like ants but I pray the Walkers won't turn them. It's bad enough some of the Night King's lieutenant's are believed to ride them, but nothing dragonglass or Valyrian steel can't deal with.

By this point Jon grew to immensely enjoy the flight. Flying made him feel powerful, but in a way he actually enjoyed. Powerful, but free from worries of power. Seeing the mammoths was also a relief, Jon was hoping that some would be brought.

Jon and Daenerys landed Rhaegal and Drogon near a cave sheltered with a waterfall entrance. The rocky walls were covered in blue white ice and long, tapering icicles that grew longer with every winter day. Water crashing into the stream filled the air with an ambiance hard to mimic with any instrument, which was enhanced with the chirps of snow shrikes singing in the trees. They dismounted their reptilian vehicles and took in the view.

They embraced firmly and gave a passionate kiss. Her arms were wrapped around him tight as a python, while he elected to fill his hands with her fur clad rump.

For Jon the moment was soured as he noticed Drogon glaring down at him the way Catelyn must have when Ned came back with another woman's son.

I hope Drogon approves of our love. She is his mother, after all.

Jon halted the kiss.

“Don't be afraid!” Daenerys said, her lush eyebrows jolted up.

“No need to be,” Jon countered, “we'll just have to take this somewhere private. Follow me.” Jon took her hand and led her to the cave.

Once they were in front of the waterfall Jon picked her up and jumped to the other side, lest their clothing get any wetter than need be.

“Oh my! You're more adventurous than I thought! This place is even more beautiful on the inside.” Daenerys said as Jon put her down then she giggled.

“I'll say.” Jon said. He noticed the waterfall made her fur dress cling to her flesh and it gloriously outlined her hourglass figure. Though he had laid with her once before Jon was still shy, and quickly took his eyes away from her sinuous curves.

“I used to explore this cave with my brother Robb and our friend Theon. I took Arya here too a few times, her mother would have killed me if she found out! So many interesting legends about this cave.” Jon said.

“Legends? Like snarks and grumkins?” Daenerys asked teasingly, letting out a flirty chuckle.

“I suppose you've never heard of Hermit Dugg, heir of House Bachelor!” Jon asked excitedly.

“I suppose you owe me a folklore lesson!” Daenerys said.

“Douglas Bachelor was the spoiled son of a Southron Lord, had the swiftest steeds, the flashiest armor, enough gold for the finest whores every week, everything a Lord's son could ask for. Despite all that, he was disillusioned with high society and started drinking milk of the poppy to fill a void. Soon his erratic behavior made him an outcast, and he fled North where he lived in this very cave for a whole summer. He only left this cave to steal food and more poppy. Then one day he found a religious tract he said gave him an awakening. Some say he joined the Faith Militant, others say he became a Red Priest. Whatever he became, he left his cave and started preaching wherever he could find an audience. He denounced alcohol, fornication, eating meat, and all sorts of other pleasures. His followers believe he had a divine revelation, but most thought years of milk of the poppy abuse permanently altered his mind.” Jon said with the enthusiasm of a Maester discussing his latest chain link.

“Wow! I can't imagine giving up meat! Even seafood?” Dany asked.

“Especially seafood, a damned shame since I love shellfish! Pork too, ironically it is said Dugg resembled an overly jovial sausage link.” Jon said and laughed.

“That's the funniest thing I ever heard!” Dany replied and let out a hearty belly laugh. “Is that why you brought me here? To impress me with your knowledge of sourpuss street preachers?”

“Not at all, my Queen. I brought you here because I thought after that long journey from King's Landing to White Harbor to Winterfell it would be a good idea to have a right proper bath.” Jon pointed to the hot spring a few yards into the cave.

 

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Cracks throughout the cave's ceiling let beams of sunlight in to illuminate everything, greatly enhanced by the ice and snow that capped the roof. When they reached the edge of the spring they disrobed. Jon took off his clothes swiftly and was stark naked in the time Daenerys took to untie her scarlet cravat. Next she shed her white fur robe and was just in a linen chemise, her breasts, buttocks bulged pleasantly out. Jon felt a rush of blood rush to his nether regions, and soon Shortclaw was ready for battle.

Gods her body is juicy, especially compared to Ygritte! She'll keep me warm all winter! Jon thought, then felt a brief pang of sadness thinking about his first love.

"Alright then!” Dany proceeded to peel off the chemise. Jon's eyes followed as it descended her body. Down her shoulders, past her pink nipples, past her wide hips, then finally to the ground.

“Turn around!” Jon said approaching her.

She obeyed and revealed her hindquarters. They were full and round as summer's first peaches. Jon bent the knee and gave them both a firm squeeze, they were smooth and soft like buttery rolls with . He got cheek to cheek with her, pressing his bearded face against the squishy flesh.

“Wow! This feels incredible!” Daenerys said as she dog paddled in a circle, playfully chasing Jon. She gave him a large splash that soaked his immaculate hair.

“Ugh you got me! I surrender and agree to your terms! I am at your mercy!” Jon said, raising his arms and flailing.

“Then you will be my vassal! I am your Queen and you will obey my every command!” Daenerys said with the same passion she commanded her dragons.

She swam up to Jon and aggressively embraced him. Her nipples were hard as crossbow bolts and pointed straight at him. “Lick them!” She ordered.

“Yes my Queen!” Jon said compliantly. He swirled his tongue around the ring of pink, the little bumps further stimulating his tongue. After a few minutes he inserted a whole teat in his mouth and started to gently suckle. His hands wandered across her body, sensuously rubbing her wet skin and pinching her ass, hips, and belly.

“Harder!” She ordered, and he silently complied. Eventually she told him to repeat with the other breast, and as he begun she started to stroke Shortclaw with one hand and grope his firm and perfectly rounded ass with the other. The more vigorously he sucked her the more vigorously she stroked him, and when his face appeared near climax she abruptly took her hand off and commanded him to remove his lips.

“I won't allow you to come until I have first. And even then only when I say you can! Queens are always first to come!” She told him.

“As you wish, your grace!” Jon said, feigning intimidation.

“Have you ever given a lady a Lordly Kiss?” Dany inquired.

“Never, your grace!” Jon lied. In truth he had given one to his late love, in a cave not so different from this one, and anticipated giving one to his new Queen.

She thinks this is my first joust, Gods will she be thrilled to be proven wrong! Jon thought.

Daenerys swam to the edge of the spring, gathered their garments in a pile, then sat on the garments like a cushion. Her short, thick legs were crossed, her calves submerged in the water. Jon headed over to her. He was five inches taller than her but she appeared to tower over him, her purple eyes glaring down on him.

“Are you hungry? I hope so!” Daenerys asked.

“Like a wolf!” Jon answered.

She uncrossed her legs, revealing her succulent and juicy muffin. Right above it was a field of neatly trimmed silver.

She keeps hers so tidy! Ygritte's was like a fox's pelt, not sure which I prefer. Jon thought as he prepared mentally.

Jon waded closer and started to lick and kiss her inner thighs, beginning just past her knees and inching towards her meaty outer lips. When he reached the lips proper he gave them a smooch and started breathing lightly and brushing them with his fingers.

“Yes! So warm and fresh! Just like that!”

Each breath was slightly more intense than the last, eventually she parted her legs further and her outer lips peeled apart to reveal the exquisite inner lips and nub.

Gods its like an abalone! Haven't eaten any abalone since before I took the black. That nub is a good deal bigger than Ygritte's! Jon thought, then once again felt a pang of guilt comparing his new love to his dearly departed. He stared at her honeypot for a moment.

“What are you waiting for?!” Daenerys demanded. “Dig in!”

“Yes my Queen!” Jon nodded his head.

Jon grabbed her love handle with his left hand and repeated the process beginning with a smooch followed by airy breaths and soft caressing on her folds and nub.

“Start licking!” Daenerys said once the breathing was hot and heavy.

His tongue brushed from the bottom of her muffin to the top in a zigzag, ending with a circle around her nub without direct contact. Her hips swayed with every stroke of his tongue.

“Fuck you're good! A little more tongue!” Daenerys said excitedly and started to breathe heavily and moan.

He complied and started licking with broad strokes, this time seeing to it that her nub was touched. Her nub grew further and her honeypot grew increasingly wet and he greedily slurped up the juices as they came forth, savoring the sweet and tangy flavor with each eager lap.

“I fucking love that sound! You like that don't you? You're enjoying this feast for crows!” She said as he nodded. “I need something a little bit more now!”

Without asking a word Jon slipped the index finger of his free hand inside of his Queen, massaging her interior muscles and easing it in and out working in tandem with his tongue. She grabbed his hair and he took that as a sign to give even more. A quick glance up from his task revealed she was using her other hand to fondle her breasts and flick her nipple. Violet eyes looked down at him with furled eyebrows, so he immediately returned his focus to the task at hand.

“I better not catch you distracted again!” Daenerys threatened.

She thrust her pelvis forward and grinded into his face. A second finger was inserted, and Jon encompassed her inner lips with his to create a vacuum. The folds ebbed and flowed in and out, massaged by his nimble tongue. Loud and rubbery smacking ensued whenever he took a short recess for fresh air. Her moaning grew loader by the minute.

“Fuck yessss! That feels sooooooo good! It feels soooooo fucking good!” Daenerys moaned in ecstasy as she reached climax. Soon her whole body seemingly went into convulsions, her curled feet bobbed up and down in the water soaking Jon.

He released his left hand from her love handle and begun to stroke Shortclaw once he knew she was about to come. Shortclaw had been standing at attention as steadfast as the Titan of Braavos for the entirety of the romp, so Jon was greatly to relieved to finally be able to come. He took out his pleasuring fingers and let her suck on them.

When she had left the final throes of orgasm she gushed out a stream of juices into Jon's mouth and plopped back into the water gave him a kiss with plenty of tongue. The pair waded to the shallow side of the spring, Jon laid on his back and she laid on her belly. His one arm was wrapped around her back while his other hand eagerly kneaded her chunky bottom.

“Gods you were good! What's your secret?” She asked.

“I listened to you and followed what you said!” He answered and shrugged.

“There's no way that was your first time giving a Lordly Kiss! Not with such skill, especially how you handled the nub!” She accused him.

“I must confess to you my Queen that I have failed you! I feigned ignorance when I had experience. I have indeed done it before. She'd never even heard of such a thing! Figured if you thought it was my first time you could only be pleasantly surprised!” He countered.

“Surely you didn't get so good giving them to one naive Wildling girl?”

“They don't much like being called that, they call themselves the Freefolk. But yes, I got some good advice from my friend Tormund.” Jon replied.

“The big ginger? I'm sure his beard feels like seven heavens down there, I know yours did!” Daenerys laughed.

“That's the one! He told me to start off slow, then slowly build up. And most importantly, when she likes what's happening do it more.”

“That's the gist of it! You are a bold one, and it worked! Neither of my past male loves were ever willing to try it. Their loss, I think giving is as fun as receiving!” She said.

Male loves?” Jon asked in a confused tone. Daenerys blushed.

“I will explain if you promise you won't tell anyone. Can you promise that?”

“My tongue is tied and lips are sealed, my Queen!”

“They weren't a few minutes ago! Anyway after my husband Drogo died I was lonely, so I started playing around with my handmaids out of loneliness. I found it to be an absolute pleasure. You clearly love my ass to bits but you should see Missandei's! With some more practice you'll be as good as her! Anyway, you can't tell anyone about that because it could create quite a scandal. Westerosi seem much more narrow minded. Missandei would probably kill me if she learned I told you!”

Gods what I'd give to see Dany and Missandei fucking!

“Understood! Your past is your past and nothing wrong with two ladies having some naughty fun with each other, but most people wouldn't see it that way. My first romance was quite scandalous simply because she was born on the wrong side of that wretched Wall, most Northerners would be outraged if they knew which is why Arya is the only one I've told. However in Dorne that might actually boost your popularity!” Jon replied.

“I think you're right about Dorne, that Ellaria Sand is quite the cheeky coquette, but I already have their backing. Good, I'm glad that's settled. Last thing we need is a scandalous secret being exposed and undermining my claim to the Iron Throne!”

They both let out a hearty laugh and resumed cuddling.

 

 

Chapter Text

Tyrion was standing on the ramparts of Winterfell when he saw the dragons fly overhead. The swish of their wings flapping and their robust roars filled the air and Tyrion was filled with as much shock and awe as he was when he saw that wild dragon back in Essos.

Is that Jon on Rhaegal? I can't believe Dany talked him into that.

Ser Davos Seaworth and Lord Varys walked up to Tyrion. Davos wore his usual armor with his onion sigil, while Varys wore a posh fur robe and necklace of amber beads. The pendant in the center had a spider trapped inside.

“Very fine furs, Varys.” Tyrion said.

“Why thank you, I'm glad you like them. I bought this number from an Ibbenese merchant ship back in Meereen, I figured it would be a good time to start building my winter wardrobe and I couldn't pass such an elegant piece. Amazing how a people so homely as the Men of Ib can produce such luxurious products.” Said Varys.

“Having access to such fine resources as amber and mammoths helps, even a handsome people can't make much without the right stuff.” Davos added.

“I'd love to continue and discuss winter fashion, but we have more pressing matters at hand. Do any of you have any news?” Tyrion asked.

“I do indeed,” Varys said, “when we arrived here I received a letter from one of my little birds saying that Cersei has hired the Golden Company. The letter must have been posted some time ago, so the Golden Company will be arriving in King's Landing any day now. Quite possible they already have.”

“Terrific, just what we need. The Golden Company aren't mere sell swords who will default on a contract once they get bored or switch sides if a bigger payment is offered. They never fail a job no matter how ambitious, and only the Unsullied rival them in terms of discipline. Now there's a fair chance we're fucked, even if we manage to eradicate the Dead.” Davos said grimly.

“Ever the optimist, Lord Seaworth. My history is a little hazy, but hasn't the Golden Company always had undying loyalty to the Blackfyres?” Tyrion asked.

“When there were still Blackfyres, yes. The last male member died some thirty years ago, though rumors persist of other unacknowledged Targaryen bastards or even secret trueborn Blackfyres who could revive the house. I find it odd they would take a side in the War of the Two Queens, especially since the Lannister promise of repaid debts hasn't rung true as of late. My guess is they are driven by opposition to the Targaryens and not support for your sister.” Varys replied.

“My father fought them when the Ninepenny Kings invaded, he said they were the fiercest opponent he's ever met.” Said Tyrion.

“Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought that Great Hall meeting was a total shit show.” Said Davos.

“You are not alone in that, I predicted the North would be icy.” Said Varys.

“Good one. And I agree, it seems my ex wife fancies herself a shrewd cyvasse player. Cersei would be proud of her! Do either of you know of any Northern houses that will support Jon's decision and by extent Daenerys? Little Lord Umber barely counts.” Tyrion said.

“I'm afraid not, but I thought surely Lady Mormont would have been eager to see another woman as brave as her. Turns out she's as outspoken against Jon forfeiting his crown as she was giving it to him the first place.” Said Davos.

“One might as well assume I would support the first eunuch to swoop in and call himself king, even if said eunuch was supported and advised by a cousin who disgrace to our house. It is commonly said the North remembers, but that's really just a polite way of saying the North doesn't forgive. I do think House Manderly may be more enlightened, they seem quite worldly and White Harbor's economy is dependent on business from the South. An independent North could mean tariffs, and I'm sure they dislike dealing with ones for overseas trade as it is.” Varys Said.

Tyrion glanced over the wall and saw a wagon bearing the Reed banners, along with several Crannogmen on ponies, accompanied by lizard lions, and shadow cats.

“Perhaps House Reed,” Tyrion said, “from what I've heard they are total outliers in Northern society. I could see them going against the grain.” Tyrion said.

“Seven hells, is that Lord Howland? That man has been missing for seven years and even my little birds couldn't locate him!” Varys said astonished.

Tyrion looked back to the courtyard, where he saw one of the Crannogmen talking to Samwell Tarly. Bran was sitting nearby. Sam must have summoned him, but how was the summons letter delivered? Greywater Watch supposedly moves by black magic.

“I wonder why he was in hiding for so long, must have been keeping some kind of major secret. That or he's just paranoid. Looks like the latter.” Tyrion said and shrugged.

“So I've been thinking of a way to get the North to come around to Daenerys! She and Jon I'm sure have every intention of getting married, they're clearly very much in love. Gods know those two kept me up all night on the voyage to White Harbor, and I thought I could sleep through anything! If Jon were to accept a promotion to King then they could rule the Seven Kingdoms as husband and wife. The North won't accept Jon as a mere Warden, but what about her equal? Just think of it, Westeros united under a just woman and and an honorable man for the first time in our shit history.” Davos said confidently.

“I dare admit I can't envision a plan that could possibly benefit the Realm more. Most fear Daenerys but all respect Jon, he can temper her worst impulses and would make her rule far more palatable and not just up here.” Said Varys.

“I've known Jon longer than either of you, and frankly I'm firmly convinced that he has no thirst for power. That's why he was so quick to forfeit his crown. He might agree to your plan Davos, but in practice I doubt he would be anything more than a puppet of Daenerys.” Said Tyrion.

“From what I've heard Ned didn't want to be Warden of the North, but when he ended up as Warden he did a damned good job of it. I'm sure Jon will be no different. Some of the best leaders are those with no desire for power but a strong sense of duty.” Said Davos.

“Robert didn't want the Iron Throne and only took it when forced too, largely because his dear friend Ned already declined. Robert had no skill in leadership and he knew it, so he let the rest of the Small Council and I run everything. Seventeen prosperous and mostly peaceful years. Jon might end up another Robert, but at least his future wife won't and I'm sure they will have a superb Small Council. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few letters to write.” Varys said then walked away.

“And I've said what I wanted, I have nothing else. Now you have something to think about, let me know if you want to move forward in proposing it to the love birds.” Davos said.

“Of course, I'll think it over.” Tyrion said.

Davos left and Tyrion was left on the ramparts alone. He scanned the area outside of Winterfell and marveled at the camp of the Targaryen forces, with hundreds of tents and pavilions all in black. Dotting the rest of the nearby landscape were the tents of the Northern houses Winterfell couldn't hold, most their banners bore sigils Tyrion didn't recognize. Soon Tyrion could hear what sounded like trumpets, and the thunderous pounding of enormous feet.

Sounds like those elephants I saw in Volantis, but those footsteps are far louder. How would any kind of elephant make it this far north?

Tyrion looked over to where the noise was coming from and saw what was making it – mammoths. A whole herd of them, wildlings were leading them.

I forgot mammoths lived North of the Wall. If only Cersei could see this, she always adored elephants. I'll never forget when I had Jaime talk father into trying to get one for her name day. Too bad he couldn't find one for sale, perhaps she would have stopped hating me then.

Cynical and bitter as Tyrion may have been, seeing the mammoths evoked a sense of wonder in him he had thought long dead. Sure the dragons evoked it too, but he had seen them near daily for the last few years. Seeing the mammoths also provided him with hope; hope that perhaps enough forces would be assembled to defeat the Army of the Dead.

 

Chapter Text

Sam's vision slowly returned to him. He realized he was face first on the ground, so he spat out the grass that was in his mouth and looked around. A raven cawed loudly from a nearby tree. Lord Howland and the creatures he brought were looming over him. Sam stood up and brushed the dirt and debris off of his robes.

So it wasn't just a dream. Are these snarks or grumkins? Or could they be – no that's impossible, never mind.

“You passed out harder than a lad who downed his first bottle of strongwine!” Howland said and laughed.

“I guess I should have listened to you.” Sam said sheepishly.

“Not much you could have done, I did warn you. These are my friends, the Children of the Forest.” Howland said.

“Hello Sam, my true name is too name is too long and difficult to pronounce for most humans, so just call me Perry.” Said one of the Children, Sam noticed her figure was pear shaped and wondered if that was where she got her human name. Apparently Common Tongue names based on physical attributes were standard for the Children, according to Maesters who didn't entirely reject their existence anyway. On her hair were twigs with bunches of dried pyrus blossoms.

“Pleased to meet you Perry. I don't understand, Bran told me the last of the Children were killed by the Night King when attacked the Three Eyed Raven. Most people believe you all died ages ago, and others believe you never existed in the first place.” Sam said in a confused tone.

“I was mistaken.” A voice that sounded just like Bran's said.

Has he made it here?

Sam looked to where the voice came from and saw a large raven, with a third eye in the middle of its forehead.

“Bran? Is that you?” Asked Sam dumbfounded.

“I am not Bran Stark anymore, remember? I am the Three Eyed Raven, I discussed this before with you.” Bran said in his monotone voice.

“Yes I do remember, but I didn't think it was meant to be taken literally. I thought you were the Three Eyed Raven the same way the head of the Lannisters is the Lion of Casterly Rock, just a title and not meant to be taken literally.” Sam said with a stutter.

“Bran was the one who delivered the summons to me, in this form of course. Now let's discuss the reason I was summoned, it's because of Jon isn't it?” Asked Howland.

“Precisely. I was in a green dream and visited the Tower of Joy, I saw you with Ned when he killed Arthur Dayne and adopted Aegon.” Said Bran.

“And I'm the one who discovered the journal of the Septon who married Rhaegar and Lyanna, well my lover did did actually. Bran was actually still convinced Jon was a bastard, he didn't know they got married.” Said Sam.

“I can only see what I choose to see. During my next green dream I saw their wedding to confirm it, my aunt looked beautiful that night.” Bran said.

“So you are both aware that Robert's Rebellion built on a crock of shit. That didn't sit with Ned and I. We were relieved his sister wasn't raped or kidnapped. However it made us both sick to learn that we fought in a war entered under false premises. I don't know if it was all a lie Robert concocted or if he sincerely believed it, but it doesn't matter. All that death and destruction was the result of something which never happened.” Said Howland. Usually he spoke in a calculated and quite mellow fashion, but this was said with fire.

“Jon deserves to know the truth of his identity, as does Daenerys. When we reveal it to them will you vouch for us? Everyone else will likely be skeptical of it as well. You were there and Jon knows you were Ned's friend.” Sam asked.

“Of course I will. The North still despises all Targaryens for what they think Rhaegar did to Lyanna, even if Daenerys was a just a suckling babe at the time. Aerys of course was guilty of burning Rickard and Brandon, which was the true catalyst of the Rebellion, but they went to the Red Keep in the first place to confront the Mad King about what they thought Rhaegar did. I brought seventeen years worth of correspondence with Ned, each letter signed and sealed by either of us. In these letters Ned expresses guilt in being complicit with Robert's false claim to the Iron Throne, and the last one goes so far as to say in the event Daenerys arrived in the Seven Kingdoms he would support her claim. I wrote asking him what about Jon, since Jon does have a greater claim than her, but he was executed before the raven arrived.” Howland said.

“Now I'm really glad we summoned you. I saw Tyrion speaking with Davos and Varys on the ramparts right as you arrived, probably discussing how the change the minds of the Northerners. I'm sure they will be thrilled to have a respected Lord on their side.” Sam said eagerly.

“Haha! Respected? I'm might be a Lord but other Northerners don't respect me or my people. We're called bog devils, frog eaters, mud people, the names go on. Sorry to disappoint. But I will still back your claims and most do know that I'm the only living witness of the Tower of Joy. I suppose now would be a good time for my friends to explain why I brought them here. Care to elaborate, Perry?” Howland asked.

“Of course,” Perry said. “Who should sit on the Iron Throne will mean very little so long as the Night King is on the march. I know who he is, and why he is attacking now.”

“As do I, he is the first White Walker.” Brandon said.

“You are right, I was there with Leaf when he was created.” Said Perry.

“But who was he, before he turned?” Sam asked.

“A Dragonlord of Old Valyria. The Valyrian Freehold was as advanced as any of the Free Cities, at a time when the First Men lived in huts and made weapons from stone. Even the weakest of the Dragonlords dabbled in forms of sorcery the greatest mages today spend a lifetime merely scratching the surface of. The Night King flew to Westeros to capture more dragons and to learn my people's magic secrets. I don't think he understood magic is simply part of our being, its not something we need to learn or practice. This was during the time the First Men were burning our weirwoods and driving us from our homes. We knew we needed a weapon to repel the First Men, and we chose him for the prototype to prevent him from stealing our dragons!” Perry said.

“Every book I've ever read said that dragons originated in Valyria, and only spread when Valyria started colonizing.” Asked Sam.

“That is Valyrian propaganda, nothing more. Dragons were once found on every corner of the Known World. From Sothoryos to Ibben, from Lannisport to Asshai. They roamed free like any other wild beast, the Valyrians were the first and only to domesticate them.” Perry answered.

“Why are dragons so important anyway?”

“Difficult to express in the Common Tongue, but dragons are living conductors of magical energy. Spells are much stronger when cast near a dragon, and the more breathing dragons in the world the greater power all magic has. The Valyrians first captured dragons in order to strengthen their sorcery. In fact frozen dragon corpses are contained inside the Wall, that's how the enchantments lasted so long. Magic in Westeros became so weak when the last Targaryen dragon died, in Essos it was only slightly stronger because a few wild dragons remain. When Daenerys hatched her children I noticed everything grew much stronger, far more human children are warging or showing promise with it than in half a dozen generations at least. The Night King is on the offensive now because he is far more powerful with three growing dragons, which enables him to raise more wights and cast far greater spells. His original dragon was killed by dragon glass, as was every wild dragon he turned. Now he finally has another dragon and two more he could turn.” Perry said.

Seven hells that explains so much!

“And why does he want to conquer the Westeros? Is he just evil or is their something larger at play?” Sam asked nervously.

“Part of it is he is simply doing what we created him to do, to destroy humanity or expel them from our continent, so we are partly to blame for that. We realized it was an error when he and his Walkers started killing us as well, and destroying our Weirwoods. The latter is quite ironic, considering why he was created in the first place. Which is why we reached out to the First Men and formed the Green Pact to stop. Ironic, we created the Walkers to destroy humanity but instead they united us. For a time anyway. However the Night King is merely a servant and enforcer of greater evils, evils he has served since before we turned him, which is why he was so willing to forfeit his own humanity. They gave him his powers, and he carries out their will in return. I don't think your tongue has a word for what he serves, but followers of R'hllor call it the Great Other. So yes, something far larger than almost any human knows.” Perry responded.

“I've known about all of this since I spent those years meditating on the Isle of Faces, but even I doubted the Night King would have returned within my lifetime. When something has been waiting to happen for eight thousand years you just don't expect you'd live to see it!” Howland said.

“Well I suppose that would explain why cultures all over the Known World have stories about the Long Night.” Sam said.

“It seems I have much to observe in my next Green Dream.” Bran said and cawed.

Why couldn't he just be a raven with two eyes?

“What will be needed to defeat the Night King?” Sam asked.

“On the Isle of Faces I frequently had dreams were I saw the Night King attacked by a dragon, a she wolf, and a chimera that appeared both dragon and wolf. For years I believed the dragon was Rhaegar and the she wolf was Lyanna, with Jon being the chimera. I have no doubt the chimera is Jon, but now I suspect the other two aren't his parents. Daenerys may be the dragon, but there are a few candidates for the she wolf.” Answered Howland.

Must be a Stark. Doubt its Sansa, she's no warrior. Couldn't be Bran either, unless he warged into a she wolf.

“Stannis Baratheon was advised by a Red Priestess named Melisandre. She's firmly convinced the Night King will be defeated by a figure named Azor Ahai, or the Prince Who Was Promised in the Common Tongue. Melisandre believed it was Stannis, and eventually he did too. Stannis had been a good man but she got him to do some dreadful things, only for him to be killed fighting the Boltons. Now she believes Jon is Azor Ahai, that's why she resurrected him.” Sam said.

“You humans love easy answers.” Perry said and cackled. “Probably because you value one pretty branch over a whole tree. Humans take prophecies literally and at face value, seeing them as a blueprint and not merely the shape of things to come. Defeating the Night King, let alone the Great Other, will take more than just one promised prince. That task will require the efforts of many, and most will go unnoticed.”

Or reject prophecies entirely, like the do at the Citadel.

“As much as I'd love to discuss the Last Hero and such further, I'm afraid I must be going. Perry, you and the Children may stay in the Godswood. Just keep hidden whenever anyone but Sam or I come through.” Howland said.

“No need for concern, we can hear humans from a mile away and smell them from even further!” Perry said then disappeared into the bushes with the rest of the Children.

“I will think hard about how we can disclose the news to Jon and Daenerys. And there is something in my cell I would like you or Perry to have a look at.” Said Sam.

“What is it?” Howland Asked.

“An old war horn, made from an aurochs horn. I found it wrapped in a Night's Watch cloak buried under a cache of dragonglass arrows.” Sam replied.

“That is a worthy find! Care to walk back to the courtyard with me?” Howland offered as he hopped on the wagon.

“I appreciate the offer, but no thanks. I'm going to stay here and pray for a bit.”

Howland said farewell and rode off, Bran flew away. Sam gazed at the bleeding face of the Heart Tree and into his reflection in the onyx pool, trying to make sense of everything he learned. So much to take in.

 

Chapter Text

Meeting with Jon in the Godswood was the most satisfying thing she had done since she learned how to warg, far more satisfactory in fact. For seven years she wondered what her brother was up to at the Wall and beyond, and she spent those same seven years anticipating when she could tell him of all her trials and triumphs. She left the Godswood in good spirits, knowing that for at least a time they were a family once more. Now she was looking for Sansa, so she could tell her sister that Daenerys invited the two of them to her quarters that night.

When Arya arrived in the courthouse she saw Sansa on the ramparts, she was sitting at a table and drinking a glass of tea.

Perfect, didn't have to waste any time searching for her.

“What do you want?” Sansa asked petulantly.

“I just wanted to let you know that Daenerys invited us over to her room tonight, for mulled wine and refreshments.” Arya replied in a friendly tone.

“I'm not going.” Sansa said.

“Why not? There will be lemon cake!” Arya asked. That last part was a lie, Arya didn't know what would be served but figured a promise of lemon cake would change Sansa's mind.

“Because I don't like the Dragon Queen!” Sansa said even more irritated.

“How can you not like her? She is sooooo beautiful!” Arya asked in a mocking tone, mimicking what Sansa had said when Arya refused to have lunch with Cersei.

“Oh so is that what your fascination with her is about? Think you can steal her from Jon? I doubt many boys have given you any attention, wouldn't be surprised if you tried your luck with girls instead. Even if Daenerys did like women, which she doesn't, I doubt she'd pick you.” Sansa said and rolled her eyes then laughed.

Tears started to trickle down Arya's cheeks. Arya's enchantment with Daenerys was nothing romantic, though she did greatly admire her beauty. She took no issue with those who preferred the company of their own sex but for her own sister to make such a baseless accusation against her cut like an ax, particularly since it was the sort of taunt Sansa plagued her with as kids.

How could she accuse me of stealing Jon's love? Even if I was in love with her I would never dream of taking her from him.

“Arya! I was only joking! I'm sure there's a husband out there for you! Don't take what I said the wrong way!” Sansa said, her tone seemed questionable.

“You said calling me fat-face and stubby-legs were jokes too. Enjoy your tea, I guess there will be more mulled wine for me and the Queen.” Arya said then stormed off.

Once Sansa was sufficiently behind her Arya stopped to look at all of the banners of the houses camped outside Winterfell. House Mormont with their bear rampant on green, House Manderly with their Merling King on blue, House Karstark with their white star on black, House Hornwood with their moose and so on.

Suddenly Arya felt the need to use the lavatory. When out in the woods she preferred to relieve herself in the out in the open since she hated lavatories, but she was in Winterfell and onlookers were everywhere so she headed to the latrine. Then she got an idea, an awful idea.

She sat on the ground cross legged and scanned the sky. A robin flew by, so she gazed into its soul and warged into it. Flying vicariously through birds made her feel powerful, like she could go anywhere she pleased. So she flew over to where Sansa was sitting and right when she was above her shat in her tea. Plunk!

Bull's eye!

Arya perched on the nearest railing and watched Sansa scream, toss the cup over the railing, then vomit her guts out. Once Sansa was done puking she ran inside.

“Bahahaha!” Arya roared with laughter as she surrendered control of the robin's body and resumed control of her own. Now she no longer had use the latrine. As far as Arya was concerned if Sansa didn't want bird shit in her tea then she shouldn't have pissed off a skin changer. Or a vindictive sister for that matter.

On the other side of one of the towers Arya saw a fat bald man in a fur robe, probably the Spider. She had seen him speak with her father a few times and even espied him speaking with a shadowy figure in the Red Keep basement where the dragon skeletons were kept.

“Are you Varys?” Arya asked once she reached him.

“Why yes I am? What gave it away? My smooth never but never shaven face or the lavender and lilac perfume?” Varys answered.

“I've seen you before back when my father was Hand.” Arya replied.

“You must be Arya then, of course not many ladies bear arms even up here. I know its been seven years but I am terribly sorry about your father, I did everything in my power to save him. Would you like a sweet?” Varys said as he pulled a hard candy from his pocket.

“Sure,” Arya said as she took it and popped it in her mouth, “mmm rosewater. I'm grateful you tried to save him, but I think Sansa's false testimony is why he got killed. I was at his execution, I saw how it happened.” Arya said and hung her head.

“Sansa was also manipulated into giving that testimony, she feared for her life. Your father however told me he did not fear for his. Besides Jofferey would have had him executed anyway, he never needed a reason or rationale.” Said Varys.

“True, I hated that cunt with all my heart. Not even Cersei wanted my father dead, had she got her way he would be Lord Commander right now. He would have taken the threat of the Night King seriously, and the Watch would have respected him far more than Jon.” Said Arya.

“With every move I take I try and imagine every possible outcome, you seem to as well. Perhaps you'll make a promising Mistress of Whispers in the event of my death or retirement, Little Wolf. Don't get any ideas, I'm always one step ahead.” Varys said, his high voice shifted seamlessly from admiration to stern caution.

And he doesn't even know I'm both a warg and Faceless Man.

“Last time I saw you I overheard you support contacting the Faceless Men to Assassinate Queen Daenerys. Changed your mind?” Arya asked and raised an eyebrow.

“You really are a stealthy one. I actually never wanted her dead, I merely feigned it because I didn't want my cover blown. Your father was repulsed at the thought of killing a pregnant girl, as I'm sure you heard. So I 'agreed' to cancel the letter to the House of Black and White and made it an open bounty instead. The Faceless Men always succeed, but with an open bounty any idiot could try and sneak or fight past a whole Khalasar to take her out. It was the sort of fool's errand that Cat's Paw Guild novice who tried killing your brother would attempt.” Varys said in a sly tone.

“Is the Cat's Paw Guild still around?” Asked Arya.

“Last I heard yes, and they still have some relevance as low level thugs in the underworlds of King's Landing and other ports. They're thieves mostly, but have been known to accept assassination contracts on occasion. I would never hire them for any services, they couldn't even send someone who could kill a comatose boy in his bed. Their services are much cheaper than any of their rivals, but like any business you get what you pay for.” Said Varys.

“Good, maybe one day I'll pay them a visit.” Arya said mischievously.

“And nothing of value will be lost. Best of luck with your agenda, Little Wolf. It's been a pleasant chat but Tyrion and Ser Davos are waiting for me and it would be most rude to make them wait any further. Toodaloo!” Varys gave an airy wave goodbye and walked off.

As Varys faded off a thunderous echo appeared in the air. Arya looked up into the sky and saw Daenerys riding Drogon and Jon riding Rhaegal soon after. The sight of Jon on a dragon made her smile ear to ear and she waved at them as they flew by.

Drogon isn't the only thing she'll ride today!

Once the dragons were gone Arya walked down to the Winterfell gate to explore the camps. She passed by the Manderlys, an elegant and generally portly bunch dressed with far more class then most Northmen. The women wore jewelry from shells, choral, and sea glass, and their knights wore armor with nautical motifs and wielded tridents instead of lances. Once Arya could read and write with confidence she wrote a letter to Lord Manderly asking if she could be a squire to him or any of his men. All she got a wine stained letter reading NO, which ended her dreams of becoming a knight as they are the only Northern house with a tradition of knighthood.

Arya heard an animal sound she was unfamiliar with, one she had not heard even while trespassing menageries in Braavos. Sounded like some kind of equine, but something far more exotic than a horse or donkey. Not a zebra, she had seen ones crossed with horses and donkeys ridden by the Brave Companions as well as pure ones in Braavos, both sounded quite different. So she followed the sound and saw the creatures that made it. They were shaggy beasts that resembled mountain goats, but were the size of coursers, they had long tufted tails like a lion's, and Arya noticed they only had one horn which grew from the crowns of their heads.

Unicorns! All the books and sigils show them looking like horses, the only thing those get right are the horns and tail. Maester Aemon said they're extinct, except for maybe on Skagos. Wonder if the Skagosi are here.

Arya went up to the unicorn pen and started to pet one. Running her fingers through its hair felt soothing, even better than a good bear blanket.

“Did somebody give you permission to pet them?” Ayra heard a gruff voice behind her say, she smelled cedar. She turned around and saw a man dressed in garb she had never seen before. He wore a conical hat made of cedar wicker and a woven vest also of cedar painted blue with green lobsters on either side, wrapped around him was an elaborate woolen blanket that worn like a cape.

“No. I'm sorry!” Arya said in a panic.

“Oh you're one of the Stark girls. Then go ahead, your brother is the Stark after all. I am the Magnar!” The wool and cedar clad man said after glancing her sigil.

Jon must be really accepted as one of us if even the Skagosi are calling him a Stark!

“What's a Magnar?”

“A Magnar is a member of my clan, I am the Magnar! Our totem is the lobster, like how yours is the dire wolf.” The Magnar turned around to show off his blanket, it was the same colors as the vest. A large and elaborate lobster drawn from form lines with faces and other motifs hidden took up most of the back, the border of the sigil and blanket were made of abalone shell buttons.

“That's beautiful. Amazing craftsmanship.” Arya said.

“You like it? It's woven from from unicorn wool. All of my people have one, the other chiefs and I had our best weavers work to produce ones for Jon and the Dragon Queen. They had enough time to make ones for you and your siblings as well. When we swear allegiance tomorrow we'll present them.” The Magnar said.

“So you support Daenerys?” Arya asked.

“I couldn't care less about who sits on the Iron Throne, the Skagos Islands are not affected by such things. But Jon is my Chief and he summoned me, and the Dead will claim us all if we don't act. Besides, only a fool would dare oppose a woman with dragons.” The Magnar confessed.

I admire his honesty, nice to know some of Jon's vassals are loyal.

“I look forward to receiving mine! Nice to meet you!” Arya said and departed. Next she headed to the nearby creek were a banner with a lizard lion flew. The Reeds. As she walked closer she saw there were lizard lions in the creek, she had no idea they were anything more than a sigil for House Reed. A tall Summer Islander was standing at the campfire putting stew ingredients into a cauldron, he had a pet monkey that was helping him. Arya was about to greet him but she noticed a shaggy headed girl about her age, but much shorter, practicing archery on a tree target.

“Archery is my favorite, I'm Arya Stark”

“And I'm Meera Reed.” The girl said as she turned around.

“You're the one who pulled Bran to safety! We owe you so much!” Arya said thrilled.

“Or whoever Bran is now. I'm not sure what he is anymore. There's a spare bow in my tent, go fetch it and we can practice.” Meera said. Arya went to retrieve it.

 

Chapter Text

When the Wall was breached Tormund and Beric knew they needed to reach Winterfell as soon as they could. Tormund had several Wildlings with him and Beric had what was left of the Brotherhood Without Banners. All of them were on horseback, except for members of the Men of the Frozen Shore who elected to ride their snow bears.

“We are nearing Last Hearth, it's the seat of House Umber.” Beric said.

“Those are some big ass fuckers. I've heard elders say you could always spot an Umber Crow by his shear size, this was back when men became Crows by choice. Never heard of any Umbers joining the Crows in my generation, but I did fuck an Umber woman once. Damn I'll probably never be manhandled half as well as she manhandled me. Absolute beast of a woman. The fun ended when we got caught, her brothers would've tried to kill me if they didn't know who they were dealing with. And that's how I got the name Giantsbane!” Tormund said.

“Thankfully the Army of the Dead is on the prowl, so I'm sure they will forgive you for transgressions.” Beric said.

“I thought you were Giantsbane because you stole a potion from a giantess that made you big and strong, and then you slew the potion deprived giants. Hahaha!” Val said mockingly. She was Mance Rayder's sister by law, a handsome blonde with giant tits, narrow waist, and a long braid that reached her wide hips and full, round ass, she wore Mance's old raven winged helmet and cloak was fastened with a weirwood face pin.

Gods I'd so fuck her if she wasn't Mance's sister by law, or if I had his blessing. Can't ask a dead man, and I don't want to risk dishonoring him. No big deal, I have the big woman waiting for me at Winterfell and she's taller and has larger muscles.

“Every time you ask Tormund the same question he gives a different answer. Perhaps he should have been called Truthsbane instead.” The Great Walrus said mockingly. He was one of the Frozen Shore chiefs, he wore a parka of walrus leather and a mostly wooden walrus mask that featured real ivory tusks.

“You two are just jealous, because I've done more in my life than most could in ten!” Tormund said defending himself.

“I honestly don't care about the truth of the matter, just don't go stealing any of my potions or I'll brew something ghastly for you.” Said Morna, a stout witch with a bleeding weirwood mask and dreaded hair, she led one of the tribes.

“Alright here we are, hopefully we can regroup with the Night's Watch.” Beric said, his voice always had a calming element that made even the worst situations feel better.

Last Hearth's gate was shattered and from the cracked stone walls hung tattered banners which displayed the Umber sigil, a giant breaking its chains.

The Dead are already here, the Umbers are fucked!

The Castle proper had a stone base which had a flight of stairs to a tiered oaken structure with steep, curved roofs and beams carved with knot work. As they passed through the nonexistent gate half a dozen wights attacked them, the polar bears made quick work of them. Beric and the rest of the Brotherhood lit their swords by speaking some gibberish as Southroners are prone to do. The flaming swords greatly illuminated the night. Morna conjured a floating orb of glowing yellow light to further the sword's effect.

“Walrus Man, you and the rest of your tribe will guard the outside, those polar bears are too precious to risk being turned and the horses need protection too. Blow your horn if you need us. The rest of the Freefolk and the Brotherhood will investigate the castle.” Tormund commanded.

“I was about to suggest the same thing.” The Great Walrus said.

Everyone else dismounted and walked up the stairs. At the end of the steps were two sculptures of giants carrying lanterns which out but still had smoke trailing from them. Beric reignited the lanterns with his sword. An agonizing moan started to be audible from inside, which confirmed there were at least a few survivors.

Tormund took the lead and said “We enter on the count of three, two one,” BOOM! The first thing seen was a group of wights devouring the corpses of some poor house retainers. When they heard the party enter they charged at them.

Morna cast a spell in the Old Tongue which sent lightening bolts out of her staff's crystal into the Dead, Val decapitated one with her sword and skewered two more, Tormund and the Great Walrus slashed through several with their falchion and battleaxe respectively, and the Brotherhood all lit their swords which caused the few remaining wights to scurry off.

“Look over there.” Val said pointing down the great hall with her blade.

“It seems the the Army of the Dead is seeking a new recruit in Lord Umber.” Beric said then put his free hand on his mouth in disgust.

Lord Umber was chained to his throne, with a dragon glass dagger sticking out of his bleeding chest. His skin was beginning to crystallize into the same glowing blue white the Walkers all had, and he was writhing in agony, his chains rattling with every convulsion.

“I have no love for Kneelers, but to make a physical mockery of a House's sigil is disgusting. And look, its that damn spiral again this time painted with blood.” Said Morna.

I'm just glad I have no sigil for them to mock.

“They're.......trying.......to.......turn.......me.......just.......kill.......me.......before.......it.......happens!”

Lord Umber said in agonizing breath.

“You should give him the Gift, Beric. I don't feel right killing him, our peoples have fought his family for eons, they don't deserve to be ended by a Free man.” Tormund said.

“Your consideration for old foes is most admirable, Tormund. I prefer not to euthanize children, but sometimes it must be done.” Beric said.

Beric pulled out the knife from Lord Umber's chest, then extinguished his sword. “I'm sorry, you didn't deserve to die like this,” he said as he slit Lord Umber's jugular in a spot that still looked normal. Once Lord Umber stopped breathing for a while Beric reignited his sword and torched the corpse. Finally he wiped off the dragon glass blade and tossed it to Tormund.

“One less Southron cunt!” The Great Walrus said sneering.

“Have some respect, he was only a lad not much younger than some of our son.!” Morna said with clear disdain.

“We need to get moving, perhaps we can find some survivors before it's too late. Or some loot to scavenge.” Val said.

They exited the Great Hall through the nearest door and walked down a corridor. The corridor had more half eaten bodies littered about it. Every footstep brought the creak of cracking bones and smashed in organs. All of the party had a century's of gruesome stories between them, but for Tormund this was somehow much worse than anything else he had witnessed. After fifteen minutes of walking a door become visible in Morna's orb.

“More dead! They've got blue eyes!” A voice said as the door was kicked open.

“I've always had blue eyes! Tormund said both irritated and frightened.

“Oh it's just you.” The voice said. It was Dolorous Edd, the Crow who was made their leader after Jon Snow resigned.

“We were hoping to find you here, we got worried when we saw what happened to Lord Umber.” Said Beric.

“What happened to him? We entered though the other way.” Asked Edd.

“They tried to make him into a Walker, which means one must have been in the area.” Answered Val.

“We took care of him. Ain't you Mance Rayder's widow?” One of the Crows asked.

“Good since only one of us has dragon glass, but I hear Jon Snow ordered more weapons with it to be produced down at Winterfell. And no, you're thinking my sister Dalla. She died in childbirth, Mance was her widower actually. Doesn't matter anymore, we'll all friends know right?” Val answered, a tear rolled down each cheek.

“All is not lost, there is a new Lord Umber. This is Mors.” Edd said pointing to a tall one eyed man wearing a snow bear coat over his armor.

“I was named castellan by my nephew Greatjon when he went to serve Robb Stark in his Riverlands campaign. I never thought I'd ever end up Lord, then again I never thought I'd be happy to see Wildlings or fire worshipers.” Said Mors and everyone had a friendly laugh. Tormund noticed Mors carried the biggest sword he had ever seen on his back.

“Good work killing the Walker. Each dead Walker means gods know how many less wights we'll have to face. We'll scour the castle for anything we can salvage, then we'll ride south for Winterfell. The Men of the Frozen Shore are guarding our mounts outside.” Tormund said.

“And we must remember to burn the dead before we depart!” Said Beric.

 

Chapter Text

A few hours had passed since sunset and Daenerys was preparing for her late night meal with Jon's sisters. Sansa had seemed frigid, but Arya was so sweet and welcoming. Little wonder she was so special to Jon and he always spoke of her so fondly.

Daenerys wore purple silk pajamas and a matching velvet bathrobe over them. She found the room to be most cozy, with a decent bookshelf and wardrobe; a tapestry of a lady with a unicorn hung on one wall and one of hunters pursuing an elk on another. The room was lighted by beeswax candles from the Vale, they were scented with spices and Daenerys figured that would enhance their appetites for mulled wine. There was a knock on the door.

“Come in.” Daenerys said.

The chef came in with the meal on a roller cart. She was an older brunette with ample breasts, a narrow waist, and wide hips.

I can tell she's a great cook, certainly isn't afraid to taste what she makes. Gods if I wasn't committed to Jon I'd discretely offer to take her to bed.

“Good evening your grace, my name is Nigella.” The chef said, she had a sensual voice that was deep but still womanly.

“Thank you so much for preparing all this at this hour.” Daenerys said as she took a big sniff of the spread. Besides the mulled wine there was smoked salmon, fresh bread, spreadable goat cheese, duck sausage, and lemon cake for dessert. As Nigella placed the items on the table Daenerys enjoyed a glimpse down her bodice.

“It was my pleasure, I love serving a woman with such exquisite taste.” Nigella said.

“Do tell me about the mulled wine.” Said Daenerys.

“I use a mixture of reds from Dorne and the Arbor respectively, most love one or the other but I find blending them is perfect for mulling. Then there are orange wheels, also from Dorne, Northern honey, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves, anise, ginger, marjoram, and cardamom. I have a friend in White Harbor who buys me Essosi spices whenever the Ancient Guild of Spicers in port, in exchange I send him fresh game meat.” Said Nigella

The Spicers wanted me dead back in Qarth, imagine their fury if they knew I was closer to gaining my Iron Throne than any Qartheen could have guessed.

“Impressive, that is quite the recipe! Again thanks for this, I'm sure the Stark girls will really enjoy this!” Daenerys said.

“Good night dear, let me know whenever you need anything.” Nigella said then took the roller cart and left. Daenerys used the opportunity to stare at her large bottom.

All this food looks amazing, but I need to wait for the girls to come.

After a few minutes there was another knock on the door.

“Come in!”

It was Arya. She wore the same outfit she wore at the reception, except she had her cloak off and she was barefoot.

“I've been so exited for this all day. I never thought I'd get to meet a Targaryen woman! Rhaenys and Visenya are two of my favorites! I love Alysanne too. saw you and Jon fly your dragons earlier, I waved.” Arya said giddily as she sat down.

“Really? I didn't see you.” Daenerys said.

“Probably wasn't the only thing you rode today.” Arya said impishly and winked.

She is a cheeky little thing.

“Where is Sansa?” Daenerys asked.

“I told her she was invited, but she told me she didn't want to go. She doesn't like you. I even told her there would be lemon cake but that didn't change her mind.” Arya said.

“What makes you say she dislikes me? And how did you know you know there would be lemon cake? Jon tells me you're very sneaky.” Daenerys asked then poured Arya a mug of mulled wine.

“She told me to my face she doesn't like you. And I didn't.” Arya said then sucked the mulled wine through the cinnamon stick.

“Well in that case I don't want to dwell on it. More food for us.” Daenerys said, a tear rolled down her cheek.

Now that I know Jon adores my squish I don't have to worry about having too much, I love the way he plays with it.

“Did Nigella make this? Jon had a huge crush on her.” Arya asked then spread some cheese on a bread slice and put salmon on top.

“She sure did. He told me his first love was a Free woman.” Daenerys said astonished then took a sip of wine.

Daenerys was amazed at just how much Arya resembled Jon. Same expressions, similar build, same gray eyes, her hair was noticeably brown but still dark and had the same wildness. Those two resembled each other more than many full siblings do.

“And he was telling the truth. Nigella was just a silly crush of his, nothing serious. He never told me, but I saw the way he looked at her whenever she walked into the dining hall or especially when she left. Didn't stop me from trying to get them together.” Said Arya then popped the whole piece of bread, cheese and salmon into her mouth.

“What did you do?” Daenerys asked as she took a bit of sausage.

“I wrote a few secret admirer poems copying his handwriting. I'm not much of a poet but I don't think he is either. I started doing that when he first talked about Taking the Black, I asked if I could join with him but father said they don't recruit girls. I couldn't bear the thought of Jon going away especially somewhere so dangerous, so I thought if I got him together with Nigella he would change his mind and stay in Winterfell. Plus I thought a good woman would really make him happy, he's always been so insecure and melancholic.” Arya said once she finished chewing then had some sausage.

“Oh my. Your dedication to your brother is admirable, but he wasn't joking when he said you're a crafty little schemer.” Daenerys said and laughed, though she deeply was touched at the measures Arya took for Jon. She helped herself the some bread, cheese, and salmon.

“You should count yourself lucky you ended up with him. Ladies from across the Known World have tried to get in his pants, and you're the one who did! I'll do anything to make him happy and keep him safe, I mean anything!” Arya said as she took another gulp of wine.

“I do, I'm the luckiest girl in the Westeros! Jon told me one time Sansa corrected someone about not being a full brother, and you threw your shoe at her.” Daenerys said then had a drink.

“I warned her, I said by the Gods Old and New behave yourself or I will give you a taste of my shoe! She doubled down so I had to throw it, she lost a baby tooth from that. It doesn't matter whether we share one parent or both, or any, he's still our brother just as much as Bran. He probably didn't tell you what I did when she called him a bastard.”

“Do tell!”

“Are you sure? It's pretty gross.”

“You're only making want to find it out more!”

“Well I sneaked into her bedchamber and poured sour milk all over her bed. Then in a fit of rage I stood on top of her bed, and pissed all over it.”

Daenerys laughed profusely. “He sure didn't tell me that one. That is hilarious! Sansa should have known better than to call him a bastard in front of you.” Daenerys said then took a big gulp of mulled wine.

“Jon was furious with me for that, even more so then when I threw the shoe. He said I took it way to far. Mother and father were even more upset, I had to take extra scripture lessons from Septa Mordane for six months as punishment. I hated that stuffy old cunt but it was totally worth it.” Arya said with a wolfish smirk then took some more food.

“I was terrified of my brother Viserys. So tell me Arya, what have you been up to since Jon left for the Wall?”

“I went to King's Landing with my father when he was Hand, there I took water dancing lessons. I've always loved swords, that's why Jon bought me this.” Arya showed off Needle. “After father was killed I disguised as a boy and joined a Night's Watch recruit caravan, but ended up kidnapped by Sandor Clegane. He may have been my captor, but he taught me so much about how to survive. After that I went to Braavos, which is where I heard many stories about you!” Arya took a slice of lemon cake.

“What were you doing in Braavos?” Daenerys asked with a puzzled look, then got herself some of the cake.

“I joined the Faceless Men. My water dancing teacher was from Braavos, and on the road I met a man who told me to go there. I just wanted to learn how to be a better fighter, but turns out they're just a deadly cult.” Arya responded that popped the whole slice in her mouth.

“My brother would always scare me with stories about the Faceless Men, say they'd kill me if I didn't do as he said.” Daenerys said then had a bite of cake.

“I heard your brother was a cunt. There's a song about him in Braavos about how he deserved getting a molten gold crown, also a few mummer's farces about that. Was he? I saw a few about recent events in Westeros that were totally inaccurate.” Arya said grabbing more sausage.

“Yes. He was. You're don't mince your words. So tell me what did you do when you left the Faceless Men? Have you put any of their skills to good use?” Daenerys said then got more of the bread, cheese, and fish.

“I have! I made good use of the faces to get revenge on the House that murdered my brother and mother. One of the Houses, anyway.” Arya said.

“What did you do?”

“It's pretty nasty!”

“I love nasty revenge! It's the best kind!”

“So I used the face of some random girl to disguise as a servant. I found a few of the Lord's sons and killed them. Then I chopped them up and put them in a meat grinder, then made a meat pie with them. I served it to the Lord and he ate it, but was getting impatient that his sons hadn't shown up yet. I took off the face and revealed who I was, told him he just ate his sons, then slashed out his throat. My mother was killed the same way by one of his men and he ordered it, I thought it was fitting. Then I cut off his face and sore it to host a big dinner with his surviving sons and grandsons, he had a shit ton of them, and poisoned all their drinks. And that was how House Frey met its end!” Arya said then raised her mug.

“Damn you weren't joking! I'll toast to that!” Daenerys said and did cheers with Arya.

“Got the idea from an old First Men legend about the Rat Cook.” Arya said.

“I want to braid your hair! Missandei and I always do each other's hair, I've never been to a hair dresser since I met her!” Said Daenerys.

“She has such lovely hair, you do a good job. But why would you braid mine? I thought the Dothraki only get braids after a victory! I've won no victories.” Said Arya.

“What do you mean you've won no victories? You wanted to become a warrior and you've become a damn deadly one, you wanted to reunite with Jon and you have, and you wanted to avenge your fallen family and you're well on your way with that! That's three victories so far! I am the Khaleesi, I am more than qualified to determine who gets a braid!”

“Alright, I guess I was wrong then.”

Daenerys got up and grabbed a pitcher of water that was on the window sill and poured into the silver wash basin that was on her nightstand. She went over to her hair kit and grabbed a bar of shampoo and the comb Missandei used on her, it was made from phantom tortoise shell. Daenerys treated Missandei's hair with a pick made of teak.

“Come over here and let me wash your hair.” Daenerys said. Arya pulled her chair over to the basin and dunked her head into it. Once it was soaked Daenerys scrubbed it with the shampoo bar then rinsed it thoroughly.

“Love the smell. What is it? Asked Arya.

“Spiceflower.” Answered Daenerys.

“We don't have that in the North!” Arya said.

Daenerys grabbed a towel and dried Arya's head off, then combed her hair. Once she was dried and combed her hair was given three small braids while the rest of it remained loose.

“Now you can wear these!” Daenerys said handing her three silver bells.

“Just like the Dothraki wear! I won't be able to wear them too often, I need to be quite usually, but I'll definitely wear them whenever I can!” Arya said as she accepted the bells.

“One more thing! Here is a book I think you'll enjoy, my adviser and guard Jorah Mormont gave it to me as a wedding gift.” Daenerys reaching a leather bound volume from the shelf and handing it to Arya.

The Women Who Run With Wolves by Septa Pinkola. I've heard of this book, what's it about?” Arya asked excitedly.

“It's a compilation of stories about women historic and legendary who fit what the author describes as 'wild women', women who live on their own terms in touch with their animal instincts. The sort of woman I always aspired to be, and exactly the sort you are. Some of the women who appear in it include Shiera Seastar, Rose of Red Lake, Ellyn Eversweet, the Fisher Queen, Alyssa Arryn, Elenei, Sharra the Witch Queen, Ursula Upcliffe, and Nymeria.” Daenerys answered, Arya was eagerly leafing through the book.

“Thanks, I can't wait to start reading it. Nymeria has always been one of my idols! I even named my dire wolf after her!” Arya said.

“You have a dire wolf? Any relation to Ghost?”

“His sister.”

“Where is she?”

“I'm not sure, I saw her before I returned to Winterfell. She leads a whole pack of wolves now. I'll try and contact her next time I have a dream.” Arya replied.

Can she talk to animals? How does she contact anyone in her dreams? Maybe its like those dreams Jon has, it's terrible when his nocturnal howling wakes me up.

“Thank you so much for coming! When Jon first told me about you I had a feeling I' be fond of you! I have no doubt you helped him become the man he is today!” Daenerys said then stretched out her arms for a hug.

“And thanks for having me! The food and mulled wine was great!” Arya said as they warmly embraced. For such a small woman Arya hugged powerfully, Daenerys was impressed with the strength she displayed. They said their goodnights and Arya left shortly after, Daenerys ended the night greatly relieved after the disaster of her first day in Winterfell.

 

Chapter Text

Queen Cersei had graciously offered Lord Strickland and the other Golden Company officers guest suites in the Red Keep, which they all politely but firmly declined. Sleeping in such luxury while their men slept in tents or the city barracks wouldn't sit right with Strickland, who firmly believed a general should live among his men. Besides it was better for morale and discouraged poor behavior, Gods know what mischief his men would get into behind his back.

“How are your blisters doing?” Asked Watkyn, Harry's squire. Watkyn was a grubby little man with a big nose and pointy, forward facing ears. He was roughly the same age as Harry, if not older, but still a squire and unlikely to ever be knighted.

“Better than usual, Old Top. I purchased an ointment from a stall at the King's Landing market, it seems to have a pleasant numbing effect.

The knight and squire were heading to the captain-general's tent, where the other officers were waiting for them. Now that the company camp was almost done setting up it was time to discuss Cersei's orders and long term strategy. The company men saluted Harry as we walked by them, with him saying hello to each.

“We were wondering when you'd show up! Figured your blisters probably slowed you down! Hahaha!” Said Ser Rolly Duckfield, who had been Harry's squire prior to being knighted. His surcoat was in the company colors and emblazoned with his personal sigil, a white duck on black.

“I was just telling Watkyn they've been doing better since I got a treatment for them! You and Connington never live it down! Haha!” Harry said.

I hope they'll get some blisters one day and shut up about mine!

“So that's what took you so long! Shopping like a whore on her day off! The rest of the officers are inside, let's go on in.” Ser Duckfield said as he opened the pavilion door. Watkyn stayed outside and waited dutifully.

The captain general's tent was a large thing, though not as large as most of the tents the soldiers slept in. It was made from cloth of gold and the tent stakes were pikes, each one topped with the gilded skull of a late captain-general. Inside was a large table with a detailed map of Westeros on top, another one of Essos hung on the wall next to several war trophies both macabre and curious.

“Here I am!” Said Harry. “What all do you have to report so far?”

“The archers' tents are all set up, as is the shooting range. Many are still getting their land legs back but their marksmanship should be back shortly.” Said Balaq, captain of all the archers. Balaq was a Summer Islander with snow white hair in dreads, his feather cloak had green and orange feathers. The archers under his command ranged from across the Known World, fellow Summer Islanders wielded goldenheart bows as did he while Westerosi archers used yew longbows and Essosi ones used a mixture of crossbows and horn bows.

“Glad to hear it, our archers are usually counted as the best in the world and always the most diverse.” Harry said.

“The knights still have to set up their corrals, but once that is finished then they can commence training. I'm sure they will be at the same level as the archers. Once that is done I plan to explore King's Landing as Griff and see what gossip I can gather.” Said Jon Connington. He led the knights and his surcoat was emblazoned with his House arms, red and white griffins on counter charged fields. Some of the knights were exiles from Westeros as was Connington, but most of them were born in Essos and descended from earlier exiles like Strickland while others had no Westerosi ancestry. Griff was Connington's spy persona, a gruff hedge knight in a fox mantle.

“I'm sure Lysono will be pleased to hear your findings!” Said Harry.

“I probably will stay here, for liability reasons.” Connington's ward Young Griff said. He was a handsome youth with hair dyed blue.

“I have spoken with Cersei's Hand and he promised me he will deposit our first pay increment in one week's time, I hope I won't deal with him much he is an unsettling fellow. House Lannister too has an account with the Iron Bank so transferring the funds should go smoothly. However if Cersei is as careless with money as she is rumored to be that could mean trouble for us.” Said the Company's paymaster, Gorys Edoryen. He was a sallow Volantene a black goatee and hair dyed blood red and oiled, he wore a leopard skin cloak.

How irksome must the Hand be to creep even Gorys out?

“Excellent, we certainly have the funds to live comfortably for a week.” Harry said.

“I must say I agree with Gorys, Cersei's debt to the Iron Bank could be a major liability. We all know what happens when clients default on a loan. However we could reach out to them with our long term agenda, but that would be risky. In other news the Targaryen pretender and her paramour have arrived in Winterfell. Her claim doesn't seem to have much support anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms but certainly not up in that icebox.” Said the spymaster Lysono Maar, a Lysene with classic Valyrian features. His fingernails were painted purple and he wore a hooded red robe and dangling earrings of pearls and amethysts.

He better change his whole getup, he may blend in back in Essos but here he's obviously just another Lysene poof with a spy network.

“That is certainly an option to consider. I believe this contract is quite probably the simplest job we've ever signed off on! For the time being all Cersei wants us to do is hold down King's Landing and defend it from the pretender's forces when they invade. If they invade. Cersei elected not to aide the pretender in her fool's errand against the Army of the Dead, she figures let them fight against the Dead and they will be severely crippled if they are victorious. Or the Dead will be if they triumph. Either way she figures that whatever army we'll face will be greatly weakened. I hope she is right, considering the pretender has three dragons –”

“Actually now only two, one of them was killed!” Lysono interrupted.

“That's a relief! Okay two dragons and the whole of the Dothraki and Unsullied, plus the Northmen if she can convince any of them to fight for her, which I'm sure is why she took Ned Stark's bastard as a paramour. Now I have no clue what the Army of the Dead fields, but I'm sure wights can't be that hard to kill. They're already dead once after all. However we also have the entire Iron Fleet and the rest of Cersei's vassals so I think we're in good shape either way.” Harry said.

“King's Landing has been struggling financially ever since Cersei seized the Iron Throne. Perhaps part of why she simply wants us to stay in King's Landing instead of riding North or defending the Riverlands is because our cash will prop up the local economy. Our men will flood the brothels, taverns, markets, maybe even patronize craftsmen, and so on. This will be a boon to all King's Landing residents and may boost Cersei's approval ratings, which seem dismal. Local merchants will certainly like us if we do business with them.” Said Gorys.

“Alright we've planned out what to do up to fighting either army, then what? When can my true self be revealed?” Asked Young Griff excitedly.

“Once the enemy is vanquished would be the ideal time to oust Cersei, her forces should be greatly weakened after the siege. Then you can wash out that silly Tyroshi hair dye and swoop in and we will reveal your identity to the world and give you the Iron Throne, Aegon Targaryen.” Replied Harry proudly.

“Perfect. Two decades of wars perpetuated by the Baratheons, Lannisters, Starks, and now my pretender aunt will make the Lords and smallfolk eager for the crowning of the rightful Targaryen King!” Young Griff said then pounded the pommel of his sword on the table.

“I'll drink to that!” Balaq said as he reached for the wine rack and popped the cork off a bottle of sparkling white and poured everyone a glass.

“To the one true King!” The officers raised their goblets in unison. “Beneath the gold, the bitter steel!”

 

Chapter Text

Yesterday had been a big day for Euron. Not only had he successfully escorted the Golden Company to King's Landing, he also managed to fuck the Queen.

“If you want a whore, go buy one. If you want a Queen, earn her!” She had told him, but he managed to smoothly persuade her that he already earned her. That or deep down inside she was really just a whore with a throne and crown, but Euron didn't give a fuck either way. All that mattered was he fucked the Queen and hopefully soon he could be crowned King.

Euron and Cersei laid in her canopy bed still naked. She was snoring profusely while he stared out the balcony window. Sparrows and other birds were chirping, but the only birds Euron cared for were crows, seagulls, and albatrosses; maybe parrots as well. Any other type of bird was just a singing varmint as far he was concerned. There was a rap on the door.

“Come in!” Euron said. It was Qyburn.

“I have urgent news, please wake the Queen!” Qyburn said.

Euron smacked her bare shoulder. “You have company!”

“Who?” She asked as she got up, then frantically covered her titties with a blanket once she remembered she was naked.

“No need for false modesty, it's nothing a haven't seen before in my Maester days. I have examined many a woman in my day, its all just anatomy to me.” Qyburn said.

Bloke's a fucking deviant!

“What's the matter? Did the Golden Company get dysentery? I hope you know you're the one who will have to deal with that.” Asked Cersei mockingly.

“The good news is no, the bad news is there was a large jail break last night and several prisoners have disappeared. Nobody of importance as far as I know, and most will probably die soon or succumb to recidivism. However roughly half the Iron Fleet has gone missing, it seems they have deserted.” Qyburn said, calm as a dry docked ship.

“HALF OF MY SHIPS ARE MISSING!?!?” Euron said furiously then stormed out of bed and started getting dressed.

“Yes, but at least the remnant crew have proven themselves to be outstandingly loyal. If they didn't abandon you last night they never will!” Qyburn said in an attempt to trivialize, Euron noticed the Hand was taking glances at Cersei's foot which poked out of the sheets.

“Go deal with the problem, Euron. Interrogate the crew who remain, see what they know. I'm going back to sleep!” Cersei said they laid her head back down on her pillow.

“What the fuck you think I'm doing? Hahaha!” Euron asked.

“Remarkable tattoos by the way! Get them in Volantis?” Qyburn said to Euron.

“Thank you, aye got most of them in Volantis.” Euron said. On Euron's chest was a large red eye being crowned by two crows, his back bore the Greyjoy sigil, and one of his arms had a band of three tiger sharks biting each other's tails. All of his other tattoos were arcane veves and staves Euron believed facilitated use of black magic. Few knew of Euron's dabbling with sorcery, and he felt a bitter sense of rivalry with Qyburn because of it.

Qyburn exited the bedchamber and Euron finished dressing. On shore Euron often wore embroidered doublets or Essosi robes, but today he wore his typical sea attire of a loose red shirt, black leather vest, canvas pants, and high collared long coat also of black leather. His finer outfits were ill suited for today's dirty work. Once he got on his boots he rushed down the stairs and to the King's Landing waterfront. Few things could possibly infuriate Euron more than deserters. Complicit crew who didn't leave were one of those things.

Fuck, I can't ask any of my crew! They're all mutes! At least that means they couldn't have been of much use to the deserters. I'll have to interrogate someone on the other ships.

“I was wondering when you'd show up! I tried to –” A Ironborn started to say before Euron struck him with his sheathed sword.

“You're coming with me!” Euron said forcefully as he grabbed the writhing sailor and headed to Silence. Silence was Euron's flagship. All of the crew were mute, lest one of them reveal any of Euron's arcane practices to the world. Most of the ship was painted pitch black, but the decks were a dark red. The figurehead was black iron and depicted a tall, slender, nude woman with her mouth gagged shut and hair floating as if underwater.

“And here I was worried you abandoned me for that brother fucking queen!” A buxom brunette onboard Silence asked, she wore a revealing purple dress.

“Don't worry about that, Falia! I'm sure Queen Cersei won't mind, she'd be a fucking hypocrite if she did! I'm awfully busy at the moment!” Euron said as he dragged the unlucky sailor onboard then down to the bilge of Silence.

The bilge was dank and lit only by whale oil lamps. On the walls several Qartheen warlocks were shackled.

“Why are you doing this?” The sailor asked.

“Did I ask you a question?” Euron asked in return as he punched the sailor in the nose so hard it make a cracking sound. The sailor shook his head and complied as Euron chained him up to a pair of empty shackles.

“Now I'm going to have a little drink, then we're going to have a talk. Use the time to think of everything that happened last night and things should go smoothly.” Euron said as he walked to a large faucet barrel.

Euron grabbed a pewter flagon and filled it with the substance from the barrel. The barrel contained shade of the evening, a inky blue concoction drunk by the warlocks of Qarth. Once the flagon was overflowing Euron turned off the faucet and chugged it down.

Seven hells this bile takes smells foul. Forgot how repulsive the flavor is, first its like rotten fish or meat soaked in ink then it tastes like everything at once.

“You can't let it go to waste like that! That's twice the amount we would ever drink!” One of the warlocks said in protest.

“Shut your stained blue mouth up or I'll pour our whole supply of shade over the deck or worse yet sell it to some third rate wine sink so every grubby drunk and clap ridden whore in this wretched hive can learn your secrets!!! How would you like that Pyat Pree?!” Euron roared then threw his empty tankard at Pyat, it hit his faces and caused a nosebleed that contrasted sharply with his blue lips. Pyat licked as far as he could with his long, blue tongue to clean off the blood and get a taste of any shade drops he could salvage from the tankard.

“Now where were we? Oh yes, finding out what happened to half of my fleet! What major ships are missing?” Euron asked the sailor.

Black Wind, Foam Drinker, Sea Bitch, those are the big ones I saw missing. Might be others.” The sailor said dismissively.

“And when did you find out they were leaving?”

“When I saw them sail –”

“Fuck right you didn't know until then! I don't buy it!” Euron roared as he gave the sailor a blow to the chest and another to the stomach.

“Gaaaahh! Ugh! You wouldn't even let me fin –”

Euron looked the sailor in the eyes and put his hand on his head.

“Gaan Lah Haas!” Euron shouted and shock waves echoed from his mouth causing the sailor to become short on breath and appear exhausted.

“I tried to talk them out of it, but they wouldn't listen. You were already in the Red Keep, but the guards wouldn't let me in and refused to relay the message. They said they'd stab me if I asked one more time!” The sailor said once his breath returned.

“See that wasn't so hard! Why did they desert and where are they sailing to?” Euron asked.

“Not a clue on eith-”

“You're so fucking lucky I don't really have any devices down here I can use on you!” Euron said then put his hand on the sailor's head once again.

“Gol Hah Dov!” Euron shouted and when the shock waves hit the sailor he looked calm and sedated, submissive even.

“They find your leadership unbearable, so they decided to sail to Essos and serve your brother instead. Latest report said the Iron Victory was docked in Meereen!” The sailor said calmly.

Victarian? Haven't seen him since the Kingsmoot! Fuck then I'm sure he'll return my ships and bring his portion of the Iron Fleet to aide me.

“Thank you for your eventual compliance.” Euron said then started walking away.

“Can't I go now?” The sailor asked.

“No, those magic spells done fucked you up for the foreseeable future. Besides many of the spells I've been studying require blood sacrifices to work. So I'm afraid I have no choice but to keep you here with my warlock friends!” Euron said then left the bilge.

 

 

Chapter Text

After nearly two days of vigorous rowing the Foam Drinker neared White Harbor, the largest city in city in the North and the seat of House Manderly. Theon had contacted Lord Manderly to ask if Manderly men could escort Foam Drinker to Winterfell, and Lord Manderly wrote back saying he would be glad to hold a few of his men back to do so. The North always had a bitter resentment of the Ironborn, and Theon's campaign during the War of the Five Kings was still a fresh wound especially since it facilitated the Boltons taking over. Theon was all too aware of that, so he figured if anyone would be willing to make sure he made it to Winterfell unmolested it would be House Manderly. The Manderlys weren't like other Northmen, they were forward thinking and worldly plus they had an affinity for the ocean few mainlanders shared.

“Uncle Dagmer have the sails furled and the dragon head taken down!” Theon said.

“A wise move, seeing Greyjoy sails and an Ironborn figurehead would likely cause a panic!” Dagmer said. Dagmer was a white bearded old salt many called Cleft Jaw because he had an ax scar on his mouth that split his lips into four and his teeth were missing in that area. He wasn't truly Theon's uncle, but had a Greyjoy ancestor.

Good thing my ship only had a dragon head and not a kraken figurehead.

The Foam Drinker passed Seal Rock, a mossy, fifty foot natural tower so called because seals often rest on it. Several were on it at the moment, with their vocalizations and flatulence heard clearly. On the very top of Seal Rock was a crew of archers and several ballistas.

Past Seal Rock they reached the Outer Harbor, where they anchored and were stopped by a customs agent. The customs agent was lean middle aged man with receding hair.

“Welcome to White Harbor, what's your business here?” He asked.

“The merlings swim true!” Theon said, it was the code he was told to use to indicate he was there to meet with the Manderly knights.

“Oi its you Iron blokes! Alright, you may anchor and get off. Ser Marlon has arranged to take you all in a Manderly ship, long ships will draw attention. Your ship will be in good hands if you return.” The customs agent said.

“And that's a big ass 'if'!” Dagmer said wryly.

“All hands on deck!” Theon shouted. “Everyone put on your armor and grab all our weapons, then we'll be getting off and meeting with Ser Marlon.”

“Aye captain!” The crew said in unison. The whole crew was ready in about half an hour. Many mainlanders took a hours to prepare for battle, but the Ironborn favored leather armor and cloth gambesons and some wore chainmail. Theon had ever seen wear a full plate suit was his uncle Victarian, who had no fear of drowning; Theon always wondered whether he bought his suit with the gold price or iron.

The crew got off Foam Drinker and followed the customs agent. A massive wall with watch towers built on a jetty separated the Inner and Outer Harbors, the customs agent signaled the gate guard and the crew passed into the Inner Harbor. From the Inner Harbor the city become visible. One one end was a cyclopean castle surrounded by stone houses. Though Yara had taken Theon to larger cities on the way to ally with Queen Daenerys he still found anywhere larger than Winterfell overwhelming. Pyke seem like the biggest place in the world before he was forced to go to Winterfell, and stone buildings were still alien to him.

“Look down yonder, that ship is flying the Manderly banners!” Dagmer said pointing to a dromon galley with blue green sails. The figurehead was an oak mermaid blowing an actual conch not unlike the one Yara owned, the tits were large as figurehead ones usually are and had nipples made of pink tourmaline. Such brazen sensuality always made Theon uneasy.

Father lied when he told me the Iron Islands have the greatest ships in the world. We might be the greatest mariners, but we aren't the greatest shipwrights. Or perhaps he was merely delusional as he was with so many other things.

Manderly knights wore silver colored plate armor with surcoats emblazoned with the House Manderly sigil, the Merling King on blue green. Their helmets were as fashionable as any worn in the South, they were adorned with crests of nautical creatures both real and fantastic. Instead of lances they wielded tridents and their swords were curved falcatas. The soldiers wore scale armor and murmillo style helmets.

A tall, stout knight approached Theon. His helmet resembled the Merling King's head with a seashell crown and bearded visor.

“Greetings, I am Ser Marlon, Commander of House Manderly forces and castellan of New Castle!” The man said as he opened his visor to reveal a friendly face with a well trimmed gray beard and eyes the same color.

“And I'm Theon!” Theon said then noticed Marlon's trident had the dark smoky color only Valyrian steel has.

“You like it? This is Maelstrom, my House's ancestral weapon and only known Valryian steel trident. Have you read Fall of the Trident?” Marlon said proudly brandishing Maelstrom.

“Never heard of it!” Theon answered.

Fall of the Trident is a history written by a maester who served my house that tell the story of how we acquired it. It originally belonged to a Valyrian dragon lord from the Age of Heros named Arkantos, he fought in a fruitless war to expand the Freehold and angered the gods. As a result he was forced to wander across Essos and eventually found himself in Westeros, where he had countless adventures in Dorne, the North, and the Iron Islands. Eventually he did return to Valyria, just as the Doom was happening. His son Kastor settled in Westeros and become close friends with the founder of my House, and inherited the Trident after Kastor's death.” Marlon said proudly.

If Arkantos was in the Iron Islands how come I've never heard of him?Either that book is a crock of eel shit or Ironborn history lies by ommission.

Sounds....interesting!” Theon said.

“There's a copy in my cabin! I'd be glad to give it to you!”

“I'd like that!” Theon said.

Marlon pounded Maelstrom to get both his and Theon's men's attention. “Our kingdoms may have had many a bloody difference, but that's all water under the bridge. Today we sail to Winterfell and fight for the Living! Winter is here and what is dead may never die!”

“What is dead my never die!”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ichthys Cove was far more luxurious than Ellaria had expected, it was located a sizable island with a dock and two story limestone manse overlooking the sea. Ellaria had wondered how Yara acquired such a hideout, but soon realized she almost certainly killed the original owner or at very least physically removed them.

Gods I love an assertive woman!

Ellaria was in the guest bathroom, she had just finished bathing and dressing and was now trimming her nails. Her outfit was red cotton shift with a white and gold floral pattern, Ellaria preffered silk but figured she wouldn't be wearing it for long anyway. Tonight she and Yara would continue what Euron had so rudely interrupted. Once she was finished with her nails she left the guest bathroom and headed down the hall to the master boudoir. The manse was decorated with a queer mix of art from the previous owner and trophies from Yara's raids, everything was quite dusty since the manse was seldom occupied.

Ellaria knocked firmly on the master bedchamber door.

“Come in!” Yara's muffled voice said.

The boudoir was covered in Myrish carpet in addition to rugs made of such exotic creatures as tigers, leopards, and zebras. On the walls hung shields from the various ports Yara had sacked, erotic paintings, and other curios like a red mask of a grimacing creature with a cucumber like nose. Qartheen incense filled the air and Ellaria took a deep nasal breath to savor the aroma. A cedar log was burning in the fireplace, the mantle was decorated with an elephant tusk carved with a scene depicting an orgy where women outnumbered men five to one.

Those are the best kinds of orgies! Too much dick puts a damper on things, but you can never have too much pussy!

In one corner there was a divan with cushions of purple velvet. Next to it was a cherry wood liquor cabinet and Ellaria opened it and poured two glasses of Dornish red.

“My collection has wines and liquors from across the Known World and you choose the same old same old? I thought you were all about trying new things!” Yara teasingly said as she walked into the boudoir.

Yara wore a sleeveless gray shirt with matching short pants that showed off her pleasing muscle structure, Ellaria found her practical and rugged tomboy attire more alluring. Inked on Yara's forearms and calves were mermaids giving lordly kisses to nude human women, each pairing came from a different region with Westeros, the Summer Islands, Free Cities, and Yi Ti represented. Ellaria had glimpsed upon the arm ones during the jail break, but now she finally got to see the art up close and personal in addition to the leg ones. Yara's shirt also exposed her collarbones which had scythes tattooed on them.

“Trust me, I looooooove sampling new things! But sometimes a bit of familiarity helps in new surroundings!” Ellaria said and had a drink of wine, she slurped it loudly.

“Feel free to have that second glass, I'm a rum slut!” Yara said as she pulled out a bottle of Stros M'kai and yanked off the cork with her teeth. She looked Ellaria in the eye lustfully and swirled her tongue around the bottle's neck then inserted the whole neck in her mouth and took a big gulp. Not to be outdone, Ellaria started lapping her wine with her tongue like a dog.

“Nothing tastes better than a good vintage after a few days at sea drinking nothing but grog and weeks before that drinking nothing but vinegary water.” Ellaria cooed.

“Oh I know of something that would!” Yara said as she sat down next to Ellaria.

“Your lips?” Ellaria asked.

“Which pair?” Yara countered and winked. She planted a fat kiss on Ellaria and inserted her tongue, it squirmed like an eel in Ellaria's mouth and she could taste the rum. Ellaria returned the favor and soon their tongue were entwined in a battle for dominance. After a few moments of tongue Ellaria grabbed hold of Yara's muscular ass while Yara clawed her nape and arms with her freshly trimmed nails. Both sensations felt like seven heavens to her and she could feel her pearl gradually starting to harden and swell.

“I think the real question is who will ride and who will be ridden! I haven't saddled up in ages!” Ellaria moaned and licked her lips, smacking them loudly.

“Nor I!” Yara said. “May the strongest lady win!” They resumed necking and started to tear each other's clothes off. Hearing the fabrics rip excited Ellaria and she was ecstatic when her breasts and Yara's were freed. The contrast between her olive breasts and brown nipples against Yara's fair and pink ones was magnificent sight to behold.

Yara grabbed a handful of Ellaria hair and started pulling it, Ellaria countered by grabbing Yara's tit and pinching it.

“I love when my hair is pulled like that, you really thought you could subdue me that way? Good thing I washed it earlier!” Ellaria said and cackled.

“Worth a try! How about this?!” Yara said then bit Ellaria and sucked on her shoulder.

Gods that's going to leave a gorgeous mark!

When Ellaria started getting bored she let go of Yara's tit, grabbed the second glass of wine, and poured it all over her own tits.

“Drink up, you thirsty sea bitch!” Ellaria demanded. Yara instantly freed her mouth from Ellarias shoulder and licked all the wine clean off her tits, chest, and belly, then started sucking on her nipples. Ellaria purred at the feeling of Yara's cold tongue against her warm torso then at the unbelievable feeling of another woman sucking her tits.

“Damn you're good! I forgot how good it feels to have my titties sucked by someone who actually has titties!” Ellaria said and giggled. She ran her fingers through Yara's hair and started to pull like Yara did to her, paired with scratching her back.

“Thanks for the drink, I hadn't had a titty in my mouth since I was in Volantis on my way to meet the Dragon Queen! Your turn now!” Yara said eagerly then pried open Ellaria's smirking red lips and shoved her tit into her mouth.

Ellaria sucked like a whirlpool and Yara held her to prevent her from escaping, with her hand she slipped a few fingers inside Yara. Feigning submission while plotting dominance moves was one of Ellaria's favored nocturnal activities. An arm wriggled free and Ellaria used it to rip off Yara's pants. So Yara grabbed her and flipped her on top and tore off the rest of Ellaria's gown. Now the pair were stark naked and meant business.

“I'll make you wail like a siren!” Ellaria said.

“Hahaha! I doubt you've ever heard a siren! You really are prickly puta!” Yara laughed.

“You speak Rhoynish? You clever little tart!” Ellaria purred.

“Enough to order a drink and negotiate prices with whores! I can also do that in Ibbenese, trade talk, Summer Tongue, Ghiscari and both forms of Valrian!” Yara said teasingly.

“I adore a cunning linguist!” Ellaria said, she glanced down at Yara's crotch and saw her lush bush was dyed blue and she had a dolphin tattooed on her hip. Ellaria's was black and she kept it well trimmed, one of the many tasks she did in order to prepare for the current merry making.

Seven hells I need to dye mine!

In a heat of passion Ellaria grabbed a handful of blue bush and yanked it, throwing Yara back first onto the divan. With both hands Ellaria pried both Yara's firm legs apart which exposed and open her juicy clam and Ellaria gave it a few hearty slaps. After a quick stretch Ellaria pressed her clam against Yara's and the started to grind against one another, Yara's thighs gripping onto Ellaria's hips.

“I'm glad we can agree on how to get warmed up!” Said Yara.

As their clams rubbed together both grew more wet and started to make a slooshing sound as their four lips intermingled. Their pearls grew and hardened as they crossed paths with every stroke, Ellaria hoped this appetizer would make Yara hunger for the main course.

“How'd you get a blue bush anyway? I want one!” Yara asked forcefully.

“I'll only tell you if you let me ride!” Yara said then used all her strength to switch their positions. Ellaria “accidentally” rolled onto her belly, which prompted Yara to bite both of her round ass cheeks as she inserted a few fingers into Ellaria's clam. The biting sensation paired nimble fingers was near orgasmic, as Ellaria neared climax Yara stopped everything to lick her fingers clean and start spanking.

Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack!Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack!

Each strike was more pleasurable than the last, Yara alternated between striking the left cheek with her left hand and the right one with her right. The sound was amazing too, had an almost rhythmic quality as if Yara were the percussionist in a minstrel troupe. Once Ellaria's cheeks were good and rosy Yara stopped and laid spread eagle on the divan.

“Alright time for dinner! Hope you like shellfish!!” Yara said with command.

“Of course I do! My favorite thing to eat is a toss up between that and sausage!” Ellaria said with glee.

“Start off by smacking it like you did before we started shearing. I loved that!” Yara demanded and tapped her clam with the palm of her hand. Ellaria complied and have her clam a few good slaps which helped get the juices flowing. She inserted her finger and started easing it in and out of the smooth, pink folds.

“Stop being coy and eat up!” Yara said with a scold.

“Aye aye captain!” Ellaria said as she saluted and gave her tits a shake.

She got on the divan belly first and started to lick Yara's clam. The juices had a delicious savory taste and Yara enhanced it by grabbing the bottle of wine off the table and pouring over the lips. Never before had Ellaria tasted such an exquisite pairing of flavors and she eagerly lapped and slurped up the rare cocktail. Ellaria swayed her forehead to tickle it with blue bush.

