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Family, Duty, Honour

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Sixth Month of 298 A.C. Black Cells, King’s Landing

Lord Eddard Stark

It was cold, so very cold here in his cell, gods alone knew why, considering it was the height of summer. But something Elbert had said when they had found him after taking the city all those years ago rang in his head. When one was facing death, one always felt the cold, it was as if the gods were simply reminding you of the mortal shackles with which you were covered in. Eddard Stark had not had any company for close on two weeks now, if he had kept the time right, truly it could have been longer and he would not have known, but it felt long enough. How he longed to see the sunlight, and to feel the wind on his face. How he longed to hold his daughters in his arms and to know and to feel once more.

He had been a fool not to expect something like this, looking back on it all, he knew he had been foolish beyond recompense and now his girls were going to pay for that. Why he had told Cersei Lannister that he knew the truth of her children’s parentage he knew not, all he knew was that it was the honourable thing to do. Pah, honour! What a frivolous concept it was, there was no honour in the south, the last of it had died with Jon Arryn, Ned had learnt that to his sorrow here in this cesspool they called a capital. He just hoped his girls would be okay, if what the eunuch had said was true, the Lannisters had not been able to find Arya, his brave fierce little she wolf had escaped, hopefully she would make it as far away from King’s Landing as possible. As for Sansa, sweet Sansa who so much injustice had been done to, gods he hoped she forgave him, he should have spoken to her instead of merely commanding her, had he learnt nothing from Lyanna?

The pain in his leg was almost too much to bear, but still he tried to think hard to keep the pain at bay, whether or not he would succeed he knew not, but all he knew was that succumbing to the pain would not be good for him. He needed to find a way to get out of this cell and to get to Sansa, but every time he thought of something he would instantly dismiss it as too risky, his daughter’s safety was paramount. Gods, if only he had had the sense to go with Renly’s suggestion, by now they could have been marshalling an army and preparing to take the city. But no his damned honour had come into play once more and it had cost him and his daughters and those who were closest to him. That little worm. Littlefinger had been right, his honour would be the death of him.

The door to his cell opened, and two burly men, guards of the gold cloaks he imagined, came into the cell and picked him up by the arms, they carried him to the wrack. Gods this again, when would the woman learn, she could not break him. They put him onto the wrack and he numbed himself. He was tied down and then the wrack was expanded as a silken voice asked. “Tell me Lord Eddard, why you committed treason?”

Ned grunted. “It was not treason, Stannis Baratheon, is the true king. Joffrey Waters is nothing but a bastard.”

The wrack tightened and Ned felt his limbs begin to howl with pain. The voice tutted. “Come now Lord Eddard, let us not play this game. Joffrey Baratheon is the true king. Stannis Baratheon is nothing but a usurper. You are a traitor.”

“Lie to yourself all you want, but Stannis Baratheon has the only claim to the throne that is right by law. Joffrey Waters, is the Kingslayer’s son.” Ned replied through gritted teeth.

He could hear the wrack tightening, and his body began to groan in protest. “Come now Lord Eddard. Be reasonable. Admit that you were conspiring to commit treason and all shall be forgiven and you may be released from this torture. No one wishes for any more harm to come to you.”

“A lie. A lie told with a voice of silk. I am not such a great fool as to believe that. The mere fact that Cersei Lannister is having me tortured shows just what she means to do with me. If I confess, I am a dead man.” Ned growls, as much from anger as to hide his pain.

The voice tuts then. “And what of your daughters Lord Eddard? You would condemn them for your stubbornness and your honour? You would become your father?”

That hit too close to home for Ned, and his hands tightened into fists. “What do you know of my father? What do you know anything? You are merely a lap dog for the Lannisters to do as they please.”

The voice hardens then. “I know enough about your father to know that he was not the man you thought he was. With his scheming and plotting, it is no wonder both your brother and sister died during the rebellion. Had he had more sense nothing would have happened and you would all have been safe.”

“No. You lie, my father was a hard man that is true, but he had honour and he was only doing what he did for the good of the family.” Ned growls, the pain in his back getting worse.

The voice laughs. “Oh my Lord Stark, how little you know. Your father was a man determined to remove the established order and he suffered for it. He and your brother lied, but of course you are no stranger to lying, are you now my lord?”

Ned freezes then, his retort caught on his tongue, the image of a tower so long ago, and one white knight left, standing there, pleading for understanding, and Ned allowing the man, the white knight to leave so he could have a chance at one last goodbye with his sister, and when she had said goodbye and breathed her last, he had held her daughter, lifeless and malformed and howled. “I do not know what you mean.” He manages to grit out, though his teeth begin chattering, his back is crying out with pain and his head is pounding.

The voice laughs once more. “Oh come now Lord Stark, we both know what you did at that tower amounted to treason. Letting the man go will come to haunt you. You knew it did, and that day is fast approaching.”

The wrack tightened and this time Ned screamed as he felt his back begin to give way, his vision began to blur and his arms and legs began to howl in protest. Lights begin to flash before him, and he sees the ghosts of all those whom he has known, his father charred and broken, Brandon choked and lifeless, Lya holding her babe, and Robert gored by a boar. His visions torment him as the pain begins to increase, and by the gods, he wants to scream, but then there is noise already and he knows not where it comes from. As he begins to see darkness grow, he passes out.

When he wakes his back is on fire, and his arms and legs feel numb to the world. He blinks slightly and knows from the darkness that he is back in his cell. “Ah good you are awake my lord.” A voice brings him back to reality and he sees a slight shape standing there.

“Who…who are you?” Ned asks.

“”Oh you cannot recognise me now can you Stark?” the voice says turning mocking.

The shape opens the door slightly and Ned sees that it is Cersei Lannister. “What do you want from me Cersei?” he asks.

“Where have your courtesies gone my lord? No Your Grace? I suppose what they say is true, the black cells truly do change a man.” The Queen Regent mocks.

“Have you come merely to gloat?” Ned asks.

The queen regent’s tone changes then. “No I have come to speak sense to you. Confess your crimes and have done with it. You need not be put through any more pain and your daughters maybe spared the harm of knowing their father is in danger.”

“You would have me give up my honour to allow your bastard to sit the throne? Do you think me mad?” Ned rasps.

“I believe you to be a man who cares for his family Stark. Or would you rather see sweet Sansa harmed?” Lannister responds.

Ned feels his blood freeze at the woman’s words. “You would not dare! Sansa is an innocent, both my girls are. You cannot harm them and still expect me to co-operate with you.”

The woman laughs softly then. “Who said they had been harmed? I am merely stating what could happen should you choose to refuse to confess. Confess your treason and you shall be allowed to take the black. Your daughters shall be spared and nothing else shall come of it.”

“Allow Sansa to go home, you do not want your son married to a traitor’s daughter, and I do not want my daughter wed to that bastard of yours.” Ned growls. He feels the slap come and smirks somewhat through the pain. “I shall wear this as a badge of honour Your Grace.”

The queen slaps him again and then says. “You would dare to question my son’s parentage when you are the one who has committed treason? Regardless, I once asked you if you loved your children, and I love mine, I will do anything to ensure they are safe. And if it means keeping your stupid little daughter in King’s Landing along with her rabid little sister than I shall do it.”

“And what of my sons?” Ned asks.

“So long as they put down their swords before coming south, they shall be pardoned. If they continue south they must be told to fight against Stannis Baratheon. Otherwise hell fire shall be in supply for them. Your wife must also return my brother, the charges against him are ludicrous at best. He would have no reason to kill your son.” Cersei Lannister sneers.

Ned looks at the woman and feels all the hate and anger he had been carrying towards her family since the rebellion begin to boil over. “No, but you would. You and your damnable Kingslayer of a brother. You would both have reason to silence my boy. And for that you shall pay.”

The queen regent laughs at that. “You are a fool to think you can threaten me Stark. The might of the Rock and the Crownlands and soon enough the Reach is behind my son. Your sons have nothing more than northern barbarians, who are little enough liked here in the south. You shall not get far, and have no evidence that either I or Jaime sent that man to kill your son. Admit defeat like a man and go north to the wall.”

Ned looks at the woman and then asks softly. “And you promise that my daughters shall be freed from their chains here? Sansa shall not marry Joffrey and Arya will be free to return home?”

The woman nods. “A Lannister always pays her debts Stark. And this is one debt I am willing to pay. Admit your treason and go north, and you will keep your head, and your daughters will be safe. Refuse to do so, and you shall all die.”

Ned is silent for a moment as he considers this, the disgust he felt during the rebellion, the horror of watching supposed knights raping and beating women and innocent children, and he remembers the words he spoke to Willam Dustin, Howland Reed and Martyn Cassel on the journey to Dorne. He gives a rare smile and says. “Very well then I shall head north.” But not the way you imagine it, woman.

Chapter Text

Sixth Month of 298 A.C. The Eyrie

Lady Catelyn Stark

The howling of the wind was somewhat disconcerting for Lady Catelyn Stark, it reminded her too much of how the moon door had rattled during Tyrion Lannister’s trial. Well, if it could be that, her sister as regent for Lord Robert, had hurled accusations at the Lannister with little to no proof, once or twice her sister had seemed ready to explode but then had looked at a man Catelyn knew to be Lothor Brune and her sister had quieted down. When the imp had demanded Trial by Combat, Catelyn had been certain her sister would refuse, but of course so determined was she to prove something or the other to those who had come, that she had accepted. Vardis Egen, had been named as the Vale’s champion, the man had gone against Bronn, the sellsword and lost. Tyrion Lannister had gone free, leaving behind a world of guilt for Catelyn.

She had taken the imp based on word from Petyr, and yet every time she had thought to question the imp he had denied any knowledge of the assassin or the knife. When she had confronted him on what Petyr had said, he had merely laughed and said that Petyr was telling more tales than there were kingdoms in Westeros. He had asked her if she truly believed he would bet against his brother the Kingslayer in a joust, and after some long hard thought Catelyn did have to conclude that the man was right. So had Petyr lied to her, and if so why would he do so? What was he hoping to gain from doing so? Her actions had caused trouble for her father and brothers.  Word had come of fighting in the Golden Tooth where Jaime Lannister had marched with an army and descended on men her brother Axel had left to guard the border. It had been a complete rout.

Gods, she hoped her brothers would be okay. She knew their father was ill, Lord Hoster had fallen ill some two years ago and had not truly recovered, leaving her elder brother Axel in charge of running Riverrun. She hoped things would be okay, her brothers were as different as the sun and the moon, where Axel was calm and collected, their younger brother Edmure was bold and brash, something would have to give, otherwise there would be fighting between the two of them. Once more she wondered why Petyr had told her it was Tyrion Lannister who had given his knife to that assassin. What could he possibly hope to gain?

If she had not taken Tyrion, the invasion would not have happened, and Jaime Lannister would never have attacked Ned. She was certain the accusations against him were false, her Ned would never dare to commit treason, and she did not know why Cersei was labelling him as such, unless there was truth to his accusations. That was why she was trying to convince her sister to call the men of the Vale to arms to aid their brothers. “Lysa please, listen to me, they are threatening Riverrun and the Riverlands. We cannot merely stand by whilst they do so.”

Her sister was sat on the wierwood throne of the Arryns, looking petulant. “I will not send my men to go and die in a war that they do not need to fight. Doing that would only bring the Lannisters wrath down upon us, and that is something I shall not allow.”

“Tywin Lannister will not just allow you to be Lysa.” Catelyn responds. “He knows it was you who ordered Tyrion Lannister’s death, he will come calling here when he is done in the Riverlands.”

“And he will not get past the Bloody Gate. Regardless he would never have had cause to look here, had you not brought that imp here.” Her sister snarls.

“I brought him here to get justice for Lord Jon, and to make sure that he answered for his crimes. You, yourself warned me of the threats the Lannisters posed.” Catelyn says, her temper growing.

“Yes! To warn you! I did not want you to bring that imp here. Now you have doomed us all, Tywin Lannister will burn the Riverlands because of what you have done.” Her sister shouts back.

“Not if we work together to beat them. The Lannisters have broken the king’s peace, they cannot hope to stand against the might of the north, the riverlands and the vale and hope to win. Lysa, see reason, they are coming for us all. We must act fast.” Catelyn pleads.

Her sister looks at her, her mouth set in a petulant line. “No. I will not send my son’s men down to fight in a war just because you tell me to. We are not children anymore Cat, you cannot tell me what to do. I will not leave my son defenceless.”

“For god’s sake Lysa, this is not about bossing anyone around, it is about sticking together and aiding one another when we are in danger. We are all family, and we must act to protect one another. If we all join together the fighting will be done before the year ends, and then we can force the Lannisters to recognise their crimes.” Catelyn says her voice showing her impatience.

And still her sister shakes her head. “No, I shall not do that. Why should I do that when my family was never there for me when I needed them the most?”

Catelyn sighs. “Lysa, I do not know what you mean, we have always been there for one another.”

Her sister’s eyes are ablaze then. “No. Do not lie, none were there for me when I needed them, and now I shall not be there for you all. It is only right and fair. I have my son to think about. I do not care if your husband rots in a black cell, he can stay there for all I care.”

Catelyn feels anger begin to boil inside of her, but instead of retorting she merely nods and turns and leaves from the hall. As she walks through the halls of the Eyrie, she wonders how it has come to this. She knew Lysa had often felt jealous of her when they were children growing up, but she never thought it would become something like this, something so petty and vile that she would refuse to help her own family. And what had happened to drive Lysa so thoroughly away from them all? She did not know, but she wondered if her uncle knew. Alas as she looked around she could not see him anywhere, she wondered where he was.

“My Lady Catelyn!” she hears a voice calling her and she stops her walking. A tall man with dark brown hair and pale eyes comes to a stop next to her. This is Elbert Arryn, Knight of the Vale and Jon Arryn’s nephew. “Ah thank you for waiting for me my lady.” The man says.

Elbert Arryn was a handsome man that much was true, she had met his wife and children during her stay here and she had to admit he had a very happy family for the darkness of their origins. “Yes Ser? To what do you wish to speak of?” she asks.

The man takes a deep breath then, and she remembers something Ned had said to her once of what Elbert Arryn had been like before the rebellion, filled with life and joy, now she looks at the man and she sees a man worn down by the years. “I wished to speak with you of the fighting in the Riverlands.”

“Oh?” Catelyn asks.

“Yes, I believe that Lady Arryn was wrong to deny you the knights of the Vale. I know for a fact that they are willing to fight, to protect Riverrun and to honour Jon Arryn. I know that I can get around 10,000 men ready and willing to fight before you return to the north.” Ser Elbert says.

“And how would you do that Ser? It is a crime to go against the orders of your liege lord, or in this case Liege Lady. Would you truly risk so much?” Catelyn asks.

“I admit that this is perhaps not the right way to go about it, but Lady Lysa has not entirely been herself since she returned from King’s Landing, surely even you can see that my lady. Not getting involved when the Lannisters are clearly in the wrong is something I cannot stand by, and I know there are many others here who feel the same.” Ser Elbert responds.

At hearing this Catelyn feels distinctly uncomfortable. “Ser, I would not advice a continuation of this conversation. I do not wish to cause my sister trouble.”

The man snorts. “As if she has not already caused you trouble my lady. I know of the letter she sent you, she was doing that deliberately. There is a reason for all of these things, and the only way to get to the root of all of this is to find the Lannisters and deal with them.”

“What do you mean she did it deliberately Ser?” Catelyn asks.

The man is silent a moment. “There are things that need to be discussed in more depth, but now is not the time for them. Just tell me this my lady, do you want your husband freed from King’s Landing? Do you want your girls back?”

Catelyn looks at the man hard. “Yes. But how would you get them out of King’s Landing? No doubt they are being watched very closely.”

Ser Elbert merely smiles then, a twisted thing it is. “I have friends in damnable city who owe me a favour or two. I believe it is time that I called those favours in. Now with regards to the Riverlands, it will be necessary for you to persuade your son to call the banners, the riverlands cannot hope to defend itself alone.”

Catelyn nods she had already considered that. “And what of the Vale? How would you convince them to come, when they are honour bound to do as my sister says?”

Ser Elbert snorts at this. “Honour is not as straight a concept as some would believe my lady. There is no honour in hiding and cowering whilst lions prowl and prey on the weak. They will come, you must leave that to me.”

Catelyn looks at the man somewhat uneasily then. “And what would happen to defence of the Vale Ser?”

The knight looks at her a moment then replies easily. “The Vale will be well defended, I shall not allow for all the men to leave. Just those most hell bent on fighting for the true cause. Fear not my lady your nephew shall be safe.”

Catelyn nods and then says. “Very well then, I shall wait to hear from you before I leave.” With that she leaves the man standing in the hallway. She enters the room she had been given and sits down, mulling over all that has occurred during her time here. Gods she hopes things go according to plan she does not know what she would do were something to happen to Ned or the girls.

A knock on the door takes her from her thoughts, and after the door opens she finds herself speaking to her uncle. Ser Brynden Tully. “When do you plan on leaving Little Cat?” he asks.

She is somewhat taken aback by the question but manages to compose herself enough to respond. “Within the next few days. Why ever do you ask uncle?”

“Because, when you return north I intend to come with you. It is complete nonsense that Lysa is not sending men to aid your brother in the Riverlands.” The Blackfish replies.

“She is scared uncle, for herself and for her son.” Catelyn says defending her sister.

Her uncle snorts then. “She has been scared her whole life. It is time she grew up and faced reality. Otherwise her son will end up just as she did.”

Catelyn wants to defend her sister, but she sees the truth in what her uncle is saying. Instead she asks. “I had thought you would go with Ser Elbert when he went to rally men from the Vale.”

Her uncle looks at her then and his voice is soft when he says. “I see Ser Elbert has promised you that which Lysa did not. Be careful of him Cat, he is a dangerous man.”

Chapter Text

6th Month of 298 A.C. Riverrun

Ser Axel Tully

When he’d heard the news that his sister Catelyn had taken Tyrion Lannister hostage, Axel had been at turns both angry and worried. He knew his sister would not have taken the man hostage unless she had had a valid reason to, but at the same time he was not sure what sort of reason could truly justify doing something as drastic as that.  And then the lions had begun to stir from their slumber that was when Axel had begun to grow worried, so that when news had come of the raiding of villages, he had not been surprised. His little brother Edmure had said they retaliate in kind, but Axel and their father the ailing Lord Hoster had prevailed with cooler heads and so had sent men to King’s Landing to put their case before the king. But the king was dead, and his hand and Axel’s goodbrother Lord Eddard was in prison, and then Lannisters were growing ever more powerful.

The boy on the throne had demanded he come and pay homage, but Axel’s father was in no fit position to go and swear obeisance to the boy, and Axel himself was reluctant to go and do anything of the sort with Lannisters beginning to unravel their claws.  And when news had come of a force coming towards the Golden Tooth, Axel had with advice from his father sent a force of men under the command of Lord Vance, to guard the border. The force had only been some 1,000 strong and so it had been no surprise when it had been routed by Jaime Lannister and his greater numbers. Now the Kingslayer was at the gates, almost anyway and Axel was determined to ensure the man made it no further.