“Yeah suck me dry! I love hearing that sound! Fuck yeah, just like that! Perfect!” Yara said in a sultry moan.

Once the wine was gone Ellaria returned her fingers and started licking the clam in a Z formation. Her tongue entwined with the inner lips then flicked against the nub and then rinse and repeat. Any juices that came out were quickly slurped away.

“Doing good, now reeeeeeally go for it! Do your nastiest! Yes! Keep on! Don't stop! You're fucking Maester of muff!” As Yara said this her entire clam was inside Ellaria's mouth. She loved the feeling surrounding her lips with a whole clam and sucking the folds with a load smacking noise. From time to time Ellaria dared to insert her tongue inside and brush against the Yara's internal walls. Yara's legs squeezed Ellaria ever more firmly and Ellaria was thrilled when her hair started getting pulled once more.

“Fuck! I think I'm gonna blow soon! Don't stop until I let go!” Yara said and moaned with increasing vigor. Soon she was in the throws of orgasm and cream gushed into Ellaria's mouth, the perfect dessert.

“Gods that was amazing! You're as experienced as I hoped! Wait just a moment!” Yara said then stood up and walked to the wall. On her back was a the Greyjoy sigil written with the phrase “I Do Not Sew” and one of her ass cheeks had a pink starfish tattoo while the other had a scar which Ellaria thought went nicely with Yara's other ones.

“If I'm a Maester then too bad you don't have a chain for for me! What are you doing?” Ellaria asked as she licked the cream and juices off her fingers and lips. Yara pulled off the long nosed mask and tied it around her waist.

“You!” Yara answered as she turned around and the red nose pointed at Ellaria like a massive boner. She grabbed the jar of aromatic oil from the fireplace mantle, poured it onto her hand, the rigorously stroked the mask as if she was wanking a cock. Once the nose was slathered it was glistening like a diamond. “Time to ride you like a Khaleesi! Bottoms up!” Yara said.

Ellaria got into the Dothraki position, on her knees and elbows with her ass in the air. Her clam was still primed and her ass still had a pleasant leftover sting.

“Giddyup! Ride em Khal!” Ellaria said as Yara prepared to mount. Yara grabbed Ellaria's hair like reins and penetrated. The mask felt heavenly inside of Ellaria, and the lubricant had a tingly quality that greatly enhanced with every thrust.

“Faster! Faster!” Yara said as she smacked Ellaria hindquarters. Ellaria swayed her pelvis backwards and forwards which made the mask's thrusts smoother and faster, she started moaning as it grew particularly intense.

“Oh yes! Fuck yes! Aaaaahhhhh!” Ellaria moaned as she climaxed and soaked the nose of the mask. Yara dismounted, unharnessed the mask, and inserted the nose into her mouth to suck off the broth of lubricant and Ellaria's wetness.

“Damn that's tasty! I'm an avid clam connoisseur. You'll definitely have to take charge next time, I get bored playing the same role too much!” Yara said.

“As do I, variety is the spice of life. I'm no pillow princess!” Ellaria purred. The two climbed back on the divan and spooned, Yara was the big spoon. “So how did you get a blue bush?”

“Back in Meereen I fucked a Tyroshi sellsword, can't remember if he was a Second Son or Storm Crow, but he gave me ideas.” Yara answered.

“How?” Ellaria asked.

“You must have never seen anyone from Tyrosh. All free citizens dye their hair all sorts of unnatural colors, in the case of the sellsword it was blue. Blue hair, blue beard and mustache, and blue bush as well. So after we fucked and cleaned up he dyed it for me and gave me a bottle of dye. The hot dye down there feels amazing, its like pouring melted candle wax!” Yara continued.

“I love hot wax, we forgot to do that!” Ellaria said.

“Hey there's always next time!” Yara said.

“This is true. Now I regret trimming my bush, in Dorne that's what we do but I think now I'll grow it out and you can dye it for me.” Ellaria said then reached behind her to grab Yara's bush, she ran her fingers through it and gave it a firm tug.

“I'd love to! Ever since I did that I've gotten nothing but compliments, makes encounters with me more memorable. I always stand out in bathhouses now.” Yara said evidently enjoying her bush being played with.

“As if your skin art didn't make you stand out enough!” Ellaria teased.

“Not many women have so much, but my skin is pretty bare for a sailor. My uncles are both covered in ink, some of my men are too.” Yara said and shrugged.

“I envy those women on your limbs, I've always wanted to fuck a mermaid!” Ellaria said pointing to Yara's arms.

“As have I! Great way of luring out interested ladies, let's them know I'm all about that life,” Yara said doing the V sign, "and any man that doesn't appreciate such art isn't one who'd want to fuck me so I come out on top either way!”

“Just think! Next time we fuck we'll be in Dorne celebrating our triumphant return! You should invite your whole crew to join us, or at least that ginger girl!” Ellaria said ecstatically.

“Sorry but I don't fuck my crew, it makes things complicated. Half my men want to fuck me, but I've made it very clear I won't. Go ahead and fuck any of them, I ain't a jealous type but I don't compromise my rules. However I wouldn't bother trying to seduce Helga Hagensdóttir, she doesn't like clam. Only sausage for her!” Yara said sternly.

“They all say that before they try it! Once they've had their first taste they can't get enough!” Ellaria said mischievously.

“Now that's a load of barnacles. Most ladies have no desire to try clam in the first place, Helga is most ladies. Queen Daenerys on the other hand is certainly not most ladies, I wanted to seduce her but we were surrounded by advisers and she couldn't accept the offer like that. That ship has sailed and now she's taken. Can't say I blame her, Jon Snow is a fine work of art!” Yara said.

“That he is! I have a weakness for beards, one of the few things a woman cannot offer. Even a cock can be substituted, but not a beard. I too tried to seduce our Queen, she seemed most flattered and blushed.” Ellaria purred.

“Who wouldn't be flattered by you? Gods I'd love for either of them to join us, but I don't think they're into that sort of thing.” Yara said.

“Why not both? Alas, you're right. I'm sure neither would be up for joining us, or letting the other do so.” Ellaria said and sighed. The pair soon stopped talking and focused on cuddling. Both dozed off within an hour.

 

Chapter Text

After leaving Daenery's bedchamber Arya went to her own, took off her bells, got naked, and crawled into bed and started reading her new book. She leafed through the volume then settled on a chapter about a monkey woman from Yi Ti and started to read it, but her eyes grew heavy so she put the book in her nightstand and put out her oil lamp.

Once her body was fully dormant her mind crossed the threshold beyond the wall of sleep to the Dreamlands. She found herself hovering above the ground in a regal dress she would only wear if given as a gift. Needle was still by her side, thank the gods old and new, so she started to prowl the unnatural and fluid landscape. The sky was smoky but had many rainbows, thunder rolled and lightening struck from an uncomfortable distance. Arya was too smart to hover much higher then a few feet off the ground, the sky was peppered with flying vessels, space whales, and energy dolphins.

Statues of alien deities littered the desolate plains and it was populated by bizarre creatures. Some she had only seen in menageries and traveling fairs like zebras and giraffes, others were far stranger things she had only read or heard about but doubted their existence. As she hovered she witnessed a giant lizard with a fin on its back and saber like claws who walked on two legs chasing down a wolf like creature with the stripes of a tiger that carried a baby in a belly pouch. Arya swooped in to intervene on the striped creature's behalf but a large salamander blocked the bipedal lizard and ignited its body, causing the lizard to flee the other way. The terrible lizard instead begun to pursue a herd of cattle sized creatures that resembled a hybrid of mice and pigs.

Eventually Arya crossed paths with a she wolf that resembled Nymeria and she warged into her and found prowling four legs much swifter then hovering. Soon she reached an abandoned tower were a black dragon was mating with a white wolf. They stopped their love making when they saw her and greeted her. The two wolves started grooming each other, she licked his fur until it started to shed. In place of bald patches were silver scales and furled wings.

“Summon your pack, O Queen of Wolves!” The dragon told her. Arya let out a massive howl at the bloody red moon, which had a face not unlike a Heart Tree and appeared to seamlessly shift from waxing, full, to waning and back. A whole herd of wolves appeared on the horizon, rushing to her and they are started to howl in unison.

Next the statues became animated and started to attack the dragon and white wolf, and Arya's pack charged to their defense. The wolves bit the statues but it had no effect, but the dragon breathed fire and the white wolf followed suit and scorched the statues to soot covered rubble. Just as that had happen lightening struck the tower and fell in their direction.

“Arya! Arya! Wake up!” A familiar voice said.

Arya woke up and found herself face first in a puddle of drool on her pillow.

Shit I'm naked. Good thing only my head is exposed.

Jon was looking over her, with his hand on her shoulder which thankfully was covered in several layers of quilts and furs.

“I was just contacting Nymeria!” Arya said as she discretely wrapped bottom layer of covers around herself.

“I figured as much, you were snarling the way I've only heard dire wolves do. So you get warg dreams too, huh?” Jon asked.

“Yes, I've had the dreams for years and I learned how to actually skin change in Braavos. So far I've entered cats, birds, and rodents, I even managed to enter a monkey briefly but it kicked me out of its skin pretty quickly.” Arya responded.

“That's incredible. I've only been able to enter Ghost on a few occasions, which is useful since he's nearsighted and often needs guidance. Dany and I are holding court soon, a few houses are actually going to swear vassalage to her. You're invited to come. On your hope chest is a dress Dany bought you but forgot to give you last night. She didn't know you preferred pants. You really made her happy last night, I can tell she's taken a liking to you.” Jon said.

“I enjoyed my time with her as well. There aren't many women who I can relate to, Brienne was probably the first. When I first saw Daenerys I thought she was so beautiful and glamorous, no way would I have much in common with her; turns out the mummer shows about her are totally wrong but the songs about her got it right. I'm really happy for you Jon, she's exactly the kind of woman I always hoped you would get yourself!” Arya warmly said with a bright ear to ear smile.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up with her, the whole thing happened so fast. Almost as if we were walking on the shore to get to know each other one moment then next thing we knew were were – um never mind.” Jon said and blushed.

“Fucking, sticking her with the pointy end!” Arya said impishly. “You already told me you two have, no need to pretend otherwise.”

“You always were a blunt one. I'm just glad one of my sisters likes Dany. Hopefully she'll grow on Sansa.” Jon said.

That's never happening! Sansa is too jealous and much too prideful to admit she's wrong about anything. Maybe she'll put on airs at least, hopefully.

“I'm sure she'll come around.” Arya said then bit her lower lip.

“Alright I need to head to the Great Hall, see you soon!” Jon said then walked out. Once the door was shut she got out of bed and locked her door. Then she looked at the dress on her hope chest. It was a dark silver color with the bodice and bottom of the skirt forest green, the hem, neckline, and sleeves were trimmed with fur.

It's just like the one in my dream! How can this be?

Before getting dressed Arya did her morning stretching routine. After she was finished she put on a chemise and stockings then the dress. She always preferred pants, which she felt were far superior in terms of comfort and ease of movement. Endless scolds from her mother and Septa Mordane only enforced her desire to wear pants. “Who gets to decide what's proper?” Arya would taunt them. “If it was proper to wear a codfish on you head would you do it?” They would never answer. However this dress actually felt good to wear.

After she was fully dressed she noticed there was also a cameo choker with her merwolf sigil, Jon must have told Daenerys that was her personal sigil. There was also a cashmere shawl the same shade of green as the bottom of her skirt so she tied that on after putting on the cameo. She grabbed her three silver bells off her nightstand and proudly put them in her three braids, then finally she attached Needle's sheath to her belt and left her room.

Her new dress greatly impeded Arya's speed, though she rushed through the hall and down the stairs as quickly as the skirt permitted. She hadn't worn a dress since Braavos, where she needed to blend in and the Faceless Men sought to strip a girl of Arya Stark. When she reached the Great Hall she burst through the door, causing all eyes to briefly be on her.

“I was hoping you'd come! I saved a seat for you!” Daenerys said, tapping the empt seat next to her. On her other side Jon sat, next to him was Sansa and next to her was BrienneMissandei sat next to the seat reserved for Arya, she wore her hair in a large puff and had a butterfly brooch on her shoulder.

“Is it true you speak twenty languages?” Arya asked Missandei as she sat down.

“Not quite. Nineteen. Shh.” Missandei whispered than signalled Arya to be silent.

“Oh right.” Arya whispered.

“Now that we are all gathered the court will commence!” Jon said then called everyone to order with a gavel pound.

The Skagosi walked up. The Magnar was present, as were another man in a red and black blanket with puffins and a woman whose blanket depicted a tree covered in faces like a many faces Heart Tree without any branches. All wore their cedar hats and copper jewelry. Skagosi warriors were armed with crossbows and dragonglass spiked clubs, their armor consisted of elk hide tunics and leggings with breastplates and grieves of sewn together cedar slats with faces and other motifs painted on them. Most impressive were their helmets, brightly painted solid cedar covering the entire head except for a slit for the eyes, the visor doubled as a grotesque mask, their crests of beasts such as ravens, wolves, orcas, bears, and creatures Arya failed to recognize.

“I am the Magnar, Chief of the Magnars. This is the Crowl, Chief of the Crowls, and the Stane, Chief of the Stanes. The Skagos Islands swear our vassalage to the Stark and the Targaryen!” The Magnar said as the rest bent the knee in unison.

Sansa must be pissed he called Jon the Stark! Arya chuckled quitely.

“Some of my brothers in the Watch were Skagosi. Good men and fierce warriors, all of them. I understand your people are pretty isolated from the North so coming all this way to swear vassalage means the world to me!” Jon said.

“I must confess I cannot find the Skagos Islands on a map, but I can tell by looking at you that I fear having you on the other side of a battlefield! I look forward to fighting with you!” Daenerys said. Most of the audience seemed to strongly disapprove.

Sansa always said the weirdest shit about the Skagosi, like that they ate people, fucked giants and lied about having unicorns. Maester Luwin laughed at the first two claims.

“Your honesty and enthusiasm is well taken. To symbolize our service we have a gift we will unveil in the courtyard after this session. And presents for each of you!” The Magnar said. All the Skagosi returned to their table.

The Manderlys appeared. All of them wore their blue green House colors and had jewelry with nautical motifs. They had about ten knights with them. Arya never forgave Lord Manderly for his rude rejection of her offer to become a squire for them.

“I am Ser Wylis Manderly, and I am here to speak on behalf of House Manderly. My father is in no fighting shape, and my cousin Marlon is on his way with the rest of our knights. Last I heard Marlon may even be bringing extra forces. We have been loyal to House Stark for as long as we've called the North our home. We were happy to hear that you swore vassalage to Queen Daenerys, Westeros has always prospered when the dragon and dire wolf were close. So we affirm our service to the Warden of the North and pledge allegiance to Queen Daenerys!”

Wylis was a rather fat man with a walrus mustache. His wife was quite plump as well, though his two daughters were much thinner. They were blonde except for daughter who dyed her hair green and their lips were painted the same color as their sequined dresses.

“I am grateful for your support, Ser Wylis. Your father was most gracious to host us after the Meeting of the Queens, the Merman's Court was a sight to behold. I was always told that you were an enlightened house, now I know that is true.” Daenerys said.

Next House Reed and their vassals appeared. Arya waved at Meera, she was happy to have met her and enjoyed their target practice. Her father had long hair and wore a tunic of shadow cat fur, the only thing that indicated he was a Reed was the lizard lion torque he wore and boots and belt from such leather, he was holding a tiny weirwood in a glazed clay pot. All but one of the Crannogmen was as tall as or shorter than Arya, that Summer Islander she had seen in their camp was also present and he towered over them all. His monkey and parrot were present, causing him almost as much attention as his feather cloak.

“I am Howland Reed, Lord of the Neck. Ned was my closest friend and it would be an honor to serve the heir of his legacy. My House does not have a Godswood, instead we raise small trees in pots. Here is one of them, so the Old Gods may watch over you wherever you go.” Meera's father said then put the tree on the table. Everyone looked when he said his name. Arya had heard many say that nobody had seen him for years. She recalled her father stayed touch and even remembered him writing Howland a letter shortly before his execution, maybe the last letter he ever wrote.

“Thank you Lord Howland. Father always spoke highly of you, said he owed his life to you and by extension so do my siblings and I. This gift means a lot to me!” Jon said.

"And Queen Daenerys, I've heard you lead your army to war. Sounds like you could use some armor, if you stop by the Reed tents you can get measured by my armorer for a suit of leather armor. From lizard lion, it's light, tough, and decidedly appropriate for a dragon lady." Howland said.

"Not only have you sworn vassalage to me, you have demonstrated both generosity and concern for my safety! I would love a suit of armor from you, you have proven yourself a worthy banerman!" Daenerys said smiling.

“Now my ward would like to have a word with you if he may.” Howland said.

“He may!” Daenerys said. The Summer Islander stepped forward.

“Thank you your grace. My name is Kulungu Waters. My squire has something for you. Jovan!” Kulungu said then clapped his hands.

His monkey walked up to Daenerys holding a small wooden box and a leather pouch. Daenerys did her lovely smile as he approuched. Jovan climbed on the table and opened the box and pulled out a necklace with beads of various woods and three dragon heads of ruby, emerald, and sapphire respectively.

“Thank you, this is delightful! You could be my long lost cousin with your hair and eyes!” Daenerys said as she put the necklace. Jovan's fur was silver and he had big purple eyes. Next he opened the pouch and handed her a handful of chickpeas.

“So kind of you! Can you give some to my friend over there? Garbanzos are her favorite!” Daenerys said and pointed to Missandei. Jovan nodded walked over to Missandei.

“I am gracious for such a kind gift, I don't eat meat and finding food here has been difficult.” Missandei said as she accepted the chickpeas. Jovan returned to Kulungu.

“Your grace I too have come to swear my sword in vassalage and to serve you in all wars to come, if you will accept it!” Kulungu said.

“Why ever would I not?” Daenerys asked in a perplexed tone.

“I am a bastard of the Usurper, Robert Baratheon. My mother is a prominent businesswoman in King's Landing, when my father died she had me sent away to the Neck to be fostered by Lord Reed. Cersei started having all of his bastards killed, even babies were torn from their cribs, so she sent me to the Neck where she knew nobody would look and it had the bonus of similarity to the Summer Isles where she is from. I've never been there.” Kulungu said. Daenerys seemed disturbed.

“Ah yes, I believe I have done business with your mother. Very classy lady!” Tyrion said, he was sitting next to Missandei.

“And why would the Usurper's son son swear vassalage to me?” Daenerys asked, her friendly tone with Jovan all but gone.

“My father was not a good king. Or father for that matter. He never wanted to rule and it showed. Now his widow Cersei rules, and her lust for power spells doom for us all if the Night King doesn't. Speaking of which Lord Reed has always taken the threat of the Night King seriously, he knew that is the real threat. You and Jon are the only leaders who understand that. And Jon, it would be an honor to fight with you side by side as our ancestors did!” Kulungu said.

“Ancestors?!” Jon said baffled.

“I believe he means your parents, in most Summer Islander languages the counterpart for 'ancestor' means anyone you're a descendant of.” Missandei said.

“Yes! That is exactly what he meant! He wants to fight with Jon as Robert and Ned fought together. Isn't that right, Kulungu?” Howland said, he seemed disapproving.

“Yes, it is.” Kulungu said sheepishly.

“Very well!” Daenerys said. “You have made your case, it seems you have excellent motivation for serving me even if its driven by hate of my opponents and not love of me. I now see no reason why I shouldn't trust you, you have been most forthright with your identity. Should you prove your mettle in the field I will reward you accordingly. You may now bend the knee!”

“Long may you reign!” Kulungu's parrot said.

Kulungu bent the knee. Just as he got up a pair of guards burst in the door holding an unshaven man in grubby winter travel clothes. Bran was present.

“This man has come in wanting to speak with you. It's Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer!” One of the guards said. Everyone in the room looked at Jaime in shock.

 

Chapter Text

Seldom had Jaime sensed fear that even neared the amount he felt when he looked his sister in the eye and told her he was riding North. She had promised Daenerys she would send the Lannister forces, only to renege and decide to keep them all in King's Landing. This greatly offended Jaime, who saw the threat of the Dead for what is was and he decided he would fight for the Living whether Cersei approved or not. He stormed off, got on the first Braavosi ship headed to White Harbor, and then bought a horse and rode to Winterfell.

After days of riding along snow covered roads and camping off road to avoid unwanted attention he reached Winterfell. His beard had fully grown in and his travel clothes were dirty from being worn for the past week, so he was able to get through the gates without any hassle. Last time he was in Winterfell he was dressed in his Kingsguard armor and surcoat, now he looked like a transient beggar and nobody seemed to recognize him.

“Hello, I've been expecting you.” A monotone youth in a wheelchair said.

Impossible! How is he still alive after that fall?

“Bran? Is that you? I can explain everything, my deepest apologies!” Jaime stuttered in a panicked tone.

“I was Bran Stark last time you saw me. I am something else now. No need to explain anything, I know why you did it. You were protecting your family, nothing wrong with that. There is nothing to forgive, thank you for doing it.” Bran said.

“Thank you?” Is he playing some kind of mind game?

“Seven hells did that fall take your mind along with your mobility? This isn't the reaction I would have predicted in the least!” Jaime said.

“You put me both exactly where we needed to be.” Bran said.

Two Winterfell guards showed up and interupted. “That's the Kingslayer! Hand over your weapon, you're under arrest, we're taking you to the Great Hall so the punishment for your crimes will be determined!” Jaime complied and handed him his sword so the guards could handcuff him.

At least I won't be wasting any time before seeing Jon and Daenerys.

“Off you go, Oath Breaker!” One of the guards said and struck him in the back with a billy club. The guard was not particularly strong and Jaime had a high pain tolerance, but he picked up the pace nonetheless.The guards kicked up the entrance to the Great Hall and everyone stood up and looked on with shock and disbelief. One of the guards handed Jaime's sword to the Unsullied captain.

“This man has come in wanting to speak with you. It's Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer!” The other guard said. Jaime was marched right up to Daenerys and Jon. Behind them were what appeared to be a Kingsguard of her own, he recognized Ser Jorah Mormont but the rest appeared to be Essosi or from Sothoryos. They all wore white surcoats and shields, both charged with a personal sigil. Jorah had his black bear, one had a red lamb carrying a shepherd crook, one had a purple basilisk, there was a green nymph, another had a blue scorpion, and finally a fat, bald giant bore a pink elephant.

There's only six of them! Barristan Selmy must have died, a damned shame. Such a good man, the sort of man I wish I could become. If only I could have seen him again, he always said I had good in me I needed to let out.

Everyone at the front table peered at him with unease or outright contempt, the only exceptions being Tyrion, Brienne, and a Sothoryosi woman.

“This is an unpleasant surprise,” Daenerys said. “For all of my childhood my brother told me of the man who slaughtered our father, who stabbed him in the back despite an oath to protect him, who sat down on the Iron Throne as he watched the blood soak the floor. He'd tell me other things as well, about all the things we would do to that man once we took back our Kingdoms. Your sister told me she would send her army North.”

Does she have no idea what her father was?

“Correct, she did.” Jaime said.

“I see no army. I see but one man, with but one hand. It appears your sister lied to me.” Daenerys said in an irate tone.

“Yes, she lied to you. And me as well. She never intended to send her army in the first place. Now she has all of Euron Greyjoy's Iron Fleet, and had a contract signed with the Golden Company. Her plan is to let us fight the Dead on our own, so we will be crippled when we march south.” Jaime said forthrightly.

“We?” Daenerys asked seemingly in bad faith.

“I made a promise to fight for you and the Living, I intend to keep that promise.” Jaime said.

“Your Grace, I know him well –” Tyrion started to say.

“And I'm sure you knew your sister!” Daenerys interrupted.

“He abandoned our sister to come all this way, knowing damn well how he'd be received. Why do you think he would do that if he wasn't telling the truth?” Tyrion asked.

“Possibly, but it is also possible he came this way so he could gain my trust and stab me in the back like he did to my father because he knew his doting brother would defend him complicit or not!” Daenerys said acidly.

“My Queen he has done nothing to harm you personally, and the same cannot be said about me. I first met you with ill intentions, but you managed to forgive me and now you trust me with your very life. Surely you can give Jaime a chance, on a short leash of course.” Jorah said.

“We can't trust him!” Sansa said. “He tried to murder my brother, he attacked my father in the street, all to destroy my House!”

“Guilty as charged, I did all of that. We were at war! Everything I did was to protect my family, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if necessary!” Jaime said.

“The things we do for love.” Bran said in a flat voice.

He remembers that!

“You murdered my father and attempted the same to their brother and father! Have you no shame in the face of the gods?” Daenerys asked.

“I do, but not for those actions. Bran I pushed out the window because he came across a secret that would have gotten me, Cersei, and our children executed and my House's name tarnished for generations. I assaulted the honorable Ned because his wife kidnapped my brother on trumped up charges. And I stabbed your father in the back because he was an insane monster who wanted to burn the entire city to the ground! Fire excited him to an unnatural degree, it got so bad he couldn't get his cock hard without watching someone burn to death, after which he would rape your mother. He said the Iron Throne spoke to him, told him if he burned down King's Landing he would transform into a dragon so he could escape my father's forces. I was ordered to kill my own father. So what was I supposed to do? Kill my father and let some pyrophiliac put a whole fucking city to the torch so people would think I was an honorable man? Or stab that sick fuck in the back and save the city only for the entire realm to turn up their snotty noses at me?” Jaime asked.

“And why should I believe the man who killed my father about who he was? Many people say he was insane, but your claims seem a bit shall we say outlandish!” Daenerys said.

“You would rather believe the controlling brother who pimped you like a whore for a warlord's cavalry?” Jaime asked.

“Everything you did was in your family's name. So why have you abandoned your family now?” Daenerys asked without answering Jaime.

“This goes beyond family, beyond loyalty. This is about survival, about the future of civilization and perhaps even humanity. Our past squabbles don't matter any more.” Jaime said.

Brienne stood up. “We don't know each other well your grace, but I do know Ser Jaime. He is an upstanding man. He was my prisoner once, at first he was rude and even cruel to me, but no worse than anyone else I've met and whenever brigands or enemy troops attempted to rape me Ser Jaime defended me, eventually lost his sword hand because of it. Roose Bolton tricked me into a pit with a hungry bear for his men's amusement, and Ser Jaime jumped into the pit unarmed and manacled so Roose would be forced to have the bear shot lest his hostage be killed. Sansa, you would be dead if it wasn't for Ser Jaime. He provided me with the finest arms and armor and sent me off to find you and bring you home, all to honor an oath we had both sworn to your mother, gods rest her soul!” Brienne said, unsheathing Oathkeeper at the end.

“So you're vouching for him?” Sansa asked.

“With all my heart!” Answered Brienne.

“You would fight side by side with him?” Sansa asked.

“I would, and defend him to the death if need be!” Answered Brienne.

“It's true! Brienne has told me all of that! She always speaks highly of Jaime, says he's become the paradigm of chivalry and an example for all knights. When I first saw him seven years ago all I saw was a pompous and arrogant twat, no offense Ser. Now I see a man humbled and willing to atone for his sins. I can see in his eyes he's no longer the same man who pushed Bran out the window!” Arya said, Daenerys seemed astonished.

“So far you have Brienne and Tyrion vouching for Ser Jaime, and Arya to reiterate the latter's testimony. Your call, Sansa.” Daenerys said.

“Brienne I trust you with my life, if you trust him with yours we should let him stay!” Sansa responded.

“What does the Warden of the North say?” Daenerys asked looking at Jon.

“We need every man we can get, especially anointed knights. One of my closest friends is a Freefolk raider, our peoples slaughtered each other for 8,000 years but he knew our only hope for survival is if we put aside our differences and fight the Night King as one. Now the Freefolk and what's left of the Watch are allies against a common opponent. Jaime clearly sees this as well. I've known Men of the Watch guilty of far worse crimes who became upright and heroic men, I see no reason to doubt Jaime has. Welcome aboard!” Jon said.

“Very well,” Daenerys said. “Grey Worm, return Jaime his sword!

 

Chapter Text

Today's court was far more successful than the previous one. Yesterday was nothing but lords and ladies saying whatever they felt would undermine Daenerys and by proxy Jon, but today two houses and the Skagos Islands swore vassalage to her. This gave Daenerys hope that the rest of the North would follow suit, which would mean in turn they would accept her taking her rightful place as Lady of the Seven Kingdoms.

Now she and the Starks were escorted by the Queensguard outside to the Winterfell courtyard, where the Skagosi said they were unveil their presents. Tyrion and Missandei trailed along behind the escort. Daenerys linked elbows with Jon, though they had not yet openly acknowledged they were lovers it seemed everyone knew and they felt no reason to hide it. Arya smiled warmly at their affectionate gesture.

“I know what they're going to give us!” Arya said, her grey eyes twinkling.

“And what will that be, some scalps or shrunken heads?” Sansa asked mockingly.

“I don't want to spoil your fun!” Arya said.

“And I don't want mine spoiled!” Said Daenerys.

“I've seen Skagos and observed no evidence of such practices.” Bran said.

“Sansa I think you're confusing the Skagosi with some of the Freefolk tribes. Most of them are decent cultures but many do have cruel customs, though all have members who are good people individually. All the Skagosi I've met were fine men.” Jon said.

Seven hells Jon's family love to argue, even if they do love each other.

The courtyard was freshly shoveled, several children were making snowmen from the pile on the margins. A hole was dug in the area between the library tower and guesthouse, both of which were in front of the entrance to the Godswood. Skagosi wrapped in their blankets and wearing masks and headdresses were chanting , some played the flute while others played hide drums or rattles. The three chiefs were standing in front of a canvas covered item perhaps twenty feet long that the warriors were bringing in on a sequence of rollers.

“Sounds like they're speaking the Old Tongue, I've studied that language but have never heard it spoken in like this before! Missandei said.

“Greetings!” Said the Stane. She was a comely but evidently battle weathered woman perhaps in late 30s. “I am a shaman,it is my honor to cleanse you for this ritual!” She swung an incense brazier and chanted as each one of them was bathed in the smoke.

“Uncover the pole and prepare the ropes!” The Crowl ordered, he appeared to be the oldest of the chiefs and his sparse mustache and beard were graying.

The covering was removed and the gift was a cedar log covered ornately carved figures and brightly painted, the style was identical to the items the Skagosi wore. At the very top was a dire wolf, followed by in descending order a bear, a giant, a merman, a boxer, a skeleton, a sun, a moose, a lizard lion, a horse, then a unicorn on the very bottom.

I've never seen anything like this! What an amazing work of art!

“Weirwoods do not grow on any of our islands, unlike the rest of the North. So instead we carve faces into cedars, which are plentiful. For most the Old Gods are faceless, nameless, and vague, but we view them as our ancestors, and believe they manifest physically in different animal forms to watch over us. So we carve those forms into the cedars, so they may better protect us. Our finest artisans worked to create this, we incorporated as many totems from your clans as possible. Sadly many clans lack a totem and opt for more abstract symbols to rally behind.” The Stane said.

“I've been told about these before, always wanted to see one. Such craftsmanship is remarkable, Thank you for this!” Jon said.

“I saw one in Braavos!” Arya said eagerly.

“I don't doubt it, we occasionally trade old or cheaper ones to the Ibbenese in exchange for mammoth products. They do trade all over the Known World so I'm sure you can find our work in many places.” Said the Magnar.

“All my life I heard that your people are savages, perhaps I was wrong.” Sansa said.

“Perhaps!” Said the Stane and the other chiefs laughed.

“I know this gift isn't for me, but when I take back my crown I would love to commission one to display in King's Landing. One covered in the sigils, um totems, of all the Great Houses. I would gladly compensate you with any payment you wish!” Said Daenerys.

“As long as we are paid appropriately we can do that. Hoist the pole!” The Stane ordered.

The chanting and music got louder and the warriors raised the pole with ropes and pulleys and inserted the three foot base into the hole they dug. Now the pole towered over passerby, and everyone looked at in in awe.

“The time has come to present you each with your personal gifts!” Said the Magnar. A warrior pulled up a cart.

“Chiefs, shamans, elders, and proven warriors all wear blankets woven from unicorn wool.” The Crowl said. “Everyone else wears blankets made with dog wool instead, we have a special breed of dog that produces wool, much easier to acquire than unicorn wool. Each of you will be presented with a unicorn blanket!”

There had been a carnival visiting Pentos that claimed to have a unicorn. Viserys tried to convince her it was the real thing but all Daenerys saw was a sickly pony with a horn glued to its head, no different than any of his other dirty lies. Unicorns had long, slender, tufted tails like a lion's and that specimen had a tail no different from any horse. Still she had often wondered if unicorns existed, so she was thrilled to finally find evidence they did.

“Jon is first!” Said the Magnar, who wrapped Jon in his blanket. Jon's blanket had a wolf surrounded by a murder of crows. “You are now the Stark, though for a time you were a crow! A man with two totems is stronger than any with one!”

“Next is Daenerys” the Crowl, who wrapped Dany in her blanket. Hers had a spread winged dragon flanked by two horses. “The Skagosi revere dragons as the greatest of all totems, all the totems have grown much stronger since your dragons hatched. Tales of your trials and triumphs have even reached our distant shores.”

“Now Jon's sisters get there blankets!” The Stane said and wrapped Sansa and Arya in their blankets. Sansa's depicted a wolf running under the sun, while Arya's had a wolf howling at the moon, both were flanked by salmon. “Sisters are often as different as night is from day, but they are always of one blood and two sides of the same coin.

“Finally, Bran!” Said the Magnar as he wrapped Bran's blanket around his wheelchair. It had no wolf, but featured a flying raven clutching a torch with its talons. “Our shamans report you are the new Three Eyed Raven. We believe that the first Three Eyed Raven stole fire from the heavens so that humanity would prosper.”

All the blankets were black with red borders, the images came in red, white, blue, and yellow and were outlined by buttons that appeared to be made of abalone or mother of pearl. Clearly these were not blankets meant to be slept with, they were more like robes or capes. They had to be held with at least one hand or the whole thing would fall off quickly, which reminded Daenerys of the tokars worn by freeborn citizens of Yunkai, Meereen, and Astapor.

“Now each of you will get a cedar hat! They are woven by our basket makers and symbolize our acceptance of your family as our over chiefs!” The Stane said. One by one each was crowned with a cedar hat in the same order they received the blankets. Each hat was brightly painted with similar motifs as the blanket. Jon and Daenerys took off their wreaths Arya had given them and put them on top of their hats.

“Back in Essos it seems most people have never even heard of your islands, but I have seen them mentioned in many Westerosi books.” Daenerys said. “Those books claimed all manner of nasty hearsay like that you eat anyone who lands on your shores and sacrifice humans to trees. Personally I found such claims outlandish, but now I can see you are a people with a love of aesthetics and a pride for craftsmanship. Your reputation for battle prowess seems warranted, and I look forward to fighting alongside you in the War to Come!”

“Likewise!” The Magnar said then he and the rest of the chiefs joined in on the chanting.

 

Chapter Text

Howland Reed had told Sam to meet him again in the Godswood, in order to discuss how to disclose the big secret. Today the Crannogmen were to swear vassalage not only to Jon but to Daenerys as well, which Howland hoped would change the Northern Lords' view of the Dragon Queen. So Sam sat on the bench in front of the Godswood pool and waited patiently for Howland to arrive. A duo of the Children played a song in their strange tongue which Sam thought sounded more like squirrel sounds than any human tongue. One of the duo was a lass named Daisy who wore a wreath of daisies and played the panpipes, the other was a lad named Chicory who wore a wreath of dandelions and played a mandolin with a body manufactured from a tortoise shell.

“What sorts of music to you like, Sam?” Asked Perry, who was sitting next to him.

“Human music I suppose, only kind I'd ever listened to!” Replied Sam.

“Nonsense! The birds sing! So do the wolves and deer! Rivers and tides make music, as does the wind and rain! The giants make instruments from logs and mammoth tusks, and the merlings can both sing and make music with seashells! The merlings even say the whales sing songs from many leagues beneath the sea. Music is everywhere, you just have to listen.” Perry said.

I suppose she's right. I really do need to listen for music more.

“Back home I always loved to dance with my mom and sister, few things made me happier. But my father hated when I danced, he called me a pillow biter and a sword swallower. I didn't even know what those phrases meant. Father forced me to Take the Black so my younger brother could be named heir, he's a cruel man.” Sam said.

“Few things hurt more than a cruel parent or sibling, but you are free from his grasp now. Care to dance with me?” Perry offered than stood up on the bench.

“My pleasure!” Sam answered as he got off the bench so he could be on even footing with Perry. Daisy and Chicory quickly switched to a more upbeat tune. Sam hadn't danced in years, despite his father being nowhere to torment him for it, Men of the Watch were simply to grim for that sort of affair. He tried to show Gilly how to dance, but nobody danced at Craster's Keep and she found the notion of moving to rhythms quite alien.

“I didn't know either of you could dance!” Howland said as he neared the Heart Tree, Sam and Perry were in the middle of a dip.

Gods those Crannogmen really are sneaky. Couldn't even hear his footsteps. No wonder they are so adept at guerrilla warfare!

“You never asked!” Perry said as the dance stopped. Daisy and Chicory went back to playing their earlier tune.

“That's quite a sword you got there. Are you a good swordsman, Sam?” Howland asked as he pointed to the sheathed Heartsbane.

“Well, no. I'm not. It's the Tarly ancestral weapon. I'm carrying it until I find someone who is qualified to wield it.” Sam admitted.

“Takes a smart lad to know his limits! Have you brought the horn?” Howland asked Sam.

“Yes, right here!” Sam said handing it over.

“Oh my, this is remarkable! Looks like aurochs, those haven't been seen south of the Wall in centuries not counting sporadic reports in the Riverlands.” Said Howland

“I've seen them a few times, and mammoths too!” Sam said.

“They haven't been gone down here for nearly as long as the mammoths, but quite some time regardless.” Howland said.

“Aurochs do live in the Riverlands, we have song to call them out of the woods. Haven't seen a mammoth since last time I went North of the Wall, which some time before Aegon's Conquest. Mammoth herds are majestic!” Said Perry.

“The fact it's an aurochs horn does nothing to prove its age since you found it beyond the Wall where it could have been made yesterday. However these gold bands are inscribed with runes in the Old Tongue, which I can't read. I couldn't even read the Common Tongue before Ned taught me. Good thing he did or we'd have no concrete proof he knew the truth about Jon.” Howland said.

“Let me have a look at that horn!” Perry said.

“Here you go!” Howland said has he passed it to her.

“The first band says 'Only King's Blood may give me my voice,' the second says “Awaken O Slumbering Giants,' and the final says 'Joramun.' I think this is the real Horn of Winter!” Perry said scanning the runes.

“Who's Joramun?” Sam asked.

“He was the earliest King Beyond the Wall, he lived not long after the wall was completed. He formed an alliance with King Brandon the Breaker to defeat the Night's King and Corpse Queen.” Perry said in a matter of fact tone.

Does she mean THE Night King? I didn't know he had a Queen.

“Night's King?” Sam asked perplexed.

“Not who you think. No, this is someone different entirely. The Night's King the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he was seduced by a sorceress called the Corpse Queen because of her pale blue skin and hair. When they wed he transformed the Watch into his private army and declared himself the Night's King. All manner of arcane depravities were committed at Nightfort and they terrorized both sides of the Wall. Some even say the Corpse Queen put a hex on the Men of the Watch in order to make them blindly subservient. So Joramun and King Brandon, second of his name, put aside their differences and defeated the Night's King and Corpse Queen. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that sacrifices to the Others had been made at Nightfort, so Bran and Joramun both agreed to have their true names wiped from memory.” Howland said authoritatively.

“Actually Bran and Joramun had their names erased because the Night's King was a Stark and the Corpse Queen came from the same tribe as Joramun. It was to bleach out what would be two nasty stains on their names.” Said Perry.

“Was he trying to impersonate the Night King? Surely they met if he was performing sacrifices to the Others!” Sam asked perplexed.

“I haven't spoken with any humans about it in at least 1000 years, but from what I recall over time the two became confused. The Night King was originally known by his Valyrian name, but that was forgotten a few generations after the Long Night. As for the Night's King in his time he was known as the Other Stark, Night's King is merely what they started calling him after his name was erased from all records. History became legend, legend became myth, and over time their stories were blended like honey in iced milk.” Perry said.

“Well let's just hope the Horn of Winter can defeat this Night King! Good thing we have Jon, he has the blood many kings flowing through his veins!” Said Sam.

“Speaking of whom, now we need to discuss how to break the news to him!” Howland said. “As much as I love teaching history lessons sometimes we must focus and the here and now. Jon might not take the news that he's been fucking his aunt very well, is there anybody who we can inform ahead of time to help him if he has an adverse reaction? Someone who he respects and will listen to, and can be guaranteed not to spill the beans to him before we do?” Howland asked.

Who should we tell? Oh! I know exactly who!

“Yes, his name is Ser Davos Seaworth. Jon looks up to him like a second father, he is an honest and reasonable man who doesn't mince his words. He was even Jon's Hand for the brief time he was King in the North. Daenerys respects him as well, but she'll probably be far more upset that all this time she was never the rightful heir to the Iron Throne than to learn she's laid with her nephew. Davos isn't well educated but he's sharp as a razor, I'm sure he'll be able to get both of them to come to terms with finding out their entire lives were built on falsehoods.” Sam said.

“Perfect, tell him as soon as possible. But for the love of the Old Gods do so in private. Can't let any prying ears here it. Give it to him in writing if need be. Now we need to discuss where to disclose the news to them, should we do it here or do you have anywhere else in mind?” Howland asked.

“Brandon told me down in the crypts Rhaegar's lyre is next to Lyanna's statue. Has dragon heads on it and everything. Not sure how nobody noticed that, but it would be awfully strange for a Stark's belonging to be decorated with anything but dire wolves. If we tell them down in the crypts we can show them the lyre if they are skeptical.” Answered Sam.

“Good thinking, now we need to discuss how to disclose it everyone –” Howland started to say.

“Stop talking! I hear footsteps!” Perry said interrupting Howland.

Without saying a further word the Children scurried off into the trees, while Sam and Howland started to gaze at the Heart Tree as if praying.

“Fancy seeing you here! I didn't know you kept the Old Gods!” A familiar voice said after a while. Sam turned around and it was Jorah Mormont.

“Ser Jorah! Good to see you! I started keeping the Old Gods when I Took the Black, I wanted to say my vows in front of a weirwood instead of in that dinky little sept. Jon was the only other to do so. I was raised in the Seven.” Sam said.

“I haven't seen a weirwood in years. The only one I'm aware of in Essos is at the House of Black and White in Braavos. That place has statues of gods from across the Known World, mostly of death but there are a few from faiths without a death deity. No clue how they managed to plant and grow a weirwood, but then again I have no clue how they change faces.” Jorah said.

“Braavos is a mysterious place, I had a dream I went there once. Felt so real sometimes I think to myself I actually I did!” Sam said.

“Have you heard about your father?” Jorah asked.

“No, what happened? Is he alright?” Sam asked concerned.

“He's dead. He refused to bend the knee to Daenerys after she defeated him, and entered open rebellion even though his liege Lady Olenna Tyrell had sworn the Reach to Daenerys. So he was executed for high treason.” Jorah answered.

For a moment there was silence as Sam let the news sink in. A flood of emotions rushed through his mind. Sure his father had abused and tormented him his whole life, but that was still his father. Plus forcing Sam to Take the Black resulted in him eventually discovering the truth about Jon's parentage and identity.

“What about Dickon? He was always good to me!” Sam asked.

“He too refused to bend the knee and stood by your father. So he was executed too. I tried to stop it, thought Daenerys should give them the offer to Take the Black. Regrettably she said that wasn't an option because the Watch only recognizes whoever currently sits on the Iron Throne, so they wouldn't accept such a sentence from anyone but Cersei. I'm sorry!” Jorah replied. Sam burst into tears and sobbed for a while.

Not Dickon too! I'm sure he was only trying to not dishonor father! Is Daenerys mad or some kind of predator in prey's clothing? Does Jon know about this?

“I have something for you!” Sam said and handed Heartsbane over to Jorah once he could gather his thoughts again.

“What blade is this?” Jorah asked as he unsheathed it.

“Heartsbane, the House Tarly ancestral weapon. I stole it during the last time I visited Horn Hill. I suppose I'm the rightful owner now that I'm next in line to be Lord and the Watch is pretty much dead so my vows are meaningless, but I'm not a skilled fighter so you would be far more qualified to wield a Valyrian blade. Especially since you'll be on the frontlines!” Sam replied.

“Once again you have done something for me I can never repay. I will wield the blade in Dickon's memory!"

 

Chapter Text

The odd party of Freefolk, Crows, the Brotherhood, and Mors Umber finally arrived at Winterfell. Tormund had always heard Winterfell was a sight to behold, but he never imagined it was half as large as it turned out to be. Wasn't even his first time at Winterfell and he was still awestruck by the fortress complex.

Gods this place is massive, probably bigger than all the Crow buildings combined. Probably the largest building in the whole world. Big house for a big woman!

“What the fuck is everyone staring at?” Asked the Great Walrus.

“I don't think they've seen snow bears before, certainly never seen anyone ride them! Jon says they don't have them down here!” Answered Tormund.

“Nah, I think they're staring at your goofy ass mask!” Val said and laughed.

“Guess I can't really joke about that! At least mine doesn't have tusks!” Morna said.

“You've got it all wrong!” Said Dolorous Edd. “The reason they're staring is because they see Crows and Freefolk riding side by side, so they realize now there's no sense denying that the Night King is going to have the entire human race royally fucked!”

Everyone burst into laughter.

The party passed the gate and dismounted.

“Alright, I'll take the mounts to the stable. Won't be as much cause for alarm if I do it.” Said Mors. Tormund was impressed with his skill handling beasts.

“I'll take the rest of the Watch onto the ramparts, old habits thaw slower than ice no matter how tall.” Dolorous Edd said.

“Very well, I'm sure the locals will be comforted seeing Crows. Probably already know the Wall is down. I'm going to be the one to tell Jon what we happened at Last Hearth!” Tormund said.

“Probably would be best for you to do so, you have a way with words that takes the edge off of even the most dire situations.” Said Beric.

Val and Morna both said they wanted to say hi to Jon, while the Great Walrus walked off to do gods know what. The Free trio walked across the courtyard and eventually saw Jon kissing the Dragon Lady in a full embrace.

“I told you I was his type!” Val said, she always seemed to have a thing for Jon and even a slight but not uncivil jealousy towards Ygritte.

“Alright, stay here. Watch this!” Tormund said then crouched down. He slowed crept up to the necking couple. Once he was right behind Jon he stood up and have him a bear hug.

“Aaahhh!” Jon squealed as it happened. The Dragon Lady giggled.

“I've missed you!” Tormund said.

“I was worried about you! Don't sneak up on me like that!” Jon said as he turned around and recognized his friend.

“And you're the one they call Dragonsmum and Chainbreaker!” Tormund said pointing to the Dragon Lady.

“If I go a fortnight without gaining another epithet I get disappointed! But you can call me Daenerys! Jon has told me about you. I remember seeing you get on my dragon as I rescued you all from the Walkers and wights!” Daenerys said.

“Me and the boys would have been arrow fodder for the Night King if it wasn't for you and your dragons! We may have been born on opposite sides of the Wall, but me and Jon are brothers! When I heard he got a new lady friend I was shocked, I thought to myself 'must be some woman to get Jon to bend his knees again!'” Tormund said.

“You mean bend the knee!” Jon said.

“No! I mean bend your knees, as in both! Did you do what I told you?” Tormund asked.

Jon started to say something but found himself speechless and red faced.

“He sure did.” Daenerys whispered into Tormund's ear.

That's my boy!

“I like you already, Daenerys Dragonsmum! Don't worry Jon, you won't have to worry about me stealing her unless she grows another foot and puts on a few stones of muscle!”

“With all this war I might do the latter, but I doubt I could grow another inch without a wizard's help!” Daenerys said as she flexed her arms and laughed profusely.

“Bahahaha! Good one! You're funny! Jon you really know how to pick them! Gods know how many women you've gotten slick as a seal, but you know most aren't worthy of you! I'm so glad you steered clear of that Red Whore. Bat shit crazy bitch that one! Great ass on her I'll give her that, but you were patient and found a girl with one who doesn't think fire speaks to her!” Tormund said.

“Thanks, I guess. Do you have anything to report?” Jon asked.

“Aye. After the Wall was breached, me and Beric took our people over to Last Hearth looking for shelter and to spread the news. Val and Morna are behind me, you should introduce them to your new squeeze. Ned Umber's dead, they tried turning him into a Walker. Mors is still alive, so I guess he's the new Lord now but I'm not sure how that works.” Replied Tormund.

“Seven hells! That's dreadful! Poor lad, such an honorable soul. Do you know where the Night King and the Army of the Dead are right now?” Jon asked.

“We met up with Edd and the rest of the surviving Crows at Last Hearth, Edd said they and Mors killed a Walker. Growing up I always heard if you killed a Walker all the wights it revived would die with it, and that's what Edd said happened. There were a few stragglers left when we arrived, probably ones that Walker didn't turn.” Tormund responded.

“Sounds like the Night King is having his officers take their forces and attack different strongholds. Classic divide and conquer strategy. If we could take out as many of the officers as possible then the Army would be greatly crippled by the time we finally face the Night King!” Daenerys said.

She's got brains and an ass! Jon couldn't have picked a better woman. Though it was probably her who picked him, she seems like the kind of woman to take initiative.

“My brother Bran is now the Three Eyed Raven. I'll ask him where the Army is on the offensive and tomorrow we can ride out and fight them head on.” Jon said.

“Count us in! We just need to rest and recuperate for tonight. The big woman still here?” Tormund asked.

“Yes, she's probably in the gymnasium.” Jon answered.

“Alright, pleasure meeting you, Chainbreaker! And you of course, Jon. We'll have to get a good drink before the next skirmish. Now I have a beauty to woo!” Tormund said.

“Best of luck!” Daenerys said holding up her thumb. Tormund wasn't sure what holding up ones thumb meant but assumed it was some kind of good luck gesture.

Tormund left the lovebirds then walked off across the courtyard in search of the gymnasium. Winterfell always seemed bustling to him, but he was amazed at how crowded it was now. Archers were all over the ramparts, most of the buildings seemed full, and there were scores of tents outside with garish colors. In one nook there was a large pole carved and brightly painted with the images of several animals and men.

Looks like Skagosi art. I remember when Jon assumed us Freefolk made stuff like that, he really did know nothing back then if he confused Freefolk with Skagosi. Those are some tough fuckers, even if the do kneel!

Up ahead Tormund saw three people with skin far darker than anyone he had ever seen before. There were two men, one was in armor while another wore a cape of feathers, and a gorgeous woman in a black dress with the curliest hair Tormund had ever seen.

“You do exist!” Tormund said as he approached the trio.

“Of course we exist! We're humans too!” The man in the armor said.

“Why would I think you weren't?” Tormund asked confused.

“I don't think he meant any offense, he probably hasn't seen anyone like us before. I see no malice or prejudice in his eyes!” The woman told the armored man.

“I have no reason to insult you. Nobody looks like you where I come from. My cousin went missing for years. I just assumed the Ice River Clans ate him or a giant took him as a pet, maybe even eloped with a mermaid or selkie. When he finally showed back up he told me he was kidnapped by men with blue hair! Blue hair! He said they made him row on their giant canoe, before being sold in a city with giant triangle castles where they worship a bird with a woman's face and tits. His new owner made him fight in an arena, and eventually he won his freedom and traveled all over Essos before coming home. Said he saw people who change their faces as easily as their boots, wizards who burn cocks and balls to gain magical powers, other wizards who drink blue beer for the same reason, a whole tribe that lives on horses, and people with skin dark as wood who wear feather capes! So many things I could never dream of, so I thought he was bluffing or had eaten too much ergot bread or magic mushrooms! But here I am seeing people who look just like some of the ones he described!” Tormund said energetically.

“All of those things your cousin spoke of are true. I am Daenery's right hand lady and we saw or heard about everything you mentioned.” The woman said.

“We are relieved to find out you are merely excited to see people like us. Most people won't even look us in the eye!” The man in the feathers said.

“Why not?” Tormund asked.

“Because they think they are better than us because their skin is lighter than ours!” The armored man said.

“Well then they're a bunch of shallow cunts! I'm sure you didn't choose your skin color any more than I chose to be a ginger. If they care about what color you are its their problem, you could be purple for all I care! I know exactly how you feel, people down here look at me and think just because I'm from the True North I must be some kind of animal. Southroners care about the stupidest shit!” Tormund said.

“I've actually lived in the North for a third half of my life.” Said the man in the feathers. “I was born in King's Landing, my mother is from the Summer Isles which is next to where these two are from. She sent me away to the Neck when my father King Robert died, his bastards were being killed left and right so she figured I'd be safer where nobody would look. I've lived in the crannogs since I was 14, I can hunt and put every part of my prey to good use, and I worship the Old Gods. All the Crannogmen accept me as their adopted son, but they are widely shunned by other Northerners because they are short and live in swaps.”

“Anyone who keeps the Old Gods and lives off the land is a Northerner as far as I'm concerned! Even if they bend the knee! You're more a Northerner now than Jon was when I first met him, he thought hunting was just a sport for lords.” Tormund said.

“I must admit I find your curiosity rather charming. I keep a notebook about all the places I visit and cultures I encounter, I'd love for you to tell more about your people! Daenerys wants me to have it published eventually, you would be a valuable asset for research on Freefolk society! Would you be able to answer questions for me?” The woman asked.

“Societies! We ain't all the same thing! But sure, I'd love to help. As long as I don't have to write anything, I can't read. But I gotta go know, there is a goddess who has been waiting for me to pay her a visit! Nice meeting you all!” Tormund said and took off.

Finally he reached the gymnasium and he could hear from outside there was activity going on. When he walked inside he saw the big woman boxing with a man as tall as she was. She was wearing leather pants and a matching vest, which enabled Tormund to admire her bare muscular arms. Her pants showed off her legs which were like trees of muscle and topped by a gloriously firm ass. Beads of glistening sweat were all over her naked skin like morning dew on grass.

Yes I came at the perfect time! I get to see her in action before getting to have some action with her! Hope she knocks that bloke straight down!

“Hyaaaaaahhhh!” The big woman yelled as she knocked her opponent into the the hay.

She's a screamer!

She unwrapped her hands, helped her opponent up, then shook his hand.

“Wooooo! Congratulations! You whooped his ass!” Tormund said as he enthusiastically clapped his hands in applause.

“Thank you. Excuse me, I have to use the lavatory.” The big woman said and left the room.

Must have creamed herself at the sound of my applause! Hope she won't take to long changing her drawers!

“Your one lucky man to get beaten by her!” Tormund told her opponent.

“I'm not really a man!” The opponent said then grabbed the skin from the edge of their face and pulled. The face came off and the opponent shifted into a girl only a bit above five feet.

So face changers exist too!

“You're a witch! Up North the only way to change your form is to enter an animal with your mind, but your body is still there.” Tormund said astonished.

“I'm a warg too! Suppose I could be called a witch or sorceress. My name is Arya.”

“Your Jon's sister! For a moment I thought maybe Jon shaved and shrank a few inches! He came back from the dead, shrinking is nothing to him! I'm Tormund Giantsbane!”

“Are you one of Jon's friends?” Arya asked.

“Friends? He's a brother to me, which I guess makes you like a sister! He loves you so much, he's always gushing about how wonderful you are and how much he missed you. Says you got bigger balls than Ghost!” Tormund said.

“Did he really say that?” Arya asked and raised an eyebrow.

“Well yes, but actually no. Not exactly, but I heard the way he told those stories. He said one time he covered himself with flour to look like a Walker and scare you and your sibling, it worked on everyone who screamed their heads off but you ran up and punched him! Then apologized when you found it was only him!”

“I remember that like it was yesterday. I figured we were all going to die if we didn't defend ourselves, so I defended myself. Now the Walkers are here and pretty soon I'll see them face to face, won't be anyone in flour this time.” Arya said.

“A damned shame you weren't born a Free woman. Our woman fight alongside the men, we don't like wives who can't keep our kids safe! You'd fit right in with us, you and the big woman!” Tormund said.

“Brienne is the best fighter I've ever met, I'm lucky to train with her.” Said Arya.

“Gods I hope she can whoop my ass some time! So what do you think about Daenerys? A bit small for my taste, no offense, but she leads her army in battle and is exactly the kind of woman Jon adores. And she's got dragons!” Tormund said.

“I love Daenerys, she has been so kind to me and Jon looks so happy whenever he's looking at her. I thought Freefolk despised kings and queens!” Arya said.

“Not exactly. We hate kings who are only kings because their father was a king. We hate queens who are only queens because they married a king. But any person who proves to be a worthy leader we will gladly follow. We choose who our kings are, and if there is nobody worthy then we live without one. That's the difference. In my lifetime there are only two people I have deemed worthy to be called king, Mance Rayder and Jon Snow. I was the first one to declare Jon King in the North, I don't give a she-mammoth's cunt if his parents were married or not! Jon decided Dragonsmum was worthy to be called his Queen, so it's clear she has damn well earned it even if her name is Targaryen. Dragons don't serve just anyone!”

 

Chapter Text

After holding court Jon felt at ease. Seeing three separate regions swear vassalage to Daenerys gave him hope eventually more would follow suit. The Manderlys were always staunch supporters of the Warden of the North, even if they were superficially Southron. The Crannogmen and the Skagosi swearing fealty was a pleasant surprise, and Jon was amazed at how generous they both were even despite the latter being purely pragmatic in their motives.

“I think I could fall in love with this place!” Daenerys said. They were walking in the courtyard after having put their gifts from the Skagosi away.

“I'm so fortunate to have grown up here, but at the time it felt like a prison. A prison I had to take vows of poverty and celibacy in an ice box to escape. But I wanted to go back home not long after I Took the Black.” Jon said.

“Why did it feel like a prison?” Daenerys asked.

“Because I wasn't free. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I wasn't raised like a bastard down south, but growing up I was still treated differently. Everyone but father and Arya that is, they treated me no differently and Arya even favored me. I just wanted to be somewhere that my name and parentage didn't matter, where I could live my life however I wished. I hated the structure of growing up highborn, Arya did too.” Jon said.

“Just be grateful you had a home! My whole childhood was spent on the move. It was a cycle: my brother would meet a wealthy merchant or politician who feigned interest in our cause, they'd let us stay in their house for a time, could be months or a few years, then they'd get tired of us and kick us out, then we'd move on to the next city and find someone else. They called Viserys the Beggar King because he had no home and pretty much begged to survive. Of course we were miles better off than any true beggar. Not that he could see that.” Daenerys said.

“How do you feel knowing the truth about your father?” Jon asked.

“I'd always heard he was raving mad, but I never believed it until Ser Barristan Selmy told me it was true. Selmy was a upstanding man and stayed loyal to my father through it all, so he'd have no reason to lie about it. But what Jaime said mortified me, seemed like the sort of thing an assassin would say to justify his deed. Had it not been for Brienne I would have had you or Drogon take care of him. Brienne seems like a straight laced girl and if she sees good in Jaime then perhaps there is. I feel so much shame about what my father did to your uncle and grandfather!” Daenerys said, her eyes looked watery and her face was turning red and puffing up.

“You shouldn't feel shame about that, its not your fault. You are Aery's daughter and heiress, not Aerys himself. I just wish my fellow Northerners would get that.” Jon said then wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. He rubbed his hands across her back, he was tempted to go lower but refrained since people might see that.

“One of my greatest mentors was a Targaryen.” Jon said as they released from the hug.

“How is that possible?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows arching up.

“The Night's Watch Maester was a Targaryen, Maester Aemon. He lived to be a hundred, he was a Maester and Man of the Watch for so long I don't think many people knew he was a Targaryen. I would've been executed for breaking my vows if it wasn't for him intervening. He was very saddened knowing his death would make you the last of your House.” Jon replied.

“I've heard of him. He was the firstborn son of King Maekar and Queen Dyanna Dayne but renounced his claim to the crown. I had no idea he lived that long. I would have assumed he died a good twenty years ago, never really thought about it.” Daenerys said.

His mother was a Dayne? Gods I hope Ashara wasn't my mother, that would make us cousins of some sort. Of course that was many generations apart, so maybe its not so bad.

“So next time your upset about the crimes of your father or brothers just remember you have many great relatives and ancestors like Maester Aemon or Aegon the Conquerer.” Jon said.

“You're right, for every Mad King there's ten Maester Aemons who knows how many Aegons.” Daenerys said then puckered her plump lips and planted them on Jon's. Jon resumed hugging her and made sure he reciporated her actions. They started kissing all over their faces and then their lips again. Suddenly behind Jon a third pair of arms ensnared him.

“Aaaaahhh!” Jon said in shock, Daenerys started laughing.

“I've missed you!” A familiar voice said.

“I was worried about you! Don't sneak up on me like that!” Jon said as he turned and saw that it was Tormund.

“And you're the one they call Dragonsmum and Chainbreaker!” Tormund said as he pointed to Daenerys.

“If I go a fortnight without gaining another epithet I get disappointed! But you can call me Daenerys! Jon has told me about you. I remember seeing you get on my dragon as I rescued you all from the Walkers and wights!” Daenerys said.

Are they flirting? Seems like one of them is at least.

“Me and the boys would have been arrow fodder for the Night King if it wasn't for you and your dragons! We may have been born on opposite sides of the Wall, but me and Jon are brothers! When I heard he got a new lady friend I was shocked, I thought to myself 'must be some woman to get Jon to bend his knees again!'” Tormund said.

“You mean bend the knee!” Jon said.

“No! I mean bend your knees, as in both! Did you do what I told you?” Tormund asked.

I knew I shouldn't have told her where I learned those tricks! I'm not going to say anything. Gods why does he have to embarrass me in front of Dany?

“I like you already, Daenerys Dragonsmum! Don't worry Jon, you won't have to worry about me stealing her unless she grows another foot and puts on a few stones of muscle!”

That's true, he doesn't go for shorties.

“With all this war I might do the latter, but I doubt I could grow another inch without a wizard's help!” Daenerys said as she flexed her arms and laughed profusely.

“Bahahaha! Good one! You're funny! Jon you really know how to pick them! Gods know how many women you've gotten slick as a seal, but you know most aren't worthy of you! I'm so glad you steered clear of that Red Whore. Bat shit crazy bitch that one! Great ass on her I'll give her that, but you were patient and found a girl with one who doesn't think fire speaks to her!” Tormund said.

“Thanks, I guess. Do you have anything to report?” Jon asked.

“Aye. After the Wall was breached, me and Beric took our people over to Last Hearth looking for shelter and to spread the news. Val and Morna are behind me, you should introduce them to your new squeeze. Ned Umber's dead, they tried turning him into a Walker. Mors is still alive, so I guess he's the new Lord now but I'm not sure how that works.” Replied Tormund.

“Seven hells! That's dreadful! Poor lad, such an honorable soul. Do you know where the Night King and the Army of the Dead are right now?” Jon asked.

“We met up with Edd and the rest of the surviving Crows at Last Hearth, Edd said they and Mors killed a Walker. Growing up I always heard if you killed a Walker all the wights it revived would die with it, and that's what Edd said happened. There were a few stragglers left when we arrived, probably ones that Walker didn't turn.” Tormund responded.

Glad Dolorous Edd is still alive, I've missed all his wry jokes.

“Sounds like the Night King is having his officers take their forces and attack different strongholds. Classic divide and conquer strategy. If we could take out as many of the officers as possible then the Army would be greatly crippled by the time we finally face the Night King!” Daenerys said.

“My brother Bran is now the Three Eyed Raven. I'll ask him where the Army is on the offensive and tomorrow we can ride out and fight them head on.” Jon said.

“Count us in! We just need to rest and recuperate for tonight. The big woman still here?” Tormund asked.

“Yes, she's probably in the gymnasium.” Jon answered.

“Alright, pleasure meeting you, Chainbreaker! And you of course, Jon. We'll have to get a good drink before the next skirmish. Now I have a beauty to woo!” Tormund said.

“Best of luck!” Daenerys said holding up her thumb.

Good, he's still infatuated with Brienne.

“I'm sorry, he isn't usually that obnoxious.” Jon said as Tormund walked from earshot.

“Obnoxious? I thought he was hilarious!” Daenerys said.

“You just think so because he flattered you!” Said Jon.

“He was just trying to show his support for us, no need to be jealous! You can be pretty funny too when you aren't overthinking everything, usually when we're both naked or about to strip down. Look, if I thought he was making a pass at me I'd tell him to back off. Trust me, I've had so many men and women make passes I can discern flirtation from mere flattery. Besides, sounds like he's awfully enamored with “da big woman,” he wouldn't do anything to mess up his chances with her. Not on purpose anyway.” Said Daenerys.

“Truth be told I don't know much about flirting. You and Ygritte both did all the work for me. I'm glad you weren't offended by Tormund, he's one of my closest friends.” Jon said.

“Well then take your Queen's judgment on it, she is something of an authority on the subject.” Daenerys said then mischievously smiled.

“I'm sorry for overreacting, I shouldn't be so clingy. I'll work on not jumping to conclusions like that.” Jon said.

“Just goes to show you don't want to lose me, that's sweet. There you go overthinking again!” Daenerys said then gave Jon a playful nudge and smiled ear to ear.

“So how do you suppose I could go about making you laugh more?” Jon asked.

“Just do what you did last night, don't think about every little move and let your tongue do all the work for you! Same principle, quite simple really.” Daenerys said giggling.

“Not the same thing at all! I don't get to taste a good joke!” Jon said then smiled.

“Hahahaha! That's the spirit! See? Just spit out whatever is on your mind!” Daenerys said.

“I don't think you would have liked it if I did that last night!” Jon said.

“Hahahahahaha! You are too much! You're right I wouldn't, I'd be right pissed with you. I can't stand the types who don't finish what they start, if I'm generous to feed you then you better eat the whole meal and ask for seconds!” Daenerys said. Jon reached in and gave her a wet kiss and they embraced warmly.

“You can please any lips!” Daenerys said. “I'm the luckiest girl in the world!”

“And I'm the luckiest lad.” Jon said. “Oh look, there's Jorah. Looks like he wants to speak with you!” They ended their necking.

“Hello my Queen, and Warden!” Jorah said reverently.

“Good afternoon! Nice sword you got there, good replacement for Longclaw.” Jon said.

“It is a fine piece, now I'm really glad I let you keep Longclaw.” Said Jorah.

“And hello to you! What have you been up to?” Daenerys asked.

“Just finished saying a prayer at the Godswood. I'd almost forgotten what a weirwood looks like, let alone a Heart Tree's face. Feels good to finally be back home in the lands where my Gods have power, even if most other worshipers cannot forgive me for my crimes.” Jorah said.

“I have yet to find any gods I feel compelled to worship, but I've always found places of worship fascinating to visit. Jon will have to take me there soon, but first I need to pay the Reed tent a visit so their armorer can get my measurements for that suit of armor Howland promised me.” Daenerys said.

“It pleases me to know you will have armor soon. You are no armchair tactician, you need all the protection you can get should the Queensguard fail to shield you. Speaking of which, what other members should we bring with us?” Asked Jorah.

“Red Lamb and Grazha, since they are the most friendly. Maybe Tumco as well, but certainly not Belwas or Larraq. The last two are far too aggressive, and people already perceive me to be an aggressor.”Answered Daenerys.

“A wise selection, it is often said monarchs are judged by their courtiers.” Jorah said.

“Alright Jon I'm going to be heading off. Perhaps you can take me to the Godswood when I return, if that is permissible of course.” Daenerys said.

“Of course it is! I would love to! Why wouldn't it be?” Jon asked.

“Essos has many mystery cults that only allow initiated members to visit their temples and lodges. I don't know anything about the Old Gods faith, I suppose I should have asked Jorah more after all these years.” Daenerys answered.

“And I would have gladly told you!” Jorah said.

“I'll tell you all about our faith when I show you the Godswood, but for now I will say we don't have any sort of initiation rituals. Not even anything simple like the Anointing of the Seven Oils that the New Gods worshipers do for for their new babies or the baptisms adult Drowned God worshipers have.” Jon said.

“I cannot wait to learn more! See you in a bit, my love!” Daenerys said then gave Jon a quick but juicy smooch.

As Daenerys and Jorah walked off Jon strolled around the plaza. Ygritte helped him to realize that what he was didn't matter, but who he was did. She made him realize even with the best education a Maester could provide, there were still many things that could only be learned through living. So he started to wonder what he was learning from Daenerys. Jon never truly understood Ygritte's lessons until after she had died, which filled his mind with the thought of losing his new love.

I hope I go first, I can't bear the thought of losing another love. On the other hand the though of her losing me is dreadful, she has lost so much already.

“Jon! Jon!” It was Sam, his face was red, puffy and, covered in tears.

“Hello Sam, are you alright?”

“Is Daenerys around?” Sam asked.

“Not right now, she went to get measured for some armor. Why?” Jon replied.

“Jorah told me something terrible!” Said Sam.

“What?” Asked Jon.

“She.......killed my father........and brother!”

“I'm so sorry for your loss. Do you know why?” Jon asked.

“Yes, Jorah told me everything. Father refused to bend the knee to her, I thought surely he would since he was the last loyalist general to surrender to Ned and Robert. Dickon also refused and stood by father, so she had them both executed!” Sam said and sniffled.

“She gave them a chance and a warning, that's more than I ever did. I lopped off Slynt's head as he was begging for a second chance. I didn't hesitate to hang Ollie even though he may have been coerced into stabbing me by Thorne, but he by all means had good cause to kill me. Surely killing a boy not even in his teens is more heinous than killing the man who threatened to feed you to his dogs! The man who had warlocks cover you in fresh blood to make you normal, then had them scourged when they failed!” Jon said.

“But Dickon was kind to me! He always stood up for me. How would you feel if Arya was executed?” Asked Sam.

Seven hells, he's right. That would be a bitter tonic to swallow.

“I can't even comprehend the pain of losing a sibling. I will confront Dany about what she did. She's a bit egotistical, seems to have a temper on her. I'll tell her she needs to be cautious when handing out a death sentence, in the North we don't execute someone without looking them in the eye to ask why they did it. If we feel any pang of guilt of hesitation we let them live, because perhaps they didn't truly deserve to die. She needs to realize its in her best interest to not be so quick, executing Lords on a whim won't win her many banners.” Jon said.

“Good, thank you for not making excuses for her.” Sam said.

“No ruler should be above criticism, that's how tyrants are created. At the same time I can't just criticize her without admitting I have done things not much better.” Jon said.

“Do you know where Davos is? I need to speak with him.” Asked Sam.

“No, check the guesthouse and ask around. What do you need to talk to him about?” Jon asked, Sam wanting to speak with Davos struck him as odd.

“Oh you know, just, um, girl problems! He's a smart guy with a wife, I thought he'd be the person to help me sort things out.” Sam stuttered.

“Gilly giving you shit? I guess all women do on occasion.” Jon said then awkwardly laughed, he wasn't fully convinced.

“Alright Jon, I best be going now. Please talk to Dany as soon as possible, I'll need to see both of you soon.”

 

Chapter Text

Cersei sat in the Tower of the Hand and ate a breakfast of a soft boiled egg, a scone with fire plum jam, and spiced honey wine. She wore a bear fur robe over silk pajamas. Every monarch since Aegon had a Small Council and most of those before the Conquest had some sort of cabinet, every monarch until Cersei. King Robert hated politics, he supposedly only attended three small council meetings in his seventeen year reign. The first two of which were in his first year reigning and the third in his last. She wanted nothing more than to rule and do it all herself, so early on she abolished the Small Council but retained Hand of the Queen. Qyburn was the only adviser she needed.

“The short hair suits you, you'd make a very dashing king!” Said Moon Boy the jester, he was wobbling on stilts yelling non sequiters.

“And to think I was considering growing it out again. Funny little fellow!” Cersei said and took a drink of her wine, she never found his japes amusing but humored him nonetheless.

I really do need a better fool, one that can make me laugh. The only use I have for Moon Boy is an interim bed warmer, assuming of course he knows where to put it.

There was a rap on the door.

“Do come in!” Cersei said, then ate the last of her breakfast. Qyburn strolled in, his chains rattling with every step.

“Are you ready for your daily briefing, Your Grace?” Qyburn asked.

Moon Boy fell off his stilts and squirmed on the ground, something which happened so frequently neither the Queen nor Hand even mentioned it.

“Have I ever not been?” Cersei asked half jokingly but with an icy edge.

“Not unless you lied about it, Your Grace. I have met with the paymaster of the Golden Company, they do all their banking with the Iron Bank so we will be able to transfer the funds from the House Lannister account into theirs. Unfortunately this will do nothing to resolve the debt your father racked up and you have increased.” Qyburn said.

“A Lannister always pays her debts, father always told us that!” Cersei said.

“Tywin didn't!” Moon Boy said, still on the floor.

If he weren't such a lack wit I'd suspect that Moon Boy deliberately abuses the fool's privilege, but really I doubt he even knows what that is.

“Lately it seems every time I walk through the city I encounter a preacher or missionary of a cult I hadn't heard of. So far I've encountered the Church of Starry Wisdom, Raknake, the Path Finders, the Memory Keepers, Joyous Alchemy, and a few I'm probably forgetting. Some of these seem to be heretical sects that deny basic dogma but keep idiosyncratic doctrines about the Seven or R'hollor, but others seem to be a queer hodgepodge of several traditions or new creations entirely.” Said Qyburn.

“And why are you telling me this? Think I would find a god in middle age? You should know by now I'm no praying girl.” Asked Cersei and took a big gulp of wine.

“Yes, I have deduced you are not a woman of faith. I was simply informing you because when several new cults pop up in quick succession, it is usually a sign of social upheaval. The destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor was probably the catalyst. Over in Oldtown the Starry Sept has been restored to its former status as the center of the Faith, but people in this region don't really benefit from that. Other factors I suspect are the invasion of the Night King and the return of dragons. All of this means speople have a lot of questions, and cults have answers.” Answered Qyburn.

“What's this about dragons? Are they the wolves you think are compelling the sheep of the city to flock to these new shepherds?” Cersei asked.

“They are the wranglers. Many of the cultists I've encountered seem to believe that Daenerys is either a physical goddess or some sort of messiah. Others make akin claims about Jon Snow, the rumors of his death and resurrection seem to be the reason for that. I've heard a few preachers say both of them are promised ones. First I heard of it was shortly after the Meeting of the Queens. I'm sure seeing dragons for the first time convinced many there was divine intervention.” Qyburn responded.

I knew I shouldn't have agreed to a meeting with that Essosi whore. She apparently got a flock of lemmings following her off a cliff and took Jaime with her.

“I suppose that is relevant information after all. Anything else?”

“Yes, here is a letter from Sunspear sealed with the Martell sigil.” Qyburn said as he produced a sealed scroll from his robe and handed it to her.

The letter read:

Your Grace, Queen Cersei, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms, Queen of the Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar,

I Manfrey Martell, Prince of Dorne, swear my sword in vassalage to you and all my bannermen with me. My cousin and his paramore's vendetta against you and House Lannister was a disgrace and embarrassment. Though that stain will be most challenging to remove from the name of House Nymeros Martell, rest assured I am sending several cohorts of knights and infantry to the Crownlands as a token of my apology. You may do with them as you see fit.

Prince Manfrey Martell

“My, my, this is a pleasant turn of events. Those swarthy poison shillers have always had a soft spot towards the Targaryens, I'm glad the new Prince is going to be a voice of reason. Now should the Golden Company fail I have a viable backup.” Cersei said.

“Yes, a surprise for sure, but a welcome one. Meanwhile in the Reach they are without a Great House now that Olenna is dead. House Tarly I think would have been best suited to replace the Tyrells, but sadly Daenerys barbecued Lord Tarly and his heir. So now I think its a tossup between Houses Redwyne, Hightower, and Florent.” Qyburn said.

“They can figure it out themselves, so long as they all fall in line I have no concern. What's that other letter in your hand?” Cersei asked.

“See for yourself!” Qyburn answered and handed her the scroll, it was sealed the sigil of a mockingbird.

“My Queen,

I am still lodging at Winterfell. The Knights of the Vale are with me, they are expected to fight the Army of the Dead. Personally I find fighting the Dead to be a Fool's Errand, but one I must partake in – regrettably in order to convince the Starks and Dragon Queen I am on their side. I have told them the Knights of the Vale and I will return to Vale once the Night King is defeated, which they have said is acceptable.

I do intend to return to the Vale, but first I would like to pay a visit to King's Landing both to check on my businesses and for a royal audience if you could be so gracious. I have gathered much information about their forces I think you will find useful. Until next time.

Petyr Baelish, Lord of the Vale

“Nice to know that weasel is still alive, write him a letter telling him his request for a royal audience is granted and I am happy to hear any intelligence he has gathered.” Cersei said.

“Consider it done!” Qyburn said.

“Is there anything else of interest?” Cersei asked.

“The only other interesting lead is that I have also received a letter from my little bird in Winterfell that several tribes of Wildlings are expected to arrive shortly, and that they see Jon as their King. Most alarming since they rarely approve of kings and this is the first time someone from south of the Wall has been chosen by them.” Qyburn answered.

“Surely they can be persuaded to turn on their bastard king.” Cersei said smirking.

“Wouldn't hurt to try.” Qyburn said and shrugged.

“Very well, I will write those rock bangers a letter promising I will give them control of the North if they betray Jon and his dominatrix.” Cersei said with command in her voice.

“Your grace, if the wildlings somehow manage to be victorious they will greatly be crippled and of little use as bannermen. More likely they will be wiped out!” Qyburn said alarmed.

“Exactly!” Cersei said and gulped down the rest of her wine.

 

Chapter Text

All the warriors of Bear Island gathered in the Winterfell courtyard to hear what their Lady had to say. The Little Bear stood on a wooden platform and looked out into the sea of forest green surcoats charged with black bears rampant. She too wore that surcoat over her armor, a suit of blackened steel plate. Bear Islander girls were trained in arms and armor alongside their brothers, Lyanna's mother Maege and her sisters were all notoriously ferocious warriors. Sadly they were all killed at the Red Wedding, which is how Lyanna became Lady of Bear Island. However there were persistent rumors her mother and sisters cheated death by warging into bears and continued the war by devouring Frey, Bolton, and Lannister men wherever they found them.

Gods I miss them. I wish I knew how mother would have responded to Jon bending the knee to a foreign queen.

“The Warden has received intel on the Army of the Dead, he has informed me he will ask Bran where they will strike next. If he wants us to go, we ask where! If he wants us to stay at Winterfell we ask for how long!” Lyanna said.

“Warden? We wanted a King! Not a Warden!” A Bear Islander groaned.

“I have no love for Daenerys! I wish he would have listened to us and never left the North to go meet her. But he is still my liege and I don't get to decide where he hangs his boots. I bent the knee to him as his Bannerwoman, and I am still obligated to do as he says whether I approve of his decisions or not, as you all should do as I say!” Lyanna said.

“He's no longer fit to be our liege! We should go back home!” Another one groaned.

“Say one more word about desertion or flirt with treason, and I will slash your jugular and make sure the Starks and Dragon Queen are in attendance!” Lyanna growled Everyone was dead silent after that. Lyanna scanned the crowd and it seemed some were terrified, while others seemed approving of her threat to dispense justice.

“I will ask Jon what he wants of us next time I see him, then we will make it so. You're dismissed. Here we stand!” Lyanna said then pounded her ax and shield together to make an echoing drum sound.

As the Bear Islanders left Lyanna noticed there was a tall man in a white surcoat standing on the sidelines, he bore a sigil of a black bear.

Oh, must be cousin Jorah.

“What do you want?” Lyanna asked.

“I just wanted to congratulate you, that was a rousing speech. When I was your age I got so frightened in front of crowds.” Jorah said.

“Thanks, I suppose. I've been doing it for years now.” Lyanna said. She glanced and his belt and noticed he had a fine sword with an antler handle.

“You like it? Valyrian steel, just got it as from someone not skilled in swordplay. He figured it would be better if someone qualified wielded it.” Jorah said.

“All Valyrian weapons are nice. Jon said he offered you Longclaw back but you turned it down. I would have liked to have that for when I'm taller, if I ever get tall enough to wield it. I'm sure my future son would have to.” Lyanna said.

“I forfeited my right to wield it when I brought disgrace to our House. Your uncle Jeor wanted Jon to have it anyway, he went so far as to replace the bear head pommel with a wolf one. Jon is a good man and I appreciate his offer, but I could not in conscience accept it. He insisted but when I explained to him he agreed.

Good for him,but I still want a Valyrian weapon with a weirwood hilt.

“So do you believe that serving the Dragon Queen has brought you some kind of redemption, Jorah?” Lyanna asked.

“Lyanna, it doesn't matter what I believe. She believes it has, but I'm afraid in the eyes of most Northerners it has only made it worse.” Jorah said after a bit of thought.

“Fair enough. I just know if I get married I'll steer clear of rich Southron men.” Lyanna said and they both laughed.

“You show wisdom beyond your years! If only I knew to avoid rich Southron women in my 20s, I'd be Lord of Bear Island! Don't worry, you'd be my most prized Bannerwoman.” Jorah said.

“You probably would have died alongside my mother and sisters!” Lyanna said.

“For the love of the gods please tell me you won't be fighting!” Said Jorah.

“Of course I will! What kind of Bear Islander would I be if curled up in a corner with soiled pants while my men are risking their lives?” Asked Lyanna fiercely.

“I understand your desire to be a good vassal, but if you die then our House is extinct! Even if I survive!” Jorah said sternly.

“Nonsense! Just ask Jon to ask your queen to make you Lord of Bear Island! If I sat out the war then our House is better off dead.” Lyanna said.

“I wouldn't accept Longclaw, you really think I'd accept the lordship? Or that most Bear Islanders would? I'll be forever known as the man who brought dishonor to Bear Island, and to the entire North. I've accepted that. You are too young to really understand how much the scandal rocked all of Westeros. Besides I'm in the Queensguard now.” Jorah said.

“As you wish. But I'm fighting in the war and that is final. I wish you good fortune, cousin.” Lyanna said then took off her clawed gauntlet and offered her hand.

“And I wish you good fortune as well, cousin!” Jorah said he shook her hand.

Just as Jorah was walking away Lyanna noticed a rattling sound in the bushes. She approached the moving bush and saw there was a figure clad in furs and bronze arm bands with runes, he had a big red beard.

“Come out, I see you!” Lyanna demanded.

The red bearded-man complied. Twigs and leaves were trapped in his beard.

“Sorry, I was listening to your speech and thought you did a rousing good job!” Said the red-bearded man as he clapped his hands.

“Why were you hiding in the bushes?” Lyanna asked puzzled.

“I'm a Freeman! Most Bear Islanders hate the Freefolk. Well most of them, anyway. Not all of them. Your cousin doesn't! Me and him went back to my home to capture a wight with Jon. At first I was hesitant about working with the son of Jeor, but he's a good old sport! There's others who don't as well!” The red-bearded man said.

“I don't hate them, never met one before now. Can't think of any other Bear Islanders that don't, your people used to raid us all the time.” Lyanna said, more confused than ever.

“Not sure how to say this, but I think I might be your father!” The red-bearded man said.

Is he blooming mad?

“And what makes you say that?” Lyanna asked sharply.

“Because I fucked your mother! Several times! Unless your mother isn't Maege Mormont!” Her possible father said.

“She was!” Lyanna said.

“Was?” He asked.

“She was killed by the Lannisters.” She replied.

“That does it, when the Night King is dead I'm marching South with the rest! I loved your mother, most fiery woman I've been with. I had little interest in that Cersei bitch, but she and her House will pay for what they did! My name is Tormund Giantsbane, by the way.”

“How in the Known World did you even meet her?” Lyanna asked.

“I was on a raiding expedition to Bear Island, maybe thirty years ago. All of the men were away and your mother and the rest of the women defended the island and killed everyone else in the party. Some of them had raided it a few years prior with great success, the men were on it at the time. Your people are maybe the only Southron kneelers to realize women fight better than men! Nothing gets between a woman and her children, like a bear with her cubs!” Tormund said.

“Southron? We're Northerners!” Lyanna said.

“Freefolk consider anyone from south of the Wall to be a Southroner, but Bear Islanders are as close to the True North as any kneeler can get. Anyway, your mother whacked me pretty good with her mace. I realized there was no way out alive, so I yielded. She carried me over to some old man wearing a chain around his robe. He took care of me and your mother always came by to give me food. We started talking, and eventually we fell in love. I couldn't stay, so I left shortly after we fucked. I came back five times after that, most recently maybe twelve, thirteen or fourteen years ago!” Tormund said.

“I'm thirteen!” Lyana said astonished.

“Well there you have it!” Tormund said.

“I'm a legitimized bastard, I was born Lyanna Snow. All my sisters were born Snow, but we got legitimized pretty early. Mother never told us about you, she was very tight lipped. Nobody knew who our father was, or if we even had the same one.” Lyanna said.

A surge of emotion rushed through Lyanna's body. For years she had wondered who her father was, he was as much a mystery as Jon's mother. Being a legitimized bastard never bothered her, she was legitimized by her second name day so she would have never known had she not been told. Now she at long last had an answer, one that was scandalous but made perfect senses. She looked into Tormund's eyes and saw they were flooding with tears of joy.

“Come here you!” Tormund said then picked her up off the ground and have her a bear hug, effortlessly despite her armor.

“I can't believe we finally met!” Lyanna said as she wrapped her arms around her father.

 

Chapter Text

While all the North was fretting over the Night King, the Onion Knight wondered if he was the only one who was more concerned about the aftermath. Should the Night King win they would all be in the Army of the Dead and everyone's problems would be solved. Should he lose then life would go on and the question of who would sit on the Iron Throne would be relevant again. Davos knew the Night King was the more pressing issue, but as a thinking man and not much of a fighting one he was preoccupied with the next step.

Jon and Daenerys must prove themselves worthy of the Throne, if Tyrion, Varys, and I can convince them to rule together then they can make a case that will appeal to their respective supporters.