A war council had been held and much had been discussed, Blackwood and Bracken had argued as they were wont to do about which way they should attack whether they should wait for Lannister to come knocking and reduce his host with arrows and the like and then send their men out, or whether or not they should just have a guard out waiting for him. Other lords had offered their own views and opinion, including Axel’s rather opinionated goodbrother Lord Raymun Darry. Eventually Axel had called a halt to the meeting and decided that he would have command of the main host that would be waiting for Lannister outside the walls of Riverrun whilst his brother Edmure would command a small portion of the host inside the walls.

They had waited nearly a week for the Lannister host to arrive and now it was here, just about at least. Axel was armoured and mounted his eldest son and heir Edmyn by his side.  As he sat atop his horse and waited for the horns to be sounded he spoke to his son. “You know what must be done today son?”

Edmyn was a boy of four and ten, just recently so, he was tall for his age and broad shouldered, with dark brown hair instead of fiery Tully Red. He was a smart lad as well. “Yes father, should Jaime Lannister come close to Riverrun I must give command to Lord Blackwood and ensure that I am within the gates.”

Axel suspected his son was not all pleased with this and so said. “It is not something you might like to do son, but should something happen to me, you are grandfather’s heir and as such must remain whole and safe. Regardless your mother would never forgive me if something were to happen to you.”

His son sighs. “But why me? Surely Uncle Edmure should be the one commanding? He is a Tully as well father.”

Axel grimaces at the mention of his younger brother. Keeping his voice as level as possible he says. “Your uncle is still too naïve to truly command in battle. He is better kept inside.”

His son nods at this and then asks. “How did you manage to get Bracken and Blackwood to agree to have Blackwood take command should something happen to you father? I had thought there would be a longer struggle.”

Axel laughs at this and says. “Oh aye, that was something I had thought would also be a difficult issue. But you see the two are united in their hatred of the Lannisters rather than their hatred of one another. Furthermore, it was rather easy to make them believe the other was getting the worse command. That is one sure way to ensure they do not constantly bicker, making them feel more important than the other, and because they think this they are not like to lord it over the other, at least not now.”

His son smiles slightly and then asks a question Axel has been mulling over himself. “What if we do not win this battle father? What if the Kingslayer manages to beat us?”

Axel turns his face to look at his son and with some seriousness says. “That will not happen son. And whilst I know you might well ask how I can be so certain, it is because I believe it will not happen. If you think something is going to happen, more than likely it will happen due to our own actions, but if you believe something will not happen then it will not happen. And we must believe Ser Jaime and his men will not win.”

His son nods solemnly then. “Yes father.” He pauses as if uncertain of what he wishes to say next and then. “Father, will we get help from the north and the Vale?”

Axel considers this a moment and then says. “I believe the north will come to our aid, after all Cat’s boy has called his banners I believe. As for the Vale gods alone know what will happen there. But right now we must focus on the battle ahead.” His son nods and then the horns are being blown and Axel draws his sword from its scabbard. Before lowering his visor he says to his son. “Stick close to me Son.” And then the battle begins.

Axel leads the charge his armour gleaming in the sunlight, his men come riding after him and they meet the Lannister host in a clash of steel and sparks. Axel himself swings his sword with a frenzy, the battle lust soon taking over, one man falls when Axel jabs him in the chest. Another falls when Axel slices his hand off, and a third falls when Axel blocks a swing and then uses his strength to knock the man from his horse. He keeps an eye on his son, and tries to prevent anyone coming too close to his boy, most of the time he succeeds but once or twice his heart is in his mouth as a man comes close to his son only to be way laid.

Lannister had attacked from the south near the Mudd Gate, and as such this means that he is riding into the sun. Axel uses this to his advantage, luring the Lannister soldiers further and further towards the castle, so that the sun is glaring into their eyes, and when the time comes he orders his men forward using the blinding glare of the sun to his advantage. Men are cut down, their screams echoing off of the air and inside his helm. His sword is bloody, but more men continue to come. The sun is still high in the sky glaring at all those who dare to come forward. The bodies begin to grow more numerous, and Axel suspects that sooner or later the Kingslayer himself will come forward.

More and more men continue to pour forth from the Tooth’s Mountain, and they soon find themselves being pushed backward to where they came from or towards the Red Fork. And still the Kingslayer himself has not appeared, Axel wonders why this is and as such begins to worry somewhat. The screams of the men as they fight and die are echoing inside of his head, and make him all the more determined to end this battle as quickly as possible. He swings his sword and brings down one man with a sharp jab, another man falls when Axel’s shield shoves into him, a third man is knocked from his horse by the force of the blow Axel deals him.

During a lull in the fighting Axel raises his visor and looks for his son, panic begins to flare in his chest when he cannot find him, but on a second look round he sees his son protecting some other squire as a big brute of a man begins marching towards them. Roaring, Axel lowers his visor and draws his sword once more and then spurs his horse towards the brute. As he draws nearer, he begins angling his body ready to strike, when he is no more than a few inches from the man he strikes, lopping the man’s head off before he even has a chance to raise his own weapon. “Move back to the castle son.” Axel calls out. “Ser Byron see my son back safely.” The knight nods and hastens to obey.

Axel watches his son ride off with the man, and then looks and observes the battle, more Lannister men lie dead on the ground then men from the Riverlands, but where is the damned Kingslayer? Axel had thought the man would be present for this fight, unless…. The sound of a horn being blow signal a new arrival and he has a bad feeling about this, and sure enough when the lion of Lannister is seen flying towards him he begins roaring commands. His men have formed up into a defensive position just about, by the time the Lion comes streaking towards them. They crash and fight, and Lannister kills two of his guards, before coming face to face with Axel.

The Kingslayer is most definitely a fine swordsman of that there is no doubt. It seems the man is able to second guess every move he thinks of making, Axel swings and the man blocks, Axel retreats and the man comes forward with a swing of his own. This goes on for some time, Axel swinging his sword, and the Kingslayer blocking the blows and then pushing forward himself. Axel begins to feel weary, tiredness coming to the fore of his mind, the Kingslayer manages to get a fair few nicks onto his armour, and he can feel the blood begin to trickle down his armour.

The Kingslayer continues to block Axel’s increasingly tired swings, and gives back as good, if not better than he gets. Axel’s body is covered in dents and bruises he knows, and his strength is beginning to flag, he wonders why the Kingslayer is not going in for the killing blow, and then he hears it, the sound of hooves and the sound of the hunt. Bracken has come in just as Axel hoped he would. The Kingslayer’s attacks seem to get more frantic then, they become reckless and Axel exploits this.

He fights through his tiredness, using his greater strength to begin pummelling away at the Kingslayer, the man might be a better sword than Axel but he is not stronger than him. Axel swings his sword once and cuts the man’s arm, he swings twice, and dents the armour, a third time and the Kingslayer is being pushed back. Axel’s men are pushing the Lannister men back as well, the arrows from Riverrun are doing their work as well. Axel swings his sword again and again, putting every ounce of his strength into his hits and swings.

“Surrender” he growls at the Kingslayer.

The man laughs, or does what Axel thinks is a laugh. “Never.” He swings and a loud screech comes forth and stings Axel’s ears knocking Axel’s sword from his hand. The next thing he knows an arrow has killed his horse and he is struggling to vault from his horse, when he does manage to do so he lands with a thump in the ground, expecting a sword against his throat, but instead he hears more hooves, and in the commotion picks up his own sword and begins hammering his way towards the Kingslayer, and yet, the distance continues to grow between them though he does not understand why.

A shout and then Axel sees something he never thought he’d see, a lion fleeing before a trout. He roars at the obscenity of it all, but knows they have victory.

Chapter Text

Seventh Month of 298 A.C. The Black Cells

Lord Eddard Stark

The longer he spent in the black cells, the more he had time to think on things that were perhaps left best to the darkness. It was the ultimate irony that the darkness was the only companion he had. The darkness made him think on the things he would rather not have thought on. The rebellion was at the forefront of his mind, the war that had been immortalised in the songs, but there was a darker setting to it all, something none alive knew about now. Jon Arryn was dead, Robert was dead and Hoster Tully was coming close to dying. The bodies, gods there had been so many bodies, he had not known how many had died during the Battle of the Bells but he had seen their bodies afterward and he had been shocked by the callous nature by which almost everyone had dismissed them. The southrons had showed no ounce of respect for the enemy dead, whilst his own men had at least shown them some respect. He supposed that was the time he had begun to question whether or not they were fighting for the right reasons.  Robert was beginning to lust after the throne, the butchery of the Stoney Sept had made him clamour for more, and then the trident had happened. Ned would never think on that battle, it was where Robert had won his crown, but there were things Ned had learnt there that he never wished to think on ever again.

And then of course there had been his time in the south has hand. Gods he had been naïve, he saw that now, going about, blundering from one mistake to another, with no care for how this was affecting his daughters. His honour, that thing Jon Arryn had taught him to value above all else, had cost him so much, had cost his daughters so much and he cursed the day he took that lesson so much to heart. What was the point in it when those who were supposed to pursue honour were all barbarians? They called him and his kin barbarians, but Ned had always seen more barbarity in the south than he ever had in the north, there was no honour, they played the game and many died. Well he was not going to be one of them, if he had anything to do with it, not would his daughters.

The feeling of the straps tightening around his arms and legs brought him from his thoughts. The pain was coursing through every fibre of his body. The voice, that god’s damned voice was back asking questions of him. “Lord Stark, come now, do not resist. You have been offered a peace by the Queen, tell me why you continue to refuse to co-operate?”

“Because that offering is complete nonsense and I would be a greater fool to accept it than I was to go to the Queen to tell her I knew about her treason.” Ned growls.

“That is a lie, a pretty little lie that you are telling yourself to justify the treason you committed naming Stannis Baratheon the true heir to Robert Baratheon. Where is your proof? A book, books can lie my lord. And regardless your own children look like your Tully wife, are you telling me that they are bastards as well?” the voice asks.

“No! I was there for each one of their births and I was the one who helped make them. The Queen confessed to me, that they were not Robert’s children. I did what was right and just.” Ned responds. The pain coursing through his body, making his head spin.

“If it was just, then Stannis Baratheon would have come to answer your call for aid. Yet he did not and he remains on Dragonstone. No doubt because he knows that you lie my lord. Admit it, and this can all be over.” The voice says temptingly.

“No. I will not admit that I am lying. What I say is the truth. And I will stand by it.” Ned says through gritted teeth.

“And what of your daughters? You would sacrifice them for your honour my lord? I had not thought you like your father.” The voice says mockingly.

“I am not my father!” Ned growls, and another jolt of pain shoots through his body causing him to cry out.

“No,” the voice says understandingly. “You are not your father, you tried to be better than him. So sad really, the second son, never groomed for rule, never expecting to rule, and yet left to clean up your father’s mess. How hard that must have been. I can understand why you decided to support Stannis.”

“I chose to support Stannis…” Ned begins.

“Because he is the rightful king.” The voice interrupts. “Yes, I have heard that refrain countless times from you my lord. But let us be honest with one another that is not the only reason you supported Stannis now is it? You supported him because he reminds you of yourself, the second son, not as loved as the first, always in the shadows, and not always accredited for the things you had done. You want validation do you not my lord?”  Ned remains silent and the voice speaks once more. “Tell me truly Lord Stark, what is preventing you from simply bending the knee to Joffrey Baratheon? And do not tell me it is Stannis Baratheon or your honour for I shall name you liar.”

Ned is silent and the wrack begins to tighten, his body spasms this time, and he actually feels blood begin pouring out from cuts both old and new. “The NORTH!” he all but screams, hoping against hope to get the pain to stop.

It stops but only after Ned swears he hears some of his bones crack. “The north?” the voice asks. “What of it?”

“No matter whom I declare for, the north would be asked to fight for someone who knows nothing of it.” Ned says.

“Ah, I see.” The voice says, its silkiness back. “You wish to know what to do. Whether to fight for the true king, or to fight for the one who believes in complete submission. I admit my lord, I do not envy you, and this choice is a hard one, a very hard one indeed. If I may give a possible solution my lord?” Ned grunts, the pain still wracking his body. “Do as you see fit. These two Baratheons are not worth the trouble.”

At this Ned feels the straps being loosened and he is carried back to his cell, where once the door is closed he is left to his thoughts once more. What that voice had said echoes throughout his mind, the Baratheons have caused his family nothing but problems, from the time he fostered in the Eyrie he was always cleaning up after Robert’s mess, and now this is the biggest mess of them all. Perhaps he should just give in and do what his head had been telling him to do ever since he had come home from the rebellion, but then his heart is screaming that there is no honour in that. But what has honour brought him if not pain and suffering? It would be better that way, if it were nothing more than fighting for freedom. Yes, go with that, go with that and become the wolf you were always supposed to be. The thought comes unbidden to his mind and suddenly he finds himself look at an image of whom he thinks is his ancestor. What am I to do? He asks.

“What you must to ensure the north is safe. Too long have you bent to these fools who know nothing of winter.” The image says.

“But that would not be honourable.” Ned says weakly.

“Pah, honour. Honour is nothing but a chain you use to shackle yourself from the true course of what you are boy.” The image responds.

“And if I go through with this then what?” Ned asks.

“Then you are greater than your brother or father. You are a true wolf Eddard Stark. Do not forget that.” The image says.

As the image fades, Ned finds his eyes drifting off, and soon he enters a fitful sleep. He dreams of ghosts, of wolves and lions fighting and dragons standing tall red and black together at last. He sees Lyanna and her child, and the things he would have done to have her safe and whole, and then he sees the woman, that woman who has haunted his dreams for the past fifteen years, and he sees her eyes as the life dies from them. He wakes up sweating and panting, and the eunuch standing in front of him. “Drink this.” The man says thrusting a wine skin into his hands.

Ned takes the skin eagerly and drinks. When he is done he asks. “What are you doing here Varys?”

“I am here to give you news from outside these four walls.” The eunuch says. Ned looks at him and then the man says. “The king has made orders for you to join the watch should you confess. I would advise against doing so.”

“What? Why?” Ned asks confused.

The eunuch looks at him in exasperation. “Must you truly ask? You will never make it to the wall. Either you will suffer some sort of tragic accident on the way, or your head will decorate a pike here on the walls of the Red Keep. You carry far too much information for Cersei Lannister to ever let you go.”

“So she is a whore with no honour as well as one with no scruples?” Ned grumbles, his back aching.

The eunuch laughs then a deep sound. “Indeed she is my lord. But there is hope for you yet. There are plans being put in motion to forestall the Lannister woman. Littlefinger has even been working hard to see you released.”

“Littlefinger? I would have thought the man wanted me gone.” Ned says.

“Oh he does, but he wants you at the wall not dead. He wants your wife quite simply, and with you at the wall he hopes to propose a marriage between himself and the Lady Catelyn.” The eunuch says.

“Catelyn would never agree,” Ned retorts. “And besides, Baelish is not of a suitable rank to marry my wife.”

“Your wife would have to agree to spare further recriminations my lord. And further more Baelish hopes his suggestions would earn him enough clout to marry Lady Catelyn. He eyes Harrenhal as a prize to justify his marriage. I would not have that happen.” Varys responds.

“How are you going to prevent it from happening my lord? I am stuck here. And I will not recant my accusations.” Ned says.

“I am not asking you to recant.” The eunuch snaps his voice becoming even deeper. “All I am asking is that you remain vigilant for now. For someone will come later on today. You must be ready for when they do.” With that the eunuch turns, opens the door and leaves.

Ned is left to stew in his own filth, he wonders how his children are doing, he hopes to the gods that Arya is safe, his fierce little she wolf, Sansa he prays will forgive him his crimes, as for Robb and Jon his twins, gods above, he hopes they are safe and sound, nothing would pain him more. Bran and Rickon should be well in Winterfell, behind the walls. Still he prays for them. The longer he is left to stew the longer his thoughts return to those feelings he had had during the rebellion and for a period after it, the north would be safer without being tied down to the throne, the throne is done. The Targaryens were the only ones who could hold it together, he cannot allow himself and his people to be dragged into more pointless wars. Let them keep the Iron Throne, the north shall be its own force once more.

The door to his cell opens and a hooded figure enters. “My lord, can you stand?” the voice asks.

Ned thinks he recognises it, he nods. “Aye I think so.” He stands up on shaky legs, the figure steps into the cell and helps him out of the cell.

“We must move as quickly as you are able my lord. There is only so long before someone comes looking for you.” The voice says.

“Who are you? And why are you helping me?” Ned asks, his voice sounding tired to his own ears.

The figure laughs and says softly. “I did not think you would recognise me my lord. But know that I am an ally. Who has had to do things to you that they have not liked.” The voice turns silky then.

“You!” Ned hisses. “Why are you helping me?” he asks.

“Because you are more use alive than dead. And because I despise the Lannisters more than you could know.” The voice says.

Ned wishes to ask more questions but the figure merely shakes its head and they walk in silence, they go through the bowels of the black cells, Ned not daring to look at some of the horrors on display, until they come to a door. The figure pushes open the door, and then helps Ned through it. Another passageway, they walk hurriedly through it, Ned cursing all the while for his leg, until they come out of the passageway. Ned is surprised to find a horse waiting for him. He looks at the figure and asks. “Where are we?”

“Outside of the city gates my lord. A quick escape route built by Maegor the Cruel. Now get on your horse and ride.” The voice says.

“Are you not coming with me?” Ned asks.

The figure shakes his head. “No, I have work to do here.”

The figure helps Ned towards the horse and then onto the horse. “Come with me, you will be punished when they find out I am gone.”

“They will never know I was here my lord. If you would look on the other side of the horse you will find something that belongs to you.” The voice says.

Ned looks to his left and sees strapped horizontally to the side of his saddle, a sword he had thought lost. He looks at it in wonder, and then looks at the figure. “How did you get me my sword back?”

“The Spider and the mockingbird are not the only ones who have their ways my lord. Now go.” The figure says.

“What of my daughters, I cannot go without them.” Ned protests.

“You will meet the youngest one soon enough. As for the elder, she will be with you soon as well.” The figure says. Ned is about to speak when they hear something coming from the city within, “Go now and trust me.”

Ned looks at the man and asks. “How can I trust you?”

“Because I am unbowed, unbent and unbroken. And so long as I live the Lannisters will never succeed.” The figure says.

Ned looks in surprise and mouths a name before saying. “I thank you.” He then looks at the city of King’s Landing, Be strong Sansa, I will get you soon. With that he digs his heels into the horse and rides away from King’s Landing, a hooded figure standing there watching him go.