Davos paced around his room in the guesthouse, pondering what should be done after the Night King was dealt with. They would need time to build up their strength before attacking Cersei's forces, but Davos worried that she could just send the Golden Company preemptively. To get his mind off things for a break he tried reading a book Shireen had given him, but then he was pelted with memories of her and it filled him with sorrow. He hoped to finish the book, but knew it would not happen for a great while. Just as he shelved the book he heard a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Davos said.

It was Jon's friend Samwell Tarly, he was carrying a portable slate chalkboard like the ones Maesters used to instruct their students.

“Do you have a moment to talk about something? It's important!” Sam said.

“Of course! I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what course of action should be once the Night King is dead.” Davos said.

“Well I can help with that. Please have a seat, what I'm about to tell, um write, you might be disquieting!”

Must be really bad if he can't just whisper it!

“Alright, lay it on me!” Said Davos as he sat down. Sam pulled out a stick of chalk from his robe pocket and started writing. Once Sam was finished he handed Davos the chalkboard.

The chalkboard read:

“Bran and I have have uncovered the truth of Jon's parentage. His father wasn't Ned Stark, it was Rhaegar Targaryen and his mother was Lyanna Stark. I found a Septon's journal that mentions him officiating their wedding, they loved each other and Robert's Rebellion was built on a lie. Lyanna's dying wish to Ned was that he would raise Jon as his own son in order to protect him. Jon's birth name is Aegon Targaryen and he is the rightful king.”

Seven hells that makes too much sense! It always baffled me to think that Ned would have ever been unfaithful. Melisandre also seemed to take quite an interest in Jon, just like she did with Gendry. Her interest in Gendry was clearly because he had King's Blood, something which Jon has even more of. No wonder she tried to seduce him, good thing he rejected her.

Davos wiped off the chalkboard and wrote his own message. It read:

“This is shocking news, but I see how it could be. Do you have anyone besides yourself and Bran who can vouch this claim? Eyewitnesses perhaps?”

Sam read the message, then wrote one reading:

“Yes, Howland Reed. He was present when Ned made the vow to Lyanna, I believe that's part of why he was in hiding for so long. He brought several letters to and from Ned that discuss Jon's identity, including one where Ned says he would support a Targaryen restoration should Daenerys invade due to distaste over what Robert did.”

Davos then wrote a message that read:

“Right proper investigation. You're a true scholar. How do you plan on telling Jon and Daenerys this information? And why are you telling me?”

Sam wrote a message reading:

“We decided we will summon them to the crypts, because Rhaegar's lyre is next to Lyanna's statue and that provides tangible evidence. I am telling you because they both respect you, and we need you to talk some sense into either in the event of an adverse reaction. We predict either she will be upset about not being the rightful heir, or he will be distressed about her being his aunt. Or both. Whatever happens, we need you to be there and help them through it.”

Davos wrote a message reading:

“I recently had a meeting with Tyrion and Varys where I proposed they marry and rule together as husband and wife. He can temper her worst tendencies, and she can help give him the ambition he seems to lack. People already respect Jon as a Stark's bastard, finding out he's a Targaryen will remove much of the blemish from that name.”

Sam wrote a message reading:

“Howland has some friends who know the truth about the Night King, they believe that Jon and Daenerys are vital instruments to defeating the Army of the Dead. Our hope is that will help motivate them to embrace their heritage.”

Davos wrote a message reading:

“I've never been a believer in signs and wonders, but both of them seem to be. If that's what gives them the morale to defeat the Night King, then such notions are more then welcome whether they are literally true or not. Jon in particular has a special bloodline, the son of a dragon and she-wolf. Small wonder people would believe he's some kind of promised messiah.”

Finally, Sam wrote a message that read:

“Thanks for your time, either me or Howland will let you know when we are going to tell them. Have a good day and remember, don't tell anyone this news.”

Once Davos signaled that he had read it Sam wiped off the chalkboard and left. Davos remained seated and let the news sink in. He opened his window and saw Daenerys petting Ghost, with Jon standing next to his pet. They all looked so happy, Davos hoped it would survive.

 

Chapter Text

Once Daenerys returned from the Reed camp she met back up with Jon in the courtyard. Jorah parted ways with her and went to watch his cousin Lady Mormont give a speech. Daenerys had always hoped to be a hero and inspiration for girls, so it cut her deeply that Lyanna seemed to despise her despite clear and unflinching loyalty to Jon.

Gods I hope Jon and Jorah can soften her heart towards me, I feel we have much in common.

“How did it go?” Jon asked. Ghost was sitting at his side.

“Great! The armor should be ready for me in a couple of days, hopefully before we must face the Night King. After my measurements were done, I stayed a bit and they fed me a delicious stew with barley, kidney beans, sassafras, long pepper, lizard lion, frog, turtle, crayfish, peccary sausage, and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting. They were so embarrassed when I asked what was in it; apparently people look down on them for eating such animals. I told them I've eaten horse and dog in Essos and I love trying new things, they were thrilled!” Daenerys answered.

“I guess you'll have to take me over there some time so I can try it. Arya too.” Jon said. Daenerys noticed Ghost was saddled.

“Why is he saddled up?” Asked Daenerys.

“I thought a queen would deserve a break from walking everywhere. You let me ride Rhaegal, least I could do is let you ride my boy Ghost!” Replied Jon.

“You're such a good boy! Yes you are!” Daenerys said in a baby voice as she squatted down and petted Ghost. He licked her face.

“Ghost! Stop!” Jon said sternly.

“Oh it's quite alright! Hope you're not just jealous that somebody else is licking me! Don't worry, only you get the other lips!” Daenerys said and winked, Jon blushed.

“I just thought you might mind.” Jon said and shrugged.

“Why would I mind? He's just showing that he likes me, no different than you!”

“Stand!” Jon commanded Ghost. Ghost complied.

“Now do I put my foot in the stirrup and hop on?” Daenerys asked. Jon signaled yes and she got on Ghost and Jon led them to the gate of the Godswood.

The Godswood was unlike anything Daenerys had ever seen. Birds could be heard singing and the scent of evergreens filled her nostrils. Many of the trees were massive; the youngest were a few centuries, while others it seemed were a thousand years old at least. Such trees had thick serpentine branches sleeved with moss and cyclopean trunks. The canopy of treetops provided a filter for the snow, here the only snow was in patches from gaps in the canopy. Light came down from the gaps and the snow helped magnify it.

This is just like something from an old ballad, so breathtaking.

“How do you like it so far?” Asked Jon.

“Like it? I love it! Never been to anywhere like this before!” Answered Daenerys.

“Does Essos not have forests?”

“Essos does, but I never got to visit any. My brother always told me forests were evil places, full of witches and goblins waiting to kidnap little girls and eat them. Even after he died I didn't get any chances to visit one, but I've seen paintings and tapestries of them.”

“Look up in that ironwood! There's a family of squirrels!” Jon said, pointing to a tall, naked, black tree with slender branches.

“So adorable! I love fuzzy little critters!” Daenerys said.

“Plenty of those around here! There's chipmunks and rabbits too.” Jon said.

“I'd heard about Godswoods, but I always thought they were only a garden with some orchids planted. I never would have guessed they were a whole forest inside a castle's walls! Does every castle have them?” Daenerys asked.

“I haven't visited every castle! But I believe all of them in the North do except for New Castle, which is House Manderly's seat. They worship the Seven, but I know many Southron castles have Godswoods as well.” Jon responded.

“Ooh look at all those mushrooms!” Said Daenerys as she pointed to a fungal colony.

“Yes we have many! Alright here we are!” Said Jon as he stopped and Ghost stopped soon after. In front of the trio was a tall thick tree with branches like a kraken's tentacles, blood red leaves and bone white bark. Carved into its trunk was a grim face with blood-like sap slowly oozing from its mouth and eyes.

Is this a work of art, or is it a sentient being?

Jon wrapped his arms around Daenerys and picked her up with a graceful swing. Once her feet were on the ground he planted a kiss.

“So this is one of the Old Gods? Viserys always said Northerners worship trees, he scoffed at the practice.” Daenerys asked.

“No, but it's a receptacle for the Old Gods. They are nameless and countless; not just found in the trees, but also in the rivers we drink from, and the winds we breathe in. We have no use for temples or septs, because we simply pray in the woods or crypts instead. We don't have any scriptures either, so no need for clergy to interpret them. The only ceremonies we have are weddings and funerals. Heart Trees watch over us, they give the Old Gods their power.” Jon said.

“Fascinating! How did the worship of the Old Gods begin? Did the First Men introduce them to Westeros the way the Andals introduced the Seven?” Daenerys asked.

“Originally the First Men worshiped several different deities. They had names and while not innumerable there were many. Each region had their own gods apparently, but its been so long most have been entirely forgotten. The Old Gods are the native religion of Westeros, they were worshiped by the Children of the Forest. When the First Men settled Westeros they got along with the Children, but it didn't last. The First Men turned aggressive and started burning down weirwoods which, caused a war. Eventually the war ended with treaty between the First Men and the Children known as the Green Pact. The terms of the Green pact led to the First Men largely abandoning their gods in favor of the gods of the Children.” Jon said.

“So they just all up and forsook their original gods?” Daenerys asked.

“Not all of them. Most Freefolk worship the Old Gods, but those in regions such as the Frozen Shore, Frostfangs, and Storrold's Point still have their own local gods. Weirwoods don't grow in those areas so the Old Gods aren't of much use to them. The Sister Islands used to have their own gods, but they gave it up in favor of the Seven. The Skagosi seem to worship the Old Gods but have names and images of them, as they mentioned when they gave us gifts. Then there's the Iron Islands and their Drowned God, weirwoods don't grow there either. Most Maesters believe the Ironborn are First Men, but most Ironborn are deeply offended by that notion because their faith teaches that they're the descendants of merlings.” Jon replied.

“I appreciate you for telling me all this. When I'm queen I'll need plenty of tutoring, I want to be able to understand my domain as much as I can. Missandei knows a lot about Westeros, but reading about it from books can never compare to living here.” Daenerys said.

“You're desire to understand your subjects is admirable, far too many kings have been ignorant of the people they rule. My father always had breakfast and lunch with Winterfell's household staff. For each meal he'd have a different staffer over and he'd listen to them talk about themselves, that way he could get to know them. He would offer them advice on whatever issues they were facing, and on occasion would give them financial assistance. Once he'd done this with all of them he would start the rotation again. He took his job as Lord as seriously as he did being a father, and any father worth his salt knows all his children well.” Said Jon.

“Your father sounds like such a remarkable man, I wish could've met him. I have no doubt he would be most proud of the man you've become.” Said Daenerys.

“Frankly I wonder how he'd feel about me bending the knee to a Targaryen, let alone becoming the lover of one.” Jon said and hung his head.

“You said he always taught you not to judge a child by their parent's actions! I am no more guilty of burning your grandfather and uncle than you are of adultery, I'm sure he'd realize that. Arya gave us her blessing, and I'm sure Sansa will eventually. We need to focus on getting support from the living, not wondering about what could have been from the dead.” Daenerys said.

“You're right, which reminds me there is something I need to talk to you about. Its urgent.” Jon said, he looked grim.

I thought something seemed off with him.

“Sure, anything.” Daenerys said, her eyebrows furrowing.

“I spoke with my friend Sam while you were gone, the one who operated on Jorah. He told me that Jorah informed him that you ordered the executions of his father and brother. Now I understand why you did it, I can't say that I'd have done any differently, but he is deeply distressed about it and you need to be more cautious in who you execute!” Jon said.

“They refused to bend the knee! Even though their liege lady was already sworn to me! That's treason! What was I supposed to do? Slap their wrists?” Daenerys asked perturbed.

“Like I said, I think you did the right thing. But you need to be careful because your actions could damage your image, shit like that could get people to oppose you more then they already do. You want people to see you as a just queen, not a foreign invader.” Jon said.

“But I AM a just queen! Where's the justice in allowing open rebellion to go unpunished? If I let such behavior slide they will think I'm weak!” Daenerys said.

“Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't execute those deserving of it. I don't know how people are executed in Essos, but in Westeros burning is seen as both cruel and unusual. The only time its been used in recent memory was by Melisandre, a witch and priestess of a foreign cult who brainwashed one of the most honest and upright of kings. Here we hang and behead, both of which are swift and fairly painless if done properly.” Jon said.

“Very well, from now on I will only authorize hanging and beheading and will consult with my advisers beforehand.”

“Excellent. Followers of the Old Gods believe the man that passes the sentence should swing the sword. My father never passed a death sentence he didn't carry out, neither did my brother Robb nor I. Every Northern Lord does the same. Part of the duties of the Warden of the North is being the de facto headsman for the Crown in the North. From now on I will carry out any death sentences you pass. In the south they have headsman do such dirty work, so they won't mind that you don't do the work yourself.” Jon said.

“Have you confronted Arya about her crimes?” Daenerys asked.

“Crimes?” Jon asked, his face looked soured and perplexed.

“Oh, she didn't tell you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Last night Arya told to me that she was the one who killed all the male Freys, in retaliation for what they did to your brother and her mother. I figured you knew, I wouldn't have brought it up if I knew she didn't. I'll spare you the details, they're pretty grisly.” Daenerys said.

Jon covered his mouth in shock. For a few moments he was speechless and he sat down on the bench in front of the pond.

“I knew that she killed people, we all have. But wiping out an entire house? I worried about what all the trauma she endured had done to her.” Jon said.

“So are you going to talk to her about that?” Daenerys asked and sat down next to him. She put her arm around him.

“I must. I love her with all my heart, but this news makes me fear she might be heading down a dark path, one that will only end in madness or death.”

 

Chapter Text

From the ramparts Sansa sat with her friend Jeyne Poole and drank white wine. Sansa usually drank tea at this hour, but the day before had a most unfortunate incident with a bird that made her not want tea for a while. Jon and Daenerys had passed through the courthouse; it looked like he was taking her to the Godswood.

How dare he take that stallion fucker to our sacred land! He's letting her ride his direwolf the same way he's letting her fuck our House! If Arya didn't get Lady killed I would have never let anyone ride on her but me.

“Most thrilling to see one of Jon's vassals standing up for the North when even he won't! Hopefully Lyanna can persuade him to leave that fat assed whore!” Sansa said. Lyanna was on a platform in the courtyard giving a speech to the Bear Islanders.

“I heard Arya has taken quite a liking to her. Do you think, um, never mind.” Jeyne said then had a sip of her wine. Arya was on the other side of the ramparts, still dressed in her Skagosi button blanket and cedar hat. She appeared to be marching with an oar as a baton.

“Don't go there!” Sansa said sternly. She had already went there to Arya's face and could see the allegation cut her like a dagger, even though it was in jest.

“Sorry. I see you all got gifts from the Skagosi, I always heard they sacrificed anyone who landed on their island to their appease dark gods!” Jeyne said in a painfully obvious attempt to change the subject as quickly as possible.

“Jon says those rumors are false, of course he is also friends with Wildlings now. Speaking of which, looks like Lyanna is talking with one!” Sansa said and pointed to Lyanna speaking with a red-bearded Wildling dressed in furs.

“Even if it were true I suppose there's plenty of sick shit on the mainland. Look at the Boltons!” Jeyne said nonchalantly.

“I, um, gotta leave now. You can have the rest of my wine.” Sansa said then abruptly got up and walked away.

Such flippant mention of the Boltons conjured a tempest of traumatic memories. What Ramsay did to her and the things she saw him do to others still tormented her, and she often wondered whether she would ever be freed from those scars. Sometimes it was a reminder of the Boltons during daytime, other times it was nightmares were she would wake up in a cold sweat believing it was still going on. She remembered what Theon had told her, not to say things couldn't get any worse because things can always get worse. A dog was heard barking from a distance, and suddenly her ears filled with the snarling of a whole kennel of starving hounds.

Fuck! Not this again!

Sweat beaded and covered Sansa's body and she found it difficult to breath. Everything around her started to spin so she laid on the ground before she could fall. Her heart pounded in her chest like a drum and soon it was competing with the nonexistent kennel to dominate her hearing. Each breath felt labored and soon she was passed out cold.

“Sansa!!! Sansa!!! Somebody help!!!” A voice said as Sansa regained consciousness. Arya loomed over, tears and snot rolling down her puffy red face. Sansa realized Arya had put her blanket over her. Arya wiped her nose off with her sleeve then detached a water skin from her belt and gave Sansa a drink. The cold water felt was refreshing and Sansa gulped the skin empty.

“What happened?” Sansa asked weakly, water dripping down her chin.

“I think you just had a waking terror, I get those too sometimes. Help should be coming soon.” Arya said then kissed Sansa on the forehead. “It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. I won't let anything happen.” Arya softly rubbed Sansa's face and hair to comfort her.

“I rushed up the moment I heard you call for help!” Another voice behind Sansa said.

Sounds like the Hound!

“I need you to carry her to her bedchamber, she suffered a terror!” Arya said.

“Waking terrors are a bitch. Don't worry Little Dove, me and your sister will keep your safe.” The Hound said.

The Hound picked Sansa up and carried her with Arya by their side. Once they reached Sansa's bedchamber Arya unfolded the bed's blankets, then the Hound laid her down. Arya unwrapped her button blanket off Sansa then tucked her in and kissed her cheek.

“I should have went with you when you gave the chance. Then I wouldn't have had any of this happen.” Sansa told the Hound.

“Don't blame yourself! The world is overflowing with wastes of cum like Jofferey, Ramsey, and my brother and nobody is to blame but them. None of it is your fault! Believing otherwise gives those depraved cunts power over you, even from the fucking grave. I'm leaving now, Little Dove, your sister will be here for you.” The Hound said with great conviction then left the room.

Gods he's right, I did nothing wrong.

“Do you remember when I told you that you survived situations I would have been killed in?” Arya asked.

“Of course, that meant a lot to me.” Sansa replied.

“Sandor saved my ass too many times to count, but there were also times he couldn't and I had to defend myself. He could have taught you how to use a sword, but good luck finding one that you could handle. I only fared so well because Jon had Needle designed with me in mind and I already had plenty of water dancing lessons. So there's a good chance you may have been killed if you went with Sandor. Sometimes I wish I could have changed past decisions, but then I realize there's no going back or guarantee things would be any better.” Arya said.

“Thanks, you really put that in perspective. So you've had terrorss too?” Sansa asked.

“Yes. Not as often as I used to, but it still happens.” Arya replied.

“Do you have nightmares about Father's death or anything you encountered on the road? I still get nightmares about Father's death sometimes.” Sansa asked.

“I have. Sandor woke me up from that a few times. However now I'm usually aware when I'm dreaming, have you been to the Dream Lands?” Arya said.

“I don't think so. When Lady was still alive I had dreams I entered her body and roamed around, I knew I was dreaming then.” Sansa responded.

“Nymeria is still alive and I have those types of dreams with her, just had one last night in fact. Jon woke me and he said he has those dreams too with Ghost. I learned how to warg in Braavos, I never told you because I didn't want to weird you out or make you jealous. Jon says he can warg into Ghost, but not for very long.” Arya said.

“You didn't want to 'weird me out?' You are weird!” Sansa said and they both laughed.

“I'm glad to see you're feeling better! I'll head to the kitchens and have Nigella make a lunch for you.” Arya said and smiled ear to ear.

“I'm sorry for being a bitch to you earlier!” Sansa said.

“You're sorry for 'being' a bitch? You are a bitch! But you're still my sister and I love you anyway!” Arya said and they laughed again.

“I love you too!” Sansa said.

Arya stooped over and gave her a loving embrace.

 

Chapter Text

When Gendry arrived in Winterfell he was immediately given the unenviable task of taking charge of the armory and playing a major role in overseeing siege defenses. While back in King's Landing he managed to persuade his old master Tobho Mott to come along and bring all his squires, tools, and materials. Doing so required buying an entire cog to sail it all up to White Harbor, where a wagon train was hired to join the royal procession to Winterfell.

In the Winterfell forges the apprentices slaved away, forging as many dragon glass weapons as they could in quick succession. Gendry and Tobho carried out the production of custom orders, both weapons and armor. Gendry had wanted to visit with his friend Arya, he had briefly seen her in the audience during the Winterfell procession. Regrettably, he was much too busy in the forge to take time to look for her.

Hopefully she'll stop by here, maybe Needle needs some work.

“I really don't see the sense in worrying about crests on Queensguard helms! And each member gets a unique one? That's madness!” Gendry said as crafted a elephant crest.

“What you call madness I call good patronage, I am an artist first and foremost. I was honored to produce the arms and armor for the Kingsguard, but I tired of producing the same helmet seven times! My work is most rewarding when I get to produce items with variety. Daenerys knows the power of presentation, she dresses meticulously because she realizes it gives her both command and charisma. So she wants the same for her protectors.” Tobho said, he was working on a crest shaped like a scorpion.

He always has been too much of an artist.

“I understand that, but now is not the time to worry about custom helmets!” Gendry said.

“It's a relatively simple and brief task, if we impress her with this then after the war she might commission us for bigger jobs.” Tobho said.

“That will mean nothing if the Dead win!” Gendry said frustrated.

“In that case, at least the Queensguard will be the most stylish soldiers in the Night King's Army!” Tobho said and laughed. Gendry was not amused in the least.

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Tobho yelled. It was Jaime Lannister. “Welcome Jaime! How's Widow's Wail holding up?”

“Excellent, far easier maintenance than any other sword I've owned.” Jaime answered.

“Glad to hear it, I'm thankful your father put my skills to full use!” Tobho said.

“Why yes, he took great pride in hiring you when he could have had any other smith forge new blades of conventional steel for far cheaper.” Jaime said.

“If you have any more Valyrian steel to work with, then I'd be thrilled to make you something!” Tobho said.

“I'm afraid I don't, but you needn't worry. Soon there will be plenty of unclaimed Valryian steel blades lying around. Actually I've come for you to work on this!” Jaime said, then pulled off his golden prosthetic.

“You want a lighter material perhaps?” Gendry offered.

“Not necessarily. My brother is an avid draftsman in his free time and he designed this blueprint for an upgrade on my hand. Told me you could craft it.” Jaime said and pulled out a schematic.

“Most impressive!” Tobho said as he put on his spectacles.

After scanning the document for a few minutes Tobho handed it to Gendry. The design featured a hinge so the fingers could be clasped shut, which was done by turning a small detachable crank. All the moving parts were the forge had in inventory or could be easily produced.

“Is this some sort of novelty? I understand your current hand is mostly for looks, but I can't imagine one that moves by crank would be much better.” Gendry said then resumed working on the crests, it irked him that Tobho had stopped.

“Actually its a vast improvement. Ever since I lost my best hand my swordplay has been utter shit. Imagine using a hammer with your lesser hand and trying to craft something like that. Tyrion figured if I had a hand that opens and clamps shut then I'd be able wield a sword again. He's always been very clever like that, when he rides horses he uses a special set of tack he designed himself. The reigns are longer and the stirrups are higher. When he showed me the finished product he said the world wasn't designed with him in mind, so his two options were to lament that fact or remedy it. He elected to remedy it and has once again, this time for me.” Jaime said.

“Your brother sounds like quite the engineer, there's no way I could come up with such a sophisticated design. I always thought he'd do well at the Citadel, with such a wide breadth of skills and knowledge he could have been Grand Maester!” Tobho said.

When Tobho Mott admits he couldn't design something so well that's always a sign its truly exceptional work.

“Tyrion applied for the Citadel; but Father had the application burned before the raven could be sent off. 'No child of mine will be subservient to a lesser House' he always said. Oddly enough his cousin is a Maester -- for House Manderly I believe. At another point Tyrion wanted to become a novice at a monastery, but Father was even more furious at the thought of him becoming a monk. Father was not a pious man and neither are my siblings, but I do try and serve the Warrior the best I can. Honestly, I think Tyrion was more drawn to the thought of being accepted into a close community than to serving the Seven.” Jaime said.

“I'm from Qohor, the City of Sorcerers. The black arts are highly prestigious there, and like any self respecting youth I was an apprentice to one of the namesake wizards. At first it was fascinating, but I found spells to be dull. I've never been one for rote memorization, which is a problem since in magic one small deviation alters the operation entirely. Art and crafting has always been where my passions laid, so I finished out my contract then became the apprentice for a smith. When I was a journeyman I was commissioned to craft a goat head shaped helm for an up and coming sellsword, he and my master were so satisfied with it I was promoted to master.” Tobho said.

“You're telling Jaime this because........” Gendry asked annoyed.

“Oh yes! Because I can improve upon this already phenomenal design with incantations that will augment mobility and protection!” Tobho said proudly.

“I've always been a skeptic, Seven Hells I didn't even believe in Others or wights before I saw the latter in front of me! Magic I'll confess I'm still wary of, but I won't turn down anything that can give me a further edge in battle. Just have it done soon, Jon plans to consult Bran about the Army of the Dead's location tonight and act accordingly tomorrow.” Jaime said.

“We won't be able to have it done that quickly, but should be soon!” Tobho said.

“Very well, I'll be leaving now. Here is half your payment, Tyrion calculated the compensation by the hours of labor estimated and the cost of the materials and added double since we're Lannisters, you'll receive the other half when it's completed. If it's completed, that is.” Jaime said as he handed Tobho a fat purple velvet purse full of gold dragons then walked off.

“My word! We could produce whole new suits of armor and new arms for the Queensguard with this kind of money!” Tobho said as he emptied the purse on a workbench.

“Don't tell me you intend on doing that!” Gendry said sternly.

“No, of course not! We have several projects to work on so that would be unprofessional.” Tobho said dismissively.

“Tyrion's design is impeccable, this is clearly someone with a mind for engineering but not afraid to go against the grain. Perhaps he can help us with some of the castle defense mechanisms, construction has only just begun so there's time to implement any improvements he comes up with.” Gendry said, poring over the mechanical hand blueprint.

“I was going to suggest just that, you should go speak with Jon and the Winterfell castellan. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have another mind on board.” Tobho said, then resumed work on the final helm crest.

 

Chapter Text

The lovers left the Godswood as they had entered, with Daenerys on Ghost's back and Jon leading them. Only this time there was far less chatter, for Jon was profoundly disturbed at the news that his darling baby sister was now a wanton murderer.

“All you alright Jon? You look upset, I know that face well.” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, I am. I'm still mortified about Arya.” Jon said.

“The Freys murdered your brother! Walder was a stingy and opportunistic coward, now the Twins can be controlled by a more worthy lord!” Said Daenerys.

I love her with all my heart, but gods I worry about her thought process sometime!

“Not all of them were responsible. Many of them weren't even at the Red Wedding, but it sounds like Arya killed them regardless. They didn't deserve to be punished for their father's crimes, just as we don't for the crimes of ours.” Jon said.

“I suppose things are done differently back in Essos. So are you going to talk to Arya about what she did?” Asked Daenerys.

“I will, in due time. But first we need to visit with Bran, so we can find out where the Army of the Dead is located. Then we'll know the next course of action.” Jon replied.

“Try not to tell her that I'm the one who told her, I don't want her to be angry with me.” Daenerys said, she looked horrified.

“Fine, I won't tell her who I heard it from. We can't afford to lose her support.” Jon said.

“Its not her support I fear losing!” Daenerys said.

“What is it then?” Jon asked, her statement was dumbfounding to him.

“I've always had difficulty making friends, I think its because I didn't have many growing up so I never really learned. Arya seems to befriend people easily, we opened up instantly. That's how I found out about what she did to the Freys in the first place.” Daenerys said.

She has difficulty making friends? How can a girl as breathtaking as her not make friends with ease? No wonder she's taken such a liking to Arya.

“I'm thrileld you two have really clicked already, but it surprises and saddens me friends don't come easy to you.” Jon said.

“Growing up constantly on the run meant I never had much time to get to know any other kids. Just when I'd start to know a few I'd find out we were leaving, yet again. So after a few moves I stopped trying. My handmaids and Missandei are the first true friends I've had.” Daenerys said.

“Missandei? I thought she was a lo–”

“No, not exactly. Just two friends who enjoyed discrete spots of naughtiness, nothing serious.” Daenerys said, cutting off Jon.

“Not something I'd ever ever do with my friends, but I don't see anything wrong with that.” Jon said and shrugged.

“Thank you for not telling her I told you!” Daenerys said, her violet eyes sparkled.

“Of course, I love you and want to respect your wishes, within reason. Besides, I don't want Arya to be upset with you.” Jon said.

“Kiss me!” Daenerys said as she puckered her full lips, they popped out impressively far. Jon complied, he urged Ghost to stop for a bit, then kissed Daenerys softly and rubbed her back and ran her fingers through her long, silvery hair.

“Every day I thank the Old Gods that I found you. When Ygritte died I didn't think I'd ever find another, of course I had no desire to. That's why I turned down Melisandre, couldn't lay with her since my heart still bled for another.” Jon said, he signaled Ghost to continue walking.

“I wouldn't have been able to reject her! You have stronger self control than I do! When Drogo died I was devastated. I dealt with the pain, in my own ways. Having dragon hatchlings certainly helped. I'm so lucky to have a man as loyal as you.” Daenerys said, she did her lovely squinty smile where her teeth were bared to the gums and her cheeks wrinkled.

Gods she's so perfect for me, and she seems to think I'm perfect for her.

Soon they reached the exit of the Godswood. Jon scanned the courtyard, he was curious if anyone else had showed up to Winterfell. Didn't look like anyone had.

“Now we need to find Bran, ask him to find the Night King for us.” Jon said grimly.

“So he can see whatever he likes?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows furled in bewilderment at such a notion.

“I'm not sure the limits of it, or if he has limits, but I know he can see anything in the present. The past too, I believe. But not the future, as far as I know. He's a greenseer, they're the most advanced of the wargs.” Jon answered frantically to explain it all simply.

“A warg? Aren't they the people who can have their spirits leave their bodies and enter animals? Jorah said some Mormonts can do that to bears!” Daenerys said excitedly.

“Yes. I can do it to Ghost, and Arya does it to her dire wolf as well as other creatures. House Stark histories say there used to be several Stark wargs, but that vanished when dire wolves died out south of the Wall. I'll never forget when I was with Father and my brothers on our way back from a beheading and we found Ghost and Nymeria, alongside their siblings, still suckling on their dead mother. Might as well have been a mammoth, of course its nothing compared to seeing a dragon since those were actually thought to be completely extinct.” Jon said.

“So is warging a Northern gift?” Daenerys asked.

“No, some Southroners can do it too, just not as many. We believe its a gift from the Old Gods, which would explain why its rare in other Kingdoms. Some Maesters believe warging is a hereditary trait found only among those with the blood of the First Men, which would also make sense. Similar claims have been made about Valyrians and the ability to ride dragons.” Jon said.

“But you're not Valyrian and you rode Rhaegal just fine!” Daenerys said.

“I can't honestly rule out that I'm not. My mother was probably Dornish, and many of their houses have Old Valryian ancestry. Not to mention there are a few other Valyrian houses like the Celtigars and Velaryons. One of my Brothers of the Watch is a Celtigar, Ser Terrance. I wonder if he's here now.” Jon said and shrugged.

“I had no idea there were any other Valryian houses! My understanding was the only others were the Baratheons and Blackfyres, which were both Targaryen cadet branches. Viserys said the Targaryens were the only Valryian House in Westeros and that made us special!” Daenerys said, both astonished and amazed.

“Another lie, I suppose. The other Valyrian houses produced many Dragonriders, but they lost their dragons some time before the Targaryens did. I learned about all of this from my Maester, he was such a good teacher.” Jon said.

“If we manage to get any new eggs we'll have to give some to those houses, it's my dream that dragons will one day rule the skies again.” Daenerys said.

“I like your thinking, that will be an excellent way to win their support. The Velaryons and Celtigars both live in the Crownlands, which means they are probably direct Bannermen to Cersei whether they like it or not. Oh look! There's Bran!” Jon said pointing to his brother. Bran was sitting in the courtyard as he always did.

The couple walked over to Bran and Jon helped Daenerys dismount. As he did so he gave her hips a quick, discrete squeeze and she smiled warmly.

“Hello Jon and Daenerys, I've been expecting both of you.” Bran said.

“How are Winterfell's defenses looking? Do you think we'll have enough time to fortify before the Army of the Dead arrives? Jon asked.

“Difficult to say. The Crannogmen are currently digging trenches and setting traps on the roads leading here, I scouted out the spots for them. I have seen Theon Greyjoy sailing with a crew of Ironborn, along with House Manderly knights. On their ship are ballistae, should be quite useful. In the forge Gendry and Mott are hard at work producing armaments. There are more arriving, most of them dressed all in red. But the Night King won't attack Winterfell immediately, so perhaps it is not as urgent as you may believe.” Bran said.

Jon felt a surge of relief, almost as if a burden on his back was lightened by half. Hearing that the Crannogmen were setting traps was the first few pounds freed, the Crannogmen were the best guerrilla fighters south of the Wall. Finding out Theon and more Manderlys were coming plus another party also freed a few pounds.

“Where will the Army of the Dead strike next?” Jon asked. Bran's eye's turned milk white as if he was warging.

“One of his generals is marching to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. It seems the Night King wants to pillage lesser holds to build up his Army before assaulting Winterfell.” Bran said.

“How far are those places? Could dragons reach there quickly?” Daenerys asked.

“Far for horses, but quite close for a dragon.” Bran replied.

“Do you think we should strike now?” Jon asked.

“Not unless you're a masochist. The day is almost over, I'd suggest heading over tomorrow as soon as you can. That way you can actually see them, the Dead don't need light.” Bran said.

“Very well, thank you brother! Daenerys, you decide who you want to take on Drogon and I'll decide who I'll take on Rhaegal. Tomorrow we will all gear up and fly in the southeast direction until we spot the Army.” Jon said.

“Alright, I'll go find who I want. But first, a kiss!” Daenerys said. They embraced and had a wet smooch.

 

Chapter Text

After delivering his morning briefing, Qyburn returned to his laboratory with an idea. With so many cults on the rise in the city perhaps the public would be susceptible to propaganda. So Qyburn sat at his desk and started writing a script for a pamphlet, which he would take to a woodcutter who would produce the pamphlets complete with illustrations.

Qyburn's laboratory had been Maester Pycelle's, before Qyburn had his Little Bird eliminate the old Maester. Under new management Qyburn filled the shelves with grimoires that Pycelle would have guffawed at, along specimens he would have deemed most distasteful. Shelves were lined with jars preserving oddities like malformed fetuses and the organs of past test subjects. From the ceiling hung the body of a mummified lizard lion.

What should this first tract be about? Needs to be something visually arresting, that will grip people's attention. At the same time, not obvious who is behind it.

After a half hour or so of deliberation, Qyburn thought of the perfect subject: the Night King. Personally Qyburn was deeply unnerved at the thought of the Army of the Dead on the prowl, but his mistress Cersei was unmoved and Qyburn had no choice but to ignore the threat. Besides, there was no doubt that Jon and Daenerys would use their defeat of the Night King to prop themselves up as the saviors of the Realm. Qyburn dipped his quill in his inkpot and started writing.

The frontispiece depicted a stylized Night King with the title: The Army of the Dead, Fact or Fever Dream? The text read in its entirety:

“From every corner there is news of a coming army, one that will consume all life in the Seven Kingdoms as we know it. Nursery maids and town criers alike speak of its leader, an enigmatic chap known as the 'Night King'. Some say he rides into battle on a giant ice spider, others that his mount is a undead dragon. Nothing is known of his identity, nor his motives, which makes wise folks doubt his very existence. Maester after Maester have concluded that the Night King and his so called Army of the Dead are nothing more than the babble of superstitious yokels.

So why have rumors of his invasion become so widespread? Good question, and the answer is to cover up the real invaders: Daenerys Targaryen and her concubine Jon Snow. Both are in a dire need to justify their invasion, so they have fabricated a threat that conveniently only they can save. Don't let them fool you, when they come South their dragons will burn villages to the ground, the barbarians in their forces will rape you and your children, then decapitate you if you are lucky, and then your flesh will fuel their next raid. The only threat the Seven Kingdoms face is Daenerys and her supporters, but rest assured Queen Cersei will stop at nothing until this dragon riding maniac is dead and her forces decimated.

The accompanying illustrations showed the Night King, drawn to look comically weak, throwing snowballs at knights who didn't even notice they were hit. Accompanying the Night King were snarks and grumkins. The second half portrayed Daenerys and Jon, she was drawn as a low cost whore leading Jon on a leash. Crimes of the Dothraki and Wildings were graphically shown, but the last illustration showed Cersei leading her forces to defeat the invaders.

Perfect! I'll have two hundred copies made and have the Little Bird distribute it to every corner of the city literate people can be found!

Once the ink was dried Qyburn put the draft into a binder and headed off for the Throne Room. When he arrived there he found Cersei sitting in the Iron Throne, talking to Euron. Earlier that morning Qyburn had begun to suspect Euron was a fellow sorcerer. Euron claimed all of his tattoos were gotten in Volantis, but Qyburn noticed many of them were identical to ones from Asshai he had seen during his time in the Brave Companions. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw that Euron's lips and tongue were now blue, as if he had just drank Shade of the Evening.

“Have you come with more news, something you forgot to bring up during the morning briefing perhaps?” Cersei asked.

“Yes, news about me. Discussion of all the heretical sects popping up gave me an idea. I figured this means that the populace is more susceptible to propaganda now, so I have decided to write a series of pamphlets casting doubt on your enemies and presenting yourself as the solution to the Seven Kingdoms' problems. Here is the first tract!” Qyburn said, handing her the manuscript.

“Oh my, this is impressive work!” Cersei said as she leafed through it. “If mobs of people are stupid enough to believe some drunken and defrocked septon has all their answers then many others will be stupid enough to believe this.”

“Let me see!” Euron said, Cersei handed him the pamphlet. “This says that the Night King isn't real so he doesn't pose a threat, yet you do believe he's real and think we aren't doing enough to combat him. Why would you tell people he isn't real when you disagree? What will happen if he defeats the Dragon Queen and marches south?” Euron asked.

“She's no queen, just a mistress. I am the Queen!” Cersei said in an irritated tone.

“Cersei has decided not to take any action against the Army of the Dead, so I need to justify that in public opinion. If the Night King does overrun the North then I will cease writing those tracts and begin writing new ones under a different persona. That way people will be informed of the new threat without it being obvious that the Crown sanctioned pamphlets were wrong. In any case Cersei will be presented as the savior of the Realm.” Qyburn said.

“Once again you have proven to be the most clever and loyal of my servants. Have as many copies of these tracts produced as you see fit, I will reimburse you accordingly.” Cersei said.

“You are most generous, Your Grace.” Qyburn said, then bowed and headed off the best woodblock printer in town.

 

Chapter Text

“So did you give them the blueprint?” Tyrion asked as Jaime approached him. Tyrion was sitting on a table at the ramparts, drinking a tankard of beer.

“I did, Tobho and Gendry were blown away. They said the design is genius in its mechanisms and relative simplicity of the needed parts. Tobho even went so far as to say you should sit on the defense committee, so you can recommend improvements on Winterfell's counter-siege measures. Also he'll be adding some spells to the hand to improve it further.” Jaime answered as he sat down opposite to Tyrion.

Tobho Mott is one of the most gifted craftsmen on either side of the Narrow Sea, and he knows it. A compliment on design form his bears more weight than most.

“Glad to hear it, nice to know one of us can be cured of being a cripple!” Tyrion said and they both had a good laugh.

“Hahaha! Good one, but have you ever considered getting some stilts and a long pair of tongs?” Jaime jokingly asked as he poured himself a tankard.

“Of course I have! You're the only person I wouldn't shoot for telling such a joke!” Tyrion said and laughed more.

“I wouldn't doubt it. My, this is a good brew!” Jaime said as he tasted the beer.

“Yes, it's from the Mermaid's Purse Brewery in White Harbor. Either a stout or a porter, I'm honestly not sure the difference. Wine is far more within my field of knowledge.” Said Tyrion as he took a drink.

“You designing that movable sword hand is the kindest thing you've ever done for me. I have intended to fight the Dead from the moment I saw that wight in the Dragon Pit, now I actually stand a chance of survival. And thanks for vouching for me!” Said Jaime.

“You're welcome on both accounts, but the latter meant very little I must admit. We're brothers, so me saying you're a good man isn't that persuasive. Me saying Cersei is an insufferable cu- um never mi-”

“Go ahead, say it!” Jaime said, cutting Tyrion off.

“As you wish. Me saying Cersei is an insufferable cunt is quite persuasive because why would I make such a thing up against our sweet sister? Be sure to thank Brienne, she's the primary reason you aren't at best missing your head or at worst a pile of ash.” Tyrion said.

“I have, first thing I did when the court was adjourned. Of all the crimes I am guilty of, being cruel to her when we first met is the only thing I regret. Everything else had a purpose, served a greater good. But insulting her, there was no reason for that.” Jaime said.

I didn't think he was even capable of remorse, she really has changed him.

“Do you love her?” Tyrion asked.

“I do, but not the way you're thinking. This love is something different, I'm not sure how to describe it. You and Cersei are the only two people I'd ever truly loved before Brienne, albeit totally different forms of love.” Jaime replied, his voice had passion and conviction.

“And what about our sweet sister? Do you still love her?”

“I'm afraid so, but we're finished. She'll never forgive me for walking out on her, even if it was to save our continent. I fear if the Dead don't kill us then she will.”

She owes her life to Jaime, if it wasn't for his love of her I would have killed her after killing Shae and Father.

“Love can be a difficult sickness to be cured of.” Tyrion said.

“Indeed. Speaking of which have any ladies caught your fancy lately? Essos is filled with exotic beauties, I know you often find yourself bored of Westerosi women.” Asked Jaime.

“No.” Responded Tyrion dismissively.

Tyrion lied. In truth while in Meereen he found himself head over heels for Daenerys. His new Queen was both exotic and charismatic, and Tyrion frequently daydreamed of marrying her. Sadly he knew he didn't stand a chance, she had some blue-haired buffoon from Tyrosh to keep her bed warm. Perhaps Missandei as well, he had seen her coming from Daenerys' bedchamber at odd hours in the night with her hair and dress disheveled. Ser Jorah loved Daenerys as well, he had the stones to confess it to her face and she turned him down. Now she loved Jon Snow, Tyrion approved of their relationship for political reasons but he still envied Jon. Daenerys had said Jon was “too short” for her, and Tyrion wondered if she sincerely changed her mind or if that was her way of indirectly rejecting him. For all of these reasons Tyrion elected to lie.

“I'm sure you'll find a nice lady some day!” Jaime said.

“Perhaps. Maybe there's a nice White Walker lady I can wed once they come over here!” Tyrion said and took a big gulp of his beer. “So how is Aunt Genna doing?”

“Alright, last time I saw her. When Father died she seemed more upset that you disappeared before she could say goodbye than the fact she lost her brother.” Jaime answered.

“I'm glad you weren't the only one to miss me. She always was so kind to me, I think that really strained her relationship with Father. Do you think its possible she will side with Daenerys? I don't believe Cersei was ever half as fond of her as we are.” Tyrion asked.

Before Jaime could say anything else all of the bells from Winterfell's towers started ringing and herald's blew their trumpets.

“Everyone capable of bearing arms must head to the courtyard! Anyone else may attend if they wish!” The heralds shouted repeatedly.

“Whelp, gotta go!” Jaime said, he finished his beer and got up.

“I think I'll join you, I'm curious what this is about.” Tyrion said as he got up too. They headed down the nearest flight of stairs to the central plaza. Jon and Daenerys stood on the platform, while every warrior gathered around them. After about ten minutes everyone who needed to be present were there, and Jon called everyone to order.

“Thank you all for arriving so shortly!” Jon said. “We have received disturbing news from Bran. As we speak, one of the Night King's officers is taking a portion of the Army south, to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. Karhold is protected by the Thenns and Karstarks who aren't already here, while the Dreadfort is guarded by a mixture of Freefolk forces and House Mazin. The issue of who will take over Bolton lands is still unresolved. Tomorrow Daenerys and I will fly our dragons east to fight the Dead forces. She will bring her Queensguard, who is willing to come with-”

“Count me in!” A red-bearded Wildling said before Jon could finish.

“Of course, Tormund. I knew you'd be the first to offer. Who else?” Asked Jon.

“Aye, I'll do it.” Said the Hound.

“Both of my sisters say they owe their lives to you, and you have already proven yourself further during the wight hunt. I'm glad you'll join us.” Jon said.

“It would be an honor to fight with you side by side as my father and my liege did with your father.” Kulungu said.

“My father always spoke highly of Howland, any ward of Howland is welcome on this mission. Your goldenheart bow will be most useful.” Jon said.

“I believe everyone without a Valyrian blade could use my abilities!” Said a man in red with an eye patch, his voice was smooth and soothing.

“Perfect, Beric. Go ahead and bring a few Brotherhood members of your choosing. Alright, that leaves Rhaegal with room for one more rider. Who's in?” Jon asked.

“Your Grace!” Said a large man with a gray beard dressed in mail with a red surcoat over it, charged with a clenched silver first. “My past refusal to support you in your war against the Boltons was unacceptable and disgraceful. Quite frankly siding with Ramsay would have been more honorable. In penance I will go with you, if you will allow me.”

“Of course, Lord Glover. Past conflicts are irrelevant, now is not the time to them cloud our judgements. Alright, everyone who volunteered should prepare tonightt, we'll be leaving as soon as possible tomorrow!” Jon said and dismissed the crowd.

“I was worried you'd volunteer!” Tyrion told Jaime.

“Not until I get my new hand.” Jaime said.

“Good, I'd hate for you to be killed before you got it. Lets go back and have another round of beers!” Tyrion said.

“I like your thinking.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Missandei sat in her room in the guesthouse and wrote down her observations of the North. On her table was a stack of history and travel books with information about the kingdom, so she could supplement her findings. She wore a dress and leggings made of dark gray sheep's wool she had bought earlier that day. Most people up here wore fur and leather, which Missandei felt uncomfortable wearing as a vegetarian from Naath.

“I have been in Winterfell for a day now, and it seems my first impressions of the North from White Harbor were wrong. White Harbor is a thriving port on par with the Free Cities in terms of sophistication if not for size and population. From what I have seen so far the North is vast, but sparsely populated. It is an alien and inhospitable land, covered in ice and snow; populated by such savage beasts as bears, wolves, shadowcats, and lizard lions, which often serve as the totems for the families that rule here.

Winterfell, I must confess, is a sight to behold; it is easy to understand why Lomas Longstrider shortlisted it as one of his Wonders Made By Man. The fortress is massive, with looming towers protected by gargoyles, a hotspring underneath that provides warm water even in the dead of winter, and a large Godswood typical of Westeros.

Missandei heard a knock on the door.

“Come on in!” She said. It was Daenerys. “So good to see you!” The two friends hugged and kissed each other's cheeks. Missandei turned her chair around while Daenerys sat on her bed.

“What are you working on?” Daenerys asked.

“Its just my notebook, I was writing a passage about Winterfell. I'll probably do some sketches after that.” Missandei answered.

“Glad to hear it, I hope you will be remembered as an eminent historian and chronicler of our generation. So what do you think about the North so far? I think its lovely!” Daenerys asked.

What do I say? I don't want her to be uncomfortable.

“It's, umm, a bit too cold for my liking. Both in terms of weather and people.” Missandei replied after a few moments of thought.

“People?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows shot up. “I've noticed most of them haven't been too receptive of me, but that's all politics. Have they been unpleasant to you as well?”

“Lots of stares and dirty looks. Its like they've never seen anyone who looks like me and they don't trust me because I'm obviously a foreigner. Grey Worm and Tumco have said the same thing. Even Kulungu has, despite the fact he's lived in the North most of his life. Nobody has even tried to greet us, except for a Wildling we met.” Missandei said.

“They don't like that term, they call themselves either the Freefolk or refer to themselves by the name of their tribe. I made that mistake, Jon corrected me.” Daenerys said.

“Oh, I had no idea. Alright, Freefolk it is. He seems like a friendly fellow, quite a flirt. He was fascinated to see us, he thought people with dark skin were just a myth. Grey Worm was highly offended at first, but I could tell this Freeman had no ill intent.” Missandei said.

“Was his name Tormund by chance?”

“Yes! That's him! How do you know him?”

“He's one of Jon's friends. Jon introduced me to him, got really embarrassed and a bit jealous when Tormund complimented me. Jon just about fainted when Tormund asked me if Jon used his 'advice'.” Daenerys said using air quotes on the last word and chuckled.

“Advice on what?” Missandei asked with a cheeky grin and raised eyebrow.

“Lordly kissing. Jon gave me one last night, it was amazing so I asked how he got so good. Said Tormund advised him. He's almost as good as you were!” Daenerys said with a wink.

“I'll take that compliment. Grey Worm is getting pretty good himself, of course that's all I can get anymore.” Missandei said and they both giggled.

“As good I was?” Daenerys asked.

“Getting there. We had so much fun together, but those days are over so let's not reminisce in excess. Anyway Tormund said Kulungu is more of a Northerner than Jon was when they first met! I could tell that made Kulungu happy.” Missandei said.

“Bahaha I won't tell Jon that! Tormund is probably our most important ally right now. According to Jon, he's the reason why most of the Freefolk are backing us. He persuaded them that Jon is their best hope against the Night King, and our romance has his blessing.” Daenerys said excitedly, she gave a large, giddy smile.

It seems to me that the so called “Wildlings” are more enlightened than most of their ostensibly civilized neighbors.

“Have you just come to chat, or is there something you need?” Missandei asked.

“Neither, exactly. Tomorrow Jon and I are taking my children and chosen companions to fly over and fight the Army of the Dead. One of their officers is leading an expedition, probably to grow their ranks. If we take him out all his wights go with him, its an effective way to thin the herd. I'm not sure if I'll make it back, so I want you to be aware.” Daenerys replied, her violet eyes turned watery and her cheeks started to redden.

I hope she doesn't die; if she does then I'm going back to Essos. Not sure where, probably to Braavos since they staunchly oppose slavery.

“Is this goodbye?” Missandei asked.

“Not yet. I'll be sure to say my goodbyes tomorrow, I'll need you to do my hair. I'm thinking a Khal braid, quick and simple, but still has a certain mystique about it. Also I'd recommend getting to know Arya, I know you two sat next to each other at court this morning. We've really hit it off and I prefer that my friends are mutual.” Daenerys said.

I thought Arya seemed amiable.

“Of course! A Khal braid it is! I'll definitely seek out Arya, she seems very outgoing. I'm glad she isn't like her sister.” Missandei said.

“Alright, I need to get going now. But first a hug!” The two had a warm embrace.

 

Chapter Text

Sansa took a while to recover from her waking terrors. After she had eaten, Arya stayed and talked with her until she dozed off. Once Sansa was snoring, Arya kissed her forehead and sneaked out and headed over to her room. Arya opened up her book and started to read about Rose of Red Lake, a daughter of Garth Greenhand who could transform into a crane at will.

Could she really become a crane, or was she a skinchanger like me? Sometimes I wish I could just shapeshift, wouldn't have to worry about my human body or bringing the right face.

There was a rap on the door. Arya got up and unlocked the door and opened it. The knocker was Jon, and he looked more dour than usual.

“How are you doing Jon? Did Dany enjoy the Godswood?”

“She did.”

“Is everything alright? You look tense!” Arya said as she sat back down.

“No, there are some things we need to discuss.” Jon answered.

Seven hells, what could it be?

“Sure, anything for you!” Said Arya, her heart started thumping in her chest.

“Bran told me that a portion of the Army of the Dead is marching to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. Tomorrow Dany and I will take our dragons to fight them. The mission will be extremely dangerous. We have no way of knowing if either of us will make it back.” Jon said.

“Then I'm going with you! I want to ride with Dany, no offense but I trust her flying skills more!” Arya said without missing a beat.

“No, I forbid you. Its much too dangerous, I can't in good conscience let you risk your life! If I die tomorrow, but if Dany lives I need you to take care of her; we need for you to do everything you can to keep the alliance intact. All of it could shatter without me!” Jon said harshly.

“But I'm a warrior too!” Arya said petulantly, tears rolled down her round cheeks.

“Back stabbing and poisoning isn't the same as taking on a undead horde on an open field! You have no battlefield experience; I know Brienne is training you but its not the same. You'll have plenty of chances for real combat soon, its a matter of time before the Night King assaults Winterfell.” Jon said doubling down.

“Back stabbings? Poison?” Arya asked uneasily.

“I heard about what happened to House Frey. What were you thinking?” Jon asked, his fluid gray eyes looked horrified.

“They killed Robb, Talisa, their unborn baby, and my mother! What was I supposed to do, give them a slap on the wrist?” Arya responded defensively.

“Not all of them were guilty of that, many of them probably weren't even at the Red Wedding. They were no more guilty of the Red Wedding than Dany as of burning Grandfather and Uncle Brandon!” Jon countered.

“The whole family were cowards, they wouldn't have helped fight the Night King until the war was all but over. Walder would have given all his subjects over the Night King so he would be spared. Now Dany's army can march south free of charge! Sansa and Dany both praised me for what I did! Are you going to chastise them too?” Arya asked.

“I love them both dearly, but they don't always have good judgment. Dany is often hot headed and impulsive, Sansa is often in over her head and it really seems like the Boltons have warped her mind to a degree. Where on Planetos did you get the idea to feed Walder his own sons then poison the rest?” Jon asked.

“Someone in the Dreamlands did, a gentleman with a cane.” Arya replied.

“A gentleman with a cane?” Jon said, his face looked dumbfounded.

“Mhmm! He wears a doublet and pantaloons made out of purple and gold motley. When he's happy he has a Reach accent, when he's angry he has a Northern one. Sometimes he appears as a giant cat in the moon with a grin the size of the moon's cresent, you can always tell because he has a purple eye and a golden one. They mismatch like Tyrion's. There's a statue of him at the House of Black and White in Braavos.”

“I know who he is. I've only been to the Dreamlands a few times, I haven't ever come across him; but some of the more experienced skinchangers I knew north of the Wall said they have. When they saw him he wore a parka, half snow bear fur and half grizzly fur. Told me if I ever saw him to never engage with him.” Jon said.

“Why not?” Asked Arya.

“Because he is dangerous; doing what he says makes people go mad! Do you want to risk losing you sanity?” Answered Jon.

Fuck, I had no idea.

“No, of course not!” Arya said, even more frightened.

“Then ignore him if you ever crossed paths with him. Look, I know at the time you were probably so consumed by rage and hate that you couldn't think straight. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, then we can determine what is the best course of action. I would have had the Freys put on trial, then I would have beheaded all who were proven to complicit. Killing without trial is dangerous, that's how tyrants are formed.” Jon said.

There was a moment of dead silence, then Arya burst into a full sob and wrapped her arms around Jon.

“Sometimes I worry that I'm losing control of myself, I fear I may be turning evil! As if my heart is blackening.” Arya said then pressed her wet face into Jon's shoulder.

“Don't tell yourself that. You have a good heart, you always have, but sometimes people with good hearts commit wicked deeds. If you've seen the Gentleman With a Cane's statue at the House of Black and White then I fear dark forces manipulated you into doing what you did. When I was Lord Commander I did many things a righteous man would condemn. Sometimes I stay awake at night, plagued with remorse.” Jon said as he peeled off his gloved to rub her back.

“I don't even want to know what you did.” Arya said.

“Good, because I'd prefer not to relive it. I'd much rather relive my life before I Took the Black. Especially those memories with you.” Jon said.

“Like what? My favorite would have been when you gave me Needle, but its not, because that was right before you left.” Arya asked.

“I still think about when we first met. I was five, I remember how you cried and cried. You were a few days old when I finally got to hold you, I caught the wet nurse feeding you without your mother present. When you stopped eating you resumed crying, but when she handed you to me you stopped. Your face lit up, and from that moment I knew there was something special between us. I remember everyone else's births except Robb's, none of them reacted that way when I held them” Jon said and wiped the tears from Arya's face.

“You never told me that story, but Father said you made me smile and laugh for the first time.” Arya said.

“Aye, I remember that. And “Jah-Jah” was your first word, your mother was furious it was that and not mama or dada.” Jon said and laughed.

“I'm sure she was right pissed! I always resented her for the way she treated you. Father being unfaithful was water under the bridge, but you existing was an affront to her. I could never understand why she was such a cunt to you.” Arya said.

“In seventeen years she only called me by my name once, when I said goodbye to Bran before I left for Castle Black. She also said it should have been me who fell.” Jon said.

How could she say such a thing? Fuck that's dreadful!

“What did she call you every other time?” Arya asked.

“Bastard. I'll never forget when I found out what that meant.” Jon answered.

“Why did you never tell me any of this?” Arya asked.

“Because she was your mother, I know you loved her and I didn't want you to think ill of her. Sometimes you have to hide things to protect those you love.” Jon responded.

“But if you told me I could have confronted her about that!” Arya said.

“That would have only made things worse. Just like you coming along with us tomorrow would. I'm not letting you go because I love you, you need to be safe. Same reason I confronted you about the Freys, I don't want you to follow down a dangerous path.” Jon said.

“Fine, but when the Army of the Dead storms Winterfell you can't stop me from taking part in the defense!” Arya said.

“That's the plucky Arya I missed most! I won't try and stop you, when the Night King comes we need everyone who can wield a weapon.” Jon said.

“Remember when you went hunting with Robb, Theon and Father and I could't go with you?” Arya asked.

“Of course I do. I still intend to keep that promise to take you hunting one day, only I think it will be far bigger prey than boars or elk!” Jon said and rustled her hair.

“I'd love that!” Arya said, she smiled ear to ear.

 

Chapter Text

Discovering Lyanna was a bittersweet moment for Tormund. All of her sisters he got to meet at least once prior, so getting to meet his youngest at last was a great relief. On the other hand finding out all of his other daughters and their mother were dead brought rare tears to his face.

Tomorrow was the day when Tormund would join forces with Jon and the Dragonsmum and fight the Army of the Dead. After saying goodnight to Lyanna he went into his tent and wrapped up in blankets. He should have been sleeping, but instead he reminisced about Maege and the last time he saw her. It had been well over a decade, but he still often thought about her and wondered how she was doing. Now he knew, and it brought him closure.

Eventually Tormund dozed off, and in his dreams he found himself on Bear Island once last time. The sun had just set and Tormund grabbed his firefly lantern and got out of his kayak. Never could he come in broad daylight, for he was one of the most notorious active Free brigands. Which was fine by him, he found forbidden fruit to be much sweeter.

“Welcome back! Been a while!” Said Maege. She stood with a torch and wore her Mormont surcoat over her gambeson. Next to her was Ursula, the weathered she grizzly who was her closest battle companion.

“And I spent every moment of it missing you! I swear you're more stunning every time I see you!” Said Tormund. Maege had never been a dainty woman, but with every tryst Tormund had with her she was plumper than the last.

The couple embraced and kissed with their tongues wrestling in their mouths. After the kiss was done, Maege warged into Ursula and licked Tormund affectionately.

“You're a damned good skin changer for a Southron lady!” Tormund said as he petted Ursula.

“That's because I'm ain't no Southroner, and I'm a Lady in title only.” Maege said once she exited Ursula, Tormund stared at her breasts and belly as they pleasantly jiggled even under her gambeson.

“I don't care where you're from, you've got the best tits on any human woman I've seen on either side of the Wall!” Tormund said as they started heading for the Mormont keep.

“How do these cubs compare to the ones on the giantesses you've fucked?” Maege asked laughingly.

“Been a while since I've seen either!” Tormund said.

“Don't worry, you'll get a refresher. Can't help you with any giantess teats, I'm afraid.” Maege said and laughed again.

“I don't much like sailing, but I do love it when I see mermaids. Mermaid titties aren't as big as yours or a giantess, but they're so beautiful! Only problem with mermaids is they got no ass or pussy!” Tormund said.

“Well you'll be getting all three tonight!” Maege said and winked.

The pair eventually reached the Mormont Keep, the walls were wooden and the gate was carved with the relief of a nude woman riding a bear, she was breastfeeding a baby and wielding an ax. The smell of pine smoke billowed from the keep's chimneys.

“Alright enter through the secret tunnel, I'll enter through the main entrance.” Maege said. Tormund's first stay on Bear Island was a long and leisurely one, but they knew future stays would by necessity be quick and covert so Maege had a secret tunnel built leading directly to her bedchamber. Tormund scurried through the tunnel and reached her bedchamber.

“Playing hide and seek?” Tormund asked when he noticed she wasn't in there.

“Nah, I'm just getting ready. You'll be thankful when you see me!” Maege answered.

“It's fine, I've waited years. What's a few more minutes?” Tormund jested. Maege's bedchamber was the most luxurious place Tormund had ever seen before Winterfell. Beeswax candles illuminated the room and perfumed the air, which paired nicely with the aroma of the logs burning in the fireplace. The Wall was hung with trophies taken from less fortunate raiders of Bear Island. Some were clearly from Free brigands, while others were from the Iron Islands or far off Essos.

Tormund took off his clothes and laid on her bed and waited, it was the biggest and softest bed he had been on. The bed was covered with several layers of quilts and topped with a bearskin rug. The anticipation got him hard as a walrus's tusk.

“Here I come!” Maege cooed. She burst open the door, she had on a suit made out of an almost intact she bear pelt, with antler buttons down the middle holding it together. The bear's head acted as a hood and her legs and limbs were half bare, the rest of her body was covered in fur.

“This was definitely worth the wait!” Tormund said excitedly.

“Get your ass up!” Maege yelled and pointed to the floor.

Without saying a word Tormund stood up. Maege grabbed him by the shoulder with one hand and cock with the other and threw him back into the bed.

“My you get stronger every time we meet!”

“Grrrrrrr!” Maege roared as she pounced on top of him and started scratching his back and biting all over him. Each bite and scratch felt more heavenly than the last. Tormund started to struggle, knowing damn well she would only overpower him more intensely.

“I know how much you love your mammoth and giantess milk, but have you ever drank bear's milk before?” Maege asked in a sultry tone.

“Never! Always wanted to try it!” Tormund said excitedly. Maege sat up and unbuttoned the upper part of the bear skin and pulled out her tits. They were glorious things, larger than her head, and she had a big head. The nipples were smooth and creamy with big pink tips, and the areolas covered a substantial surface. She picked up her tits and used them to slap Tormund around. Once he was good and slapped she buried his face in her tits, then resumed growling. Being engulfed in Maege's tits was pure ecstasy for Tormund, who only freed himself when he needed fresh oxygen.

“Now suck!” Maege said as she shoved a nipple into his mouth. He eagerly sucked for a few minutes, when she got bored she pulled out her nipple and inserted the other one. Finally she removed the second one and stood up.

“What's next?” Tormund asked.

“The good part!” Maege said as she slowly unbuttoned the rest of the bear skin, revealing her bare flesh inch by inch. Soon her whole belly was out, it was fluffy and sizable, covered in stretch marks which Tormund adored. Then her bush was exposed, it was wild and untamed. When she reached the bottom button she dropped the pelt to the ground and was stark naked. Though she was rather chunky, her limps were still thickly muscled, as any warrior's should be.

“Turn around, then have a seat!” Tormund said as he thumped his chest.

Maege complied, and Tormund marveled at her massive ass. Each cheek was much bigger than most people's whole ass; the base was well developed muscle and the rest was pure fat, giving it a shapely form that was soft to the touch. She turned sideways and sat down on Tormund, one cheek on his chest, the other on his stomach. Her hips swayed side to causing all her flesh to jiggle. With one hand she started to stroke Tormund's cock, while the other scratched his neck and shoulders.

“I'm ready when you are!” Tormund said eagerly.

Maege got up, straddled her knees beside Tormund's hips, then eased his cock into her cunt. Tormund grabbed onto her tits and she started bouncing up and down, harder and harder.

“Ah fuck yes! Grrrrrrrr!” Maege roared.

“I've always loved screamers, but a growler is really something!” Tormund said. Soon Maeged eased herself over Tormund, so that he was totally covered in her. He continued thrusting as she bit his shoulder and scratched his sides.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

Tormund woke up. For a moment he thought he was still in Maege's bedchamber, but soon he realized he was back in his tent. The sun was almost up.

Gods I wish that dream lasted a bit longer, at least I'll be fucking the Big Woman soon. Good thing that bell went off before I needed to change me pants! Time to suit up for the battle.

 

Chapter Text

For the past several months Sigorn and his people lived in Karhold, in coexistence with House Karstark. Sigorn was betrothed to the heiress, Alys Karstark. The Thenns were a prideful people, insisting themselves to be the last of the true First Men. All others were beneath them, they considered other Free tribes to be nothing more than savages fit for livestock. It was the middle of the night, and the only light was from fires and the moon's full glow.

Karhold was a castle smaller than the ones on the Wall, but still larger then any Freefolk structure. The castle was built in the mountains; the main garrison on the greater portion with a separate tower built over a ravine, connected by a rope and plank bridge. Most of the Karstark men were at Winterfell, the Thenns were ordered to stay at Karhold to avoid trouble with other Free tribes.

“The kennel master came out good, his dogs aren't bad either. Here! Have some ribs!” A Thenn warrior said and handed Sigorn a few freshly roasted man ribs. Like all Thenns, Sigorn and the warrior wore armor of bronze discs or scales sewn together with leather thongs. Thenn Valley was rich in ore deposits, so they produced bronze armaments. All other Freefolk relied on flint weapons and hide armor, or whatever they could salvage from dead Crows and Southron raid victims.

Gods I just hope this won't alienate my soon to be in-laws.

There had been a dispute with Karhold's kennel master over a game of dice, it ended with him getting stabbed and all of his dogs euthanized. In truth the Thenn's missed the taste of human flesh and were starving for a chance to have some.

“Fuck this is good!” Sigorn said as he ate the charred rib meat. “What was put on this? Tastes like sage.” They spoke in the Old Tongue; most Thenns spoke little if any of the Common Tongue, unlike the other Freefolk. Speaking the Old Tongue was part of why they deemed themselves the only ones worthy of being called the First Men.

“No idea, whatever we could find in the pantries. The cooks didn't care to tell us what anything was, they seemed disgusted.” The warrior said and shrugged.

“Of course they were! All the other Freefolk save for the Ice River Clans fucking hate us for eating them, no wonder these Southron twats can't stomach it.” Sigorn said and laughed.

Buroooooo! Buroooooo! The Thenn and Karstark war horns sounded.

“The Dead are here! They have giants!”

Good, its been far too long since we've had a good fight!

Sigorn and all the warriors drew their weapons and looked over the castle walls. Five wight giants lumbered towards Karhold. Scads of wights clung onto their furs like lice, it seemed the giants were being used to carry them over the walls.

“Archers and javelin throwers! Aim for the ones in the front!” Sigorn ordered his men.

A volley of missiles pelted the two giants in front, causing many of the wights to fall off, but they continued their progression.

“Fire again!” Sigorn ordered.

The second volley managed to hit the giants and they seemed to be wounded. Sigorn ordered a third volley and the two giants in front were downed.

“What the fuck are the others doing?” A Karstark man-at-arms asked as two of the remaining giants appeared to pick up the remains of one of the fallen ones.

“Fall back!” Sigron ordered as it became clear the giants were about to toss a fallen one at the castle.

Kasplatt!

The remains of the giant crashed into the castle walls, causing a breach and enabling the still moving wights to walk off and attack.

“Charge!” Sigorn orderd the infantry once the giant's body had landed. The wights were finished quickly, but Sigorn knew it was too soon to rejoice.

“Fuck! One of them is carrying a Walker on his back!” A Thenn warrior said and pointed over with his spear. The Walker wore a helm plumed with black, brittle feathers, and wielded a massive ax that appeared to made of solid ice.

“All archers on the giant carrying the Walker!” Sigorn ordered. A volley was sent out, but the giant picked the Walker off his back and through him over the Castle's walls.

“Everyone attack!” Sigorn ordered.

The Walker snapped its fingers and all the weapons of the nearest warriors poofed into dust. They tried to run towards replacements but the were killed with one fell swoop of the Walker's ax. Then the Walker raised his arms and all of the casualties were revived as wights, and they started to assault the living.

“Aaaaaarrrrrgh!” Dozens of voices screamed out in blood curdling agony as wights tore them to shreds and devoured them alive.

Sigorn slashed his way through a field of wights. Once there were no longer any wights in his way he charged towards the Walker, but once again the Walker snapped his fingers and Sigorn's sword and back up dagger with disintegrated. The Walker grabbed Sigorn, ripped off his armor like it was a maple leaf, then slashed out Sigorn's intestines with his icy claws. Then the intestines were wrapped all around him, and Sigorn took comfort in being convinced the pain would soon be over. But the Walker rubbed his free hand over Sigorn's face and a wave of frigid cramps rippled through Sigorn's body. Sigorn looked down and his skin was turning blue like a glacier.

 

 

Chapter Text

At cock-crow Daenerys and Jon awoke and suited up for the coming battle. Jon wore a dark silver surcoat emblazoned with his white wolf sigil over his armor. Daenerys had less obvious choices. She wanted to give the impression of a warrior queen; but she had only commissioned a suit of armor the day before, and it likely wouldn't be ready for a few days.

Hopefully the Reeds will have my armor ready in time for the next battle.

Ultimately she settled for settled for the woven Dothraki leather vest, leggings, and skirt. Underneath she wore long wool underwear she found in a wardrobe; the Northern winter meant it was far too cold to bare-limbed.

“Is doing your hair really necessary?” Jon asked as Missandei finished brushing it.

“Yes, quite necessary!” Daenerys said without skipping a beat.

“As you wish, I'm going outside to go rally everyone who volunteered. Before the ascension we'll have to get things in order for after the battle. Everything must be mapped out.” Jon said.

“Sounds good, see you soon, love.” Daenerys said.

“Still going with a Khal braid?” Missandei asked.

“Of course! Be sure to include the bells!” Daenerys responded.

“Good, your braids have been getting out of hand in the past year or so. I think you need to stop winning victories!” Missandei said and they both giggled.

“Hahahahaha! Maybe today I'll lose just so I can cut off my hair and make your job easier!” Said Daenerys.

“Then what use would you have for me? Not many people in Westeros who speak a language you don't!” Said Missandei and they laughed some more.

“You're my best friend! You've been my counselor and confidant for years, I couldn't live without you. Gods I'll even create a position on the Small Council just so you can stick around! It can be for whatever you want!” Daenerys said.

“Thank you, that means a lot to me. I'll think about what the position would be, it must be something not covered already.” Missandei said.

“When you meet with Arya today, ask her to take you to the Godswood. I think you would love it there. So many massive trees and adorable creatures, its breathtaking.”

“I will! I've always wanted to visit a Godswood, but I didn't know if I'd be welcomed if I entered on my own. Alright all done! Time for the warpaint!” Missandei said as she finished the braid. Next she grabbed a canister of warpaint, dipped her fingers in it, then gave Daenerys four blue lines on each shoulder. Finally Missandei dabbed the entire palm of her hand in the paint and imprinted it on Daenerys's face, leaving her entire mouth blue along most of her cheeks.

“Alright, this is it. Time to say goodbye, hopefully for now.” Daenerys said as she stood up to embrace Missandei. They kissed each other on the cheeks and briefly on closed lips.

“Goodbye, this never gets any easier!” Missandei said tearfully.

“And goodbye to you!” Daenerys said as she wiped away Missandei tears with a handkerchief. “Your lips are blue now!” She chuckled.

“Something to remember you by, if you don't come back. I won't wipe it off unless you do.” Missandei said.

They hugged once and said their farewells once more, then Daenerys walked outside. The Queensguard greeted her outside, they were clad in their full armaments.

Their great helms will look amazing once those crests I ordered are added, with a fully decked out guard I'll be a formidable queen.

“Good morning, Your Grace. You look like a proper Khaleesi, ready to lead her khalasar to victory. Are you ready for today?” Jorah asked after lifting his helm visor.

“Not quite, I need to speak with Arya.” Daenerys replied and pointed to Arya, who was eagerly waiting down the stairs.

“Of course!” Jorah said and lowered his visor back down.

“I wish I could come with you! But Jon won't let me!” Arya said as Daenerys approached her.

“I'm sure he will on a future outing, its fine because I have a task for you.” Daenerys said.

“What?” Arya asked, her face lit up.

“Deliver this to the forge!” Daenerys said and handed Arya a letter sealed with her house sigil.

“My friend is the head journeyman!” Arya said as she grabbed the letter.

“I'm sure he'll be thrilled with the contents of that letter, but even more so to see you. Speaking of friends, I told Missandei you would be happy to get to know her. Maybe you could have lunch together; just remember that she doesn't eat meat.” Daenerys said.

“I'd love to! I'll take her to the kitchen so she can pick out some nuts and berries or whatever it is she does eat.” Arya said.

“Excellent, she loves those things. She likes pulses and cheese as well. Alright I need to head over to Jon, care to join me?” Daenerys asked.

“Of course!” Arya said, she smiled brightly and the two linked elbows.

Jon was a few yards down, taking with his companions. Tormund wore a black chain mail shirt with a fur mantle, a simple iron helmet with a nose guard, and golden forearm bands. Kulungu wore lizard lion armor, over it was a black surcoat with a gold crowned stag rampant.

“Also,” Daenerys said to Arya, “tell Brienne I wish to begin sword lessons tomorrow. I really should have learned years ago, but better late than never!”

“Yes! Brienne is a wonderful teacher, I'm sure she'll love to train you!” Arya said giddily, she was smiling even more than before. The two hugged and Arya went over to say goodbye to Jon. Jon picked her up and kissed her goodbye. He put her down and told her not to be upset she could not come with them. Bran was was nearby, staring blankly.

“Take Daenerys to the crypts tonight if you both come back.” Bran said to Jon.

“You mean 'when' we come back?” Jon asked.

“No, I mean if. You know there is a high risk one of you might die, or both. No need to pretend otherwise. I'll be watching over you all.” Bran answered.

I suppose it would be good to see the crypts, I always liked visiting cemeteries and mausoleums. Wonder what he means by watching us? I guess the Greenseers really can see a lot.

“Goodbye, Bran.” Jon said.

“Goodbye.” Daenerys echoed.

“You needn't worry about me, I can visit either of you whenever I wish, whether you survive or not.” Bran said.

“Everyone follow me and Dany! Time to get on the dragons and hunt some wights!” Jon said and led the party out of the Winterfell gates.

 

Chapter Text

The last of the Queensguard crests were finished the night before, and now Tobho and Gendry gave their full attention to Tyrion's improved design for Jaime's hand. So far a hinge was added to the fingers, and Gendry was looking for some fitting springs and gears when he heard a rap on the workshop door.

“Go get that!” Tobho said, point to the door with his forceps.

“On it.” Gendry said as he put down the parts he found on the tool bench. He opened the door and it was a familiar face: Arya.

“Gendry!” She said jovialy and spread out her arms for a hug. Gendry gave her a firm hug and when he freed his hands he looked into her gray doe eyes. He hadn't seen her in years, but she still had the round baby face and impish smirk. Yet there was something different about her, she seemed more cold, more disturbed perhaps.

First time I've ever seen her in a dress! I thought she hated dresses. Haven't seen her with braid either, and are those silver bells? She's more of a lady it seems.

“I've missed you so much! So what all have you been up to since you left the Brotherhood?” Gendry asked.

“Here and there, not really relevant right now. I can tell you later maybe.” Arya said dismissively. “I heard you went north of the Wall!”

“I did, Jon selected me himself. Not sure why, to be honest. I was surrounded by so many legendary warriors, felt kind of like an oddball.” Gendry replied.

“Nothing new then! Haha! Is that the Black Goat?” Arya said as she pointed to Tobho's makeshift shrine to his city's patron god. The Black Goat had the head and lower half of a goat, the rest was human. At the feet of the onyx idol was some dried chicken blood.

“Yes, how did you know?” Gendry asked.

“It's goat, right? And its black? No seriously, I saw it in Braavos. The House of Black and White has a statue of him, Qohori come to worship him.” Arya responded.

What was she doing in Braavos? Decided to try her hand at banking or being a mummer?

“And I thought I was the one who did all the traveling.” Gendry said.

“I'd love to visit beyond the Wall, always heard it was a good place for girls like me. Chaps like you too, I suppose.” Arya said.

“You mean bastards? Yes the Wildlings seem quite good to Jon, they don't care who his parents were.” Gendry said.

“Did you know one of your brothers is here?” Arya asked.

“I'm sure I have brothers and sisters everywhere.” Gendry said and laughed.

“His name's Kulungu, his mom is a Summer Islander apparently. He's not here right now, he went with Jon and Daenerys to go fight the Army of the Dead. If he isn't killed he'll be back later on today. Next time I see him I'll tell him to come here.” Arya said.

“What's that letter in your hand?” Gendry asked.

“Almost forgot, its for you! From Queen Daenerys herself!” Arya responded then handed him the letter, it was sealed with a Targaryen sigil.

 

Dear Tobho Mott,

 

Thank you for coming with my procession and I to Winterfell, and for providing my Queensguard with such fine embellishments for their armor. As a thank you I would like to commission two more jobs for you:

Two arming swords, one with a weirwood handle and wolf head pommel, and another with a dragon bone (if you have any) handle and dragon head pommel. Now here's the rub: I would like them made with Valyrian steel. Don't be alarmed, Bran Stark can apparently see into the past, so seek him out and ask him to view the creation of Valryian steel. Write down whatever he says.

If you succeed then I will you and your guild proprietary rights to the knowledge of Valyrian steel; no other craftsman may learn it unless you teach them at your discretion. Should I win the Iron Throne I will have many new bannermen, and their houses will need proper ancestral weapons.

 

Yours truly,

Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name

 

P.S. This project is to be kept secret until the time is right to unveil the finished products

 

“What is it?” Arya asked.

“A thank you note.” Gendry said then handed it to Tobho. The master took off his goggles and put on his reading spectacles.

“Aww, that's nice. I need to go now, Daenerys wants me to show her friend around. See you soon, Gendry!” Arya said. The two hugged and Arya left.

“My, my. This is remarkable!” Tobho said about the commission.

“You were right about taking that helm commission! Now she wants us to forge the first new Valyrian steel weapons in centuries, maybe even millennia.” Gendry said.

“First new Valyrian steel, but there have been new weapons produced using already existing steel. Lord Tywin commissioned me to make two of them, both swords salvaged from the Starks' ancestral weapon. There is an important difference. Anyone can make something out of dragon bone for instance, but for new dragon bones to be created it needs new dragons. Something which everyone thought was over until Daenerys rode onto the scene.” Tobho said.

“Yes, of course.” Gendry said, mildly annoyed.

“Go find this Bran, and ask him to 'see into the past.' Once Jaime's hand is completed we can shift our focus to these new swords.” Tobho said.

“Yes, master!” Gendry said and nodded. He walked out of the forge and combed the courtyard until he found Bran. The Stark was sitting under a tree, watching as kids made snowmen and threw snowballs at each other.

“You must be Robert's bastard, you look just like him.” Bran said.

Something about him seems off.

“Aye, that I am.” Gendry said.

“Is that why you have come to see me? Do you wish to find out who your mother was?” Bran asked nonchalantly.

“No need for that, I know she was a barmaid. Actually, I've come to ask you about Valryian steel.” Gendry replied.

“What do you want to know about Valyrian steel?” Bran asked.

“I was told you could discover how to actually produce it, that you could go back in time and witness as it is forged.” Gendry said.

“Certainly. You've found me at a good time, I will be busy later. Alright, I will go and see how it was done. I'll tell you everything you need to know. Goodbye now.” Bran said.

Bran's eyes frosted over until they were white as milk. He looked even more calm than he did earlier even though his head swayed to and fro. This state lasted for quite some time, Gendry got so bored he started to build a small snow man to kill the time.

“I'm back.” Bran said.

“And? What's the process?” Gendry asked eagerly.

“Quite simple, really. Start out with charcoal and ingots of iron, same as any other steel except it must be done with Braavosi iron. Then you place them and some dragon glass in a crucible embossed with Old Valyrian incantations. A blood sacrifice is performed over the crucible, any livestock will serve the task. Finally a dragon is needed to breathe fire onto the crucible, then you can begin to work with the material. Once the blade is forged it must slaughter another creature, while saying the spells that appear on the crucible. If you bring me something to write on I can transcribe the spells for you.” Bran said.

“Thank you, this is major. My master is a Qohorik and he knows quite a bit of sorcery and alchemy, he'll be able to do everything in the process. Thanks again!” Gendry said.

“You're welcome. I've got to leave again, there are some people I need to watch over.” Bran said, then his eyes turned white again.

 

Chapter Text

Dragon riding was still quite novel to Jon, and carrying seven other passengers made it much more stressful. Even worse, he was leading the expedition since Daenerys had no idea where Karhold or the Dreadfort were located. Jon was accustomed to leading men on the field, but in the air was something he would have never dreamed he would do. They were above the clouds, sporadically dipping below them to check for signs of Dead activity.

“Hey Jon, remember the story I told you about Sheila?” Tormund asked, he was seated right behind Jon.

“That she-bear you fucked? Of course I do, it was the first story you ever told me!” Jon said and laughed.

“Good, I hate telling forgettable stories. Well, I have something to tell you. Sheila wasn't a bear.” Tormund said.

“She wasn't? That's astonishing!” Jon said sarcastically.

“And her name wasn't Sheila either!” Tormund said.

“What was her name then?” Jon asked.

“Maege Mormont!” Tormund said.

Jeor's sister? How is that even possible?

“The sister of Lord Commander Mormont? You fucked Lady Maege Mormont?” Lord Glover asked, he seemed dumbfounded.

“Unless there's another Maege Mormont! Bahahaha!” Tormund said.

“Then why were you so hesitant to go beyond the Wall with Jorah? Seems odd you'd fuck Jeor's sister, but not want to associate with his son!” Jon said.

“Because I knew Maege; I didn't know Jorah. All I knew was that he was the son of the man who went to war with my people. Maege showed mercy to me when I raided Bear Island, nursed me right back to health. Then really nursed me. Gods I miss those tits.” Tormund said.

“Why did you say you fucked a bear?”Jon asked.

“Because I wanted to keep Maege safe. If word got out she had a years long romance with the most notorious Freefolk brigand she could have been fucked. Lyanna's our daughter, by the way. She was conceived on my last visit to Bear Island. I could barely walk right after how hard Maege rode me!” Tormund said and laughed vociferously.

Lyanna is his daughter? I knew she and her sisters were legitimized bastards, but I never gave any thought as to who the father might be.

“Maege was always extremely tight lipped about who fathered her daughters. Refused to answer whenever asked. I just assumed it was one of her warriors.” Lord Glover said.

“Oh she was tight lipped alright! Hahahaha! Let that be a lesson to you, Jon. Sometimes we have to lie to protect those we love. The truth can be dangerous, deadly even.” Tormund said in an uncharacteristically sober tone.

“My mother never told me who my father was, but I never asked. I had no idea he was Robert until she sent me off to the Neck to protect me from Cersei!” Kulungu said, he was seated behind Lord Glover and was almost shouting so Jon could hear his voice.

“Why did she send you to live with the bog devils?” Lord Glover asked.

“Ned suggested it. He visited with her when he was investigating Robert's bastards. When things started getting shaky in King's Landing, he stopped by again and advised her to send me off to the Neck if Robert died. I believe he also wrote Howland about me, there's no way she managed to make contact with Howland by herself.” Kulungu said.

“Did you meet my father?” Jon asked.

“I never had the pleasure. I did see him once, at the Tourney of the Hand. I served as the squire for Jalabhar Xho, he's an exiled prince from the Summer Isles. I did meet Arya briefly, she liked our feather cloaks. Sansa and her friend seemed afraid. Before I left for the crannogs, my liege gave me his sword. I took the liberty of replacing the teak handle with antler.” Kulungu said.

“I'm glad my Father saved your life, and I'm glad you can-”

“What the fuck is that hideous cunt of a bird?!” The Hound yelled.

Screeeeeeeeeeee! Screeeeeeeeeee! An airborne monstrosity wailed. The creature appeared to be a giant bird with the head to breasts of a woman. Both human and avian portions appeared to be wight and its eyes glowed icy blue. Its feathers would streaked in grime and its hair was dry and stringy.

“Looks like a harpy, Daenerys should be familiar with them!” Said Beric.

“Dracarys!” Jon yelled, hoping Rhaegal's fire would at least scare the harpy away. Rhaegal let out a barrage of fire, but the harpy seemed unphased. The Harpy latched onto Rhaegal's left wing with its talons, and Rhaegal vigorously tried to fling the harpy off. Rhaegal managed to get the harpy off, only for it to claw back on.

“Hold onto me, Hound!” Kulungu said.

What is he doing?

“I won't let go! You can fucking count on that!” The Hound said.

Thunk! An arrow penetrated the harpy's shoulder. Thunk! A second arrow pierced through the harpy's eye as it attempted to pull the first arrow out with its jaws. The arrowhead and a few inches of the shaft were sticking out the back of the harpy's skull. The harpy's body turned limp soon after the second shot and it let go of Rhaegal and fell off, vanishing into the clouds.

“Wooooo! I've never seen anything like that! Kulungu is the greatest archer I've ever seen!” Tormund yelled enthusiastically.

Jon nudged Rhaegal to go below the clouds, and soon the Dreadfort was visible. As they got closer it was clear that swarms of the Dead were bombarding the infamous castle.

 

Chapter Text

The Ironborn and Manderly knights at long last reached Winter Town. They all rode on horseback, when the Manderly trireme reached the ends of the White Knife River they anchored it and disembarked. Theon was impressed at the sight of a ship with a full stable, not even the largest ships in the Iron Fleet had such a thing. Few Ironborn even knew how to ride anyway. Theon shivered under his wool coats, his jaw clattered.

“Gods I hope the Starks can find it in their hearts to forgive me. If not I can't say that I blame them, they'll certainly be more forgiving of me than I am.

Being on a ship, especially any sort of galley, often made Theon feel unworthy. Yara had spent her life at sea, Theon wondered what the furthest she had ever been from a port was. By contrast Theon spent most of life in the deep inland of the North. Even though he had briefly been a ship captain he still felt unease with the sea. Theon knew the only reason he was even made a captain was because he was Balon's son, he didn't earn the position.