Chapter Text

 

Seventh Month of 298 A.C. On the March

Robb Stark

Truly he found it hard to believe he was actually marching to war, that was something that he could not truly comprehend. Like any boy growing up he had dreamed of earning glory fighting in battles like his father had done, and had played out many a mock battle with his younger brother Jon and with Theon during their youth. But to actually be marching out for battle, with a host some 20,000 strong beside him? Gods that was something he did not know how to comprehend. It had seemed so simple when he had called the banners, they would march south and force the bastard sitting the throne to give father back to them and then march home, and then word had come of two battles that had been fought in the Riverlands and the presence of Tywin Lannister and it had all become much more real.

Of course there had been things that needed to be dealt with before he could actually begin to fight. There had been the matter of Winterfell’s defences, and so he had left his younger brothers in Winterfell, and had tasked Maester Luwin with ensuring that they remain safe and sound. He had also sent word to the mountain clans asking them to begin preparing men for a defence of the north should the time come for it. He had met his mother at Moat Cailin, where he had learnt that she had unfortunately not brought Tyrion Lannister with her, nor had she brought the confirmation of support from the Vale. Bad news all around, further exacerbated by the fact that the Kingslayer was now laying siege to Riverrun, whilst Robb’s uncle Axel had ridden out to give chase to Tywin Lannister.

One more thing had been required of Robb before he could finally enter the kingdom of his birth. Walder Frey, that decrepit old man who had refused to send any men to the twins, had told Robb’s mother that if he wished for a crossing he would need to make a bargain, Robb had agreed reluctantly to the betrothal between himself and one of the man’s many daughters, granddaughters and even great granddaughters, and then the man had had the audacity to ask for Arya’s hand for Elmar Frey. Robb had fumed at that but had nonetheless accepted, and had also taken the man’s son Olyvar as his squire. The lad was good natured and dutiful and Robb found that he was quickly becoming friends with him.  Learning of Tywin Lannister’s presence within the Riverlands, Robb had ordered Roose Bolton on a forced march with the foot and one tenth of his horse to the Ruby Ford where Lannister and his uncle were said to be engaged. He had taken the majority of the horse and was quick marching towards Riverrun.

Having his brother by his side was a great comfort, and as such Robb turned to look at his twin, Jon, who looked so much like their father both in looks and demeanour that sometimes people genuinely thought Jon was the heir. “What do you think Jon? Do you think we will be successful?” Robb asks.

His brother is silent a moment as he ponders the question and then responds. “Aye I think so. We know the Kingslayer’s host was damaged during the fighting beneath Riverrun’s walls. And the man is not as patient as his father. I see no reason why we should not be.”

Robb nods and says. “Our Uncle says that Ser Jaime seems to spreading himself too thinly along the siege lines. Perhaps a chance to lure him into the woods be for the best.”

His brother nods. “Aye, well with Ser Brynden taking out the man’s outriders he’s going to be very blind to our movements.”

“Aye. Well we shall soon be near the wood if what mother says is true. So let us wait and see eh?” Robb responds.

Jon merely nods before asking. “Have you thought about which one of Walder Frey’s girls you are going to be marrying?”

“Truly I have not. And whilst I admit that Olyvar is somewhat of a change from his siblings and other relatives, I do not truly wish to marry a Frey.” He says.

His brother looks at him somewhat aghast. “But you swore an oath that you would marry a Frey girl Robb. You cannot go back on that. That would not be honourable.”

Robb snorts then. “Oh come now Jon, you are not truly going to be going on about honour when you see what it did to our father? He rots in a cell in King’s Landing because of his honour. And Walder Frey had no honour whatsoever, otherwise he would have honoured Uncle Axel’s call to arms.”

“Ser Stevron and some men went south.” Jon says softly.

“And they went against Lord Walder’s orders Jon. This is not the north and we are not children anymore. It is time we faced reality. We are fighting a war, and in war honour will only get you killed.” Robb says.

“Father would not be pleased by that Robb. He raised us better than to resort to southern methods.” His brother says.

“Father is not here, and regardless, he would tell me to do what is necessary to ensure that we win this battle and win this war. We must win in order to get him and the girls back.” Robb snaps.

His brother bows his head and Robb feels somewhat guilty for snapping. “Of course my lord. I merely meant that, we cannot always resort to southern methods we are not southerners. We are of the north and we must fight like northmen.”

“Aye. I know, Jon, forgive me. There is just so much that needs to go right. I am nervous is all.” Robb says apologetically.

“There is nothing to forgive.” His twin replies. They ride the rest of the way in silence. Robb calls a halt to the march when they come to the cusp of the wood. And it is there that they find the bodies of the dead Lannister outriders.

Robb and his men wait on the cusp, waiting for the sounds of horns and for the sun to go down. If all has gone right, the Kingslayer will ride blindly into the trap that they have set and then things should go accordingly from there. In the growing darkness, Robb swears he can hear his heart beating rapidly, Greywind is pacing, as is Ghost, and Robb knows his twin is feeling just as nervous as he is. Gods this waiting is painful. His mother is some ways back near the reserve with Martyn Cassel, and prays that she will be safe that they will all be safe during this battle.

Just as he thinks that the waiting is going to become unbearable, he hears a horn sound, and then another horn sounds, the trap has been set. Greywind and Ghost howl into the night in response to the horns, and Robb looks at his twin and they both nod. Steeling himself for what is to come, Robb draws his sword and roars. “Winterfell!” six thousand voices echo his shout. He spurs his horse on and leads the charge, his heart hammering in his ears. They ride for what seems at once an age and no time at all before they are charging into the Lannister host.

There is no sign of the Kingslayer yet, but Robb remains on his guard, he swings his sword, cutting down one lad who could be no older than him, whilst he feels Greywind tearing into another man. Both boy and wolf charge through the Lannister host, swinging and tearing. Killing the name of the game, lions are falling down to the ground, their throats torn out, their armour dented, and wounds aplenty. The battle soon becomes a bloodbath as Robb pushes his men further and pushes the enemy deeper into the woods where a nice bit of covering will give them a chance to trap the Lannister host between the trees and the marsh.

Lions can attack just as hard as wolves though, and the Lannister counterattack is something fierce. They are skilled warriors, all of them seasoned in battle, and as such Robb and his men have to fight to hold their ground. Slowly one by one he sees some of the men fall to the ground dead, wolves on their armour and something akin to despair begins to enter his mind. The lions are fighting hard, probing and testing every part of their defence, men are falling, dying, crying out for their wives, or family, and Robb’s gut is lurching. Still he fights on, pushing onward to ensure that the men who have died for him and his family have not died in vain. He swings his sword and roars his defiance, covering the blade red with the blood of spilt enemies.

He feels rather than sees Greywind tearing into a number of Lannister soldiers, and judging by Jon’s movements Ghost and his twin are doing the same. They both howl as one and then charge head on into the new movement the Lannisters have sent their way. A blur of swords, sparks, shields and other weapons is what this new attack is to Robb. His vision is clouded in his helm and so he pushes forward and roars and Greywind growls and more men begin to fall. A greater number of bodies begin to pile up, and as they push the Lannisters closer to the marsh, the lions seem to begin faltering, victory is only a hairs breath away.

And that is when the Lannisters seem to rally themselves, as if avenging their fallen comrades, led by the Kingslayer himself they come charging through avoiding the marsh and attacking like mad men. Robb is somewhat stunned by the sudden change in the pace of attack, and it takes him a moment to recover, and in that time bodies have begun piling up. He blinks quickly and leads the counter-charge. His sword is swinging now like an arrow whizzing from a bow. A slash, a cut, a feint, a parry, these actions become a mantra to him, the difference between life and death. He comes close a few times, some bastard with an axe nearly takes his arm of but Greywind is there leaping to tear the man’s throat out. Someone with a sword gives him a fair few scrapes and bruises, but at the end Robb cuts the man down.

Around him though, men are dying, his friends are dying, he sees Daryn Hornwood brought low by some big giant of a man.  Elrick Wull is slain by the Kingslayer, the Kingslayer, gods where did that man come from? He is leading the charge, slaying all those who come into his path, a true sight to behold. Robb keeps one eye on him and another on the men coming towards him, he kills those he can, and he leaves the others to his guard and to his wolf. And all the while the Kingslayer is advancing, closer and closer, his heart starts beating a lot quicker.

He sees the man cut down Torrhen Karstark as if he is nothing more than a fly, and then he slays Robin Flint, and then he is upon Robb. The man is quick, very quick, Robb finds himself very quickly on the back foot, blocking more than not. The sound of steel on steel makes his ears hurt, for more often than not the screeching sound of his blade being turned down by the Kingslayer’s is what comes forth from what he can see. His arms are growing tired and he wonders how he is going to keep this going, is he going to fall at the first hurdle? Somehow he manages to break the contact of their two swords and in the short gap that he is has jabs forward cutting the man’s armour.

Yet that is not the best method he finds out a second later when the Kingslayer swings his sword again in a flurry of movement, a swing, a hack and a cut, all Robb can do is block, and block and miss, damn that hurts. The pain courses through his body, but he gets his sword back up, and swings it, and manages to catch the man unawares on the arm. Gods he is tired, he misses another blow and he suspects that this might be it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Seventh Month of 298 A.C. Riverlands

Jon Stark

The battle was chaotic as he had assumed most battles were, there were men thronging through the gaps in their defences, Jon had had his hands full with dealing with the Lannister soldiers who had cut down Daryn and had wounded Patrek. The giant of a man before him was swinging his longsword like a man possessed and it took all of Jon’s might to not crumble before him, his own sword was clanging against the brute’s sword and his arms were beginning to weaken under the strain. Ghost was somewhere near by tearing the chunks out of the soldiers Jon did not have the time nor the inclination to deal with. He managed to push away from the giant, long enough to collect himself and then began another round of fighting. The man was pushing against him with all his strength, Jon could tell by the way his own arms and his back ached but by the gods how did he keep going? Where was his own strength coming from, Jon wondered, how was he able to keep going?

The big man before him was becoming slower in his delivery, his strokes were becoming less well timed and Jon was not tiring out as much as he had been. That was when he saw it, the gaping wound in the man’s side, how he had not seen that before he knew not, but now that he did he willed himself to begin exploring that option. He feinted to his right, and the man followed, opening the wound further, Jon shoved his sword into the gap quickly and when he felt the sword connect with flesh, he twisted slightly and then pulled out. The giant was wincing in pain, he brought his sword up again and swung, Jon managed to block his blow in enough time. Sparks flew. The man was losing blood, a lot of it, so much so that he did not keep pushing against Jon’s own sword as he had done before, when he pulled away Jon followed, a swing and then a cut, and then a parry, then he moved his sword and horse away.

The giant was bleeding onto the ground, Jon could see through the slit in his visor, the man’s blood was pouring out of him in large quantities, he watched as he sat on his horse as the giant began to slump in his saddle. But before he could check whether or not the giant was dead, another man had come streaming out of the woods and began swinging at Jon as if possessed. Jon brought his own sword up and just about managed to block a series of swings, his eyes begin to get sore looking at the blades clashing, and he has to blink rapidly to keep from going cross eyed. His arms begin to grow tired as he duels this new foe, sparks begin flying forth from their blades and Jon knows not how long he could keep going. He manages to knock the man’s sword aside, just as Ghost leaps from somewhere and tear out the enemy’s throat.

Jon looks on as his direwolf begins feeding on the man laid bare before him, and begins shaking somewhat. This battle has begun to affect him in ways he does not even want to think about. It is only when he hears a cry and turns to see Torrhen Karstark go down that he realises that his brother is in danger. Jaime Lannister is facing Robb, and there are men preventing Jon from getting to his twin. His anger begins to show through now, and Ghost somehow as if sensing this turns from the body before him and begins pacing towards where Robb and Kingslayer are fighting. Jon cuts down the men in his way, swinging his sword as if it is no lighter than a stick, bringing down the men who would stand between him and his twin.

Ghost is the first one to get to Robb, scaring the Kingslayer’s horse just as the man was coming close to striking Robb. Greywind does the same, pushing the Kingslayer further away from Robb. Jon manages to get to his twin just as the Kingslayer begins advancing forward and other men are advancing towards them. Jon looks at his twin and then Ghost and Greywind begin attacking the men coming towards them, whilst they both focus their attention on the Kingslayer. The man looks at them both and his tone is mocking when he speaks. “Well what do we have here? Two little wolf cubs far from home. Now which one to kill?”

Neither Robb nor Jon speak, but Jon advances forward first, sword drawn. He swings, and the Kingslayer blocks, the Kingslayer is strong considering how slim he looks, and manages to push Jon’s sword out of the block they were both in. The man then begins his own round of battering attacks, swinging his sword, slashing and hacking away at Jon’s defences. Jon just about manages to block one or two of the hits, the others hit his body, cutting him and denting his armour quite thoroughly. When the blows stop, Jon is battered and bruised, but he sees his brother fighting a similar battle to him. He tries to loosen his limbs and moves in on the Kingslayer, his own sword drawn.

Two against one, and still the Kingslayer is good, far better than them. He blocks a swing from Jon on his shield, he blocks a swing from Robb on his sword, and still manages to cut or dent one of them. it is simply amazing as far as Jon is concerned, he pushes himself to his limits and he knows his brother is doing so as well, and though they managed to get a few blows on the man’s armour, he is still standing strong taking all they throw at him and giving far better than he has gotten. Both Jon and Robb are being pushed harder than they ever have before, and they are struggling, both of them have cuts and bruises, each time Robb takes a blow Jon feels it, and he knows it’s the same for his twin. Gods this is hard, they swing their swords together and manage to break down the Kingslayer’s defence.

The Kingslayer they find is not quite as brutal with his defence left in tatters on the ground. Ghost and Greywind have dealt with his protectors, and now they are circling. Jon and Robb move forward and begin swinging their swords at the same time their direwolves begin pouncing at the man’s horse. This results in the Kingslayer getting thrown from his horse and getting bruised severely. Ghost and Greywind butcher the man’s horse, and Robb and Jon advance on the Kingslayer. The man is just getting up when Robb and Jon get to him, his helm has been knocked off of his head, and he looks somewhat dazed, but still there is a cocky smile on his face. “Which one you will do the killing I wonder?”

“Neither,” Jon hears his twin say. “You are done. Your men are finished Kingslayer. Surrender and you may just keep your head.”

The Kingslayer laughs. “Are you too craven to fight me on foot Stark?”

Jon sees Robb’s guards as well as Lord Willam Dustin and Ethan Glover come forward then all mounted. “He’s no craven Kingslayer, you are finished.” Lord Dustin says in his deep voice.

The Kingslayer laughs then and goes to say something before suddenly crumpling to his knees. His head falls forward and then he falls to the ground. They all look at Dacey Mormont, with her mace out. “What?” she asks. “I did not want to hear what other nonsense the man was going to say.”

They all laugh then, and then once that has settled Robb orders the man tied and bound, and then looks at him. They both smile at one another. “You won this battle brother.” Jon says.

“We did brother.” His twin responds.

There is much celebration that day as the Kingslayer is their prisoner and his forces are now somewhat leaderless. Of course once they have gotten over the initial high of beating the Kingslayer, plans are made for completely breaking the siege around Riverrun. His twin wants complete domination of the battle, and so they plan and plan, and Jon is surprised to find himself given command of the vanguard, with their great uncle Ser Brynden there as an advisor.

As the sun begins to set, they set out from where they had made camp and begin the march towards the hastily assembled Lannister camp. They arrive towards the northern entrance of the camp to find the Lannister camp asleep, dead as night. His uncle looks at him and says. “Those tents closest to us are the ones you will want set aflame.” And though he feels dishonourable doing so he gives the command and watches as the tents burn. Soon enough they begin hearing the sound of hooves as the outriders that remain to the Lannister host come calling, they are dispatched easy enough though Jon knows the memories of the boys he has killed will haunt him for the rest of his days.

They march on from the dead bodies of the outriders, and begin taking down those who come forth to try and deal with them. Soldiers half asleep fall to their blades and their blood begins to run down the ground and into the river, Jon and his men push on forcing through the northern encampment killing everyone and everything in sight. His blade is covered red with blood, some of it from the Whispering Wood, and still more blood begins to cover it as more and more men come stumbling out of the darkness and begin to fall prey to their tiredness and the swiftness with which Jon and the vanguard are moving.

Men begin to stir around the other banks and begin trying to come to aid of those camped in the northern breach but they either end up drowned in the river by the weight and tiredness of their horses or are butchered by the men who come pouring down from the River Hill commanded by Robb. It is a slaughter this Jon knows, and still he pushes on, his feelings begin to grow muted as he senses victory in the off. There are fires blazing all around now, the tents are on fire, the siege engines are on fire, men are on fire. It pains quite the grim image in his mind and still he pushes on.

Eventually the battle comes to an end when more than half of the Lannister soldiers and their commanders lie dead on the ground. Ser Edmure, another uncle had opened the gates of Riverrun and had participated in the fighting as well. Jon looks around at all the bodies and finds himself wondering just what has happened and how they have come to this. This was not honourable, this was slaughter, killing people in the dark, and their father would never have approved of this. As if sensing his thoughts Robb claps him on the shoulder and says. “We did what was needed to win brother. We cannot fret about the deaths of the enemy.”

Jon looks at his twin, his hair matted with sweat, his face weary and tired, but happy as well, and his armour covered in blood and dirt. And then he says. “Aye, but what we did here was slaughter.”

His brother says nothing then. And then. “We did what was needed. I will not have you sour the celebrations.”

And so it is that Jon finds himself part of many victory toasts, drinking more than his fair share of ale, with the men and the boys his own age who had fought alongside him and Robb. Jon laughs at a jape that Eddard Karstark is telling his grief over the loss of his brother partially forgotten for the nonce. The Greatjon is telling anyone who will listen of how the Ned’s wolf pups took on the Kingslayer, and Jon finds the more ale he has, the more he likes the man’s story. Eventually at some point he has to go for fresh air and so he leaves the celebrations and stands outside looking at Riverrun, the castle where he and his brother were born and he ponders what is to come next.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

7th Month of 298 A.C. Ruby Ford

Tyrion Lannister

His legs were aching from the journey that he had taken, walking down from the Eyrie with only Bronn and some gods damned mountain savages for company, they had traversed down the quickest and of course most dangerous pathways down to the riverlands. He was very glad to be leaving the Vale, it was not a place he ever truly wished to come back to again, unless he was at the head of an army sent to kill that brat of a child and his whore of a mother. Gods how he wanted them dead, he dreamed of it at night, by the gods did he dream of it, it was what allowed him to sleep when the pain became too much, when the agony of what had happened became too much to bare. And then of course there was Littlefinger, Tyrion was a Lannister, and so he knew how to create and nurse a grudge. The little worm had tried to have him killed for what reason he knew not, but he had sworn that before he died he would find out why and then he would have Petyr Baelish’s entrails dangling from the battlements of the Red Keep, a Lannister pays their debts after all.

When they had come down the hill and found an army and its camp, Tyrion had briefly feared that this was the army of Rivermen that he had heard so much about, and then he had seen the Lion of Lannister and hoped that this was Jaime come to help him as he had so often done when they were younger. Alas it was not, it was his father who had no doubt come to cause trouble in the Riverlands. Tyrion did not know whether or not to feel flattered that his father had called the banners for him, though he was not so foolish as to truly think his father had done it for him, no, no doubt his father had done it for the family name and for that child he must never think of. Something his father had promptly reminded him of when Tyrion had come to greet him in his tent.  That done, there had been not much more for him to do until his father had summoned him and told him that he and his clansmen were to fight in the vanguard during the fighting.

It seemed his father truly was determined to kill him, the vanguard was stationed on the eastern bank of the ford where Prince Rhaegar had been slain all those years ago, why they were being stationed there so far from the main army Tyrion knew not, for the Riverlords were coming somewhere close by, Axel Tully had been following his father’s army with his own for some time it seemed.  Tyrion had been enjoying the pleasures of the whore Shae, when Bronn had come to tell him they were getting ready for battle, for it seemed a northern host was marching straight towards them, tired and out of patience, perfect for the lion to show its might.

That was what he had thought before the battle had begun. Ser Gregor Clegane in command of the vanguard had ordered them to charge across the ford, and into the oncoming northmen. Some men had been swept up in the current and died, whilst others had been hit and then drowned by the weight of their armour. Tyrion himself was struggling to remain upright on his horse as it were, swinging his axe, he managed to cut down one man, before nearly being taken out by another. The fighting was fierce and quick, and Tyrion was not sure just how long he could keep doing this for. He had always wanted to be a warrior as a child, but then he had realised such things were not for him. Now it seemed he was going to die in battle, by the gods he hated the Tullys and the Starks.

His arms hurt, this damn axe was too heavy by half, he swung it and it did some damage to some northern brute with fur on his helm or some such nonsense. If he was being honest with himself, which he often was, this was not something he had imagined doing when he had come down from the Vale. He had wanted wine and wenches nothing more and nothing less, he had got a wench but there was no gods’ damned wine. He swung his axe again and managed to bury it in some bastard’s chest, he was without a weapon and that was going to become a problem quite soon.

He found a sword lying on the ground just a few feet away from him and as he strained to reach it, he was knocked from his horse. “A Lannister, Bolton will have to give me something now.” A harsh voice said. Tyrion looked at the figure towering over him and merely prayed to gods he did not know existed that the end would be quick and the child he was not supposed to think of would be safe.

But then the figure crumpled before him, and Tyrion was being hoisted up by someone. “Half man cannot die today.” Shagga said.

A weapon was thrust into his hand and bellowing something or the other Tyrion advanced forward, his height meant that he could not kill men, but he could hinder them. He hacked and stabbed at their feet and ankles, causing many of the northmen to cry out in pain and begin falling to their knees, allowing the mountain clansmen to hack them to pieces. For once he did not feel such a failure with a weapon in his hand. The push continued, the ford was steadily filling up with bodies some Lannister men others Stark men, Tyrion continued his charge, his mad dash for glory hacking away at the ankles of men much bigger than him, sometimes getting knocked down but always getting back up.

More men fall around him, Tyrion hears laughter as he advances through the ranks of the northmen, hacking away at their ankles, they have cleared the ford somewhat and it seems the northmen are being pushed back. It is only when he falls down that he realises that the laughter is his own, gods he sounds mad, is he going mad? He stumbles back up and shakes himself, but by then the mountain men he was with have moved on and there are enemies on all sides, by the gods what is happening here?  The field seems to be closing in on him, his breathing becomes harsher, and his eyes begin to water, what is happening to him? Gods dammit man, he needs to see properly, and otherwise he will most definitely be killed.

He feels as if he is floating, a figure dressed in red and black comes before him then. “So you are Tywin’s boy? I had always wondered what you would look like you know. I have heard the tales and I must admit that something about you seems off.”

Tyrion looks at the figure, and stares, he wonders who this figure is, and why they have come to him now, when he has a battle to fight. As if sensing his confusion the figure laughs. “Worry not Son of Tywin, I am not here to harm you. I am merely here to speak with you.”

“Speak with me?” Tyrion asks. “How can I speak with you, when I do not know who you are?”

The figure laughs then. “Oh yes, you are definitely Tywin’s boy. Only someone such as Tywin would ask such a question. You need not know who I am, you need only know that I am here to advise you.”

Tyrion looks at the figure and scoffs. “I do not need the advice of some figure of my imagination.”

The figure grows angry then. “Oh but you do, you insolent little fool! You are not aware of the dangers to come, how could you be? You must be careful boy, you must be very careful. There are dangers in the light who will try to come and remove you from the things you most desire. The sister will plot death and treason, the father will look towards removal, and the woman of the heart will betray you when time comes in a trial of blood. You must not let them succeed otherwise all we have worked for will be broken.”

Tyrion looks at the figure before him and asks. “Who are you? Who are you working with and what have you achieved?”

But the figure has disappeared, and Tyrion is left staring into a blank space. Thoroughly disconcerted and angry, he shakes his head, only to feel a throbbing pain in his side. Wondering why his side is hurting he looks down and sees his armour has been dented, wait, armour? When did he start wearing armour? And then it all comes rushing back to him, the battle, the dizziness, and soon enough he finds himself being thrown backwards in the oncoming tide of soldiers and water.

His body is racked with pain as he gets thrown from one place to another, are the vanguard retreating? Why would they be retreating last he had remembered they were winning this battle. What has changed in the past few moments that has forced them to retreat? And that is when he sees it, the scores of northmen charging down raining fire arrows on them, fire would be enough to send any sane man running. But Tyrion suspects there is something more going on here, there is some other plan.

A horn is sounded somewhere in the distance, and Tyrion knows something is afoot, he can see the ford coming closer and closer into view. That is not good, they will be crushed, and something needs to be done. What he knows not, but something needs to be done. Suddenly, Tyrion sees more banners and he sees his uncle Kevan leading the charge, and he knows then that the plan was always to use the vanguard as bait, the northmen have fallen into the trap and now the Young Wolf will be taken care of. He continues running on his stumped legs, running as fast as he can through the pain, trying desperately not to look back to see how his uncle is doing.

The vanguard it seems is without a commander, gods alone know where Clegane has gotten to, and so it seems that they are just one large rabble of confused and scared soldiers fleeing back towards where they came from. An Inn comes into view, and Tyrion hopes to gods that they are nearly there, back into safety away from the mass carnage that could come forth from this battle. And yet, just as his hopes start to rise another horn is sounded and this time, there are no lion’s banner flapping in the air, he knows not who these banners belong to but he suspects that this is not going to end well.

This new enemy crashes into the fleeing vanguard, and in the chaos that ensues, Tyrion swears that he nearly loses his head at least twice, thankfully his need for self-preservation is greater than any need for heroics and so he ducks and jabs with the sword he still has. His heart is beating rapidly, and he knows not what will happen but he continues forward as he and the rest of the vanguard struggle with this new enemy as well as trying to reach the camp. The camp will be the safe haven they all so desire, it has to be, but there are so many of these new fucking enemies that it has become hard to see how they will break free.

His body is aching, he longs for the comfort of Shae’s embrace, tiredness is filling his body now, he cannot continue he has no will to continue, and yet his body is forcing his feet to move one in front of the other. The sword has long since been discarded, but still he walks, or is he running? Tyrion knows not anymore, all he knows now is that he must continue, he must push through and make it alive, the child needs him, even if the lad knows it not, the child needs him. 

Chapter Text

7th Month of 298 A.C. Ruby Ford

Ser Axel Tully

The battle of Riverrun had gone quite well as far as Axel was concerned, they had managed to significantly weaken the Kingslayer’s host and Axel had come close to killing the man himself. Yes, he was quite certain that the man would not be coming back any time soon, the cub had retreated with its tail firmly between its legs. Something Axel was quite happy about considering just how little he liked Jaime Lannister, he had fought beside the man during the Greyjoy Rebellion and had found him to be completely devoid of any common sense or decency, he had made several rude remarks about Cat and Lysa which had forced Axel to punch the man and tell him, Tywin Lannister’s son or no, if he ever spoke that way about either of his sister’s again, Axel would gut him from head to toe. The man had never said another bad word about either of Axel’s sisters again.

Axel had been very proud of his eldest son and heir Edmyn during the battle. His son had fought bravely and though he was somewhat shaken by the whole experience of his first battle, he had carried himself with honour and pride. And when the time had come he had done what was necessary to ensure that victory became a matter of fact rather than something that was within reach but just that little further away. Yes Axel was deeply proud of his son and he knew he would make a fine knight when the time came. It might very well come during this battle itself for all he knew.

After dealing with Jaime Lannister, Axel and his men had regrouped within Riverrun and plotted their next move, when word had come of raids being carried out by men carrying lion banners, Axel had known that the true threat had finally emerged in the form of Tywin Lannister. Plans had been made and then shelved, and then made once more, until finally it had been decided that they would not directly engage with the man’s host he had some 20,000 men with him and their own numbers whilst not insignificant could not hope to best the man in open combat with sustaining losses. Instead they would shadow the man’s host, sending outriders under the command of Lord Tytos Blackwood to engage and blind the man to their approach. They would follow the host wherever it went and set up camp further down where they would not be noticed.

That was how they had come to this juncture, they were camped around half a day’s ride away from the south western bank of the ruby ford, where Axel had seen Prince Rhaegar that oaf of a man slain by an even greater oaf in King Robert, and they could see the majority of the Lannister host camped there waiting for something or the other to happen. Axel and his former mentor the heir to the twins Ser Stevron had both been confident that the Lion knew not of their approach and that their outriders had done the job they had supposed to, still they took no chances and they waited patiently, starving the Lannisters of any further information by killing any who came to close to their own camp.

They had been planning some more movements for an engagement when news had come that the Lannister host had moved to cross the ford and right now Axel was waiting for news. It duly came in the form of his old friend and trusted advisor Ser Walder Rivers. “It seems the Lannisters have been engaged by a northern host my lord. Some thousands of northmen are fighting and pushing the Lannisters back into the ford.”

Axel nodded delighted by this. “Has there been any sign of movement from the reserve?”

His old friend shakes his head. “No my lord, they are still holding strong, Lord Tywin it seems does not wish to be moved from his position just yet.”

Axel nods. “I did not think so, Clegane would have command of the vanguard, and no doubt is the one being pushed into the ford, that man has no brains for tactics, if at all, he just swings and hits. Who commands the northern host do you know?” he hoped it was not his nephew for if it was, Lannister would gain the ground.

“My scouts and I could not get a clear picture my lord, but it does seem as though there was a flayed man near the forefront of the party, but next to a Stark direwolf.” Walder Rivers responds.

Axel considers this a moment and then says. “So he sent Roose Bolton to command then. A wise choice. No doubt Bolton is pushing hard waiting for something or the other to happen. We must act soon and fast otherwise sooner or later they shall be overrun. Perwyn,” he calls. Ser Perwyn Frey newly knighted enters. “Tell the men to armour up we are getting ready for war.” His former squire nods and then leaves. He looks at Ser Walder then and asks. “What is troubling you old friend?”

Walder Rivers too many is an angry man, but to Axel he can see the calculating look in his eye and the quickness of his mind. “If Lannister has not yet moved from his post, he must be expecting something as well my lord. What if that something is us?”

Axel looks at his friend then and says as calmly as he can. “Walder, we would know if Tywin Lannister was expecting us. Surely you must know that?” his friend nods, and he continues. “The man is not expecting us, he cannot know that we are as close to his army as we are. And even if he does, so what? He has nowhere to run to. We shall ensure that he loses as many men as he possibly could.”

His friend nods and the leaves the tent to get ready. Axel himself was already armoured, dressed in black as night armour mounts his horse and places his helm on his head, and then prepares for battle. Once the men are ready the signal is given and Lord Jonos rides out with the vanguard to begin harrying the Lannister forces on the southern bank of the ford, there is a long silence after that, in which Axell and his son sit atop their horses waiting and thinking, and then the sounds of battle come through. They sound distant, but Axel knows that soon enough there will be carnage and many dead bodies in the ford. He looks towards where Ser Stevron is mounted and nods his head ever so slightly, his former mentor nods in response and then sounds his horn and the right soon heads off.

Eventually comes the time where Axel must command and lead his men into battle, he looks at his son once and merely says. “Be safe lad.” Before drawing his sword and spurring his horse forward. The plan was simple, the vanguard was to engage the Lannister force on the southern bank, whilst the right and the left would hit the force on the south western bank and split the forces preventing them from joining together. The plan seems to be going well, for when Axel and his men arrive at the battle, fighting is already under way and men are dying by the dozen. He roars for Riverrun, and then the fighting begins in earnest for him.

Axel finds the battle lust on him once more, he swings his sword and begins bringing men down low, his sword slashes through one man with a boar on his armour, and a hack brings one man sputtering to the ground without a hand. His sword slowly adds to the body count and begins to lose its sparkle as the blood count grows, and it soon becomes a red haze. The fighting itself seems to blur before Axel, he does keep an eye out for his son, but mostly the faces all blur together, and he becomes unable to truly differentiate between the golden haired shits who are the Lannisters and their men, the soldiers die easily enough, the knights and lords put up more of a fight.

The banks of the Ruby Ford are covered in bodies, and the scene to death hangs heavy over the field like a pall. The stranger has been feasting it would seem, Axel does not pay much more mind to it than that though, so intent is he on finding Tywin Lannister, the man usually commands from the reserve and so should be somewhere nearby. His son Edmyn is by his side, and as they cut a bloody path through the many Lannisters and their lords that come into their way, Axel is confident that they shall soon find the man and end this gods damned war before it has ever truly begun. His armour is dented in a few places, where the enemy managed to get a few lucky blows in, but other than that, his armour is mainly covered in the blood of dead foes and the dirt from the battlefield.

A big push comes then as they look to drive the Lannister host into the ford, Axel leading the charge swings his sword like a mad man, he supposes he is truly when one thinks about it. Still he cleaves his way through a score of men bearing the lion of Lannister, their bodies falling on top of one another, justice for the burnt villages that their master had ordered. He pushes forward then looking for Tywin Lannister, but not seeing the damned man, he roars his frustration, but cuts down those who stand in his way regardless. The battle continues to ebb and flow as is normally the case and yet Tywin Lannister is nowhere to be seen, his men are dying around him and yet Tywin Lannister cannot be found, this is most odd for Axel.

The battle comes to an end when no more of the lions scum put up a fight, most instead throw down their swords and other weapons and announce their surrender. This surprises Axel for he had thought that it would be a fight for the death. As he and his commanders wait for the prisoners to be brought forward he wonders whether or not Tywin Lannister will be a prisoner or would he have escaped. He soon finds out the answer when Lord Bracken drags three men whom Axel recognises as Ser Addam Marbrand, Ser Flement Brax and Ser Emmon Frey, and ditches them before him. Axel looks at all three and merely says. “You are now my prisoners to do with as I see fit. You have committed crimes most grievous against the people of the riverlands, and for that, your lives are mine to do with as I please.”

There is some murmured approval from the lord gathered, Emmon Frey, the weasel speaks. “My lord please, spare me. You know who I am, we know one another. Please.”

Walder Rivers smacks his brother on the head and says. “Stop your blithering Emmon, you are a traitor and not a true man.”

Axel nods and then turns to his friend. “Send them to the prison tent. I shall speak with the man later.” His friend nods and takes the prisoners to the allotted tent. Once they are gone, Axel looks at his lords then and says in a loud voice. “We have won today, we have shown the lion the wrath of the riverlands.” His lords cheer loudly and the day passes into night with loud and raucous celebrations.

At one point during the night, his mentor comes to speak with him and whispers. “Word from Lord Tytos my lord. It seems that Tywin Lannister and his brother as well as some 13,000 men retreated in good order to Harrenhal.”

Axel nods. “And the status of Bolton’s forces?”

“Good they suffered only some a few thousand losses.” His mentor replies.

Axel nods and then he stands and leaves the feasting and revelry. He looks at his son and sees him playing some kissing game with a serving girl. Normally he would go and reprimand his son, but now he just allows him to have his fun. He returns to his own tent, and falls into a somewhat fitful sleep. The next morning they meet Roose Bolton and his northmen and proceed to make the march back to Riverrun, victory tasting sweet on their tongues and hope filling their hearts and their heads.

Chapter Text

8th Month of 298 A.C. Riverlands

Lord Eddard Stark

Gods his leg pained, every time the horse landed on some patch of uneven ground it sent a jarring pain through his leg and into his body. Forcing him to grit his teeth to prevent himself from crying out. It had been two moons, he would guess since he had been freed from the black cells of the Red Keep, why he had been freed he still knew not, and yet he was not going to complain. The gods had clearly decided they were not done with him yet and so he had kept riding through the pain, determined to get to Riverrun, to where his wife and sons were supposed to be. Ned had heard many a tale during his time riding and hiding of the things his sons had done, of their victories over the Kingslayer and the Lannisters outside Riverrun and he had felt immensely proud and worried for them both, and for Cat as well. It seemed his goodbrother had managed to beat Tywin Lannister as well if the reports, or the rumours he was hearing were true as well.

There had been a few occasions during his journey where he had had to hide behind trees and rocks so as not to be spotted by the patrols that had undoubtedly been sent out from King’s Landing to find him. It was during those times that he had a chance to rest and to take stock of the things, to assess where he stood on many issues, he knew that supporting the Lannisters would be the ultimate betrayal to Jon and Robert, but he knew not what to do regarding Stannis. By all the laws of the land the man was the rightful king, and yet during his stops in villages, he had heard the strangest tales, of a red woman on Dragonstone that was poisoning Stannis’s mind and making him do things that seemed completely irrational, which was not Stannis Baratheon, at least not the man Ned knew. And then there was the issue that Ned knew the man not at all beyond two brief encounters during times of war, was the man truly the right man for the north?

That was the main issue that plagued Ned’s thoughts, he knew what sort of fate awaited him if he did not declare for Stannis, the man if he won the throne would do all he could to ensure that those he considered traitors were punished and that was a stain on his honour that he thought he did not want. But then he had already forsook his honour leaving his girls behind and allowing himself to be arrested. There was so much he needed to do and to think over sometimes it was a wonder his brain did not simply explode from the pressure of it all. He barely knew where he was, so consumed was he in his thoughts. That he knew that this town was Tumblers Falls was mainly because a man named Ser Morgan Dunstable was there, boasting to any and all of the fine wines he had procured that would make this inn  the best in all of the Falls.

His hood up, he observed all those in the inn, he watched them eat, sleep and drink. These were the innocents who would pay for the Lannister woman’s greed and it sickened him just as it had during the rebellion. So much pain and suffering for little reward or gain. How could…. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening, he turned to look and his heart nearly stopped, he would recognise those grey eyes and that long face anywhere. The girl and her companions entered the inn nervously. He looked at the girl’s companions and saw that one was the boy, Robert’s bastard, and the other he knew not, but his eyes followed his daughter as she walked to a table.