Without a beard he only had a hat and scarf to keep his face warm.

“Thank you for escorting us, it's made things much simpler. Without you and your ilk, I reckon locals would string us up if they figured out we were Ironborn.” Theon said.

“It has been my pleasure. My House wholeheartedly supports Daenerys' claim to the Iron Throne; we are happy to help anyone who too supports her claim.” Ser Marlon said.

“I'm not here to bend the knee to her, I'm here to right my past wrongs. My sister has already declared her support, and I defer to her judgement.” Theon said.

“We're here to defeat the Dead, now is not the time for feeble politics. There will be plenty of time for that if we defeat the Dead.” Dagmer said grimly.

“An even more noble intention, but freeing your sister and Ellaria Sand will do more for Daenerys' cause than anything else shy of divine intervention.” Marlon said.

“I especially hope Dorne sides with her. My mother's house is Dornish, after all.” Said Ser Marcel. He had spent most of his life in the North, but his swarthy complexion betrayed his Salty Dornish heritage. His shield and surcoat quartered the Manderly arms with his mother's House, Borja; a blue tiger rampant on gold. Marcel's helmet was similar to all other Manderly knights, except it was crested with a tiger instead of a nautical motif.

Winter Town looked the same as it always had. Every roof was capped with snow and many had long, spiraling icicles. There was a crew of men keeping the streets shoveled, all of the snow was scooped into massive black piles on the sides of the road. A small boy and girl were tasked with sowing finely ground salt onto the road to prevent further freezing, a task they both seemed to relish. When they reached the Winterfell gate they were greeted by two Stark guards with crossed halberds.

“Halt! Who goes there?” One of them asked.

“Who does it look like?” Marlon said as he raised Maelstrom. “I am Ser Marlon Manderly, these are my House members and associates. We are here to see Jon and Daenerys.”

“A thousands pardons, ser knight. Unfortunately both of them are away on an errand. I suppose you will all be welcome in to wait until they return. Open the gate!” The guard said.

Last time Theon had been in Winterfell the banners of the Flayed Man flew everywhere, now the Dire Wolf flew in their place. Everything was far more crowded now, the courtyards and ramparts were bustling and tents were pitched on both sides of the walls.

“Alright, I am going to look for my cousin. He has probably already bent the knee. See you around, Theon.” Marlon said, then took off the with rest of the knights.

“Farewell, Ser Marlon.” Theon said.

Theon panned his surroundings for Sansa. Bran was sitting under a tree, he appeared to be sleeping despite having his eyes wide open. Theon gave up and approached a Stark guard. He was anxious and started sweating despite the cold.

What is up with Bran? It's alright, I suppose. I'm not ready to speak with him anyway.

“Excuse me, guard! Do you happen to know where Lady Sansa is?” Theon asked.

“Aye, let me take you to her quarters.” The guard replied.

Theon and the rest of the Ironborn the followed the guard through the courtyard. They went into the Great Keep, and Theon had several bitter memories resurface inside. He was reminded of the brief time he held Winterfell, which resulted in him executing Ser Rodrik Cassel in a humiliatingly botched manner, then pretending to have killed Bran and Rickon. Naturally this shifted to when he was brought back to Winterfell as Reek, catering to Ramsay's every twisted whim.

“Theon! You alright, nephew?” Dagmer asked as he nudged Theon.

“Now, I suppose. Sorry, I was just reminded of stuff I'd rather not speak of.” Theon answered.

“As you wish.” Dagmer said.

Finally they reached the top storey and the guard knocked on the master bedchamber.

“Who is it?” Sansa's muffled voice asked.

“Its me! Theon!”

“Just a moment!” Sansa replied. She opened the door after a few minutes. “Theon! I thought you were dead!” Sansa wore a scarlet robe of velvet with slippers and flannel pajama pants to match, it coordinated beautifully with her loose red hair. “Sorry I'm so under dressed, I wasn't expecting anyone today.” She said as they embraced.

“I've died a thousand times. I'm here come to protect Winterfell from the Dead, if you will have me.” Theon said.

“Of course I will! You're as much my brother as Jon is, Winterfell is your home!” Sansa said as she rubbed his back. Her comment reminded Theon of what Jon had told him about Ned, how Ned was Theon's father just he was Jon's.

“Where are Jon and Daenerys?” Theon asked.

“They're away at the Dread- never mind.” Sansa replied.

“At the Dreadfort? Gods I hoped I would never hear of that wretched castle again! Why in Seven Hells would they go to that accursed place?” Theon asked.

“Because Bran said he saw wights marching towards there. Bran can see things now, or acts like he does. I don't understand it, I wonder if he's delusional.” Sansa answered.

“Are you alright, something seems off with you?” Theon asked.

“No, I'm not. I had a waking terror yesterday. I was sleeping until you knocked on the door.” Sansa replied.

Fuck, not her too. Those are the worst.

“I still get those sometimes. When Euron attacked Yara's ship I jumped off, something set me off. I felt like I failed Yara, thankfully she forgave me.” Theon said.

“My friend Jane mentioned the Boltons, then I heard dogs barking and I passed out. Arya and the Hound made sure it didn't get too bad, both of them get terrors too. I had no idea Arya did, she never mentioned it before.” Sansa said.

“Yara took a long time to understand it, but now she seems to. So many people have them now, especially with all the war that's been going on. I'm glad Winterfell is back to the way it was growing up. It's good to be home!” Theon said.

“And its good to have you back.”

 

Chapter Text

 

The flight went surprisingly well, Jorah thought, until Rhaegal was attacked by what appeared to be a harpy. For years Jorah and Daenerys had seen images and sculptures of harpies in areas were Ghiscari culture was dominant, and they symbolized everything she opposed. Now they saw one in the flesh, and Jorah took it to be an ill omen.

“I hoped to never see a wretched bird woman again!” Jorah said.

“As did I. It seems the Night King is a more powerful sorcerer than we could have imagined.” Daenerys said.

“So uncanny to see a symbol of my home twisted like that.” Said Grazhar.

All my life I had scoffed at the notion the Walkers were still around. Part of why I didn't want to Take the Black for my crimes was because I thought the Watch was useless.

Rhaegal dipped below the clouds and Daenerys told Drogon to follow suit. When they got lower they could see the Dreadfort, under siege from the Dead.

“I always thought that slavery was a fate worse than death, but surely becoming a wight is worse than being a slave. They are both dead and slaves.” Said Tumco Lho.

“Ser Barristan told us anything that moves can be killed, if we find the weak spots. I'm sure that applies to, whatever the Dead are.” Said Red Lamb.

“Which is precisely why we need to take out the Walkers. Jon and Tormund were almost overrun by the Dead, but Jon managed to kill a Walker and all of the wights died with it. So I'm going to have the dragon clear a path to the Walkers.” Daenerys said.

Daenerys ordered Drogon to fly faster and soon he was flying by Rhaegal's side. “Follow my lead!” She yelled to Jon. At the Dreadfort a confederacy of Wildings and House Mazin were seen performing a counter-siege, they were repelling the Dead that neared the Wall with vats of boiling oil from murder holes and volleys of lit arrows. Giant wights escorted human ones clinging on their furs; once the giants were close enough the wights would come off on the ramparts and fight the defenders. A mammoth rammed its head into the main gate, Jorah doubted the gate had much time left.

Gods as if this castle wasn't cursed enough!

“Dracarys!!!!!” Daenerys yelled once Drogon neared the giants. Rhaegal flew in the opposite direction, both dragons flew around the castle and set every assailant in their path ablaze. The giants went down like towering infernos, crushing any wights next to them and incinerating all in the vicinity. The mammoth burned especially easily, its matted fur caught afire and its trunk trumpeted out a wheezing call of what sounded like agony.

“Alright, I'm going to signal to Jon it's time for us to land. When we do all of you need to disembark. Fight whatever is right in front if you, Jon and I will take care of more distant threats.” Daenerys said.

Drogon landed a safe distance from the Army and all of the Queensguard got off and put their great helm visors down. This was their first battle with their new helm crests, and Jorah found them to be a welcome improvement. Each crest was the same thing as the wearer's sigil; so Jorah had a roaring bear, Red Lamb had a lamb carrying a crook, Belwas had a trumpeting elephant, Larraq had a scorpion, Tumco had a basilisk, and Grazhar had a sensual nymph.

Hard to believe a few years ago these six were nothing but two slaves, a gladiator, a shepherd, and a Wise Masters' son. Now they were proper Knights of the Seven Kingdoms, and certainly look the part. Selmy would be so proud to see them.

“Its been too long since we've had a good fight!” Said Larraq as he cracked his bullwhip.

“When we get back, I'm eating every onion and liver in Winterfell!” Said Belwas.

“Just don't let them cut you!” Jorah said to Belwas.

“Jon and his men are off now!” Red Lamb said.

The two parties walked up to each other and merged as one. Both dragons and their riders returned to the sky.

“Everyone draw your swords!” Said the red priest, Beric Dondarion. “Anyone without a Valyrian or dragonglass weapon, stick it out, I'm going to light it.”

“Fuck no you ain't! No way in seven wet shit drenched hells am I fighting with a burning sword!” The Hound said forcefully.

“That's fine, fire is scary! Here, we can switch!” Tormund said, and swapped his dragonglass morning star for the Hound's long sword.

“Perhaps you ain't a blowhard cunt after all!” The Hound said.

Beric said a phrase in Valyrian with his golden voice, which lit his sword and every other weapon that needed it. The only ones to wield Valyrian blades were Jorah, Jon, Kulungu, and Lord Glover, who wielded his ancestral weapon Pugilist. Pugilist was an ax with a sentinel pine handle carved with knot work that had a pommel carved like a clenched fist.

“Everyone listen up!” Jon said once all the swords were ablaze. “We may have arrived here as two, but we must fight as one! The only way we have a chance of making it back to Winterfell is if we stay together! Daenerys and Rhaegal are going to burn away most of the wights, and we are going to hack our way to get to the Walkers! When we reach the Walkers let me and everyone with a Valyrian or dragonglass blade up front, the rest can keep the wights off our asses! Each Walker should be easier to kill then the last! To waaaaar!”

Everyone put their helm visors down and charged in unison towards the wights. Belwas was at the very front, when they reached the wights he hacked through several of them with one fell swoop of his arakh. When Belwas got bored of slashing through them he would either crush them with his shield or send them flying with a kick from his sabaton clad feet. Larraq ensnared wights with his bullwhip, then he would stab them with his blazing trident. Red Lamb, Tumco, and Grazhar fought in close tandem, putting all of Barristan's lesson to application. Kulungu shot several of them with his goldenwood bow; after he got closer he put away his bow and fought with his antler handled scimitar.

“What the fuck is that abomination?” The Hound said as another chimera appeared. It was over seven feet tall and had the head and legs of a bull.

“The Night King swapped his head and legs for an aurochs!” Tormund said.

I didn't even know their were still living aurochs anywhere, even beyond the wall.

The aurochs man snorted and started to charge like a normal bull. Everyone dodged out of the way and Larraq managed to capture hold of its hoof with his whip. Once the aurochs man was on the ground, the Hound crushed in its skull with his new morning star.

“We got your back!” Yelled the Mazins and Freefolk from the ramparts, thought it was barely audible. Their archers' volleys provided a welcome supplement to defense.

Heartsbane was a breath of fresh air for Jorah. After decades of wielding mundane steel blades he was reminded of how powerful Valyrian ones were. Lighter, sharper, and made the wielder feel more powerful, almost as if he were a knight from the Age of Heroes. Longclaw had been Jorah's closest war comrade through Robert's Rebellion and the Greyjoy one; but when he brought disgrace to his house he felt he had no choice but to return it, lest it be lost to his House alongside him. Jon had offered to return Longclaw, but Jorah refused for he did not want to violate his late father's wishes.

“Fucking Thenns! Look! No hair, scars everywhere, bronze armor! These man eating cunts are an even bigger pain in our ass than they were alive!” Tormund said as he sliced the legs off a wight, then beheaded it as it crawled towards him.

I did find it most queer that so many of these wights all looked the same, and mostly the ones who appear to be freshly changed.

“Blame me, I shouldn't have allowed them to settle down here! I thought since they had actual laws and lords they'd acclimate quickly.” Jon said he run through multiple wights with Longclaw, creating a wight shishkebab then slashing the blade free.

“We all fuck up sometimes, and have to pay the piper sooner or later. At least you have the balls to own the fuck up to yours!” Lord Glover said as he blocked a Thenn wight's blow with his shield then stabbed it through the mouth.

Another aurochs man appeared, and this one to charged horns first. Belwas stood his ground and blocked the aurochs man, his shield was lodged between its horns. He twisted his arm sideways then he lopped the head clean off. A few flails with his shield arm and the head went flying before it landed and impaled two wights.

“Look! The Walkers are drawing near!” Said Beric. There were two Walkers visible; one had wore ornate armor and had a plumed helm, the other appeared to be a Thenn. Both looked furious at the sight of the living hacking through their forces.

 

Chapter Text

The Godswood was one of the most breathtaking places Missandei had ever visited. Not since she was back home in Naath had she seen such green splendor. Being reminded of Naath was a bittersweet potion to swallow; she missed home, but knew she would never return.

Maybe I've been too quick to judge the North. I'll have to visit again during a summer, if I live to see the next one.

“You're going to love this place!” Arya said eagerly. She was leading Missandei with linked elbows and had a picnic basket in her other hand. Missandei found Arya to be a most pleasant hostess; Arya was friendly and had a childlike sense of wonder despite her grim demeanor.

The building they arrived at was a sizable building located between the North Gate and the Godswood. Almost all of Winterfell's buildings were made of stone or woods such as oak, pines, or ironwood, but this one was made of glass in alternating green and yellow panes with iron lace between them. Myrish glass from the look of it, or a damned good imitation.

“What is this place? Some kind of pleasure room?” Missandei asked.

“See for yourself!” Arya said as she opened the door. Inside it was a lush garden, growing fruits and vegetables, as well as flowers.

“This is remarkable, a little hot though!” Missandei said as she wiped away sweat from her brow with a handkerchief.

“I'm never fully dressed in here.” Arya said as she started to strip down. Before long both were down to their chemises and Missandei felt much more comfortable, the humid climate reminded her of Naath and much of Essos.

“Where are we going to eat?” Missandei asked.

“We'll eat over by the vegetables, there's some beehives between the fruits and flowers and they can be defensive with food present.” Arya replied. They walked down a cobblestone path and Missandei scanned the vegetables being grown.

So this is how they are able to have fresh foods even in winter.

Eventually they reached a stone bench with a table so Arya sat the basket down and started unloading. “Mammoth cheese, rye bread, pickles, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and vinegar pie for dessert!” Arya said as she laid the spread on the table.

“Mammoth cheese?” Missandei asked dumbfounded.

“Daenerys said you like cheese, so I figured I'd get you the best kind.” Arya said proudly.

“That's so sweet of you, but I thought mammoths were extinct.” Missandei said as they started making cheese, pumpkin seed, and pickle sandwiches. The cheese was soft and had peppercorns and dill weed mixed in it, which paired very well with the pickles.

“They are within the Seven Kingdoms, but they still live beyond the Wall. Some live in wild herds, others are raised by the Freefolk and giants. Sometimes Wandering Crows sell various rarities to help raise funds for the Watch, frozen mammoth milk is one such item. One of the tribes that raises mammoths is camping not far from Winterfell, they brought their mammoths. I can take you there some time!” Arya said.

“My, this tastes exquisite! I'd love to, and Daenerys would too. We're used to seeing elephants, they're all over the place in Essos. Mammoths on the other hand, that's really something. You can find mammoth fur and ivory at many Free City markets, but I always thought they were just taken from preserved dead ones the way dragon bones are.” Missandei said.

“So why don't you eat meat? I love meat, I couldn't imagine living without it.” Arya asked as she took a big bite of her sandwich.

I love her bluntness, its refreshing from all the minced words I deal with as scribe and interpreter.

“Nobody on Naath does, our religion forbids it.” Missandei answered.

“What sort of gods do you worship?” Arya asked.

“We only have one god, and his name translates to the 'Lord of Harmony.' He is portrayed as a green, bearded giant, surrounded by nude female attendants with butterfly wings.” Missandei answered.

“Is that why you wear a butterfly brooch?” Arya asked.

“As a matter of fact it is. Butterflies are sacred in Naath. We never have to worry about foreign invaders because our butterflies carry a fever that will kill any outsider, the Lord of Harmony protects that way. He forbids us from killing, even in self defense or for food.” Missandei said.

“No way would the Lord of Harmony gain any proselytes here!” Arya said.

“Can't argue with that!” Missandei said and they both laughed.

“That was a good sandwich, didn't need meat at all. Alright, time for the walnuts.” Arya said the pulled a nutcracker out of the basket. The nutcracker was carved in the shape of a wolf, the nuts were placed in the jaws of the wolf then the tail was pulled as a lever.

“Thank you so much for showing me around.” Missandei said. “When I first arrived everyone seemed so rude, I've gotten so many dirty looks.

“I noticed during the procession. Just ignore those jealous cunts. Pasty skin, no ass, so of course they don't like you.” Arya said then popped a walnut in her mouth.

She's even more blunt than I thought, and very perceptive too. Really seems to know how to read people. No wonder Daenerys likes her so much.

“So is that a Child of the Forest?” Missandei asked and pointed to a brightly painted ceramic figurine of an androgynous creature with blue-green skin and clad in deerskin.

“Yes it is, but nobody knows what they looked like for sure. Some Maesters think there may have been multiple races of them, but most doubt they ever existed. Most people think they're extinct, but some people claim they've seen them in the wild. My sister tried to convince me I was one of them, said they swapped me out for my parents' real baby.” Arya said.

“What a mean thing to say!” Missandei said.

“I love my sister with all my heart, but she's a cunt. Always has been. Doesn't mean I love her any less.” Arya said.

“The Children sound very similar to the Lord of Harmony's attendants, at least in role. In Essos there are stories about creatures called goblins and ifequevron, both are tiny and believed to be long dead. I wonder if there's any relation between the three.” Missandei said.

“We also have stories about creatures called snarks and grumkins, the sort of thing nurses tell kids to scare them into behaving. Back when people didn't take the White Walker threat seriously they would compare the Walkers to the snarks and grumkins.” Arya said.

“I hope no one denies it now.” Missandei said.

“Nobody in the North anyway. Want some pie?” Arya asked.

“Of course, at long as there's no meat in it.” Missandei responded.

“There isn't, I used to love meat pies but lately I've lost my appetite for them. This one has a custard of vinegar and eggs. Vinegar is used during winter when fresh fruit is scarce, these gardens don't produce nearly as much as a field in summer.” Arya said.

“My, this is good!” Missandei said as she took her first bite. The pie had a tangy flavor almost like lemon pudding, it was drizzled honey which counterbalanced the sourness.

Once their lunch was finished. they put their plates and utensils away, then Arya showed Missandei where all the flowers were grown. Flowers of every size, shape, and hue were present. There were a few species Missandei recognized such as tulips and lilies, but most ones she had never seen. Bees buzzed and there were more porcelain sculptures of the Children of the Forest throughout the flower beds.

“Do you know what these flowers are called?” Missandei asked.

“I'm really bad flower names, I never paid much attention to them. But I know this one, the winter rose!” Arya said as she pointed to a gorgeous cluster of rose bushes. Missandei had only seen roses that were pink, or occasionally white or red, but these were were a dark blue. The winter roses had a smell sweeter than any flower Missandei had ever encountered save for the spice flowers which were used to make perfumes in Essos.

“I've never seen blue roses before, they are stunning!” Missandei said.

“Winter roses are the North's most famous flower, I've seen florists in King's Landing charge more for them than any others.” Arya said.

“Daenerys' favorite color is blue, she'll love these.” Missandei said.

“I should make a garland of them for Jon to give her, I'll let him act like it was his idea. Oh look behind you!” Arya said then pointed in Missandei's direction.

A flock of butterflies were hovering over the flowerbeds. Missandei bent over to get a closer look and they flew to her, landing on her shoulders, back, and hair. She smiled ear to ear. This was the happiest she had been all year.

 

Chapter Text

After what seemed like an eternity of hacking through wights, the Walkers were finally visible. Lord Glover was a veteran of four wars, though regrettably not the one where the North needed him the most. Killing his fellow man was never an easy task, but with wights it was different. They already died once, and now they were void of anything that made them human. So Glover was content to slash away at the Dead with Pugilist, feeling no more guilt than he did chopping down a tree.

“Remember, take out one Walker and all the Dead they turned will go with them!” Jon said as he pierced the gut of a particularly large wight. By this point everyone in the party was drenched in sweat and had splatters of black blood and bile on them.

“These Thenn twats are so hard to kill with their bronze armor! If Winterfell is overrun, then all of Westeros is fucked! Imagine: wight knights!” Tormund said as he lit a cluster of wights ablaze with his new sword.

“A true shame we weren't able to take out at least a few of them during our little wight safari.” Said Jorah as he cleaved a wight from shoulder to armpit.

I hated Jorah for almost twenty years, now I see he is a man with a backbone. He stands for his queen in an unapologetic way and risks his life for her. I don't want another Targaryen on the Iron Throne, but I respect anyone who is so dedicated to their monarch.

“None of those scrotum faced devils even came near us! They kept their distance, their formation was tighter than a bull's ass in fly season!” Said the Hound as he liquefied the skull of a wight that tried to bite him, causing the air to fill with a black mist.

Daenerys and her dragons were still in the air; they had incinerated every wight they could without risk of the blaze reaching the party. Now they flew in circles overhead, waiting for them to swoop in once it was time to leave.

Whether I want her on the Iron Throne or not, few will have a better claim to it if Cersei is deposed. If the Dead are vanquished, only a lack wit would deny Daenerys was pivotal in the triumph. Besides I am sworn to Jon, if he is sworn to her than so am I.

“This is it! Everyone with a normal blade focus on the wights!” Jon said. Tormund, Beric, and the Queensguard turned away and started keeping the wights at bay.

The Thenn Walker let out a shriek that made Glover wish he was deaf. What appeared to be his intestines were wrapped around over his still shining bronze armor, he sliced off a section with his frosted sword and flailed it around. Glover, the Hound, and Kulungu raised their shields and deflected the lashes, those without shields were struck and were thrown to the ground. Again the Walker whirled his own guts, but Kulungu thrust out his scimitar and they wrapped around it.

“Attack him now!” Kulungu said as he and the Walker struggled.

Glover hacked through the wrapped intestines, which exposed his armor. The Walker dropped his impromptu whip and started fighting the trio.

Cling! Clang! Cling! Clang! Glover and Kulungu dealt most of the blows, which distracted the Walker and enabled the Hound to give him a blow to the chest with his morning star. The morning star shattered the Walker's armor, so Glover threw Pugilist at him and he shattered into a thousand shards of ice. All of the Thenn wights went down with him.

All my life I was convinced the Walkers were long extinct. Yet here I am, I just looked one in the eye and killed him like a poacher caught in my domain.

“Woooo!” Kulungu cheered.

“No time to celebrate, let's get these stunned bastards off the ground!” The Hound said as he pointed to the others who were still on the ground.

“That was remarkable, Lord Glover. You have my gratitude, your debt has been paid.” Jon said as he brushed himself up.

“I appreciate that, but I'm going to live with remorse for the rest of my life.” Glover said.

“I know that feeling, I've lived with it for twenty years.” Said Jorah.

“We need to move forward, there's still another Walker to take out.” Jon said.

The party moved forward, those with flaming swords flanking everyone else. With the Thenn wights gone the path was much more clear, and soon the other Walker was visible. He brandished his massive icy ax and pounded it into the ground. Once they were within his blood circle, he raised up his hands and all of those who were killed defending the Dreadfort were revived; their eyes turning that ghastly glowing blue. The Walker promptly weaseled away from the party.

“Every fucking time we make some progress these blue wankers undo it all!” The Hound said.

“We can't fight them all! Everyone wave your swords in their air, that will gesture to the dragons for an emergency landing.” Jon said.

“She's landing over there!” Beric said, pointing to where the dragons were landing about a half a thousand paces away.

The party ran as fast as their armor permitted, with the wights creeping in ever closer. All the snow had melted from the dragons' breath, the fire was so hot the grass was almost dried. Once they were under 50 paces form the dragon, the wights were almost within reach.

“Give me your sword!” Glover yelled at Tormund, who was right next to him.

“Only if I get that ax!” Tormund replied.

“Yes, of course!” Glover said as they swapped their weapons.

“Why are you doing this now?” Asked Jon.

“There's no way all of us can mount the dragons before the Dead overrun us. One of us has to hold them off, might as well be me!” Glover answered.

“The debt has been paid! No need for this!” Jon said.

“Its not about that. I'm the oldest of us, my death is certainly worth all your lives. Let alone the lives of all Westeros!” Glover said. “Tormund, don't keep that ax. Its been in my family for a dozen generations, give it to my son!”

“Aye, that I can do.” Tormund said nodding.

“Let me reignite the blade, a vulgar steel weapon won't be much use without a flame!” Beric said. Glover agreed then Beric said some gibberish and the blade was once again on fire.

“Alright this is it. I wish you all good fortune!” Glover said as he stopped in his tracks and turned around.

Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Glover swung the blade in the air preemptively as the wights neared. Soon his blade with cutting through them, and the fire spread to those next to them. The re-dead corpses turned to ash quickly, and more wights went after them. Cluster by cluster, Lord Glover struck them down. Each cluster was more populous than the last, but Glover kept at it for he knew his companions depended on him. Eventually the wights overran him. Glover looked over his shoulder as they begun to tear and bite at his armor. His companions were safely boarding the dragons. He couldn't help but smile.

 

Chapter Text

“We can't let him die like this, I must give him the Gift!” Kulungu said as everyone was boarding the dragons. He got out his goldenheart bow and knocked an arrow.

“Worth a shot!” Tormund said.

“Do you really think now is the good time for some corny ass pun?” The Hound said.

“Fine, I won't make any when your life is on the line.” Tormund said.

Kulungu pulled back his arrow and aimed for Lord Glover's screaming mouth. Once the arrow was airborne, Kulungu put his bow away and boarded Rhaegal.

“You did the right thing, nobody deserves to die like that.” Jon said as they begun take off.

“I can think of several: Joffrey, House Bolton, House Frey, seven hells it would be easier to list people who don't deserve to die like that.” The Hound said.

“And all of those you listed did in similar fashions.” Jon said.

“I must confess I disliked Glover at first; I took grave offense when he called the Crannogmen 'bog devils.' I'm in no place to judge him for staying neutral, Howland didn't do anything to end the Bolton rule either. I did try and convince him to mobilize the Crannogmen, but he elected to stay in the Neck and guard it as Robb had ordered us.” Kulungu said.

Before we left I overhead Bran tell Jon to take Daenerys to the crypts when we get back. I wonder if he'll tell them the truth. Howland did say they would be giving the news soon.

“Had House Glover picked a side in the Battle of the Bastards, perhaps Lord Glover may have been killed. Or maybe he would have lived, but would have lacked the guilt necessary to volunteer on such a ghastly errand. Without it, then he wouldn't have decided to die so that we may live. R'hollor works in mysterious ways.” Beric said.

Howland always said he couldn't go to battle because if he died the truth could never be revealed about Jon, even if the time was right.

“There's nothing mysterious about it! The only thing that governs this miserable grool puddle of a universe is fucking chaos! No gods give a whore's infected minge about us, anymore than some golden bushed Lannister imbecile cares about beetles.” The Hound said.

“The Seven probably don't, but the Old Gods do. They protect us, so long as there are weirwoods to watch us from.” Tormund said.

“Good thing there's a weirwood in every castle up here, then.” The Hound said, seemingly sarcastically.

“Very good.” Tormund said cluelessly.

“Dracarys!” Jon said. Rhaegal complied and began roasting the wights. Drogon did the same, his line of fire was noticeably larger than Rhaegal's.

“Everyone be on the lookout for the Walker” Jon ordered.

“Are we going back down? Might be wise after what happened to that yellow dragon!” Tormund asked.

“I'm afraid we likely will.” Jon replied.

“I don't think that will be necessary!” Kulungu said. “I still have several dragonglass arrows in my quiver. If you fly down low I can try and shoot him from here. No need to land again unless I run out of those arrows.”

“Excellent, I'll start descending now.” Jon said.

“Dammit! I was hoping I'd get to use this ax before handing it over!” Tormund said.

“You can have your morning star back!” The Hound said.

Once Drogon was about thirty feet above the ground, everyone began to scan the ground for the Walker. There were still many straggler wights that managed to escape the dragons' breath. The miasma of roasting wights filled the air, and Kulungu thanked the gods old and new nobody onboard vomited. Now the grass was blackened, before it was merely dry and crisp. Now most of the wights were reduced to black powder, probably only a few hunks of charred bone left in each. Next time it snowed all the ashes would be covered, hopefully it would soon rain and rinse it away.

“There he is! Yonder!” Jorah said, pointing to him.

“Alright Hound, hold my back like you did last time!” Kulungu said, then pulled out his bow and knocked an arrow. The first arrow missed. A second was fired, but the Walker managed to dodge it. Next the Walker pounded his ax, then threw it with both hands towards Drogon. Kulungu fired his third shot just as the Walker brandished his weapon. Everyone on Rhaegal watched with bated breath as the arrow soared through the air, they knew this miss would be catastrophic. The arrow pierced the bare arm of the Walker moments before the ax could reach Drogon, and the Walker shattered like glass and took all the surviving wights with him.

“Woooo! You've done it again!” Tormund said. “When we return to Winterfell I'm getting you a horn of fermented mammoth milk!”

“Excellent work, Kulungu. This expedition would have failed if it wasn't for you and Lord Glover, gods rest his soul. I have no doubt Daenerys will reward you handsomely.” Jon said.

“I'm simply using the skills Lord Reed and Prince Xho taught me to be a good vassal. You should thank Howland.” Kulungu said.

“And I will. I plan to speak with him soon. He was one of my father's closest friends, probably second only to your father. I'm sure he has much to tell me.” Jon said.

“I think you're right.” Kulungu said.

 

Chapter Text

“The woodblock studio says the first run of the pamphlets should be distributed across the city by the end of today, Your Grace.” Qyburn said.

“Excellent. If those vulgar shit-kickers are stupid enough to believe the gods care about them, then perhaps they are stupid enough to believe I do as well.” Cersei said coldly. She was dressed in a scarlet dress with gold stitching, mink trim, and she wore a hooded ermine cloak over it. Fastening her cloak was a golden pin of a lioness.

“I've been so bored in this town, I need something to do.” Euron said. He wore a long leather coat with a high collar over a black and gold paisley doublet, and canvas trousers.

I wonder when that blue stain will wear off his lips and tongue, looks like some sort of pillow biting jester from the Free Cities.

“Perhaps a holiday is in order, go take what's left of your crew and raid some coastal settlements. The Stormlands would be ideal, with the extinction of my thankfully departed Robert's family they seem to be in disarray. Daenerys is busy tilting at windmills with her pet wolf and lizards she calls her children, and the Golden Company can defend the city from any lesser attack. Besides, I'm sure your brother Victarian will be here soon.” Cersei said.

“Aye, off to the Stormlands it is.” Euron said in a blood thirsty tone.

Good, now I've got that buffoon out of my hair for a while.

“Victarian is coming?” Qyburn asked.

“Right you are! After some, err, rigorous interrogation my crew told me those who left went to Essos in search of him. With him back and my niece taken care of, we'll have the entirety of the Iron Fleet.” Euron said.

“Rigorous interrogation? That's just a fancy word for torture, isn't it?” Qyburn asked.

“Is the fucker who was expelled from the Citadel for vivisection lecturing me on ethics? That's what it looks like to me!” Euron said, grabbing Qyburn by his Hand of the Queen badge then pulling him in to look him straight in the eye.

“No. It isn't. I have no moral objections to torture whatsoever. But study after study from the Citadel have consistently shown that torture is insufficient for gaining information.” Qyburn asked without skipping a beat.

“Eel shit! I can make a prisoner give me any information I want!” Euron said.

“Which is precisely the problem.” Qyburn said.

“Enough! Euron, go take your boats and go to the Stormlands. Just be sure to avoid flying any Ironborn banners, I don't want anyone to know I'm complicit. Qyburn I'm sure has plenty of scientific research to attend to.” Cersei said.

“As a matter of fact, I do.” Qyburn said, then walked off once Euron let him go. His chains rattled and clanked with every step.

Cersei and Euron kissed goodbye as they left the Red Keep. The Kingsguard flanked Cersei and led her down the stairs where Harry Strickland was waiting for them. He was standing in front of an intricately carved cherry wood stagecoach that was pulled by an elephant no bigger than a mule.

If only an elephant cart, horse drawn carriages are so dull.

“Welcome your grace!” Harry said.

“Such a magnificent creature.” Cersei said as she pet the elephant.

“I'd rather you not touch her, she doesn't like strangers.” Harry said alarmed.

“Did I ask for your preferences?” Cersei asked.

“Of course not, forgive me. Let's hop in. Watkyn! Time to go, Old Top!” Harry said to the driver of the coach. The driver was a short, ugly man with blotchy skin.

“I must say, you Golden Company travel in style.” Said Cersei as she sat down.

“When you're the most expensive sellsword company there are expectations to uphold. However marches and voyages are another matter entirely. I wish we could all travel around in these, I wouldn't have to worry about blisters.” Harry said.

“Your company would grow rather soft if they did so, certainly wouldn't be the so highly revered. Even if you still refused to break a contract.” Cersei said and rolled her eyes.

“Do you have any allergies I should be afraid of? Nuts, shellfish, certain fruits perhaps? We have a miniature cellar and pantry onboard.” Harry asked.

“Yes, I do. Imbeciles and incompetence.” Cersei said.

“What a coincidence, every man of the Golden Company shares that allergy. So no need to worry while you're in our presence.” Harry said laughed.

Was that some sort of joke? I didn't find it too amusing. Gods I am dealing with a pompous wanker who laughs at his own jokes!

“So what's available?” Cersei asked.

“Let's see,” Harry said as he opened the coach's wine storage, “right now we have Volantine red, Myrish firewine, Selhorys green, and Pentoshi amber.”

“The Volantine one sounds good, can't go wrong with a good red.” Cersei said.

“Volantine red it is.” Harry said then poured two glasses, he drank his first to demonstrate it wasn't drugged or poisoned. Cersei found the wine to be much sweeter than any Westerosi red, it was almost as sweet as white, but overall the body was pleasing.

“So tell me, what made you decide to become a sellsword?” Cersei asked.

“I never chose to become a mercenary, I was born into it. My blood has been golden for four generations. The Golden Company is all I know, all anyone in House Strickland has known since our exile.” Harry said with pride evident in his voice.

Four generations of vagabonds? How is that anything to be proud of?

“When this war is over I suspect there were be many houses I will have to do away with, which means there will be several castles and fiefs left vacant. As a reward for your service I can have House Strickland reinstated, along with the houses of other Golden Company members. Maybe even ennoble some of your base born leadership.” Cersei, said then took a sip of wine.

“That is a tempting offer. I'll discuss your proposal at the next serjeants meeting, we'll put it to a vote and I'll let you know our decision either way.” Harry said.

Splat! Splat! Two large globs of dung hit the windows of the stagecoach.

“Pay that no mind, a lioness needn't concern herself with sheep.” Cersei said nonchalantly. In truth having shit thrown at her was infuriating, but she remembered what happened when Joffery lashed out at smallfolk for doing the same thing. Joffery seldom entered her thoughts now, all of her children were paid little mind now that they were dead.

“They must not realize who they threw it at. Nobody in Essos would dare throw anything at a Golden Company property.” Harry said.

The stagecoach abruptly stopped and the elephant blew its trunk; it made a strange noise that sounded more like a honking horn than a trumpet blast. Harry opened a window and peeked outside.

“What's going on?” Cersei asked.

“It seems there's a procession of lunatics crossing the street. They're carrying icons of the Seven with one hand and scourging their backs with the other. Hope somebody tosses some buckets of water on the street to rinse all that blood.” Harry said.

“Just yesterday at my morning briefing, Qyburn told me several cults have been popping up lately. This is my first time being inconvenienced by one.” Cersei said.

“Yes, I suppose the Faith Militant was far too large and powerful to be considered a cult.” Harry said and shrugged.

Did he just go there? Did he seriously bring up the Sparrows to me?

Harry's poor joke brought a silence that persisted for the rest of the ride. After forty five minutes or so the stagecoach stopped, so Cersei and Harry got out. Watkyn hitched the stagecoach and joined them. The Golden Company camp was impressive, the pavilions were massive and made from cloth of gold. They were pitched with pikes that had several gold skulls hanging from them, Cersei thought that was excessive.

“Here we are! These are the dormitory tents, where most of the rank and file troops sleep. And before you ask, yes, those are indeed real skulls.” Harry said.

As they passed by the dormitory tents a duo approached them, a youth and a man in later middle age. Both had blue hair and the older man wore a fox pelt mantle.

“Cersei, this is my good friend Griff, and his son, Young Griff.” Harrys said.

“Pleased to meet you, your grace.” Griff said.

“Likewise.” Cersei said, though she was truly unnerved. Their gaudy appearance made her assume they were Tyroshi, but something about Young Griff seemed familiar.

Purple eyes! That's what it is. I didn't know any Tyroshi had purple eyes. He looks just like Rhaegar. Fuck Robert for taking him from me. Had that fat oaf never started his little uprising I would have been Rhaegar's queen now.

“Alright, here we have the archery range. The Golden Company boasts archers from across the known world. There is Balaq, he is captain of all the archers.” Harry said as he pointed to Balaq, who was drilling his men. Balaq was a Summer Islander with dreaded white hair, he wore a feather cloak and was covered in gold jewelry.

“Shooting parrots must be good practice.” Cersei said.

“Good one! Yes, I always have wondered how Summer Islanders get all those feathers.” Harry said and chuckled. His laugh irked Cersei.

They passed by the melee corral and the horse track, Harry yammered on about all of it, Cersei was utterly bored.

“Here is the elephant pen!” Harry said. “I've always loved these tusked beauties, I'm glad you share my enthusiasm.”

The elephant pen was more of a whole complex. There were several tall corrals, a feeding lot stuffed with hay and grass, and an armorer and smith making sure their equipment was in good shape. A tall knight armed with a massive flail was supervising a few of the elephants as they bathed in the lake that was next to their shelter.

“This is an astounding sight. Perhaps I will buy a few off you when the war is done.” Cersei said excitement.

“We will do anything for the right price. Except abandon a contract or switch sides in the middle of a conflict.” Harry said. “Now if you'll follow me, I have a present for you. Several presents, actually!” Harry said and led Cersei further down the path.

Finally they reached a tent, Cersei could hear chickens clucking near the entrance. Inside the tent was pitch black, so Harry lit a torch and illuminated the room. The tent had a large steel cage with over dozen lions in it, they roared once the light was on. There were two full grown males, four full grown lionesses, and the rest were cubs. One of the males had white fur and was considerably larger then the other.

“You've brought me my house sigil. A pack of lions is even better than a whole flock of elephants.” Cersei said and smiled ear to ear.

“Lions have prides, and elephants have herds. But I'm glad you are thrilled. Watkyn! They look hungry, give them something to eat.” Harry said.

Watkyn complied and grabbed two chickens from the coop. He tossed them into the cage and the lions devoured them, leaving a hail of feathers. Watkyn repeated the process until all of them had eaten. Cersei smiled at the sight of what they did to the chickens, it gave her several ideas.

 

Chapter Text

Arya stood on top of the main Winterfell gate, waiting wide eyed for the dragons to return. Playing hostess to Missandei was an enjoyable distraction, but the possibility of losing Daenerys or Jon loomed overhead. Or losing both, for that matter. After playing with butterflies in the Glass Gardens, Missandei thanked Arya and left to see her lover Grey Worm.

When Arya heard the thunderous roar of the dragons she smiled knowing at least one of them was alive. Her legs started jittering and she bit her lower lip, hoping both were fine. Seeing them in the air was every bit as magical as it had been the first time, Arya had long been fascinated with dragons and memorized the names of every Targaryen dragon and female rider. Even Maester Luwin was blown away at her knowledge of the subject. Arya had long wished she lived a few hundred years prior, back when dragons were still plentiful. When she heard rumors that three eggs had hatched she was ecstatic, though she didn't expect she would ever see them.

Jon, his companions, and the Queensguard were all was drenched in sweat, black blood, and bile. As they got closer Arya could smell them, but she was too exited to mind the stench. Only Daenerys looked clean, so Arya figured she spent most of her time airborn. Daenerys looked gorgeous as always, but intimidating.

There they are! Both of them made it!

Arya rushed down the stairs and greeted Jon much the same way she did when they reunited: pouncing at him then him lifting her in the air. After he swung her around and put her down, she hugged Daenerys. The gore on Jon's surcoat got onto Arya, and it transferred when Arya hugged Dany but neither cared.

“I was so worried about you all!” Arya said.

“I'm worried about you.” Jon said.

“So did Missandei enjoy her time with you?” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, my lady. I took her to the Godswood and then we ate lunch at the Glass Gardens. The Glass Gardens have butterflies and she loved them, she loved the all the animals in the Godswood as well.” Arya said.

“I'm glad to hear it, Missandei loves nature. I'll have to visit the Glass Gardens some time. Jon is taking me to the crypts tonight. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take a bath.” Daenerys said, then she gave Arya a second hug and kissed Jon on the lips.

The Queensguard escorted Daenerys to the bedchamber. The silver bells in her hair tingled with every step. Arya was stunned how how ferocious she looked, just like a true warrior queen.

I think I know what she's getting ready for, hehehe.

“Looks like you're getting some dragon tail tonight!” Tormund said excitedly.

“Theon and his crew are here, along with the Manderly knights.” Arya said.

“I'm glad he came, I always knew he had a good heart. We were expecting the Manderly forces to arrive, they seem to be totally on board with Daenerys.” Jon said.

“Is Sansa okay now?” The Hound asked.

“She is, she slept for most of the day. She's up now and last I checked she was on the mend.” Arya replied. The Hound smiled the best he could.

A youth of about seventeen walked up, he wore a brown surcoat charged with an orange moose over deer hide armor.

“Did Lord Glover survive? I'm his ward. My name is Larence Snow.” The youth said.

“No, he's dead.” Jon said soberly. “He died holding off the wights so the rest of us could board the dragons, it was his idea. I tried to talk him out of it because I thought it was done out of guilt, but he said it wasn't. We'd all be Dead if it wasn't for his sacrifice.”

A few tears trickled down Larence's face, but he gave a half cocked smile when he learned the circumstance's of Glover's death.

“I take it he suffered.” Larence said.

“I attempted to give him the Gift, I have no idea if my arrow got him or not.” Kulungu said.

“Thank you, I hope it did.” Larence said.

“This crazy bastard right here and your lord are the only reasons we aren't all wight shit right now! Glover killed the first wight, then Kulungu took out the second with an arrow from a dragon! Just wait until the bards get wind of it!” Tormund said then gave Kulungu a loud pat on the back.

“Now I must find Lady Glover, I need to tell her the news.” Jon said.

“She was in the Godswood when I took Missandei, not sure if she still is.” Arya said.

“Aye, still is. She's the most pious person I know.” Larence said.

“I was already going there to clean my sword, would you prefer to tell her?” Asked Jon.

“Nah, I wasn't there.” Answered Larence.

“Glover told me to give this to you, said its yours until his son comes of age. He swapped it for my sword, he didn't want his ancestral weapon being lost.” Tormund said then took an ornate ax out of his belt and handed it to Larence.

“Thank you.” Larence said as he accepted the ax.

“Alright, Arya. Larence and I are going to the Godswood. I'll see you soon.” Jon said, then kissed Arya on the forehead.

“See you soon!” Arya said.

“I'll be coming too,” Kulungu said. “I need to clean my sword as well.”

“Don't take to long, meet me at the Free camp when you're done. I owe you a stiff drink!” Tormund said.

When everyone walked off Arya decided to head to the training grounds. She was greatly relieved Jon and Daenerys would live to fight alongside her.

 

Chapter Text

“So then Kulungu pulls out his bow and takes out the second Walker! One shot, one kill!” Tormund said then pounded the table. Tormund and Kulungu sat around a campfire at the Freefolk campsite. The Great Walrus, Morna, and Val were listening with great amusement. Val was casually strumming on Mance's old lute, while Morna brewed a potion with a small copper kettle and the Great Walrus carved an idol of one of the Frozen Shore gods. Other Freefolk were present and socializing with each other, horns of fermented milk or cider in their hands. Missandei was also seated at the campfire, looking with excitement as she took notes and sketched.

“Lies! Lies! You saw me miss the first two shots, then nearly shat your pants when the Walker through his ax at Rhaegal!” Kulungu said then took a drink of fermented mammoth milk.

“You should be flattered, if Tormund lies about anyone but himself it means he likes you!” Morna said and laughed heartily.

“There was a lad from the Summer Isles, with a magic bow that was true for miles!” Val sang as she strummed to an improvised melody.

“I've never been there, I was born in King's Landing and have lived half my life in the Neck.” Kulungu said.

“Alright, I'll have to find something that rhymes with 'Landing” or “Neck.'” Val said, then shrugged and resumed strumming.

“Kulungu can hunt and gather and he keeps the Old Gods. He's more Northern than most of these Southron kneelers, but they have to gall to be cunts because they don't like his color. Or her color, for that matter.” Tormund said then pointed to Missandei.

“I am grateful for your hospitality, though it seems a shame I must thank people for basic decency. Arya has also been most hospitable.” Missandei said.

“Arya's also the only one of these Southroners who realizes whether your parents are married or not doesn't mean a cup of bear cum. No wonder Jon loves her so dearly.” Tormund said.

“So tell me Tormund, would you have fucked that bird woman if given the chance?” The Great Walrus asked.

“Why would I fuck dead things? Cold pussy would be disgusting, all clammy and stiff. A live bird woman, hell yes. I've fucked a bear, a giantess and a mermaid, of course I'd fuck a bird woman.” Tormund said then took a big gulp from his horn of milk.

“Lies again! On our way to the Dreadfort he admitted that 'bear' was Jeor Mormont's sister!” Kulungu said then everyone burst into laughter.

“Excuse me, may I have a word?” A old man's voice asked from behind Tormund. Tormund turned around and there was a wizard dressed in a heavy robe and wrapped in a chain with links of serveral different colors like a rainbow.

“Found a new man for you, Morna!” The Great Walrus said.

“My order cannot marry. A raven arrived today with a scroll addressed to the 'Lord of the Wildlings.' I know your peoples have no such position but it seems it was intended for you. It is sealed with Queen Cersei's signet.” The wizard said.

“None of us can read. Well except for Morna, but she can only read Old Tongue runes. What does the letter say?” Tormund asked.

The wizard broke the seal and unrolled the scroll:

“Dear Lord or Lady of the Wildlings, I bring to you a most generous offer. For a million years your people have been terrorized by the Northmen, and you have had no choice but to defend your homeland from their aggressions. I know the bastard Jon Snow and his dominatrix Daenerys have coerced you into supporting them. I cannot say I blame you, dragons can be most persuasive. So I am offering you a way out. Betray the pretender whore and her lapdog then bend the knee to me and I will reward you with control of the North.

Her Grace, Cersei Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar, Protectress of the Realm, Lightening of the Stormlands, Diamond of the Crownlands, Wardeness of the Westerlands, Lioness of Casterly Rock, and Shield of Lannisport.”

Everyone except the wizard laughed themselves to tears as the titles were read, each one more hilarious and absurd than the last. Some people had fermented milk and cider pouring out their noses and trickling down their faces.

“Does this daft bitch seriously think that us Freefolk are one people? Imagine being so daft you can't tell the difference between a Hornfoot and a Nightrunner!” Morna said.

“Even I know Freefolk is an umbrella term referring to several distinct cultures, and most people can't find my island on a map!” Missandei said.

“See I told you all she was sharp a shadow cat fang.” Tormund said.

“Do you wish to dictate a reply to me?” The wizard asked.

“Of course I do! Missandei, write this down, it belongs in your book.” Tormund said. “Oh Queen, Southron succubus and the Stranger's kith and kin, wet nurse to the Night King himself. You call yourself a lioness, yet you cannot hunt or even kill a squirrel by sitting on it with your bony ass. The Stranger cums and your armies eat. You will not, you wretched whore, make kneelers out of the Freefolk. We have no fear of your army, we'll proudly help Jon and Dragonsmum defeat you by land and by sea. Go fuck your brother!

You Andal tavern maid, queen only to First Men kneelers, shrew of the Realm, shepherdess of the Stormlands, rust of the Crownlands, witch of the Westerlands, brewess of Casterly Rock, and fishwife of Lannisport. You are a lowly jester of this world and all spirit realms, an embarrassment to all gods, daughter of a garter snake, and nothing more than a crick in our cocks. Boar's snout, she-bear's cunt, pariah dog, go blow your own brother!

May your seven puny gods have mercy on you, for neither us nor our own innumerable gods will. You are only Queen because you killed your husband and kids, but the Freefolk have a different way of picking our kings and queens. We only follow those we deem worthy of following, and we chose Jon Snow and his beloved Chainbreaker!

The Freefolk declare that you are not even worthy to shovel mammoth shit for us. We don't have calendars, but we are under the same sun and moon as you; so you can lick our ballsacks and cunts!” Tormund said to thunderous applause.

“Would anyone else like to dictate a response? Something a bit more diplomatic perhaps?” The wizard asked, he seemed unimpressed.

“I set those lyrics to a melody if you like.” Val said mockingly.

“I have no idea what the fuck 'diplomatic' means, but I have a feeling its not something any Freefolk is. Ask us to write another letter, it will only be more rousing than the first.” The Great Walrus said.

“Very well. How do you wish to sign the letter?” The wizard asked.

“Tormund Giantsbane, Sworn Brother of King Jon Snow.” Tormund replied.

 

 

Chapter Text

Jon laid in the tub in the Great Keep bathroom and contemplated about the day. Looking Lady Glover in the eye and telling her Lord Glover died was one of the most difficult things he had ever done. As a man of the Watch he had delivered news of death countless times, but to tell it to a new widow had a certain weight to it he had not expected.

I suppose it's something I will have to become accustomed to. Lord Glover was merely the first casualty in the War to Come. That's not even an accurate name anymore; the war has come, and untold deaths will follow with it.

After a while Jon noticed the grime and gunk that washed off of his skin was not floating in the bathwater, so he got out and pulled the drain. Once he was sufficiently dried off, he put on his bathrobe and headed over to the bedchamber where he and Daenerys were staying.

Knock! Knock!

“You may enter!” Daenerys' voice said.

When Jon walked in he saw Daenerys laying on the divan naked, reading a book in one hand and pleasuring herself with the other. Jon locked the door.

“I've been waiting for you, seeing you in action earlier made me so damn horny!” Daenerys said and wolfishly bared her teeth.

“Seems you were getting impatient.” Jon said, he could feel his blood start to quickly flow to his nether regions.

“Not at all, just getting warmed up.” Daenerys said and giggled.

“What were you reading?” Jon asked.

“Just a book of smut, I'm sure you're well acquainted with such literature from your time on the Wall.” Daenerys said teasingly.

“Of course, up there that sort of material is prime for bartering. Much cheaper than going to the nearest brothel, and even more quick.” Jon said and shrugged.

“Here! Have a taste.” Daenerys said she hovered the fingers that were in her honey pot near Jon's lips. He coyly tasted the juices, they were delicious.

“No need to be shy! Dig in!” She said, then he nodded so she slowly inserted her wet fingers into his mouth.

Gods I love how assertive she is!

“Mmmmmmm!” He moaned on her fingers. “That was great! I'd love to eat you again. If you so desire, of course.” Jon said.

“I'm feeling like an actual fuck, I want to feel you inside me!” Daenerys purred then planted a wet kiss on Jon. Their tongues swirled inside each other's mouths. Jon squeezed her ass and squished it around with his fingers, while she started to untie his bathrobe.

“I'm ready when you are, lay down and we can get started.” Jon said.

“Nah ah! No! You're going to lay down on your back!” Daenerys said intimidatingly and pointed to the bed.

“Of course, my Queen.” Jon said then disrobed and laid on the bed, his erect cock sticking straight up in the air.

Wonder what she's going to do, can't wait to find out.

“So tell me, Jon: have you ever been ridden before?” Daenerys asked.

“What do you mean?” Jon asked, though he had a good idea as to the answer.

“You're not going to fuck me, I'm going to fuck you! And hard. I tried to on the voyage to White Harbor, but you flipped me over and pinned me down. I only let you do it because it was our first time and I wanted you to feel comfortable. Besides, I wanted to make sure you give and not just receive!” Daenerys said as she crept towards Jon.

Ygritte made me do all the work. I wonder if she was just being selfish or wasn't as experienced as she wanted me to believe. I'm glad Dany is understanding about my limited experience.

“Giving is all I know. I'm a vassal, not a monarch.” Jon said.

“And you have proven to be an excellent Bannerman, so like any good Queen I must reward you accordingly!” Daenerys said as she tied her loose hair into a ponytail. She started to claw from his chest down to his belly. Her nails were neatly trimmed but Jon found the tingling trail they left to be most pleasurable. With her other hand she ran her fingers through his lush black hair, gently pulling at it and scratching his scalp.

“What does being ridden entail?” Jon asked.

“You're about to find out!” Daenerys said she crawled onto the bed and got on her knees to straddle Jon. Once her knees were firmly planted next his hips, she eased his cock inside of her. She was still slick from her solo time and they were able to begin promptly. Jon put his hands on her hips she she started to gyrate in a clock wise motion.

“This is just lovely!” Jon said.

“Lovely? Is that the best you can do? Hahahaha! You are too funny! So you like this? You like being fucked?” Daenerys said laughing.

“No, Your Grace! I love it!” Jon said. Now she started to bounce up and down on him, causing his balls to shake and her ass cheeks to clap.

“Good! You better love every second of it! Ohhhhhh! Yessss! Fuck yesssss! Harder! Harder! Just like that!” Daenerys said. She started to scratch his chest again, with her other hand she alternated between tickling his ballsack and flicking her nub. Most of Jon's attention was towards her breasts. They weren't large, but they were perfectly sized for her small yet curvy figure and the nipples were just lovely. Big enough to pinch or suckle with ease and a nice pink color in stunning contrast with her porcelain skin.

“Gods I wish I was a dragon, then you could ride me all day!” Jon said.

“I think Drogon might get jealous, he's a real mama's boy!” Daenerys said and giggled.

I probably would have been too, if I had a mother.

“Except I don't think you'd want to get eaten by Drogon!” Jon said.

“His tongue is bigger than I am!” Daenerys said and laughed even harder. Jon let go of one of her hips and started to play with her silver bush. It was even more lush than it was when they went spelunking in the Hermit's Cave.

“This is much better! You shouldn't have let me take over on the boat!” Jon said, he was nearing climax and hoped she could beat him to it.

“Hang in there!” Daenerys said as she started to slow down the thrusting, at the same time she began to rub her nub more vigorously. “Alright! Almost there! Let's finish together!”

“Here it comes!” Jon said.

“Fuck yes! Awwwwww! Mmmmmmm! Damn this was perfect!” Daenerys said as Jon gushed his seed inside of her, as that was happening she squirted across his stomach. She wiped off as much of it as she could and let him lick her hand clean. This time lapped up the nectar with vigor.

“I don't think I can go back to doing the riding.” Jon said.

“I'm glad you were so eager to try it, every other guy I've been was hesitant. Once they agreed to do it, they loved it and didn't look back. You're so eager to please, you really now how to put a lady first.” Daenerys said and smiled warmly.

“My father always taught me to treat all women as if they were a queen, never would have though I would have been able to serve an actual queen. Never thought I'd ride a dragon either, let alone be ridden by one.” Jon said.

“You're father taught you well.” Daenerys said tenderly.

Daenerys got up, pulled the chamber pot from under the bed, then took a piss. Jon looked away once he realized what she was about to do. She motioned for the pitcher of water that was next to the washbasin, so Jon got up to hand it to her and she flushed out her nether region.

“Don't worry, I left some so you can clean up too.” Daenerys said as she stood back up.

“We can open up the windows now,” Jon said. “Look, the sun is starting to sink.”

“They were open earlier but I closed them to shoo away this grotesque raven that was perched on the sill. I know it was just a bird but it was a mood damper.” Daenerys said.

“Must have been annoying. We should get dressed soon, I want to take you to the crypts so you can meet my ancestors. Crypts are a sacred space in our culture.” Jon said.

“I would love to see them!” Daenerys said. She gave Jon a quick smooch, then headed to the wardrobe to assemble an outfit.

 

Chapter Text

Jon led Daenerys by her gloved hand down to the crypt; in his other hand he carried a torch. He wore a long wolf fur coat over a silver doublet and green trousers, she wore a snow bear robe with a matching matching poofy hat; her normally ornate hair was in a simple fish braid.

“Remember, this a solemn place. Normally I adore your humor, but this isn't a place for it. I need to pay respects to my dead.” Jon said.

“Understood, I wouldn't dream of being crass at such a place." Daenerys said.

“Alright, let's go in.” Jon said as he opened the entrace, it was made of ironwood ornately carved with grotesques and floral motifs. The stone surrounding the doors was covered in lichen, as were the headstones in the lichyard nearby.

Such ornate craftsmanship, the level of detail is astounding.

“Wow, I've never seen anything like this.” Daenerys said once she entered, Jon was a few steps ahead of her and lit every sconce as he passed it. Both sides were lined with statues of long dead Starks and exceptional bastards, retainers, and wards. There were statues of direwolves besides many of them, though the deeper they went the fewer direwolves there were.

“These crypts have been the resting grounds of my father's house for countless generations. We believe it was built by House Stark's founder, Bran the Builder when he migrated here from the Reach. He is also said to have built Winterfell, the Wall, the Citadel, the Eyrie, and many other landmarks. I always wondered if I would've been buried here, before I Took the Black.” Jon said.

“I'm sure you would have. No way would Robb have allowed you to be buried anywhere else.” Daenerys said.

“Robb was a good brother, I wish you could have met him. He never treated me any different than his full siblings, only one who didn't.” Jon said.

“What about Arya?” Daenerys asked, she was puzzled.

“Arya has always favored me, so she did treat me differently. In the best possible way. I'm so happy to be back with her, and thankful you two have taken a liking to one another.” Jon said with the adoring tone he always spoke about Arya with, he smiled warmly.

Jon is such a devoted family man. Loves his sibling so much, always speaks so highly of them. So much pride in being Ned's son, even if he does seem to resent Ned for refusing to tell him who his mother is. I wish I could be proud of my family.

“And I'm thankful for both of you.” Daenerys said.

“I've noticed many of the older ones wear crowns, but the more recent ones carry large swords. Why is that?” Daenerys asked.

“House Stark ruled the entire North for a thousand years, and ruled as local Kings of Winter for millennia before then. The Reeds, Glovers, Umbers, Boltons, and many others ruled their own smaller kingdoms before bending the knee to the Starks or being vanquished. So the statues with the crowns were our kings. Then King Torrhen bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror, in doing so he forfeited his crown and became the first Warden of the North. Aegon gave him the sword Ice as a token of gratitude, and that's the sword you see in the later statues.” Jon said.

“That's fascinating. I was familiar with Torrhen, I believe I mentioned him when we first met. I knew the Starks ruled as kings before Aegon, but I just assumed they always ruled the entire North. Sounds like the North was unified much the same way Aegon unified the Seven Kingdoms, just over a longer time.” Daenerys said.

“The Starks didn't have dragons, which is why it took longer. Torrhen rallied all his bannermen to fight Aegon, but when he saw the dragons he bent the knee without any bloodshed. I remember our Maester telling us that Torrhen's heir was furious because he lost his princely status, as were many of the lords, so they fled to Essos.” Jon said.

“My great grandmother was a Blackwood, all I know is they're an exiled Northern house and they keep the Old Gods. Were they exiled because of opposition to Torrhen?” Daenerys asked.

“No, they were exiled much earlier. For refusing to bend the knee to the Starks. They reconciled eventually, I believe I have a Blackwood a few generations down my line as well. Seems our family trees are a bit tangled, you also have Dayne ancestry and my mother was probably Ashara.” Jon said, he seemed a bit disquieted at the thought.

Barristan loved Ashara as well, but said he knew he couldn't compete with Ned. Regardless Barristan always spoke highly of Ned, never hesitated to defend him if I said anything disparaging about him.

“Doesn't really bother me, keeps my tree from being more tangled than it already is.” Daenerys said and gave a teasing smile.

“Alright, here we are. The tombs of my father, grandfather, aunt, and uncle.” Jon said. The statues of Ned and Jon's grandfather both wielded swords, at the feet of his aunt's statue was a bouquet of blue roses and a silver lyre that was buried in dust and spiderwebs.

She looks so much like Arya! I've seen those roses before, in the House of the Undying Ones. Saw one growing out of a crack in the Wall. Wonder what that meant, or if it meant anything.

“My these roses are stunning. Ouch!” Daenerys said, she attempted to grab one to smell it but pricked her finger.

Jon lit the pillar candles at the feet of the statues. Once they were lit he got on his knees and looked up at them. Daenerys wiped the blood drop off her finger, then followed suit.

“Are you okay, Dany? Seems like something is upsetting you.” Jon asked.

“Seeing the statue of your aunt is painful for me. One of my closest advisers, gods rest his soul, spoke glowingly of my brother Rhaegar. Said he was a paragon of chivalry and the ideal knight, but hated violence and loved music instead. Told me he would perform for orphanages and infirmaries and volunteer at soup kitchens. Despite all that, my brother kidnapped your aunt, raped her, held her hostage, and eventually killed her. Only a monster could do any of the things he did to her, yet he did so much for the needy? I don't understand. My other brother was a monster and I knew firsthand, but Rhaegar I thought was a saint. Turns out it was all a facade. A mask he wore to hide his true self. Which means either my adviser was oblivious or he lied to me, for whatever reason. It vexes me deeply.” Daenerys said tearfully.

“I have no way of knowing the truth of the matter, I wish I did. But I do know what its like to know someone contradictory. My father was the most honest and noble man I've ever known, yet he was unfaithful to my stepmother. I am the product of his infidelity, and he was so ashamed of what he had done that he refused to tell me who my mother was. The last time I saw him he said he would tell me next time we met, so his death meant I will never know the truth of the matter. I know cheating is no where remotely as bad as rape, but I understand the principle of incongruity.” Jon said, he wiped away Daenerys' tears and wrapped his arm around her.

“Ned Stark was a man of his word, and he will keep your promise to you even in death!” A man's voice said from behind. Jon and Daenerys got up. Lord Reed, Bran, Sam Tarly, and Ser Davos were standing behind them. Sam was pushing Bran's wheelchair.

“How long have you been behind us?” Jon asked.

“Long enough to what you said about Ned.” Davos said.

“What do you mean he'll keep his promise in death?” Daenerys asked.

“Sit down, there is a lot we have to discuss.” Lord Reed said pointing to the stone bench near the statues.

“Have you come to tell me news of my mother?” Jon asked.

“Aye.” Howland said.

“Who was she?!” Jon asked before Howland could say anything more.

“I was present at your birth. After Rhaegar was killed at the Trident, Ned took me and a handful of other lords on a mission to Dorne to take out the remnants of the Targaryen Loyalists. We went to the Tower of Joy, where we were told Lyanna was being held. It was guarded by three members of the Kingsguard, including the Sword of Morning, Arthur Dayne. We outnumbered them over double yet they managed kill all but me and Ned. By that point we had killed the other two, and it was just us against Arthur. Ned managed to kill Arthur, but only because I provided a diversion. I could tell Ned was distressed, he was deeply in love with Arthur's sister Ashara and admired his character. Once Arthur was dead we went to the top of the tower and found Lyanna in the throws of labor. She died shortly after delivery; but was able to tell Ned the child was Rhaegar's, and to raise the child as Ned's own son. The child was you, Jon. You are no bastard, Lyanna said she married Rhaegar in a secret ceremony. Your true name is Aegon Targaryen.” Howland said.

How can this be? That would make Jon not only my nephew, but the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Viserys was merely second in line, as I apparently am now. Seven hells I hope he won't push his claim, or the last seven years of my life will have been wasted. I still love him, I hope he can find it in him to love me back still.

“So you're telling me the most upstanding man I ever knew lied to me? That my entire identity and everything I ever believed about myself is built on a lie?” Jon said, he appeared both infuriated and crushed with sorrow.

“Yes, I'm afraid so. What is more difficult to believe: that the most upstanding man you ever knew cheated on his wife, or that he willingly tarnished his own reputation to protect his family and honor the last wish of his dead sister?” Howland asked.

“Don't you get, Jon? Robert would have had you murdered in your cradle if he got wind that you're a Targaryen. He would have had Ned assassinated as well for being complicit, and who knows who else. You see? Ned lied to protect you. He loved you, and I hope to be half the father he didn't have to be.” Sam said.

“Rhaegar loved Lyanna dearly, he never harmed her in any way. Rhaegar sought to overthrow his father, King Aerys, because Aerys displayed many symptoms of sadism and insanity; so he held the Tourney at Harrenhall to win support from the lords. However Aerys found about Rhaegar's plot, and showed up to the Tourney unannounced to have the Kingsguard arrest Rhaegar. So Rhaegar plucked Lyanna out of her seat and rode off with her. Robert was infatuated with Lyanna and deeply jealous of Rhaegar, so he claimed Rhaegar abducted Lyanna. Who knows whether he truly believed it, but almost everyone else believed him without question. So Robert's Rebellion was at best built upon a disastrous misunderstanding, at worse a malicious lie. Jon is the rightful heir if the Targaryen line of succession is to be restored.” Bran said, oddly monotone.

“And how do you know all this, Bran? Seems awfully convenient that Jon's brother, or cousin, would vouch for information that props him up at my expense.” Daenerys asked, she found Howland's testimony to be believable but was skeptical of Bran.

“I have seen it in my green dreams. Don't you remember Jon telling you about the greenseers just yesterday?” Bran replied.

How could he possible know Jon told me that?

“Here is the journal of the Septon who officiated Rhaegar and Lyanna's wedding, I've bookmarked the entry that mentions it.” Sam said and handed it to her.

“Look at Lyanna's tomb. See that lyre? Pick it up and wipe it off.” Howland said. Daenerys complied. As she cleaned it up it she saw that the body of the lyre had a dragon's head and wings, just as Barristan described it.

“This must be my brother's lyre, it would be rather strange for a Stark to have something decorated with a dragon. Or anything but a wolf, for that matter.” Daenerys said.

“And lyres are not common in Northern music anyway. This was by Lyanna's bedside when Jon was born. Ned brought it here so there would be tangible evidence if the time was ever right for the secret to be unveiled.” Howland said.

“Daenerys is Rhaegar's sister! If Rhaegar is my father, then that would make her –” Jon started to say, but choked on his words.

“Your aunt.” Howland said calmly. Jon looked flabbergasted and disgusted, his face was red and puffy from tears.

“I can't take this! Its over!” Jon said, then he stood up and stormed off. Daenerys burst into tears, she had no problem that Jon was her nephew. Once she figured it out, she was nervous he would take issue or press his claim, but for him to sulk off like that cut like a dagger.

“Don't worry, my lady. I will handle this, its why I was brought here in the first place! Good call on bringing me, Sam.” Davos said, then chased after Jon.

I hope Davos can talk some sense into Jon, I still love him. We can make this work. I thought he would have been thrilled to find out he was never a bastard, and to have closure about his mother.

 

Chapter Text

Jon stomped through the crypts, though he truly had no clue where he would go once he reached the exit. All could think about was that his entire identity was false, and that he had laid with his aunt. Despite this news he was still very much in love with her, which only made him feel more disgusted and guilty.

We just fucked a few hours ago, now I don't know that I can bring myself to ever fuck her again. I still want to, that is so irksome. Makes me feel like a Lannister. How can I tell this to Arya and Sansa? My father is my uncle, my aunt is my mother, my lover is my other aunt, my siblings are my cousins, my grandfather killed my other grandfather.

“Jon!” Davos' voice said, echoing through the halls.

“I don't want to talk right now!” Jon said and picked up the pace.

“You can't run from this forever.” Said Davos.

“You're right, but I don't know what to do. I can't stay with Daenerys, she's my aunt. I wish I could stay, but I can't.” Said Jon. Davos slapped him.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, boy? I understand your whole world is shattered now, but that's no excuse for what you just did to Daenerys!” Davos said.

“What was I supposed to do?” Jon said.

“Talk it through! You made that poor girl cry, her heart is breaking. She's your aunt, so what? Your father's parents were siblings, your mother's were cousins. When you two met neither of you had any inkling you shared blood, its not like you were raised as family.” Davos said.

“I just got so caught up in my feelings that –”

“You completely disregarded her feelings! She dedicated her forces to save your homeland and postponed her own goals and ambitions indefinitely, all because she loves you, and this is how you repay her?” Davos said.

“You're right, I was being selfish. And cowardly.” Jon said.

“You may be a lot of things, but you're no coward. You've had how many run ins with the Army of Dead? I've lost count. How many times did you flee? Zero. If you can can charge into hordes of demons head on, then you can deal with this.” Davos said.

“I just don't know how to tell her it is finished between us.” Jon said.

“Good, because it doesn't have to be. Daenerys is one of the most beautiful women in the world, if not the most. Not only that, she's strong, she's powerful, but most important of all: she has a good heart. You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty! If that won't convince you, there is something that will.” Davos said.

“What?” Jon asked. In truth Jon was already having a change of heart, but he wanted to hear what else Davos had to say in order to solidify his choice.

“You spent your whole life believing you were a bastard, almost everyone around you still believes it. All your life people have treated you as less-than, all for something you had no say in. There is a good chance Daenerys is already pregnant, I know you have laid with her. Don't deny it, you two kept me up all night on the way to White Harbor. Do you want your child to grow up a bastard?” Davos said.

“No, of course not. I even turned down a few chances to lose my virginity because I feared that. I didn't lose it until I went North of the Wall, and only because the Freefolk have no stigma towards bastards. They find it baffling. I have no honorable choice but to marry Daenerys, if she is so inclined.” Jon said.

“It seems the so called 'Wildlings' are more enlightened than most of us ostensibly civilized folk. Alright, it is settled. Let's go back there and apologize to her.” Davos said.

“Thank you, I needed that.” Jon said as they started heading back.

“No problem, we all need a good slap sometimes.” Davos said, they both laughed.

 

Chapter Text

“Things are going to work out. We figured Jon would probably have an adverse reaction. Davos will talk some sense into him.” Howland said.

“Like he did with Stannis?” Daenerys asked in bad faith. “I must apologize, I'm just assuming the worst right now.”

“And what would the worst be for you?” Howland asked.

“That he will end our romance, he did say 'its over' after all, and then press his claim and undermine everything I have ever worked for.” Daenerys said, then wiped away her tears and blew her nose with a handkerchief.

“Jon isn't a man who wants power, he will only accept it if thrust upon him. That is why he accepted his crown as King In the North, only to renounce it so quickly. He loves you, and if he would forfeit something he had for you then I very much doubt he would suddenly seek something he never dreamed was even his in the first place.” Sam said.

Shit, I really should apologize for the mammoth in the room.

“I hope you're right. And my apologies for what I did to your family, I deeply regret it. Alas, my regrets won't bring them back. You don't need to forgive me. Jon said he will carry out any future executions I order, and it will be his call on whether to do it.” Daenerys said.

“I'm glad Jon talked some sense into you. I suppose they are partly to blame for what happened.” Sam said.

“And how did you know to show up to Winterfell, Lord Reed?” Daenerys asked.

“I received a summons directly from Bran, in his raven form. At first I thought it was merely a vision, but my daughter assured me it was not. She traveled with Bran for many years, she rescued him when the Army of the Dead attacked where they were staying.” Howland said.

“When I witnessed the Tower of Joy, I could tell it was Howland partly because of his short stature but mostly because he bore the Reed sigil on his surcoat and shield. A green lizard lion biting its tail on white. Even Meera had no idea he was present.” Bran said.

“Good thing I wore those. Crannogmen seldom wear surcoats or use emblazoned shields. We're guerrilla fighters mostly, so we fight in armor that blends in with our surroundings. We only wear our sigils when representing our houses, or in open field combat.” Howland said.

"I'm relieved that Rhaegar is who Ser Barristan said he was." Daenerys said.

"Make no mistake, Rhaegar could be a cunt at times. I remember when he crowned Lyanna, that humiliated his wife Elia and she burst into tears. When he rode off with Lyanna he left Elia to her own devices, and she ended up with Aerys who despised her. We all know how that happened. Robert had gone through all proper steps to secure his betrothal to Lyanna, he had every right to be pissed at what Rhaegar did and assuming he kidnapped her was the most obvious answer." Howland said.

"Rhaegar was preoccupied with prophecies. He became convinced that his son would be Azor Ahai, but only if he was also the Son of Ice and Fire. Targaryens are Fire obviously, but the Martells could be seen as such too and certainly aren't Ice. Lyanna was the most obvious candidate, this caused him to believe their match was meant to be so he fell for her. Part of why he wanted to oust Aerys was because he took the threat of the Dead seriously, and knew Aerys was too preoccupied with his own safety to give any concern." Bran said.

Jon and Davos showed up, Jon looked remorseful. Jon stretched his arms out and Daenerys stood up and hugged him. “I'm so sorry, I didn't mean what I said.” Jon said.

“You had me so worried!” Daenerys said, then planted a warm kiss on Jon.

“I suppose the time has come to discuss the issue of the Iron Throne.” Davos said. “So have a seat, there is much to say.” Jon and Daenerys sat down and he wrapped his arm around her.

“Daenerys is far more qualified for it than I am, even if she is merely my heir. She has spent all her adult life fighting for the Iron Throne, it seems wrong for her to cast that aside just because I have an arbitrarily better claim.” Jon said.

Excellent, neither of my fears have been materialized.

“Recently I had a meeting with Varys and Tyrion, discussing what should be done about your relationship. My proposal was that you two marry, and rule together as husband and wife. Both of you come from Great Houses, you have complementary traits and leadership forms, and as a nice bonus you both love each other. How you will share the Iron Throne and its responsibilities will be left to your discretion. We figured that Jon would make your rule more palatable, Daenerys. He is much more popular here, no offense, my lady.” Davos said.

“None taken, you speak the truth.” Said Daenerys.

“Both Varys and Tyrion praised my plan, thought it was the best course of action. When Sam told me Jon was really a Targaryen, I knew it was even better than we thought. The North has already unwittingly made a Targaryen their ruler, once they learn that there is a good chance they will be accepting of another.” Said Davos.

“Jon and I will need a course of action to disclose this news. What are you thinking, Jon?” Daenerys asked.

“Arya and Sansa deserve to know before anyone else. Sisters or cousins, they are my family. We will summon them to the Godswood and tell them there. Arya will likely be disappointed we aren't siblings, but she will otherwise be fine. Sansa I don't know, but hopefully this will help her come around to you and I. I'm uncertain when we should announce it to the world, we need time to figure it out. We can't rush any of this.” Jon said.

When Arya finds out Jon is legitimate she'll be thrilled for him.

“However and whenever we do it, we must announce our secret before we are engaged. Our marriage must be entered with nothing hidden.” Daenerys said.

“You show wisdom beyond your years, Daenerys. I will vouch for you both when the time comes. I also have some friends I will need you to meet, they are convinced Jon's unique bloodline will be key to defeating the Night King.” Howland said.

“Is that so? Who are these friends you speak of?” Jon asked.

“The Children of the Forest.” Howland replied.

“Jon just told me all about them yesterday, he took me to the Godswood and introduced me to the Old Gods.” Daenerys said.

“They are in the Godswood right now, I brought them with me.” Howland said.

“I have met so many interesting people in my life, but all of them have been human. Not counting my children, of course.” Daenerys said.

“Have you ever heard of Mushroom?” Sam asked.

“Never.” Daenerys said.

“Wasn't he that jester who wrote a book about his career?” Jon asked.

“Yes, that's the one. Here is his book.” Sam said, then handed Jon and Daenerys a volume titled The Testimony of Mushroom. The frontispiece showed a dwarf wearing a hat that resembled a toadstool cap, with a fungal shaped baton to match.

“Seems like a funny little fellow. I suppose I could use a jester, I left most of my entertainment back in Meereen.” Daenerys said.

“Stannis had a jester covered in tattoos, wore a tin pot on his head with sticks attached that looked like antlers. Always rambling nonsense poems. I've always heard Mushroom's book is pretty much the same thing.” Jon said.

“Yes, most of it seems to be a tad far fetched. However there is one claim he makes that is worth investigating. According to him there are dragon eggs buried in this very crypt. He writes that Prince Jacaerys Velaryon was a guest of Lord Cregan Stark, shortly before the Dance of Dragons. His dragon Vermax apparently laid a clutch of eggs, and Jacaerys gifted the eggs to Lord Cregan. This was back when dragons were plentiful, I doubt even a lackwit would give away freshly laid dragon eggs nowadays.” Sam said.

My time as a queen in Essos begun with dragon eggs, I take this to be a good omen.

“Mushroom rarely spoke the truth, he enjoyed toying with people. This is one of those rare instances, I have seen Jacaerys give Lord Cregan the eggs. They should be in his tomb, or adjacent to it.” Bran said.

“I've always wanted to see a dragon egg, I've heard they're a sight to behold.” Davos said.

“I know the spot where Lord Cregan is buried, I saw his tomb on the way here. Follow me.” Jon said as he picked up his torch.

Everyone followed Jon down the dank corridors. Daenerys kept up the pace with Jon, though it was a struggle as she gazed into every nook and cranny to admire the details of the tombs. When they reached Cregan's tomb they waited for Sam and Bran to catch up. Cregan's statue wielded Ice, but there was no direwolf by his side; he had a bushy beard and long, braided hair.

“Alright, either of you may do the honors.” Sam said.

“Go ahead Jon, bones still irk me. Moving or not.” Daenerys said. Jon inserted his torch in an empty sconce, then unsealed the tomb. The alabaster lid made an unpleasant sound.

“Come look! Sorry about the bones.” Jon said.

Daenerys stepped up and looked inside. There were three eggs: a white one covered in red speckles, one covered in green and black stripes like a tiger or zebra, and one that was a brilliant dark silver. Daenerys picked one up, it was quite warm to the touch.

“They are certainly every bit as handsome I had heard. Oh my, they are cold.” Davos said as Daenerys handed one to him.

My handmaids also thought my children's eggs were cold.

“What are we going to do with them?” Jon asked.

“Put them on a brazier so they can incubate. I will bathe them in an open flame when the time feels right.” Daenerys said.

“I must have passed by these eggs a hundred times at least, no joke. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed they were here.” Jon said.

“Dragons have a way of hiding in plain sight.” Howland said.

 

 

Chapter Text

After three nights of choppy water, Storm Dancer arrived in White Harbor well after dark. The galley was captained by a Tyroshi named Moreo Tumitis; who had a forked beard and waxed mustache dyed green, though his long hair was in its natural color. Most of the crew had both their hair and beards dyed all sorts of gaudy and unnatural colors such as blues, greens, pinks, purples, and so on. The Tyroshi were generally seen as a vulgar and abrasive people though Bronn loved their company.

“Is this your first time in White Harbor?” Moreo asked.

“Nah, been up here before for a few assignments.” Bronn answered.

“And what are you up here for this time?” Moreo asked.

“Do you really want to know? Because I'd have to kill you if I told you!” Bronn said, they both had a friendly laugh at the threat.

A group of foot soldiers approached Storm Dancer, they wore kettle helmets and brigandines of blue and white stripes over gambesons. One of them carried a forked pennant of an identical design.

“May I help you gentlemen?” Moreo asked the soldiers.

“Were here to do a customs check.” They answered.

They don't look or sound like any Northmen I've ever met.

“Where are the Manderly guards? Usually they are present with a customs officer, or at least in the area.” Moreo asked.

“Over at Winterfell, Jon Snow summoned all of House Manderly's forces. We're members of the Windblown, Lord Manderly hired us to keep the peace and defend White Harbor in the event of a wight attack. I still ain't convinced there's any wights, Jon Snow seems like a mad man if you ask me.” One of the Windblown replied.

“Lord Manderly is a smart man. Alright, come on up.” Moreo said as he gestured to his crew to lower the boarding ramp.

“The Dead are real, I've seen them with my own to eyes. Even killed a few. That's why I'm here.” Bronn said as they came on board.

“Is that so? Well you'll need a ticket of leave to head up there.” A Windblown said, the others were busy performing the inspection on the ship.

“Where can I get one?” Bronn asked.

“At the notary's office, won't be open 'till tomorrow morning I'm afraid.” The Windblown said.

“Alright then, I guess I'll find an inn for the night. Goodbye, Moreo.” Bronn said.

“Until we meet again.” Moreo said.

“Not so fast, I'm going to have to check your knapsack and valise.” The Windblown said.

Fuck no he ain't. Can't have some lowly sellsword confiscate my new crossbow, that thing is probably worth a year of his wages.

“How about I pay you two hundred dragons to waive the inspection?” Bronn whispered in the Windblown's ear, then jingled his coin purse.

“I was hoping you'd say that.” The Windblown whispered as he pocketed the cash.

With the bribe completed, Bronn strolled off the ship and left the waterfront. Snow capped every building and icicles were frequent, but the streets were freshly plowed and salted. Bronn entered Fishfoot Yard, a cobblestone plaza at the center of the city with a massive fountain. At the center of the fountain was a twenty foot merman, his beard was covered in lichen and a prong from his trident was missing. The fountain was illuminated by lanterns.

Bronn reached a large warehouse, then took a flight of stairs down to the local wine sink. It was called the Lazy Eel and featured a swinging wooden sign with a sleeping electric eel. The city was pretty quiet at this hour, but the Lazy Eel was bustling. A mediocre bard playing a dulcimer sang The Dornishmen's Wife, but most of the patrons were busy watching the cockfight going on in the pit in the center of the room. Others kept themselves busy with liar's dice and arm wrestling. Patrons were a hodgepodge of sailors, fishwives, longshoremen, peddlers, and Windblown.

“What can I get for you?” A barmaid asked as Bronn sat down at a table.

“An eel pie and whatever your most expensive drink is.” Bronn said, he knew this was the sort of establishment where most wine was closer to vinegar and beer was generally watered down.

“Be back shortly.” The barmaid said.

Seven Hell's I've been spoiled by the Street of Silk establishments, especially Chataya's. Now all these whores are utterly unfuckable for me.

One doughy whore sat at the other end of the table, eating a platter of fried chicken and shrimp and guzzling milk of the poppy. She had no teeth, but somehow managed to gnaw through the chicken. Her age was hard to determine, her eyes were sunken and her face haggard.

“Hello love, fancy a tumble?” The toothless whore asked.

“No.” Bronn replied.

“You sure about that? You look like you could use some head at least!” The toothless whore said, sounding agitated.

“From your gummy maw? Fuck no!” Bronn said.

“You heard him, go fuck off. He's mine!” Another whore said. This one was rail thin, she had a few teeth and her greasy hair was sloppily dyed a disgusting green.

“I ain't interested in you neither!” Bronn said as the green-haired whore put her arm around him. Her breath reeked of cheep liquor and milk of the poppy.

“Fine then, have it your way!” The whore said, the proceeded to swipe the dirk from Bronn's belt and stab herself in the leg with it. “Help! He's trying to kill me!” She shrieked out to the entire business.

“Lies! She's just upset that I turned her down! Probably needs some cash before the poppy cravings kick in.” Bronn said as he was swarmed by Windblown who pointed weapon at them.

“Stop right there, criminal scum!” Said one of them, a short and muscular bald man with a face covered in spiderweb tattoos.

Fuck, there's no way I'm fighting my way out of this and living.

“I yield, but I didn't do it.” Bronn said as he raised his hands in the air.

“You're under arrest, we're taking you to the Wolf's Den.” The tattooed Windblown said as he handcuffed Bronn. Bronn's knapsack and valise were confiscated.

Gods dammit! If they see the contract inside there I am probably a dead man.

 

Chapter Text

“I hope she won't dally much longer.” Brienne said.

“Don't worry, she'll be here soon.” Arya said.

“I was happy to hear she wants to begin combat lessons. I've wanted to meet her for some time, and I'm always happy to see women learning the blade.” Brienne said.

“She's the best. I just wish Sansa would get to know her.” Arya said, she looked concerned.

“Sansa has been so rude to her, I made it clear I do not approve of such behavior.” Brienne said.

“I'm glad, you always speak true.” Arya said and smiled.

There was a rap on the door. Brienne got up to answer, it was Daenerys. The Dragon Queen wore a fur robe and her silver hair in a bun. She looked eager yet tired, as if she didn't get enough sleep the night before.

“I have heard so much about you! From what I have gathered, you are a true knight. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Daenerys said.

“I'm not a knight. I'm pleased to meet you as well, Your Grace.” Brienne said.

“You're not? I'm sure its a matter of time before you are an anointed Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Daenerys said with a wink and coy smile.

Is she trying to seduce me to vassalage? I would love to serve her if I deem her worthy, but I can only do so as long as it does not conflict with my vow to Catelyn. No knighthood, land, or gold will convince me to violate that sacred oath.

“I should hope so, Your Grace. Once you get dressed we can begin your training.” Brienne said then pointed to the racks were the practice armor was hung. The practice armor consisted of leather pants, an extra padded gambeson, a leather jerkin that was also well padded, and an oaken helmet worn over a wool cap. The practice swords were made of cedar and wrapped in thick, soft leather. Daenerys dropped her robe and put the practice armor over her drawers.

“Alright, I'm ready!” Daenerys said she brandished a practice sword, she smiled ear to ear with bared teeth. Brienne adored her enthusiasm.

“Start by attacking one of the scarecrows, don't hold back.” Brienne said and pointed to the scarecrows there were lined up on one side of the gymnasium.

“Hyaaaaaaah!” Daenerys yelled out as she hacked away at a scarecrow until it was a pile of broken sticks. Her mouth open as wide as a striking adder and her lips projected out far.