As if sensing his eyes on her, his daughter turned and looked at him sharply, she then looked at the sword by his side and her eyes went wide. Thankfully she said nothing, she merely looked at Robert’s bastard and inclined her head slightly, and the bastard nodded. His daughter walked towards him and stood right in front of him for a long time staring at him, staring at him, and he felt his heart lurch. He wanted so badly to take her into his arms, but he could not do it here. His daughter stared at him a moment longer and then walked out of the inn. After a few moments Ned stood up and followed her out of the inn.

The moment he steps out into the open air he feels the wind get partially knocked out of him as his daughter has thrown herself at him. Her head buried into his chest as if she were still a little girl, he wraps his arms around her, his heart lurches again when she looks at him with grey eyes, his eyes, Lya’s eyes and says. “Father? Is that truly you?”

His voice is hoarse when he says. “Yes sweetling, it is.”

His daughter looks at him then in wonder and her voice is incredibly soft when she asks. “How did you escape? I thought you were a prisoner?”

“I was, but then I had help escaping the black cells. I could not get your sister out in time, but I swear to you Arya I shall get Sansa back. And we shall be a pack again.” Ned says his voice sounding incredibly hoarse, full of emotion.

His daughter buries her head into his chest once more and sobs, she is saying something that he cannot decipher, but it sounds awfully like a plea for forgiveness. He tilts her face up then and says. “Arya, sweetling, there is nothing to forgive. You did nothing wrong. Neither you nor your sister did anything wrong. We must stick together, you remember what I always used to say?”

His daughter nods. “The lone wolf dies and the pack survives.”

Ned smiles at his daughter and then asks. “Now your two companions who are they?”

His daughter hesitates for a moment as if she is hiding something but then she says. “Hot Pie and Gendry. There were others but they died as when the Lannisters came.”

Ned’s eyes widen but he manages to keep his voice calm when he asks. “And can they be trusted? Do they know who you are?”

His daughter shakes her head. “Well Gendry does, but he knows not to tell anyone. And Hot Pie, well I don’t think he knows much of anything but how to bake.”

Ned considers this, Robert’s bastard is strong, and was good in the forge, such a person could be useful in the time to come, this Hot Pie though poses a problem, he does not want to be burdened with excess persons. He thinks for a moment then and says. “How have you been travelling sweetling?”

Again his daughter is silent and Ned suspects once more that she is hiding something, but then she says. “Foot father. We could not get horses.”

Ned nods. “Very well, I have a horse tethered to one of the stables here, the town is not too small. But you must come with me, there is someone we must needs meet.”

His daughter hesitates for a second and then says. “Okay, but I have to tell them where I am going otherwise they will start looking for me. And that will bring unwanted attention.”

Ned nods, there is sense in what his daughter says, and then as she walks into the inn, he wonders how she became so weary of others. Gods what had his actions cost him and his daughters? Before he can begin stewing over that though his daughter returns and they walk towards the left side of the town where an old hut remains standing. The hut was built, some say in the age of heroes when the first men roamed and did all they could to maintain their hold on the land. There are runes there said to be as old as Winterfell itself, it was a famous place once upon a time, but now it is nothing more than a distant memory for many who do not keep to the old gods.

“Why are we here father?” his daughter asks her eyes wide.

Ned still has his hood up but he merely says. “There is someone of great import we must meet here before we leave for where your mother and brothers are.”

His daughter nods though Ned knows she has a dozen questions burning in her mind. They come to the front of the hut, and Ned knocks once a voice musical in tone calls out. “Who is there?”

“It is I the quiet wolf, come to speak with the green man.” Ned says his voice barely above a whisper.

And yet as always Ned is surprised when the door opens and a figure stands there, dressed as he was the last time Ned met him, all in green from head to foot, his armour is green, and the mask he wears is green, the only thing that is not green is are the black runes on his armour denoting the house he originally came from. “Come in quiet wolf,” the man says his voice still carrying that musical lilt to it. The Green Man looks at Arya and then at Ned. “I see you remember what we spoke of last time you were here.”

Ned nods and brings his daughter into the hut, the green man shows them into the room where Ned last sat and heard his future all those years ago at Harrenhal. His daughter asks. “Who are you? And why are we here?”

Ned goes to speak to answer his daughter’s question but the Green Man answers before he can do so. “I have had many names and faces during my time on this mortal coil. In this day and age I am known as the Green Man, and you are here, because your father has come to seek guidance from me. Is that not right Lord Eddard?”

“It is my lord.” Ned says deferentially.

The Green Man laughs. “Come now my lord, I am not that much older than you. Indeed it was a rare event for us to meet, for I had seen your death in that infernal city. Someone came and changed that did they not?” Ned nods and then the man continues. “Of course, it would be him, he always did have to meddle in things that were best left untouched. But I digress you are here because you wish to know whether or not the thoughts in your head are worthy of consideration.”

“Yes, to declare for Stannis Baratheon is the honourable thing to do. But I have found out, just as you said I would that honour is not everything. And that it would cost me dearly. Well it has, and now I find myself wondering if perhaps the north would be better without being tied to the Iron Throne.” Ned responds.

The Green Man looks at him then and in the dim light of the fire, his mask looks ominous, the face of the wierwood, the weeping face had always unnerved Ned when he was younger and now seeing it on this man again after so long is something that terrifies him even more. “The north will burn if you declare for Stannis Baratheon my lord. His red priestess has him so deeply enthralled that he has burnt the Sept at Dragonstone, and will begin burning those his red woman tells him to. His god is a hungry god. And you fought to remove a fire man once before.”

“We both did.” Ned says softly. “But surely being tied to the throne is better than being completely isolated.”

The Green Man laughs. “Come now Lord Eddard, by virtue of your marriage to Lady Catelyn, you will never be truly isolated, there will be an alliance with the riverlands, for you to use. But the north, the north must needs be free, otherwise one shall never know the truth of what it means to be free. Break the shackles my lord, and do as your ancestors did.”

Ned is about to respond when the sound of horses comes to them in the hut. Ned stands then and grabs Arya. “I thank you for your council my lord, but we must away.” The man nods and shows them the back way out, Ned holds onto Arya as they practically run towards where his horse is.

“But what about Gendry and Hot Pie father?” his daughter asks as he helps her onto the saddle.

“We cannot go back for them. There are enemies coming we must go.” Ned says before heaving himself onto the horse, he checks that Ice is still on his person, before he removes it and quickly fixes it to the saddle, and then he spurs the horse on,.

As they ride his daughter’s voice comes to him then. “Who was that man father?”

Ned sighs and says. “Before he became the Green Man, he was a friend of mine, he was Kyle Royce. And he is our cousin.”

Chapter Text

8th Month of 298 A.C Riverrun

Lady Catelyn Stark

Oh but it was good to be back in Riverrun, the home of her youth. It had been far too long since last she was here, and she had spent the past few days enjoying the feeling of being back in her childhood home, reminiscing over the adventures and many things that she and her siblings had done. She had also spoken with her two brothers many times during the past few days, Edmure joyful and filled with life as always, and her elder brother Axel serious and witty, her brother’s wife and children were a delight as well and Catelyn was happy to see that Jeyne had settled into Riverrun.  There was of course the relief that Riverrun was free from Lannister occupation and that the Kingslayer was now a prisoner. She was also thoroughly relieved that both her sons were safe, they were the talk of the castle, with their fight against Jaime Lannister and how their direwolves had ended the threat the man posed. If she was being truthful she was just glad they were safe.

Her father was ill though, gravely ill, and that worried Catelyn, it was not that she doubted Axel’s ability to take command he was a good enough commander and had ruled the Riverlands well during their father’s illness, but there was something reassuring about their father that she felt was missing from her elder brother. How long Lord Hoster had left, none could say, it was almost as if he was clinging onto life so that he could see all his children one last time, and yet Catelyn did not think that Lysa would descend from her mountain home for anything. She found herself wondering what had happened to her sister to make her so bitter and hateful.

Right now though there was not enough time to dwell over such mattes, her brother and son had called a meeting of the lords of both the north and the riverlands to discuss what their next course of action should be. Catelyn had been asked to attend both by her son and her brother and so she sat and listened as her brother spoke first. “My lords, I must thank you for coming to our aid when it was needed. It was foolish of me not to expect Jaime Lannister to come back to haunt us. And yet now his father is battered and bruised, we are in a strong position and yet as long as the Lannisters remain in the Riverlands we are all under threat. I would hear suggestions.”

Her eldest son Robb spoke then. “Aye, the Lannister army is not completely broken, there are men with Lannister at Harrenhal, and men recuperating in the Westerlands. Both must be dealt with and perhaps Tywin Lannister seeing as he is the most pressing threat should be dealt with first?”

There is some mutterings of agreement from some of the younger men in the hall at this but her brother shakes his head. “Whilst there is sense in dealing with the old lion first, that is what the man wants. We march on Harrenhal and we are marching into a trap. The castle is tough to lay siege to and to take, though it is in ruins. All in truth it is like that help would come from the Crownlands and from the Westerlands. They still have men in the thousands ready to come to arms should the need arise.”

“So then an attack on the Westerlands? That would make the most sense in that case would it not? Attack the Westerlands and draw out Tywin Lannister.” Her second son Jon said.

Catelyn looks at her brother, but it is her uncle who speaks. “Aye that would make the most sense. Attack the West with heavy hits and draw the old lion from Harrenhal. When he marches he will come steaming through, that is when we engage in combat and break his host.”

Her brother seems to take up on the thread of the conversation. “And allow him to think that he is going to lose here, but in reality we allow some of his force through and then we hit him in the rear. Yes that would make sense. But the question is which host goes through to the west?”

Her uncle speaks then. “The northern host should march west, we must remain here to defend our lands against further Lannister raiding. Tywin Lannister will send men out to raid and draw us out from Riverrun to divide use. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Her elder brother nods. “Aye that does make the most sense. Of course we shall need to give reason for not allowing my lords to head back to their keeps. Perhaps a few hits against Lannister supply lines could be arranged. More detailed plans shall need to be made first of all though.”

Ser Stevron speaks then. “Is it wise to pursue this course of action though my lords? We are after all rebelling against the crown, something tantamount to treason. If we continue to harm the Westerlands would we not be signing our own death warrants should the Lannisters ultimately succeed?”

The Greatjon speaks then. “A coward’s question. We have cut the tail off of the lion Frey. We are winning this war, and we shall continue to do so. There is nothing more for it.”

Catelyn speaks then. “And what of my husband and my daughters my lords? It is all well and good talking about bringing the Lannisters to their knees, but doing so will only aggravate Cersei Lannister more, and put both my husband and my girls’ lives at risk.”

Jon speaks then. “If Cersei Lannister has any sense she would not harm father and the girls. They are more valuable alive then harmed.”

Catelyn looks at her son then and says. “Cersei Lannister does not seem to be a woman capable of reasonable decision making son. We cannot know how she will react, and I do not wish to stake my loved ones safety on her.”

Lord Tytos Blackwood speaks then. “You are a woman my lady, and whilst I mean no disrespect, you do not understand a man’s need for justice and for action. To sue for peace now when we are so strong would be akin to surrendering. It would make us look weak and invite further harsh repercussions than what I would like.”

Lord Bracken speaks up in agreement. “The Lannisters have caused grievous harm to my lands and my people. I will not bend to them, I will not surrender or give up until they are all dead and buried in the ground.”

Catelyn goes to speak but knows then that her words will fall on death ears and so she remains silent for the rest of the meeting as her brother, uncle and sons discuss along with their bannermen the plans that need to be made for the invasion of the Westerlands and later the defences of the Riverlands. She sits and watches and her heart feels heavy, she wishes desperately to hold her children close to her, but she knows now they are changing and growing.

Eventually the meeting comes to an end, and Catelyn stands and leaves the hall, she walks back to the rooms she had had as a girl, and sits there for a long time wondering over the events that have brought them all here. She desperately hopes that there is a bright future for them, but her husband’s house words keep echoing in her head, Winter is Coming, it seems for her and her family and she worries and threats. She knows not what to do to abate it but it nags at her until a knock on the door and her brother’s entrance pull her thoughts back to the here and now. Her brother looks worn and tired, he had always been tall and broad shouldered now he has flecks of grey in his auburn hair which he had always kept short. “You are well Cat?” he asks.

She nods. “As well as be, considering the circumstances.”

Her brother looks at her then the way he always would when he was worried. Eventually he sighs and says. “You know if there was a peaceful solution to be had, I would be the first one to advocate it don’t you Cat?”

“There is a peaceful solution. Axel we hold Jaime Lannister, Tywin Lannister’s golden child prisoner, he will want him back. He has no army to speak of truly to threaten the alliance here. We are as powerful now as we will ever be. How can you not wish to seek peace?” she asks.

Her brother sighs. “Because to seek peace now, would be to make myself and father look weak. We are winning this war, and the only way to get what we all want without compromising ourselves is to beat the Lannisters down to the ground. We can only do that by removing Tywin Lannister and the threat of the West.”

“So you would endanger my girls and my husband so that you can continue to fight for pride? That was not what father taught you was it Axel?” Catelyn asks.

Her brother sighs. “I do not like doing this, but it must be done Cat. Your husband would agree with me. I must defend my people, and the only way to do that is to ensure the Lannisters can never again threaten us. Your husband and your girls will be safe I promise you.”

“How can you be so sure of that? Ned was supposed to be safe with the King as his best friend and yet now he rots in a cell, and my girls are under threat in that damnable city. This war will only make their safety worse.” Cat says coming close to shouting.

Her brother looks at her then and his voice is soft. “What did Petyr Baelish tell you when you met him in King’s Landing?”

She is stunned. “He…he said that the Lannisters were dangerous and that we needed to be wary of them. He promised to aid Ned in dealing with them.”

Axel sighs. “He played you for a fool Cat. He never had any intention of helping your husband. If I am right then Baelish wanted lord Eddard in prison before he had any inclination of aiding him.”

“What… what do you mean? Why would Petyr do that?” she asks uncertain of what her brother means, but also at the same time fearing if her worst fears are going to be confirmed.

“You remember the duel he fought with Brandon Stark before Harrenhal?” she nods of course she does. “Well it seems he has harboured ill feelings towards the Starks ever since that day. This was merely a move to get back at a ghost and the family he believed robbed him of his one true love.” Axel says.

“That can’t be true. It was just a childish infatuation, surely? Regardless what could some duel that happened nearly twenty years ago have to do with Ned being imprisoned?” she asks.

Her brother looks at her then, his eyes sad. “You never heard the whispering because I kept it from you, but Baelish went about proclaiming he loved you even before that damnable duel. And even afterwards when he came to court he would walk around proclaiming how he loved you and you loved him and how he had taken your maidenhead. I threatened to kill him once when I was in King’s Landing. He merely laughed though. The man has wanted nothing but pure chaos. He was the one who betrayed your husband to the Queen.”

This revelation hits her hard, she feels as though she cannot breathe and so she asks. “How do you know this?” her voice barely above a whisper.

Axel looks at her and his eyes look so sad, Catelyn worries over what he might be about to say. His voice is equally soft when he responds. “I have my sources in King’s Landing Cat, I know things about that court that would make your skin crawl. All I will say is that Petyr Baelish is one man who I intend to kill one way or another, as I should have done a long time ago.”

Chapter Text

8th Month of 298 A.C. Riverrun

Lord Eddard Stark

The journey from Tumblers Falls to Riverrun had been an eventful one. Several times during the journey they had had to come off of the main path and use side roads, mainly because Ned was not sure whether the men riding were enemy or friend. He did not want to take any chances, not when he had just gotten his daughter back. Arya herself seemed to be very quiet, she often would speak for hours at a time asking about all sorts of things, and then would spend hour’s simply saying nothing and merely leaning back as he guided the horse. They both had their swords on them, Ice and Needle, and occasionally during the journey Ned would mock spar with her, using the reasoning that if she was going to keep that sword she might as well know how to use it. Arya because she was so small was nimble and quick, and was able to move into places and positions that Ned knew no grown man would anticipate. Whilst he was relieved by this he was also quite worried. He did not want his daughter to know the horrors of bloodshed but suspected she might already do so. And of course there was the point of Robert’s bastard Gendry, Arya had wanted to go back and get him any number of times, but her desire to see the rest of the family often won out at the end. Ned though was sure that he would get the boy safely to Riverrun one way or another.

And then they had arrived in Riverrun, thankfully they had not come too late, there was no Lannister army laying siege to the castle, and his wife and sons were safe and sound. There had been a tearful reunion when he had entered the castle, with Cat clinging to both him and Arya and his twins embracing him as well, though from the stories that they had told him they were soon becoming men. Hearing of their duel with the Kingslayer, he had been both terrified and proud that they had held their own, though he had admonished them to be more careful next time. Whilst Robb and Jon had taken Arya’s barrage of questions and taken her to get to know their Tully cousins, Ned and his wife had spent the day wandering around Riverrun speaking of a great many things, their children, Robert and Cersei and the bastards, and finally Littlefinger. When Ned had admitted that it had been Baelish who had betrayed him, Catelyn had gasped and had begun shaking slightly, Ned had taken her in his arms then and asked what was wrong and she had told him her fears, of Baelish manipulating them both to start a war, of his use of Lysa. And it was there and then Ned had sworn revenge on the man, justice for Jon Arryn.

He had been in Riverrun for some four days, when he and his goodbrother finally decided to speak of the war plans. Of course the other lords had decided to get involved as well, and that was how they had found themselves in Riverrun’s great hall discussing their next move. “Heading west makes the most sense. Drawing Tywin Lannister out of Harrenhal and trapping him in territory that we can dictate, is something that holds appeal and would bring the man out of his comfort zone.” Ned says.

“Aye that it does, the question is though will you take all of your men west with you?” his goodbrother Axel asks.

Ned has had very little contact with his goodbrother beyond their time fighting together during the Rebellion, and from that limited contact he believes the man to be good and true, though his whisperings of something more than the throne had not sat comfortably with Ned then, now though… “I believe it would make the most sense to take my full strength with me. They would serve no purpose remaining here in the Riverlands. With Jaime Lannister in chains, there is not an immediate threat to stability. And besides having the full might coming down on their backs will force what Lannisters are left in command in the West to make hasty decisions.”

There is some murmuring at that and his goodbrother speaks. “That is true. Now the issue is, with you in the Westerlands, Tywin Lannister will be forced to move from Harrenhal, but the direction he comes is another matter. If he so chooses he can march directly from Harrenhal through the Red Fork and cross at the Tooth. We could give him challenge there but then there is the issue of the ground, and whether or not it would hold the number of men needed to significantly challenge Lannister. But then we could advance forward and wait for the man down near High Heart a place he will need to cross with some of the defeats he has suffered.”

Ned nods. “Aye that is true. Though if not High Heart waiting for him on the borders of the Red Fork would not be a plan as well. That then raises the question. Do we take Tywin Lannister then and there or wait for him to cross into the Westerlands?”

His goodbrother is silent a moment and then it is the Blackfish who speaks up. “Fighting him to the point of capture within the Riverlands would be nonsensical, he will be pushing hard to get back to the Westerlands, but at the same time will be weary of actively committing himself to the action. He will wait and see. We must force him into the West.”

“What would you suggest uncle?” Ser Axel asks.

Ser Brynden is silent a moment and then responds. “Give battle when the man and his army come calling, and then when the moment comes which it will allow a breakage in the ranks that gives the man the chance to break through. He and his army will go storming into the West then, and we shall need you waiting for him here, near Sarsfield, the trap will have been set. His men will be bloodied and tired, and perfect to prey on. Lannister himself will be trapped, and that is when he will fall.”

There is an appreciative murmur at that. “A good plan, and one that should work if carried out properly and effectively. Should we succeed we shall have the Lord of Casterly Rock and his heir in our possession. That puts us in a very strong position. Strong enough to dictate terms to the Lannister woman and her allies.”

There is a murmur of agreement and then Lord Willam Dustin ever bold speaks. “You do not mean to bend the knee to the Lannisters do you my lord? They were the ones who imprisoned you in the first place.”

Ned looks at his old friend and says simply. “I have no intention to bend the knee to Joffrey Waters, he is no son of Robert Baratheon, nor are his brother or Sister Robert’s children. They are the product of a most heinous crime, coupling between the Kingslayer and his sister Queen Cersei. Stannis Baratheon is Robert true heir.”

More murmuring follows this statement and it contains an ounce of shock, Ned looks at his wife then and sees that she is somewhat shaken by this, and he knows she is thinking the same thing…Bran… Lord Galbart speaks then. “Do you mean to declare for Stannis then my lord?”

Ned is about to speak when his goodbrother speaks. “I have no doubt that what you say is true Lord Eddard, but think on this, Joffrey Waters is a bastard, but he is also a child, he is someone who can be controlled. We hold his father and will soon hold his grandfather, his mother will not dare to do anything to us with them in danger. We could well negotiate terms and end this war right here and now.”

Ned knows his goodbrother is merely playing the voice of opposing council and leading to something they had both agreed on. Ser Stevron the heir to the twins speaks then. “That does make sense, we have wounded the lion let us now look to dominate the court. After all your own daughter is still in King’s Landing is she not my lord of Stark?”

Ned squeezes Catelyn’s hand at that and then says. “She is yes, but she will never marry that bastard so long as I live. I will not leave her to that fate. The lion is wounded but I confess I would rather see it dead. I do not as much fondness for the thing as of late.” A gale of laughter follows this statement.

Ser Stevron speaks then. “Whilst I can understand your reluctance to treat with the Lannisters my lord, surely it is preferable to more war and bloodshed. My cousin Emmon remains here in the cells of Riverrun, but he is a Lannister by marriage allow me to speak with him and we can dictate the terms to the Lannister woman. Surely peace is more desirable.”

Lord Rickard Karstark speaks then. “No! My son Torrhen died fighting the Lannisters, it is justice I want not peace. There will be no peace for me until they are all dead and rotting in the ground.”

Lords Bracken and Blackwood both say. “Hear, hear. The lions have caused far too much damage for there to be a peace.”

Even the quiet Lord Bolton speaks then. “To seek for peace would make us look weak. War must be fought and the Lannisters must be destroyed.”

Willam speaks once more. “Then what do you mean to do my lord? Lord Renly has as we all know declared himself king as well. There are now two competing claims in the realm, and the realm prefers Renly.”

Ned looks at his old friend and merely says. “Renly cannot become King before Stannis. That is not how this works. And Stannis is Robert’s heir whether or not we like it. He is a true man, a hard man and just. He would ensure justice is brought for the killers of Jon Arryn and the hurts done to the Riverlands.” He pauses there to gauge the reaction, and as expected the Greatjon is the first to speak.

“A pox on Stannis Bloody Baratheon! Why should we bend the knee to some bloody southerner who has never been north of the neck? What does he know of our ways? He thinks us some bloody savages, let him. Let him keep his damn chair. Let us be free again, the dragons are dead and it was them we knelt to.” The Giant of Last Hearth says.

Not all of them, Ned thinks but he does not say it aloud, before the visions of a tower and the white knight come back to him. He swallows and says. “You would undo nearly three hundred years of unity my lord?”

The man nods. “We don’t need the Iron Throne and it don’t need us.”

Ned sighs internally, but looks at his goodbrother who nods. “My lords, when I was in need of an ally in King’s Landing Stannis Baratheon did not come. He refused to answer my summons, it was a dereliction of duty that I am not used to from the man. It is clear that something had happened to change him, and I believe that I know what that change is. A red priestess stands by his side and whispers in his ear, she talks of things that no sane man would believe. This priestess would take the north from us, to give to her fires. We fought to remove a fire obsessed mad man from the throne once before. I would not put someone on the throne who was in a similar vein. Renly is a child who thinks he knows the ways of the world, when he does not. He will fall before he succeeds. We cannot have a green boy on the throne, and I will not fight endless wars with a mad man. The north must be free again as it was in days of old. The south has taken and never given. That ends now.”

“So the riverlands has given you nothing?” Ser Ryman asks his mouth lilting angrily.

“It has given me my wife whom I love more than anything. But it is not part of the south.” Ned says. “There is honour in the riverlands that there is not elsewhere.”

“What are you suggesting my lord?” Jason Mallister asks.

“The Iron Throne is done, it is finished. It no longer holds any relevancy to us. We must forge our own paths and break the Lannisters once and for all.” Ned responds.

There is silence following that statement and then both the Greatjon and Lord Willam get down on one knee and it is the Greatjon who lays his sword at Ned’s feet and says. “If you would have it, I would have you as my king Lord Eddard. The Starks were once kings, let them be kings again. The King in the North!”

Lord Willam speaks. “Aye, I could think of no better person to be king!”

Maege Mormont shouts. “The King of Winter and let us not forget Lady Catelyn the Queen of Winter!”

There are shouts of approval as the northern lords get down on one knee and proclaim him and Cat king and Queen of the north. He looks at his goodbrother and asks. “Lord Axel will you join us?”

“Aye, as allies and equals. My lords of the trident what say you?” his goodbrother calls out.

Ned notes Ser Stevron and Ser Walder Rivers are the first to get down on one knee and pledge their fealty to Axel as King of the Trident, what with Lord Hoster on death’s door. The cheers echo around the room and it is the Greatjon and the Blackfish who take up the cry. “All hail the King of the North and the King of the Trident. Let them live long and end the Lions.”

Chapter Text

8th Month of 298 A.C. King’s Landing

Tyrion Lannister

Ah to be away from the field of battle, it was a relief. He had never been one of those boys who had dreamed of winning acclaim on the battlefield, he had always known he would be no soldier, and the battle of Ruby Ford had proven it. Tyrion had almost died about seven times during the battle to gods alone knows what, and he was sure that had been all down to his father’s design and plans. But of course they had come close to beating the northern host, when the damned Riverlords had come in and began destroying whatever chances they had. That his father and the host had managed to beat a retreat was largely down to Tyrion and the clansmen from the Vale who had slaughtered those who had gotten in their way, of course Tyrion had not gotten the thanks he was owed for that, and instead had been told that he was going off to King’s Landing to act as hand in his father’s stead. He supposed that was thanks enough.

Of course upon arriving in King’s Landing he had wondered if his father had sent him here another sort of punishment. So inept were his sister and his nephew’s councillors at ruling that the people of King’s Landing were constantly looking for some excuse to revolt, already there had been two attempted uprisings which the giving of food had managed to quell. Though he was not truly sure how long such good will could last. They were getting beaten in the war, and with the recent news to come from Riverrun as well as from Highgarden and Dragonstone, gods alone knew what was going to happen. It was this last piece of news that had become the central topic of discussion in the council meeting. “So Eddard Stark and Axel Tully have declared themselves king have they?” Tyrion mused. “Stark I can understand, there were no favours done to him here, and the north is practically impenetrable, but Tully? Now that most certainly is interesting.”

“What does it matter what their reasons are? They have broken their oaths of fealty and are traitors who must be punished.” His sweet sister Cersei snapped.

Tyrion sighed internally, sometimes he wondered how his sister could be so woefully ignorant. “It matters because there must have been some reason to prompt both men who are so known for their honour and their dedication to their oaths to declare themselves independent. That they did not even consider declaring for Stannis Baratheon is something that must be looked into.”

“There is nothing that must be looked into. They are traitors all of them and must be punished.” Cersei responds.

Tyrion sighs again. “The issue must be looked into because whilst the north is strong and firm, and there is no question about any of Ned Stark’s bannermen and their loyalty the trident has always been a fractious and divided region and as such this is something that could be worked on.”

At this his sister looks at him with interest. “How do you mean?”

Tyrion looks at his sister somewhat dumbfounded and then says slowly. “The Riverlords are a quarrelsome people. Slights done long ago are remembered even now, look at the Brackens and the Blackwoods. Then there is Walder Frey who is a man with more ambition and children than he knows what to do with. Right there, is someone who would turn with the right incentive.”

“And what better incentive than having one of his brood in Riverrun as well as the north?” Lord Petyr Baelish says.

Tyrion nods, though internally he thinks of how he is going to deal with the little worm. “That is correct my lord. We know that Robb Stark is betrothed to one of Walder Frey’s many girls, but the man wants to have a descendant in Winterfell, we could well give him that. As for the Riverlords we have men within the Riverlords camp do we not Lord Varys?” the master of whispers nods and then Tyrion continues. “Well then we might as well use them to sow the seeds of discontent. That kingdom will not last longer than a fortnight.”

“And what of the Vale then? Lysa Arryn the little prude sits in the Eyrie with her men doing nothing but stew, she is an ever present threat.” Cersei says.

Baelish speaks then. “If you were to give me the tools with which to do so. I could very easily charm Lysa into remaining out of this war. In fact I might even be able to make her commit to fighting against her own family.”

Tyrion is suspicious of this and therefore asks. “Would the woman really fight against her family? The Tully words are Family, Duty and Honour in that order for a reason.”

“Well considering Ned Stark broke his word of honour to the King, and is now a king, we cannot truly say what is what anymore now can we my lord?” Baelish says with a mocking little smile on his face. “Furthermore, Lysa has always been susceptible to my charms I am sure that has not changed. She will do what we want her to do if I ask nicely.”

“And face the wrath of her bannermen for it. This is a plan that is not well suited to working my lord.” Tyrion counters.

“Ah but the Lady Lysa is a single widow with a small child that needs being raised. Would you rather have some Valelord who would commit to aiding the rebels, or would you rather have someone who you know and who knows Lysa, helping her rule the Vale and raise her son?” the worm says.

He has a point Tyrion admits, he looks toward his sister who remains silent staring at the master of coin and then he says. “That is very true, when the time comes we shall remember this my lord. Now for the nonce we must put this issue aside and talk about Renly and Stannis. What news do you have Varys?”

The master of whispers is silent a moment and then responds. “Renly Baratheon has not done much since his crowning at Highgarden. He marches up the Rose Road at a leisurely pace and allows for there to be much merriment, all the while Mace Tyrell controls the food going to the camps and prevents any from leaving the Reach. The lords of the crownlands who border the Reach are growing more and more concerned as time goes by. Sooner or later Renly will decide to march and when he does the city will fall. As regards Stannis the man has called his men and his ships and sits and waits on Dragonstone.”

The news about Renly was expected but the news regarding Stannis is surprising. “Waiting, what is he waiting for?”

“I am not sure my lord, but I do believe it has something to do with the red priestess that he has taken company with. It seems she has asked him to wait for some favourable conditions or some such. The man has begun doing as Aerys did and has begun offering burnings for good conditions.”

Tyrion nods and then holds up the letter that had come earlier that day. “And what of this letter, what is his reasoning for this?”

The master of whispers is silent a moment and then responds. “It seems that these claims that the man has begun sprouting are to justify his rebellion and his attempted usurpation. Furthermore, the growing dissent within the crownlands towards King Joffrey might well be looked at as being part of the man’s plan.”

Cersei speaks then. “Those claims Stannis makes in his letter are filthy lies, and whoever speaks them must be dealt with. They must have their tongues removed and their eyes gorged out so they cannot speak nor see the lies he spreads.”

“Doing that would not help our cause sweet sister. It would only make us look like we are trying to hide something. No, if we are to counter act Stannis Baratheon’s lies we must give the commons and the lords something else to discuss. Something that will make them loath and laugh at Stannis even more than they do so now.”

The room is silent as they all debate what issues must could be brought forward, eventually Lord Baelish speaks. “There is one thing that could delight the commons and the noble lords, Stannis Baratheon is not well liked that is true, but to truly prevent him from getting support we must make him to be what he is accusing others of. A cuckhold, he has a fool on Dragonstone that his daughter seems oddly enough attached to, it could be plausibly believed that she is that fool’s daughter. For no man with good sense would want to sleep with Selyse Florent.”

There is a guffaw of laughter then and Tyrion says between laughter. “If that works my lord then I would gladly see you as Lord Protector of the Vale. Pycelle see it done. Soon enough the commons will forget all about the accusations Stannis has made.”

A silence follows this and then finally it is Cersei who speaks. “Has anyone been able to find Ser Barristan Selmy? The man was dismissed but has not been found.”

Janos Slynt Lord of Harrenhal and Commander of the City Watch speaks then. “None of my men have been able to find him. And with the growing trouble within the streets we have not been able to give our full attention to the matter Your Grace.”

Cersei grimaces and Varys speaks then. “It makes no matter, whilst Ser Barristan is a symbol he has nowhere to go, eventually he will come back here, or he will be found dead. His time is long done. He holds no love for Stannis or Renly, and as such there are no Targaryens here for him to fight for. He will come back.”

There is something about the way the man responds that makes Tyrion wonder if there is more to what he is saying. But he decides to file that away for another time, for his sister has just called an end to the small council meeting and as they all begin to file out his sister asks for him to remain behind. Wondering what it is his sister could be wanting to speak with him about he sits down and waits. Eventually she speaks, her voice soft. “Have you managed to find out a way to get Jaime back yet?”

“I am working on it. We need someone within that damnable castle we can count on. Uncle Emmon might be good enough, if they send him.”

“Will they truly come to talk terms do you think?” his sister asks desperation clouding her voice.

“We have Eddard Stark’s daughter, he will want to come and discuss terms. So yes I believe we shall have a chance there.” Tyrion responds.

His sister nods and then says. “I looked into what happened to you at the Vale Tyrion, I admit there is something very suspicious about what happened there. With what Littlefinger has been proposing today, I do believe you when you said that we must keep an eye on him.”

Tyrion looks at his sister surprised. “What did you find Cersei?”

“It seems Littlefinger has deeper pockets than even I first thought. He has been working on something for a very long time, and it would appear that it is coming to fruition right now. He promised to help Eddard Stark with his investigation into Jon Arryn’s death, and was also planning something on the side. It was him who came to me when you were kidnapped. I wondered how he knew, and then I realised, he has men in the Riverlands. Some of those who went with Catelyn Stark, were his men. Tyrion he has been playing a long game, and we are his pawns.” His sister responds.

Tyrion looks at his sister and then asks. “What do you intend to do?”

“He will be used for now, and then when the time comes he will be dealt with.” His sister responds a certain fire in her eyes that makes Tyrion glad that for once they are working together.

Chapter Text

8th Month of 298 A.C. Riverrun

Prince Robb Stark

He was a prince, not only a prince but the crown prince, the heir to the whole of the north. That was something he had not been truly expecting, after all he had come south to free his father and his sisters, and yet his father and sister Arya had arrived in Riverrun a week or so after capturing the Kingslayer. And everything had happened quite quickly from there, Robb had learnt more about the Lannisters and southern politics than he had ever thought he would learn, and his father had been named King in the North. That was a decision that had surprised Robb, after all his father had raised him and his siblings on the code of honour and when his father had said that Stannis Baratheon was King Robert’s true heir, Robb had thought his father meant to declare for Stannis. And so his decision to become King in the North was a surprise, but it was not a shock for Robb could see the reasoning behind it, the Iron Throne had done nothing but take from the north, and now it was time for the north to be free again.

Robb would have liked to think that he was adapting to life as a crown prince quite well, it was not entirely all that different to life as heir to Winterfell. People were just a lot more deference he supposed and there were a fair few girls who seemed to be willing to play come into my castle with him, now than there had been before. He truly did not mind that and it seemed his father did not mind as much either, so long as he was discreet about it. His twin however seemed to be struggling with the adaptation to royalty. Jon had never truly been comfortable in the spotlight and as the spare, he had never truly been focussed upon, but as a Prince of the Realm he was now being looked at with even greater interest and he was foundering. Robb felt some pity for his brother and had said he needed to let go of some of his stricter morals, but it seemed that was a losing battle. As for Arya well she seemed to be struggling as well, there were more confinements for her and well, Robb knew she did not like confinement.

Robb had seen his father and uncle at work as Kings when they had brought Cleos Frey from the cells of Riverrun to send to King’s Landing as a peace envoy. Robb knew that the man was being sent terms that were not good enough to ensure a true peace, but doing this was better than doing nothing at all. Cleos Frey was like his Frey relatives in that he had a mop of greasy hair and looked like a weasel. He seemed to be quite the coward as well, and though he had tried to show some sort of defiance ultimately he had caved in. The terms were relatively simple. In return for Sansa, Robb’s father and uncle would stop engaging in hostilities with the Iron Throne, and Jaime Lannister would remain a prisoner. Furthermore, to ensure peace, the Iron Throne would recognise the independence of the north and the trident and Tywin Lannister would pay reparations to Riverrun for damaged caused. These were terms that Robb knew would never be accepted but it would cause enough delay for plans for Sansa to be freed to come to life.

Right now there were a few issues that needed to be discussed and as a result of this, Robb’s father and his uncle Axel had called a meeting with Ser Stevron, Lord Bolton, Lord Blackwood and Robb and Jon as well as their cousin Edmyn. King Axel spoke first. “There are many issues that must be discussed today, but the first issue I would like to discuss is the issue of my nephew Prince Robb’s betrothal to one of the Frey girls. Ser Stevron if you would care to explain your father’s reasoning for this.”

The heir to the twins was old, as old if not older than Robb’s grandfather and yet he spoke softly as if he was nervous. “Truly Your Grace I am not sure what my father’s reasoning was. It seems he was wishing to drive a hard bargain and gain something from allowing Prince Robb and his men to cross at the Twins. My father has always been an ambitious man, and it seems this time he wanted to use a difficult situation to get a better deal for himself.”

Silence follows Ser Stevron’s explanation and then when Robb looks at his uncle, he sees a very cold and hard man before him. King Axel’s voice is cold when he responds. “Your father is very lucky that there is a war going on right now. Otherwise I would march on the Twins and tear his head from his body myself. The man did not send aid when aid was requested as was his duty to his liege lord, and yet he demands something from my kin? He sits there and complains that no one gives him respect, well then this is just another reason why there is no respect for House Frey.”