She shows promise, though she clearly is imitating her idea of how one should carry themselves in battle. Nothing I can't fix.

“You waste energy by yelling like that, but your raw force is impressive.” Brienne said.

“Sorry, I was just imitating the Dothraki screamers.” Daenerys said.

“No need to apologize, every novice makes egregious errors. Now try on another scarecrow, don't yell this time.” Brienne said.

Daenerys complied. She managed to destroy the second scarecrow in half the time; her form was much the same, flailing and inefficient blows.

“Much better. Conserving energy is key to winning a fight, every move you make should be calculated and serve a purpose. This is a universal principle, boxers often win by going on the offensive after allowing their opponent to land several blows until they are tired. Provoking your opponent to tire is foolhardy in armed combat, but making sure you don't get tired too quickly is vital. So tell me, do the wights use weapons?” Brienne asked.

“No, they don't. The Walkers do, Jon has been in a few melees with them. One messed him up pretty bad yesterday.” Daenerys responded.

“I'm relieved to hear the wights don't, when I was a girl I remember seeing an illuminated manuscript in my father's study that showed them fully armed and armored. So are you taking lessons with the intention of fighting the Walkers? We may face them any moment now, I doubt you'll have time to receive sufficient training.” Brienne said.

“As do I, but better than no training at all. I hope I won't have to fight one, truth be told. However I wish to be prepared as much as possible should it come to that. Should I survive this war, I plan to fight in others. No way will I win the Iron Throne with a bloodless revolution. I take my job as a ruler most seriously. A good ruler fights, king or queen.” Daenerys said.

Her dedication to being a true leader is admirable, she wants to lead her subjects in every way. The last person to sit on the Iron Throne who was a warrior was Robert, last one to competently rule was Jaehaerys. Seems Daenerys will attempt both with the best of her abilities.

“Alright, for you to try practicing on a live subject. Arya, grab a shield.” Brienne said.

“Ready when you are.” Arya said.

“Daenerys try and poke Arya with your sword!” Brienne said.

Daenerys tried stabbing, slashing, and odd mixes of the two to no avail. No matter how hard or fast she struck, Arya blocked each blow; she alternated between blocking with her shield and parrying with her swords. Finally Daenerys manged to jab Arya's belly, though it looked like Arya let her guard down on purpose.

Wonder if Arya will ever figure out I let her win the first time we sparred, I figured that would be a good boost for her morale.

“Bravo, Daenerys!” Brienne said as she clapped her hands. “Now its time to switch places with Arya. Hand her the shield, Arya.”

“Can't I just keep the shield up?” Daenerys said.

“You could, but that would then Arya could just aim for an unshielded area. Try and block where you think she will strike. Follow her movements with your eyes. Once this exercise is done we can bathe and I'll go over things with you. Ready, go!” Brienne said.

At first Arya seemed to aim for the shield, which gave Daenerys confidence as the exercise lagged on. Gradually Arya aimed for shield adjacent areas, giving Daenerys enough time to move the shield. Finally Arya decided to strike far from the shield, and even with her slowed down swing the sword hit Daenerys' thigh.

Once Daenerys yielded the trio put away all the equipment then headed for the gymnasium's bath, which was a single thermal spring. Many such hot springs existed throughout Winterfell, indeed that was why Winterfell was built where it was in the first place. The spring was formed like a misshapen oval and was large enough to hold half a dozen bathers. Slanted holes were carved into the wooden walls to allow for sunlight but deny peepers.

They all shed their underclothes and entered the spring. Daenerys entered in immediately and bobbed her head under the water, but Arya and Brienne waded in slowly to acclimate to the heat. Brienne was ashamed of her body for all her life, and the now routine ritual of bathing with Arya after they exercised with cathartic. Arya had no shame about her body, Brienne often wondered if Arya felt shame about anything. Daenerys seemed to have similar confidence, and Brienne felt as if the three of them were now equals.

“I love how hot this is! Almost as hot as my personal baths. So how did I do?” Daenerys asked perkily as her head popped up above the water.

“You won't survive in a fight with an armed opponent, but I suppose you may against wights. Which is no cause for alarm, today's goal was to see your raw skills. Tomorrow our lesson will focus on blocking, you will be doing plenty of that when the wights come. Lord Howland offered to have a suit of armor made for you, have you followed through with him?” Brienne asked.

“I did, I had my measurements taken shortly after that court adjourned. I'm looking forward to see the finished product, I love how reptilian the crannogmen armor is.” Daenerys said.

“Leather armor is the best choice for women our size, or anyone our size. We're practically giantesses compared to some crannogmen, certainly the crannogwomen.” Arya said, she and Daenerys laughed, though Brienne was irked at making a joke at the expense of someone's size.

“And what would that make me?” Brienne said.

“Sorry, I didn't mean to offend.” Arya said.

“Its quite alright, I know you would never aim to upset me. So what do you two plan on doing later?” Brienne asked.

“I have a surprise planned for Arya, if she's free.” Daenerys said.

“Of course I am.” Arya said.

Brienne was happy Arya now had another friend, she was impressed with how familiar they seemed after such a short time. Making friends never came easy to Brienne. Renly she counted as one, as was Jaime after he revealed his true self. Arya seemed to make friends easily, and Brienne was thankful Arya took initiative. Now it seemed perhaps Brienne may make yet another friend, and most importantly perhaps found another ruler worthy of serving. Brienne smiled at the thought.

 

Chapter Text

Sansa was finally feeling herself again, though she continued to stay inside to avoid anything that could set off another terror. She sat in the Winterfell solar and played her high harp and sang, it was a gorgeous piece made of apple wood with roses and apples carved into the body. Lady Leonette Fossoway, one of Queen Margaery's family, had taught Sansa to play and gifted the instrument to her. Playing music gave Sansa a sense of calm, it reminded her of more peaceful times.

 

Look how the light of the town,
T'lights of the town are shining now,
Tonight I'll be dancing around,
I'm off on the road to Galway now.
Look how she's off on the town,
She's off on a search for sailors though,
There's fine fellas here to be found,
She's never been one to stay at home.”

 

There was a knock in the door.

“Just a moment.” Sansa said then got up. She looked through the peephole, it was Jon.

“How are you doing?” Jon asked as he entered the room.

“Better. You're looking keen.” Sansa said. Jon was dressed far more fashionably than Sansa had seen since before he Took the Black, he wore a silver doublet and green trousers.

“I'm glad you hear you're doing better, and thanks. Daenerys bought this for me when we were in King's Landing. She thought I needed something a bit more regal for when I'm not going to fight. I personally would rather just wear my surcoat, but this makes her happy. She's as much of a fashionista as you are. You look very fine today.” Jon said.

Of course she made him wear that, she dresses him up like a little doll. Glad he noticed my dress, I did spend a lot of time on this one.

“You always did have a lovely voice, nice to see you kept up with your musicianship.” Jon said.

“Thank you, I learned to play the high harp in King's Landing. Probably my favorite instrument to play, it feels so elegant. Have a seat. I'm sorry I wasn't able to say goodbye before you went off. I really should have, I feared you wouldn't come back.” Sansa said.

“I understand. You weren't well yesterday, you needed your rest. If I had woken you up then you probably wouldn't have been able to go back to sleep. I knew you were in good hands, no way would Arya and Brienne neglect you. I heard Sandor carried you to safety.” Jon said.

“He did, he's always been very protective of me.” Sansa said.

“Arya says he saved her life multiple times. She may have been his prisoner, but she says he taught her what she needed to survive.” Jon said.

“Theon is here as well, he wants to defend Winterfell.” Sansa said.

“Arya told me, I need to pay him a visit. Daenerys told me to give you this.” Jon said and handed her a small jar.

“What is this?” Sansa asked as she opened the jar, it looked like some kind of balm and smelled of lavender.

“She says rubbing it on your face has a soothing effect, helps stave off anxiety and uneasy feelings. I'm not sure if it could stave off one of your waking terrors, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Anything to soften the blow.” Jon said.

I wonder if she is being sincere or she is trying to manipulate me.

“That's kind of her.” Sansa said as she rubbed some on her cheeks. The smell was indeed quite calming, and Sansa enjoyed the feeling on her skin.

“You really need to stop ignoring her, I can tell you've wounded her. There was no reason why you shouldn't have drank with her when she invited you. Arya loved it, they had a great time. Why are you acting this way towards her?” Jon asked.

“Because she's undermining m–, us, us. You especially. We made you King, only for her to talk you into forfeiting your crown. What would Father think? How do you think Robb would feel if he knew you would undo everything that he gave his life for?” Sansa replied.

“They're both dead, let's not speak on their behalf. I often ask myself what they would do in my boots, Father especially, but we can't live our lives worrying about what the departed want. I renounced my crown because we needed Daenerys to defeat the Night King and that was her condition at first. I was hesitant, but she agreed to help and when I saw her for who she is I came to believe in her. The Freefolk don't serve who has the best claim to the throne, they don't even have thrones, they only follow a king or queen if they deem them worthy. Its something that is earned, not inherited. She is worthy of ruling and being served, she proved she herself when she agreed to help us. Staying sovereign won't do any good if the wights overrun us.” Jon said.

“Did you truly bend the knee because you believe she is a worthy ruler, or because you love her?” Sansa asked.

“Love didn't come into the equation until later, at least as I recall it. But that is part of why she agreed to help us, because she loves me. She cares about us, and our home. Originally she aimed to attack King's Landing and depose Cersei immediately, but when I showed her the threat beyond the Wall she decided to put off her goals. Everything she ever wanted is being postponed, for us. She even lost one of her children trying to convince Cersei to give us aid.” Jon said.

“But she's not one of us, she never will be. If she truly cared about our home then she wouldn't impose her rule over us. If you care about us then you will push her to grant us independence, otherwise you are truly lost to her.” Sansa said.

“We are at war. Now is not the time to discuss governance. When the Army of the Dead is vanquished we can determine what is in the best interest for the kingdom.” Jon said.

Gods I hope he will come to his senses, he's thinking with the wrong head. If he doesn't then he will suffer the same fate as Robb, led to his downfall by an Essosi strumpet.

“And what will happen when the North demands independence? Will you be able to persuade your Queen to choose peace, or will you agree with her when she turns her hordes against our home?” Sansa asked.

“Its not a matter of when, its a matter of if. There is no way of predicting how our banners will feel once this war is over. I hope it won't come to that, but if it does you're damn right I'm going to do everything in my power to talk her out of attacking. Which is assuming she will want to start yet another war in the first place.” Jon said.

“So you think the North should be independent?” Sansa asked.

“What I think doesn't matter. I bent the knee to Daenerys, I will do as she commands within reason. If the North comes out in favor of succession than I will do everything in my power to resolve the issue peacefully.” Jon said.

“And if the issue can't be resolved peacefully?” Sansa asked.

“Then I will side with my family. I love you and Arya will all my heart, you know that right?” Jon asked.

“Of course I do.” Sansa said.

“Then you should know I would never do anything to harm you, and everything I do has all of our best interests in mind.” Jon said.

“So its in our best interest to pursue a lover I don't approve of?” Sansa asked.

“I'm sorry you don't approve of her, but I don't need you to. You don't need to be her friend, all I'm asking is for you to give her a chance.” Jon said.

“Fine, I will.” Sansa said.

“I'm glad to hear it. I need to be heading out.” Jon said, then they hugged and he kissed her on the forehead and said goodbye.

 

Chapter Text

Work on Jaime's hand was an uphill battle. Tyrion's schematics proved to be every bit as sophisticated as they appeared, though finding all of the right parts was a struggle. Some of the gears and other mechanisms needed to be made, which slowed down production considerably. With jobs like this, Tobho preferred to do most of the work and have Gendry supervise the other apprentices on more mundane projects.

“How is productivity looking?” Tobho asked. He was sitting at a workbench and a wore a pair of Myrish magnifying goggles to assist with fine tuning gears.

“Excellent, at this rate nobody in Winterfell should be unarmed. If civilians are forced to face the wights, they at least will have dragonglass daggers to ward them off.” Gendry said.

“Glad to hear it. Once the full moon is out we can begin work on the Valryian steel, I've already embossed the crucible with the necessarily incantations.” Tobho said as he pointed to the crucible with his forceps.

He always was easily excited by newer projects. Of course in this case its entirely sensible, not every day one is contracted to revive lost technology.

“I wrote a quick note to Daenerys telling her that we will need her dragons for the creation process. I handed it to a laundress, she will deliver it when she brings Daenerys' fresh clothes to her bedchamber.” Gendry said.

“Imagine how rich we will be once we're able to return to King's Landing. Even if Daenerys dies we can still make Valyrian steel so long as her dragons don't, I've no doubt Cersei would still pay us handsomely. Valryian steel is the most valuable commodity in the world, not even dragon eggs are comparable. When Tywin hired me to create new swords out of Ice, he told me he spent the entirety of his lordship trying to find a replacement for the Lannister ancestral weapon. Tywin approached every house with a Valyrian blade he could find, and told them he would be willing to buy it from them at whatever price they wished. You know how many considered that offer?” Tobho asked.

“None, otherwise he would have already had a replacement.” Gendry answered.

“Just so. Even the poorest houses refused, even though Tywin could have elevated them to great wealth. That is how we know the stuff is so valuable, because nobody who has one will part from it willingly. And now the secret to creating it is in our hands alone.” Tobho said.

Surely the secret being known at all will drive down the price. If we make too many every Great House will have one, and their principal bannermen will follow suit. That would drive the value down drastically and soon even hedge knights could afford it.

There was a knock on the door.

“I'll get it.” Gendry said. Gendry opened the forge entrance and there was a tall Summer Islander standing there, he wore a feather cloak and had a pet parrot and monkey. He was noticeably lighter than any others that Gendry had seen and his hair had corkscrew curls similar to Missandei's. Most strikingly, he looked very much like Gendry.

“Are you Gendry by chance?” The Summer Islander asked.

“Yes, it is I.” Gendry replied.

“My name is Kulungu Waters, I think we're brothers.”

“Tobho, may I leave for some privacy?” Gendry asked.

“Long lost family are always a priority, of course you may.” Tobho said.

“Same mother or same father? I know the tavern my mother worked at gets sailors from all over the Known World.” Gendry asked as they walked outside to stroll the courtyard.

“My father was King Robert.” Kulungu responded.

“As was mine, so we are brothers.” Gendry said.

“Are you also a Waters?” Kulungu asked.

“I am. Born and raised in King's Landing.” Gendery replied.

“As was I. My mother is a prominent businesswoman in there, its where I lived until I was sent off to live in the Neck to escape Cersei and Jofferey. Before that I was the squire to Jalabhar Xho, the exiled prince.” Kulungu said.

“Hard to believe we have the same father and same hometown, yet we grew up worlds apart. Did you ever meet Father?” Gendry asked.

“I knew him, Prince Jalabhar was one of his good friends. The prince always tried to convince Father to authorize an expedition to conquer the Summer Isles. 'Maybe next year!' Father would always say. I'm sure he loved the idea of an Eighth Kingdom ruled by House Xho, but like everything else he had little love for the reality of it.” Kulungu answered.

“Did you know he was our Father?” Gendry asked.

“I had no idea, I thought he just had an affinity for me. Always had nice gifts for me. He was one of my mother's top customers, so I did often see him there. I didn't find out until Ned visited with my mother, she told me everything. Ned was the one who suggested I be sent to the crannogs. Lord Howland was one of his closest friends.” Kulungu responded.

“How did you know about me? I was told one of my brothers was here by a good friend, but we probably have siblings in every major castle.” Gendry said.

“Hahaha! Good one! Yes, I'm sure we do. Jon told me, I was with him on yesterday's expedition to the Dreadfort.” Kulungu said.

“Jon is a good man. I went with him and a few others beyond the Wall to capture a wight. Tyrion thought bringing a live wight might have convinced Cersei to send troops to fight the Army of the Dead. Not sure why anyone thought she was persuadable, she couldn't keep a promise if her life depended on it.” Gendry said.

“Cersei always hated Xho, called him nothing more than a dandy beggar. Good thing she didn't know I was Robert's bastard, she was cruel enough to me for being Xho's squire.” Kulungu said.

“So who all went on the mission?” Gendry asked.

“Me, the Hound, Tormund Giantsbane, Beric Dondarion, Lord Glover, Ser Jorah and the rest of the Queensguard, then Jon and Daenerys of course.” Kulungu said.

“All of them went on the wight hunt, save for Glover and the Queensguard besides Jorah. Some of the best warriors in the Known World, I honestly don't even know why I was picked. I heard Glover was devoured by wights.” Gendry said.

“That he was. We'd all be wight shit if it wasn't for him. When we were running to the dragons to escape, he stayed back and held them off. I didn't like him at first, he made some crass remarks about my adopted family; but I'm convinced he was a good man deep down inside.” Kulungu said.

“So you're a seasoned fighter, then?” Gendry asked.

“I've killed bandits mostly. The Neck is a popular hideout for outlaw gangs, rather foolhardy of them to think they could hide from Crannogmen. Xho trained me on the bow and blade, Lord Howland showed me how to hunt and hide. And you?” Kulungu replied.

When he first told me about himself I thought he was just some spoiled squire, but he seems to have lived in the real world. Far more so than most well off bastards.

“I was trained to make arms and armor, not to use them. I've fought my way out of a few scrapes, I use a war hammer like Father did.” Gendry said.

“Impressive, I've never used a blunt weapon before. Neither Xho nor Reed use them. Nobody in the Summer Isles or Neck wears heavy armor, so such heavy weapons are unnecessary. I'm sure Father would be proud.” Kulungu said.

“I've killed wights with it.” Gendry said.

“Ha! That I'd pay to see. I'm sure a hammer would be useful against the Walkers, their armor seems quite tough.” Kulungu said.

“Could I take a look at your sword?” Gendry asked.

“For my brother, yes.” Kulungu said and unsheathed it.

“Remarkable. My master has several exotic display pieces, but rarely makes any because there is little demand.” Gendry said as he examined the sword, it was a scimitar made of Valyrian steel and a hilt of antler. Star shapes were cut out of the blade, something Gendry had never seen before.

“Its been a pleasure meeting you, but regrettably I have a pressing matter to speak to Lord Reed about. See you later, my brother.” Kulungu said then hugged Gendry.

“See you soon.” Gendry said.

 

Chapter Text

For the past year or so, Cersei seldom spent much time on the Iron Throne. She hated sitting on it, as much as she had obsessed over having it for most of her adult life. So cold and painful, she truly wondered what Aegon was thinking when he crafted it. Surely it could have been lined with velvet cushioning at the very least. As much as she hated Robert, she no longer blamed him for not wanting to sit in that ugly chair. She also hated dealing with others face to face; she preferred to isolate herself from those she deemed inferior.

Today she decided to have a court session, for she found a way to flex her power to the courtiers. The Golden Company was most generous, so she figured it would be perfect to show off their gifts to all. On the right side of the throne room a cage was brought where all of her new pets were displayed. They roared at passerby, and were silenced with live poultry and rabbits brought in from the kitchen. Many courtiers had menageries of at least modest size, but lions were much too big for that sort of thing. Only in a traveling carnival could you find such beasts. Qyburn flanked her on her right side and the Mountain on her left.

“I have received a reply from the Wildlings, would you like to read it or would you prefer that I read it aloud to the court?” Qyburn asked.

“Go ahead and read it, I'd love for the courtiers to witness an alliance being born.” Cersei said.

Once I have dealt with the Wildlings nobody will undermine me again.

“Oh Queen, Southron succubus and the Stranger's kith and kin, wet nurse to the Night King himself. You call yourself a lioness, yet you cannot hunt or even kill a squirrel by sitting on it with your bony ass. The Stranger cums and your armies eat. You will not, you wretched whore, make kneelers out of the Freefolk. We have no fear of your army, we'll proudly help Jon and Dragonsmum defeat you by land and by sea. Go fuck your brother!” Qyburn said with a grandiose reading voice.

“Fucking stop this instant! This is outrageous! How dare he accuse me of being a wet nurse! I fed my own children with my own teats, something most highborn women consider beneath them. Or is he accusing one of my children of being the Night King?” Cersei asked, outraged.

“Finish it! We need to hear whether the Wildings have accepted the deal or not!” One of the courtiers shouted, others agreed.

Are these lackwits such imbeciles that they can't tell the Wildlings have flatly rejected my gracious offer? Or do they find it funny that savages think stringing together vulgar insults constitutes writing a letter?

“You Andal tavern maid, queen only to First Men kneelers, shrew of the Realm, shepherdess of the Stormlands, rust of the Crownlands, witch of the Westerlands, brewess of Casterly Rock, and fishwife of Lannisport. You are a lowly jester of this world and all spirit realms, an embarrassment to all gods, daughter of a garter snake, and nothing more than a crick in our cocks. Boar's snout, she-bear's cunt, pariah dog, go blow your own brother!

May your seven puny gods have mercy on you, for neither us nor our own innumerable gods will. You are only Queen because you killed your husband and kids, but the Freefolk have a different way of picking our kings and queens. We only follow those we deem worthy of following, and we chose Jon Snow and his beloved Chainbreaker!

The Freefolk declare that you are not even worthy to shovel mammoth shit for us. We don't have calendars, but we are under the same sun and moon as you; so you can lick our ballsacks and cunts! Signed Tormund Giantsbane, sworn brother of Jon Snow.” Qyburn said.

“You think this is funny?” Cersei asked to the audience. “Good, glad you don't. I offered the Wildlings the chance to forge a clandestine alliance with me, and they tossed the opportunity away like lice on their bushes. Their loss, I doubt they would have been good bannermen anyway. Now do any of you have any news to report on?”

“Yes, good news at that.” A courtier said as he raised his hand.

“Go on, Admiral Aurane.” Cersei said. The admiral was a handsome man with Valyrian features that reminded Cersei of her beloved Rhaegar. He wore baggy, striped pants, a captain's hat with a peacock feather, and a white shirt with a leather jerkin over it. Both his jerkin and his hat bore a patch of a blue seahorse on a white shield.

“The new galleys should be done within a fortnight. Combined with the Iron Fleet we should have the most powerful navy in the world. My press gangs have rounded up enough convicts to ensure each ship is adequately crewed, a much better use of them then sending them up to the Wall to fight Snarks and Grumkins.” Aurane said.

“Bravo. I just sent the Iron Fleet on a little errand, with your new ships I can have King's Landing safe while I send the Ironborn on further excursions. Does anyone else have anything to report on?” Cersei asked, there was silence. “Nobody? Very well then, perhaps it is time for some amusement. Bolero, surely you have some jests for us?” Cersei asked.

“I was worried you would ask!” Said Bolero. Bolero was a disgraced playwright turned jester from Braavos. He wore a black dunce cap and domino mask, a lace ruff, and a frilly one piece garment of black and white diamonds. In his hand was a sock puppet named Wizbang. “So the Wildlings turned down a chance for an alliance, turns out even savages won't trust the Lannisters these days!” Bolero said, everyone but Cersei seemed amused.

“I've heard they fuck bears, but turns out they won't stick their cocks in past their prime lioness cunt!” Bolero said through Wizbang, Cersei found Bolero to be a mediocre ventriloquist.

“And I heard that Bolero was the wittiest playwright in the Free Cities, turns out he's a one trick parrot who rattles off formulaic cock jokes.” Cersei said, the courtiers laughed.

“You're just hysterical because Bolero has a cock and you don't!” Wizbang said.

“No, I'm rather used to that. All my life I've been judged by what's in my drawers, one grows quite desensitized. However there are many things I can never stand, such as spoiled sons of merchants who think its cute and whimsical to disrespect a monarch. Ser Strong! Sieze Bolero!” Cersei said coldy and collected. The Mountain seized the jester with one hand.

“No! Please, release me! Telling jokes isn't a crime! I can tell any kind of jokes you want, give me a topic and I'll give you some!” Bolero cried out in tears, Cersei smirked at the sight.

“Qyburn, open the feeding hatch to the cages. I think my new children are getting hungry.” Cersei said and pointed to the lion cages.

“Right away, Your Grace.” Qyburn said, then walked over to the lion cage with the Mountain and Bolero in tow.

Father always said that one weak link can break the chain of a mighty dynasty. He narrowly spared House Lannister of that fate with both his father and grandson. I will not be another weak link, and now nobody would even dream that I am.

 

Chapter Text

After they finished bathing, Arya and Daenerys returned to the great keep and changed into some winter clothes. Daenerys knew very little about dressing for cold weather, so Arya was more than happy to help her find a suitable outfit. They both wore lined sealskin parkas, Arya's was a silver color that she wore with a green scarf and gloves while Daenerys' was a good deal darker than Arya's and worn with a red scarf and gloves.

This outfit looks stunning on her, of course she'd look good in a flour sack. She's so lovely, no wonder Jon is head over heels for her. I wonder if Sansa is jealous of her; I should hope not, their beauty is equal.

“Is this your first time wearing pants?” Arya asked.

“No, I've worn them many times. Especially on the road, the Dothraki are a practical people.” Daenerys answered.

“I like pants so much more than skirts, much more freedom to move and usually warmer. Have you ever played in the snow?” Arya asked.

“Never. There are parts of Essos that do get snow, but my brother never let me go outside when it was snowing. He didn't let me go outside very often anyway.” Daenerys said.

The duo were walking on a path outside Winterfell, beyond the guest encampments. On the side of the trail were tall evergreens, with branches weighed down with snow and icicles. Arya picked up a rock and threw it at one, and a cluster of snow fell off and the branch sprung right up. Daenerys followed suit and seemed amused.

“So what did you have planned for us? Surely you don't just want us to go on a little nature walk.” Arya asked.

“You'll just have to wait and see. I have far more planned than a mere stroll.” Daenerys replied with a closed mouth smile and gave Arya a wink.

“Are you taking me to the dragons?” Arya asked with wide eyes.

“You are a persistent one. Yes, I am. I wanted it to be a surprise, but nothing gets past you. I gave you some more of that spiceflower shampoo so you would have my scent, they tend to be wary of people who aren't their mother. I gave Brienne some as well because I didn't want to be rude by leaving her out.” Daenerys answered.

Ooh, I hope she'll let me ride one. I've always wanted to ride a dragon.

“She looked really happy when you washed her hair, she's not good at expressing her emotions but I can tell she felt honored. I've always loved dragons! When I was nine I memorized the name of every dragon, and all of the female dragon riders.” Arya side with a big smile.

“Is that so? Who are your favorites?” Daenerys asked, she looked impressed.

“That's a toughie, I love them all. Rhaenys and Visenya are obvious choices, especially Visenya for me; I love that Visenya used a sword in battle. Alysanne is another I really like, she did so much to improve the Realm and everyone in the North loved her; there's even a few landmarks named after her up here. Then there's others like Laena Velaryon and Nettles, I always loved their sense of adventure. Who are your favorites?” Arya asked.

“I'm familiar with Aegon's sisters and Alysanne, but not really with any of the others. Viserys preferred to tell me about Maegor I and Aegon IV, ones like them. Perhaps I should start reading up on Stark history, find exemplary Stark women you aren't familiar with.” Daenerys said and they both giggled at the thought.

“Good luck with that, I know my family even more than yours and we're much older. Ooh, we're here!” Arya said as they reached the hill where the dragons were perched. The hill was blackened and covered in bones of big game. Both dragons looked eager when they saw their mother.

“Follow me, keep a distance.” Daenerys said as she picked up the pace. “Mama's back! I've missed you two, I have a friend for you to meet.”

Daenerys gave loving rubs on the faces of her sons. They nuzzled her back, and she gave an ear to ear smile with her eyes and mouth closed.

She looks so happy with them, she's such a loving soul.

“C'mon, Arya! Don't be shy.” Daenerys said. Arya slowly walked forward until she reached Daenerys and Drogon.

“This is my friend, Arya. She's Jon's half-sister!” Daenerys said.

“No, I'm his sister! I don't believe in half-siblings.” Arya said.

“Oops, I'm so sorry! I hope you're not upset.” Daenerys said, she looked panicked.

“Its fine, just remember next time. Sansa used to always correct people who called Jon our brother, that really pissed me off. I'm also pissed with how she's been treating you, but Jon said he'll talk to her about that.” Arya said.

“Good, I've been worried. Is she doing okay? I heard she suffered from a waking terror the other day, that's dreadful.” Daenerys asked with a look and tone of concern.

“She's on the mend, I spent most of yesterday taking care of her. I took Missandei to the Godswood and a few other places, but I checked on Sansa throughout the day. Sansa has always been a bitch, but we're still sisters and I don't love her any less than Jon.” Arya said.

“Do you think you or Jon can help persuade her to open up to me? If she changes her heart I won't shun her.” Daenerys asked.

“Jon probably can, I hope so anyway. But I don't think I could, we've always had disagreements so if anything I would only make it worse.” Arya said.

“I've always wanted a sister. Viserys was so cruel to me, I often fancied the thought of having a sister. I always supposed we'd get along splendidly, but turns out even sisters can have conflict.” Daenerys said in a somber tone.

She seems so lonely, very hungry for validation and a family to call her own. Jon and I will be her family whether Sansa approves or not. Hopefully Sansa will have a change of heart, then she can be part of the family too.

“We can be sisters!” Arya said.

“You mean it? That's the sweetest thing anyone ever said to me!” Daenerys said, her eyebrows shot up and she gave a big toothy smile. The two embraced.

“Of course I do, I'd never lie about such a thing. Family isn't about sharing blood, its about supporting one another.” Arya said.

“Go ahead and touch one of my children, by now they should know you're a friend of their mother.” Daenerys said. They ended their hug, then Arya took off her gloves and rubbed the scales of Drogon's neck. They were rough to the touch.

“So warm, I wasn't expecting that.” Arya said.

“How'd you like to go on a ride with me?” Daenerys offered.

“I was hoping you'd ask!” Arya responded with a wide grin.

“Where would you like to go?” Daenerys asked.

“There's a cave Jon used to take me to where a crazy hermit lived. There's a hot spring, we can go swimming in it.” Arya said.

“Umm, Jon has already taken me there.” Daenerys said, her cheeks turned crimson.

“Oh, I see. Hope you had a good 'tour,' hahaha.” Arya said cheekily and winked.

“We did.” Daenerys said. “Anywhere else you'd suggest?”

“We can go to the barrows, its where the ancient kings were buried. Queen Alysanne went there during her tour of the North. You're the first Dragon Queen since her to visit the North, it would be fitting if I took you there.” Arya said.

“Jon told me all about the kings your ancestors fought when he showed me the crypts. I'd love to see where those kings are buried. Alright, let me hop on Drogon and I'll help you up.” Daenerys said. She effortlessly got on her dragon's back, then reached her arm down as far as she could for Arya. Arya jumped as high as she could, and after three attempts decided to climb up Drogon's scales. Once Arya was up she sat behind Daenerys with her arms around the Queen's waist, her fingers interlaced.

I can't believe I'm on a real dragon!

Daenerys said something in High Valyrian and the dragons took off. Arya looked down at the ground with near disbelief as everything seemed to shrink as they ascended. When they flew over the military camps the Dothraki and Unsullied looked so small they reminded Arya of the tin soldiers she and Jon used to play with together. Her mother had always said playing with such toys was unladylike, but Arya countered they were no different than dolls; though in truth she disliked dolls and only played with them in attempting to bond with Sansa.

Soon they were soaring above the clouds, with the dragons occasionally dipping down and clipping the tops of trees with their expansive wings. Seeing dragons was already an experience beyond words for Arya, but riding one was a whole new level of wonder.

“How do you like it?” Daenerys asked.

“I love it! This is an experience unlike any other!” Arya said.

“I'm glad to hear that, you seem much more comfortable than Jon was.” Daenerys said.

“He used to have a really sensitive stomach, I'm not sure if he still does. Perhaps his time in the Watch has helped with that.” Arya said.

“Jon's changed. Before he Took the Black he had no responsibilities, and nobody expected anything of him. Now it seems as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders.” Arya said.

“I suppose we've all changed over the last eight years. When I was your age I was married off to Khal Drogo, my wedding was the scariest day of my life. My whole life up to that point I was under my brother's care and he controlled everything. He even kept me on a strict diet, he said he didn't want me to get fat and not be able to get any suitors; looking back it was just another way for him to control me.” Daenerys said.

Seven hells she had a difficult childhood. And I thought my life before Father died was bad. I'm so thankful I had a family that loved me, even if they didn't understand me.

“The scariest day of my life was when my father died. He was so brave, he conducted himself with dignity even in his last moments. My whole world was shattered, and I didn't know what would come next. Being on the run for years made me used to being afraid, eventually I forgot what its like not to live in fear. Father always said being afraid was the only time we can be brave, I hope he would be proud of me.” Arya said.

“Your father left such a shining legacy, it seems all of his children have struggled to live up to it. My father's legacy is nothing but death and destruction, and I've spent my whole life trying to prove I'm nothing like him.” Daenerys said.

After about two hours or so, Arya spotted the barrows. They were covered in snow, which made the earthenware structures appear to be massive white mounds. Daenerys ordered the dragons to lower and they landed in a clearing so as not to disturb the delicate structures.

“Here we are. These are some of the oldest structures in the North, they are older than the Wall.” Arya said, pointing to the different barrows and the adjacent standing stones. Snow shrikes were perched atop the standing stones and were singing their sweet melodies.

“Could we go inside one?” Daenerys asked.

“No, that's a poor idea. Everything inside is very delicate, so its forbidden to go inside. The only way you can is with a Maester, and he must have written permission from both the Citadel and House Dustin, they're the house that rules this area.” Arya answered.

“That's alright, there is so much to see outside as it is.” Daenerys said.

Arya led Daenerys to one of the standing stones and dusted off the snow. Carved into the stones face were several Old Tongue runes and the face of a jolly, antlered man with a beard that appeared to be made of vegetation.

“This is Garth Greenhand, Stark histories claim he was the father of Bran the Builder. Half the houses in the Reach claim descent from him, as do the maternal lines of the Lannisters and Baratheons. Maesters doubt he ever existed.” Arya said.

“Jon told me about him, he talked about the different First Men gods from before the Pact. He didn't mention that Garth was your possible ancestor.” Daenerys said.

“Probably just forgot to. Look over here.” Arya said, pointing to another standing stone which she had just dusted off. This one a crude carving of grimacing nude woman squatting and opening her cunt wide. “One time Septa Mordane and Maester Aemon took my siblings and I here, Septa Mordane yelled at me when I pointed this one out.” Arya said, they both giggled at the sight.

“What's so offensive about it? Did she not have a cunt herself?” Daenerys asked jokingly.

“Maybe not, she certainly had no sense of humor. She always used to chide me for not being a proper lady. 'No man is going to want to marry a woman who acts like you!' she would always say. One time I asked her what a Septa could possibly know about attracting a man, she never told me that tripe again.” Arya said and gave a mischievous smirk.

“Why are some of the barrows much bigger than the others?” Daenerys asked.

“Nobody knows. Some think it was for greater kings, others that they are collective tombs and the smaller ones are solo ones for the kings. There was a servant in Winterfell named Old Nan, she said the large barrows have giants buried in them. She always had the best stories. Maester Luwin said her stories about Walkers, giants, and the Children were preposterous. He was convinced they went extinct millenia ago. Some Maesters don't believe they existed at all.” Arya said.

“In Essos there's stories about giants called Jhogwin, its believed that the Andals wiped them out.” Daenerys said.

“The Andals destroyed a lot of things. So have you been making wedding plans with Jon?” Arya asked. Daenerys seemed startled at the sudden change of subject, her eyebrows furrowed.

“We have. Our relationship doesn't have much support, so announcing a betrothal is something that must be done only when the time seems right for it. When we get back to Winterfell we'll have to go to the Godswood to discuss this with Jon. We need to plan as much of this as possible before the next Walker attack.” Daenerys said. Arya smiled ear to ear.

“Ooh I can't wait! Just think, soon we really will be sisters!”

 

Chapter Text

The last night of celebrating took its toll on Tormund. He had already been considerably tipsy when the letter from the Lioness Queen was delivered, after dictating his response the entire Freefolk gave a thunderous applause that prompted him to drink a few more horns of fermented milk until he blacked out. When Tormund regained consciousness in the morning, he left his igloo and started to toast some bread on a stick. Blackened bread always helped alleviate hangovers.

Gods I'm getting too old for this, but I can't show any signs of it. Last thing I need is for people thinking I can't hold my milk anymore, what an embarrassment. Next thing nobody will believe in me, I'll be branded a lightweight.

“I can brew a tea that can kill that hangover better than any burnt bread could!” Said Morna, she was busy reading some runic knuckle bones.

“I'll take anything that could help. What do the bones say?” Asked Tormund, he took a bite of the bread. “Gah! I'll need something to drink to wash this charcoal taste out.”

“That the Walkers are coming, soon it will become impossible to avoid them. Those who fight them head on will fare better then those who persist on evading them.” Morna said grimly.

Well that's obvious, don't need to be a fortune teller to predict that.

“Good, because I ain't gonna hide from them. I'll be damned if I go down in the songs as the man who fled the Walkers.” Tormund said, then took a strip of reindeer jerky that was drying by the campfire. The jerky was flavored with dill, parsley, and lingonberry vinegar.

“I'm glad the Fool Caps were able to make it, their reindeer are so useful. Hopefully Jon will let them and the Tuskers roam the North freely, if they are so inclined.” Morna said. The Fool Caps were so called because the men wore three pointed hats similar to jesters, their men and women wore clothes were made of garish quilts that made them unmistakable.

“Of course he will, Jon's time with us has changed him. For the better, I think. We wouldn't follow him if he was the cocky Crow we met five years ago.” Tormund said.

“Well look who's here!” Morna said, pointing behind Tormund. Jon was right behind him, wearing some fancy Southron clothes.

“Jon my boy! We were just talking about you.” Tormund said.

“Were you now?” Jon asked.

“Aye, we were discussing what you will want for us when this whole Dead mess is over.” Morna said then took a strip of jerky.

“That's for your peoples to decide. Go back to your ancestral homelands, if you wish. But I will also grant lands and castles to lords who desire to continue serving me.” Jon said.

“I wouldn't mind a castle. As long as I don't have to kneel.” Tormund said.

“Of course you wouldn't, I would never ask the Free Folk to kneel. All I would want is military aide when called upon, same as Mance.” Jon said.

“I'll follow you to the end of my days, you have proven yourself. Just don't go thinking that my son will be obligated to follow your son, I'll never understand why you Southroners think having a king for a father would make you a good king.” Tormund said.

“Will you allow the Fool Caps and Tuskers to roam down here?” Morna asked.

“If they so desire, then yes I will. Reindeer and mammoth products are highly valued down here, I'm sure nobody would complain about a Fool Cap or Tusker caravan passing through for trade.” Jon responded.

The Free Folk need to continue following Jon and the Chainbreaker at least until they are on the Iron Throne. No other Southroners give a fuck about us, they'd probably reinstate the Crows. Jon is out only hope to for lasting peace and freedom.

“How is the Dragonsmum doing?” Tormund asked.

“She's adjusting to the North, it seems. Right now she's riding her dragons with Arya, she also had her first sword fighting lesson.

“She's learning to fight? Damn that's good. Is the big woman teaching her?” Tormund asked.

“Yes, the 'big woman' is teaching her.” Jon answered.

“Perfect, the big woman is a good fighter. Maybe she can show the Chainbreaker how to give you a proper whooping, I'm sure you'd love that. I like Arya, she's a real spitfire. Got bigger balls than most Southron men! I saw her and the big woman sparring, its impressive that she's learning witchcraft as well.” Tormund said.

“I'm always happy to hear about young ladies following the path of the sorceress. So few girls these days have any potential, let alone interest.” Morna said.

“Tormund can I have a word with you, in private?” Jon asked.

“You know it! Bye Morna.” Tormund replied.

“Farewell Morna.” Jon said.

“Till we meet again.” Morna said.

Jon led Tormund away from the encampment. They went down a bunny trail deep into the woods. Tormund wanted to say something, but Jon's brooding was more intense than usual. Finally Jon broke the silence.

“Promise me what I am about to tell you will stay here, you cannot tell anybody!” Jon said.

“I promise. You're my brother Jon, I'll never an oath to you.” Tormund said.

“Okay here it goes.” Jon said and gulped some air, he was sweating profusely and shaking. “I'm not really Ned Stark's son. I'm his nephew.”

That's his big secret?

“And? Who are you the son of?” Tormund asked.

“Rhaegar Targaryen. My mother was Ned's sister, Lyanna. She died in childbirth, her last wish was for Ned to raise me as his own son. All of the Targaryens were being slaughtered, that's why Dany and her other brother fled to Essos. So Ned hid my identity to spare me.” Jon replied.

“So you're not really Ned's son, why is that a big deal? You're still Jon Snow, who your parents are don't change that. You're the same you” Tormund said.

“My name isn't even Jon Snow, it's Aegon Targaryen.” Jon said.

“Did you know my name isn't actually Giantsbane? Its Giantsbabe, I changed it because I wanted to change the emphasis on that story. I put my trust in Jon Snow, I made him my sworn brother. I don't see why Aegon Targaryen is any different. Names are just names.” Tormund said.

“I'm a Targaryen! That means Daenerys is my blood. Rhaegar was her brother, so she's my aunt and I'm her nephew.” Jon said.

“Aren't they that family where brothers fucked sisters all the time? I wouldn't fuck my sister, but if I had a lover that looked like the Dragonsmum but a foot taller and found out she was my auntie I'd still fuck her. Don't worry about the relation.” Tormund said.

“I'm not worried about that, Davos helped me get over that. But I'm deeply distressed that my entire identity is a lie. I thought I was the bastard of Ned Stark, turns out I'm the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen. I was lied to my whole life.” Jon said and hung his head.

“Remember what I said about Lyanna and Maege yesterday? Sometimes you have to lie to protect those you love, even if it means tarnishing your reputation. That's what Ned did. You should be thankful.” Tormund said.

“And I am. He sacrificed so much to make sure I was safe. Still, I'm having difficulty coming to terms with all of this. Imagine if you found out you were born south of the Wall, and your parents were some fancy lord and lady.” Jon said.

“Wouldn't bother me a bit. Life is a gift, what you do with that gift is what determines who you are. The conditions you got the gift under don't really mean anything. You've done a lot with that gift, far more than I have.” Tormund said.

“You're right, thank you.” Jon said. “That really puts things into perspective.

“Who else knows?” Tormund asked.

“Dany, obviously, my brother Bran, my friend Sam, and Howland Reed, Kulungu's lord. Dany gave me permission to tell you, she plans to tell Missandei.” Jon said.

“I like Missandei, smart lass. Don't know why people are such cunts to her. So will this stay a secret or will others find out later?” Tormund asked.

“Dany and I will tell my sisters this evening. We're not sure when we'll tell everyone else, this is a delicate matter. Every war in Westeros fought in the past twenty five years is invalidated by the truth of my parentage. As is Dany's claim to the throne.” Jon said.

“People believe in you, Jon. I don't know much about the Dragonsmum, but if you put your faith in her so I do, and no doubt everyone else will too. Don't worry, I won't tell a soul.” Tormund said.

“I know you won't.” Jon said.

 

Chapter Text

Black Wind sailed down the Dornish coast, which was characterized by jagged sandstone cliffs dotted with palm trees. Yara remembered when she first sailed to Dorne. Most of the mainland had seemed like another planet to her, but Dorne was more of another galaxy. A constantly baking red sun, sand far beyond the beaches, and strange trees as if any trees weren't queer enough. Dorne was love at first sight for Yara, not least because of all the sultry men and women who lived there.

Yara patrolled the deck, making sure all oarsmen were pulling there weight. She was eating a pickled turnip and had her elbow linked with Ellaria, who was nibbling her ear. Yara was clad in a leather jerkin and knee length breeches, while Ellaria wore a burnt orange caftan of satin.

“Dale! Wake up! I guess they don't call you Droopeye for nothing.” Yara said she smacked Dale awake and spat out a chunk of half chewed turnip at him. Dale was a stout man with a neatly trimmed brown beard and heavy mustache, he wore a gold necklace and hoop earrings; like most of the other crew he was shirtless and heavily tattooed.

“Aye aye, captain.” Dale said as he brushed off the turnip chunk and resumed his rowing.

“Perhaps I should start dozing off more.” Ellaria cooed.

“Say the word and you'll get a good whooping.” Yara said and planted a wet kiss on Ellaria.

She's such a brat, I love it.

“How you holding, Helga?” Yara asked to the rower in front of Dale.

“Well enough, I suppose. I don't much like Dorne, its pretty and all but the Martell sun is such a cunt to gingers like me. Glad we grabbed that barrel of sun oil at Ichthys Cove.” Helga replied. She was a big, muscular woman with flowing dark red hair, with the sides of her head shaven. She had a scar on her cheek, eyebrow, and lips, which made her oddly more attractive.

I can't blame Ellaria for wanting to invite her to bed with us. I'd totally fuck the tits off Helga, if she fancied ladies and I didn't have my strict policy of not fucking my crew. I don't shit where I eat, I made that mistake once with Qarl, not happening again.

“Cousin, we should be at the Sunspear docks soon, what is our strategy? House Martell Guards are going to be a difficult fight.” Said Ser Harras, who approached them from behind. Harras was a knight, a true rare bird for the ironborn. His mother was from the Westerlands, where he had squired for his adolescent years. He wore a suit of banded mail, over it was a surcoat emblazoned with his personal sigil of a peacock wielding a sycthe. Around his neck was a silver medallion of the Warrior and his helmet was a barbute crested with a plume of peacock feathers.

“We won't be fighting them, not if the plan pans out. The customs agent will ask our business, and I will say I have a very special fugitive.” Yara said.

“Prince Manfrey will want me dead for my treachery, so I will demand a trial by combat. There is a risk with this, admittedly, but what is life without risk? A dull and tedious affair.” Ellaria said.

“And I'm guessing you'll be the champion.” Harras said to Yara.

“Aye.” Yara said and nodded.

“The Dornish fight even dirtier than we do. Poisons, deception, and all manner of tricks are fair game to them, even for anointed knights such as Ser Manfrey. What do you plan on using in the trial?” Harras asked Yara.

“Us Dornish do everything dirty. We may bathe weekly, but we are the filthiest people of all the Seven Kingdoms.” Ellaria said and winked at Harras, he seemed flattered but coy.

“My throwing axes, then my falchion for when he gets closer.” Yara replied and shrugged.

“Borrow this.” Harras said as he unbuckled his belt to detach his sheathed sword.

Nightfall? I would never dream of asking for such an exquisite piece.

“I'm speechless.” Yara said then popped the last of the turnip in her mouth and accepted Nightfall from her cousin. Nightfall was a bastard sword of Valyrian steel, the blade had the dark and smoky hue characteristic of Valyrian Steel and was engraved with writing in a long dead Essosi tongue. The handle was made of fine acacia wood and the pommel of moonstone. It was the ancestral weapon of House Harlaw, and had been ever since one of their lords took it from a Free Cities pirate king generations ago.

“Now you should be better equipped, regardless of what weapons Manfrey brings to the trial.” Harras said.

“Unless he too has a Valyrian blade.” Yara said.

“The flagon always was half empty for you, hahaha!” Harras said and all three had a good, hearty laugh.

“There's Sunspear, almost there!” The lookout shouted and pointed to the palace's famed onion domes and minarets.

I've been itching for a good fight for months now. Once that Dornish viper is chopped up into a thousand little pieces, I'm going to fuck the tits off Ellaria. Then I will take my crew back home, and the Drowned God willing, I'll reunite with Theon and defeat Euron.

 

Chapter Text

Arya and Daenerys returned from the barrows in the late afternoon. After bidding farewell to the dragons, the two headed over to the Godswood. Beads of sweat collected as they entered the Godswood and Arya removed her parka's hood; she was anxious at what news Daenerys and Jon had for her and Sansa. Daenerys seemed dour as well, despite her cheery attitude earlier. On the day of Sansa's waking terror, Arya had spent several hours in the Godswood praying for her; and a shorter duration at the sept.

What could this be? I hope its nothing about me. Maybe I'm otherthinking, but I can't imagine what could possibly be so major it had to be shared in the Godswood. Hope its nothing dire.

“How do you like the Godswood?” Arya asked, trying to thaw the situation.

“I find it to be quite lovely, I've never seen anything like it. So many different trees and animals, but within the safety of a castle. Small wonder there aren't any temples in the North, it's as if all of nature is your temple.” Daenerys answered.

“Not quite,” Arya said, “there's a sept here at Winterfell. My father had it built for my mother, she was a devout follower of the Seven. We were all raised to follow the Gods Old and New, I always preferred the Old but Sansa prefers the New. Jon is the only one of us who only keeps the Old. There's also the Sept of the Snows in White Harbor, its where my siblings and I were anointed. Other than that, yes, we have no temples.” Arya said.

“You seem a bit uneasy, everything alright?” Daenerys asked with a raised eyebrow.

I didn't think it was obvious.

“What are we going to talk about at the Heart Tree?” Arya asked.

“I can't tell you, it's for Jon to say and him alone.” Daenerys answered, she seemed caught off guard by the question.

“Alright, guess I can wait. Can't be that bad.” Arya said then awkwardly laughed.

“I don't think so.” Daenerys said.

There was silence for the rest of the walk. Snow shrikes could be heard singing from the top trees; in the distance there were curious noises that resembled squirrels and the load caw of a raven. Arya was usually meditative when in the Godswood, but she now walked down the path with a singular mission. Finally they reached Jon and Sansa at the Heart Tree. Sansa wore an emerald green dress trimmed with fox fur, her cloak was pinned with a silver merwolf; she sat on the stone bench in front of the onyx pool and was knitting. Jon was on his knees petting Ghost, he wore a heavy winter coat.

“We've been waiting.” Sansa said, then put her knitting set away.

“How was your trip?” Jon asked after kissing Daenerys on the lips.

“Lovely, Arya showed me the barrows.” Daenerys replied, then squatted down to pet Ghost. Ghost enthusiastically licked her and she giggled, her face had deep dimples.

Hopefully Nymeria will like Dany, if she ever returns. I'll have to contact her again next time I visit the Dreamlands.

“Brought back a lot of memories, of far more peaceful times.” Arya said as Jon kissed her forehead and rustled her hair.

“Good, good. Alright Arya and Sansa, time to say a vow.” Jon said then pointed to the weeping face of the Heart Tree, the sisters knelt in front of the tree. “Promise me that what I am about to tell you is Dany and I's secret to tell alone, under no circumstance may you tell anybody.”

“We promise, by the Gods Old and New. May they bear witness to this sacred oath.” Arya and Sansa said in solemn unison. Sansa smelled of lavender and mint.

“Very well, have a seat.” Jon said pointing to the stone bench. Sansa seemed just as uneasy as Arya, it was written in her eyes. The two held hands and braced for the conversation.

“Bran was able to find out who my mother was, he spectated my birth in a green dream.” Jon said austerely.

Why doesn't Jon seem happy about this news? I always thought he'd be ecstatic.

“And who was she?” Sansa asked.

“Brace yourselves, this undermines everything we ever believed. My mother is your late aunt Lyanna. I'm the son of her and Rhaegar Targaryen. They named me Aegon.” Jon said.

No wonder he is so shook up, this changes everything but our relationships.

“That would mean you're not our brother, but our cousin! How is this even possible?” Sansa asked. A raven made a load caw and swooped down. The raven had three eyes.

“When Rhaegar rode off with Lyanna at the Tourney of Harrenhall, he didn't abduct her. They were in love, they had no choice but to keep it secret because he was still married to Princess Elia. Rhaegar held the tourney because he wanted to overthrow his father, who was showing increasing signs of madness. At the tourney he planned on discretely speaking with the lords present there, to test the waters for a coup. But Aerys found out, and showed up unannounced, so Rhaegar escaped and took Lyanna with him. They fled to Dorne, where the High Septon officiated a covert wedding after annulling Rhaegar's marriage to Elia. Jon was conceived shortly after.” The three-eyed raven said, he sounded like exactly like Bran.

“Bran? Is that you?” Arya asked.

“No, it is I, the Three-Eyed Raven. Usually I occupy the body of who was once Bran, but I can take many forms.”

“Why should we believe any of this? Seems awfully convenient for Daenerys that her lover is her blood, helps justify it. And it undermines Jon's claim to be King-In-The-North, the very title I was instrumental in giving him. We made him our King because he was thought he was the eldest son of Ned Stark and the brother of Robb, the previous King. If these extraordinary claims are true then Jon is neither Ned's son nor Robb's brother.” Sansa asked.

“Actually its not convenient for me in the slightest. My entire claim was built on the assumption I was the last of the Targaryens. Turns out there is another, who is both male and the only living son of the previous heir. Jon's identity discredits my claim.” Daenerys replied, Arya could see contempt in her purple eyes but thought she handled it gracefully.

“Don't take mine or Bran's word for it. Ask Lord Reed when you get the chance. He was there at my birth, with your father. He saw your father take a vow to my mother to raise me as his own son, lest Robert have me killed in my cradle. Or speak with my friend Sam, he's the one who found the marriage and annulment records. The entire premise of Robert's Rebellion was false, whether Robert knew it or not.” Jon replied.

“Jon? May I have a word?” Arya asked boldly and stood up.

“Of course.” Jon replied.

“I know you find all of this to be upsetting, I must admit I do as well. So much to process, but at the end of the day it doesn't change anything.” Arya said.

“Doesn't change anything? How can you say such a thing?” Jon said.

“I don't care who you were born to, you're still my brother. As Ned Stark's bastard or Rhaegar's trueborn, makes no difference to me. You could be the Boyar of Mossovy, but you'd still be Jon. I could be the God-Empress of Leng for all I care, but I will always be your sister. No matter what.” Arya said. Jon gave a rare smile, perhaps the biggest one of his Arya had ever seen.

“I'm glad you feel that way, because you're still my baby sister to me.” Jon said then picked Arya up in a bear hug and crackled her back.

“Of course I do. It never mattered that we didn't have the same mother. Why would not having the same 'father' matter? Only real difference it makes is we first met when I was a baby and not a homunculus, hehehe! Besides you are still Father's son, whether he saw it that way or not. I always admired his sacrifices, knowing he tarnished his own honor to protect you makes me admire him all the more. When you started talking about Taking the Black, I begged him to forbid you from joining but he insisted it was for your own good. He refused to elaborate, now it all makes sense.” Arya said as Jon put her back on her feet.

“I knew would take no issue with this, I saw the fire in your eyes when I made the mistake of saying you two were half-siblings and the conviction when you said family is about love and support, not blood.” Daenerys said.

“Arya always did love the Targaryens, she used to stay up until the wee hours of the night reading Archmaester Glydayn's books.” Sansa said with thinly veiled disdain.

“Yes, I read Fire and Blood while you read chivalric romances. I always dreamed of meeting a dragonrider, now I've met two and have ridden with one. Now tell me, have you ever been rescued by a knight in shining armor?” Arya said; Daenerys' thick eyebrows popped up in seeming amusement but Jon looked upset at both sisters.

“Enough of this, we can't be fighting among ourselves. We have countless enemies, and they will drive a wedge between us and our allies if they find out this secret before the time is right. We're a family, we must act like one.” Jon said.

 

Chapter Text

“Here, drink this.” Ellaria said as she pulled out a vial from her coin purse.

“What is this?” Yara asked.

“Cazador venom. Manfrey's favorite toxin.” Ellaria said, she bit the cork off her teeth, spat it out, then inserted the vial into Yara's mouth.

“Ain't cazadors those giant ass flies from Sothoryos? How is this safe?” Yara asked as she cautiously removed the vial from her lips.

“Yes, and a major reason so few come back from that wretched continent alive. A true shame, they have such fine men and women. Don't worry, this is venom, not poison.” Ellaria replied.

Uncle Euron says he's been to Sothoryos. I always thought he was merely a liar, but at the Kingsmoot he brought a bastard from there to prove it. Poor lad looked deeply upset.

“What in seven bloody hells is the difference?” Yara asked.

“Poison will kill you with any contact. Venom will only kill if it touches an open wound. So you can drink this and it will pass through your system, with the only effects being increased immunity.” Ellaria answered.

“So I'll just shit this out?” Yara asked.

“To put it bluntly, yes.” Ellaria responded.

“Hope I don't have any ass fissures!” Yara said and they both laughed, then she gulped down the venom. “Gah! Ack!” The venom was the most revolting thing Yara had ever tasted, it was acidic and bitter. Or at least those were the best terms she could think of, in truth the notes were indescribable yet wretched nonetheless.

“Bahaha! You took that like a virgin swallowing her first sword!” Ellaria cackled.

“Don't worry, I ain't a gagger.” Yara said.

“Good, because if you win this trial you'll get to taste far more pleasant things.” Ellaria said as she licked her lips and made a large smacking sound. “Now take this.”

Ellaria handed Yara a brass coin amulet necklace. On the heads of the coin was a skeleton dressed in a wedding gown, wielding a scythe with one hand and a globe orb in another. The flip side had a pair of scales, one had a heart and the other a feather.

“What is this? I like the scythe, my mother and Harras' house sigil is a scythe.” Yara asked.

“The Stranger.” Ellaria replied.

“I worship the Drowned God, not the Seven. I barely follow my own God, why would I want another? Give it to Harras, he serves both!” Yara said.

“I want no part in Stranger worship!” Harras said, he was standing within earshot.

“Since when is anyone been devoted to the Stranger anyway?” Yara asked.

“The Stranger enjoys a hush-hush following in Dorne, despite centuries of opposition from our Septons and Most Holies. She is the patron of warriors, outlaws, and those with, ahem, unconventional desires.” Ellaria answered.

“Sounds like a tailor made deity for me! Alright, I'll take it. I will need all the assistance I can get in this fight. And all future ones.” Yara said she put on the amulet.

“Following the Stranger is one of the many ways we Dornish are more open minded than the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.” Ellaria said.

“We're almost to port! Time to tie you up!” Yara said.

Ellaria grabbed the dirk from Yara's belt and shredded her caftan off, so she was stripped down to her undergarments. Then she walked over to the nearest mast and Yara shackled her hands on the other side.

“Still isn't quite believable, why don't you rough me up a bit. Make it look like I really am your prisoner?” Ellaria asked in a purr.

Yara smacked her around until she had some good bruises, which was met with moans of pleasure. Finally Yara tied a leather gag into Ellaria's mouth. Once that was taken care of, Yara shifted her attention to the port. Sunspear was a magnificent fortress, with tall, winding walls, houses and businesses of adobe, and the castle proper made mostly of sandstone. The keep resembled a massive stone galley. Yara's ships anchored and they were greeted by a customs officer.

“What brings you to Sunspear?” The customs officer asked, he was a short Greenblood Orphan with the characteristic curly black hair and dusky skin.

“I've brought some very precious cargo!” Yara said, pointing to the manacled Ellaria.

“Oh my, is this –”

“In the flesh!”

“Stay right here, I will notify a cohort of guards to escort you and the prisoner straight to Prince Manfrey.” The customs officer said and scurried off.

Yara used this time to get fully dressed. She put on her salt-stained leather boots, then she took off her jerkin and put a gambeson in her House colors on. Then she put on another jerkin, a green one enhanced with steel plates, she wanted to be prepared. Finally she put on her helmet, and wrapped a keffiyah around it in the Dornish fashion to absorb the heat.

Gods, I never would have guessed this ruse would be so easy. Manfrey must really want Ellaria dead, can't say that I blame him. She did kill his brother, after all.

After twenty minutes or so, the customs officer returned with a dozen Martell Guards. Four of them were crossbowmen, the rest were halberdiers. All of them wore gold and red brigandine robes and simple steel cap helmets with crimson turbans wrapped around them. Yara freed Ellaria from the mast, but kept the handcuffs and gag on her. Ellaria was led off the ship by knife point.

“The Prince is gonna be thrilled to see this cur bitch in his custody!” One of the guards said.

“He better be, I expect him to pay up and pay well.” Yara said.

The procession left the docks and passed through the market. Fishmongers, jewelers, rug makers, spice merchants, and countless other vendors hawked their wares. Beggars were found on every other corner, with the rest containing performers. One performer played The Bear and Maiden Fair on a hurdy-gurdy, while a pet monkey danced and solicited tips.

“Thief! This busker's monkey tried to steal my purse!” A passerby said.

“We'll investigate it later, no time for it now!” A guard said.

On the outskirts of the bazaar there was a group of cattle herdsmen haggling the price of their cattle to a butcher shop. The herdsmen all wore baggy pants, neckerchiefs, panchos, and some wore berets while others wore wide brimmed felt hats. Past the bazaar was a tavern, where a Fire Priestess preached in cryptic rhymes. She was dressed in a blood red caftan and her ass and nipples protruded noticeably from it.

“The wounds of the Great Other will be healed, when Azor Ahai is unsealed! The world will burn by Drogon's flame, and through R'hollor's signs do proclaim. Ascending kraken of the sea, will fulfill the prophecy. Man will feel the wrath of the beast, when the dire wolf is unleashed. The Dragon will open the Eye, revealing both truth and lie.” The Fire priestess said in repeat.

Gods the Lord of Light has the best servants. A true pity they are so insane, I've never fucked a Fire Priestess without regretting it. More trouble than they are worth.

The road to the Old Palace gradually led uphill, it seemed most of the settlement was built on a massive hill. Everything was more affluent the higher they ascended. As they entered the Old Palace, every guard and servant sneered at the sight of Ellaria. Soon they entered the largest tower, which had a massive onion dome of gold. At the very top of the stair case was the Throne Room, which was round with a marble floor and stained glass windows depicting what appeared to be scenes of Dornish history. There were two thrones, one was decorated with a spear while the other had a sun. Braziers made of yellowed meerschaum hung from the ceiling, emitting a funky incense.

At the center of the room there were a trio of belly dancers performing, they played tambourines and wore jeweled brassieres, veiled skirts, gem-studded tiaras, and very little else. A band was providing the music, which consisted of a bagpiper, a hammered dulcimer player, and a drummer.

“Stop the performance. Well, well, well. Look who's back!” Prince Manfrey said, he was lounging in the throne with the sun. The musicians and dancers stopped performing and walked to the sidelines.

Prince was a tall, muscular man clad in pantaloons and a doublet in the Martell colors and a fez. He kept his black hair short and had a well trimmed mustache. His wife sat in the throne with the spear, she appeared to be a Tyroshi and had long, magenta hair in ringlets and wore a lime green stola. “Ungag the prisoner.”

“Did you miss me?” Ellaria asked.

“I have no time for sarcasm. What's your name?” Manfrey asked, pointing to Yara.

“Yara Greyjoy.”

“I thought you looked Ironborn. I will pay you a thousand dragons and five hundred stags for your captive. Now I understand that your people have little use for cash, but I'm sure you can buy something from our bazaars you would have use for. Women may pay the Gold Price, correct?” Manfrey said.

“Right, but I prefer the Iron.” Yara said.

“You're a bold one, I respect that. I suppose you did pay the Iron Price for this money, Ellaria will pay dearly for her crimes.” Manfrey said coldly.

“I demand trial by combat!” Ellaria said.

“I figured you'd say that, good thing I had my armor repaired recently. Very well, who will be your champion?” Manfrey asked.

“Yara.” Ellaria replied.

“I'll do it.” Yara said.

“I like you, Yara. A shame I'll have to kill you. The trial will begin tomorrow at noon, we'll hold it at the Bull Ring. That should be plenty of time for both of us to prepare. Guards, take the prisoner to the Spear Tower!” Manfrey said.

Chapter Text

A wave of shock crashed into Sansa when Jon told her his secret. Jon being Aegon Targaryen changed everything, and Sansa thought Arya must be shortsighted or half mad to disagree. Jon's whole identity was a hoax, which made Sansa wonder what else could be an elaborate construction. Repressed memories of childhood surfaced, particularly the time Arya became convinced she too was a bastard which Sansa fueled by telling her she was not even human, but a Snark or Grumkin child who had snatched Ned and Cat's real daughter. All that seemed in good fun at the time, but now Sansa felt pangs of shame and guilt.

“Everything alright? If you feel another terror coming on just tell us, we're here for you.” Jon asked Sansa.

No, nothing is alright. But I can't tell them that now, can I?

“Sorry, I'm just trying to process everything in my head. So strange to think someone I thought was my half brother is truly my cousin.” Sansa said.

“Didn't you what I just said?” Arya asked in an irritated tone.

“No, I spaced out a while ago.” Sansa answered.

“Is that so?” Arya asked bitchily with a raised eyebrow.

Seven hells, she's starting to imitate Daenerys with those eyebrow games.

“That's alright, Sansa. When I was given the news, I was so shocked I made an ass of myself and stormed off, even called off our romance.” Jon said.

“He sure did, and for a moment I thought he was serious. My heart was broken, but thank the gods he didn't mean any of it.” Daenerys said then planted a smooch on Jon.

Is Jon so desperate for romance and validation that he will stay with her, despite being his own blood? She probably took his maidenhead, now he's her lapdog.

“So who all knows exactly?” Sansa asked.

“Us four, Sam, his girl Gilly, Bran, Lord Howland, his ward Kulungu, Ser Davos, and Tormund.” Jon replied.

“You made us swear to secrecy but you told a crab smuggler and a Wildling brigand? Did you make them swear an oath too?” Sansa asked.

“Davos knew before we did. I made Tormund swear to secrecy, he did but he didn't even think the secret was worth sharing or even interesting. Both of them have checkered pasts, but they're honest men who have proven themselves time and time again.” Jon replied.

“Smallfolk are much more forthright than us highborn. If you ever made any effort to get to know any of them you would know that.” Arya said.

“Fair enough, but what are you two going to do about your little secret? Do you want to just share it with those you trust and hope they don't tell?” Sansa asked.

“Nothing could be further from our plans. We have every intention of revealing it to the public, but only when we feel the time is right. Should it be revealed prematurely it could become a massive scandal, but if we face the problem head on then our enemies can't use it against us. Davos told us that he and my other advisers have discussed proposing Jon and I take the Iron Throne together, so that we may rule as husband and wife. We both find that arrangement to be splendid, and it renders who has a better claim rather moot.” Daenerys said.

“Being King-In-The-North wasn't good enough for you, Jon? Is that the real reason you abdicated?” Sansa asked.

“No, I already told you the reason. I didn't even know I was even a contender for the Iron Throne until last night, why on Planetos would I forfeit a title for something I didn't think was mine?” Jon asked in an irritated fashion.

“You'll be more powerful with them on the Iron Throne than him as King-In-The-North. You'll be Great Lady of the North, not just of Winterfell.” Arya said.

“It's true, you will be one of the most powerful women in the Seven Kingdoms. You and Arya both.” Daenerys said pompously with her smug little smirk.

Which family did Jon mean when he said he would always side with his family? Us Starks or his little silver-bushed cunt?

“Sorry, I still am processing everything. And I'm sorry for being rude, Daenerys. I suppose I haven't been a very good host.” Sansa said.

“Its quite alright, you're forgiven.” Daenerys said.

I very much doubt that.

“Good, I'm glad you two are making amends. Soon you will be sisters by law, and our houses will be joined. Now we have one more Northern noble to vouch for us when our announcement is made.” Jon said. Sansa smiled and nodded.

Chapter Text

The Winterfell Sept was the smallest castle sept Jaime had ever visited, it was only slightly bigger than those found in small peasant villages. However the interior was every bit as grand as to be expected from a noble's sept. The statues of the Seven were carved from fine Northern woods, and dressed in Northern fashions. The Warrior was clad in the mail hauberk and nose-less bascinet typical of Stark soldiers, though his surcoat bore a seven pointed star instead of a wolf. Even more strikingly, the Stranger's face was unveiled and his blue skin and snowy hair made him resemble a White Walker; and Jaime wondered if the Night King was truly Death incarnate.

Ned wasn't even a follower of the Seven, yet he spared no expense in constructing a sept for his Southron wife to worship and raise their kids in the Faith. Such a devoted husband and father, I often doubt Jon was his son. Ned didn't seem like an infidel.

Jaime lit the candles and incense in front of the Warrior and knelt. In his hands was a Warrior rosary Arthur Dayne had gifted him when he was Knighted. Tywin was always a profoundly irreligious and irreverent man, an attitude which rubbed off on both Cersei and Tyrion. Jaime also, to an extent, but despite that he tried to serve the Seven as was expected of a Knight. So he started to pray, but his mind strayed quickly to other things.

People are calling this war with the Dead a conflict of Good and Evil. Between life and death of course, but good and evil? I have done so many evil things throughout my life, yet I am fighting on the side of life. So is Brienne, and she is the purest heart I have ever known. No malice exists within her, so much so that she even forgave my cruelty to her. Not all of those on the living are good, and I honestly don't know that death is evil.

“Welcome, Ser Jaime.” A man's voice with a heavy Crownlander accent said.

“Hello, Most Holy Moishe.” Jaime said as he turned around.

Most Holy Moishe was the head of the Faith in the North, he was six foot seven with wild blonde hair, a scruffy beard, and several scars which gave credence to the rumor he was once a dreaded outlaw. He wore a dark purple cassock and miter, and his crosier was made of ironwood. His pectoral star rosary shined bright, as did the Myrish spectacles he wore.

“Please, just call me Moishe.” The Most Holy said.

“Alright, Moishe. What brings you to Winterfell? I figured you'd still be in White Harbor.” Jaime asked and stood up.

“I came here with the Manderlys, they don't like dealing with mere septons and I figured my presence would be good for the morale of other members of the Faith present. Souls from across the Seven Kingdoms and beyond have gathered here, setting their countless differences aside to fight a common enemy. I presume that is why you are here.” Moishe said, as he moved Jaime noticed the distinct clatter of muffled chain mail.

“You presume correctly, but I have also come to right past wrongs. The lowest moment of my life happened here at Winterfell.” Jaime said.

“I thought you seemed troubled. Now tell me, do you seek the forgiveness of others or peace with yourself?” Moishe asked.

I don't even know how to answer that. All I know is nobody's past will matter if the Army of the Dead are victorious.

“In truth I seek both; the two are not mutually exclusive.” Jaime said.

“Of course not, but they are fundamentally different. I was with the Manderly delegation when you announced your intentions to fight for the Living, you seemed far more interested in survival than redemption.” Moishe said.

“All my life, everything I did was for my family. For those I loved. My father believed anything done to further our House was justified. 'Anyone who isn't a Lannister is an enemy!' He'd always said. I believed him, for the most of my life. Then he set up Tyrion for Jofferey's murder, and that made me question everything. Tyrion killed him, and I think my father deserved it. So I helped him escape. Now everything my father built is crashing down under the weight of the treachery that made him so strong in the first place. Cersei still follows his example without question, though she lacks his cunning. Had my father lived he would have done everything in his power to defeat the Dead, I believe. He would've had the good sense to know it was in our best interests. But not Cersei. She cares nothing about our House, only herself, now that our children are gone. So now I see that the world is so much bigger than one's family, and that blood isn't the only thing worth fighting for.” Jaime said.

“You speak with the same conviction you did when you made your case for killing Aerys. You have been forced into situations most of us cannot fathom, trapped into a paradox where both options are morally right and unethical all at once. I don't know Daenerys, but she seems like a prideful woman. Yet she found it in heart to forgive you and provided you with a second chance. Your friend Brienne spoke of you as if you were Arthur Dayne or Barristan the Bold, surely you are not the same man who pushed Bran out that window.” Moishe said.

My two heroes, the two people I feel like a let down more than anyone else.

“I suppose she did.” Jaime said.

“Is that the only Ser Jaime she knows?” Moishe asked.

“No, I was so cruel to her when I was first put in her care. I ridiculed her size, her appearance, her awkwardness, her unladylike conduct. Everything that makes her Brienne, really. I mocked her for being a virgin, but not before accusing her of laying with other women out of desperation. Had she not been a virgin I would have shamed her for that, would've called her a whore. Sometimes I stay up at night thinking about how I could have been so cruel to such a kind soul.” Jaime said.

“Yet she didn't mention any of that in her testimony. Instead she told of the many good things you did for her, some of which meant great sacrifice for you. She has forgiven you clearly, and I pray that you will be able to forgive yourself.” Moishe said.

“What would you know about forgiving yourself? Surely no sin of yours is as bad as mine.” Jaime said amused.

“You are right about that, mine are far worse. I wasn't always a man of the cloth. Before that I was a brigand in the Kingswood Brotherhood. Every sin of yours was committed to protect your family, but mine were done for the thrill of it. My friends and I robbed merchants, abducted nobles for ransom, killed for sport, fornicated with those willing and unwilling, the list goes on. Yet the smallfolk protected us because we never targeted them and gave tossed them the occasional dragon or stag. Of course we never targeted them, they never had anything to steal. Then one day I was severely wounded and knocked unconscious. I woke up in a convent, with a septa tending to my wounds and another with a big bowl of stew ready for me. They must have known who I was, but they tended to me regardless. Once I had made a full recovery they sent me on my way, but I had stolen some valuables from them. I was detained by a village guard, but the septas lied and said the items were gifts and I simply had an unfortunately resemblance to a Kingswood Brother. After that I fled the Crownlands, and entered a seminary in the Reach. After being ordained I accepted a position in White Harbor, and eventually became Most Holy.” Moishe said.

“You're right, you are guilty of far worse then me. Just be thankful your crimes didn't bring you worldwide infamy.” Jaime said.

“I am. I've enjoyed this conversation, but I have matters to attend to. Farewell, Ser Jaime.” Moishe said.

“Goodbye Moishe.” Jaime said then resumed praying. “Wait!” Jaime said before Moishe could exit the Sept.

“What is it?” Moishe asked.

“You didn't tell me how you were injured.” Jaime answered

“It was in a skirmish with the Kingsguard and local knights. I was stabbed then shield bashed by a squire of Lord Crakehall. Tall blonde lad.” Moishe said, then left the Sept. Jaime sat down on a pew, he was stunned at Moishe's answer.

Chapter Text

Davos paced in a loop around the table of the Great Keep's war room. All of Daenerys and Jon's advisers were present for a briefing meeting, and they were waiting for the Queen and her consort to arrive. The war room had a massive oval table of sentinel wood with a intricate map of the North carved into it, the table had a fresh, piney scent. On the walls were the shields of the once sovereign Houses the Starks conquered. Some of them Davos recognized like the Umbers, Boltons, and Glovers; others he had never seen before. These sigils included a fisher cat, a tower surrounded by snow shrikes, a death's head moth, a snowflake, a lindworm in a circle of runes, a Child of the Forest, two gold spurs, and a pair black footprints. Davos scanned these sigils and wondered what the fate of these houses were; where they exiled, simply died out, or something more sinister?

I wonder who will be the next to find out the little secret. They need to be very methodical in disclosing it, or everything could fall into pieces.

“Why don't you just sit down? I see no sense in walking in a circle.” Said Grey Worm.

“This helps me think, I'm of no use if I can't think straight.” Said Davos.

“Some of us are warriors, others are thinkers. Its important that we all do whatever we can to make sure we do are job to our full potential.” Varys said.

“Varys, I don't think it's so simple as that. My father was the most cunning and calculating man in the Realm, but he was also a decorated war hero on both sides of the battlefield. To suggest one is either a fighter or intellectual presents a rather incomplete view of humanity, one that is decidedly out of character for you.” Tyrion said.

“Your point is well taken, but who gathered here is both a warrior and a thinker?” Varys asked.

“None to my knowledge, though many present themselves as one while obscuring the other. Lest they be underestimated.” Tyrion said.

“Sorry we're late, let us begin.” Said Daenerys as she and Jon walked in. She wore a dark parka with red accessories, while Jon wore a far more formal outfit than Davos had ever seen him in.

She's beginning to dress like a Northern lady, that's good. Dressing like a local will help people stop percieving her as a foreigner. Don't think I've ever seen Jon in a doublet, he's looking quite regal and that should help the Southron lords and ladies take him seriously.

“Let's focus on defenses first.” Jon said.

“We Unsullied don't like it here. The weather is so cold we are training more for warmth than for practice. But we look forward to defeating the Queen's foes. I've spoken with the Dothraki, and they say much the same.” Grey Worm said.

“I have been working with Grey Worm, Tobho Mott, and a few others on Winterfell's defenses. I was able to identify ways the catapults, ballistae, and other engines could improve, both from books I've read and ideas of my own. One such idea was using a substance called sticky fire, I read the recipe in old tome. Another was to create ballista bolts tipped with dragonglass, an idea I thought of myself, should come in handy if any Walkers come within range.” Tyrion said.

“It seems an appearance is due in the camps.” Daenerys said. “Alright, what is going on with the intelligence side of things?”

“My little birds in King's Landing have written me that Cersei is having her lackey Qyburn embark on a disinformation campaign against you. He is producing a number of gray propaganda tracts that are quite salacious.” Varys said.

“Salacious? How so?” Daenerys asked.

“See for youself.” Varys said as he handed her one from his pocket.

“Bahahaha! This is a riot! The Night King is a hoax? I'm just some hussy with a force of savages? These claims are so preposterous I can't help but laugh.” Daenerys said.

A hearty sense of humor and self awareness, that shows she's no tyrant. Cersei, Jofferey, or the Mad King would have killed anyone responsible for lies half so malicious.

“You are wise to ignore such tripe, Your Grace. Any efforts to suppress it would only further convince people that it has any merit.” Tyrion said.

“Additionally my little birds have told me that there are a number of cults popping up in King's Landing, and spreading elsewhere. Most of them seem to be heretical sects of following either the Seven or Lord of Light, but others are a hodgepodge of influences or are newfangled theologies. New faiths often appear during times of great turmoil, such as the present; what is interesting is several of them seem to believe you or Jon are a messianic figure destined to save mankind. That is something we could take advantage of to great effect.” Varys said.

“That does sound promising, but a word of caution; don't buy into what any of those cultists have to say. Stannis originally only converted to please his wife, for most of the time I knew him he didn't even believe any gods existed. Yet he became brainwashed over time, and we all saw how that ended up. I also wouldn't outright promote these heresies either, you will inevitably fail to meet their expectations.” Davos said.

“Thank you for that lead, Varys. And your warnings are much appreciated, Davos.” Jon said.

“One more thing. Perhaps the biggest news is that Cersei has hired the Golden Company. Her long term strategy is for us and the Dead to go to war, then the victor will be greatly crippled while the Golden Company and her loyal banners will be at full strength.” Varys said.

“Ah yes, Ser Jaime mentioned she hired them. Seems he is providing me with trustworthy information. When I was a girl your friend Illyrio hosted them, he tried to convince them to swear fealty to Viserys and invade Westeros on his behalf. Seeing knights for the first time was exciting for me, I had only seen them in books. I was too young to understand any of the conversation over dinner, but I do remember them laughing at the proposal. I wonder how Cersei persuaded them to fight for her.” Daenerys said.

“Gold!” Davos said.

“Well of course. Cersei's game plan is brilliant if we win, rather foolhardy if the Night King wins. Perhaps the Golden Company could be persuaded if we give them a sweeter offer. Sellswords care about nothing but gold, we can use to our advantage.” Daenerys said.

Most of the council burst into laughter at the proposal. Even Grey Worm seemed amused by it, though tried his best to hide it.

“Sorry Your Grace, but the Golden Company has a strict policy of fulfilling every contract they sign and not abandoning one under any circumstances. They will continue to fight us or the Dead until they are victorious or vanquished. I do think hiring sellswords of our own would be a wise course of action, Stannis was brilliant at using them to supplement his forces.” Davos said.

“And what happens if they abandon us because someone else offered them a bigger job or turn on us if Cersei does? Ned, er my father, always told me mercenaries were men without honor. He took no issue with pragmatic warfare, he actually respected the Dornish and Crannogmen, but fighting for gold was something he couldn't stomach.” Jon said.

“At the start of the Rebellion the North's forces were at full strength, as were the other rebelling Kingdoms. At the end of the war both rebels and loyalists suffered proportionate losses, losses that had been recovered by the time you were old enough to be talked to about matters like loyalty. After seven years of continent spanning wars, the situation couldn't be more different. War is a dirty affair, nobody comes out of it with clean hands.” Tyrion said.

“I have no problem with hiring sellswords. The Second Sons were crucial in my war against Slaver's Bay, and now they are in Meereen guaranteeing everything I fought for remains a reality. Most sellswords may be fickle, but I'm sure all would know not to cross an employer with dragons.” Daenerys said and smirked.

“I'm glad you agree. Currently the Windblown are in White Harbor. The Manderlys hired them to keep the peace while their forces and banners are here, and to be the first line of defense if the Dead attack. Once the Dead are taken care of we shall offer them a second contract to help us in the War of the Two Queens.” Said Varys.

“Do you have anything to report, Missandei?” Daenerys asked.

“I've visited the Freefolk camps and have started doing ethnographic work on the different tribes. This work could rehabilitate their image in the Seven Kingdoms, which would lessen the controversy surrounding Jon's decision to ally with them. I was present when the Maester present them with a letter from Cersei, she offered them the North if they betrayed our cause. Tormund dictated a decidedly ribald and undiplomatic rejection, which he had me write down in full. He was very proud of it.” Missandei said.

“I look forward to reading it.” Daenerys said.

“Have any ravens come in, Maester?” Jon asked.

“Two. One is sealed with a Heart Tree face, the other with a seahorse.” The Maester answered and handed the scrolls to Jon and Daenerys. Jon opened the first one.

“Dear Queen Daenerys Targaryen and Warden Jon Snow, I am writing this letter to swear fealty to you both. My House kept faith with the Targaryens for 300 years, and we share blood with both them and the Starks by way of the sisters Queen Betha and Lady Melantha. Currently I am stationed in Raventree Hall, I fear the Riverlands will be attacked soon. Should you request our aid at Winterfell, we will come. Signed Lord Tytos Blackwood.” Jon said reading the first letter.

House Blackwood are the perfect ally. They are loyal to the Targaryens, share faith with the Starks, and blood with both.

“Missandei, once you're done compiling the minutes of this meeting, write a letter to Lord Tytos thanking him for his allegiance. Tell him Winterfell is currently past capacity, but we may need their aid so keep vigilant.” Daenerys said.

“Yes, of course.” Missandei said.

“Go on and read the other letter.” Jon said.

“I cannot give you my name for reasons of personal safety, but you have friends in King's Landing, friends who share the Blood of Old Valryia. You'll be hearing from me soon.” Daenerys said reading the second letter.

“The seahorse sigil and mention of Valyrian heritage can only mean House Velaryon. This is wonderous news, Your Grace. Houses Blackwood and Velaryon were two of the most loyal houses to House Targaryen, even more loyal than any of the Great Houses I daresay. Them on our side is a game changer, now we have allies in the Riverlands and Crownlands.” Varys said.

“Excellent. Anyone else have anything to report?” Daenerys asked. Everyone shook their heads. “Meeting adjourned. I'll visit you in your quarters shortly, Missandei.”

“I look forward to it.” Missandei said.

Davos subtly gestured to Jon and Daenerys and waited until all the other advisers had left the room. Once they were all gone, Davos barred the door.

“Have you told the girls” Davos asked.

“Yes.” Jon and Daenerys said at once.

“Good. How did they take it?” Davos asked.

“Arya was indifferent to it, she said it doesn't change anything between us. Sansa took the news pretty heavy, but I think she'll warm up and get used to the new reality.” Jon replied.

“I'm glad to hear it. Good thing neither of them stormed off.” Davos said and the three had a good laugh.

“Thank for talking some sense into Jon. Gods know what would have happened if you weren't there to intervene. Telling you was a good call on Sam and Bran's part.” Daenerys said.

“He didn't talk sense into me, he slapped it.” Jon said.

“You're welcome. I don't believe in soul mates, or things being 'meant to be', but you two are so ideal for one another. That's the reason I made you picked up on her signals, Jon.” Davos said.

“We owe you so much. Don't worry, our debt to you will be paid several times over.” Daenerys said.

Chapter Text

Missandei sat at the work desk in her quarters scanning through the various sketches she had taken over the past few days and adding notes to them. She was eating a dinner of canned peaches, hard cheese on bread, grilled leeks, and roasted chestnuts, washed down with peppermint tea. The North was still an alien and inhospitable place to her, but after beginning to know some of its denizens she know realized they were not all so prejudiced as the rabble who sneered at her when she entered Winterfell. There was a knock on the door.

Must be Dany.

“Come in!” Missandei said as she put her quill back in her inkpot.

It was Daenerys. The two hugged and kissed each other on the cheeks. Missandei sat back down in her seat and Daenerys sat on the bed.

“Found yourself a good meal without meat? I'm glad.” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, when I ate with Arya she saw to it we had plenty of choices. She suggested I go to the kitchen directly, and they've been happy to accommodate me.” Missandei replied.

“How was your day with Arya?” Daenerys asked.

“Quite lovely. I like her a lot, such a spunky young lady. She showed me the Godswood and the Glass Gardens. I even got to see butterflies, really reminded me of Naath.” Missandei replied.

“She certainly is spunky. We're growing quite close, so its excellent you two are getting along. Wouldn't want my friends to be rivals, especially when one is my sister.” Daenerys said.

They must be really bonding if she's already calling her a sister.

“Your sister?” Missandei asked.

“When I went riding with Arya I mentioned that I always wanted a sister, so she said she could be my sister. Of course I have every intention of wedding Jon, which will make us sisters by law, but I was touched she'd make the gesture beforehand. That doesn't upset you, does it?” Daenerys asked and raised a concerned eyebrow.

“Of course not. I've never called you that, nor have you I. Our friendship is rather different from you and hers. I'm happy you have found a sister to call your own. I just wish I could get my brothers back, it was so painful having them plucked away to become Unsullied, then be killed fighting on behalf of some fat magister who never risked his life for anything. A true shame they didn't live to be freed by you, so they could serve a worthy leader.” Missandei said.

“And now no boy will ever suffer that fate. When I lost Viserys I felt nothing, looking back I gained something really. So where's that letter Tormund sent off?” Daenerys asked.

“Here, read it for yourself.” Missandei said as she opened up the commonplace book it was in and handed it to Daenerys.

“Bahahahaha! 'Wet nurse to the Stranger himself'!” Daenerys said in a burst of laughter, her mouth was wide agape and her teeth bared to the gums.

“Go on, it gets even better.” Missandei said laughing with her.

“'You are a lowly jester of this world and all spirit realms, an embarrassment to all gods, daughter of a garter snake, and nothing more than a crick in our cocks!' This is too much! I can't believe the Maester agreed to write all this.” Daenerys said after gathering herself.

“Go on, the end is the real clincher.” Missandei said.

“Alright, almost at the end. 'The Freefolk declare that you are not even worthy to shovel mammoth shit for us. We don't have calendars, but we are under the same sun and moon as you; so you can lick our ballsacks and cunts!' Seven hells, you weren't kidding. That composition is truly inspired. When the Dead are taken care of, Jon and I will offer the Freefolk chiefs titles and lands. I think their unwavering honesty is just what this duplicitous Realm needs.” Daenerys said.

“I must say I agree. The Freefolk have been most welcoming of me, they've graciously showed and told me much about their cultures. They're also horrified at the way I've been treated, Tormund was utterly baffled how anyone could shun me based on my color. He said that made no more sense then judging someone based on who their parents are.” Missandei said.

“Tormund helped Jon overcome much of his shame about being a bastard. Jon always seemed insecure about it, but Jon said it used to be far worse. Speaking of which, there is something I need to tell you. But you can't tell anyone else.”

What could it be? Maybe she missed this month's flowering and suspects she's with child.

“I promise, anything you say is safe with me.” Missandei said as she put her hand on the Lord of Harmony teak carving on her desk.

“We found out who Jon's mother is.” Daenerys said.

“For a moment I though you were going to tell me you were to become a mother.” Missandei said and sighed.

“I'm barren, remember? Anyway, we learned he's not the son of Ned Stark at all. Ned was his uncle, his mother was Lyanna Stark, Ned's sister. His father was Rhaegar Targaryen, my brother. We met with Lord Reed, Bran, and Jon's brother Sam, and they provided an airtight case based on unique evidence each provided; eyewitness, documentary, and supernatural.” Daenerys said.

“Oh my. I must confess I never paid much mind about Jon's mother. I recall him mentioning he didn't know who she was, I thought little of it beyond brief sympathy. I've read and heard quite a bit about Rhaegar, some say he was an angel but others a demon.” Missandei said.

“Yes, he was more complicated than either side remembers him. But he didn't abduct or rape Lyanna, and that's the important part. He did humiliate and abandon his first wife, Elia. Which is quite disappointing, but he was no raper. For years it vexed me how Barristan spoke so glowingly of him, when he supposedly committed unthinkable crimes. Turns out his worst crimes were selfishness, and foolhardiness. Who knows what would have happened had the rumors of those invented crimes not taken root, exposing them for the falsehoods they are will make our reign more palatable in the kindoms that rebelled.” Daenerys said.

“I'm relieved that one of your brothers wasn't a monster. What do you mean by 'our'?” Missandei asked.

“Jon and I plan to rule together. Him being the living son of the previous heir undermines my claim entirely, but Ser Davos proposed to us that we rule as husband and wife. We both thought it was the best course of action, if we win the Iron Throne we will be the first co-ruling king and queen since Jahaerys and Alysanne. Alysanne was beloved in the North and is fondly remembered to this day, so it's rather fitting really.” Daenerys said.

“So if he's Rhaegar's son that makes you two–”

“Aunt and nephew, yes.” Daenerys said, cutting off Missandei.

“That doesn't bother either of you? I'm not judging you either way.” Missandei asked.

“Growing up I always assumed I'd marry Viserys, before he announced I'd be wed to Drogo. I dreaded the thought of marrying him, but it never disgusted me; I took it for granted. Jon had quite a bit of a knee jerk when he found out, but Davos talked some sense into him.” Daenerys replied.

“You aren't too closely related, and its a time honored family tradition anyway.” Missandei said half jokingly.

“You're right about that. Now we just need to find the right opportunity to announce it. Such matters are so delicate. The Dead could make their next offense any day now, and I'm not sure if our revelation will help or hinder morale.” Daenerys said.

“Well with whatever you decide, I will be eager to write speeches for both of you. How it is said matters every bit as what is said.” Missandei said.

“I appreciate that. Alright, I need to go now.” Daenerys said. The two got up, hugged, then kissed each other on the cheeks then briefly on the lips.

“Where are you heading to?” Missandei asked.

“To the forges. I commissioned two projects, the smiths need my assistance in starting them. Goodbye, Missandei.” Daenerys answered.

“Goodbye and good night.” Missandei said, then sat back down and resumed her dinner and work.

Chapter Text

“How did Jaime like his new hand?” Tobho asked as Gendry walked into the forge.

“He loved it, and Tyrion was pleased the blueprint worked and we were able to add our own improvements on the design. Here is the second portion of the payment.” Gendery answered then handed Tobho a drawstring pouch of crimson velvet. Clink!

“Excellent, nothing beats a pouch full of dragons! Now we can begin loading everything we need onto the cart for when the Dragon Queen arrives.” Tobho said as he pocketed the money.

They grabbed all the supplies: a dragonglass knife, four ingots of Braavosi iron stamped with the Titan to verify their origin, several lumps of the finest charcoal they had, a few large rocks of uncut dragonglass, and a crucible embossed with Valryian spells. All of the items were loaded into the cart, which had a mule harnessed onto it. Already on board was a black rooster in a rattan cage, clucking calmly as if he no clue what was about to happen. Tobho fed the mule a carrot and an apple, then petted the mane softly.

“Did you remember the transcription of the spells you need to cast?” Gendry asked.

“Of course, got it right here!” Tobho said and unfolded a sheet of parchment that was in his breast pocket of his overcoat.

Gods I hope there aren't any errors in those notes. If there is one slight miscalculation at best it won't become Valyrian steel, who knows what could happen at worst.

“I'm going back inside to snuff out the candles and fetch the lantern.” Gendry said, then went inside. The lantern was made of mirrored silver with yellow Myrish glass panes, the mirror of the silver multiplied the light from the candle inside. When Gendry returned to the cart Daenerys was outside chatting with Tobho. She wore a dark fur parka with a red scarf and gloves.

“And here he is, my head assistant Gendry Waters.” Tobho said.

“Pleased to meet you, umm, Your Grace.” Gendry said awkwardly as he bowed.

“You're one of Jon's friends, right?” Daenerys asked as they started the journey to where the dragons were kept.

“I suppose so. I was on the Wight Hunt, I'm the one that went to Castle Black to send the raven to Dragonstone.” Gendry answered.

“Impressive, it seems you are faster than your father was strong. And he was strong man.” Daenerys said.

“My father?” Gendry asked awkwardly.

“You are a bastard of Robert Baratheon, are you not?” Daenerys replied as they passed through the Winterfell gates.

“Yes, I was just nervous that you'd bring him up. Considering what he did to your family and everything.” Gendry said.

“He did all that, not you.” Daenerys said.

“And both of them were customers of mine. They both wore suits of armor I made at the Trident.” Tobho said.

Seven hells, he never misses a chance to boast of his achievements.

“Last I heard, Storm's End is vacant. The lords of the Stormlands need a Great Lord, and I need all as vassals. Who better to rule the Stormlands than a son of Robert?” Daenerys asked, her purple eyes glistened and she raised a thick eyebrow almost seductively.

“A son of Robert who was actually raised in the Stormlands, or one who at least was fostered by a lord. I'm flattered by your offer, but with all due respect I've only been to the Stormlands briefly and I know nothing of politics. My father was said to have sired bastards in every Kingdom, surely there's a Storm of his who is worthy. Even my brother Kulungu would be a better fit. He's from King's Landing like me, but at least he grew up surrounded by lords and courtiers and was later fostered by a lord; even if it was a poor and backwater one like Howland Reed. I grew up in Flea Bottom, I'm not cut out to be a lord.” Gendry said.

“I'm impressed, your humility is admirable. That serves me well, its important that my bannermen are capable and willing. Besides, even as a smith I can reward you.” Daenerys said.

“She certainly can!” Tobho said.

“Your exclusive rights to forging Valyrian steel should be most lucrative.” Daenerys said.

The mixture of snow, darkness, and the limited speed of the mule meant the party moved at a slow pace towards the dragons. Besides the lantern, the only light they had was the full moon; which was essential for the ritual.

“Are the dragons friendly?” Gendry asked.

“They are, towards people they know are friends of their mother. Otherwise they are quite defensive. Here, both of you need to put some of this on. This will give you my scent, they'll trust you more readily.” Daenerys answered and handed Gendry a crystal perfume bottle that she had kept in her coat pocket.

Gendry put some on. He never cared for perfumes, in his experience the only people who wore any were cheap whores or overly flashy ladies; neither of which he cared for. The scent was strong but not unpleasant, it smelled of cinnamon who knows what else.

“Spiceflower! Very fine stuff! Back in Qohor you could find this at any fragrance dealer, but on this side of the Narrow Sea its damn near impossible to find outside King's Landing.” Tobho said as he put some on and returned the bottle to Daenerys.

Finally they approached the dragons. There was too much darkness for Gendry to see them, but he could hear their snarls and smelled the charred remains of their meals. Daenerys took the lantern and walked up the hill.

“Mama's back! I've brought some friends! They have something for you to do.” Daenerys said, she was affectionately rubbing their scales.

Gods they are absolutely massive. Wasn't expecting them to be that big, and they'll only grow bigger. I wonder if they ever stop growing.

Daenerys came back down to the cart with the lamp.

“Alright, its time to begin the ritual. Take out the rooster.” Tobho said as he set the embossed crucible down.

Gendry climbed onto the cart and unbarred the cage to grab the rooster. It protested loudly, flapping its wings frantically and trying to sink its talons into Gendry's thick leather gloves. Once he was back on the ground and had the rooster controlled Tobho finished filling the crucible with the iron ingots, charcoal, and dragonglass.

“Hold him over the crucible and I will begin.” Tobho said. Gendry complied. “Shijetra nyke lēkia! Aōha morghon kessa daor sagon syt daorun! Sir aōha tolīmorghon iksis dāez! Hen morghon māzigon iā arlie ābrar!” Tobho slit the throat of the rooster and the blood spouted into the crucible, but splatters of it got on Gendry. Once the rooster was dead a ghastly apparition came out of its corpse and swirled around the crucible, it resembled a monstrous rooster made of white smoke. The rooster's body and the knife were placed into the crucible, with the apparition still swirling inside.

“What's the next step?” Daenerys asked.

“This is the part where you come in. Gendry, time to go up the hill. Pick up the crucible and take it up!” Tobho replied then picked up two large pairs of tongs.

Gendry picked it up and was unnerved. It wasn't as heavy as he expected, but the bloody dead rooster and its restless spirit gave him goose pimples. Once he was to the top of the hill he placed it down in front of the dragons. Tobho and Gendry stepped to the side, while Daenerys calmly stood in front of her children.

“Dracarys!” Daenerys said pointing to the crucible. Both of them breathed hellfire onto the crucible until it glowed red hot. They stopped, then Gendry and Tobho rushed over to see. The iron was molten and it moved in a manner that was almost like a dance, it absorbed the charcoal and melted the dragonglass. The rooster was reduced to a heap of ash, and its spirit slowly shifted into the molten iron. These elements swirled into the iron, darkening it and giving it the unearthly glow and smoky aura that Valyrian steel is famed for.

“Alright, time to take it down.” Tobho said and handed Gendry a pair of tongs. They grabbed the crucible by the handles and took it down to the cart.

“Never in a thousand years did I think I'd be part of the revival of Valyrian steel.” Gendry said.

“Nor I.” Tobho said.

“Thank you both so much for this. Should I survive the war against the Dead I will owe you both my very life.” Daenerys said as they headed back to Winterfell.

Chapter Text

Today had almost been too much for Arya to take in. Between introducing Daenerys to her passion of swordplay, riding on Drogon, and finding out the truth about Jon, Arya was almost overwhelmed with information to process. After leaving the Godswood she laid on her bed and pondered everything. She tried reading, but was too distracted by all of her thoughts.

I can read later, when I have a clear head.

Arya got off her bed and stripped down. Once nude she did her evening stretching regimen on the rug, then blew out her lights and crawled into bed. Eventually all of the physical exhaustion overran her thoughts and she fell asleep.

Once her body was fully dormant her mind crossed the threshold beyond the wall of sleep to the Dreamlands. She found herself dressed in a surcoat with her merwolf sigil and standing on a winding road. Walking on the road were three bears, a satyr, and a brown bear. They walked with a merry skip down the road so Arya followed them. On the side of the road was a tree with black bark, blue leaves and corpses hanging from the branches. One the the corpses was having its eye pecked out by a large raven with plumage so red Arya thought it was a cardinal upon first glance.

“Come here, child.” The raven cawed, Arya ignored it and continued down the road.

The party started to near a collection of barrels. Out of the barrels leaped monkeys and giant rabbits, all dressed in chain mail and armed with swords and maces. The bear defended the boys and satyr, and Arya joined in and killed a rabbit and monkey with Needle. Finally they reached their destination, a tourney and fair was going on.

“Been a while, old friend.” Said a familiar face. It was Ser Randolph Carter, a fellow traveler in the Dreamlands. He wore a blue surcoat emblazoned with an orange cart wheel, and a barbute helmet adorned with bronze ox horns.

“I thought time was different on this side.” Arya said.

“Over here all things happen at once and don't happen all the same. My days with the Second Sons are relived a thousand times and I have seen a thousand lives where I never joined them. You are still alive on the other side, so be most cautious of what you see over here.” Ser Randolph said.

Attention shifted to the tourney. Knights rode on giant snails that moved unspeakably fast, while other participants were not knights at all. Rabbits, monkeys, foxes, and geese also competed, usually riding dogs or pigs. One woman competed wearing nothing but a septa's wimple, riding a man clad only in a Maester's chain.

The sideline entertainment included a cat playing bagpipes, trumpeters who played with their asses and a puppeteer with a dragon marionette. Skeletons square danced while women grabbed their ankles and rolled around like spinning wheels, their skirts revealing everything underneath then going back down with every turn. In the stands Arya noticed a woman with a crown of winter roses, she was eating a honeycomb on a stick but got some stuck in her hair. Nymeria was also sitting in the stands, so Arya warged into her.

“I've been expecting you!” A familiar voice said. It was the Gentleman With the Cane, who was sitting next to her. “Jolly fine work what you did to the Freys, you should become a pastry chef! I've got another task for you, this one can really pay off.”

“Bugger off!” Arya said jumped out of the stands.

On the other side of the stands there was a knight dressed in a black surcoat charged with a laughing weirwood tree, playing cyvasse with the Stranger. A lizard lion was at the knight's feet and a cloud of pestilence swarmed around the stranger. Nobody competing or in the audience seemed to pay any mind to the game. Eventually the knight lost all of his elephant and dragon pieces, which enabled the Stranger to capture his king. When that was done, the Stranger clapped its skeletal hands and then tempest clouds gathered overhead and it started to rain. Despite all this, nobody seemed to notice; they were too busy with the entertainment.

Arya looked into the sky and saw all of the space whales, energy dolphins, and flying vehicles were escaping the coming storm. A cloud parted and out of it a horde of spectral hunters on glowing horses rode out. A pack of flaming hounds led the way, and some of the hunters had birds of prey. No two hunters were identical, some looked human while others appeared demonic or animalistic. They rode lower and lower, until they all reached the ground and started slaughtering everyone at the tourney.

The tourney competitors put up a good fight, though their sporting weapons were inferior to the otherworldly arms of the hunters. The bear defended the maiden with the winter rose crown, he mauled and dismembered several hunters with far more brutality than he did the rabbit and monkey brigands. The puppeteer hid under the seats, while the Gentleman With a Cane laughed maniacally. Eventually the bear was killed, and Arya realized she could be idle no more. She howled out for Nymeria's pack then charged to the maiden's defense. A hunter with antlers growing out of his head struck Arya down, and as she struggled to get up he raised his ax to deliver a killing blow.

“Arya! Arya! It's okay!” A voice said. Arya woke up, her face was in a puddle of drool on her pillow. Daenerys was standing by her bed, rubbing her cheeks gently.

“I was having a warg dream, I've been much better at it lately. I think its because of the dragons.” Arya said as she sat up and wrapped herself in quilt, out of comfort and not modesty.

“I was coming back from an evening stroll and heard you growling from the hall. Are you a greenseer too?” Daenerys asked.

“No, at least I don't believe so. I can initiate the dream, but I can't control what I see. I've seen some pretty mad things, and some of it comes true in a way.” Arya replied.

“Like what?” Daenerys asked.

“The other night I had a dream a saw a white wolf and a black dragon mating.” Arya replied. Daenerys burst into a big belly laugh with her mouth wide open.

I love the way she laughs and smiles, its adorable. So full of life.

“Well if it was wholly correct it'd be two dragons, wouldn't it? Visions really are distorted it seems. Hahaha!” Daenerys said.

“It gets better. I was in my dire wolf's body during the dream, so when they stopped mating I went up and started to lick the fur of the white wolf. As I licked him his fur shed, revealing scales and furled wings underneath. So many weird things happen in the Dreamlands, so you never know what's going to come true and I thought nothing of it. But it turned out to be quite major.” Arya said.

“My, that is astonishing. When I was in Qarth I visited the House of the Undying. I had all sort of visions, two that stood out was one where there was a blue rose growing out of the Wall and another where Rhaegar held a baby and declared him to be the Song of Ice and Fire. When I saw the blue roses in the crypts I was astonished; and now I know it must have been Jon that Rhaegar was holding, even though Rhaegar died before Jon's birth.” Daenerys said.

Sounds infinitely more interesting than the House I went to.

“Are you a Dragon Dreamer?” Arya asked.

“I'm not sure, but I've had some strange dreams. In Meereen I had a few dreams where I was visited by a woman in a red mask and black robes. She gave me all sorts of cryptic warnings, and told me to go west I must go east or some other contradictory rubbish.” Daenerys replied.

“I think I know what that last part means. When you invaded Westeros at first you wanted to take over King's Landing first, but Jon persuaded you to come North because the Night King was a more pressing matter. Once the Night King is dealt with you can resume your campaign, which will mean finally moving south. Being instrumental in defeating the Dead will get the masses to rally to our cause, and ultimately win you the Iron Throne. Had you seized the Iron Throne right away your victory would have been short lived because of the Dead. So to go south you had to go north. I look forward to marching south with you.” Arya said. Daenerys smiled ear to ear.

“I think you're onto something, I'll take it. I look forward to it as well. The hour is getting late, I want to get some sleep for my sword lesson tomorrow.” Daenerys said.

The two hugged, then Daenerys tucked Arya into bed and they said goodnight.

Chapter Text

For Ellaria, the Spear Tower was nothing after a few weeks in the black cells of the Red Keep. There she was stripped of her caftan, something she secretly enjoyed, and given a tunic of sackcloth. Dinner consisted of flatbread with hummus and rabbit meat, which was far superior to the bowled monstrosity she was served in the black cells. The dungeons in the Tower of the Spear had iron bars that were oddly ornate and light came from windows which provided a decent view of the shadow city. Each cell had a greasy cot on the floor and a chamber pot, but nothing else. In the cell across from her was someone she didn't expect to see again; Princess Arianne Martell.

“I heard you killed my father.” Arianne said with her husky voice. She was a short lass with a curvy figure that showed even through her rags, and her lush black curls were disheveled and dirty from imprisonment.

“I will neither confirm nor deny that, my trial is tomorrow. I don't want to spoil the surprise. Why are you in here?” Ellaria asked.

“Conspiracy and high treason. My friends and I wanted to oust Cersei in a coup d'etat and install Myrcella as Queen, but our plan was foiled by Areoh Hotah. This happened when you were still in King's Landing.” Arianne said.

Fuck, she can't know I killed Myrcella.

“It seems you are a schemer as well. So tell me, what do you think of Daenerys?” Ellaria asked in a hastened tone to change the subject.

“Whenever I hear that name I'm reminded of the first Daenerys, the one who married into the Martells. Her portrait hung in my bedchamber and I envied her back when I was an awkward little fat girl. Father had always sought to restore the Targaryens, but I wasn't convinced they would ever make it across the Narrow Sea. Manfrey has cast his lot with Cersei, largely out of distaste for your crimes, last I heard. Now that Daenerys is in Westeros I'll gladly take her over Cersei or anyone else.” Arianne answered.

“Before I arrived back home I was held prisoner in King's Landing. I was on a ship with Yara Greyjoy, Daenerys' de facto admiral. She brought me here, she'll be my champion tomorrow. Her brother freed us, with help from Cersei's Hand. Seven Hells is her hand a loathsome creep! Gods I hope she wears a fucking helmet. Anyway, when I escaped I saw several ships and soldiers bearing the Golden Company sigil. Had I not seen that, I'd call Manfrey a lackwit for siding with Cersei. But with the Golden Company on her side anything could happen.” Ellaria said.

“I was infatuated with him when I was first getting my blood.” Arianne said.

“Is that so? No reason we couldn't have shared him, I was only his paramour after all.” Ellaria said and laughed.

Lucky man would've been able to fuck us both, I'd envy him for getting her.

“Father thought I was too valuable for that, he said I was far too eligible a bachelorette to not be wedded to strengthen a rival house. From that moment on, I resented him. Yet he married my mother for love, and she was from Norvos of all places! Norvos! The only thing that priest ridden town has to offer is tapestries.” Arianne said.

“If I win my trial tomorrow, I will give orders to free you. You are the rightful ruler of Dorne, after all.” Ellaria said.

“Good, I don't think most lords would take kindly to a Sand paramour as their liege. Manfrey isn't even next in line without me, my brother Quentin is still alive. Or was before I was imprisoned. Father sent him to Essos, to propose to Daenerys.” Arianne said.

“And now Daenerys has Jon Snow, Ned Stark's bastard. Not sure if he is merely a plaything, or something more. In King's Landing I was dismissed as nothing more than a bed warmer, that wimpled crone Olenna was furious when I sat at the Ladies' table during Joffrey's wedding. She thought eating with a paramour was beneath her. Regardless, I still respect her. She was loyal to Daenerys until the bitter end, and I truly do mean bitter.” Ellaria said.

“Have you heard the rumors about Jon that are popular in Dorne?” Arianne asked.

“Sweetling, I was deep in the courtier gossip circles before you were even conceived. Yes, of course I have. I've heard it proposed he was Ashara's son many times, and if so Ned had exquisite taste. Oberyn danced with her at Harrenhall, he sought to marry her. I would've loved that, especially if it meant we would, ahem, share her.” Ellaria said and licked her lips provocatively.

“We'll probably never know the truth, regrettably. Unless some Maester uncovers anything written by Ned or Ashara that confirm it. That could be advantageous for him, it would certainly make his current role as a paramour more palatable.” Arianne said.

“And now Lord Edric is missing, House Dayne has been without a Lord for years now. I fear he may be dead, just as all of the Snakes are save for Sarella.” Ellaria said.

“Is she still studying at the Citadel?” Arianne asked.

“She is, assuming she hasn't been expelled for her secret being exposed. All it would take is getting her blood a day earlier than anticipated, or for rain to pour down over her robes on a cold day. I thought it unwise for her to go to Old Town, and her mother didn't approve either. Her mother captains a swan ship, wanted her as a first mate or for her to stay with Oberyn and I. But Oberyn always gave his girls what they want.” Ellaria responded.

“It's been a pleasure chatting with you, but the hour is getting late. You should get some sleep, it may be the last chance you ever get.” Arianne said.

“You're right, pleasant dreams.” Ellaria said as she glanced out her window and noticed the sun was almost gone and the moon was up. She laid down on her cot and closed her eyes.

Chapter Text

After turning in Ellaria, Yara ate a dinner of paella and sangria at the tavern she passed by in the bazaar then returned to her captain's quarters to sleep. Before going to bed, she scanned through her massive collection of weapons from people she killed over the years; she needed weapons to use in addition to her cousin's sword. On the racks hung weapons from across the Seven Kingdoms plus others from more exotic locales; she had Myrish stilettos, Lysene dirks, a Dothraki arakh, Braavosi small swords, a jian and dao from Yi Ti, scimitars from the Summer Islands and Slaver's Bay, and many others she couldn't even remember where she got them.

“What do you think, cousin?” Yara asked Harras.

“You have little experience with great swords, so I'd recommend using your axes and dagger to supplement. Nothing fancy.” Harras replied.

He can be far too practical sometimes.

“Drat, I was looking forward to showing off some pieces in my collection.” Yara said with an air of disappointment.

“As if a Valryian sword isn't impressive enough. Alright, I'm going to my cabin. See you tomorrow, cousin.” Harras said and left Yara's cabin.

Yara put her axes and dagger next to her armor; a gray gambeson, brigandine jerkin, nose guard helmet, and steel greaves and vambraces embossed with krakens on them. Then she got naked and went to sleep. The following morning she got up and suited up for the trial, before leaving her cabin she put on her Stranger amulet and remembered to tie a keffiyah around her helmet. Wearing a helmet without one in Dorne could cook one's brain like an egg. When Yara went on deck she saw that a score of Martell Guards were waiting to escort her.

“Is it alright if my crew come along? They are always eager to see their captain fight.” Yara asked to the guards.

“Alright. Should be plenty of seats available at the Bull Ring, short notice trials rarely pack a full house.” A guardsman responded.

“Hear that boys? You can all watch me skin this Dornish viper!” Yara shouted to much fanfare then blew her conch.

“One caveat,” the guardsman said, “your crew are to remain unarmed. No need to worry, if you die they will be unharmed.”

That's a big fucking if.

“Alright, weapons stay on onboard.” Yara reluctantly said to audible groans.

Yara and the crew got off the ship, then followed the guards through the bazaar again. They went in opposite direction of Sunspear, but Yara was too preoccupied with mentally preparing for the fight to pay any attention to the sights.

The Bull Ring was a red sandstone amphitheater circled by palm trees. As they entered the gate Yara was almost deafened by the cheers of the crowd. Ellaria was sitting manacled in a ringside booth, surrounded by guardsmen. Lady Martell and several courtiers had ringside seats surrounding Ellaria's booth. Manfrey was in the center of the arena, twirling a red cape around to provoke a large black bull into charging towards him. As the bull would charge to the cape, Manfrey would stab it with long darts wrapped in streamers. Eventually the bull was bristling with darts and collapsed, moaning in agony. The Prince walked up to the poor creature and pierced its heart with his sword, a broadsword with a basket hilt consisting of three braided vipers.

Killing an animal while in full armor, I'd think him a coward had he not insisted so eagerly on fighting me. Could've just had someone fight in his stead.

Most Dornish warriors donned brigandines or gambesons if they were poor, scale armor if they were rich. Manfrey however wore a steel cuirass and pauldrons over an arming doublet embroidered with scrollwork and tassets over pantaloons. His cuirass had an gold inlay of one of Nymeria's ships while the pauldrons were crafted to look like Old Man tortoises. His helmet was a Tyroshi capelline; the nasal bar was shaped like a spear, the visor was shaped like the sun with his eyes between the rays, and the crest featured a cobra ready to strike. Trumpets sounded and Manfrey wiped off his blade with the cape. Once his blade was clean he tossed the cape aside and a squire handed him his targe, which was emblazoned with the Martell sigil.

“Ladies and gentleman, today is not just another bullfight! Today my cousin's paramour Ellaria Sand stands trial for high treason, and the murder of our liege, Prince Doran. Representing her is Yara Greyjoy, another colloborator of the invader Daenerys Targaryen!” Manfrey said as he walked around the arena and waved to the crowd.

“The trial will begin when the gong sounds. The first ring signals everyone but the champions to leave ring, the second allows the combat to begin.” One of the guards told Yara.

“Aye, got it.” Yara said.

Clang!!! The guards and Manfrey's squire left the ring. Yara pulled two of the throwing axes of her belt holsters and Manfrey pounded his targe with his sword. Clang!!!

This is it, no going back now.

Yara threw the first ax, Manfrey raised his targe and the ax head embedded into it. With the second ax Yara managed to hit his left tasset, the ax left a dent but bounced right off into the sand. Manfrey sheathed his sword and threw one of the darts from his quiver, Yara dodged it and a second, but allowed a third to pierce her thigh. Her gambeson halted the momentum and barely pricked her. Yara ignored the dart and unsheathed Nightfall, then the two charged towards one another.

Manfrey struck the first blow, which was blocked by Nightfall's blade. Yara swung for Manfrey's head but he caught the strike with his targe and the handle of the still embedded ax was chopped clean off. Next the two unleashed a flurry of attacks on each other, almost all of them blade hitting blade. Nightfall was shockingly resistant towards plate, most blades would ricochet off but it seemed Valryian swords handled plate little differently from lighter armors. Now Manfrey had slash marks on his cuirass and pouldrons. He did a shield charge on her, but she pulled out her dagger and stabbed his wrist; sadly missing the veins.

Nightfall landed a second blow on Manfrey's targe, which shattered the wood and sent splinters flying. Only the steel frame was left, so Manfrey discarded it and drew another dart from his quiver. Yara raised Nightfall in the air for a downward chop and Manfrey used the opportunity to stab her. It appeared he aimed for her throat but the stab landed between two collarbone plates of her brigandine. Yara dropped Nightfall and it fell into the sand and it her down with it.

Yara struggled to get up and saw Manfrey about to pick up Nightfall. She sneakily pulled out her last ax and hacked into his boot, probably severed a few toes. He screamed for a moment and Yara used that time to get back on her feet and pick up Nightfall. Manfrey stabbed at Yara with his sword and Yara dodged it and managed to deal a nasty slash under his armpit, which shredded through his arming doublet and caused that pouldron to pop off. Now Manfrey laid in the sand, writhing in pain and bleeding from his wound and mouth.

“I've won.” Yara said as she stood over him.

“So it.....seems. So.......it seems. But......you've been.......poisoned. You will......die anwyay.” Manfrey said and laughed until he was coughing on his own blood.

“Not so, I drank a vial of cazador venom yesterday so I have immunity for it now.” Yara said.

“You.......repaid treachery.....with.....treachery. I knew.....I liked you.” Manfrey said.

“Such a shame I'll have to kill you.” Yara said as she removed his helmet. Once the helmet was set aside she beheaded him with Nightfall. Decapitation was seldom an easy task, but the Valryian steel made it as easy as butchering a duck or goose. “This will make a fine addition to my collection.” Yara said as she grabbed Manfrey's sword and the sheath off his body.

Once the audience settled down, another gong sounded and the Maester stood up.

“The trial has been concluded. The defendant has been cleared of all charges before the Gods. Guards, free her. And it seems we have a new Prince.” The Maester said and gestured to Manfrey's son. He was a lad perhaps seventeen, he was dressed in a fez and a chintz robe decorated with floral work and sand steeds.

“New Princess!” Ellaria said as she exited the prisoner booth before the son could say anything. Everyone in the crowd gave sounds of shock. Yara wondered if Ellaria was declaring herself to be the Princess. “Princess Arianne is alive and well, she is currently locked up in the Tower of the Spear. Doran kept her incarceration a secret because he thought it would create bad faith his his own plans, and Manfrey did as well because that was the only way for him to become Prince as if Nymeria's legacy meant nothing to him.” Ellaria said.

“I see no reason why you would lie about such a thing. Guards, go to the Tower of the Spear and if my cousin is there have her released at once. I will bend the knee to her.” Manfrey's son said with confidence.

Yara walked up to Ellaria.

“That fight was magnificent, far more exciting than any bullfight. My nub was tingling with anticipation for the entire trial. Once Arianne is crowned I will take you to the Water Gardens. We'll have us some fun before you head on your way to Pyke.” Ellaria purred.

“Lady Greyjoy, I can tend to your wounds in the arena infirmary and give you milk of the poppy. Then you can go to Sunspear, hopefully in time to see Arianne take her throne. Shouldn't be for too long.” The Maester said.

“Aye, let's go. Some milk of the poppy sounds good right now.” Yara said then followed the Maester to the infirmary.

Chapter Text

Telling his sisters about his parentage was a great relief for Jon. Now he had nothing to hide with them, and Arya's remarks reminded him of what really mattered. That night Jon slept like a rock, no doubt aided by lack of sleep the night prior. When he awoke he found Daenerys snoring next to him, he was already asleep before she returned. Her loose hair was wild, like a tangle of silver snakes. Her arms were wrapped around him.

She's so gorgeous, even sound asleep. Gods I'm so glad I chose to stay with her.

“Mmmm good morning.” Daenerys said as she slowly woke up.

“Good morning, Dany.” Jon said.

Daenerys kissed him softly. “Play with me a bit, I miss your touch!” She said in a bossy tone. Jon obliged and caressed her breasts with one hand and ran his fingers through her bush with the other. Eventually he shifted his focus to her ass, a hand on each cheek. She smiled ear to ear and purred with every stroke.

“Do you have another sword lesson today?” Jon asked.

“I do. I doubt there's enough time for me to become adept enough to hold my own against a Walker, but I still want to get as good as I can. Brienne is a marvelous woman, its an honor to become a student of hers.” Daenerys answered.

“That she is. I wouldn't have ever suggested you take up combat lessons, but I'm glad you are. Kings are expected to fight. Queens are not, but you won't be an ordinary queen. You aren't afraid to get your skirts dirty, people respect that.” Jon said.

“I should hope so. Once my lesson is concluded we can make an appearance for the troops. Our men need to know we haven't forgotten them.” Daenerys said as she got out of bed and took off her purple silk pajamas.

“They do. So what was that little 'evening stroll' about?” Jon asked, he too got out of bed and started to get dressed.

“When I found out about Bran's green sight it gave me ideas. I had him witness the creation process of Valyrian steel, which he described to Gendry. Tobho and Gendry were commissioned to create two Valyrian swords, one for me and one for Arya. Turns out dragon fire is an essential part of the process, so I provided them with that.” Daenerys replied as she put on a chemise.

The secrets of Valyrian steel has been rediscovered? We can start asking Bran for all sort of information, and he should be able to get it for us.

“I never would've dreamed we'd ever revive that technology. Such a remarkable material, so much lighter and stronger than even the finest castle forged steel; it and dragonglass are the only known things that can kill Walkers. Arya would love any gift from you, especially a sword. And one of Valryian steel? I can't even imagine her joy.” Jon said.

“She'll be my Lady of the North, she needs a tangible symbol of her vassalage. Ice was a gift to Torrhen from Aegon, I thought a new sword was only fitting.” Daenerys said.

“Lady? We can't just take that from Sansa, even if Arya was the first to support you. Arya could be made Wardeness, if she proves herself qualified. Warden is a military title and it isn't hereditary, the monarch appoints them. Sansa's forte is politics and diplomacy, she knows nothing of warfare. Arya at least has combat experience, and she has the charisma of a commander. Almost all Warderns of the North have been the head of House Stark, but it's no requirement. I'm not even a Stark and I still got the title.” Jon said.

“Very well, I suppose violating the rules of inheritance would make me more disliked up here than I already am.” Daenerys said.

“Speaking of Sansa, I need to pay her a visit while you're having your sword lessons.” Jon said.

“What do you think I should wear for our appearance? What I've got on right now is just something simple to stay warm on my way to the gymnasium.” Daenerys asked.

Glad to see her wearing that parka Arya picked out for her, its nice seeing them dress as though they were already sisters. Perhaps they are.

“Your Dothraki garb would probably be best. Helps establish you as a warrior, and the Dothraki will be happy to see you still embrace their attire.” Jon answered.

“Excellent choice, although the Dothraki are happy to see me in whatever I wear. Or whether I wear anything at all. I can wear a frilly silk dress with a single tit out in the air and they will still see me as their Khaleesi.” Daenerys said and laughed.

“Is that so? Well I wouldn't recommend showing your bosoms until spring. Alright, hope you learn a lot during your lesson. Make every task count.” Jon said then kissed Daenerys softly on the lips and left their bedchamber.

Jon walked down the hall and up the stairs to the solar. Sansa was sitting on a divan, playing her high harp. The melody and her voice were sweet and calming. She wore a crimson velvet dress lined with black bear fur, on her head was a short hennin. On the table there was a teakettle and some porcelain teacups decorated with winter roses. The teakettle was copper and shaped like a fat dire wolf, the mouth was its spout and the tail was its handle.

“Good morning, Jon. Fancy a spot of tea?” Sansa asked and abruptly stopped her music.

“My pleasure, thanks. How are you doing this morning?” Jon asked as he sat down on the divan across from her.

“Alright, I suppose. Quite the relief knowing that Father was never unfaithful. If only my mother had lived to learn the truth.” Sansa said as she she got up to pour Jon a cup and handed it to him, then grabbed her cup and sat back down.

Catelyn would've needed to be the last person to find out. She would've told that wretched lunatic sister of hers the moment she learned it. Such a vain woman, the belief of having an unfaithful husband must have wounded her. No way she wouldn't remove that nonexistent stain.

“If only. I should have told you this years ago, but thank you for helping me with women. I'm not sure if I ever could have ended up with Daenerys if it wasn't for your lessons. The only women I dealt with in the Watch were Freewomen, and they aren't ladies.” Jon said then took a sip. The tea tasted of ginger, lemon juice, and honey. It soothed his throat and he found the aroma to be pleasant, but there was excess honey and it dominated the other flavors.

“Oh yes, I remember teaching you how to talk to girls. You were so shy, you couldn't even find it in you to ask me for pointers! Haha! You're welcome.” Sansa said.

She seemed uneasy about that remark, I wonder if she still distrusts Dany.

“I still haven't put your dancing lessons to good use. Hopefully I can at the wedding. I have a project for you.”

“What is it?” Sansa said.

“You've always been good with your hands, all of your needlework is impeccable. I'd like for you to make a surcoat for Arya, and one for me. She needs something so she'll be recognized in battle, so use her personal arms. I want something to wear that reflects my true lineage after its revealed to the public, this won't do after that.” Jon said, pointing to the white dire wolf on his black surcoat.

“Don't tell me you're going to allow Arya to start fighting in battle!” Sansa said.

“Not just yet. I refused to let her come with us to the Dreadfort, and I'll deny her again until there is no choice. Its a matter of time before the Dead reach Winterfell, and everyone who can wield a blade will have to fight. If she lives, gods I hope she does, I'll let her fight as she pleases. Anyone who can survive the Army of the Dead could hold their own against mortal forces.” Jon said.

“Good. I don't want her recklessly endangering herself, or for such behavior to be enabled. I don't think she's ever been in open battle, or even skirmishes.” Sansa said.

“I don't believe so either, I'm glad we're in agreement. Do you think you could fulfill this commission for me?” Jon asked.

“I'd love to! Thank you, it will be an honor.” Sansa said with a warm smile. “So what do you have in mind for yours? I'd guessing not a basic Targaryen sigil.” Sansa asked.

“No, Dany uses that already. I want something unique, something that embraces both sides of my heritage the way you and Arya's merwolves do.” Jon replied.

“Just a moment, let me draft some concepts. When I've finished you can pick the one you like best.” Sansa said then got up and went to the bookshelf behind her. She grabbed a heraldry guidebook and sat down at the writing desk in the corner. A stationary set was resting on the desk, which Sansa put away in one of the drawers and took out a sheet of vellum. Jon finished his tea, then poured himself another cup to pass the time.

“Alright, here's what I've come up with!” Sansa said and showed Jon four proposals.

Two of them marshaled the Targaryen and Stark arms, one quartered and the other impaled. The other two combined the creatures themselves; one was a red dragon with three wolves' heads while the other was a fire-breathing white dire wolf with dragon wings.

“That one.” Jon said pointing to the last design. “Combines the two sigils evenly while standing out on its own. One of the Great Bastards had a Bracken mother, this design reminds me his of sigil but with the Bracken horse. Aegor Rivers, I believe it was.” Jon said.

“You're correct, I leafed over to the section on personal Targaryen and Blackfyre sigils and found Aegor's. I was hoping you'd pick that design.” Sansa said with a smile.

“Aegor founded the Golden Company, and yesterday I found out Cersei hired them. They are the biggest military in the world, and they never break a contract under any circumstances. I will look forward to wearing my new sigil when I fight the Golden Company. If I don't die or end up crippled fighting the Army of the Dead, of course.” Jon said.

“Sounds like we must hire sellswords of our own.” Sansa said.

“That was discussed at the briefing council. I didn't want to, Father always hated sellswords, but Dany thought it was the best course of action and I deferred to her judgment.” Jon said.

“It will be an honor to do this for you and Arya.” Sansa said.

“Once you're done perhaps you can meet with Dany and design a wedding dress for her, I'm sure she has plenty of ideas for it. I'm happy you kept up with your talents and passions. Had you been born a yeoman's daughter I have no doubt you would have been a successful seamstress, ladies and lords would pay handsomely for your work. Alright, I need to go now. Dany and I are making an appearance for our forces, I need to prepare before her lessons are done.” Jon said.

“Farewell.” Sansa said. The two hugged firmly then Jon kissed her on the forehead and headed out.

Chapter Text

Euron hated the life at court. So many meetings, and etiquette, and arbitrary rituals. All of it was mind-numbing for Euron, he always craved the freedom of the sea. When Cersei gave him free reign to pillage the Stormlands he was ecstatic, he could hardly stand her pompous attitude and was uncertain how much longer he could keep up with his facade of a drunk sot. Before reaching the Stormlands, he had a detour to take.

He walked into the Silence's armory and had one of the mutes suit him up in his armor. It was an ancient suit of scales dark as smoke; each scale was embossed with a rune, and the edges of scales were red as blood. The helm was in a sugar loaf shape and had slits for the eyes, it was inlaid with dark red dragons fighting one another. Most suits of armor weighed down the wearer and inhibited movement to some degree, but this was as light as a silk tunic. After suiting up, he walked over to where the prisoners were kept.

“Valyrian steel armor? How is that even possible? I thought all of it was destroyed centuries ago from generations of use without proper maintenance.” Pyat Pree asked.

“I found it in Old Valyria. That's right, I've been there. Found this suit locked away in a vault. Found this sword too, got it off a skeleton in Westerosi armor. Must've been a member of a less fortunate expedition.” Euron responded and unsheathed a Valryian steel greatsword; it had a spiral oak hilt, the cross guard was inlaid with gold vine work, and the pommel was a roaring lion carved out of a citrine gemstone.

“If any other mortal told me they went to Old Valyria I'd take them for a liar or lackwit, but I can believe you. Even without the armor as proof.” Pyat Pree said.

“This armor protects from dragon fire. Daenerys will be shitting her skirts when she can't have her little kids kill me. I also have a dragonbinder horn, I've tried using it on wild dragons I've spotted in Sothoryos and the Shadowlands. It calmed them, but I couldn't bind them. However those dragons were centuries if not millennia old, the ones Daenerys has aren't even a decade old.” Euron said, then poured himself a flagon of Shade of the Evening.

Once Euron finished drinking the Shade, he walked back onto the deck. Seagulls were flying overhead and the sky was almost cloudless. The jagged cliffs and sharp mountains of the coast were comfortably in view. The Iron Fleet was headed towards Claw Isle, seat of House Celtigar. They had backed Stannis once, but after Blackwater Bay they bent the knee to Jofferey and now they were Cersei's banners. Euron didn't care, for they had something he wanted.

“Cersei told us to go to the Stormlands, why are we headed up to Crackclaw Point?” Asked Kalma, Euron's bastard. Kalma's mother was a corsair from the Basilisk Isles; Euron had met her while laying low in either Black Pudding or Whore's Gash, he couldn't recall which. The boy had his mother's dark skin and curly hair, he wore a yellow canvas tunic with a black kraken stitched on it. He had only been to the Iron Islands once, during the last Kingsmoot.

“Lord Adrian is one of the richest lords in the realm! He might not have much in cash, but many of his belongings are priceless. We're going to relieve him of them. Most of his men were killed during the Battle of Blackwater Bay, easy pickings. Now get back to the crow's nest, bastard. You're my only crewman who can announce when we've made it!” Euron said.

“Yes fath- captain!” Kalma said then climbed up to the crow's nest.

Euron strolled the deck, making sure all the crew were doing their jobs. One of the rowers had

Falia sitting on his lap, her large bosoms were out and he grab them between rows. Euron shoved Falia off and grabbed the rower by the throat.

“Listen here, all you mongrels! Falia Flowers is my salt wife! Mine alone! Anyone who lays his hands on her will be lucky to have hands should I catch him!” Euron said, then gestured for two crewmen to hold down the offending rower. Euron unsheathed his sword then lopped off the hands of the rower, who shrieked in the most queer manner from lack of a tongue.

Yor toor shul!” Euron said, then a flame was produced, coming forth from the palm of his gauntlet. The bleeding stumps on the rowers hands were cauterized, then Euron picked up the severed hands and slapped him with them until he had two black eyes and a bloody nose. Euron unsheathed his sword and slowly inserted it into the rower's mouth. The blade caused his cheeks to split open and Euron slid it down his throat and didn't stop until the tip protruded from his trousers. The blade was freed with a sudden slash which cleaved the rower's corpse.

“String him up from front mast, I need Lord Celtigar to know I don't play.” Euron said.

The crewmen nodded and complied.

“Claw Isle is in sight!” Kalma shouted from the crow's nest. Euron walked over to the prow and could see the castle. Claw Isle was little more than a walled keep, but it was elegantly build in an old Valyrian style not unlike Dragonstone or Driftmark. Most of it was white limestone, with red patterns glazed into the walls.

“Alright, drop the anchor! Everyone grab your weapons, we're heading ashore! Not you Falia or Kalma. Both of you stay here. And don't think about trying anything together!” Euron roared.

Anchored at the dock was Red Claw, House Celtigar's famed war galley. Red Claw was made of lacquered redwood and intricately carved with merlings, sea dragons, krakens, and lethiathans. The figurehead was a massive crab wielding a trident in its claws. After a brief walk, they reached the gate of Claw Isle. The gate was made of redwood, over twenty feet tall, and carved with elaborate nautical scenes. Euron hacked the gate open with his still bloody sword, splinters flying everywhere. Inside only women and children were found, just as Euron had expected.

“We'll give you anything! Tell us what you want!” One of the women said, her apron was dirtied with chicken stratch and a big pile of it was at her feet. Chickens surrounded her.

“Where is Lord Celtigar?” Euron asked.

“Go on inside, all of our men either died at Blackwater Bay or were forced to fight for the Crown to prove their loyalty.” Another woman said, she had a broom in her hand.

“Alright men, I'm going inside. Stay out here, have some fun.” Euron said laughingly then entered the castle. The inside was lush with Myrish carpets, Volantene stained glass windows, Norvoshi tapestries hanging from the walls. There were several taxidermy animals, which Euron surmised must have been purchased from menagerie keepers in King's Landing or Braavos. Among them were a zebra, a giraffe, a Westerlands lion, a firewyrm, a black swan, a pygmy elephant, a tiger, and lizard lion. Also prominent was statuary from across the known world of both mortals and deities.

“If you've come for my house's ancestral weapon, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. Your brother stole it from me years ago, it was the only item he asked for. That ax was no doubt the most valuable item in my collection, but I'm baffled he took no interest in anything else. I am most grateful for that, of course.” Said Lord Celtigar.

The lord was old and frail, his once silver hair was now snow white, but he still had piercing lilac eyes that betrayed his Valyrian blood. He wore a scarlet cotehardie, a beret with a pheasant's feather, white, hosiery, and a white mantle with embroidered with scarlet crabs and clasped with a golden crab. He was sitting in a fine chair of goldenwood, drinking wine from a stained glass chalice. Perched on the chair was a sea eagle in a leather hood.

“So that's wear Victarian got his ax! I always wondered where that lumbering halfwit got it, he never could give me a straightforward answer. Valryian steel axes aren't exactly easy to come by, harder than a sword! I already have a Valyrian weapon, right here! Take me to your wine cellar.” Euron said, pointing his sword at Lord Celtigar.

“Yes of course.” Lord Celtigar said and got up, he grabbed his carved ivory cane and led Euron down into the wine cellar. The wine cellar was massive, stocked with wines from the Westerlands to Yi Ti, with many fine beers, liquors, and ciders as well.

“What sort of lord just gives up a Valryian weapon?” Euron asked.

“One who is surrounded by Ironborn reavers who outnumber his own forces. That piece was too nice to be used in combat anyway.” Lord Celtigar said.

“Great, now that we're in here you're going to tell me where that special little horn of yours is.” Euron said.

“I don't know what you're talking about!” Lord Celtigar protested.

“Does this ring a bell?” Euron asked then knocked over a wine rack, causing the bottles to shatter and soak the carpeted floor. Lord Celtigar screamed.

“Alright, alright! Are you talking about the Kraken Binder? Because I can get you that, just follow me.” Lord Celtigar said then pointed to one of the walls with his cane.

“See? That wasn't so hard, was it? Good thing your memory was put in order. So many tears over a rack of Dornish reds, I'd hate to see what would happen if I had to knock over a more exotic stock.” Euron said as he followed the lord.

Lord Celtigar flipped a switch that was behind a bottle of brandy. The rack moved to the side and a door was exposed. Through the door was a room filled with chests full of gemstones. On the wall hung a white spiraled horn with a kraken and several staves and veves scrimshawed onto it, it had three copper bands.

“Here it is. One small caveat however, I've no idea if krakens will respond to it. Never once have I tried it. I've always kept it as a conversation piece, really.” Lord Celtigar said.

“Much appreciated. Alright, I'm going to take my leave once my men are done with their little stay. Hope you don't mind if I take your ship.” Euron said.

“Of course not, I've no crew and no use for it anymore. Are you really going to let me be so peacefully?” Lord Celtigar asked.

“I ain't going to kill you, if that's what you mean. Peacefully? Well that depends on you call peaceful. I doubt the women on your land would call it that. Farewell Lord Celtigar, I hope your last winter isn't too cold.” Euron said, then left the secret room and knocked over another wine rack on his way out of the cellar.

Chapter Text

“I'm glad the Queen is learning how to fight.” Red Lamb said. The Queensguard stood outside the Great Keep and waited for Daenerys to come out.

“As am I, a Queen who fights is a Queen who demands respect without uttering a word. Where come from our girls learn to fight alongside the boys. My cousin is a girl of thirteen, and is the ruling Lady and will lead her forces. Her mother, my aunt, was Lady before her and led the forces. We believe she is dead, but I wouldn't be shocked if that crazy hellcat is holed up somewhere.” Jorah said.

“In the Basilisk Isles women fight too, the environment is inhospitable and tribes are constantly warring when we aren't fighting foreign pirates. I thought the women of Westeros were forbidden from fighting.” Tumco said.

“Not quite. Lady Sansa's bodyguard is a woman and from what I've heard her father had her training from a young age. The younger Stark girl seems quite handy with a blade as well. So its not forbidden, merely frowned upon unless the woman proves herself capable. However a Bear Islander woman would be shunned for not being able to fight.” Jorah said.

“Why is this different on Bear Island?” Grazha asked.

“Our resources are few, so our men are frequently away fishing or working on the mainland. Pirates and slavers from the Iron Islands, Free Cities, and Beyond the Wall often attack Bear Island, leaving the women up to defend it.” Jorah answered.

“Daznak's Pit has the statue of a gladiatrix from Bear Island. Apparently she was so good she became indentured to one of the free companies.” Belwas said.

“Ursula Woodfoot. Her prowess is still talked about in Meereen.” Larraq said.

Ursula?! I sold a poacher by that name to some Tyroshi slavers, one of the first poachers I sold. Seven hells I hope to never encounter any of those poachers as freemen.

“Now remember, when we are escorting Daenerys you are not to speak unless spoken to. You have been good about it so far. I will greet her as Lord Commander. We're her bodyguards, nothing more.” Jorah said.

The doors open and Daenerys and Jon walked out. Daenerys wore Dothraki armor over leggings and a long shirt, both of wool lined leather, on her face was blue warpaint and her hair was in a Khal braid with countless bells, much as she had on the day they went to the Dreadfort. Jon was dressed in his light armor with his black surcoat charged with a white direwolf.

“Shall we begin?” She asked.

“Of course, Your Grace.” Jorah said with a graceful bow.

The Queensguard put down their helm visors ,then made a formation around Jon and Daenerys; Jorah led the procession from the front while Strong Belwas served as the caboose. They marched towards the main gate, but stopped to speak to some Watchmen leaning on the ramparts.

I should be over on the wall, dressed in all black. Yet here I am, in white.

“Good to see you, Lord Commander. Dany, this is my friend Edd Tollet. Edd, this is Queen Daenerys. Edd was a grim looking man with shoulder length brown hair and a beard, he wore a Lord Commander badge on his black jerkin.

“First time meeting a Queen.” Edd said as he bowed.

“The pleasure is all mine. This is my first time meeting a Lord Commander.” Daenerys said.

“That title don't mean shit anymore. Besides, I'm pretty sure you have met another. One who served back when it actually had some semblance of relevance.” Edd said.

Edd sure seems like a grim one, his humor is more in line with Northerners than your average Andal nobleman.

“I must be losing my mind! You're right, I have. I do indeed know another Lord Commander, intimately in fact.” Daenerys said with a cheeky smile.

There was a bulldog sitting between the Watchmen who seemed strangely controlled for a dog. He was white with silver patches and scars all over, both of his lips had splits in them.

“Where is Mors?” Jon asked.

“Right in front of you!” Edd said, pointing to the dog. The dog barked in seeming confirmation. “When Eastwatch-By-The-Sea fell Mors was on the Wall as the Night King's dragon attacked, he warged into his dog right before it happened. So he's living in a dog's body. We'll need a whole army of dogs to warg into before the Night King comes here.” Edd replied.

“I should practice warging, hope it works on dragons.” Daenerys said.

“Here is Terrence. He's a Celtigar, one of the other Valyrian houses.” Jon said as he introduced Daenerys to a young man with Valryian features. His cloak was fastened by a silver pin shaped like a crab, and he had a pet spotted owl on his shoulder.

“Pleased to meet you, Terrence. I hadn't met a fellow Valryian quite some time.” Daenerys said.

“Nor had I, not since Maester Aemon died. Most of my Brothers are of far more vulgar origin.” Terrence said with a haughty tone.

“Good seeing all of you, but we best be moving on to the camps.” Jon said and the Watchmen bid farewell to the procession.

They left the gate, then passed through Winter Town and went down a path. The path was surprisingly free of snow, no doubt from near constant use. After a half an hour the encampment of the Unsullied and Dothraki was reached. Unsullied tents were dome-shaped pavilions of black canvas, while the Dothraki yurts were made of animal hides. Several bonfires dotted the encampment, with dour faced men huddled around it. The Dothraki wore furs and clothes taken from Lannister troops over their grass attire.

“I have not forsaken you! Soon I will lead you to victory! The Dead will be driven from this land, then we march South!” Daenerys said in Dothraki to thunderous applause, then repeated the impromptu speech in High Valryian.

She has brought hope for a better future to so many souls, I pray she will manage to do so again on this side of the Narrow Sea.

“Khaleesi!” A woman with Basilisk Islander features said excitedly in Dothraki.

“Khaleesi! Good to see you again! This is my lover, Jon Snow. Jon, this is Ornela. She's another Khaleesi, we met at the Dosh Khaleen.” Daenerys said, the first part was in Dothraki but the rest was in the Common Tongue.

“Good to meet you, er, Khaleesi Ornela. Pardon my ignorance, but what is the Dosh Khaleen?” Jon asked.

“When a Khal dies his Khaleesi is taken to Vaes Dothrak to join the Dosh Khaleen, they are Priestesses and living Khals value their wisdom and guidance. I hated it there, almost as much as I hated life with my Khal. Daenerys saved me from that life.” Ornela replied, her Common Tongue accent confirmed she was from the Basilisk Isles.

I thought Ornela seemed familiar.

“How did she save you, have her dragons put Vaes Dothrak to the torch?” Jon asked.

“Not quite.” Daenerys answered.

“When the temple went up in flames I was mortified. I was baffled to think you'd rather burn to death than live. When I saw you naked and covered in ashes and soot I knew you weren't just another Khal's widow. I knew you were someone I would follow to the end of my days. I am proud to be your Bloodrider.” Ornela said in Dothraki.

“I'm honored for you to be. Just remember, you will always be a Khaleesi. Farewell, Khaleesi.” Daenerys said then embraced Ornela once more, then the procession walked through the camp.

Brief stops were made to each bonfire they passed, Daenerys typically gave the campers words of encouragement in either Dothraki or High Valyrian. Eventually the end of the encampment was reached, on the outskirts was a ragtag group of tents.

“On behalf of the Brotherhood Without Banners, welcome!” A familiar voice said. Jorah looked and it was Beric Dondarrion.

Beric and other Brotherhood members were sitting around a campfire, eating some freshly roasted rabbits and geese. There was a big man with a bright yellow cloak, a woman with dreaded hair and sheets of moss covering her leather armor, a Tyroshi with grey roots showing on his green hair and beard, an archer with red hair and freckles, a minstrel dressed in woodsman greens strumming on a lyre, and a blond lad with a lavender cloak and matching fez with a silver tassel.

“Always a please, Beric. How you holding up after that battle at the Dreadfort?” Jon asked.

“I didn't die, so not too shabby. Thank R'hllor for Lord Glover's sacrifice, we all would have perished if it wasn't for him.” Beric said.

“We may be kin, you and I. We are certainly milk brothers.” The lad in the lavender attire said to Jon after standing up. He had a Dornish accent and Jorah noticed his cloak's pin was silver and shaped like a shooting star.

“You have lovely eyes. Sure you aren't my kin?” Daenerys asked, Jorah looked closer and saw the youth had purple eyes.

“Not unless you count shared ancestors who died a century ago. I'm Edric, Lord of House Dayne. Its an honor to meet you, Your Grace.” Edric said with a bow.

“House Dayne? Then you may be on to something. So many people believe your aunt Ashara, gods rest her soul, was my mother. Ned, um, my father always seemed very sad whenever Ashara was mentioned. It grew so bad he forbade anyone at Winterfell to mention her name.” Jon said.

“Could've been her, could've been our wet nurse. Arya would always talk about you, she loves you more than anything in the world. The subject of your mother came up, and she said it didn't matter. To her all that matters is you two are siblings.” Edric said.

“She talks about me often? That means –” Before Jon could finish speaking a large, freakish raven with a third eye on its forehead swooped in.

“The Dead have begun to march to White Harbor. An emergency mobilization is needed, everyone with a horse must come. I will alert the Winterfell Guard to sound the bells, then I will fly to White Harbor to inform the Windblown.” The raven said then flew off.

“Seven hells! What was that thing?” Jorah asked as he opened his helm visor.

“That was Bran, he can control a three-eyed raven.” Jon responded.

“The Brotherhood will go ahead and saddle up, we never take long. I'd offer for us to serve as scouts, but I think a magical bird would do the job better.” Beric said.

All of the Brotherhood around the fire stood up and went into their tents for their gear. The Queensguard turned around, then led Jon and Daenerys back to Winterfell in a swift pace.

Chapter Text

Daenerys made decent progress during her second lesson, she remembered what was taught from yesterday and applied it well. Brienne doubted Daenerys would ever become a noted swordsman, but she found the Queen's sincere desire to fight well admirable. After they and Arya finished their bath Brienne put on her blue steel armor and short surcoat. Her surcoat was emblazoned with the Tarth sigil; a field quartered with a gold sun on red in the top right and bottom left corner, and a white moon on blue in the other two corners.

“Here is Oath Keeper.” Podrick said as Brienne walked out of the hot spring room.

“Thank you.” Brienne replied and attached the sword to her belt.

“Have a good bath?” Pod asked.

“It was alright, I suppose. There's something oddly liberating about bathing with women who don't have the sort of shame that I have. How was waiting outside for us?” Brienne said.

“Boring, but I'm used to it. Being your squire is pretty easy.” Pod said.

“Is it, though? I'm often rather short with you.” Brienne asked.

“You are, but that's only because you didn't want any help in the first place. So I don't need to do half the things I did for other knights I've served.” Pod said.

“I'm not a knight, I've told you that many times. I can never be a knight, but you can. Soon there will be many chances to prove yourself worthy of knighthood.” Brienne said.

Unless Daenerys knights me, of course. But gods know if anyone beyond her supporters will recognize me as a knight. Had Renly knighted me I doubt any follower of Stannis or Jofferey would have, and Robb and Balon's follwers would be indifferent.

“Maybe so. Where will you be going now, Brienne?” Pod asked.

“To the sept, Jaime told me to meet him there.” Brienne replied.

“See you around, I need to get things straightened up around here.” Podrick said then began tidying the gymnasium.

Brienne walked outside and got a breath of fresh air. A group of Stark guards were shoveling snow into a massive pile which children in ragged furs were playing in. Brienne was reminded of her first winter, when she would make snowmen she imagined to be brigands and pirates then destroy them with a broomstick to rescue the snowwomen and snowchildren.

The Winterfell sept was humble and unassuming on the outside, though Brienne found the inside to be luxurious. Each statue of the Seven was adapted to accommodate Northern sensibilities. Brienne was immediately reminded of Catelyn Stark, the pious women whom this sept was constructed for in the first place.

I often wonder if I failed Catelyn. I doubt she would ever say that I have, but that wouldn't make it less so. Her daughters are remarkable young ladies, I'm sure she'd be proud of them both but I wish I could have been there when they needed me the most.

Jaime was kneeling in front of the Warrior, praying with a rosary clasped in his hands. Brienne knelt beside him and started praying as well.

“Brienne! Good to see you.” Jaime said.

“Shh! I'm trying to pray here.” There was silence for a while, then Brienne stood up and Jaime followed suit.

“How do you like my new hand?” Jaime asked. Brienne took a look at it and saw it was no longer a hunk of gold merely fashioned to be a hand; it was a hand with joints and everthing. All over the hand were strange marks that Brienne guessed were a language she had never seen.

“Remarkable, is it simply better looking or is it more functional?” Brienne asked.

“Let's go outside and I can show you!” Jaime said.

They walked out to the courtyard and headed to a tree. The tree was an oak, long naked because of the season. Jaime moved his new hand to the hilt of Widow's Wail, then with his living hand he turned a small crank which moved the joints until he had a firm grip. Each revolution caused the gears to make a ratcheting sound. He unsheathed the blade then pruned the superfluous branches off the tree with three clean strikes.

Astounding, I've never seen a prosthetic that was so useful.

“My word is that impressive!” Brienne said and clapped. “Is this some newfangled technology? Seems the sort of thing a Free Cities mage would develop.”

“That's because it was, partially. See these symbols? They're magic incantations. This hand was built by Tohbo Mott, he's from Qohor and is a renowned enchanter. Same smith who made our blades, one of the few who can work Valryrian steel. But my brother designed the rest, he's always been very good at the drafting table. Being a dwarf all sorts of benign things aren't made with him in mind, so he designs alterations to suit his purposes.” Jaime answered.

“This invention could improve lives for many. So tell me, what were you doing in the sept? You never struck me as a pious man.” Brienne asked.

“I always attempted to serve the Seven as part of my knightly vows, but that's difficult when you're guilty of the worst sins of the Faith. My father saw no use in prayer, and neither do Cersei and Tyrion. I spoke with the Most Holy, he told me some things that make me feel much better about myself.” Jaime said.

“You've changed so much, I hardly recognize the haughty –” Before Brienne could continue all the bells in the fortress went off and guards yelled for everyone with a sword to rally at the central plaza. Jaime sheathed his sword and unwound his hand, then he and Brienne headed over to the rallying point.

“Thank you all for coming on such short notice! Bran has seen several Walkers and their wights marching towards White Harbor. No doubt they seek to turn the entire city for the Army and take them all here to Winterfell. This is a larger force than attacked Karhold and the Dreadfort, and they have more walkers. So were are staging an emergency mobilization, of nearly every warrior with a mount. The Unsullied, Night's Watch, Ironborn, and a few others will be staying here in Winterfell to watch over it. The Dothraki, Free Folk, and knights are already preparing as we speak. If you can fight and ride, I implore you to come with us!” Jon said from the ramparts.

“Now I can go! I can prove myself at last.” Jaime said.

“I wish I could go as well, but I have to stay here and protect Sansa.” Brienne said.

“I'll do that for you! I hate fire, and there will be a lot of it.” The Hound said, you was standing a few feet in front of them.

“That is much appreciated.” Brienne said.

Up on the ramparts Brienne saw Arya having a heated discussion with Jon, looked like an argument. No doubt Arya wanted to come.

Gods I hope she will listen to Jon. She's a good fighter, but she isn't as good as she thinks she is and has never seen real war. Seven hells, letting her win in that spar was a mistake.

“Podrick!” Brienne said, he was in the crowd. “Now is your time for real war, I think you're ready for it! Let's go to the stables and get our horses prepared.”

“Yes, Brienne.” Pod said, then they waded through the crowds to reach the stables.

Chapter Text

Perhaps the only thing worse than the North's frigid climate was the bland food. Quentyn found Northern cuisine to be excessively dependent on meat, dairy, and bread, and desperately lacking for vegetables and especially spices. He and a group of other Windblown sat at an inn and ate clam pies, to which Quentyn added drops of pepper vinegar from a bottle he kept in his pocket. The pies had fresh clams, celery, onions, cream, and eggs, all ingredients that Martell found to be far too complementary to be put together. They drank stout beer Quentyn found to be much better than the lagers and pale ales he had tried elsewhere, though he still preferred wine.

Gods do I miss Dornish food. At least the food in Essos isn't bland mush or overly reliant on any one ingredient. Up here salt and black pepper pass as spices.

Quentyn's armor was a Dornish coat of a thousand nails: fine brigandine that was red with intricate gold and orange stitching all across. The armor had large mirror plates on his chest and back in the shape of the Martell sigil. He wore a turban helmet with a spiraled conical shape, around which a blue and white striped keffiyeh was wrapped. His sword was a Dornish saber with a hilt of sandbeggar wood, the guard was a viper carved of banded malachite biting the pommel.

“Just think, if we go to Winterfell we can see Daenerys Targaryen! I've read a pamphlet that said she'll fuck any man with a sword, and ain't picky about women neither. We'll probably all a have turn with her. Hahaha!” Said Beans, a Myrish crossbowmen. Beans had large sideburns and the typical tawny Myrish skin tone. He wore goggles and carried a stiletto, both manufactured in his home city. His helmet was a morion and he wore boiled leather armor with the Windblown blue and white stripes painted over it.

“Every time a woman has any power of her own accord, there are rumors spread to cast doubt on her purity. Make no mistake, I think this Dragon Queen is almost certainly a madwoman, but your wishful thinking is piteous. Besides, those pamphlets also claim the Army of the Dead is an elaborate hoax. A year ago I would've thought so, but there's been too many eyewitness accounts to deny it anymore.” Said Books, a Volantene swordsman so called because he spent most of his time reading scrolls from his belt or girdle books. Books had a heavy beard and several abstract tattoos, he wore a Windblown surcoat over a hauberk and blue steel vambraces with a tiger etched onto one and an elephant onto the other.

“You've heard the rumors, ain't you?” Asked Will to Quentyn. Will was a grubby little man with shaggy hair and a stubbly face covered in acne scars, he wore a Windblown gambeson that was in desperate need of a thorough laundering.

Why in seven hells would the one of the greatest beauties alive even look those two jokers in the eye, let alone fuck them?

“Of course I have. I hope neither you and Beans nor Books are correct. The whole reason I ended up in Essos in the first place was because my father sought for me to propose to her. Regrettably, she left for Westeros before I got the chance. I don't even know what is going on back in Dorne.” Quentyn said.

“Oh look! A troubadour, he has songs that tell all about her exploits!” Beans said excitedly, and point to an effeminate bard in a hooded velvet robe decorative gold thread stitching, half his face was covered with a hook nosed mask. His sword belt appeared to be snake leather, and it had a Lysene dirk with an ivory pommel shaped like a Flower-of-Lys. The bard's fingernails were painted purple, he wore dangling earrings of alternating pearls and amethysts, and his lute had a naked woman wood-burned onto both sides of the strings.

 

“Many a mummer's scene shows a Dragon Queen

From across the Narrow Sea

Who ruled her land with a cock in each hand

'Tis known by all the Dothraki

And now she started mating with an albino Northern cub

Who will fight her battles for, her then suck her massive nub

 

Long live the Dragon Queen Daenerys!

 

Now Khal Drogo loved an amorous gal, and amorous was she

So she was pimped off by Mopatis, that portly Pentoshi

Who made his fortune on Andal wine and cheese

Drogo offered his Bloodriders, then she cried 'oh please oh please'

There ain't no one she wouldn't do, she'd have some fun

And when she was done she said I'd like the stallions too!

 

Long live the Dragon Queen Daenerys!

 

Now a Khalasar isn't enough, her greed's a flame she cannot snuff

So she waltzed into Meereen, where she caused a bloody scene

She killed the wise old masters, she nailed them to a cross

And centuries of tradition are tragically at loss

Now her armies have invaded, they're pounding on our door

Lock up your sons and daughters, or she'll pound them evermore

 

Long live the Dragon Queen Daenerys!”

 

She has a fiery temper, power went to her head

A poorly timed cough will piss her off, then she'll want you dead

She'll call for her scaly bastards to unleash their dreadful flames

And once the deed is done she'll resume her nasty games

Her free time is spent scheming for that wretched Iron Throne

Either that or screaming from a really damn good bone

 

Long live the Dragon Queen Daenerys!”

 

 

“See! We told you she was a hussy! Bahaha!” Will said, as he smiled he revealed his stained, crooked teeth.

“Minstrels claim to speak for the common man, yet they can be purchased as easily as swords. Songs and swords are both weapons, and each has their use.” Books said and rolled his eyes then resumed his reading.

That song was nothing but utter filth. Even if she was half as licentious as that song suggest, it would still be unwarranted. I wouldn't appreciate if such song was sung about Arianne, Though a bard would be hard pressed to exaggerate anything about her.

“I need to speak with the Tattered Prince, about being relieved of my contract. 'Tis too late to marry Daenerys, but I can still pledge my sword to her cause. Do any of you know where he would be?” Quentyn asked.

“Oh you'll be pledging your sword to her all right!” Beans said and Will laughed.

“Your best bet would be the cyvasse club, I know where it is. Allow me to finish my pie and beer and I can take you there. Go fetch your guardians.” Books said and pointed to the gaming table where Quentyn's two guardians were seated.

Quentyn got up and walked over to the gaming table. His two guardians were Arch Yronwood, a towering, burly man with no hair on his head or body; and Gerris Drinkwater, a handsome and dashing man with long, sun-bleached hair. They too wore coats of a thousand nails, in their respective house colors with the mirror plates decorated with their sigils. A black portcullis on sandy yellow for Arch, and a silver drinking horn on blue for Gerris.

“Books knows where the Tattered Prince is, so we can discuss being released from our contracts.” Quentyn said, timidly tapping the two knights on the shoulders.

“Alright Arch, time to cash out.” Gerris said as he put his dice down and stood up.

“Drat, liar's dice is my favorite.” Arch said with a disappointed tone.

“Where is he?” Gerris asked.

“The cyvasse club.” Quentyn replied.

“Cyvasse has even spread way up here? Never could get into it, I don't see the appeal. Too many damned rules.” Arch said.

“Me neither, but my father loves it and so does Arianne.” Quentyn said.

“Ready when you all are.” Said Books.

The four left the tavern and strolled down the cobblestone street. Gaggles of children were sowing salt on the street from a pushcart to prevent frosting. Gerris tossed a coin into the merman fountain as they passed Fishfoot Yard, then Books led them to the Castle Stairs; a street consisting of increasingly steep marble steps. Lining the Castle Stairs were lamps shaped like mermaids holding scallop shell lamps. Their tail scales were made of sea glass and their torsos were of white gold, with eyes and nipples carved from coral. Finally they reached the top of the steps.

“Here is the Wolf's Den, the cyvasse club is one of the buildings lining it. If you look up you can see the branches of the weirwood, I'm not sure how close the Godswood is but the weirwood must be massive to have growths like that. I'm glad I got to come up North and at least see part of a Heart Tree, not many of those left. Only time I'd seen one was at the House of Black and White in Braavos, I'd kill to know how they acquired one and how they keep it alive.” Book said.

Quentyn looked up. The branches were long, thick, and winding, almost like a menagerie of albino snakes. Blood red leaves shaped like a maple's grew, and contrasted with the bone white bark rather gorgeously.

“This must be it.” Quentyn said, pointing to a half-timbered building with a swinging sign shaped like a checkerboard.

“Good eye.” Said Books.

Inside it smelled of lavender candles which burned on ever table. The walls were lined with queer masks labeled from Skagos and beyond the Wall. Well stocked bookshelves were in every corner, decorated with wet specimens of local fish. The staff consisted of lithe serving girls wearing evergreen wreaths in their hair and marbled chiton dresses. A quartet of musicians performed in the center of the room, they resembled the other staff and consisted of a water organist, a reed flutist, a lyre player, and a drummer. All but the flutist sang, each with a different voice type.

Gods this is infinitely superior to the smutty ballads they play in the taverns. This true art, not mere obscenities using rhymes and meter to mask their malicious nature. An establishment like this makes me want to start playing cyvasse again.

Books headed straight to the bookshelves, then picked up a volume and sat down and started reading. Quentyn and his guardians scanned the club for the Tattered Prince.

“There he is!” Arch said and pointed towards him.

The Tattered Prince was a tall man with long, grey hair and tanned skin. He got his name from the cloak he wore, a motley of countless scraps of banners and surcoats of men he'd killed sewn together into a product that looked more like a patchwork quilt than anything else. Under the cloak he wore filligreed plate armor from Qohor. Though he was from Pentos, he greatly resembled a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and carried himself as such. His sword was an Andali, a style of sword forged in Essos but crafted in imitation of Westerosi swords.

The cyvasse pieces were carved from walrus ivory and dragonglass, he played the dragonglass while his opponent placed the ivory. His opponent was a fat businesswoman dressed in a cream stola with a bear fur mantle over it, she also had on coral earrings and necklace of coral and baroque pearls. Both drank mulled wine and seemed to be having a lively conversation.

“Forgive me, Commander, but may I have a word with you?” Quentyn asked sheepishly.

“I suppose you may. You're the Martell boy, right?” The Tattered Prince asked.

“Yes, I am.” Quentyn answered.

“The Tattered Prince is a real gentleman! I was going to play the black pieces, but he insisted I play white because 'a lady should always go first.' Hahaha!” His opponent said, she had a shrill voice and seemed easily flattered. “What brings a Dornish Prince all this way?” She asked.

“I was sent to Essos by my father to try and secure a betrothal to Daenerys Targaryen. I signed on with the Windblown for safety and a way to reach Meereen, but she began her invasion of Westeros before I could meet with her. As luck would have it, the Manderlys hired us. So that is why I need to speak with the Tattered Prince.” Quentyn answered.

“Lemme guess: you wish to be relieved of your contract early so you can fight for the Dragon Queen?” The Tattered Prince asked.

“Correct.” Quentyn replied.

“Ordinarily I don't take kindly to fresh meat asking to leave prematurely. However you are from a Great House, and quite frankly don't have much to offer my company. No offense kid, but you haven't proven yourself a capable warrior. Our contract with the House Manderly states that we will be here until the Ice Prowlers or whatever those devils are called have been defeated. If they are defeated then I'll release you and your companions; if not, then well we know what will happen. Should you prove yourself worthy to me in some way I may even let you out early.” The Tattered Prince said.

“Thank you, Commander.” Quentyn said with a bow.

Suddenly there was the sound of someone bursting through the door. “Prince! I have disturbing news!” Said Caggo, the Tattered Prince's right hand man. Caggo was a massive Dothraki with blue and white warpaint over his skin and boiled leather armor. Quentyn had long wondered how a Dothraki ended up leaving his Khalasar and joining a free company, especially since he'd always heard the Dothraki don't use money. Even more mysterious was the weapon Caggo used, a Valryian steel arakh. Quentyn figured it had been forged centuries ago with the specific purpose of gifting to a Khal to ward off a raid, and then was passed down over generations.

“What is is?” The Tattered Prince asked.

“A raven came from Winterfell, a talking, three-eyed raven! The freak said that the Army of the Dead is marching to White Harbor! Daenerys and Jon are mobilizing their forces to ride and engage the Dead head on, but if they are defeated then we're fucked!” Caggo said.

“Our contract states we are to stay in White Harbor for the duration of it. However, no where does it specify the entire company must stay. So we will make sure every counter-siege component is manned, with ample infantry to defend the city and castle. If there are any meaningful amount of leftover men, we'll ride out and aid the Dragon Queen and Northern forces.” The Tattered Prince said.

“I will give the orders at once.” Caggo said and headed out.

“Alright, Quentyn. You're coming with me.” The Tattered Prince said as he got up and thanked his opponent for their game.

Chapter Text

The horde of Dothraki, knights, Wildlings, and other horsemen rode to the west of Winterfell for the better part of a day. Occasionally they would stop so their horses could rest a bit, drink from a water source; then eat some grass. The dragons would breathe their fire above the surface of the snow, exposing the grass for the horses. Now they were all resting, but still vigilant. At very front were the Queensguard, they kept an eye on Daenerys who was riding Drogon. Drogon and Rhaegal were flying in circles overhead.

Right behind the Queensguard were the rest of the knights and Northern men-at-arms, Jaime was riding next to Brienne. Jaime wore a leather brigandine with his surcoat over it, and a kettle helmet he got from the Winterfell armory. Normally he wore gilded plate armor and a sallet shaped like a lion, but when he went North he had to pack lightly and be inconspicuous. Brienne wore her cobalt plate armor and Tarth tabard, her helmet was a fine close helm. Next to Brienne was her squire, Podrick Payne. Pod wore a hauberk and mail coif, over it was a surcoat charged with the Payne sigil of a white and purple checkerboard with coins on each square. Jon Snow was also on the front line, he rode his dire wolf and wore a hound skull bascinet and black surcoat charged with a white dire wolf over leather brigandine.

The Manderly knights wore segmented plate armor and helms with various nautical themed crests, they wielded falcata swords and tridents instead of lances. Ser Wylis Manderly was so fat he had to ride a chariot pulled by two destrier horses.

I didn't even know chariots were still being built, not on this side of the Narrow Sea anyway. Maybe in Essos, though I've never heard of it over there either; not in centuries. On the other hand most people can ride a horse, apparently Lord Wyman is even fatter still.

The Knights of the Vale wore a wide array of armor, from their shields and surcoats Jaime could recognize Royces, Corbrays, Redforts, Waxleys, Shetts, Templetons, and Woodhulls. Lord Yohn Royce wore his house's legendary bronze armor, which was covered in runes said to protect the wearer against harm as good as modern steel. His sons wore also wore bronze armor with similar runes. Most magnificent of all were the Winged Knights; they donned winged Tyroshi capeline helmets, filigreed and segmented blackened steel plate armor with wooden wings with raptor feathers on the back, gorgets that bore their house sigils, and capes of leopard skins.

Mixed in with the knights was the Brotherhood Without Banners. Jaime wondered how it was that they were placed among the knights. Some of them were knights, such as Ser Beric Dondarrion himself, but it seemed most of them were smallfolk rabble.

“I feel rather under dressed for the occasion.” Jaime said to Brienne.

“I doubt the wights would be impressed by parade armor.” Brienne said.

“Perhaps not, but the Walkers might. In any case I'd like to look my best before I get torn to shreds by these rotting devils.” Jaime said.

“I'd rather you not be killed at all.” Brienne said.

She's ever the serious one.

That makes two of us.” Pod said.

“Remember Pod, once this battle is over you'll be a prime candidate for knighthoood.” Brienne said with pride.

“He won't be the only one.” Jaime said.

“You're right, there will be many.” Brienne said.

Behind the knights were the Wildlings and Skagosi. The Wildlings were perhaps the most ill equipped, some wore boiled hide or light armor that appeared to have been looted off dead Watchmen but others wore nothing but furs. Their leaders were impressive, however. One of them wore a walrus mask with actual tusks, another a mask of a Heart Tree's face, there was a red-bearded man with gold bracers with runes on them, and a comely woman in a raven-winged helm and polar bear hide cloak over a black hauberk. What the Freefolk lacked in equipment they made up for in mounts, many of them rode bears, elk, or sleighs pulled by wolf-dogs.

The Skagosi wore sturdy laminar armor of cedar planks and ornate cedar helmets carved to resemble all manner of beasts and monsters. Their weapons were clubs studded with dragonglass blades, harpoons, and crossbows so sophisticated Jaime surmised they must have been acquired through trade or reverse engineered. It was the Skagosi who had the most impressive mounts of all: unicorns. These unicorns looked nothing like the ones in books save for their single horns and long, tufted tails; they resembled giant mountain goats more than horses, and had the long, shaggy white coats to match.

The Skagosi are notoriously isolated. Few who visit their islands come back, and rarely do they ever leave to do anything besides trading. From what I've read, the only people they peacefully interact with are the Ibbenese and certain Free City traders. Yet they have come all this way to defeat the Dead, same as the rest of us. Meanwhile Cersei has decided its not her fight.

At the very back while also flanking the rest were the Dothraki. Jaime had met their kind on an open field, and they were every bit as ferocious as he'd been told. They wielded longbows, bullwhips, and queer blades that looked more like sickles than swords.

A large raven flew down and perched on Jon's shoulder. “They're near! Almost time to charge!” The raven said, he sounded uncannily like Bran.

“Alright men and women, this is it! Today we fight the Dead head on. Remember, the Walkers can only be killed with Valyrian steel or dragonglass, so do not engage them if you have neither unless you have no choice. When a Walker is killed all of their wights and other Walkers they turned die with them, so if you do have such weapon try and attack them whenever possible. Alright Most Holy, you may now give the blessing for those of us who follow the Seven.” Jon said.

Most Holy Moishe wore the same vestments he wore when Jaime met with him; a dark purple cassock and miter, rainbow gradient stole, and an ironwood crosier. He got off his courser and pulled out a silver thurible censer and lit it with a match.

“In the name of the Warrior, I cleanse all gathered of any evil spirits that may be troubling them. Go forth, and may the Seven watch over you!” Moishe said and he passed by everyone on the front line, swinging the censer so everyone could smell the Seven Incenses.

Once he had cleansed everyone, he went back to his horse then snuffed out the censer and put it away. Then he hung up his crosier and took off his miter and cassock, revealing a hauberk underneath. When those were packed away he pulled out a sugar loaf helm, a plain but well forged falchion, and an oval shield decorated with an icon of the Mother.

Seems he kept all the equipment from his days with the Kingswood Brotherhood. That shield's paint job is probably a recent addition.

“Fighting alongside you will be an honor.” Jaime told Brienne.

“Likewise.” Brienne said, then she lowered her helm visor.

“Chaaaaarrrge!!!” Jon yelled.

The drummers and bagpipers started blaring Northern battle songs, and everyone with a horn or conch blew it in unison. The knights lowered their lances and tridents, then everyone charged out at full gallop. Soon the Dead appeared, and a volley of arrows from the Dothraki in the rear. The arrows turned the first few rows of dead into pincushions, then the lances plowed into them.

Lances could kill a few living targets before shattering, but on the Dead several could be skewered at once. Riders wielding swords would ride next to a full lance and hack the wights off of it until the lance was free again. Jaime saw Skagosi charge the wights with their unicorns, the whack the Dead off their horns themselves with their clubs. Others preferred to shoot them with their crossbows while they held the reigns in their mouths.

I never would've guessed that unicorns were such fearsome war steeds, I thought they were little more than show ponies.

Off in the distance Jaime could hear the thunderous sound of dragon wings flapping and the roar of their fiery breath. It seemed Daenerys was cautious not to come to close, lest all her allies be caught ablaze in collateral. Beric and the rest of the Brotherhood fought with their flaming swords, and Jaime was taken back to when Thoros led the charge on Pyke.

“Fuck! My lance is broken!” Jaime said.

“Mine is about to give out too! Time to dismount, I'll watch your back!” Brienne said. Jaime halted his courser then got off. Once he was off he cranked his mechanical hand onto Widow's Wail, then slashed away at wights so Brienne and Pod could safely dismount.

“Seven hells, look at all these abominations!” Brienne said as she pointed to the advancing dead with Oathkeeper.

The initial waves had been nothing but human wights and some dogs as well, but now other monstrosities drew near. Large brutes with the heads and lower halves of aurochs bulls charged at the living. One was slowed down by Dothraki arrows then butchered by their sickle swords. Another managed to fatally gore several Wildlings, but their companions tore the monster to shreds. One Wildling removed the tail then wrapped it around its neck, while two others sawed off its horns. Jaime, Brienne, and Pod saw yet another charge straight at them, so they leaped to the sides while it was at full charge. At the last moment the stuck out their swords, and the beast lost both its arms and was lacerated down both sides.

“You can do the honors.” Brienne said to Pod.

“Alright.” Pod said, then slashed the bull man's jugular.

A jet of black, lumpy blood gushed out and got into Pod's eyes. Pod puked his guts out, then frantically tried to wipe the rancid blood from his eyes onto his surcoat.

Jaime assisted Pod, and he glanced forward and saw the most curious sight. There were what appeared to be shadow cats, but with the heads of humans like a sphinx or lampago. Riding them were humans with the heads of shadow cats.

“There's more freaks incoming! We need to move you aside until you get your vision back!” Jaime said as he carried Pod with one hand away from the cat men and man cats, Brienne watched their back. Sadly it was too little, too late. One of man cats pounced in their way, and Jaime instinctively let go of Pod and the man cat pinned him. Jaime and Brienne dismembered the man cat, but not before the cat man could chew off the poor squire's face.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!” Brienne yelled, her cries echoing through her helm.

Gods I hope she won't blame herself, if we both survive I must reassure her she did nothing wrong. Last thing I want is for her to live with a guilty conscience as I have.

“You want me to do it?” Jaime asked.

“Y....es.” Brienne sobbed. Jaime decapitated Pod's writhing body.

Almost immediately after Pod received the Gift, Brienne let out a shrill roar of pure blood lust and charged into a group of wights. She hacked and shield bashed her way through them, but instead of returning to Jaime she advanced. Soon she was so far off Jaime couldn't even see the sigil on her surcoat, it was just a blurry blue and white.