Robb can sense the tension in the room at this point and so too it seems can Ser Stevron. “What do you suggest then Your Grace? For, there is a war going on, and it would be far too costly to do something as drastic as marching on the twins right now.”

Robb looks at his father and sees that his father is looking directly at his uncle, King Axel is silent for a long time before he finally responds. “Seeing as Walder Frey committed treason by not sending all the aid he could to Riverrun when the call came, and considering that I am very close to having him removed from the Lordship of the Twins, the betrothal between my nephew Prince Robb Stark and a girl from House Frey is null and void. It was made without my permission and by a man who is one step removed from being executed.”

Robb breathes a sigh of relief then, but Ser Stevron speaks up. “I do not think my father will be best pleased by that Your Grace. He will want some sort of compensation.”

“If your father so much as voices a complaint, then his head will adorn a spike above the twins, and you will be Lord of the Twins. He is treading on very thin ice, and it is time he realised that. I will send a raven to him informing him of this broken betrothal. And if he so much as threatens withdrawing his troops, you shall have me to answer to.” King Axel says.

Robb looks at Ser Stevron who merely nods and then the attention turns to other matters, such as the planning of war tactics in the Riverlands, with the Lannisters doing hit and run tactics to try and draw lords out of Riverrun, Lord Blackwood worries if they are trying to create divisions, and yet all agree that the longer they remain here, the more frustrated Tywin Lannister will become with his desire to see his son freed. And then attention turns to Stannis and Renly and this is where Robb speaks up. “An alliance with Renly would be far more beneficial than one with Stannis. Renly has the might of the Reach and the Stormlands backing him, whilst Stannis has nothing.”

As Robb suspected his twin speaks up as well. “Stannis has the true claim to the Iron Throne and the southern realms. Surely if we fought to put him on the Iron Throne he would be indebted to us and would allow independence?”

Robb snorts at this and looks at his twin. “Truly Jon? Stannis Baratheon is a man so rigid they are claiming he hasn’t even fathered a child on his wife. He would never allow us to remain independent, yet Renly is someone who could be pushed over enough to allow it.”

Father voices his agreement. “Robb is right. Stannis Baratheon is too rigid a man to see the sense in compromise. Renly is not, he is someone who knows nothing of the North or the Riverlands, and as such will not be interesting in keeping them in his kingdom. We remove the poisonous influence some of the Tyrells have and he will have to allow independence for us.”

Their uncle Axel speaks in agreement. “Stannis is a man who must be broken before he bends. Renly will bend before he breaks. Someone must go and speak with Renly so the idiot does not come looking for war, the question is who?”

As they all mull this over, Ser Stevron speaks. “My house is in debt to you Your Graces, we did not do our duty and as such we must make amends. I would suggest my son Ryman as the envoy, the boy will do as you tell him to do, and will say the words you ask him to say.”

Robb and his twin share a look and have to turn aside to stop from laughing, Ser Ryman, is an oaf of a man more than likely going to die during the journey as emerge successful. And yet Robb is surprised when both his father and uncle agree to sending the man as the envoy. After this a few more things are discussed including Lord Bolton and his men coming west towards the Westerlands. And once these things are done and dusted, Blackwood, Frey and Bolton leave the room leaving behind Robb, his brother and father as well as his uncle and cousin.

There is silence a moment as they all consider what has just been discussed when father says. “I know you have something on your mind Jon, say it now or do not think it.”

Robb’s twin speaks then his voice filled with urgency. “Something feels very wrong about all of this. Whilst it is nice to be called a prince, there is no honour in what we are doing. If Stannis Baratheon is the rightful king then surely we are honour bound to fight for him and to see him on the throne. Or even if not as subjects as fellow monarchs surely we must ensure his claim is recognised.”

Robb looks at his cousin and rolls his eyes slightly causing Edmyn to grin. Their father though is more sombre when he responds. “Surely you have realised by now that honour in war will do nothing but get you killed Jon? Fighting the Kingslayer alongside your brother was not honourable, and yet you did it because if you had not Robb would have died. It is the same here, Stannis Baratheon might be the true claimant to the Iron Throne, but he is not a man you want ruling during the times that are to come. He is too hard, and too strict to realise when rules need to bend and be moulded. Renly is a green boy who can be influenced, and that is what we need. The north and the Riverlands have suffered greatly under the Iron Throne our independence is a chance to right that.”

Robb nods agreeing with their father and yet still Jon persists. “But surely, there is no honour in fighting for purely selfish reasons. You always taught us that to fight with honour was the only true reason to fight. I can see no honour in this father.”

“Honour nearly got me and your sisters killed in King’s Landing Jon,” father snaps. “Honour is something that is all well and good when there is no knife hovering above your neck waiting to cut it. But when there is, honour must be put aside. For there are only two things that truly matter in this world, family and the people you fight for. Honour means nothing compared to them. Honour does not warm you at night. Honour is something that is for summer. And we are entering winter.”

Robb sees his twin bow his head then and feels his shame. He reaches across under the table and squeezes his twin’s hand. Jon’s voice is contrite when he responds. “I am sorry father, I was merely asking. I understand now.”

Their father’s face softens then and he responds. “I know Jon, but you are no longer a boy, you are almost a man grown and it is time for you to shed the illusions of childhood.”

There is another moment’s silence and then their uncle Axel speaks. “Walder Frey is most definitely going to try and get something from both of us for this broken betrothal. Sooner or later the man will need to go. But have you thought of anyone you might wish to wed Robb?”

Robb blushes somewhat. “I admit I have not uncle. But I will consider it all the more now.”

Cousin Edmyn japes. “Jonella Cerwyn is like to be in your bed soon enough coz.”

There is a gale of laughter at that and Robb feels somewhat relaxed knowing what is to come next, he supposes he needs to be.

Chapter Text

 

9th Month of 298 A.C. Tumblestone

Prince Jon Stark

It was strange being a prince, it was not something he had anticipated, nor was it something he had truly wanted. It had just happened and really, he supposed it was something that he had been forced to accept, longing for a time when it was all so much simpler and he knew his place in the world was pointless. The moment the lords of the north had declared father king, his life, all of their lives would never be the same again. And he had struggled to cope with that, it was something he could not truly understand. He could not understand why his father who had always placed a high value on honour would go and do the dishonourable thing and declare independence instead of side with the rightful king Stannis Baratheon. Something had clearly happened in King’s Landing that had changed his father, Arya was changed as well, there was more of a violence to her than there had been before and it worried him.

Robb had of course embraced becoming a Prince, the Crown Prince of the north, just as he had always been comfortable as the heir to Winterfell, so too did he enjoy becoming the crown prince of the north. Women had been holding back from him, but the moment that crown was placed on father’s head they began throwing themselves at both Jon and his twin. Robb had embraced it taking many a serving girl to bed, whilst Jon had been uncomfortable, unsure of how to proceed and not wanting to sully their honour and his own family name. it had grated on him somewhat, with how easy Robb was to discard honour for a quick fuck and some pleasure at night and that their father seemed to allow it so long as it was no one prominent. That irked Jon, but it also made him slightly envious, he knew not how to do as Robb did.

Then the talk had come, after the council meeting where his father had answered all the questions he had had about the sudden change in direction. He sensed that his father was somewhat torn between what he was doing and what he wanted to do, and for Jon that made it all the more difficult to understand why his father going down the dishonourable path. But after listening to his father and later speaking to his mother he supposed he could understand why father was doing what he was doing. It did not mean he enjoyed it any more than he had done, but he was more content to let things lie/. After all there was nothing worse than a lone wolf without a pack, and he did not want to be adrift.

They had remained in Riverrun for around a week or so after that meeting in which time a letter was sent to the twins announcing the annulment of the betrothal between Robb and some Frey girl, and surprisingly not one Frey left Riverrun perhaps too terrified of uncle Axel. Mother and Arya had left first to journey home to Winterfell, for Bran and Rickon were still there and if Jon was being quite honest he agreed with father when he said he would sleep easier at night if mother and Arya were safe in Winterfell. Mother and Arya had reluctantly gone, escorted by Lord Jason Mallister to Seagard where they would board a ship bound for the Neck and then ride on from there.

Whilst Uncle Axel and the rest of the Riverlords had remained behind, Jon, Robb, father and the northern host had set off from Riverrun following the Tumblestone River, and a quick entrance into the Westerlands. A route that none of the Lannisters would expect them to take. And it was along the eastern bank that they were camped now for the night as Jon sat listening to Theon Greyjoy tell some boast about some camp follower he had slept with. “He talks a big game, but I doubt he has ever truly slept with anyone other than Ros.” Roderick Dustin the heir to Barrowton said to Jon.

Jon laughed softly at that. “And even then he is reluctant to truly explain what it is he sees in her. Or even what he does with her. Sometimes he is gone for hours at a time, surely it does not take that long?”

His friend looked at him then and asked. “Have you never slept with a woman before Jon?”

Jon shakes his head. And strokes Ghost’s fur. “I had not wanted to dishonour anyone. I was also not sure you know how to….”

Roddy laughs then. “By the gods Jon, you are a Stark you could have anyone girl you want. You just need to talk to them like they are a person and they will be all over you.”

“So that’s how Robb does it.” Jon mumbles under his breath causing Roddy to burst out laughing.

“What’s got you to laughing Dustin?” Greyjoy asks his eyes glinting maliciously. Before Dustin can respond though he says. “Is it the fact that Stark is still a virgin. The Whitewolf has never slept with anyone.”

There is some muted laughter and then Jorella Mormont says. “At least he won’t have to pay for someone to suck his cock Greyjoy. Now why don’t you go back to playing with yourself and allow the real men and women to talk?”

There is a loud of pearl of laughter at that and Greyjoy blushes something fierce then, and walks off. At that moment Robb emerges, smiling, clearly having just done whatever it was he needed to speak to father about. “What is going on here?” he asks.

“Greyjoy was just telling us how he had supposedly fucked some wench from the village here. All lies, he was actually crying himself to sleep last night. I know because I could hear it from where I was sleeping.” Roddy says laughing as he does so.

Robb laughs as well and then looks at Jon and asks. “So Jon have you done anything about the problem we discussed earlier?”

Jon blushes something fierce and glares at Robb. “No I have not and I do not think I will do so anytime soon. There is too much going on right now.”

His twin looks at him in astonishment. “Jon we are not going anywhere for a while yet. Father himself has just said that there is something more that needs to happen before we march into the Westerlands. We need to wait for Theo Wull and his men to come back from their scouting before we can move in. There is plenty of time to do as we must to pass the time. No one is going to look askance.”

Jon shakes his head. “I do not want to do anything that would potentially make things worse for father. Already there is some here in the village who do not like us.”

“Of course they don’t like you Jon, you look as if someone just told you that winter is coming. You need to smile more, you need to enjoy life more. You’re a prince gods above.” His brother japes.

“Princes have serious duties Robb, we have to be alert all the time. We are at war, this is no game.” Jon counters.

His brother nods. “Aye we do, but there is time for fun. We are still young Jon, we will not be forever. We must enjoy ourselves whilst we still have the chance. Tomorrow or the next day we might very well be riding off to war. We don’t want our last memories to be something bitter, let them be filled with laughter if we must die.”

Jon finds himself agreeing with his brother and looks around to see that Jorella, Roddy as well as Domeric Bolton and others are all nodding in agreement. Sighing he says. “I suppose you are right brother but then what shall we do on this fine night?”

His brother smiles at him and Jon knows what is coming next. Sure enough his brother pulls out a flask of wine and some cups and then begins pouring wine into each of the cups handing them to Jon himself, Domeric, Jorella and Roddy. He has one as well and then his twin’s voice is smug when he says. “We’re going to play a little game of truth and drink. Now then, who wants to go first?”

Jon looks at his twin then and says. “I will.” He is feeling bold for some reason.

His twin smiles at him then and asks. “Alright, now then Jon, truth or dare?”

Jon is silent a moment and then catches Jorella looking at him, he feels his stomach flutter. Taking a risk he says. “Dare.”

His brother smiles gleefully. “Alright then take a drink.” Jon does so, some liquid courage for what he hopes is to come next. Sure enough his brother does not disappoint. “I dare you to kiss Jorella.”

There are some gasps at that, but Jon is not looking at those who are gasping, he is looking at Jorella, and she is looking at him intently. His stomach is fluttering something fierce and so he finishes his drink in one fell gulp and stands. He walks over to Jorella, gods she is beautiful, her eyes are like pools he could drown in. she looks at him and then leans forward, and their lips meet in a soft embrace, and his stomach is twisting and turning in joy. The kiss deepens and he can hear her moan, and as their tongues duel with one another, gods this is bliss. He could do this for ever, he would never come back for air, if he could avoid it. When they do break the kiss, they are both breathless, and Jorella’s cheeks are pink.

Silence and then wolf whistling, causing both Jon and Jorella to blush furiously. He thinks it is Roddy who says. “Now would you look at that, Jon seems to have grown some fangs. I told you Robb, I told you.”

Jon looks at Jorella then and tries to say something but she speaks before he can. “Oh do shut up Roddy, just because Alys is not here for you. Now Prince Robb is there another dare in this or is this game quite done?”

Jon turns round to see his brother smirking at him. “Oh this game is not done just yet, but my brother does have to sit down.”

Jon glares at Robb before sitting down next to Jorella, who takes his hand and squeezes. He does not look at her though his face is still too red for that. The game goes on as the night goes on, and Jon learns some very interesting facts about his companions such as the fact that Roddy broke his sword in at the age of thirteen with some Ryswell cousin or the other, and the fact that Domeric has a bastard brother, none of them knew that and that is quite surprising. “My father didn’t  even tell me, I had to find out on my own.” Domeric says in response to their questions.

They go on like this for some time, back and forth as they drink more, more of their past and their secrets come out and Jon finds himself laughing at some of the things Roddy and Robb share with them, some things that even he as Robb’s twin did not know. Jorella shares some things about herself that makes Jon’s eyes bulge and his pants feel oddly tight. Eventually though the night comes to an end, and Jorella, or Jory as she has asked to be called asks for him to escort her back to her tent. Before he goes, Robb stops him and says. “Be careful brother.” Jon nods and then hurries to catch up with Jory.

They walk and talk, and Jon finds himself laughing all the while at Jory and the things she says. “I can’t believe Roose Bolton has a bastard, I did not think his cock was so unfrozen.”

Jon howls with laughter then. “Well it must be unfrozen somewhat, otherwise Dom would not be here.”

She laughs as well and then says. “I suppose not. But then, I wonder how Dom found out about him?”

Jon shrugs his shoulders. “I do not know Jory.”

She is about to say something when they arrive to the entrance of her tent, she looks at him then and once again he feels as if he could get lost in her eyes. “You know, I don’t think I’ll be going to sleep for some time yet.”

He looks at her not understanding for a long time and then when she begins pulling him into her tent he stops and asks. “Are you sure?”

“Gods Jon, do I have to make it any more obvious for you, yes I am sure!” Jory replies before pulling him into her tent.

Chapter Text

9th Month of 298 A.C. Riverrun

King Axel I Tully

Though there was still plenty of activity around Riverrun what with the war effort still raging, but for some reason the castle felt quieter than it had been for some time without his goodbrother and sister and their sons and army here. Axel had seen his goodbrother and nephews of with their army some two weeks ago, promising to ensure that Cat would get to Seagard without any impediments, and so as he had watched them ride off he had thought that now there would be some great changes made to the history of Westeros, what they were he knew not, but he knew they would be made. Cat had left a day after her husband and sons had left, escorted by Lord Jason Mallister and some thirty men whom Stark had left behind they had ridden towards Seagard and had since left for the Neck, Axel would be relieved when he got the raven saying his sister was back home safe and sound. She was a woman grown but he could not help worrying he was her big brother after all.

And with this crown atop his head he was now the big brother, to all the riverlands. They were his responsibility in more than just name now, he had an active duty towards them. Whilst it felt strange for him to be the king considering his father was still alive, he supposed it was better that he shoulder the burden rather than place it on his father’s already frail shoulders. His father gods, that was something Axel did not truly wish to think about, but it was something that constantly plagued his thoughts. The great Hoster Tully who had for so long been a strong and determined man was wasting away right in front of Axel’s eyes and there was nothing he or anyone else could do for him, to ease his pain or change it. Hoster Tully spent most of the day in a dreamless sleep, but sometimes would call out names, names Axel had never heard, some he recognised and others that left him confused. Tansy was a frequent name called out and Axel wondered at its use.

With a war council being held in what was his father’s solar though he could not afford to be lax in his thoughts he needed to be on the ball. And so clearing his father from his mind he spoke clearly. “My lords, I thank you for remaining behind even though there are those whose lands are being taunted and threatened by the Lannisters. I promise you shall not regret doing so. Blackwood and Bracken needed to go back to their lands to get away from one another but that does not mean they shall have their uses.”

There is some laughter there, and then his rather hot headed goodbrother speaks. “And what of us, whose land is directly near Harrenhal, where the Lannisters sit and grow fat? My people are getting as hurt by the lions as Blackwood and Bracken. When will we get out chance for revenge?”

Axel sighs even fatherhood had never tempered his goodbrother’s hot headedness. “My lord of Darry, I can understand your frustrations but trust me when I say heading back to Castle Darry is not something you wish to do right now. The Lannisters will be waiting for you to make such a move and when they do they kill you and leave your son and wife prisoner. Is that something you want?”

“No Your Grace, of course not.” The man replies contritely.

“Good. Now we know from Ser Brynden’s reports that the Lannisters, or at least the main bulk of their host has remained in Harrenhal doing gods alone knows what. And yet men under the command of Clegane and Lorch as well as that damnable goat are raiding across the lands here. Ser Brynden has begun his attacks on the goats company, they are sellswords and when they realise they are not getting aid from Lannister men, they will consider changing side.” Axel says.

There is some murmuring at this and then Ser Stevron speaks. “Is that a certainty though Your Grace? After all, if Tywin Lannister has invested enough to bring the Goat’s company to Westeros and in particular here to the Riverlands he is clearly looking to achieve something what is there to say that he will not send aid?”

Axel looks at the map in front of them all and points at High Heart. “Because according to what my uncle has said, the goat seems to be focusing all of his attentions on that area. There is something he is looking for in High Heart that Lannister has entrusted him with, furthermore, Lannister would know that the sooner the goat and his men are dealt with the sooner he can use the gold for them for something else.”

“So we would be walking towards a trap then?” Ser Marq Piper asks, his hot headedness grates on Axel a lot, just as Edmure’s does.

“No, we would not be. Ser Brynden knows this land as well as any of us do. The goat and his men do not, if anything they would be falling foul of that ghost and her minions. The ghost owes me a favour and so when my uncle comes calling she shall repay it in full.” Axel says. He sees his son look at him asking silently how he got the ghost of high heart to owe him, and he merely shakes his head, a story for another time.