Jaime was so caught up in what had just happened he lost track of his surroundings. How long this lasted he would never know. Eventually he realized what was happening, in just enough time to see another one of those feline and human duos charging at him. It was too late for him to get out of the way, so he raised his shield and got his blade read. Soon he was pinned to the ground, the shield prevented him from wriggling free.

Fuck, I think this is it. O Stranger, guide me forward.

“Hyaaaaah!” Jaime heard a boisterous voice call out. He could hear his assailants get hacked to ribbons, then they were shoved off him. When he removed his shield he could see his rescuer; it was the Wildling with the red beard and the golden bracers with the runes.

“You're a friend of the Big Woman?” The Wildling asked and held out his free hand.

“Aye, that I am.” Jaime said as the Wildling helped him back on his feet.

“Any friend of the Big Woman is a friend of mine!” The Wildling said.

“You know her?” Jaime asked.

“Not well. Yet. There's no time to talk, the Dead ain't going nowhere without our persuading them!” The Wildling said, then charged at the wights. Jaime followed his example.

Chapter Text

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After the trial, the Maester had a look at Yara's wounds. He decided she wasn't in too bad of shape, so he rubbed the wounds down with distilled alcohol and vinegar then gave her milk of the poppy for the pain. Now Yara floated in a hot pool at the Sunspear's baths. The baths were spacious and made of white and gray marble, while the floor, walls, and ceilings were made of fine blue tiles inlaid with Rhoynish calligraphy. Heated water flowed into the pool from the nipples of bronze sculptures of curvaceous nymphs, Yara could never figure out how it was heated. Next to the pool was a pitcher of sangria made of Dornish red, rum, blood orange and lemon wheels, pomegranates, pears, cherries, diced apples, and mixed berries. Yara always looked forward to drinking sangria whenever visiting Dorne, and the cold drink was especially refreshing in the hot water. On the other side there was a dish containing soaps and shampoos in several scents, and sponges on sticks.

On one of the walls the was a carved goldenheart screen and on the other side musicians played enticing songs that reminded her of Volantis. Yara didn't know the names of any of the instruments but found the sounds to be soothing, hypnotic almost.

This bath ain't half bad. Much fancier than the saunas back home, but nothing compared to the bathhouses they have in the Free Cities. Nothing beats getting to show off my tattoos, play dominoes, be surrounded by gorgeous naked bodies, then maybe get some cock or cunt. Sometimes both at once. Still, a simple bath has its merits.

“Mind if I join you?” A familiar voice said. Yara returned her feet to the bottom of the pool and saw Ellaria squatting down and pouring herself some sangria.

“Not in the least, I was just thinking this bath was a bit lonely. The only company I've had was the music.” Yara replied.

“Ah yes, I just love the sound of the sitar, bansoori flute, and tabla drums. I must say, that fight got me so hot under the collar.” Ellaria said and chugged down her glass of sangria.

“I'm sure it did.” Yara said.

“You can know this for a fact. Here!” Ellaria said then slipped off her drawers, flipped them inside out, then tossed them to Yara. They were legless and made of soft cotton, Yara noticed the spots of cream on the crotch area.

“Go ahead, have a taste!” Ellaria purred.

Seven hells is she a freak! That's what I adore about her the most!

Yara stuck the wet part of the drawers in her mouth and started sucking. The sweet tang was wonderful, and Yara could feel her nipple hardening and blood flowing to her pearl and lips.

“Just wonderful, isn't it? Oberyn always said it was far too delectable not to share! Gods I wish I could've watched him ravage you!” Ellaria said nostalgically.

“A damn shame I never got to experience him. But at least I got to experience you!” Yara said and put the panties down on the poolside. She then slipped off her trial caftan and brassiere then waded into the hot pool.

Such a lovely bush she has, like a lush black rug. And those nipples, so big and brown, practically made for suckling.

Ellaria took a deep breath and bobbed her head underwater. She swam around Yara, blowing bubbles that ticked her clam then gave her ass a good smack.

“Ahhhhh!” Ellaria exhaled as she reemerged. “That ass of yours is so firm, like two large biscuits that have been left out for half a week!” Ellaria said and cackled.

“And yours is like two large rolls fresh out of the oven. Smacking probably hurt your hand more than my ass!” Yara said and laughed heartily.

“Maybe so. Lucky thing I am a glutton for pain. Taking it, giving it. I love it all. So many sensations, so little time.” Ellaria said.

“I love ruling over men, women the same but I also like to have them rule me from time to time. Depends on my mood.” Yara said.

“You look mighty tense, allow me to treat you to a massage.” Ellaria said. Yara waded to the edge of the pool and rested her chest on it.

The Dornishwoman's soft hands were so soothing as they kneaded Yara's shoulders and back. Yara's muscles were already at ease, but Ellaria's hands made them even more relaxed. Soon Ellaria started clawing her back, she pulled up Yara's loose hair and tickled her nape with her tongue. Ellaria freed one of her hands and dropped below the water to give Yara's ass clawing kneads.

This is better than some of the massages I've paid for in Lys or Braavos, she would make a fortune at a pillow house over there.

“Fuck that feels soooo gooood! Give me those talons!” Yara purred.

“Keeping one's nails the right length is a fine balancing act, as I'm sure you know.” Ellaria said.

“Aye, that it is. The nails are always the first thing I look at on a woman. Not a fetish or nothing, just a good indicator if they shop at the shellfish market. Long nails are an obvious no. Vigilantly trimmed ones might be a yes, but more likely just the sign of a dirty worker. Short with a bit of scratching length? You've got a pearl diver on your hands.” Yara said.

“I just love a dirty worker, the filthier the better.” Yara said then sank her teeth into Yara's shoulder flesh. Each scratch was subtly harder then the last, until a bit of blood was drawn. When the blood appeared Ellaria stopped and led Yara to under one of the statues so it could be rinsed off.

“Damn you're good.” Yara said.

“It's only beginning.” Ellara said then swam off.

Yara pursued Ellaria, they splashed loudly and giggled with every paddle. Finally Yara had Ellaria cornered, so Ellaria turned around and winked.

“You thought you could outswim an Ironborn? You're a daft bitch, hahaha!” Yara said teasingly.

“No, you did exactly what I wanted!” Ellaria said and bared her teeth.

Ellaria grabbed Yara's tits and started giving them pulsating squeezes. Yara returned the favor, exchanging squeezes for squeezes. They brushed their thumbs on each other's nipples, which turned to flicks, and finally escalated into hard, prolonged squeezing. Both of them purred and cooed at the sensation, eventually it became too much and they released their tits.

Yara wrapped her arms around Ellaria then planted a wet kiss on her, their tongues danced in a swirl like two fighting cobras. Yara dug her nails into Ellaria's back. They pressed their mons against one another, the feel of the fatty pads squishing was heavenly. As they did this their wet bushes tangled like seaweed, creating an alluring swirl of black and blue. Finally, Yara wrapped her muscular legs around Ellaria's hips and they rubbed their clams together vigorously. Their lower lips kissed and swirled, while the pearls bumped against one another.

“Fuck yes! Fuck that feels good, but its not enough! Its just not enough! I need more goddamit!” Ellaria moaned.

Yara lifted up Ellaria and set her on the wall of the pool so she was submerged from the neck down. She took a deep breath, then dove under the water. Slowly she started releasing her air, blowing bubbles that would pop on Ellaria's clam. Over time Yara blew harder, until the last half of her breath was a massive surge of water that made Ellaria's lips dance to and fro. Yara got back up for oxygen, then went back down and did it again. This time she blew intensely from the start, and even underwater she could hear Ellaria roar with laughter.

“You think that's funny? Everything is a joke to you isn't it? Yes it is, and I fucking love it!” Yara said, then picked Ellaria and sat her down on the edge of the pool.

“Yes, I'm the class clown. I've been a baaaad girl, I've always been the naughty one! I need you to punish me me!” Ellaria said, then laid on her belly so her legs were in the water but her ass stuck out in the air. Yara buried her face between the cheeks, then gave each one a good hard nibble. Then she started smacking Ellaria's lush rump with one hand, while the other fingered her from behind.

“This will teach you!” Yara said.

Once Ellaria's ass cheeks went from brown to scarlet Ellaria flipped her over and spread her legs apart. Ellaria's outer lips parted, exposing the exquisite folds of her inner lips. Yara brushed her face with Ellaria's sopping black bush then started lapping on the lips, giving firm, vigorous strokes. After several strokes, Yara would suck on the pearl for a bit, then on the folds, which emitted a loud smacking sound. Soon the juices started flowing, which Yara slurped up eagerly.

“Don't stop now! I'm about to cum!” Ellaria said as Yara freed her lips.

“I can see that, but its not yet time. I have an idea.” Yara said.

“And what is this idea of yours?” Ellaria asked.

“First its time to switch places!” Yara answered as she sat up on the pool edge and smacked Ellaria on the back. Ellaria splashed back into the water.

“I'll never forget the thrill of seeing this blue rug for the first time!” Ellaria said.

“I get compliments on it everywhere but Tyrosh. Even the Maester could tell I had been there. Now eat!” Yara said and went spread eagle.

“As you wish.” Ellaria said.

Ellaria got a mouthful of water and sprayed it on Yara's clam, following the same pattern Yara did on her under water. Yara was ecstatic at the sensation of a jet of warm water pounding onto her clam and pearl.

“Damn that's incredible! More water!” Yara said. Ellaria complied and got a second mouthful and blew it even harder. After a few rounds of this Ellaria grabbed onto Yara's blue rug and started licking her clam. Yara always lapped with her tongue wide open, but Ellaria preferred to use the tip of her tongue for more precise motions. With every sinuous movement Yara grew more aroused. Ellaria's tongue danced with Yara's folds and circled around the pearl. Lips nibbled lips, and that nimble tongue occasionally would sojourn deeper in. Best part of all was Ellaria's big Rhoynar nose, which she could incorporate masterfully. Her nose would swirl in Yara's bush as she sucked on her pearl, and when her tongue was resting she'd let her nose take over. Gentle breath from her nostrils graced Yara's clam and the bridge would nudge all the nooks and crannies.

“Alright, alright. I'm almost there, time to stop!” Yara said.

“Fuck, I was looking forward to have your juices gush down my throat.” Ellaria said.

“You've already done that once! Time for something new.” Yara said then hopped back in the water, making a loud splash that hit Ellaria.

“You know me so well! I just adore new things.” Ellaria cooed.

“Time for us to share fingers.” Yara said, then slipped a few into Ellaria.

“Ooh great plan.” Ellaria said then returned the favor.

The pair started necking, roughly kissing while their fingers dug around inside one other. With their outside hands they groped each other's asses and clawed their backs. As they both neared climax they dunked underwater. Together they climaxed and released twin jets of cream into the water, creating two trails of massive bubbles. Once it was all out they swam through each others' mess and got a mouthful of it, then reemerged and sprayed it all their faces.

“Woooweee! That's probably the best bath I've ever had. Certainly the best with only one other bather.” Yara said after catching a breath.

“Likewise, and I must say my times with you are better than some orgies I've attended.” Ellaria said and laughed.

“That's certainly the case for me. I must say those musicians are immaculate professionals. They must've known what was going down on this side of the screen, but they kept playing without skipping a beat.” Yara said.

“Indeed, I'm sure they were tempted to cop a peak. This was fun, but now its time to wash up. We need to look our best for Arianne's coronation.” Ellaria said then grabbed a soap bar and sponge stick.

 

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Chapter Text

Wave after wave of wight was butchered, yet there were more of them incoming as far as the eye could see. Most of the knights and men-at-arms had already dismounted, but Kulungu remained on his horse and slashed away at the wights and chimeras with his scimitar. Kulungu's horse was a strawberry roan named Farasi, a courser far larger than the ponies proffered by the crannogmen. He dressed in a black surcoat with a gold stag, which was worn over boiled lizard lion armor. Supposedly back in the Summer Isles wars were fought in full regalia, but Kulungu left his feather cloak at camp lest it be soiled with wight blood.

Years of fighting bandits and hunting predators turned out to be a poor practice for true battle. Bandits were seldom well equipped, and even more rarely outfitted properly for the swamps of the Neck. Now Kulungu faced demons with thick armor and weapons that seemed immune to damage, indeed they couldn't be killed with fire or regular steel.

Fuck they have giants and mammoths, that's work for my bow. Time to dismount.

Once Kulungu was a safe distance from the dead, he got off Farasi and shooed her away. He sheathed his blade then pulled out his goldenheart bow. It was his bow that saved Daenerys and the Queensguard at the Dreadfort, perhaps once again it would tip the scales. The Dothraki in the middle column fought with their bows but stayed on horseback, holding the reins with their mouths. Kulungu had always heard that was how they fought, but often doubted if it was so. Skagosi fought with two warriors per unicorn, one to drive and another in back to use a crossbow.

As the aurochs men would appear Kulungu would aim for their chest, which was usually bare and always free of the shaggy coat. One begun to charge near a group of dismounted knights, so Kulungu pierced it through the eye and the knights were able to rush to the side on time to finish it off. Another charged towards the Freefolk. Kulungu fired three arrows and each of them missed, but the aurochs man proved no match for snow bears, grizzlies, and cave bears many of the Freefolk rode. Val's snow bear gnawed the shoulder off the aurochs man and let out a mighty roar.

Gods she's a fine woman. Looks absolutely stunning in her raven-winged helm, red sash, and snow bear cloak. I'm shocked Jon didn't pursue her when he was beyond the wall, she seems to have strong feelings for him. Wonder if he even knows.

Whenever wights neared Kulungu he would finish them off with his hunting dagger. The dagger had a slender, foot long blade and antler hilt. It was much faster to draw and sheathe then his scimitar, which made it perfect for using as needed while keeping his bow out.

Off in the distance there was a shrill, lachrymose cry. Kulungu's eyes followed the sound and saw a knight in blue armor crying over a dead squire. Next to her must have been Jaime Lannister, that or someone who pilfered a Lannister surcoat and shield.

Must be that lady knight who vouched for Ser Jaime.

His eyes immediately returned to the advancing forces, and several rows down there was a wight giant. Most people believed the giants were as lost as the Children, but Howland always said both persisted. Kulungu knocked one of his dragonglass arrows and looked for a spot to aim for. It seemed the giant either dressed in furs or was covered in fur, either way it seemed unlikely an arrow could penetrate.

Seven hells if I can't kill this thing I'm fucked if a mammoth comes near me.

Ultimately Kulungu settled on the ribcage area. Lung shots were the best way to hunt big game, so Kulungu figured the principle was the same. The arrow hit, but it was uncertain whether it pierced the skin or was embedded into the fur. As the giant drew closer it became apparent that its jaw was half off and dangling from some tendons. Another arrow was shot, this time aiming for the mouth. The arrow landed and penetrated the throat, causing the giant to come to an abrupt halt. It collapsed into the ground, crushing all of the wights within fifteen feet in front of it.

Once the giant was on the ground, Kulungu rushed towards the massive corpse. Any wights were made short work of with his dagger, then once he reached the top of the body he sheathed his dagger and got his bow back out. Being on top of the body proved a better vantage point, and he started shooting large wights from afar.

Then there was an unearthly screeching howl. One of those shadow cat human chimeras prowled towards Kulungu. They ran far to fast for him to aim accurately, and soon they were on top of the giant corpse. Up the leg they ran, Kulungu managed to hit the mount with an arrow then pulled out his sword. The Valyrian steel sliced through both front legs, but the rider pounced out and pinned Kulungu down, sending his sword sliding down the shoulder. Kulungu used both hands to keep the feline maw away from him, its saber teeth dented his steel gorget. The metal digging into his chest was excruciating, but at least the gorget did its job. With both hands full he couldn't reach for his dagger, one loosed hand would give the chimera the edge. So it was they were in lockstep, neither could move forward without exposing themselves.

“Hyaaah!” A voice cried out. The chimera let out a dying roar as a blade slashed through its back. When the body was moved off of him Kulungu could see a knight standing over him. The knight wore a hound skull bascinet, mismatching armor, and a black surcoat with a sigil of a laughing weirwood on it.

“Who are you?Are the same knight who rescued Lord Howland at Harrenhall?” Kulungu asked.

“No time to explain. You'll know soon enough.” The mystery knight said, then turned around and rushed off.

Kulungu stood up and brushed himself off. He picked up his bow and put it away, thankfully it wasn't broken or cracked. He climbed off the giant corpse and picked up his sword.

No more heroics. Nothing brash anymore. From here on out I have no choice but to kill whatever I get the chance to, but not contrive any opportunities.

A wheel on Ser Wylis' chariot came loose, then rolled away. The fat knight lost his balance and splatted onto to the ground, the wights tore him to shreds while his horses ran off. Before he fell he tossed his trident into the oncoming horde of wights. Kulungu rushed to the feasting wights and hacked them down one by one, joined by Ser Marlon. Marlon wielded a trident made of Valryian steel.

“Thanks for the aid.” Marlon said as he stabbed the last of those wights.

“Think nothing of it. I must say I've never seen a Valyrian steel trident before, in the crannogs we use iron ones for fishing.” Kulungu said.

“And I've never seen a Valyrian steel scimitar before. Of course I haven't seen many scimitars. Look over there, Daenerys is turning these freaks into cinders!” Marlon said, pointing to his left with his trident.

“Now there's Walkers in sight. Regrettably they are immune to fire.” Kulungu said.

“At least we have our Valyrian steel. You know what that means?” Marlon asked.

“Aye, we have no choice but to engage the Walkers.” Kulungu said, then the two of them charged into the fray.

 

Chapter Text

The Queen's patronage meant that Qyburn could now pursue any research he wished with impunity. She was very much under the impression that Qyburn served her, but the reality was quite the opposite. Qyburn was in his laboratory, where he worked on his latest project – golems. He had first heard of Golemancy during his time as a medic for the Brave Companions. Lhazarene communities were protected by them, they were made by their witches. In the middle of the laboratory was a large golem sculpted of raw clay. The golem was seven feet tall and stoutly constructed, Qyburn envisioned them as a supplement or even replacement to the Gold Cloaks of the City Watch.

No need for food, water, shelter, or sleep. They can patrol the city all day and night. The only maintenance they will need is repairs in the event of a fight with street hoodlums, a fight they will invariably win. Training them will be as simple as inserting a programming scroll, that will give them everything they need to know.

Qyburn stood in front of his alchemical equipment, he was busy altering the kraken ink and leviathan oil he got from Theon Greyjoy during the prisoner exchange. The ink was in the alembic, being infused with his own blood; while the oil was in the calcinator with frankincense and myrrh. It was a long and dull process, and Qyburn's mind and eyes started to wander. He glanced at the alleged mermaid specimen he had, floating in a tank of formaldehyde on one of his shelves.

Perhaps once I've created a sufficient number of golem guards I'll start creating them for other purposes if there are sufficient materials left over. I could have a whole house full of golems in every shape and size for every customer's fancy.

“Caw! Caw!” A raven sounded from the rookery upstairs. Qyburn grabbed a lamp, then went up the spiral staircase to the rookery. The raven's scroll was sealed with a blank silver seal and had a note attacked to it reading “For Cersei's eyes only.”

Qyburn pocketed the letter, then left the rookery and headed for the royal bedchamber. He moved swiftly, dismissing any passerby who tried to speak with him. “I have an urgent matter to attend to!” He would say.

When he reached the royal bedchamber he knocked and the Mountain opened the door for him. Inside Cersei was having her measurements taken.

“Good day, Your Grace. Getting fitted for a new winter gown?” Qyburn asked.

“No, not exactly. A suit of armor.” Cersei answered.

“Armor? Have you decided to take up arms against the Targaryen pretender? If so I would highly recommend sword lessons.” Qyburn said.

“No, of course not, I would never soil myself with such an unladylike affair. But I need to dress to impress. The dragon bitch knows the importance of that, and I cannot be outdone by some squiggly browed whore. Besides, I have enemies everywhere. I cannot rely on the Kingsguard alone. Anyone could strike at any time, I like to be prepared.” Cersei said.

“Your Grace, I have a letter for your eyes only.” Qyburn said.

“You heard the Hand, out!” Cersei said, shooing the armorer's apprentice and the Mountain. She locked the door and wound up a self cranking music box from Myr to muffle the conversation. The box played an oddly sanguine rendition of The Rains of Castamere.

Qyburn glanced at the design blueprint for the armor: crimson plate armor with gold inlays. The helmet was a sallet in the shape of a lioness' head, and the pauldrons had a similar design with; both were covered in gold leaf and had emerald eyes and ivory teeth. Her left vambrace and greave were inlaid with a citrine lion pouncing on a moonstone wolf, on her right vambrace and greave it was an onyx dragon the lion pounced on. On the gorget was her personal sigil of the Lannister and Baratheon arms impaled on a lozenge. The cuirass was filigreed with intricate scroll work, but Qyburn took issue with the shape.

“Armor shouldn't be formed to fit your breasts.” Qyburn said.

“And why not? Its a called a breastplate!” Cersei asked.

“Because it creates pressure on the sternum if you are hit, and weakens the plate. Other women who wear armor wear items with no obvious breasts. Brienne of Tarth's armor is indistinguishable from any any other knight.” Qyburn replied.

“How dare you mention that armored cow in my presence! Besides, I doubt she has anything underneath her cuirass to begin with. Breasts are a weapon as much as swords are, as I'm sure the other queen knows. Might as well use them” Cersei said.

Good thing she won't do any fighting unless she's already fucked.

“Hard to argue with that. Anyway, here is the letter.” Qyburn said as he handed Cersei the sealed scroll.

Cersei cracked the seal and scanned the letter, the look on her face suggested a mixture of astonishment and delight.

“Oh my, this is major. A right proper game changer.” Cersei said.

“Precisely what your facial language suggested, what does the letter say?” Qyburn asked.

“See for yourself! Not sure who Torrhen is.” Cersei said and handed him the letter.

“The only Torrhen I've ever heard of is Torrhen Stark, the last recognized King-In-The-North. He bent the knee to Aegon I and became the first Warden of the North. Also helped the Conqueror consolidate his rule over the holdout kingdoms if my memory proves true.” Qyburn said, then started reading the letter.

 

Salutations, Queen Cersei

 

Of all my mentors, your lessons are the ones I have found to be the most valuable. I aspired to become like you from the moment you arrived in Winterfell. We have had our differences, but now is not the time to let past squabbles force us to see through a glass darkly.

I have intelligence I believe you will find most useful. I know the identity of Jon Snow's parents. He is no bastard of Ned Stark, he is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and his true name is Aegon Targaryen. Precious few are aware of this yet, but they intend to announce it to the realm when they feel the opportunity is right for them.

If my sources are to be believed Rhaegar and Lyanna loved each other and he never once harmed her, which undermines the cause of your late husband's rebellion if true. Those two plunged the Realm into chaos for love, and now I fear Jon is making that same mistake with Daenerys. Being King-In-The-North was not enough for Jon and he bent the knee to Daenerys because he thought being her paramour would give him more power. Now that both know of his identity they seek to take the Iron Throne and rule together Queen and King, or rather aunt and nephew.

Thousands of Northmen have died in the last seven years of war, and thousands more will fall in the Great War defending all of Westeros. Those who will survive will have seen too much and fought too hard ever to kneel again. I will provide you more information under one condition: after the Targaryens are vanquished the North will remain an independent kingdom, as it was for thousands of years. Agree to this, and I will provide you with any information I can find.

 

Sansa Stark, Lady of Winterfell

 

P.S. I also need you to guarantee you will not allow any harm to fall upon Arya. Regrettably she is every bit a traitor as Torrhen, but she still my sister and I love her nonetheless.

 

The letter was sealed with Sansa's personal sigil, a merwolf with a heart above the head.

“My word this is remarkable. Never in a hundred fortnights could I have deducted that Jon was a Targaryen, but it all makes perfect sense.” Qyburn said.

“So it was that dykey cunt Lyanna who took my Silver Prince away, which led to my fat buffoon of a husband murdering him. As if hearing him moan her name during our consummation wasn't bitter already. Send a raven to every major house! They all need to become aware of this, if its presented as a disgraceful secret then it will breed distaste for the love birds.” Cersei said.

“No! That is most unwise. Only a few have had this disclosed to them, if we notify all the Great Houses the news will spread like wildfire. It would be a matter of time before it reached Winterfell, and there would be a very narrow pool of leaking suspects. If they figured it was Sansa then she'll likely be locked up and incapable of providing us with any intel. However if you choose to decline her offer then I will go ahead and send those ravens.” Qyburn said.

“Oh no, I'll take up her offer. I appreciate her bold gamble. However once the Targaryens are gone and my forces are replenished I will invade the North. I can't let one kingdom go, then what's to stop Dorne, the Iron Islands, and gods know who else from leaving? I will not be the weak link.” Cersei said.

“A most wise course of action, Your Grace. The North will be defenseless. I have surmised that if the Dead are defeated then the Northern lords will come to support Daenerys. Sansa will need a force that is loyal to her cause, and I know just who to contact.” Qyburn said.

“Whom? Some tree priests?” Cersei asked.

“The Company of the Rose. They are a company of sellswords led by House Bluestark, an exiled cadet branch founded by Torrhen's heir when he refused to bend the knee. Being Warden I guess isn't good enough when you could've been King a generation prior. The bulk of their leadership are descendants of these Northern exiles and their officers are members of houses that went with the first Bluestark, however they also have a number of members from across the Known World. For two hundred years they have sought to return to the North and fight for its independence. So they can come and swear false fealty to the Targaryens, while truly being loyal to Sansa. Jon and Daenerys will be in dire need of new banners after the Dead are gone, and Sansa suggesting the Company of the Rose would make her look like a valuable asset.” Qyburn said.

“Brilliant, that's exactly why I keep you around! First you suggest the Golden Company, now this Company of the Rose.” Cersei said.

“Speaking of the former, I will be meeting with them today and I think it would be prudent for them to spread beyond the Crownlands.” Qyburn said.

“Why ever would I do that? I hired them to defend King's Landing.” Cersei asked.

“True, but it would be better if portions of them expanded elsewhere. Defending the city is fine, but it would be better if the Targaryen forces never reached us in the first place. In just a few days their presence has done wonders for the local economy, but the city cannot accommodate them all for long. Besides, your hold on the other kingdoms is contested at best. We need the Golden Company to help consolidate your control over those areas.” Qyburn replied.

“Very well. Where do you suggest they go first?” Cersei asked.

“The Riverlands. Now that House Frey is extinct there is nobody guarding the Twins, so nothing currently will stop the Targaryen forces from a land invasion. I'm not sure where Lord Arryn will cast his lot, but a good portion of his knights are in Winterfell and he may take the rest of his banners to join the invasion from the Vale. So it is vital that the Golden Company establishes a foothold in the Riverlands.” Qyburn replied.

“So who controls the Riverlands now? Last I heard Edmure Tully was imprisoned at the Twins and the alledged kingdom is a no man's land.” Cersei said.

“You heard correctly. Edmure is probably dead by now, whoever killed all the Frey's did a piss poor job planning it. So there will be a power struggle in to become the next Great House, regardless of who wins the war. My little birds have told me House Blackwood has bent the knee to the Targaryens, no surprise considering they were staunch Targaryen loyalists before the Rebellion and share blood with them and the Starks. Their enemy House Bracken will probably bend the knee to you for that reason alone.” Qyburn said.

“Go send a raven to the Company of the Rose, one to House Bracken, and another to Sansa telling her we accept her terms and informing her of this new ally. When you meet with the Golden Company tell them I authorize them to invade the Riverlands and anywhere else at their discretion, so long as a sizable number remain to defend King's Landing.” Cersei said.

“Consider it done, Your Grace.” Qyburn bowed and headed back for the rookery.

Chapter Text

“Thanks for your company, it's been a pleasure playing with you.” The Tattered Prince said to his companion with a courteous bow as he stood up.

“Likewise. I'll jot down our piece's positions so we can resume playing later. Until we meet again.” She said.

“Did you expect for us to actually do fighting during this contract?” Quentyn asked the Tattered Prince as they and the other Windblown rushed out of the cyvasse club.

“Why of course. We're a company of sellswords, not nannies. House Manderly is the richest house in the North, they aren't going to spend the kind of money necessary to hire a free company of our size and repute for us act as a glorified city watch.” The Tattered Prince said.

I suppose I'd much rather fight things that have already died than take an actual life. For my first kills anyway. I'll have to get used to real killing sooner or later.

“So far on this contract we've only fought thieves and smugglers like the Catspaw Guild and Swamp Angels. It will be refreshing to do some real fighting.” Said Books as he drew his sword, it was a yatagan with an ivory hilt and a tiger head pommel.

The Tattered Prince unhitched his horse, a massive gray destrier whose armor was covered in a blanket made in the same fashion as his master's namesake cloak. Bells from every tower sounded and horns blared. Civilians scurried inside the nearest buildings they could reach, while the Windblown were all out in full force; turning the streets into a sea of blue and white. All of them stopped when they realized the Tattered Prince was present. He rode down to the merman fountain, where the was the largest number assembled.

“Alright, this is the moment we've all been preparing for when we took up this job! The Army of the Dead is marching south, they aim to besiege White Harbor. Karhold and the Dreadfort, two of the largest castles in the area, have already fallen. Fortunately the North's and Daenerys Targaryen's forces will be intervening, and meeting the Dead on the field. Each and every tower and counter-siege mechanism is to be manned, and the walls will filled with defenders. This applies to both New Castle and the Wolf's Den. All infantry will be defending the city, the cavalry will be coming with me to meet the Dead head on. We mustn't count on the other forces to defeat them!” The Tattered Prince said to cheering, then the Windblown headed to the walls and towers.

He speaks with such conviction, such heated passion. Small wonder he commands one of the largest mercenary companies, despite being one of the newer ones.

The Tattered Prince rode off before Quentyn could say anything more to him.

“I mostly fight on foot, but fuck it, I'm getting my horse and coming with the rest. I remember the first time I read about the Walkers, even though I dismissed them as nothing more then nursery bogeymen I found them enthralling. Now I can see them face to face. Besides, it'll give me a chance to escape jesters like Will and Beans.” Books said.

“Ready to lose your virginity, Quentyn?” Gerris asked. They were all headed back to the inn where their horses were hitched.

“Umm, you mean –” Quentyn began to say.

“Your first slay! Not your first lay!” Arch said and the two knights laughed.

“I suppose so, its gotta happen sooner or later.” Quentyn answered.

“How does a handsome lad like yourself, highborn no less, never have any luck getting some tail? Surely you could afford it if you can't get it for free.” Books said.

Such an intrusive question for Books.

“He's average looking for us Dornishmen and shy, that's why. He almost made it with one of my sisters, but he doesn't know which one.” Gerris said.

“They're twins!” Quentyn said.

“Alright, alright. No need to pry any further, sorry I asked.” Books said.

“Don't worry about it, nothing I'm not accustomed to.” Gerris said.

“You'll have plenty more chances once this war is over, if you survive it. I'd wager every lass in the Seven Kingdoms would drop her drawers at the sight of a hero who fought the Dead!” Arch said.

Gods I hope Arch is right about that.

The four reached the inn and saddled up.

“I'm buying a stout and pie for the first of us four to get a kill!” Arch said.

“With what money? You took a pretty bad beating at the dice table!” Gerris said and chuckled.

“That's why it will have to be after I have a good score!” Arch said.

“None of you gentlemen seem like beer types, I certainly am not. How about a bottle of wine instead?” Books asked.

“Only if I win enough at the dice table!” Arch replied.

“Fair enough.” Books said.

They rode for about half an hour, then they reached the city gates. The White Prince had already ridden outside the gates, with Caggo at his side. All of the riders slowly rode out, roughly one thousand horses in all.

This is it. If I make it back, will return as a veteran. A true warrior.

Chapter Text

The battle raged on and soon the Walkers became apparent. By now four times had Beric seen those icy demons, and they were every bit as disquieting as the first. Beric breastplate was black with purple crackles that resembled lightening, over his armor he wore a black satin cloak decorated with stars and clasped with a flaming heart brooch. He and the rest of the Brotherhood fought with swords lit by R'hllor's power. Now they fought on foot, though they had been part of the charge. All the the swords used were cheap, village forged steel ones. Most members could not afford afford castle forged steel and those who could were unwilling to damage the blades with fire and wight gore.

“How's this for a first battle, Ned?” Beric asked Edric Dayne.

“Not what I had in mind, if I'm being honest.” Ned said as he slashed through a wight, the flames spreading its nearest compatriots.

For almost fourteen years Ned had been Beric's squire, but Beric could barely remember six of them. Beric had died so many times he had little recollection of his life before his first death, but he knew he was a knight and supposedly Ned had been his squire. He saw little reason why the Dornish lad would lie about such a thing, and Ned told him that he'd been betrothed to his aunt.

“What were you expecting?” Asked Lemoncloak.

“I don't know, I suppose I expected for it to be some forest skirmish in the Riverlands. Certainly wasn't expecting an undead horde on an open field.” Replied Ned.

“First battles are seldom how we imagine they would be.” Lem said as he cleaved a fat wight in half with his greatsword, blood and bile splattering on his yellow cloak.

“It is said initiates of the Fiery Hand know exactly when and where their first battle will be. Red Priests show them in the flames.” Beric said and lobbed a conjured fireball at an aurochs man.

My spells are far stronger with the dragons present.

“Who are they?” Ned asked.

“The warriors in service to the Lord of Light, they are almost like our Faith Militant.” Beric responded.

“I've seen them back home in Tyrosh, and other Free Cities. They are fierce, disciplined, and well equipped. If only we had some on our side.” Greenbeard said.

“If only. Thoros told me that either Daenerys or Jon are likely Azor Ahai, and if enough come to believe that to be the case perhaps more from Essos will arrive to our aid. On the other hand Stannis received very little support, even though Melisandre was convinced he was Azor Ahai. Her rather dire miscalculation led to despair.” Beric said.

“Fuck, look at that!” Said Anguy, a red-headed archer from the Marches.

A wight cave bear charged at the Brotherhood. Anguy pierced its throat with his yew longbow, and another archer named Swampy Meg landed another shot. The bear went into a frenzy and scratched Lem's brigandine with its brittle claws. Greenbeard lopped off a paw with his bearded ax, then Anguy landed another shot and Beric and Ned finished the creature off with two clean sword thrusts. Swampy Meg snatched the paw and stuffed ut in her belt. The dead again corpse of the bear was set ablaze, which emitted a miasma that turned Ned green.

Maybe I should have taken him along with me when we went north of the Wall. Nah, who am I kidding? I doubt he would have survived that.

“What do you plan on doing with that thing?” Lem asked Swampy Meg, pointing to the paw. It was still moving and accordingly placed with the claws opposite of her.

“I don't know, I just want the claws. To make a necklace or such, I suppose.

“It would suit you well.” Lem said and chuckled. Swampy Meg was a skilled huntress and wore jewelry she fashioned from teeth, claws, bones and so on taken from prey. Her hair was dreaded and adorned with moss as was her buckskin armor; her side arms were a falchion and hunting dagger both with uncarved antler hilts.

The Brotherhood slashed through wights, and Beric scanned the field. Most Holy Moishe took down wights with incredible force, he would bash them with his shield then dismember them with his falchion. Most followers of R'hllor saw all other gods as demonic entities, but Beric was not so certain.

Of the surcoats Beric could recognize, he saw Jon was fighting beside his direwolf, Jaime Lannister was being assisted by Tormund, and Brienne was frenzied into a seeming warp spasm. A wight mammoth lumbered forward, its tusks had the skewered corpses of Wildlings whose hide armor was of little use against ivory.

“Aim for the head!” Beric ordered the archers and pointed to the mammoth with his sword. “Draaaaaaw!”

A small volley of arrows hit the mammoth's face, then another soon after. This blinded the beast and made it go into a mania, it flailed its trunk to and fro until half of it swung off and knocked down a few wights. The Brotherhood flanked the mammoth and lacerated its legs, causing it to crash into the ground. Then it was immolated, and it let out a cacophonous swansong from half its trunk. The stench was even worse than the bear.

“All that ivory gone to waste. A fucking shame, that.” Swampy Meg said.

“Look over there, a Walker!” Said Merrit, who pointed at it with his mace. Merrit was a peasant from Moontown in the Vale. He wore an iron breastplate and helm shaped like a boar he had gotten off a Mountain Clansman brigand he killed back home.

“We can't engage him just yet. They aren't affected by flames, only Valryian steel and dragonglass. Of which we have neither. If we have no choice then you're going to have to attack him head on, Merrit. Their armor is the same as any other, your mace should do the trick.” Beric said.

“Of course,” said Merrit.

The Walker wore tarnished bronze splint armor, and carried an icy blade. It wore a mask of dark oak, which appeared to be adorned with antlers. As the Walker drew closer it was revealed the antlers were actually growing from its head. An eery sound was made that sounded like ice cracking, and the cohort of wights attacked the Brotherhood.

Anguy and Swampy Meg fired the last of their arrows, then drew out their side arms. Beric had no time to light them. Lem cleaved through five wights, then Merrit liquefied the skulls of three more. Those who remained were dealt with swiftly. Then the Walker lunged towards them.

“Hyaaaaah!” Merrit yelled as he landed a blow on the Walker's armor, which caused several of the splints to fall and expose some blue cold flesh.

Clang! Clang! Clang!

The Walker managed to sword fight with the entire Brother single-handed. Eventually it stabbed Ned in the stomach, causing him to foam at the mouth and fall to the ground. The rest screamed at the sight of the young squire dying, then they continued to fight the Walker. A knight appeared. He wore a houndskull bascinet and a black surcoat charged with a laughing weirwood. The knight carried a Skagosi club with dragonglass spikes, he crashed it into the chinks in the Walker's armor and the Walker disintegrated into shattered ice.

“You saved us!” Anguy said.

“A True Knight always helps those in need. Sorry about your friend, he was a friend of mine as well.” The knight said with a deep voice.

How could he know Ned? Judging by his accent he clearly isn't from around here and Northern knights are a rare bird, yet his sigil would imply he keeps the Old Gods.

“No need to be sorry.” Beric said, then knelt down in front of Ned's corpse. He had only been dead no longer than twenty minutes, yet he was stone cold.

“What do you mean there's no need?!” Swampy Meg asked shockingly.

Instead of answering, Beric started to pray in High Valyrian. After the prayer was done, he took as deep a breath as he could, then transferred it into Ned's mouth. Ned's lilac eyes opened, then Beric gave up his ghost.

 

Chapter Text

“Good day to you, um Hand. Not sure what to call you if I'm being honest.” Harry said. The elephant coach arrived at the steps of the Red Keep, and Harry got out to greet Qyburn.

“Qyburn is fine, I've never cared much about titles. Only credentials.” Qyburn said as he and Harry climbed into the coach.

“Is this your first time riding a hathay?” Harry asked and closed the door.

“No, I've been to Volantis.” Qyburn said. They took off.

“Can I interest you in some wine? We have an excellent selection onboard.” Harry said.

“I'm afraid I'll have to pass. I've already had my fill for today.” Qyburn said.

What kind of man turns down free wine? He must be paranoid I'll drug him and he'll wake up naked in some alleyway.

“What brought you to Volantis?” Harry asked.

“After I ended my studies at the Citadel I did some traveling around the Free Cities. Even signed up with a free company for a time.” Qyburn answered.

“Couldn't find a House to serve? And which company?” Harry asked.

“No, I could not. No House was willing to hire me before I found the Lannisters. And I was the medic for the Brave Companions.” Qyburn answered.

No wonder, Lysono wasn't joking when he said Qyburn was irksome. But Tywin sounded like the sort of bloke who'd overlook a lot so long as he did his bidding for him.

“The Bloody Mummers, eh? Hahaha! Vargo Hoat was too much of a chickenshit to face off against the Golden Company. Or any rival company for that manner. I'm guessing your main job was making sure he didn't get the clap again! Hahaha!” Harry said.

Qyburn rolled his eyes. “You guess correctly, working for him was a waste of my talents. But my time with him put me on a path ending with Cersei, say what you will about the Queen but she has been a most generous patron.” He said.

“Most clients of the Golden Company are. Not many have the money to even consider us for a short term contract, let alone one of the indefinite sort that we have signed with her. The offer of bestowing titles and land to our officers is most generous, especially since I hear the Lannister coffers aren't what they used to be.” Harry said.

“They certainly aren't. Usually I would never confess to such a thing, but there is no sense denying it.” Qyburn said.

Soon the subject matter shifted to stories about their days as mercenaries, Harry was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story and he doubted Qyburn was either. For the rest of the ride they recalled the dubious accounts, and after forty five minutes or so they arrived at the camp. When Harry got out his blisters started acting up again.

“Watkyn go park the hathay and meet me at the officer's pavilion, bring a needle.” Harry said to his squire.

“Roger roger.” Watkyn said.

“Hello there, Malazza!” Harry said to one of the serjeants who was drilling her men. “Qyburn, allow me to introduce you to Malazza, the Girl Serjeant.” Harry said.

“Are you by chance a Ghiscari? I didn't know the Golden Company had any.” Qyburn asked.

“Aye, Yunkai. I was a general in their army, fought against that Valyrian whore Daenerys. She took everything from us, then fucked off back to Essos. Once I got wind of her plan to leave I took my men and signed on with the Golden Company. Because of my prior experience the fact I have my own troops I was able to enter as a Serjeant.” Malazza replied.

Malazza was a short, stout girl with amber skin and kinky red hair in several braids lined with cowrie shells. She wore black plate armor with gold inlays of flowers and seashells; her cuirass was molded to fit her large breasts and was enhanced with garnet nipples. On her gorget was an etched harpy and her helm was adorned with ostrich plumes and a harpy-faced visor. She commanded a century of men who wore murmillo helms, segmented plate armor, and wielded tridents and long shields with erotic inlays and had short swords as a side weapon. Malazza's weapon of choice was a rare whip sword.

“The Targaryen girl makes enemies wherever she goes, it seems. May we hope that will ring true in the North.” Qyburn said.

“See you at the Serjeant's meeting.” Harry said to Malazza.

“I'll be there once I'm done with these maggots.” Malazza said then cracked her whip sword.

“Funny coincidence, but just today Cersei told me she has ordered a suit of armor and showed me the design. Much like Malazza, Cersei planned set has a cuirass shaped for appearance and not functionality. I warned her it was a foolhardy design, but she didn't listen.” Qyburn said as they strolled through the encampment.

“Not like she'll be doing any combat, eh? Bahaha! Malazza on the other hand does. But in Essos they don't care about practicality in the least. Seven hells us Golden Company men are seen as boring compared to our competitors.” Harry said.

“Hopefully not.” Qyburn said.

“I guess a poorly designed suit of armor is better protection than none at all. I must say we all were most disappointed when we found out Tobho Mott up and left King's Landing. We were looking forward to doing business with him.” Harry said.

“I can only imagine. His clients included some of the most powerful lords and knights in the Seven Kingdoms, and he fulfilled orders sent from as far as the Free Cities. Regrettably one of his apprentices is a friend of Jon Snow, and the apprentice persuaded him the Army of the Dead is a real threat and the North was in dire need of their services. I must admit I agree.” Harry said.

I certainly hope they're right about the Dead. If not then we'll be fighting the Northern and Targaryen forces at full power when they decide to march south.

“The golden skulls are a nice touch.” Qyburn said when they reached the captain-general's tent, he was looking up at the stakes.

When they went inside Watkyn was waiting for Harry with a needle ready. Harry sat down in his command chair and took off his boots. Watkyn proceeded to pop the blisters, drain the fluid, then rubbed them in ointment and bandaged his feet.

“Ahhh! Much better!” Harry said as he put on a pair of carpet slippers, they were soft and fluffy which really helped.

“I don't suppose you do much fighting on foot.” Qyburn said.

“Of course not, I'm a general.” Harry said, then stood up. He set some crystal goblets out on every place on the serjeant's round table. Soon the officers started entering the tent and sitting down. Once they all were present, Harry went to the wine rack and pulled down a bottle of sparkling wine from the Arbor. He popped the cork then poured everyone a glass.

“Good to see you again.” Gorys said to Qyburn. The Volantene was busy applying oil to his dark red ringlets.

“And good day to you. Our predictions have rung true, the economy of King's Landing has boosted since you all arrived. Inns, brothels and smiths have done particularly well. I'm sorry that the best armorer in town buggered off to Winterfell.” Qyburn said.

“Blast it. I always wanted a mallard helm, studded with jade or emeralds.” Rolly said.

“You want a duck helmet? You've always hated being called Duck!” Harry asked and laughed.

“Not everyone gets to be a griffin.” Griff said.

“Of course I don't want a duck helmet, but a piece by Tobho would be remarkable.” Rolly said.

“Aye, he made the armor I fought in during the –” Griff started to say. “Early years of my life as a sellsword.”

Whew, thought he was about to spill the beans about his identity.

“A Tyroshi bravo could afford armor made by a Qohorik, Tobho Mott no less? Tyroshi armorers are pretty skilled too, surely they would have been a more sensible option at the time.” Qyburn said. Young Griff looked particurly tense and discretly wiped beads of sweat form his brow.

“Alright then, I think we can continue with the meeting. Lysono should be on his little tour of the major ports in the realm, spreading the tawdry fibs that Qyburn provided him. Speaking of whom, the Hand says he comes to us with major news.” Harry said.

Qyburn got up and walked to the map of Westeros. He pulled a wand like scroll pointer with a tip carved to resemble a pointing hand out of his pocket.

“I know the Queen's initial contract was probably rather dull. Sitting around in a city waiting for it to be attacked isn't really your mug of cider. Fortunately I have spoken with her, and she has decided it will be in all our best interest if portions of the Golden Company go forth and help solidify her claims to some of the disputed areas. All she asks is that enough remain in King's Landing to be adequate at a counter-siege. ” Qyburn said.

“Good, I was growing wearing of nothing but target practice and game hunting.” Said Balaq sardonically.

“I know just the place to invade first,” Qyburn said then pointed to the Riverlands on the map.

“The Riverlands have long been seen as a buffer of sorts between the different Kingdoms. If you set up a foothold in the Riverlands then you can prevent the Targaryen forces from ever reaching King's Landing by land. The Iron and Royals fleets can worry about the sea. The Riverlands is also home to the largest castle, Harrenhall.” Qyburn pointed to Harrenhall on the map.

“Isn't that the castle that was so big even Meraxes couldn't destroy it?” Young Griff asked with visible enthusiasm.

“A student of history! Why yes it is. Even today it is a highly coveted property. Currently it is being held by the Holy Hundred, a remnant of the Faith Militant led by Ser Bonnifer Hasty. He had been appointed castellan of Harrenhall late in Tommen's reign, and went rogue after Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor. I sent a raven to House Bracken, their bitter rivals House Blackwood have sworn fealty to the Targaryens. If House Bracken bends to Cersei, which I think they will, then taking Harrenhall should be a breeze.” Qyburn said.

“What numbers are we looking at?” Asked Malazza.

“Between a hundred Sons of the Warrior and their squires and a somewhat larger number of Poor Fellows I'd say a fraction of the Golden Company coupled with Bracken forces could easily obliterate them.” Qyburn replied.

“And what of House Tully? I don't think they'll take kindly to all of this.” Old Griff said.

“Extinct, most likely. Last known member was their Lord Edmure, who was held captive by his banners the Freys. Most of the Freys were mysteriously wiped out a few months back, and whoever did it didn't bother checking the Twins dungeons. So the Riverlands lords will be free to respond to this campaign by their own discretion.” Qyburn replied.

“Most excellent, Qyburn. You have proven to be a quite useful friend of us. Alright that settles it, a tenth of the Golden Company will invade take Harrenhall. And that concludes our meeting.” Harrys said.

All of the officers raised their glasses. “Beneath the Gold! The bitter steel!” They thundered in unison.

Chapter Text

The Queensguard was at the forefront of the battle, fighting the waves of Dead as they appeared while keeping a watchful eye on the dragons. Jorah wondered if this was how the Kingsguard of old had fought in the days the dragons still ruled the sky. All he knew was after the dragons died out the Kingsguard would fight side by side with the King on the ground. Initially Jorah worried little about Daenerys, but as the Walkers became apparent he grew anxious. Their surcoats were splattered in blood but the bright sigils shone through it and their helm crests made them stand out.

“When we get to the Walkers I will be the one to do the brunt of the fighting!” Jorah said as he cleaved through five wights.

“No fair! I want to kill one!” Belwas said. The giant eunuch was by far the most impressive fighter in the Queensguard, but even his brute strength and the massive kilij scimitar he wielded single-handed would be no match for a Walker.

“If you find an appropriate weapon then you can! Don't worry, you will be helpful in creating a diversion. You all will.” Jorah said.

“I just hope my whip will snare him. If only Ser Barristan could see that! Haha!” Larraq said. He snared a wight then Red Lamb and Tumco finished it off while he stabbed another with his trident.

“The man is dead, why must you feel vindicated?” Grazha said.

None of these boys truly understand chivalry, only combat. Had Selmy lived they all would have, alas I am a poor teacher and was never a squire or even page.

“Look over there!” Red Lamb said, pointing to a mammoth wight that was lumbering towards some Brotherhood members.

The Queensguard rushed to their aid, but the Brotherhood finished it off before the knights could be of any use. The mammoths eyes frosted over until they were all whites, then the Brotherhood pelted it with several arrows and one member lopped off its trunk. Its eyes returned to normal and the beast put up a fight, but it was too late to save itself.

“There's Jon, we should go towards him! The more Valyrian blades together, the greater the odds of defeating the Walkers!” Tumco said.

“Right you are!” Jorah said.

Jon's black surcoat and white direwolf sigil made him unmistakable. He was fighting wights with Longclaw, two-handed much like Jorah was with Heartsbane; though Longclaw could be wielded with one hand if need be. Ghost was beside him, pouncing on wights and mauling them. One grabbed the muzzle of Jon's bascinet, Jon sliced it in half from the chest but it clung onto the visor. Ghost gnawed the wight off, then let out a howl.

Larence Snow was also present, he wore a brown surcoat with a black moose over bull moose hide leather armor. The Hornwood bastard wielded Pugilist, the ancestral weapon of his master Lord Glover. Pugilist was the only ax of Valryian steel Jorah had ever seen, and it seemed equally adept at chopping off limbs as it was for chopping through bush in the woods.

“Good to see you.” Jon said.

“Likewise.” Jorah said.

A Walker appeared and locked her eyes on the group. While most Walkers were shrivelled and homely creatures, she had an unearthly beauty about her. She wore frosted bronze armor and wielded a weirwood bow. On her head was an open faced leather cap with blue silver hair flowing underneath, over her armor was a mantle of what appeared to be mammoth fur.

I didn't even know there were female Walkers. I always heard they reproduced by stealing baby boys and turning them, eliminating the need for women. Perhaps they can do the same with baby girls, but don't nearly as often for whatever reason.

“Raise your shields!” Jorah ordered Belwas Grazha, Tumco, and Red Lamb; Larence joined them. Jorah, Larraq, and Jon got behind them.

Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! The Walker's arrows hit the shields. When she got close enough she pulled out a long, slender blade and and hacked at the shields. Larraq snared her arm with his whip, then she yanked her arm back causing him to crash into his companions. Larence used this opportunities to hack at her armor with Pugilist, until half of it was dangling off her. She let out an icy shriek, then sliced through the whip and took a blow at Belwas. The eunuch giant countered it with his sword, and managed to hold her off rather competently. This gave Jorah the opportunity to lunge Heartsbane into her, causing her to shatter into a million shards of ice. Several wights in the vicinity also collapsed.

“Whew.” Jorah said.

“I think that means one Walker kill between these three blades.” Jon said.

“But not the three of us.” Larence said.

“You're time will come, I'm sure of it.” Jorah said.

“Fuck! There's a Walker with a spear, and he's got his eyes on Daenerys and Drogon!” Tumco said, pointing with his sword.

Daaaaany! Noooooo!" Jon cried out.

Seven hells I doubt we can save her, but we must try. If she dies then the battle is probably lost, and if not then the war almost certainly.

The group rushed towards the Walker. He had his spear aimed at Drogon's heart, he paid no attention to anything around him. Just as he was in the process of thrusting the spear, a mounted knight with a broken lance charged at him. The Walker was knocked over and the spear sent flying into a group of Walkers, then the knight dismounted then pulled out his sword and finished him off. Once they got close enough they could see the knight's surcoat: it was red with a gold lion rampant.

“Jaime Lannister? Is that you?” Jorah asked.

“This is he.” Jaime said. He wore a open-faced kettle helm and after a few more steps Jorah could recognize him.

“Why aren't you wearing a better helmet?” Jorah asked.

“I didn't have time to bring my full kit to Winterfell, and I had to travel light. This battle happened on such short notice, this is all I could grab.” Jaime answered.

“Well you'll be getting a new helmet shortly, I can ensure that.” Jorah said.

“That's a bit cryptic, innit?” Jaime asked.

“You'll know soon enough.” Jorah answered.

Assaulting a Walker like that was a great risk to his person. Nobody would have faulted him if he did nothing, yet he did all that he could. When he first arrived here I was skeptical of his intentions, now I know they are pure. I must tell Dany, she needs to know who saved her life.

The celebration was brief. Everyone returned their focus to the Dead, and scanned for Walkers to attack next to thin the horde.

Chapter Text

After their prolonged bath, Ellaria and Yara dried off and proceeded to get dressed for Arriane's coronation. Ellaria wore a sari in the reversed colors of House Uller, her father's house. The top half was crimson and the bottom half was honey yellow and the colors united in a rayonne pattern. She wore dangling earrings of garnets carved like pomegranates, and an ornate golden necklace studded with garnets and pearls.

“Why can't I just wear my captain's clothes? I'll look ridiculous dressed like that!” Yara asked. She was standing stark naked in front of the guest wardrobe.

“This is a formal occasion, you will look out of place if you wear your everyday attire.” Ellaria responded.

“Can I at least wear pants? I hate the feel of wind on my cunt.” Ellaria said.

“You may. Here in Dorne women can wear pants without anyone taking issue. So long as they are a sufficiently feminine style.” Ellaria said and pulled out a few pairs of pants.

“I guess I'll take those ones.” Yara said, pointing to a pair of cream colored dhoti trousers.

“Excellent choice. I'd recommend this blouse to go with it.” Ellaria said, pointing to a kurti in a similar color adorned with vine stitching.

“Whatever you say.” Yara said as she put on the pants.

Gods I wouldn't have guessed she'd be such a killjoy with fashion.

“Now try on the blouse.” Ellaria said.

“My stomach shows in this! Surely there is another thing I could wear!” Yara said.

“Keeps the heat to a minimum. Besides, there is nothing else that matches the color of the pants while also covering your forearms. You wouldn't want to expose yourself as a mermaid fantasist, would you?” Ellaria asked.

“Of course not.” Yara replied and rolled her eyes.

“Good! Because there is no doubt speculation about us as it is. I relish being the subject of rumors and gossip, but I detest substantial evidence. Even in Dorne one must be cautious. You look marvelous!” Ellaria said, suddenly changing her tone as Yara put on the blouse.

“Alright, we can head over to the procession. But first one last kiss!” Yara said and the two had a wet smooch with a loud smack.

“Last kiss? I was thinking of going with you to the Iron Islands, I could be your salt wife! One of your salt wives, you can have as many as you wish. Salt husbands too. All I ask is that you share.” Ellaria said.

“No.” Yara said sternly.

What is wrong with her? She was so much fun earlier.

“Why not?” Ellaria asked.

“If one must be cautious in a place as open minded as Dorne, then a place like the Iron Islands two score over. So I can't take you as a salt wife, or any other salt wife. But don't worry, I wouldn't be stingy. Besides, I doubt you'd like in there. You're accustomed to many luxuries, ones we don't have. We sleep in hard beds, eat bland food, shit in clay chamber pots.” Yara said.

“Sounds dreadful. I would settle for no less than porcelain.” Ellaria said.

“I dock in Planky Town and the ghost city from time to time, next time I'm on my way I'll have a Maester in the proceeding port to send you a raven.” Yara said.

“We have no time to piss away any longer, we must head to the throne room.” Ellaria said, then planted one more kiss on Yara.

The baths were located at the bottom of the Tower of the Sun, the throne room was the very top. Though called a tower, it was in truth more of an abnormally long keep with a massive onion dome roof. Ellaria and Yara went up to the main level, then up a winding spiral staircase.

“How are we even guaranteed a present at her coronation?” Yara asked.

“My position as Oberyn's paramour still bears much weight, and we are both instrumental in freeing Arianne in the first place. Not to mention this is happening on such short notice, I doubt most lords are even aware that Prince Manfrey's head and shoulders are no longer together.” Ellaria said with an impish cackle.

The throne room was filled with the usual courtiers, but no lords or ladies save for Lady Alyse Ladybright and Lord Gerold Dayne. Lady Alyse was a lithe woman with green doe eyes and wore a sari in her house colors of pink and gold; she was the treasurer for the Martells. Lord Gerold was a handsome knight with purple eyes, he was prematurely gray with a prominent streak in his hair that was still black. He wore lilac trousers and a samite silver cotehardie; the chest was emblazoned with House Dayne of High Hermitage's sigil: a profile of an old man in a lilac cloak carring a black staff and gold lantern. He also wore lilac trousers and a cloak not unlike the one worn by the sigil, it was pinned with a golden brooch shaped like a lantern.

I see Arriane wasted no time freeing one of her favorite toys.

“Good to see you! Given up politics, I see!” Lord Gerold said, seemingly mockingly.

“I was never cut out for that life anyway. Any word from your cousin?” Ellaria asked.

“No, Ned is still missing. I think he's probably dead.” Gerold replied.

“Ned Dayne? That's funny, the only Ned I know of is, well, you know who.” Yara said.

She can hold her tongue as well as she can use it.

“Stark. The one who killed my other cousin, Arthur. We don't hold that against Stark, he had no choice in the matter. Such is war. Ned Stark was a good man, he delivered Arthur's body and Dawn to Starfall. Sadly I think that's what pushed Ashara too far. Forgive me, that was poor phrasing. Ned Dayne is named after him, only its Edric not Eddard.”

“Dawn? Isn't that a Valyrian sword?” Yara asked.

“No. Steel made from meteor iron. Looks nothing like Valyrian steel, Dawn is milky white. We don't just allow the head of the senior Daynes or the best warrior to wield Dawn, it is only wielded by those deemed worthy of it. Arthur is the most recent of wielder.” Gerold said.

Soon bagpipes, trumpets, and drums could be heard, and all conversations stopped. Into the room walked Princess Arianne, surrounded by guards and the Most Holy of Dorne. The Most Holy wore a white robe and turban studded with crystals, his crosier was made of sandbeggar wood. Princess Arianne wore an orange and red sari, the borders were decorated with Old Man tortoises which gave it a splash of green. In her navel was a gold ring studded with a ruby, and she wore ruby earrings shaped like starbursts; one of her earlobes had a gold chain connecting the earring to a nostril ring. Her hands, feet, belly, and chest were adorned with henna, and she wore bracelets carved from tortoise shells and spiral jade armlets carved like vipers. She wore her lush black hair in a large braid adorned with alternating marigolds and lotuses.

Gods she has never looked more fuckable, if only she could join Yara and I.

Arianne walked up to the Sun Throne, then turned around to face the audience. She placed a velvet cushion down then got on her knees.

“We are gathered here today to witness the coronation of a new ruling Princess of Dorne!” The most Holy Said. “Do you, Arianne Martell, daughter of Prince Doran, vow to do your duty to the Seven and your kingdom?”

“I do.” Arianne said.

“And do you vow to always do what you sincerely believe is best for Dorne, no matter how trying it may be?”

“I do.”

“Then I, Most Holy Euclid, anoint you and name you Arianne, Princess of Dorne!” The Most Holy said as he anointed Arianne with the Seven Oils then crowned her. The crown was a bronze circlet with a large ruby cut in the shape of a sunburst and pierced with a gold spear. Once the crown was on her head she sat in the Sun Throne and everyone applauded.

“Thank you all for coming on such short notice. Yesterday I couldn't have dreamed I'd be the ruling Princess, let alone on such short notice. Thank you to Ellaria Sand and Yara Greyjoy, you have my everlasting gratitude.” Arianne said.

“You should thank my brother, he's the one that freed our asses.” Yara said.

“Your humility is endearing, Yara. Maesters, send ravens to all the Great Houses and lords of Dorne, telling them that Manfrey is dead and I am now in charge. Once this court session is done I will write a letter to Daenerys, I'm sure she will be pleased to gain a new ally.” Arianne said.

Good, now all of my tireless work will be rewarded. I so feared it would wither and die.

Serving girls came and handed everyone a goblet and poured them a glass of Dornish red. Everyone raised their glasses and toasted the new Princess.

“Hail Princess Arianne, long my she reign! Unbowed, unbent, unbroken!”

Chapter Text

The full force of the Windblown cavalry raced to battlefield. Horses were draped in striped blankets of blue and white, and their lances had streamers in those colors tied onto the ends. Quentyn had grown footloose and was eager to see the rest of the kingdom. The North was a beautiful land even in the snow, but this was not how Quentyn hoped he would experience it. He always hoped he'd visit during the summer, probably arriving in White Harbor for a tourney then touring Winterfell, the Barrows, Wolfswood, and so on.

“Back home we always assume the Seven Kingdoms are cold, but even this I wasn't expecting.” Said Bill Bone, a Summer Islander with a real name too difficult for most to pronounce. He wore a feather cloak of blue and white feathers, pangolin scale armor, purpleheart hoop earrings, and a necklace of alternating sapphires and bone beads both carved as skulls.

“I'm sure even the Reach or Crownlands would be cold for you!” Quentyn said.

“How are you handling the chill?” Bill asked.

“Well enough.” Quentyn said.

“By 'well enough' he means we'll be happy if we don't get frostbite on our bollocks! Bahaha!” Said Arch.

“You're right about that!” Said Gerris.

“I brought a book on handling frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold ailments with me, its back in the barracks.” Books said.

“Won't do much good if one of us comes down with and of that and we don't have that book handy!” Arch said and chuckled to himself.

“I think we have bigger concerns for the time being.” Said Gerris.

“This is why I like riding with the rank and file over the Tattered Prince. He would never entertain conversation about frozen bollocks!” Bill said then laughed.

“I'm just glad to not have to ride next to Caggo. I fucking hate that Dothraki cunt, what he did to me was unforgivable.” Ser Lucifer Long said, he was a tall man with long, black hair and a plain suit of dark plate armor. It wasn't the first time Quentyn had heard him complain about Caggo, though what Caggo did Quentyn hadn't a clue.

I wonder if the Tattered Prince has a sense of humor, he seems so dignified and proper. Maybe its all part of his persona, like that motley quilt he wears as a cloak. When the cloak comes off the seriousness might as well.

The force rode on for a few hours, until they finally caught the heat of the battle. Knights, brigands, Wildings, Northern men-at-arms, and others were all united against the Dead hordes. On the side of the living were bears, a pack of hounds, and unicorns? Some sort of one-horned creature that Quentyn had never seen before. The Dead had bears of their own, and mammoths, dire wolves, shadow cats, and queer chimeras that must have been created with dark forces.

By the time the Windblown arrived most of the living had dismounted and were fighting on foot, save for the Dothraki. Many of the Dothraki were clad in armor salvaged from their enemies, and they fought with recurve bows, arakhs, and bullwhips. Up in the sky their Khaleesi and her children were immolating the Dead that were a safe distance from the living.

“Chaaaaarge!” The Tattered Prince yelled. Quentyn and all the rest lowered their lances and charged into the fray. Bill and many of the other Summer Islanders lacked lances and fired a volley of arrows instead, pulling out their scimitars once the Dead were within reach. Quentyn's lance managed to skewer several wights like a shish kebab from a ghost city street vendor. Being pierced hardly slowed them, they continued to try and claw at Quentyn until pressure from the ride dismembered them and they flung off.

I have done it, I have now taken lives. I'm a killer now.

“Not a virgin anymore! How'd your first time feel?” Gerris asked, his lance was still packed with wights.

“Not the way I thought it would. I thought I'd feel guilt of some sort.” Quentyn replied.

“They'd already died once, ain't the same as if you were to stab me in the gut.” Arch said, wights had just flown off his lance.

All the living seemed greatly relieved by the arrival of the Windblown. It appeared they had suffered several casualties, and Quentyn noticed several were engaging directly with the White Walkers. They were tall, gaunt creatures that resembled frozen corpses.

The Windblown did a second charge, and this one broke the lances of most of them. Those who broke their lances dismounted and drew their shields and side arms. Gerris carried a Dornish saber, the hilt was pink chalcedony carved to resembled a naked woman pouring a bucket of water; the guard was carved from blue chalcedony and was the water coming from the bucket. Arch fought with a war hammer, it had an oaken shaft that was wrapped in soft leather.

Quentyn beheaded the first wight he crossed on foot without hesitation, now he had little fear of killing. A fountain of black blood and bile came from the wight's neck.

“Attaboy, Quentyn! You're applying all that we've taught you!” Said Gerris as he lopped off a wight's arm.

“Just remember, living targets will be easier to cut through!” Arch said. His war hammer made short work of the wights, causing their bones to shatter and scatter.

“We should try and engage the Walkers!” Quentyn said.

“Are you so sure about that? From what I've read they can't be killed by normal means.” Said Books as he unstuck his sword from a wight's chest.

Not too far from them Quentyn saw a figure wearing a hound skull bascinet, fighting beside a white dire wolf and a group of knights. The knights wore white surcoats and great helms with crests that matched their sigils.

Those are the reversed colors of House Stark, that must be Jon Snow!

“Seven hells! If I'm not mistaken that's Jaime fucking Lannister!” Arch said, pointing to another figure in red surcoat with gold lion rampant.

“That or another Lannister cunt at least.” Gerris said.

“Now isn't the time to shun those because of their House, we all fight a common enemy.” Quentyn said with irritation.

“Have you forgotten what they did to your aunt and cousins?” Arch asked.

“No, I haven't forgotten what his father had done to them, gods rest their souls. He had no part in that.” Quentyn said.

“But he's still the Kingslayer, the Oathbreaker!” Gerris said.

“If Daenerys can allow the man who killed her father to fight with her forces I think we can find it in us to overlook the crimes of his father.” Quentyn said.

“You speak with wisdom beyond your years, you will be a fine adviser one day.” Bill said. Bill's sword was a scimitar with a bone hilt, the pommel was carved in the shape of a parrot's head.

They advanced to Jon and the knights, Bill shot wights with his bow which lessened the amount the rest would meet in melee. Before they could reach them a Walker appeared, he wore furs over hide armor and rode a wight snow bear. On his shoulder was an eagle, and beside his bear were three wolves and a shadow cat, all wights.

Bill shot the eagle, but failed to stop it from flying out and attempting a lunge at him in retaliation. Arch knocked the eagle out of the air with his hammer, causing a flurry of feathers and shattered bones.

The Walker ordered the wolves to take the offense. Quentyn and his companions stood their ground, they raised their shields causing the wolves to crash into them and be stunned. Once they were stunned they hacked up, but one managed to bite Arch's calf. Gerris beheaded the one-eyed wolf, the decapitated head was still biting so Arch flung it in the air with a mighty kick and smashed it with his war hammer. The wolf's brains were reduced to a cloud of black sludge.

Next the Walker had the shadow cat pounce at them. Bill missed his shot and it aimed at Arch and managed to pin the big knight. Arch wrestled the the feline, both of his hands were pushing against its throat so he wouldn't get mauled. The turban was shredded off his helm, leaving large bite marks. Gerris and Books started slashing its body while Bill fired arrows. Quentyn aimed for the head, rather than decapitate it and have the head persist. Once the shadow cat stopped moving Arch was helped back up and he brushed himself off.

“Thanks, I owe you.” He said to Quentyn.

Just as Arch got back on his feet, Caggo appeared. Caggo was still on horseback, effortlessly slicing through any wight that came within reach. He raised his Valyrian arakh into the air, and let out a bloodcurdling roar and charged at the Walker. The Walker lost all interest in the rest and had his bear charge towards Caggo. Both had their swords poised, and when they met they clashed. Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Eventually the bear tore off a front leg of Caggo's steed, and as he came crashing down he managed to slice the bear's jugular. The Walker got up before Caggo, but its hide grieves were no match for Caggo's arakh. The Walker shattered into countless icy shards, and several wights, both man and beast, collapsed with him.

“Bravo!” Said Bill.

“Lucifer will be so envious of you!” Said Books.

“That whiny bitch already is, that's why he hates me in the first place.” Caggo said.

Caggo walked up to his whimpering steed, uttered something in Dothraki, then chopped its head off. He dipped his free hand into the blood that spewed out and smeared it on his face and chest. The blood mixed with his blue and white warpaint, turning purple.

“Alright,” Caggo said, “let's get back to killing these hellspawn!” Everyone raised their weapons in celebration and returned to fighting.

Chapter Text

Flying on Drogon had once given Daenerys a feeling of freedom and escape. When she flew she felt weightless, and reminisced about her ancestors of old. Now she had the burden of the entire Known World on her shoulders, as she looked down at the carnage underneath her and ordered her children to make targeted assaults on the Dead.

Drogon and Rhaegal soared through the air, incinerating the Dead while keeping a cautious distance from the living. The Walkers were unfazed by the fire, though they seemed angered by the loss of their underlings. Soon there came to be a point where nothing more could be done, for the living were all far too close. A miasma of scorched and rotting flesh filled the air, causing Daenerys to gag and order Drogon to fly up higher to escape the stench.

All I can do now is fly around and wait for all of the Walkers to be defeated. If I land now I'd be of little use, I haven't got a sword and my babies would kill anything in front of them.

After flying for what seemed like an eternity, Daenerys couldn't find any wights nor Wakers. She flew lower and saw that the living seemed to be celebrating, so she gave the order to the dragons to land. Everyone cleared away to make room for the beasts. When she got off Drogon everyone greeted her with thunderous applause.

“Asshekh is a najaheya! We've won the day!” Daenerys said to much fanfare.

“So we have.” Jon said and planted a kiss on Daenerys.

The Queensguard walked up and Jorah lifted his visor. “My Khaleesi, there is a man among us who you owe your very life. He protected you where we had failed.” Jorah said.

“And who is this man?”

“Jaime Lannister. Come over here Jaime!” Jon said.

How can this be? Was this some ruse to gain my trust?

“Greetings, Your Grace.” Jaime said timidly.

“How was it that you saved me?” Daenerys asked.

“I saw a Walker with aiming a javelin at you, so I grabbed a lance and hopped on a horse to attack him. I landed a blow on him just as he was starting his throw.” Jaime answered.

“Did either of you see it?” Daenerys asked Jon and Jorah.

“Aye, we both did. When we saw it we rushed to intervene, but we were too far away. We would have been too late, but Jaime managed to divert the Walker's javelin and kill him. This was a great risk for him personally, this proves he arrived with no ill intentions. If he wanted you to die he could have let the Walker take the shot, nobody would have blamed him for doing nothing or suspected him of any wrongdoing.” Jon said.

“I see. I must admit I was most skeptical at the thought of you saving me. However it seems I owe you a debt that may never be repaid. A thousand apologies for the rude reception I provided you the other day.” Daenerys said.

“No need to reward me, I was just doing the right thing. If anything you should reward Tyrion and Tobho Mott. Tyrion designed my new hand and Tobho built it and added enhancements of his own. I doubt I would have even lived to see what was about to happen to you without this wonder. And thank Tormund as well, he saved my ass.” Jaime said and raised his mechanical hand.

Remarkable. I have been questioning Tyrion's advice ever since it turned out Cersei would not honor her word. Now I know he is still useful.

“Khaleesi, may I have a word in private?” Jorah asked.

“Of course!” Daenerys said then squatted down, Jorah knelt and started to whisper.

“I believe Ser Jaime is a prime candidate for the Queensguard. We never filled Selmy's slot, and few are more experienced than Ser Jaime. Now we know he is willing to go above and beyond for your safety, which is the most vital requirement.” Jorah whispered then they both stood up.

“Ser Jaime, I have an offer for you!” Daenerys said.

“Do tell.” Jaime said.

“My Queensguard only has six members. We had seven, but after Ser Barristan was killed we haven't been able to find a replacement. I would like to extend an invitation to join my Queensguard!” Daenerys said.

“I'm speechless. Yes, I'll do it. It would be an honor to protect and serve you.” Jaime said.

“Bend the knee.” Daenerys said.

Jaime silently complied.

“Do you, Ser Jaime Lannister, vow to protect me from any harm and threat?” Daenerys asked.

“I do.” Jaime replied.

“To obey my every command?”

“I.......do.”

“To keep my every secret?”

“I do.”

“To provide me with counsel when asked upon, but otherwise remain silent?”

“I do.”

“To defend my name and honor?”

“I do.”

“And to protect my consort and family as needed?”

“I do.”

“Then I, Daenerys Stormborn, first of my name, appoint you to the Queensguard!” Daenerys said, then offered him a gloved hand up. Small tears could be seen on his cheeks. Jaime rose up to applause, though some onlookers seemed to have distaste for him.

“Who among you all have killed a Walker in this battle? Come forth, for you are the true heroes of this battle. Without you we'd have to kill every wight one by one!” Daenerys said.

Brienne of Tarth and a large Dothraki walked up. Brienne's face was red and puffy from tears, no doubt she counted a dear friend among the casualties. She had always looked been so stoic, when Daenerys first met her she seemed almost emotionless. Daenerys didn't recognize the Dothraki, but he was much better equipped than most.

“Hello Brienne, Are you alright? You look distraught.” Daenerys said.

“I am, my lady. My squire, was, eaten. Eaten by, some kind of creature I'd not seen before. He deserved better. After he died I lost it, went into a warp spasm to avenge him. Eventually I cut down a Walker.” Brienne said.

“I'm sorry for your loss. One of my sons was killed by the Night King, I understand your pain.” Daenerys said, then hugged Brienne and gave her a handkerchief.

Fini yeri hake? Anha hash vo ray yeri.” Daenerys asked the Dothraki.

Ti hake Caggo. My Dothraki is a bit rusty, I'm afraid. Yours is far better, Khaleesi.” The Dothraki said.

“I'll take that as a compliment, I've worked hard on my language skills. Have you been spending time with the Unsullied or Andals?” Daenerys asked.

“Unsullied, no. Andals, yes. I am the right hand man of the Tattered Prince. I haven't lived as a Dothraki since my Khal died, I was a Bloodrider but never got around to killing myself. This was years before you wed Drogo.” Caggo answered.

“Well that certainly explains why we hadn't met. Where is this Tattered Prince? Your presence alone has made the Windblown an integral part of this victory.” Daenerys said.

A gray-bearded man in a full suit of plate armor and a colorful cloak came forward. “I'm the Tattered Prince. I know my company hasn't previously been on your side, but rest assured we are now.” the Tattered Prince said.

“Doesn't faze me a bit, such is the nature of sellswords. I know House Manderly is paying you, but surely there is a way for me to extend my gratitude.” Daenerys said.

“Aye. When you sit on the Iron Throne, I want you to recognize me as the Prince of Pentos. All my career I've been building up an army to go back home, an army that will keep me from getting stuck like a pig the way most Princes have.” The Tattered Prince said.

“One of your city's magisters helped my brother arrange my marriage to Khal Drogo. So long as he makes no conflicting demands I will honor yours.” Daenerys said.

“Fair enough, you are an honest woman I've heard. I signed on to this contract thinking it was just another peacekeeping mission, gods was I wrong. Turns out I agreed to play nanny for a port while its rulers fought in a real war. Now I will not be satisfied as a mere nanny, and I pledge the Windblown support to defeath the Army of the Dead!” The Tattered Prince said then raised his sword and shield. The entire crowd cheered at his announcement.

“Um, your grace! May I have a word?” A youth with a Dornish accent asked.

“You may. Step forth” Daenerys replied. The youth had blonde hair, purple eyes, and a lilac cloak pinned with a silver brooch shaped like a shooting star.

That's Ned Dayne. I saw him in the Brotherhood camp, he thinks he's Jon's cousin.

“Ser Brienne and Caggo aren't the only ones who killed a Walker, there is another. A knight in mismatching armor, his sigil is a laughing weirwood.” Ned said.

“You witnessed this knight?” Daenerys asked.

“No, but the other members of the Brotherhood did. The Walker......knocked me out cold, and was about to defeat the rest but the knight swooped in and killed the Walker.” Ned replied.

“He saved me as well. I was wrestling with a shadow cat man, and the knight killed it for me. I'd be dead if it wasn't for him.” Kulungu said stepping forward.

“Knight of the Laughing Tree! Come forth!” Daenerys said. Nobody did. The field grew so quiet that birds and wind could finally be heard. “Very well. If the Knight of the Laughing Tree wishes to be anonymous we have no choice but to honor that. We have precious little sunlight left, let us ride to White Harbor, where we shall rest until tomorrow. Tomorrow we return to Winterfell!” Daenerys said, then hopped on Drogon. Everyone else fumbled trying to find a horse.

Chapter Text

The living forces managed to make it to White Harbor with enough time to set up before sundown. The Freefolk and Skagosi built igloos for themselves then offered to show the Dothraki how, but the steppe nomads preferred to sleep on horseback. Jon, Daenerys, and the nobles in their host were seated at the Merling's Court, the throne room of New Castle. The walls were painted blue and depicted sharks, eels, octopods, and sunken ships, while schools of fish surrounded the windows. On the floor it was painted light gray with crabs, lobsters, mollusks, and bones. The upper part of the walls and the ceiling portrayed the surface of the water, and depicted a war galley, a trade cog, the rising sun, and a kraken and leviathan in battle.

Jon and Daenerys had been hosted at the Merling Court just a few days prior, on the night they arrived in White Harbor from King's Landing. On this day Lord Manderly was far less jovial, having just received the news of his brother's death. The obese lord was dressed in a blue green doublet with mother of pearl buttons, a necklace of coral and aquamarines, a mink cloak with a pin shaped like a silver trident, and a beret adorned with an osprey feather. He sat in a cushioned ironwood throne with a dais the color of the ocean, with a large wheelchair nearby.

I'd wanted to visit White Harbor ever since I was a lad. I would've went with the rest of the family when Arya was anointed at the Snowy Sept, but Catelyn refused. I'll never forget the smile on Arya's face when I held her for the first time when they returned to Winterfell. Even in her swaddling clothes we had something special.

“Are you alright m'lord? You've barely touched your food but have drank far more wine than your usual.” Asked Ser Bartimus, the castellan of White Harbor and the Wolf's Den. Bartimus was a lowborn man with receding hair, a gray beard, one eye, and a wooden leg. He wore a hauberk with a blue green cloak, the pin was made of banded malachite and carved in the shape of an open hand. He carried a castle forged longsword.

“I'm a bit distressed at the moment, poor Wylis deserved a better fate.” Said Lord Manderly.

“Understandable.” Said Bartimus.

“Would either of you like the rest of my food?” Lord Manderly offered Jon and Daenerys, who were seated at a table next to his throne.

“Go ahead Dany!” Jon said. In truth Jon needed the food more than she.

“Thank you, Lord Manderly. I'm sorry for your loss, sadly I think we will all suffer many more in the coming battles.” Daenerys said as she reached for his plate.

At their first reception at the Merman's Court they had been served a lavish feast of roasted capon, honey glazed pork ribs, lamprey pie, whale steak, octopod stew, fried squid, raw salmon and tuna, with blackberry and cheese tarts for dessert; to name just a few entrees. Today it was far simpler fare: sandwiches of sausages and onions boiled in stout with goat cheese on bannock bread, with a side of leeks and peas.

“You sure you don't want this? You worked far harder than I!” Daenerys asked.

“I'm certain.” Jon said, Daenerys started to eat once he replied.

The Queensguard stood behind the lovers, including their newest member: Jaime. He looked rather out of place wearing his Lannister colors over sub par equipment, though he seemed eager and honored to have the new role. They ate while standing up, holding their sandwiches with one hand and had the other free in the event of a sudden fight.

Seated at the other tables were the Tattered Prince, the other Windblown leadership, Prince Quentyn and his retainers, Brienne, Kulungu, select knights, and Lord Dayne. Most everyone else were staying in local inns, though Jon wasn't sure if that was by their own accord or Lord Manderly's discrimination. Most of the guests seemed nearly as upset as Lord Manderly, they had just fought a gory battle and witnessed things not dreamed of by them a few fortnights prior.

I wonder where the Knight of the Laughing Tree went. Daenerys would reward him generously, yet he chose to disappear. Whatever his motivations for leaving may be, I do hope we have not yet seen the last of him.

Once Daenerys was done eating, Jon brushed the crumbs off her cheeks and gave her a kiss. They were a couple after all, and he wanted everyone to know it. Daenerys give a big smile with a closed mouth, her forehead wrinkled and her eyebrows bent.

There was a pounding on the court entrance.

“Open the door!” Lord Manderly ordered to his guards.

The guards opened the door. In walked two grim figures escorting a manacled prisoner with a black sack over his head. One of the captors was a large, bald man in a greasy leather jerkin. The other was an ugly bloke covered in scars and missing his nose, he had long, stringy blond hair and wore a Windblown surcoat over a hauberk.

Seven hells that poor fellow is hideous! I've seen many a homely soul, but sometimes I wonder how the gods could be so cruel to make a man so ugly.

“Good evening, Garth.” Lord Manderly said to the bald gaoler.

“We have a prisoner your guests might be interested in.” Garth said.

“Is that so?” Daenerys asked.

“Aye, he was arrested by my company recently for stabbing a whore. Ordinarily that is nothing of note, except we found this on his person.” Said the other gaoler, Jon realized this gaoler was no man; her voice was unmistakably a woman's. She pulled out a Myrish crossbow, it was far more ornate and better constructed than those used by vulgar foot soldiers.

“He has a fine murder weapon, what of it?” Daenerys asked.

“We were beginning the interrogation process, but my tools were barely prepped when he told us to look inside the valise he carried the crossbow in. So I did and found this, it explains everything.” Garth said and handed Daenerys a folded piece of paper.

“Oh my, this is certainly of interest. A contract from Cersei to assassinate her two brothers in exchange for a vacant castle seems rather incriminating. Let the prisoner speak for himself.” Daenerys said then gestered for his hood to be removed.

Garth complied and removed the hood and ball gag.

That's Bronn! That son of a bitch swapped sides after all we've been through!

“What do you have to say for yourself?” Daenerys asked Bronn.

“What Garth and Meris said is completely true. I came North to whack both Jaime and Tyrion, on orders from Cersei. I confessed right away because there ain't so sense in withholding shit from a torturer, let alone two. I've seen far too many people confess to the most outlandish accusations once they'd been broken.” Bronn said.

Jon stood up. “It saddens me to think a man who once took up arms with me has fallen so low. As Warden of the North it is my duty to bring you to justice. You will be tried tomorrow morning, then I will decide your fate. Fear not, I refuse to let you suffer.” Jon said then sat back down. Garth and Meris escorted Bronn out of the throne room.

“You handled that perfectly. Not just like a warden, but like a true king.” Daenerys whispered in Jon's ear.

Chapter Text

You handled your first day superbly.” Jorah said as they and the rest of the Queensguard followed Jon and Daenerys up a spiral staircase to their guest quarters.

“Wasn't my first day, just first in a few years.” Jaime said.

“A thousand pardons, both for that error and my distrust of you.” Jorah said.

“There is no need to apologize for the latter, you had good reason to suspect me. You were simply keeping your vows, I cannot fault a man for that.” Jaime said.

And he doesn't even know I tried to kill Daenerys during her invasion of the Westerlands. Gods I hope that never comes up.

“I was particularly impressed by your conduct when Bronn was brought forth. It takes exceptional discipline to look a would be assassin in the eye and hold your tongue.” Jorah said.

“A shame I didn't have that discipline in earlier years.” Jaime said.

After a brief walk down the guest quarters hall, they reached the bedchamber that Jon and Daenerys were given.

“Sers Jorah and Jaime, please come inside with us. I'd like to have a little chat.” Daenerys said with a friendly tone and warm smile.

“As you wish, Khaleesi.” Jorah said.

“Good, there is something I wish to share with you as well, Your Grace.” Jaime said.

“Jon, you can go ahead and take a bath now if you like. You've earned one. Just make sure there's plenty of pumice on the brazier for me. I like the water hot.” Daenerys said.

“Thanks, Dany. I'll see you in a bit.” Jon said then gave Dany a peck on the cheek and headed to the guest bathroom.

The bedchamber was lit by a fireplace that was being tended to by a servant boy. The boy bowed and quietly exited. On the floor was a fine rug likely from the Free Cities, the walls were decorated with tapestries of ships and sea monsters. The bed had a frame carved from soldier pine, the four posts were carved like shapely mermaids holding up a blue green canopy; the top blanket was a snow bearskin. Jaime locked the door as they walked in.

“There's something I need you two to know. It's a secret I can't afford to be exposed before the time is right.” Daenerys said.

“I did just vow to keep your ever secret, so this is rather fitting.” Jaime said.

“Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly discovered the identity of Jon's mother. He's not the blood son of Ned Stark, bastard or not. Ned merely adopted him.” Daenerys said.

“I can understand why Ned would adopt a child, its an honorable thing to do, but why would he pass Jon off as his bastard? Why would he want anyone to believe he was unfaithful to Lady Catelyn?” Asked Jorah, he looked rather perplexed.

“To protect Jon. He is the trueborn son of Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen. My brother. That makes me –” Daenerys started to reply.

How can this be? To think I taunted Catelyn with Ned's infidelity only for it to be the sole lie he ever told! She didn't deserve either.

“Jon's aunt, and he's your nephew.” Jaime said cutting her off.

“Why yes it does. Do you take issue with that?” Daenerys asked, she raised one of her thick eyebrows with sass.

“None whatsoever. Who I am to judge? That would be akin to a pirate condemning a pickpocket.” Jaime replied.

“I will serve you always, my Khaleesi. No matter what man, or woman, you call yours. I am your servant, I want only for you to be safe and happy. Are you both still happy knowing that you two are of one blood? Regrettably I don't think this is safe.” Jorah said.

“I'm not fazed by it, honestly. He was at first, when he got the news he announced we were over and stormed off. Davos slapped some sense into him. He is the rightful heir, I am merely second in line. Fortunately Davos believes we should share the Throne, Jon and I think that is the most practical course of action. Granted Jon would be happy to remain nothing more than my paramour. You're right, its not safe. I have never been safe a day in my life. He makes me feel safe, as do you, Ser Jorah.” Daenerys answered.

“We don't choose who we love. Sometimes love is dangerous. I should know, I loved a dangerous woman all my life. Jon is only dangerous to those who threaten those he loves. I've seen how much he loves you. If people can't accept it then fuck them.” Jaime said.

“I figured you would be onboard with our romance. I know Jon loves me dearly, and he loves his sisters just as much. He and Arya are so affectionate with one another, they are too sweet. She doesn't care that they're cousins by blood, to her they are siblings and nothing less. Thank you, Ser Jaime. Your affirmation is deeply appreciated.” Daenerys said, she gave a warm smile with bared gums and deep dimples.

“Any decent man appreciates the women in his life. I can see how much he adores and treasures the ones in his.” Jorah said.

“For the past twenty four years I have been haunted by the crimes my father ordered against your sister by law, niece, and nephew. Seeing how your father treated them and your mother was agonizing enough. It will be an honor to protect not only you but your surviving kin.” Jaime said.

“My mother? All I know of her is she died shortly after I was born, and that my brother took her crown to a pawnbroker when we needed food.” Daenerys said.

“Your mother was a wonderful woman, so kind and loving to everyone. Your father didn't deserve her, but he didn't want her either. He was infatuated with my mother, and he was thrilled when my father became Hand because it gave access. My mother had been one her ladies-in-waiting, but yours had her sent back to Casterly Rock out of fears she might be raped. My father thought she was, he suspected Tyrion was not his son but rather Aerys's. I'm sure you've been told you aren't your father many times, but I think you may be your mother.” Jaime responded.

“Too many times to count. Never having a mother was so distressing for me, one of the things I have in common with Jon. For the last seven years I've tried to prove I'm not my father, its a relief my other parent's legacy is one worth living up to.” Daenerys said.

“You said Jon is the trueborn son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. How is that possible when Rhaegar was married to Elia nee Martell and Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon?” Jorah asked.

“Samwell found a journal of the High Septon in the Citadel archives, one entry said he annulled Rhaegar's first marriage and remarried him. The journal failed to say what the grounds for the annulling were.” Daenerys replied.

“I remember that High Septon, he was a crook. Rhaegar probably bribed or blackmailed him, he wasn't one to turn down favors and I know there was lots of dirt on him. I knew Rhaegar, but I couldn't understand him. A good man overall, but unpredictable and impulsive. One moment he was joyfully strumming on his lyre, the next he was wallowing around. I never believed he raped Lyanna, but there is no denying he humiliated his ill wife and abandoned her and their kids. Jon is not his father, he shares the melancholy but he will never leave you.” Jaime said.

“Lord Howland discussed that with us, he was present at Jon's birth. When the time comes to reveal our secret Lord Howland will vouch for us. There's no guarantee people will believe him, but they never will if he doens't try.” Daenerys said.

There was a rap on the door. Jorah looked through the peephole.

“Its Jon.” Jorah said as he opened the door. Jon wore a gray bathrobe.

“What is your real name?” Jaime asked.

“Jon Snow.” Jon replied.

“What is your birth name?” Jaime asked.

“Aegon Targaryen. Jon replied with hesitation, as if it felt unnatural.

“King Aegon, Fifth of His Name. That has a nice ring to it.”

“I think Dany and I would like a bit of privacy right now. Meet us here tomorrow morning. We will have breakfast if Lord Manderly offers, then after that Bronn will be tried. The trial will be held at Fishfoot yard. The Queensguard will escort us there. Good night.” Jon said.

“Sleep well.” Jaime said, then he and Jorah left the room to give the couple privacy.

Chapter Text

Once the igloos were built, the Freefolk built campfires and roasted the hogs, sheep, and goats the Manderlys provided them. There had been attempts to show the Dothraki how to build igloos, but their lack of speaking the Common Tongue made that impossible. The Manderlys also provided several barrels of black beer, cider, and blackberry wine. As the meat roasted, the Freefolk drank straight from the keg spouts and started to sing.

 

Once when we were returning from a battle,
And we got lost in a gloomy forest.
In the middle of the woods we saw an old house,
With tired minds we knocked the door very loudly.
Old woman opened the wooden door, she asked us to come in with kind words.
From her pot arose a scent so weird.
Stunning and bitter but very summoning.

 

Bring me a magic potion; it will heal my achin' wounds.
A taste so bitter that makes my bleeding soul feel so good.
It will make us sing and dance in our endless feast.
Or it might even unleash the beast in me!

 

She filled our pints with the Night King's beverage.
And served another round with a hideous grin.
The world was spinning in a new light I saw,
Everything and everyone was singing this song!

 

With nature, snarks and Children of the Forest.
We are on; let our singing rise up into the stars.
The Witch's magic drum was still beating hard.
When a grumkin brought me a new pint and together we roared!

 

“Never in all my long years did I think I'd get a glimpse of a Southron city.” Morna said, she ate a leg of lamb carefully to not have to remove her mask.

“And I thought Winterfell was massive.” Val said, she was strumming to the riff of the song on Mance's old lute.

“Jon always said the settlements down here were massive. Ygritte laughed at the idea of castles that reached the sky.” Tormund said.

“She always was a naive one.” Val said.

“Still jealous that Jon got inside her?” The Great Walrus asked.

“No, of course not, she's dead. No sense in envying a dead girl.” Val said, she stopped strumming.

“There's no sense in envying any other woman, believe me.” Morna said.

“Don't worry. You ain't a ginger, but he clearly loves blondes too. Especially ones with flowing braids. Still hope for you yet! Bahaha!”

I don't like where this is heading.

“Big Walrus will you please shut that tusked mouth of yours? I'm sure Jon has unwittingly creamed many a woman's drawers, probably some men's too. No need to mock Val for it!” Tormund said fiercely.

“You're just saying that because you know that woman knight must have hordes of suitors! The chances she'll pick one of us is slim!” The Great Walrus said and laughed.

“You mock the big woman again and you better pray that those animal gods you follow have any powers beyond the Frozen Shore!” Tormund said.

“That is enough! The Great Walrus has clearly had too much cider, and seeing his tribesmen and tribeswomen die earlier must be taking its toll. And Tormund has always been defensive of my sex, you drinking enough to forget that is clearly too much.” Morna said, she threw the lamb bone into the fire then pounded her staff into the ground.

Things would be getting dull here otherwise.

“Time for me to stretch my legs, maybe see how the horse people are doing.” Tormund said as he swallowed the last of the pork he had and stood up.

Tormund strode down to the end of the Freefolk bonfires and over to the Dothraki side. It seemed most of them were already piss drunk. Songs were sung in their strange, guttural tongue and amused themselves with various games. The games they played included wresting, boxing, and knife throwing.

Damn only thing they're missing is some fine womenflesh!

“Hello! My name is Tormund! I'm friends of Jon and Dragonsmum!” Tormund said to the first Screamer to make eye contact with him.

“Anna hake ajjin Qhono. Daenerys ajjin anna Khaleesi!” The Dothraki said.

Don't know what he said, but he must know Chainbreaker.

“Tormund!” Tormund said pounded on his chest.

“Qhono!” The Dothraki said imitating the gesture.

Qhono led Tormund to two of the few remaining kegs with anything left. He drank from the faucet and gestured for Tormund to do the same. Tormund got some of the blackberry wine, any sort of wine was hard to come by north of the Wall. Screamers surrounded the two and cheered as they finished the last of the barrels.

One of the Screamers led a dappled mare to them. Qhono laid down underneath the mare, and Tormund followed suit. The Screamer squeezed the mare's udders, and streams of milk sprayed onto Qhono and Tormund's faces before landing into their mouths.

Once they had drank their fill they got up, then Qhono gestured for them to wrestle. They put their hands on each other's shoulders, then started stepping sideways like crabs. Tormunds vision started to blur, and he let go of Qhono's shoulders and crashed into the snow.

Chapter Text

“How was your bath?” Daenerys asked Jon.

“It was good, I remembered to put some pumice on the brazier, should be nice and hot the way you like it.” Jon replied as he opened the wardrobe.

“You have proven yourself a worthy bannerman to me once again!” Daenerys said and giggled.

“Is that all I am to you? A bannerman?” Jon asked in jest and dropped his robe.

Gods he's looking fine, such an exquisitely sculpted ass.

“No, of course not!” Daenerys said then walked up to Jon and smacked his naked ass.

Smack! Smack!

“Ouch!” Jon said.

“I know you loved that, don't play coy with me.” Daenerys said.

“Its a pleasant sting, maybe you can do some more when you've washed up. Whatever you're in the mood for, I'm willing to oblige.” Jon said then planted a kiss.

“I know you are. We'll see how I feel when I'm done.” Daenerys gave a cheeky wink.

There was a rap on the door.

“Just a moment!” Daenerys yelled through the door.

“Go see who it is.” Jon said as he slipped on a set of wool pajamas.

Daenerys walked up and looked through the keyhole.

“Looks like a knight, has a tree on his surcoat.” Daenerys said.

“Must be the Knight of the Laughing Tree! Let him in!” Jon said. Daenerys opened the door then locked it once the Knight had entered.

“I've heard a great deal about you, it seems a fair number owe their lives to you. What is your name, Ser Knight?”

The Knight of the Laughing Tree said nothing. Instead he turned his back to Jon and Daenerys, then lifted his visor. He seemed to pull at his face, when he did that he appeared to shrink almost a foot. The Knight turned around.

“Arya!” The lovers said in unison.

Jon rushed up to her, pulled off the surcoat and armor she wore, then picked her up and gave her a bear hug that crackled her back. He set her down and rustled her sweaty hair. Arya smiled ear to ear when Jon kissed her on one of her bruised cheeks while Daenerys kissed the other.

“What are you doing here? You know I didn't want you to come!” Jon asked.

“You didn't want me to fight because you feared I wasn't experienced enough, so I used the face of someone who was. I had to disappear after the battle because I didn't want my little secret to become known, but I figured I can trust you two.” Arya replied.

“What gave you the idea to do this?” Daenerys asked.

“I was in the Dreamlands and had a dream I went to a tourney, but it was attacked by a horde of spectral hunters. Most people ignored it and were killed. That made me realize I couldn't sit out future battles, I saw that I had to fight. At least that's what I got from that dream.” Arya replied.

She did mention being able to navigate dreams, wonder if she's ever met Quaithe.

“It seems I've been guilty of underestimating you, I'm sorry Arya. I won't make that mistake again.” Jon said, he looked unnerved as he saw the face on the floor.

“I've been underestimated my whole life, a lethal error for most. Being unassuming can be a deadly weapon, far more than armies or dragons oftentimes.” Daenerys said.

“I was worried you'd be upset, Jon. I'm also sorry to disturb you two at such a late hour. Hope I didn't disrupt any 'plans'! Heehee. I must say, nice to have my tits and fanny back.” Arya said with an impish smirk, Jon seemed a bit put off by the quip.

“You are a cheeky little thing. I can't imagine not having either, I don't think Jon would be very pleased. No, we didn't have any solid plans. I was just getting ready to take a bath. Looks like you could use one as well. Care to join me?” Daenerys offered.

“I'd love to!” Arya said, her gray doe eyes twinkled.

“Have a good bath.” Jon said then kissed Daenerys on the lips and Arya on the forehead.

“We will.” Daenerys said as she grabbed two towels and pajama sets.

Chapter Text

The bathroom was a decent sized room with a blue tiled floor and whale oil lamps for lighting. A brazier heated several pumice stones. The clawfoot tub was oval shaped and made of lacquered oak, next to it was a two large copper cauldrons of rose water and a glass jar of epsom salt. On a small table next to the tub there was a Yi Tish incense burner; it was made of green bronze and shaped like a Yi Ti dragon. The incense was copal and styrax resins, they were inserted into the mouth to look like it was breathing fire. Daenerys lit the lamps, dipping her fingers into the flames to impress Arya.

“How do you do that?” Arya asked.

“I'm a True Dragon.” Daenerys replied with pride.

“Is Jon one?” Arya asked.

“No, and Rhaegar was thought to be the last one before I was confirmed.” Daenerys answered.

The two got naked and started prepping the bath. Arya dumped the epsom salt and poured the cauldrons into the tub. Daenerys picked up the pumice with her hands and dropped them into the tub, eschewing the iron tongs that were provided for the task.

That's a useful skill she's got, I noticed she never seemed bothered by hotness.

“Showing off for me? I guess after showing you my skills you had to compete, heehee!” Arya said as she grabbed a sponge and tossed Daenerys another.

“I don't showcase it often, I need to keep an element of surprise. Same as you.” Daenerys said as she grabbed the sponge and hopped into the tub.

“That's wise, last thing you need is for Cersei to have a list of ways she can't have you taken out. Now I hope an assassin with torch your carriage or something, make a real fool out of her. With nobody else inside it, of course.” Arya said as she got in.

Ah! This feels really good, so soothing on my joints and muscles.

“Do you know how I united the entirety of the Dothraki people under a single Khalasar?” Daenerys asked.

“No, but I've heard stories.” Arya said.

“Such as?” Daenerys asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well I saw a puppet show in Braavos that had you fuck all the Khals. Then there was also a mummers show that had you get them all drank and choke on their puke.” Arya said.

Daenerys roared with laughter, her mouth wide open. “Oh my! That is so absurd. Nope, only fucked one Khal; and never tried to get any drunk. Seven hells, no. They tried to force me to join the Dosh Khaleen, that's the council of widowed Khaleesis. I knew there was no way out of it by playing clean, so I knocked over a brazier and burned the longhouse to the ground. They all died, and I came out of the ruins unscathed. All the Dothraki who witnessed thought it was some sort of miracle, and I became their Khaleesi. No Khal had ever done that.” Daenerys said.

“Amazing, that must have been quite a sight.” Arya said.

“Not as impressive as when I came out of my husbands pyre unscathed with my freshly hatched children. Did Jon or I ever mention what we found in the crypts?” Daenerys asked.

“What did you find? Elissa Farman's ship?” Arya replied.

“No, we found a clutch of dragon eggs!” Daenerys said, her lush eyebrows popped up causing her forehead to wrinkle and she smiled her to ear.

Dragon eggs under Winterfell? Such a thing has been hiding under us for all this time? Father wasn't joking when he said our household kept many a secret.

“Where are they now?” Arya asked.

“We're keeping them on a brazier in our bedchamber. Dragon eggs need to be incubated with fire.” Daenerys said.

“I'm glad we're able to have this bath. Funny, when I was little I hated baths. My mum would force me to take them with Sansa or Bran, of course I made it unpleasant for them too. Splashing them, throwing soap, that sort of thing. Gods I was such a pain in the ass.” Arya said.

“And what changed? I've always enjoyed bath time, for me its how I escape for an hour two. Sometimes I forget about my problems, other times I meditate on them.” Daenerys said.

“Several years on the run. After my father died I found a Wandering Crow and joined his recruit caravan, I planned to make it to the Wall, maybe even Take the Black, all in order to reunite with Jon. The Watch doesn't accept girls no matter the circumstances, so I had to pass as a boy which ruled out even a quick bath in the river. I got so dirty, and I started missing the tranquility of bathing. I took so many things for granted when I was younger. Not anymore.” Arya said.

“Must've been so difficult for you to have your world shattered. You're fortunate to have had such a stable family and safe home, I never had either.” Daenerys said.

“I wish you could have, I'm so happy to have you as part of my family now. We're not stable by any means, but we stick together. Father always told us that 'the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.' You're in the pack now.” Arya said.

“But I'm not a wolf, I'm a dragon!” Daenerys said.

“So is Jon, it turns out. Doesn't matter what you paint on your shield, what matters is who is fighting with you when the time comes. Father also said 'we find our true friends on the battlefield,' you've proven to be a true friend.” Arya said. Daenerys smiled, her violet eyes twinkled.

“You are too sweet. I'd give you a hug right now, but that would be rather awkward given the circumstances.” Daenerys said.

“I appreciate your discretion, I don't want to have our tits and bushes touch either. Heehee!” Arya said.

“That's what I love about you. You have no shame in saying what is on your mind, even when others showed restraint.” Daenerys said.

“We can when we get dressed. I'm so happy for Jon, I always prayed he would get himself a good woman. A strong woman.” Arya said.

“You think he's lucky to have me? I can be difficult sometimes, people often find me intimidating and cold. I think I'm the lucky one. He doesn't just say he loves me, he shows it. At dinner he insisted I ate an extra plate, I offered him it as I figured he needed it more but he refused. When he started telling me about you I knew he was a keeper. With the pride and protectiveness he spoke about you, I could see he how much he treasures his family.” Daenerys said.

“He talks about me a lot, apparently. Tormund and others have said the same thing.” Arya said.

“I adore Tormund, the Freefolk have a such way with words. Much like you, they don't hold back. Jon thought he was making a pass at me, Tormund made it very clear I'm not the sort he fancies. Said I'm too short and not muscular enough.” Daenerys said and laughed.

“He loves Brienne, but I don't think she realizes it.” Arya said.

“What makes you say that?” Daenerys asked.

“Because when I met him he was rather eager to see her, had a very horny look on his face. She said she had to use the lavatory, but I think she was just uncomfortable.” Arya answered.

“Well she certainly is tall and muscular. Do you know if she has had any suitors before?” Daenerys asked.

“She hasn't. Men have feigned interest in her before, all as a cruel prank. They even made her a tourney queen once, just to laugh at her. Renly was the only one who was kind to her, he gave her a dance. So when he declared himself king she joined his Kingsguard. She knew he was a poof, everyone but Robert did.” Arya answered.

“No wonder she probably thinks Tormund is just making fun of her, even though he would never do such a thing.” Daenerys said.

“And she's not good at reading people anyway.” Arya said.

“Unlike you. You're something of a mistress at reading people it seems. Where did you learn that skill? Was it one your father taught you?” Daenerys asked.

“No, it wasn't. He was horrible at reading people, part of what got him killed. I've always just known to look past people's appearances, so many people have this idea pretty people are good and ugly people are bad. I look at their body language, how they carry themselves, subtext behind what they say. I could tell Cersei was a cunt from the moment I met her. Didn't think she was an murderous, incestous cunt, no offense, but a cunt nonetheless.” Arya replied.

“None taken. Tell me, what were your siblings first impressions of Cersei?” Daenerys asked.

“Sansa was enamored with her, I don't know about the rest.” Arya replied.

“Enamored? When I met Cersei I didn't find her flattering in the least.” Daenerys said and laughed at the thought.

“She was much better looking with long hair. Haven't seen her since she got that haircut but the mummer farces and puppet shows made a field day out of it. And her little walk.” Arya said.

“Perhaps I should shave my head if I ever meet her again, but only if I'll still look better than she does. Haha! Do you think I would?” Daenerys asked.

“Great idea, heehee! Yes, I'm sure you would.” Ayra responded.

“Speaking of hair, I think its time to wash ours. Would you like me to wash yours again? Sadly I didn't bring my spiceflower shampoo.” Daenerys said.

“I'd love that, then I can wash yours.” Arya said then stood up and moved to Daenery's side of the tub and sat down. Daenerys wet Arya's hair and reached for a shampoo bar, it was shaped like a scallop shell and was orange and cream colored.

“I'm letting yours get done first since it will be quicker. You have such fine hair, what is your routine?” Daenerys asked as she started to lather.

“I rinse it with water whenever I get the chance, wash it with whatever is available. And brush it, always remember to do that.” Arya replied.

“Oh my, that is far simpler than what do for mine.” Daenerys said astonished.

“You also have a lot more hair to take care of. Mine used to be much longer, I started keeping it short when I was posing as a boy. Kept it short after that for practicality, much like Brienne does. Now I'm thinking about growing it some to accommodate victory braids.” Arya said.

“My word, I'm flattered!” Daenerys said.

“You're easily flattered!” Arya said teasingly.

“Not as much as you would think, you're just a natural charmer. Alright, all done.” Daenerys said as she finished rinsing Arya's scalp.

“Who usually does your hair?” Arya asked as she wet Daenerys' hair.

“Missandei has been my hairdresser for I think five years now. She's so much more than just an interpreter. I do her hair as well. I started because I wanted her to see us as equals and friends, not as a mere mistress and servant relationship.” Daenerys said as Arya lathered her hair.

“I enjoyed my time with her the other day. I think it's wonderful you're having her write an ethnography of the Realm for you, the Maesters deserve some competition and she deserves more than just being your hairdresser. Especially since her language skills are of little use here. You should have seen the look on Brienne's face when you washed her hair. All her life she's been led to believe she is less than, so having a gorgeous lady like you do something like that means a lot to her. Means a lot to me too, but I've never felt less than even though I'm also a tomboy.” Arya said.

“I'm joyed to hear that, I was just being polite. It would have been rude to wash your hair and not hers, I'm glad it brightened her day. As Queen I want to improve the lots of women and girls of every class, you and Brienne have done far more than I have without even trying to. Your very lives are an act of rebellion.” Daenerys said.

“I've always rebelled, and on purpose. Alright, you're done. You'll have to have Missandei braid your hair later, I can't braid for shit.” Arya said as she finished washing Daenerys' hair.

Arya returned to her side of the tub, then they lathered some soap onto their sponges and washed the rest of their bodies.

“Well that was a wonderful bath. I think it was even longer than usual.” Daenerys said as she poured some water to put out the brazier.

“Certainly much quicker for me. I often just wash the essentials: hair, armpits, ass, minge, and feet. Of course I usually don't have a royal audience.” Arya said.

Once they dried off, they put on their pajamas and robes. They warmly embraced and Daenerys kissed Arya on the forehead. Arya reciporacated.

“Alright, let's go back to the bedchamber. You can sleep on the divan. Hope that will be good enough.” Daenerys said as she put out the lamps and incense burner.

“More than good enough, I'm used to sleeping in roadside ditches and back alleys. I would've killed for a divan to sleep on, literally.” Arya whispered.

“I don't doubt it.” Daenerys whispered.

They walked out of the bathroom and tiptoed down the hall. Most of the other guests were probably sound asleep. When they went into the bedchamber they found Jon snoozing on the divan, he was wrapped in a quilt.

“He left a note on the bed.” Daenerys whispered. “I didn't want Arya to sleep on the divan, so I'm using it. Go ahead and share the bed, have a good night. Love you both.

“Aww, that's too sweet of him.” Arya whispered as she put a cedar log on the fire. She and Daenerys got into the bed and she turned off the bedside lamp.

“Goodnight.” They both whispered.

Chapter Text

At cockcrow Bronn was given a somewhat more generous serving of porridge than he had been given previously. The night had been a surprisingly easy sleep, Bronn was used to accepting his death. Death was inevitable, after all, but even more so for a sellsword. He only managed to eat a few spoonfuls, then he put the pewter bowl down.

What's the use in eating this? I'm a dead man anyway.

“I'm saving it for later. Now I'm ready for the trial.” Bronn said to Garth and Meris.

Garth released Bronn's feet from the stocks while Meris handcuffed him from behind. A iron collar with an attached chain was placed around Bronn's neck. Meris grabbed the chain with one hand and had her sword in the other; she led him while Garth followed from the rear while carrying his headsman's ax, Lady Lu.

“You're the easiest person I've ever interrogated.” Meris said acidly.

“Too easy! My poor Whore never got to have any fun with you. At least Lady Lu will, if Jon has half the bollocks he supposedly does.” Garth said and chortled.

Outside the air was crisp and filled with the morning songs of robins and snow shrikes. They passed by the rows of houses and businesses that lined the Wolf's Den, the kraken-like weirwood branches from the Godswood liked white as milk against the pitch black walls. Down the Castle Stairs they went, the steps were lined with sculptures of mermaids holding lanterns.

I always did appreciate White Harbor. Not as nice as Lannisport or Oldtown, but on par with King's Landing and much better than Gulltown.

Finally they reached Fishfoot Yard. Jon and Daenerys stood in front of the merman fountain, with Lord Manderly, several knights, and Windblown bigwigs nearby. Smallfolk clamored trying to get a glimpse, and they had to clear a path in order to reach the fountain.

“Under ordinary circumstances I would preside over the trial myself, but these are no ordinary circumstances. Queen Daenerys and Warden Snow, you will conduct the trial.” Lord Manderly said.

That lard stuffed doublet is probably frightened he'd give a verdict they disliked.

“It has been brought to my attention my punishments have been rather draconian recently, so I am placing the responsibility of the trial to my Warden. Bronn will receive a trial in the same fashion as countless criminals in the North have for millennia.” Daenerys said.

“Come forth, Bronn. Get on your knees.” Jon said. Bronn complied. “Guards, remove the collar.” Meris unlocked the collar.

Now I can die in a bit of comfort at least.

“Last night you confessed to taking a contract from the Lannister pretender to assassinate her brothers, Jaime and Tyrion. However that was no trial. Do you wish to retain your confession, or do you wish to recant it and make a case for your innocence?” Jon asked.

“The charges are all true. Cersei hired me to kill her brothers. Why else you think I came all this way?” Bronn said.

“When Ser Jaime arrived at Winterfell there was suspicion he came to assassinate Daenerys and possibly me as well. He insisted he was here to fight against the Dead, and credible folk vouched for him. Yesterday he proved he was honest. I thought perhaps you came up here to do the same, many others have.” Jon responded.

“Bah! Me? When have I ever given a shit about anything but money? I know you ain't got the cash to pay me back!” Bronn said. Jon knelt down and put his hand on Bronn's shoulder.

“Why did you agree to do it?” Jon asked.

“For seven years the Lannister brothers have fucked me over. Promising they'd give me a castle but never making good. I should've known better. That cunt of a runt Tyrion promised those yahoos from the Vale backwoods control of the Kingdom, and that was when I first got to know him! So I should have known he'll make any promise to get out of a tight spot. Same with Jaime, though he's not half as cunning. I knew there was no sense in waiting for them a fortnight longer, so I figured I'd take my chances with Cersei.” Bronn said.

“Thank you for your honesty, I owed it to you to look you in the eye and ask your side of the story.” Jon said as he stood up.

“So what's it gonna be? I knew the risks when I signed on, but I won't lie, I'll take any alternative to death.” Bronn said.

“You would have made a fine ranger, but sadly the Wall is abandoned and the Watch is severely moribund. For any other crime I'd offer you a pardon if you fight against the Dead with us, but plotting to murder a valuable courtier and equally vital defender renders you untrustworthy. There are no other options. In the name of Daenerys of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, Protectress of the Realm, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms, Queen of the Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar; I Jon Snow, Warden of the North, sentence you to die!” Jon said then unsheathed Longclaw.

Garth silently offered Bronn a blindfold.

“Fuck that! I've watched many a man die with his eyes wide open, I reckon I can do the same!” Bronn said as he brushed the gaoler away.

“Any last words?” Jon asked.

“I had a hell of a time capturing that wight with you. I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.” Bronn said, then placed his head on the chopping block.

Chapter Text

Edric stood on the bow of the Iron Victory, eagerly waiting for land to be spotted. Iron Victory was the Iron Fleet's flagship. It was built and painted to resemble a leviathan and had a massive ram carved in the shape of a kraken wrapping the leviathan's head with its tentacles; its pointy head serving as the actual ram. The sky was almost cloudless, with seagulls and pelicans flying overhead. One of the crewmen played the fiddle while another sang an old Ironborn shanty.

“Ready to go back home?” Victarian Greyjoy asked. Victarian was a tall, broad man with black hair speckled with grey. Most Ironborn wore gambesons or nothing heavier than brigandine, but Euron wore full plate because he had no fear of drowning. His suit was black, with a large gold inlaid kraken on the breastplate. The helmet was shaped like a kraken, the visor had a beaked mouth and the arm tentacles resembled a moustache, with other tentacles resembling hair. Over his armor he wore a cloth of gold cloak split into eight streamers, it had a silver pin shaped like two crossed scythes.

There is no way he paid the iron price for such a fine suit of armor, he must have commissioned it himself. Its fancier than most knights' armor, but far less practical.

“I'm not going home yet!” Edric replied. He wore a chintz cotehardie with antler buttons and adorned with stags, foxes, and morning glories, his boots and belt were black buckskin with floral gold stitching, and on his head he wore a chaperon. Over his cotehardie was tiger fur cloak, the pin was carved from antler and shaped like a stag's head. In his ears were lapis lazuli earrings shaped like morning glories.

“But you'll go home eventually, if you don't die first. So are you ready?” Victarian asked.

“I don't have a home anymore! Things were so good living with my uncle, Renly. I grew accustomed to living in Lys and the Free Cities, the bravo life suits me.” Edric said.

“Is that why you smell like wood and fruit all the time?” Victarian asked.

“Yes, in Essos we prefer not to reek of onions and sweat. This perfume is cedar and bergamot.” Edric said.

“What the fuck is bergamot? Sounds like an influence of that pillow biting uncle of yours! Bahaha!” Victarian said.

“Say one more word about him in that light and I'll crush that squid helmet! He wasn't a pillow biter! Ser Loras was the pillow biter.” Edric said and pulled out his war hammer. The hammer was a far more sensible piece than the monstrosity wielded by his father, it had a maple shaft and the steel head and pick had knot engraving on them.

“Easy there. The fire priests need you alive, they've made that clear.” Victarian said.

“And why is that?” Edric asked.

“Because we are all threads in a tapestry, woven from the loom of R'hllor. Untune one string, and the entire melody falls into discord.” Said Moqorro, a fire priest who was onboard. Moqorro was a tall, stout man with wild snow white hair and a beard and skin so dark it appeared almost blue. On his cheeks, hands and forehead there were tattoos of flames in a gradient of yellow to red. He dressed in long scarlet robes with satin flames embroidered on the collar, sleeves, and hem; and he carried an iron staff with the end shaped liked a dragon's head.

Seven hells, I've heard stories of what the red priestesses will do.

“You're right, Moqorro. In order to defeat the Dead we will need everyone, no need to fight among ourselves. Bergamot is a type of orange.” Edric said as he put his hammer away.

“I wonder how they're holding up on the Ner Tamid. Melisandre is accustomed to seafare, but I'm uncertain about Kinvara and the rest.” Moqorro said.

Ner Tamid was a galley owned by the Voltantis Red Temple. It was a galley big enough to transport a century of the Fiery Hand, there were fifty rows of oars on either side. The sails were yellow and adorned the sigil of the Fiery Hand: a tongue of red flame with a clenched white fist inside. A red priestess carved of cedar holding a golden lantern served as the figurehead.

“With my people you ain't a real priest until you've been drowned and brought back by our god.” Victarian said acidly.

“Perhaps the Lord of Light and Drowned God are one and the same. If so then I'd reckon that the Great Other and Storm God are the same entity. May R'hllor forgive me for entertaining such potential blasphemies.” Moqorro said.

“What are blashpemies, and what is entertaining about them?” Victarian asked.

“They're something that goes against the teachings of ones faith. Nothing entertaining about them, its just a figure of speech. Followers of R'hllor believe in one god, to say there are more is blasphemy.” Moqorro said.

“Bah! There many gods! Too many to count! When we arrive in White Harbor I will make offerings to both the Seven and to the Merling King, I always do whenever I dock there. Wherever I land I do so for every local god. Makes Braavos a real pain to visit. Once we're in Winterfell I will do the same for the Old Gods. The Drowned God only has power where people have drowned, if one only worshipped him in the North you'd be fucked unless you stayed by rivers, lakes, or wells. Your god seems more powerful than most.” Victarian said.

I can fathom there being multiple gods, but to worship each and every one? That's madness, life is too short to do so. Perhaps Victarian does not truly believe in any of this, Stannis sure didn't. He just wanted a happy wife, potential allies in Essos, and that sweet ginger clunge.

“I'm more nervous about meeting the Dragon Queen than I am the Night King. My father did cause all of her woes, afterall.” Edric said.

“Aerys brought that upon himself. Benerro, the High Priest, sent a disgraced priest from Myr to convert Aerys as penance for his excesses in sex and gambling. I cautioned him against it, said that someone who only uses fire as a weapon has no potential as a true believer. Thankfully Aerys had no interest in anything Thoros had to say, but your father took a liking to him. Melisandre was far more successful with your uncle. Besides, Daenerys is Daenerys, not Aerys.” Moqorro said.

“I spent the last fears trying to track her down, my brother had this idea of forging an alliance with her. I was prepared to sail to the other side of the Dothraki Sea, before I learned she was now in Westeros.” Victarian said.

“Such a voyage would only be possible for you.” Edric said.

“That much is true. Very astute.” Moqorro said.

Edric looked off into the distance of the green sea. A large humpback whale leaped into the air then crashed back into the sea. An albatross swooped down and snatched a perch from the sea. Edric took these things to be good omens. Soon he would be in the North, and he hoped he would reach Winterfell before the Night King.

Chapter Text

Arianne's coronation had been celebrated with an impromptu feast, nothing too fancy as there was little time to prepare. Yara refrained from drinking too much wine, for she knew it was most foolish to risk a hangover the night before setting sail. In the morning her ships were loaded with barrels of cheap wine, spiced pickled vegetables, dried chickpeas and rice, and several Dornish hams and salted mutton sides.

“Are you sure I can't come along?” Ellaria asked in a purring tone. She was standing on the dock next to Yara, she wore a samite caftan.

Seven hells she is nothing if not persistent.

“Remember what I told you? Unless you want to sleep on a straw mattress, eat bland food, and shit in a copper chamber pot, then yes. I'm more than sure.” Yara said with a husky laugh.

“No, no, and no. A damned shame. Perhaps you could stay here instead. Give the captaincy to your cousin.” Ellaria said with a cackle.

“Not worth it. It;s urgent I return to the Iron Islands and seize control of the Seastone Chair. My uncle remains a major asset to Cersei, he currently holds the Seastone Chair so his authority is legitimized. Daenerys and I still need to work out the kinks of our agreement, but that agreement can't be realized if I stay here.”

“I just hope I can join you two in working out those kinks.” Ellaria said.

I ain't fucking Daenerys unless Jon says I can.

“Nah, I don't think you'd much enjoy the nuances of succession. Come with me to my cabin.” Yara said, she tried to hide her slight annoyance.

The pair boarded the ship, then strolled down to the captain's cabin. Ellaria gazed at all of the weapons displayed. Yara locked the cabin door.

“I'm glad you invited me in here, I have something for you I couldn't whip up out front of any prying eyes.” Ellaria said, then hiked her leg on the bedpost and lifted her skirt. An oblong leather pouch was attacked to her garter.

“Oh my, this is a gift to remember!” Yara said as Ellaria undid the drawstring and pulled out a dildo carved of jade.

“Something to remember me by.” Ellaria said as she handed the toy to Yara.

“Whenever I'm in need of a good climax I'll use this and remember our good times. I must return the favor. Check under my pillow.” Yara said.

“Oh my, this is a fine piece.” Ellaria said as she flipped the pillow and found an oak dildo. She put it inside the garter pouch.

“Now you have a little keepsake as well. You know me, I don't fuck my crew. But when I'm feeling randy and can't wait for port, I use this. Now I have a replacement.” Yara said then planted a loud, wet kiss on Ellaria lips. Their tongues swirled around as Yara pinched Ellaria's nipples and Ellaria grabbed Yara's ass.

“Farewell, you salty bitch.” Ellaria said.

“And farewell to you, you cheeky slut. I'll be back sooner or later. Probably sooner, I doubt Dorne will be at peace for long. Its a matter of time before Cersei has the Golden Company invade, and who knows what house will take control of the Reach. Let's pray its one that will honor Olenna's fealty to Daenerys.” Yara said.

Yara unlocked the door, and escorted Ellaria off the ship. Once Ellaria was out of sight, Yara got back on board and started giving out orders to her crew.

Chapter Text

Sansa stood next to the Queen, with a member of the Kingsguard right behind them. The crowd gathered gave a cacophonous blend of boos and shouting, evidently they wanted blood. She tried to look strong as the prisoner was brought forth, Father. Bells from the Great Sept of Balor ominously knelled as he was brought before King Joffrey. A large raven perched on a statue along with several doves and pigeons.

“I am Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Hand of the King.” Father said then looked at Sansa. She nodded. “I have come before you to confess my treason, in the sight of gods and men. I betrayed the faith of my king, and the trust of my friend Robert. I swore to protect and defend his children, but before his blood was cold I plotted to murder his son and seize the throne for myself.” Before he could continue the mob threw eggs and rotten fruit at him.

“Let the High Septon, and Baelor the Blessed bear witness to what I say. Joffrey Baratheon is the one true heir to the Iron Throne, by the grace of all the gods, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.” Father continued, the crowd demanded his head.

“As we sin, so do we suffer. This man has confessed his crimes in sight of gods and men! The gods are just, but the Beloved Baelor taught us they can also be merciful! What is to be done with this traitor, Your Grace?” The Grand Maester asked in his sleazy tone. The crowd demanded Father's head even louder.

“My mother wishes me to let Lord Eddard join the Night's Watch, stripped of all lands and titles, he would serve the Realm in permanent exile; and My Lady, Sansa, has begged mercy for her father. But they've the soft hearts of women! So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished! Ser Illyn, bring me his head!” Joffrey roared.

“No! No! No!” Sansa and Cersei begged to Joffrey for him to reverse his order. It was too little, too late. Ser Illyn swung Ice and Father was dead.

“Fuck!” Sansa said as she woke up in a cold sweat. She could hear morning chorus of robins, thrushes, warblers, and finches. After stretching her limbs, she got out of bed and put on a mink robe. The drapes were open, and the bright winter sun helped bring her comfort. She poured herself a glass of Arbor Gold and lit some pine incense. The aroma of pine trees soothed her nostrils, and brought back pleasant memories of life before Robert came to Winterfell.

Falling asleep was always a gamble for Sansa. Sometimes she would get the rest she needed, other times she would be transported back to countless traumas she had endured. Years of uncertainty caused her mind to grow muddled and confused, with her memory so weak she often questioned if many things ever occurred at all.

I wonder if Cersei has received my letter yet. Gods I hope this gamble with pay off. Cersei has never been one for reliability, but at least once she cared more about the future of the North than Daenerys ever could. She wanted Father to live, Daenerys would have fed him to her scaly bastards while Jon was asleep. I pray that both queens will be eliminated.

Knock! Knock!

Sansa walked up to the peephole and saw Bran. A maid was pushing his wheelchair. Sansa opened the door then the maid pushed him in and left, Sansa locked the door.

“Good morning, brother.” Sansa said as she sat down on a divan.

“I'm not your brother anymore, remember?” Bran said.

Seven hells, I wish he would stop this raven bullshit. Whether he seriously believes it or not, the least he can do is humor people.

“Sorry, I kinda forgot. I don't remember things as well as I used to.” Sansa said.

“I never forget a thing. Even if I did, I can always go back and relive it.” Bran said.

“Why would you want to do that?” Sansa asked.

“There are many reasons. To relive past experiences with new wisdom, maybe see things from a different angle in order to learn uncover more details. To experiences things I wasn't present at the first time, with the obvious benefits.” Bran said.

“I suppose I was being a bit silly. Forgive me, its just that whenever I relive an experience they are unpleasant ones. Just this morning I had a dream about Father's death. Better than the other ones I usually have.” Sansa said.

“You looked so brave on that day. You should take pride in how well you conducted yourself. Arya too.” Bran said.

“Arya? She was there?” Sansa asked.

“Correct. She hid behind a statue, she wanted to see your father's very last moments but a Wandering Crow shielded her virgin eyes. She had her hand on her blade, she was ready to fight. You are both very brave, just in different ways.” Bran said.

I suppose we are. She said we are strong in different ways as well.

“I love Arya with all my heart, but I'm worried that Daenerys has poisoned her. I have no doubt Jon was poisoned, ever since he left for Dragonstone he's been thinking with the wrong head as men often do. Arya has always had a soft spot for him, and I think that made her vulnerable to succumb to his mistress.” Sansa said.

“You seem jealous of Daenerys. She has an army and the adoration of lords and smallfolk alike. Now she and Arya are growing quite fond of one another.” Bran said.

Yes, they certainly are. Suspiciously fond if you ask me.

“I'm not jealous of her or anyone else. I just don't appreciate those who seek to undermine all I have worked for. I'm the one who made Jon King-In-The-North and him us succeed from the Seven Kingdoms, yet that thick-browed vamp sweet talked him into pissing on all that.” Sansa said.

“Sansa, I know what you did.” Bran said.

“What did I do? I'm rather perplexed.” Sansa asked.

“That little letter you wrote to Cersei. No sense in denying it, you won't fool me. Did you really think I wouldn't see it?” Bran asked.

“I feared someone would see it.” Sansa said.

“You have no need to worry. Cersei was going to tell every Great Lord, but Qyburn spoke some sense into her. I need Daenerys out of the way as well, for my own purposes. Just not yet. She is essential for the task at hand.” Bran said.

What are his plans? Almost sounds like he wants the Iron Throne for himself, yet he acts like he doesn't want anything. Everything is growing curiouser and curiouser. Asking would be too risky. So long as he won't prevent my goals I won't worry about his.

“And what task would that be?” Sansa asked.

“Defeating the Army of the Dead. We need her and her forces to accomplish that, and to defeat Cersei. I hope you aren't expecting her to honor her promise to grant the North independence. Even if she wanted to that would be a move to foolhardy even for her kind.” Bran said.

“I'm not, I'm hoping it won't come to that. But I know I will never be Queen-In-The-North so long as Daenerys lives.” Sansa said.

“You are right about that. Far too many people think politics is like a boxing or wrestling match, its nothing like that. Politics is a game of cyvasse, each player has many pieces on the table, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Every move must be calculated, and every turn of the opponent must be anticipated. That is why your father failed, he had no mind to predict what his opponents planned. He was much too honest. But you are not your father.” Bran said.

“No, I certainly am not.” Sansa said.

“I'm going to go now. I need to protect Daenerys and the rest of them on their ride back to Winterfell. Goodbye, Sansa.” Bran said, then his eyes frosted over.

Sansa poured herself another glass of wine and strolled out onto the bedchamber balcony and looked at the clouds. She was baffled by the entire conversation and all that had occurred in the past week.

Chapter Text

The better part of the morning for Qyburn was spent distributing propaganda across King's Landing. Few alleys or tavern bulletin boards were left without some Gray Gosling tract or wood block poster. He wore canvas trousers, a leather jerkin, and woolen cloak to disguise himself, most in the city knew all too well Cersei kept the company of a dismissed Maester. One poster depicted a monstrously large Dothraki on top of a burning sept, with a bloody arakh in one hand and a screaming naked woman in another. The caption read “Destroy this mad brute! Join the Gold Cloaks!

One table of patrons were playing the Braavos lottery, betting by placing tokens on a board of images. A reader drew cards and call out the image on them.

“The magister! The bravo! The apple! The courtesan! The Titan! The songbird!” And so on the reader called out.

“I ain't no supporter of Cersei, but that Gray Gosling has me convinced she's still better than that dragon queen. The she-devil we know is better than the she-devil we don't, that's the way I see it.” Said a barkeep as Qyburn nailed a poster to the bulletin board. The barkeep had a handlebar mustache, immaculate white apron, and was wiping the counter down.

I've got local businesmen on my side, most excellent. They'll no doubt share their newfound views to all their patrons.

“He does make a good case for that.” Qyburn said.

“What can I get for you today?” The barkeep asked.

“Its a tad early for anything strong for me, and I need to keep a clear head. Just tea, thank you.” Qyburn replied as he sat on a stool.

“Black or green?” The barkeep asked.

“Black.” Qyburn replied.

“Whenever a ship comes in that's been to Volantis or Yi Ti I always send my most buxom barmaid to purchase as much tea as she can.” The barkeep said as he poured Qyburn a cup. The cup and saucer were fine Yi Ti ware with blue lotuses.

“Why the most buxom?” Qyburn asked as he blew his tea to cool it a bit.

“She gets the best deals!” The barkeep said and laughed.

“I don't doubt it.” Qyburn said then took a sip. “So tell me, what's the latest gossip around town?” Qyburn tossed the barkeep a gold dragon.

“I'd have told you for free, but I ain't complaining about this. Business has been booming since the Golden Company arrived. Folks ain't too happy about a good deal of them leaving to invade the Riverlands, but I still think the coin will flow. If anything we had too many of their kind around, now it will be easier to accommodate them.” The barkeep replied.

“Ah yes, I'm glad we still have some of them staying here. Having the rest establish a foothold in the Riverlands could very well stop the Targaryen upstart dead in her tracks. I've heard plenty about the Golden Company. Any other news?” Qyburn asked.

“Aye. Some Dornish vagrants have made camp on the outskirts of the city. Great musicians, and they sell lots of fine items. Orphans, I think they're called. Folks are complaining they're tricksters and thieves, but I haven't had any problems with the few who've come in here. I don't care where anyone got their money, as long as they pay me it. Nobody likes the Dornish anyway, and these Dornishmen were apparently too Dornish for even Dorne.” The barkeep said and shrugged.

Orphans of the Green Blood? I didn't think they'd ever abandon their beloved river. Then again their settled and fairer skinned cousins look down on them, perhaps they decided to go where they are exotic outsiders and not an embarrassing remnant of the past.

“Most curious indeed. Do you know where I can find them?” Qyburn asked.

“There should be some set up at the Fishmonger's Square market. They usually have a few of their wagons out, those look like converted riverboats so they're unmistakable.” The barkeep replied and hung up some freshly cleaned mugs.

“Obliged. I think I'll pay them a visit.” Qyburn said as he finished his tea and tossed the barkeep a copper star.

Qyburn got up and strolled down to Fishmonger's Square. Stalls sold canned fruits, pickled vegetables, furs, winter garments, snow gear, and other seasonal fare. Food and drink vendors sold items such as mulled wine, hot toddies, roasted chestnuts, and oyster skewers. Qyburn's eyes were peeled for the Orphan caravan, and he could soon hear Dornish music.

As he followed the music it grew louder, and he could see the musicians. They were a large band, instruments they played included a portable organ, flute, drone pipe, drums, hammered dulcimer, sitar, and numerous other stringed instruments Qyburn recognized from Essos but did not know the names of. The Orphans dressed up in colorful wool attire with fur cloaks over them; the men wore shirts and flared trousers, while the women wore flowing dresses. Market goers tossed them copper stars and the more affluent merchants gave silver stags.

Their wagons were just as the barkeep described them – flat bottomed houseboats modified with wheels. Pairs of water buffaloes pulled the wagons, they wore brightly collored harnesses with intricate beadwork. Each wagon had a different vendor in front of it; items sold included pottery, shoes, jewelry, glassware, and sand steeds. Some customers haggled with the vendors, while others elected to barter with their own goods.

Nobody is in front of the last wagon, wonder why that is.

“Excuse me, but why is there nobody in front of the last wagon? Seems odd you would bring more wagons into the city than you needed.” Qyburn asked an Orphan selling candles.

“You really think we are so daft?” The Orphan asked.

“A thousand pardons, I meant no offense.” Qyrburn replied.

“That wagon is home to our diviner, Tendua. She prefers to ply her trade in private, just her and her clients.” The Orphan said.

“Perhaps she should park her wagon in the Street of Silks.” Qyburn said wryly.

“I know not where that is.” The Orphan said.

“I think I will pay Tendua a visit.” Qyburn said then headed inside the wagon.

Frankincense and myrrh filled the air inside. Tendua was a lithe woman in a hooded, mulberry colored robe; over her robe was a leopard print cloak with a tortoise shell pin. She wore a necklace of leopard claws and her ears were pierced with the the cat's fangs. The wagon was decorated with idols of Rhoynish deities long forsook by the their Andalized kin. Qyburn recognized the Old Man of the River, Mother Rhoyne, and the death goddess the Dornish passed off as the Stranger. The Old Man was anthropomorphic tortoise carved of emerald, while Mother Rhoyne was a full figured woman carved of lapis lazuli. The Stranger was carved of onyx, instead of the usual scythe she wielded an executioner's scimitar, she wore a necklace of pearl skulls.

“Come to learn your future?” Tendua asked.

“No not my own. I'm not just any passerby.” Qyburn said then pulled out his Hand of the Queen badge from his pocket.

“You're that expelled Maester that Cersei has a taken in?” Tendua asked.

“Correct, I am Qyburn. I would like for you to visit Queen Cersei. She has been acting rather erratically lately and I think you could give her much needed guidance.” Qyburn replied.

“Do you want to her to hear what my cards say, or what you have to say? The latter is double.” Tendua asked.

“The latter. I want you to convince her to listen to my every suggestion. Lately she seems a bit questioning, and if it goes unchecked I could be at best out of the job.” Qyburn replied, then tossed her a few gold dragons.

“You are most generous. Very well, you can consider it done.” Tendua said as she dexterously caught the coins and pocketed them.

“Time to put up your closed sign, I'll escort you to the Red Keep.” Qyburn said, then the two left the wagon and headed to the Red Keep.

Chapter Text

The Tower of Ghosts certainly lived up to its name. Of all the five towers in Harrenhall it was the most ruined. The top was long gone and most of the walls were missing, exposing a weathered and cracked but still largely intact spiral staircase green from moss and lichen. Nearly into the clouds the staircase reached, with an eagle's nest atop the abrupt end.

In front of the tower was a sept, that had been long abandoned until Ser Bonnifer became castellan. His men were the Holy Hundred, a century of knights famed for their devotion to the Seven, and they eagerly carried out his order to renovate the sept. The walls were rebuilt, the interior mended, and the roof replaced. Local craftsmen were hired to repaint and restore the chipped and faded alabaster images of the Seven.

Among the Seven was an intruder: the Drowned God. Harrenhall was built by King Harren the Black of House Hoare, a ruthless Ironborn who ruled an empire that included the Iron Islands, most of the Riverlands, Bear Island, and holdings in the Reach. Harren converted to the Faith for political purposes but added the Drowned God to make Eight, a heresy which outraged orthodox followers of both faiths. Bonnifer had the image of the Drowned God burned. Once all the plaster was ash, the iron skeleton was melted down to scraps for blacksmiths.

“Ser Bonnifer, you've received a letter from Most Holy Moishe and another from Ser Jaime Lannister!” A Poor Fellow said. When King Tommen revived the Faith Militant, the Holy Hundred were initiated into the Sons of the Warrior. The Sons were knights, and their companion order were the Poor Fellows, monks and septas of low birth. At Harrenhall there were four hundred Poor Fellows, they and the Holy Hundred became the only members of the Faith Militant alive after Cersei's unspeakable crimes against the Faith.

Bonnifer and all the Holy Hundred wore silver colored plate armor, over which they wore rainbow gradient cloaks with silver pins shaped like seven pointed stars. Their great helms were adorned with crests of seven crystal spikes, and their weapons had crystal pommels carved into seven pointed stars. Underneath it all they wore hair shirts, a humble reminder of their service to the gods. The Poor Fellows dressed far more simply, they wore chainmail or gambesons beneath black robes charged with a large red starburst. Male and female members alike shaved their heads for humility. The official weapon of the Poor Fellows was a mace with a seven pointed head, but many fought with axes, spears, cleavers, falchions, and whatever else they could afford or find.

At last, we'll know the situation in the North.

“Go ahead and give it to me.” Bonnifer said as he stood up from the Father's altar and faced the Poor Fellow. The Poor Fellow handed him the scrolls and left.

 

Ser Bonnifer Hasty, I regret to inform you that the situation up here is dire. The Dead are on the prowl, and I'm afraid the Others are no myth; for I have seen them with my own eyes. I am writing to you from New Castle, we are resting from battle and should be on our way back to Winterfell by the time you read this. We managed to take out a few Others and their wights with them, but not before losing many good men.

The Army of the Dead is a true abomination from the Seven, and I believe it would be most fitting if the Faith Militant came to fight them. I understand perhaps that is not feasible for you, but I beg you to consider it.

Moishe, Most Holy of the North.

P.S. We lost many good women as well.

 

“Are you alright, ser? You look nauseated.” Lady Shella Whent asked. She was the the last surviving member of House Whent, which made her the de facto Lady of Harrenhall. Her dress and hat were made of black bear fur, over it was a cloth-of-gold cloak with an ebony pin carved like a bat. She wore her snow white hair in a chignon with a jet hairpin and carried an ebony cane with a handle carved in the shape of a fruit bat's head.

“Not quite, My Lady. It seems the situation with the Dead is every bit as dire as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen claimed. Here, see for yourself. I'm going to read the other letter.” Bonnifer said as he handed her the letter and broke the seal on Jaime's.

 

Ser Bonnifer, I know that the Most Holy intends to write to you. No doubt he will urge you to join the fight against the Dead, I am writing you so you may consider an alternative and weigh your options. I appointed you castellan of Harrenhall because you an honest man and none would dare question your honor.

Cersei's crimes against the Faith are unforgivable to any devout worshiper, and I have no doubt she is aware the Holy Hundred has controlled the fortress as a rogue entity ever since. The Great Houses have no love for Cersei, but the apparent extinction of House Tully has left a power vacuum. Establishing control of the Riverlands would be a logical next step for her, especially since that would halt the Targaryen campaign should the Dead be defeated. She now has the Golden Company on her side, and an undefended Harrenhall should greatly assist them.

I'm sure you have a distaste for gambling, but alas these trying times force you to gamble. Should you go North, you and your men may make a great difference against the Dead; but the Golden Company will no doubt seize Harrenhall. Should you remain at your station, you may be able to hold off the Golden Company until reinforcements check them; but who holds Harrenhall will be trivial should the Dead defeat us and march south. Either decision runs the risk of your forces being obliterated.

I must give full disclosure and admit I have bent the knee to Daenerys, Ser Jorah invited me to join her Queensguard and I accepted. She is no pious woman, she believes in the gods but has faith in only herself. Regardless I believe she is just and honest and I know she has a profound respect for the faiths of her subjects.

It's all in your hands, I pray that you will make the best choice.

Jaime.

 

“Oh heavens, sounds like its a matter of time before the Dead are in the Riverlands!” Lady Whent said with shrill alarm.

“So it seems, so it seems. Regrettably Jaime has informed me he's convinced Cersei will order the Golden Company to assault Harrenhall, in order to gain a foothold in the Riverlands.” Bonnifer said with a solemn sigh.

“What are you going to do?” Lady Whent asked.

“I'm not ready to make a decision just yet. This is not a decision to be made lightly. And you?” Bonnifer asked.

“I'm staying here. I've stayed here through five wars, dating back to when being a member of House Whent actually meant something. I can't imagine the Golden Company is any worse than those Bloody Mummers.” Lady Whent replied.

That's like saying the average peasant is more devout than Tywin or Stannis.

“Nor I, but they are vastly larger and better organized.” Bonnifer said.

“What do you think of the Targaryen lass?” Lady Whent asked.

“I think she's our only hope against both the Death and Cersei.” Bonnifer said.

“From what I've heard she is quite the hussy, does that bother a pious man such as yourself?” Lady Whent asked.

“She's allegedly promiscuous, so what? Every woman who is powerful gets such rumors about her. I knew damn well about Renly's proclivities, I bent the knee to him regardless because I felt he was the best contender for the Iron Throne and the only one who would defend the faith. When he died I sided with Stannis because I thought he was the next best choice, at the time the fire worshiping was just a means to an end. If she is anything like her mother she'll make a fine leader.” Bonnifer said.

“Poor Rhaella, she and Aerys didn't deserve one another.” Lady Whent said.

“Ask anyone who the last good king was, and they'll say the second Jahaerys without hesitation. If you ask me he was a damned fool for having those to wed, the consequences negated all the good he did. Just like when Stannis burned his poor daughter.” Bonnifer said.

“You loved her, didn't you?” Lady Whent asked.

“Aye, that I did. Perhaps I'm biased, but she deserved anyone but Aerys. My house is far too minor to marry into royalty anyway.” Ser Bonnifer said.

“I pray that Daenerys is like her mother, or at very least nothing like her father or brothers.” Lady Whent said.

“As do I.” Bonnifer said.

“What is your first course of action?” Lady Whent asked.

“I'm going to present these letters to the senior members of the Holy Hundred and Poor Fellows. We will put it to a vote.” Bonnifer said, then got up and left the sept.

Chapter Text

On the trip back to Winterfell Daenerys flew on Drogon, while Jon chose instead to ride on one of the Manderly ships along the White Knife. He stayed in a cabin for most of it, watching the outside through the window. Arya was there with him, she had boarded wearing a face to hide her presence. She sat on the bed while he stood.

He always looks so tense, but something seems to be weighing on him heavily today.

“Forgive me if I've been a bit aloof, this morning was the first time I had to execute somebody I considered a friend.” Jon said.

“Brood away!” Arya said and giggled.

“I'm sorry for underestimating you earlier, I was just trying to protect you. Your first real battle is always the deadliest. I didn't want you in danger before it was absolutely necessary. Now I know you can carry yourself in battle. With a face, anyway.” Jon said.

“Its quite alright, you're protective of me. That's who you are. And it was necessary, everyone who can fight must be involved. Maester Luwin said 'a single grain of rice can tip the scale, one man can mean the difference between victory and defeat.' I told him 'or one woman,' he grudgingly agreed. Good thing Septa Mordane didn't hear it.” Arya said.

“So how did your bath go with Dany?” Jon asked.

“Wonderful, just lovely. We had a great time. Lots of good conversation.” Arya replied.

“About what? Not girl stuff, I'd wager. Unless you sought to humor her.” Jon said.

“No, not girl stuff. Heehee!” Arya said.

“Hope you didn't have one of your wolf dreams last night.” Jon said jokingly.

“Nope, sure didn't. Good thing too, I wouldn't want to bite her or drool on her. She woke me up from my most recent of those dreams.” Arya said.

“You didn't want to bite her? Too bad you didn't extend that courtesy to Sansa when you two were little! Maybe your wolf dreams will be put to good use one day.” Jon said.

“She said you were a bastard!" Arya said.

"I know what she said, I hope you don't still assault people for telling the truth. Or what they think is the truth." Jon said.

"I expected to sleep on the divan, it was very sweet of you to.” Arya said.

“I would have felt wrong having you sleep on that. I wanted for you both to be comfortable. I'm accustomed to sleeping in a hard, freezing bed.” Jon said.

“And a year ago I would have killed to sleep on a nice divan. You're so thoughtful, Dany is a very lucky woman and she knows it.” Arya said.

Jon smiled warmly and sat down next to Arya. He wrapped his arm around her; she kissed his cheek, then rested her head on his shoulder.

“No, I'm the lucky one. All my life I've just wanted to belong to something greater than myself. When I realized I could never be a true Stark I took the black, when I realized most of my brothers did not accept me I took up with Mance Rayder. When I left home I went from one way point to the next, hoping this would where I would belong. You were the only one who made me felt like I belonged; the others accepted me as their brother, but still a half brother, still a bastard. To you I was nothing more than your brother.” Jon said.

Here come the tears, I rarely see him actually cry.

“You got it all wrong. You are nothing less than my brother. But yes, you are lucky. You both are.” Arya said as he brushed away his tears with her fingers.

“You are nothing less than my sister. My baby sister and my dearest friend.” Jon said. He stood up then picked her up in a bear hug. When her back crackled he sat her down, rustled her hair, then kissed her forehead, just as he always did during any tender moment.

“When Father accepted his office as Hand I was so green. I honestly expected that he would serve for a couple of years, step down, then we would return to Winterfell and everything would return to normal. Then he died, and he realized our world was gone. My mum wanted you to go with us to King's Landing, Father refused. He said it was no place for a bastard, but now we really know why reason why he said no.” Arya said as Jon sat back down.

“Even if he approved, I still would've went to the Wall. I was dead set on it. Looking back it was selfish of me, you didn't deserve to have me abandon you like that. And you're right, there is no going back. Normalcy isn't reality, its only a smokescreen.” Jon said.

“Would you go back to before all this happened, if given the chance? I know I sure would. No doubt about it.” Arya asked.

“Yes, in a heartbeat. I want our old life back. I wish I could be excited about the life I might build with Dany, but there's too much uncertainty. We don't even know if any of us will survive this war. Nothing is guaranteed. The past has a certainty in it that makes me miss it. The simple things I miss the most, a shame I took them for granted at the time. I miss how we used to play outside when we were full of life, and full of love.” Jon said with melancholy.

“So do I. I miss picking insects of plants, not having any time to think of consequences. Those memories are faded now, its like looking through a fogged mirror. But its not all gone. We're still full of love.” Arya said. Jon kissed her forehead again.

“You're right. We're family, we're together again.” Jon said.

“And I'm glad Dany has joined our family. Its an honor to call her my sister.” Arya said.

“And its an honor to call you mine.” Jon said, then got up and looked out the window again.

Chapter Text

Just as she did with so many other things, Cersei had begun to eat only in the royal solar of Maegor's Holdfast. Eating in the banquet hall would let her guard down, and she could barely stand to see courtiers during throne room sessions as it was already. All her meals were prepared in full view of a Kingsguard member, lest any cooks on the payrolls of Tyrion or any other enemy poison her. On this afternoon she broke her fast with a charcuterie plate, buttered toast with apricot jam, and mulled wine. The charcuterie was primarily wild boar, a meat Cersei took a perverse joy in eating.

To think my fat buffoon of a husband was killed by such a delicious beast, a true shame he wasn't left to be eaten by it.

There was a knock on the door. “It is I!” Qyburn's voice said.

“I've been waiting for you. Come in!” Cersei said.

“Good afternoon, Your Grace. I have distributed all of the propaganda for you. My little birds throughout the city will report back to me in a week about how the public responds to what has been distributed. That will inform the next batch. I am also pleased to report the Golden Company is so popular that many businesses are disappointed a good chunk will be leaving for the Riverlands. That is testimony that our disinformation campaign is working.” Qyburn said.

“Most excellent. And have you procured food for my new pride?” Cersei asked.

“I have indeed. I managed to buy expired meat from several butchers, outbidding the pot shops. There will be deliveries shortly. I also bought a jar of sardine oil, which should encourage them to eat whatever you wish far better than any perfume.” Qyburn said.

“That's not saying much. We tried dousing that Varys informant with perfume and all the lions did was slobber on him. We had to have a Gold Cloak waste a crossbow bolt on the spy for them to realize he was food. Anything else?” Cersei asked.

“That is all I have to report, but there is someone I have brought for you to meet. Tendua! Come in!” Qyburn said. A slender woman with dusky skin walked in. She wore a mulberry robe and leopard fur cloak, around her neck was a pendant of a woman made of lapis lazuli.

“Greetings, Queen Cersei. I am Tendua.” The woman said, she had a Dornish accent thicker than even Oberyn or his whore.

She's dressed no differently than the whores at that brothel Robert, father, and Tyrion loved so much. Does Qyburn think my previous indiscretions in Myrish swamps indicate another would cheer me up? Certainly not from a woman with talons like hers.

“Tendua has come her to look into your future, so that you may see the shape of things to come and act accordingly. With my counsel, of course.” Qyburn said.

“And here I was thinking you were introducing me to a new mistress. I saw a fortune teller once, when I was little. She warned me about how treacherous my brother is, and the coming of the dragon bitch. Another fortune teller is just what I need.” Cersei said.

“I'm no fortune teller. I'm a diviner!” Tendua said.

“Why so pedantic? You look into the future and tell clients what you see. Do you not?” Cersei asked then took a bit of an olive.

“Fortune tellers are mere conjurers of cheap tricks, but those who practice divination speak for the divine; hence the term.” Qyburn said.

“Very well. That sounds better I suppose. Now before we begin, who is it that you wear around your neck?” Cersei asked.

“The Mother.” Tendua replied.

“The Mother? That's most queer. Then why is she blue?” Cersei asked.

“We Orphans think it improper to portray the gods as one of us.” Tendua replied.

“Not suprizing, considering you lot worship turtles.” Cersei said.

“Tortoises!” Qyburn said. “Granted some maesters classify them as a type of turtle.”

“If you are finished with your questions we can start, but first I need my payment. A dozen gold dragons upfront.” Tendua said.

Is that the going rate for diviners? Maggy the Frog only charged a single star. Of course I was not queen then. I can't complain about the price, nobody need know about our debts.

“Here is my coin purse, pull out the owed payment.” Cersei said as she handed the crimson coin purse to Qyburn.

Cersei got up and walked to the other side of the table. Tendua placed three candles, a curvy knife, a bundle of dried herbs, and a deck of cards on the table. She pulled a slender twig of yew and lit it at the solar's fireplace, she used this to light the candles. The herb bundle was set ablaze with the candles, then Tendua swirled it around the room, leaving a trail of sweet smelling smoke as she chanted in Rhoynish.

“I hope you aren't afraid of blood.” Tendua said.

“I am not. The fortune teller I saw had me draw blood for her.” Cersei answered.

“Good. Give me your hand.” Tendua said.

Cersei complied and it was pricked with the knife. Once their was a sufficient amount of blood on the blade, Tendua flicked it off onto the table. Plumes of smoke were blown onto blood in order to dry and solidify it.

“You don't seem upset about this.” Tendua said.

“How observant of you. No, I am not upset in the least. And why should I be? It's nothing that the servants couldn't take care of.” Cersei replied.

“Alright, the ritual is primed. Time for the divining.” Tendua said.

Tendua tied on a blindfold and picked up the deck of cards. She shuffled them then placed a stack of half a dozen face down onto the dried blood, weighed down by a seer stone.

This is far more complex than what Maggy did. That fortune teller was damn good, so this diviner must be even better.

Tendua took off her blindfold and put on a pair of Myrish spectacles, one lens was red while the other was green. “Let's see what I drew. Oh my. The Fool, the Stranger, the Lady of Blades, the High Septon, the Hermit, Queen, the Lady of Cups.” Tendua said as she sorted through the drawn cards. The cards were drawn in the style of Dornish miniature paintings.

“What does it mean? I had no idea cards could be used for anything but gaming. Seems more sophisticated than tea leaves or palmistry.” Cersei said then took a drink of wine.

“There are four ladies and four lords in every deck, but only one King and one Queen. When the King or Queen is drawn with multiple lords and ladies it reminds us that there can be many nobles, but only one monarch. This pertains to your rivalry with Daenerys. The Stranger indicates that soon war, famine, plagues, or some admixture will soon arrive, in our case it is the Army of the Dead. The Fool appears to be clueless but it is a ruse, this reminds us to never underestimate friend nor foe. As for the High Septon the meaning depends on the other cards, here it reminds you that you have overcome foes others deemed unbeatable. Finally there is the Hermit, who symbolizes wisdom and will gladly provide guidance to all those who seek him.” Tendua said.

“The fortune teller I saw told me I would be queen for a time, but warned me a new queen would come. She was to be younger and more beautiful than I, and would strike me down and take everything I hold dear. This has informed my relationships with every woman my junior. When I met that silver bushed usurper I knew it was her. Maggy implied defeat was inevitable, yet you have provided me with a path to victory. Thank you, Tendua. I will match your fee and write a certificate of royal patronage for you.” Cersei said, walked over to the writing desk.

“Thank you, Your Grace. You are most kind.” Tendua said.

“You're welcome. And thank you, Qyburn. You have once again proven your value to me.” Cersei said.

“No need to thank me. I'm just doing my job.” Qyburn said humbly.

Chapter Text

Every month brought a few days of turmoil and paranoia for Sarella. The Citadel was a boy's club, always had been, and she feared what would happen should her little secret be exposed. She would always take care to burn her blood rags on a brazier when nobody was looking, and prayed nobody would come by before the stench had cleared.

Her heritage also made her stand out, she had her father's Dornish nose but the rest of her features were that of her Summer Islander mother. The Citadel had Maesters and Novices from across the Seven Kingdoms, a few had dark features from Essosi ancestors but none were half as dark as she. No matter where she went she stood out.

“I wonder how Sam is doing.” Said Pate, a Novice who was a friend. Pate was a fat, pale boy from the Westerlands. They sat in the upper floor of the Quill & Tankard, a half-timbered tavern in Old Town proper. Half of the patronage came from the Citadel, the rest was a hodgepodge of merchants, sailors, longshoremen, and guards. Pate drank cider while Sarella had palm wine. A quintet of an organist, drummer, harpist, flautist, and lutenist played a chivalric ballad. Novices pored over books and quizzed eachother to prepare for examinations, while other patrons played cyvasse, dominoes, liar's dice, and card games.

“I received a letter from him. It seems those books we helped him procure have much valuable information, but he was pretty vague about it.” Sarella said.

“Sam always seemed a tad secretive. But we all have something to hide. Eh, Alleras?” Pate said and laughed.

I wonder if he knows, or if anyone else does.

“Here are your pretzels! Good to see you, Alleras! Rosy will be excited to know you're here.” Emma said with a wink. Emma was a fleshy barmaid who remained popular with patrons in spite of, or perhaps because of, her middling age. Sarella tipped Emma with a bronze star, while Pate paid with an iron coin from Braavos.

“You always get so nervous around Rosy! Almost like you don't like the ladies, haha! Doesn't matter either way, if we take our vows we aren't getting any cunt or cock.” Pate said, then took a bite of his pretzel.

He sure is right about that.

“So what do you think about Lord Hightower declaring for Cersei?” Sarella asked, then took a nervous bite of hers.

“I'm a Westermen, I know about the Lannisters better than most anyone. They are the most conniving, backstabbing lot. Cersei seems to be the worst of them. I remember hearing whispers about her and Jaime growing up. There's all sorts of rumors that have never been proven. Apparently Casterly Rock has a lion's den, but the last of them died about twenty years ago. Some say that Tywin would feed dissidents to them, dead or alive was always a subject of vigorous debate. No fucking clue if it's true, but I'd put nothing past him. So hearing today's declaration was pretty shocking, what do you think about it?” Pate replied.

“From what I've read the Hightowers always resented the Tyrells because Aegon chose the Tyrells over them to replace the Gardeners. As do many other Reach houses I can't say I blame them; so many ancient First Men lines, must have been infuriating to bend the knee to recent Andal settlers who were merely landed knights. The Hightowers go so far as to say they aren't First Men at all, but rather settled long before the First Men arrived. Olenna bent the knee to Daenerys, so its a safe assumption the Hightowers bent the knee to Cersei out of spite. No doubt its a ploy for Cersei to appoint them as the new Great House in the Reach.” Sarella said.

“Have you heard the latest from Dorne? Manfrey is dead and Arianne is now on the Throne, she declared for Daenerys.” Pate said. Sarella nearly choked on her palm wine.

“My cou- Arianne is still alive? I thought she was killed by Manfrey!” Sarella said.

“Apparently not. According to the announcement that was sent out -” Pate started to say, but he was interrupted by the clanking of a Maester's chain behind him.

“Good day to you, Sphinx and Pig Boy!” The Maester said. Sphinx was a moniker used by Sarella to address questions about her identity and blood. Pig Boy was reference to Pate's namesake, a trickster folk hero named Spotted Pate; an epithet that usually infuriated Pate.

Sarella and Pate nodded.

“The Seneschal would like to have a chat with you, Sphinx.” The Maester said.

Fuck, this can't possibly be good.

“I look forward to meeting with him.” Sarella said coolly.

“I'm sorry, but he demands that you speak with him immediately.” The Maester said.

Sarella broke out into a cold sweat. She took a last gulp of her palm wine and a bite of her pretzel, then got up and begun the long walk to see the Archmaester.

Chapter Text

They arrived back in Winterfell late in the afternoon. Arya had begged for Jon to let her ride behind him on Ghost, but Jon persuaded her not to; even wearing a face it would seem rather strange if some random soldier would ride with him. At Winterfell, Daenerys was sitting on the ramparts drinking a horn of stout while Missandei braided her hair. Lord Reed and two Unsullied flanked her, evidently substituting for the Queensguard.

Jon and Arya dismounted. As they walked up the stairs, Arya discretely peeled off the face she was wearing when nobody was looking. She rolled it up and put it in the side bag she kept underneath her cloak.

“I've started to miss you two!” Daenerys said with a cheeky tone. She gave Jon an open-mouth kiss then she and Arya kissed each other's cheeks.

“Alright, I'm heading to the Godswood. I will see you three soon.” Lord Reed said.

Arya wasn't embellishing, they really do see one another as sisters. I pray that Sansa and Dany will begin to over time as well.

When Daenerys and Arya were done greeting, Jon noticed that Dany was wearing new armor. It was a suit of lizard lion armor, just like what the Crannogmen wore but blackened and the torso armor extended into a knee-length skirt. The front of the suit was made from the lizard lion's belly, and on her chest was a large Targaryen sigil etched and painted red. Over her armor she wore her blood-red cape with the silver chain and triple-head dragon pin. Her boots were knee-high, with pointed toes and silver spurs with spikes shaped like dragon claws.

“So this is the armor Lord Howland made for you!” Jon said.

“It is, I'm most satisfied with it. What do you think?” Daenerys asked.

“I love it!” Arya said.

“As do I, nobody will question your status as a warrior queen now. I've always been impressed with Crannogmen armor, so lightweight yet strong. Perfect for someone of your size and experience. Are the spurs just for show?” Jon asked.

“The Dragon Lords of Old Valyria wore enchanted silver spurs because they believed they made dragon controlling spells more powerful. They were used alongside with whips made out of behemoth leather and dragonbinder horns.” Arya said.

Gods Arya's sharp as a straight razor, I'm glad her intelligence is finally appreciated.

“Yes, Arya! Very good. These spurs aren't enchanted, I just had a local farrier make them for me. I've never seen a dragonbinder and I don't know spells of any sort, and I could never bring myself to flog my children. Thankfully my voice is all I need for them to obey me. So to answer your question Jon, yes, the spurs are just for show. Though they'll be useful when I ride my Silver.” Daenerys said as she jangled her spurs.

“I hope you won't go into battle without a helmet.” Jon said.

“I have for years, but no, not anymore. Of course not. I've commissioned Tobho to make one for me, he said he'll make it in a style that will give me a full field of view.” Daenerys said.

“Excellent, especially when you're airborne. Helmets are the most important piece of armor, but many are foolhardy enough to shun one.” Jon said.

“Not to butt in, but I'm all done with your hair!” Missandei said and held up a dragonglass mirror to Daenerys' face.

“Well done, as always. I'll have to do yours soon.” Daenerys said.

“Alright I'll head on my way.” Missandei said with a dutiful nod, then went inside.

“What does Howland need to speak to us about?” Arya asked.

“He wouldn't say, but it seems important.” Daenerys said.

“Looks like our 'plans' will be delayed even further.” Jon said.

“I'm glad you've regained your appetite, don't worry we can carry on tonight. Don't knock on our door tonight, Arya.” Daenerys said.

“I'm guessing its not tea and cakes you two are hungry for. Sorry if I interrupted anything last night.” Arya said impishly.

I was trying to be discreet, why must Dany be so blatant about our nocturnal activities? Arya is still immature with such things, it seems.

“Alright, whatever it is, we should get going. Arya, you can ride on Ghost behind Dany.” Jon said, Arya's round face lit up.

They went down the stairs and Arya and Daenerys pet Ghost and he licked them, causing them to giggle with delight. They got on Ghost, Daenerys eagerly clicked her spurs and Jon led the group down to the Godswood.

“By now I've been in the Godswood a few times, and I'm just as taken aback by its beauty as the first time.” Daenerys said as they entered into the Godswood.

Something about the atmosphere made Jon uneasy. Crows cawed in the distance, and the wind howled and made tree limbs rattle. To distract himself he would look into his lover and sister's eyes, smiling as they eagerly rode Ghost. They made it to the Heart Tree, where Howland and Bran were patiently waiting for them.

“You all fought bravely yesterday.” Bran said.

“How do you know?” Daenerys asked.

“I was there.” Bran said.

Did he warg into some beast during the battle?

“Bran has found out how to defeat the Night King.” Howland said.

“No, I have not, but I have found out where to learn how.” Bran said in his usual monotone as if nothing important was being discussed.

“Where is it?” Daenerys asked and bent her thick eyebrows upward.

“I believe my friends should tell. Perry!” Bran said.

Out of the bushes came a handful strange creatures no more than three feet tall, dressed in clothing made of woven grass. They had flat faces with pointed chins and prominent cheekbones, hair like moss, pointed ears, skin that was either blue gray or gray green, and their hands had three clawed fingers and a thumb.

Could these be, no, they can't. That would be impossible unless we entered a time loop.

“Greetings, my Common Tongue name is Perry. We are Children of the Forest.” One of them said. She was pear shaped and wore a crown of dried cattulus flowers.

“I always thought the Children were still alive. My sister told me I was one, said you stole her real sister and replaced her with me.” Arya said.

She never told me Sansa did that to her! How cruel!

“A common lie, one of many that prompted the First Men to burn our weirwoods.” Perry said.

“Bran says you know where we can go to defeat the Night King!” Jon said.

“Yes, I heard him. Our ears are far superior to yours.” Perry said.

“Where?” Jon asked, his patience was tested.

“The Isle of Faces, in the Riverlands.” Perry replied.

“I thought the Isle of Faces was just a legend, nothing more than a dull map dot with tall tales about it.” Jon said.

“I do not know what humans have said about it; but I do know that is where the Night King was created, that there are more Heart Trees there than the rest of the world combined, and that it is where the Green Men live. They will have answers. All three of you should go, Bran sadly cannot given his lameness but can just show up in his raven form. Gods be praised you have dragons, going there any other way could take long enough for the Night King to overrun Winterfell before you even reached the Isle.” Perry said.

“When should we leave?” Daenerys asked.

“At cockcrow tomorrow, ideally. Too late in the day to leave right now.” Perry answered.

Arya gave Jon and Daenerys a cheeky wink, Daenerys held back a giggle.

“But do be careful. The Isle is south of Harrenhall, and the Golden Company intends to take over that castle. Today they begin their march to the Riverlands. They cannot realize you are in that kingdom.” Bran said.

“Use the rest of today to prepare, put things in order for your absence. I wish you fortune in your journey. Farewell.” Perry said, then scurried off into the bushes.

Chapter Text

The Captain-General knew seizing Harrenhall would be no small feat, so a number of scouts were sent forth to familiarize themselves with the region. They were ordinary looking men, all of Westerosi extraction if not origin and their first language was the Common Tongue. Few would suspect them of being soldiers, they posed as peddlers and the only thing remotely exotic about them were the sand steeds they rode.

“You have fine wares, but I'm afraid I can't afford to buy anything.” A innkeeper told the scout. The innkeeper was a short woman with her brown hair in a bun. The two stood outside the inn and looked at the cart pulled by his horse. The inn was located in Gods' Eye Town, a small settlement built next to the Gods' Eye lake. Black swans swam in the pewter water, which resembled cold steel.

“Is there anyone in the area who can?” The scout asked.

“I'm afraid not, and that's the problem. I do have in my coffers to buy some, but none of my patrons can afford to drink Essosi wines at a price I can cut a profit with.” The innkeeper said with a look of disappointment.

“I'll tell you what, I'll give you a special discount. I'll slash every price in half, just for you! Then you'll be able to charge a rate patrons can buy.” The scout said.

“Surely you could find a wealthier region to sell in. Maidenpool, perhaps.” The innkeeper said.

“What about Harrentown?”

“Haven't you heard? Whole town was wiped out during the War of the Five Kings.” The innkeeper said.

“No, I hadn't. I'm not from around here. Is Harrenhall proper currently occupied? Maybe I could sell to them.” The scout asked.

“Yes, by the Faith Militant.” The innkeeper replied.

“I thought Cersei wiped them all out with her little explosion. Perhaps I'll pay them a visit, I'm sure they would like to buy some wine for their sacraments.” The scout said.

“I wouldn't go there. They have been holed up there for a few years now and I've never known them to accept any guests.” The innkeeper said.

“How many of them are there? Who is their leader?” The scout asked.

“I don't know his name, but he's an old knight who served the Baratheons apparently. He leads a group of knights called the Holy Hundred, so I suppose that's a hundred knights. There's also some monks and septas, I'm not sure how many. Why do you ask?” The innkeeper replied.

“Curious if they could even afford my wares. Sounds like they have too many mouths too feed. Something about this lake doesn't feel right. Anything special about it?” The scout asked.

“Aye, in the center of the lake is the Isle of Faces. Some say that it is the last holdout of the Children of the Forest, others that it is occupied by priests who are half man, half elk and carry out human sacrifices. I'm not sure what to make of all that, but there must be some reason nobody has went to that island and returned, not in my lifetime anyway.” The innkeeper said.

“That's very interesting. I'd like to buy a room for the night, I have a lot of ground to cover tomorrow.” The scout said as he tossed the innkeeper a few bronze stars.

“Very well, let me show you to your room.” The innkeeper said, then led him inside the inn.

Chapter Text

As soon as they passed the Sphinx Gate, the Maesters escorting Sarella left; they knew she had no choice but to dutifully stroll down to the Seneschal's Court. Outside it were Novices and Acolytes wearing dunce caps as penance for varied offenses, they were chained to desks and wore small slate chalkboards around their necks with their crimes. Each one was transcribing a book or scroll, all rather cheap ones from the looks of it.

Seven hells, I hope I don't end up being forced to wear such a stupid hat and produce copies of books so irrelevant even the most anal Maester can't be bothered with. I forged three chain links in the year I've been here, most are lucky to even forge one in that time.

“I've been summoned by the Seneschal.” Sarella said to Lorcas, who was the Gatekeeper of the Court. Lorcas was almost seventy, yet still an Acolyte with a chain of only nine links.

“Yes Alleras, I am well aware. Given the nature of the summon you will not be meeting him in the Court, but in his office instead. Go on in, you are today's last appointment.” Lorcas said with a tone of perverse amusement.

Sarella said nothing and walked into to the Court. The Seneschal's throne was located atop a dais, behind the dais was a spiral staircase. She climbed each step slower than the last, as if she was physically weighed down by the weight of her anxiety. Once she reached the top, she wiped off the sweat on her brow then pounded on the office door's heavy gold knocker. An eye appeared through the peephole, then the oaken door was opened.

“Didn't waste any time, come in.” The Seneschal said gruffly.

“I never do, as my chain can attest.” Sarella said.

The office was outfitted with Norvoshi rugs and furniture made of goldenheart wood. Windows were made of stained glass and depicted scenes representing the many disciplines of the order. The bookshelves were adorned with specimens and artifacts from as far as Beyond the Wall and Yi Ti. From the ceiling hung a mummified lizard lion and a large glass globe.

Goldenheart! Mother always told me it was a sacred tree to be used only by Summer Islanders, yet here it is. Might as well have a set of weirwood furniture to accompany it. That makes me wonder how the rest of these items were acquired.

“Sit down, Alleras..” The Seneschal said as he sat at his desk. Sarella obeyed. “Do you know what this is?” The Seneschal asked pointing to the Myrish clock behind his chair.

“Yes, its a mechanical clock. State of the art, must be from Myr.” Sarella replied.

“Good eye. Yes, it's from Myr. Had it been anywhere else it would be a sundial or water clock, maybe even just notched candle or hourglass. And do you know what this is?” The Seneschal said and pointed to a glass jar with a hirsute and deformed fetus floating in formaldehyde.

 

“Yes, that's a hybrid of a human and Brindled Man from Sothoryos. No such creature has ever lived more than a few days, most of them are miscarried. Have you brought me here to show off your latest acquisitions?” Sarella asked.

“Of course not! I'm using the clock and fetus to illustrate a point. You see, the clock only works when the springs are in their right place and all of the gears mesh together. Tweak one cog, and the whole device unravels. The Citadel is no different, and I've heard some awfully troubling reports that you are not a functional gear.” The Seneschal said.

“Such as?” Sarella asked, she strove to conceal her impatience.

“An anonymous source has told me your eating habits become rather erratic for a couple days to a week, every month. Large quantities of salt and sugar, around the second week of every month give or take. I think you know where I am going with this.” The Seneschal said.

“So I indulge a couple times a month, how is that any worse from the Maesters who always give lectures five pints deep?” Sarella asked in a desperate attempt to steer the conversation away from the matter of her gender.

“Because none of the Maesters have a woman's brain, therefore they are unclouded by the irrational thought process and emotion-driven behavior.” The Seneschal said.

Fuck, I should've known that wouldn't work.

“Before we go any further, why bring up the mongrel fetus? Do you have issue with Summer Islanders laying with Westerosi, or even to Dornishmen in general? Have you or the larger Order deemed such unions unnatural?” Sarella asked.

“No, we do not. Such an idea is preposterous. Humans are humans. Skin color is nothing more than an adaptation to climate. The Brindled Men are not humans, therefore we cannot produce viable offspring with them. The elements just don't mix well, just as a woman's nature renders her an in-viable candidate to became a Maester.” The Seneschal said.

“I've forged three chain links in a year, give me two more years and I'll have matched Lorcas; and he's been here fifty years. Surely that is evidence against either your notion that women's brains are inferior, or that I am a woman. Shall I life my robes and be done with it?” Sarella said.

“You are a bold one! I know you've a cunt and tits beneath your robes. Being a woman is one of the things that bars one from admission to the Citadel, and lying about any of them is a solid ground for expulsion. However, there is one way you can evade being expelled.” The Seneschal said, then got up and placed his veiny hands on Sarella's shoulders.

Sarella batted her eyelashes and smirked coyly. He started to kiss her. She hiked up the skirt of robes, then reached for the dagger that was sheathed on one of her garters. The blade was six inches long and the hilt was pink ivory. As he grabbed her ass she slipped a hand into his mouth and with the other sank the blade into his back. Once the blade was in, she used her free hand to grab his chain wrapped it around his neck. With both hands she strangled him. When he stopped struggling she pulled out the knife, wiped the blade off with his robes, then looked into his lifeless eyes.

Gods I've killed him. Now I have no choice but to leave this dusty institution. But what must I do right away?

Chapter Text

Daenerys showed considerable determination in learning the blade, Brienne assumed she would have no desire to take a lesson the day after a battle. That day's lesson went smoothly, Daenerys clearly took everything she was taught in prior lessons to heart. She had showed up in a newly manufactured brigandine suit made of lizard lion leather, which looked far superior than any other animal's skin. Now Daenerys truly looked like not just a queen, but a warrior; Brienne was happy to see how serious she was in becomi