“But then what is there to stop Lorch or Clegane from hitting Ser Brynden and his men in the rear and taking out one of our best commanders?” Piper asks.

“He would not get the chance. Ser Brynden knows the plan well enough whilst he is heading towards High Heart, Lorch and Clegane shall be led towards him, and that is when Lords Blackwood and Bracken shall move from their own keeps with their men to attack Lorch and Clegane. With luck both brutes should be dead and Lannister would have lost his two attack dogs.” Axel responds.

There is some more positive murmuring at this and then Ser Walder speaks up. “And what if these plans do not come to fruition? You know what Blackwood and Bracken are like Your Grace, what if their differences are too great for them to act together?”

Axel grimaces his friend asks a true question and a difficult one. Trying to keep from sighing he responds. “Then they shall know my wrath. This is a time for unity and strength, not for petty grievances to come to the fore. We are not little children or little girls that such things should come in the way of the main goal. We are fighting a war, we must win.”

That seems to soothe the lords somewhat, and then Lord Terrick asks the question Axel has been waiting for. “Say this plan works, what then? Do we move onto Harrenhal or do we wait for the old lion to come to us?”

The solar is quiet as all eyes turn to him, Axel considers his response before replying. “Should Ser Brynden’s plan succeed then we shall wait for Tywin Lannister to come out of his hole. With the king in the north attacking the Westerlands, he will need to move and stir himself lest his bannermen begin to question their own loyalty to him. Of course without Clegane or Lorch he will be caught blind and that is something we shall use to our advantage.”

Another murmur happens at that and it is his old mentor Ser Stevron who says. “The fords?”

Axel nods. “Aye, the fords shall prove our victory. Let them come charging, they will not have as many men as we shall, and the fords shall flood them with uncertainty.” There is some laughter at that and then the meeting comes to an end as the lords begin standing and filing out to attend the evening meal.

He and his son Edmyn remain in the solar for a few extra moments, and it is when the last lord has left the room that his son asks. “How did you get the Ghost of High Heart to owe you a favour father?”

Axel laughs. “Out of all the things you could have asked me, you choose that one?”

His son grins. “Aye, that is the most interesting thing about the past hour or so father. So how did you come to get her to owe you?”

Axel looks at his son a moment and then thinks back to the rebellion and the dark days that followed it. “Something that I did to help her once long ago. Truth be told it is not much of a tale, but needless to say I helped her when she needed help.”

“How did you help her?” his son asks.

A memory of a woman with hair the colour of mud seeps into his mind and eyes like violet, and it stings, gods does it sting. He swallows as the image of blood and the weirwoods come forward. He shakes his head and says. “I did something to aid her with the children. Now let us go and join your mother and sisters for dinner.”

His son looks as if he is going to protest, but clearly there is something on his face that makes his son reconsider, and so they stand and leave the solar for the great hall. They spend a few hours there feasting and talking with one another as well as with the various lords and their men. Axel over looks it all from the seat where his father once sat and feels something akin to nerves floating in his stomach. He feels someone press against him and turns to see his wife looking at him intently, her brown eyes staring into his soul. “You seem troubled my love, what is the matter?” his wife Jeyne asks.

Axel sighs. “I worry about the war, I worry about whether or not Blackwood and Bracken will put aside their quarrel for long enough to do what they must do and I worry about whether or not Clegane and Lorch will fall for the trap myself and my uncle set. There is so much hinging on this one plan that I am not sure if it will succeed.”

His wife takes his hand underneath the table, and even though the noise of those in the hall should drown out what she says, he can still hear her. “Your uncle is one of the most experienced battle commanders in Westeros my love, he knows what he is doing. The goat will fall and so will Clegane and Lorch. Everything will be fine.”

Axel sighs. “Even if that goes well there is still the matter of Walder Frey. The man has not sent a response yet but gods be good he will send something back soon enough and then it will be a decision between a rock and a hard place.”

His wife’s concern is evident when she asks. “Do you truly think he will remove his troops should you not give him one of our children?”

“I do not know my love, and that is what worries me. It is all well and good making threats, but until I know the state of affairs in the twins I can no longer make them. Something needs to give.” Axel responds.

His wife is silent for a long time after that and then she says. “I don’t want any of my children married to a Frey my love. I know my sister is, but there is something disturbing about them, something worrying. I don’t want that for our children.”

Axel nods. “Neither do I but what to do?”

Another moment of silence and Axel sees his wife looking around at the hall, at all the people dancing and drinking and making merry, and then her eyes fall on Walder Rivers, a good friend to them both. “Walder Frey must die my love. And soon.”

Chapter Text

9th Month of 298 A.C. Red Keep

Tyrion Lannister

King’s Landing was a cesspit of treachery and vice, and Tyrion loved it. He loved every single minute of it, the intrigue, the possibility of betrayal and the chance to prove to the world that he, the imp of Lannister was as smart if not smarter than all the others. All these fools who flocked to court trying to impress his sister and nephew were lathering and simpering, they repeated what the king or Cersei said and had no thoughts of their own, that his sister had not first said. Tyrion firmly enjoyed tormenting the lickspittles and making them question whether or not they would even remain at court after his father returned. Lords Rykker, Rosby, Staunton and Hayford were particularly enjoyable to torment. Rykker was as thick as pig shit, all talk and bluster, Rosby was an old man whose wits had long left him and then Staunton was another man who was so eager to make up for his folly in supporting Aerys during the rebellion that if Tyrion asked him to strip naked and run down the Street of Silk he likely would. Hayford had been fun to torment, but had died soon after Tyrion arrived leaving only his baby daughter.

As for his nephew, well Joffrey had always been a little shit, now he was a kingly shit. There was something terrifying about the thought of the boy actually ruling of his own accord, the thought that Joffrey might be more insane than Aerys and crueller than Maegor the Cruel was something that kept him up at night. The boy enjoyed inflicting harsh punishments on anything and everything, just the other day he had ordered some serving girl flayed for not giving him the right cup of wine. A few days ago he had come within a few inches of having Sansa Stark knocked unconscious, which would have been very bad for them all. Tyrion was convinced the boy was deliberately trying to undermine their every efforts to protect the girl. He would need to be removed and soon. Then there was Cersei, sweet Cersei who was his ally in everything to do with Littlefinger and removing that obnoxious little shit from the council, but in all else she thoroughly opposed him. She could not see how much of a monster her son was and she blithely ignored the chances for allies that could come from using her two other children. Sometimes Tyrion felt like screaming.

A case in point, this current council meeting. The eunuch Varys was speaking and his tidings were grim. “It would appear that the northmen under Eddard Stark have struck right into the core of the Westerlands my lords, Your Grace. Taking the path of the Tumblestone, they managed to arrive into Pendric Hills which were insufficiently guarded. Needless to say after a brief scuffle, the northmen managed to capture Pendric Hills. From there they progressed onto Nunn’s Deep, which fell relatively easily as well.”

A grim silence follows this news, it seems that uncle Stafford has not been keeping his eye on the border, either that or Stark anticipated their plan and is moving to counteract that. “Where were the defenders of the Deep? I had thought there would be a sizeable garrison there?” Cersei asks.

Tyrion speaks at this and his tone is somewhat uncomfortable. “The garrison was lessened when father came marching eastward. All those men who were of fighting age were taken, leaving behind the old men and green boys. It is no surprise that they were beaten.”

His sister glares at him then. “It is no surprise because you were captured, forcing father to call the banners and take the men who would normally make taking the Deep such a hard task for a traitor such as Stark.”

“Well then I apologise for the inconvenience that I have caused us sweet sister. But in case you forgot it was Catelyn Stark who took me, I did not go of my own volition. Now Varys, what more is there from the West?” Tyrion counters.

The eunuch titters somewhat. It would appear that Stark means to divide his host, one part is to go raiding along the coast, whilst another part is to go raiding inland. As to whom is commanding these two hosts it is uncertain. Though it would not be too much of a stretch to imagine Stark commanding one of them.”

Tyrion nods. “And with these two victories behind him, his men will be all glad and singing their songs of praise. This is not good, we need for them to be pushed and tested. Pycelle send word to Oxcross, I want Ser Stafford’s host to be ready and armed by the end of the moon. We cannot allow for there to be any more mistakes.” The man nods and then Tyrion enquires. “What of the Riverlands?”

The eunuch is silent a moment, he looks down at his notes and then says. “It would appear Axel Tully has been using his new found freedom to keep his men under control. Whilst Blackwood and Bracken have been allowed to go back to their lands, others have not. They are being kept in Riverrun and this is beginning to fray the nerves of the lords. It would appear we have our opening.”

Tyrion nods. “Tension within Riverrun is very easily manipulated, the Riverlords have always been a fractious people, if Lord Tywin and his men can continue to raid the riverlands without being apprehended this will aggravate the lords. Sooner or later they will come calling back to us. And now I do believe is the right time to discuss the terms that were sent with my cousin Cleos.”

Pycelle unfurls the letter that came with Tyrion’s weasel faced cousin. His tone is ponderous. “The King of the North and the King of the Trident promise to cease all fighting with the Iron Throne, if the King recognises the independence of the north and the trident. Furthermore Eddard Stark wishes for his daughters the Ladies Sansa and Arya to be returned to him and Axel Tully wishes for there to be reparations paid for the damage done to his people and his lands.”

Tyrion snorts, and his sister snarls. “The audacity of the two. A few victories and they think they can just dictate terms to us? Do they forget that Lord Tywin is still out in the field and sooner or later the chance to make his daughter queen will have Lord Oaf abandoning Renly? No these terms are no good at all.”

“So what then would be your suggestion Your Grace? They hold Ser Jaime, we hold his daughter. But that is not a fair exchange and I do not believe Stark is so great a fool as to trade the most feared knight in the realm for a girl. At least he should not be now.” Littlefinger responds.

Tyrion looks at his sister then and he can see the obvious anger and frustration that is boiling inside of her. Her voice is strained when she replies. “I would like both their heads on spikes, but as of now we must needs play along. There must be something we can give them that will make them put down their swords, or at least make father’s job easier.”

He is surprised by the simplicity of what she says, but then he remembers no matter his sister’s faults she is a mother after all, and she wants her children safe. Sighing he says. “I suppose, we could allow them to re-enter the king’s peace so long as Eddard Stark and Axel Tully take the black. Their sons are more than likely to keep true to their vows especially if we take hostages.”

“Do you think they will be willing to do that?” his sister asks.

Tyrion is silent a moment, thinking through their possible options, and then says. “I believe, so the only other alternative is us using Sansa Stark as a hostage and a true threat. There are tensions in the Riverlands, we have allies there, and we will need to use them. Winter is coming, both Stark and Tully will know that, and they will want their people safe and sound.”

Silence greets this and then. “If you wish for a most convincing argument to be put forward, I grew up with Axel Tully, and I know him relatively well. I would be able to make him see sense.” Baelish responds.

Tyrion looks at the man trying hard to hide his disbelief, what is it with him and the Tullys? “Are you not the one who suggested that you would be best placed trying to get the Arryns onside?”

The man smiles then and it does not reach his eyes. “Indeed it was, but you can never be to certain with these Tullys my lord hand. After all, they are quite unpredictable, and with Hoster Tully ailing, Axel is head of the house, and though I cannot charm him with what is in my trousers, I can charm him with my words and with common sense.”

“And what would you want in return?” Tyrion asks suspiciously.

“Nothing too major my lord hand. Harrenhal is currently empty but it would give a good enough standing to marry Lysa as it were and ensure that the Vale is completely submissive to the Iron Throne.” Baelish responds.

“A matter for another day then. Now what more news is there?” Tyrion asks.

Gyles Roby the old and sputtering fool master of laws speaks. “There is increasing trouble and resentment amongst the smallfolk for the rationing that is happening. They see the splendour and grandeur of the court and the nobles and they begin muttering. They want their food and they want it now. Increasingly there are groups of smallfolk bandying together to harass the wagons with food supply. Four of my own men have died in the past two days alone.”

“Is there not enough grain or bread to keep them satisfied? Our resources are being stretched to the limit, but still there should not too much trouble throwing a few scraps their way.” Tyrion says.

Baelish speaks once more. “I am afraid that that is not the case my lord. We are being drained by the blockade on the Rose Road. Food prices are soaring, and as of now there is not much chance of us getting foreign aid. Braavos sits and waits, whilst other free cities fight amongst themselves. Sooner or later the commoners will revolt.”

Tyrion sighs. “Take from the High Septon then. Gods alone knows that man is fat enough. He and the most devout do not need so much food. Take the city watch and have them seize the Septon’s granaries and food stores, and give it to the people.”

Rosby nods and then Varys speaks. “There is one other issue my lord. It would appear Renly Baratheon has broken from his procurement, and is heading solidly up the Rose Road, he is at Tumbleton and will soon be calling at our gates. It seems something or rather someone has given him the impetus to move forward from his dawdling.”

“Who?” is all Tyrion asks though he suspects it will be the damned wolves and trout.

“It would appear that Stark and Tully sent Ryman Frey the drunken lout of the Twins to treat with Renly Baratheon and yet the man did not make it. My own sources cut him off in time, yet somehow Renly got word of this and is moving towards King’s Landing quicker than anticipated. It seems our time is running out, sooner or later the man will strike.” Varys responds.

Tyrion looks at Cersei then and asks softly. “What if the Tyrells were divided, what if their lords were not as strongly behind them as they first thought? We know the Florents have craved Highgarden since Aegon the Dragon became King, why not give them the chance to get it.”

“What are you suggesting brother?” Cersei asks.

Tyrion is still looking at his sister when he says. “Let the foxes loose, and let us see how strong the flowers are when they are faced with the foxes and the other animals of the forest.”

 

Chapter Text

9th Month of 298 A.C. Runestone

Ser Elbert Arryn

When he thought back over the course of his life, he could not help but be resentful, so much had gone wrong and so much had gone to shit that he sometimes wondered if the gods had placed some sort of curse on him. First his father had died from some sort of accident whilst he was being born and then the god damned mountain clans had come and abducted his mother as she was riding through the passes. Next he had gone south with Brandon Stark, gods alone knows why and he had spent the entirety of the rebellion inside the gods damned black cells. When he had been freed all those whom he had loved and cared about were dead, apart from his uncle. Uncle Jon had married once more and this time to some Fish, some brat who had so high an opinion of herself she could not see just how fortuitous she was to be marrying his uncle. Elbert would be the first to admit he had rejoiced whenever the Lady Lysa had delivered a still born child or miscarriage for it meant he would still be heir of the Vale, and then that brat had been born. Robert Arryn, the sickly little weakling had been born and he had been nowhere near his birthright. The woman was no true lady regent, and the brat was no true Arryn, in fact Elbert was convinced that the brat was that little worm Baelish’s child and he had the proof.

There had been one good thing to come of his step down in social status, his marriage to Ryella. As the eldest sister of Lord Yohn Royce, Ryella was a fine match for Elbert, and as his uncle had named him keeper of the Gates of the Moon, they had had a good home to live and raise their children in. his wife was a smart and ambitious woman, he knew that, and he loved that about her. She was fiery and determined to get what she wanted, and they were instantly attracted to one another because of that. He knew she did not like Lysa Tully or that brat Robert Arryn, and so they worked together on how to remove them from the way, something that had been made much easier with his uncle’s death. Though Elbert grieved for his uncle, the man would not have ever allowed for doubt to be cast on his ‘son’s true parentage. But Elbert had reason to believe the brat was in fact Baelish’s, and he intended to use that. 

Despite all the anger and bitterness he felt sometimes, he and his wife had produced five lovely children, the twins Ryella and Ronnel, who were as different as night and day. Ryella was filled with life and joy, whilst Ronnel was quiet and reserved but clever, oh so very clever. Then there was his second son Artys who was filled with fire and heat, and Elbert saw echoes of his younger self in his second son. Then there were the girls Alyssa and Alys who were as good as twins despite the age difference between them, they did everything together and were also as clever as their mother. Yes Elbert was very happy with his wife and children, but still he desired more, he wanted more for them and for himself.

That why this meeting between himself and Lord Royce, Lady Waynwood and the Knight of Ninestars Ser Symond Templeton was so important, it would set the tone for what was to come next in the next few moons. Elbert spoke first. “I thank you all for coming here tonight, and I thank you Yohn for allowing this meeting to happen here. Now as you all know, the North and the Trident are fighting in the Riverlands and the Westerlands against the Lannisters. They are doing well, but there is a feeling I get that something is about to happen. Some sort of change, some movement or the other that could well change the course of this war, and when that change comes they will need us. And yet with Lady Lysa as regent this will never happen. She would have us sat here on our arses like cowards.”

Lady Anya speaks then. “As a mother I can understand where she is coming from. I dread the day I will have to send my sons into battle. I would keep them all safe if I could and yet as a noble I can see the desire for justice and revenge. We all know what the Lannisters are, they are crooks and villains who took our liege lord away from us. We must act and soon.”

Elbert nods. “Aye, if we do not act now, our allies will be lost or broken. Something big is going to happen, this is the Lannisters we are speaking of, and they will not stay beaten for long. We must move and swiftly, Lysa Tully fears that if we move down to aid her family, the Lannisters will come calling. And yet, not one host has ever broken the bloody gate, and if it is Gulltown she is worried about, she need only strengthen the fleet there and begin arming the people and the Lannisters will not know what hit them.”

“And you would have us march west and fight? Why though Ser?” Lady Anya asks.

Elbert considers this a moment and then responds. “I want to march westward, because it is the right thing to do. We are bound in blood and honour to aid them. Not doing so is a crime, and a betrayal of the pact we agreed to when the rebellion happened. My uncle would not be happy with that, nor would he be pleased with how meek we have become.”

Lady Anya looks at him perceptively then and says. “Indeed we are bound by blood and honour to the north and the riverlands, and yet one must ask what we gain from entering this war. Either than fulfilling the pact our dead lord made. We gain more from waiting and seeing what happens.”

Elbert feels the anger begin to grow inside of him, but taking a deep breath says. “Peace is all well and good, but the men are growing restless surely you know this as well I do my lady. They look westward and they see the fighting and they see people their own age earning glory, they will want something of that. If we do not give it to them, they will begin causing trouble for us. That is something we cannot allow. Surely you realise that?”

The lady Anya says nothing and this time it is Yohn who replies. “Aye we all realise that Elbert. We do, for too long we have remained on the outskirts of the action. Lysa will not even declare her son King of the Mountain and Vale, something that any sane person would do. She worries about Lannisters, but there are none amongst us. And if there are any they will not last long. No there is something else going on here.”

Elbert latches onto this and says. “Aye there most definitely is. She does not wish to meet with any of us and yet she allows suitors to come and go as she pleases. And she spends time with that crook Grafton, whom we all know to be Baelish’s man.”

Yohn looks at him then and asks. “You think that man has something to do with this?”

Elbert nods. “I do Yohn, I truly do. Is it any coincidence that a few moons after Lysa went to Gulltown all those years ago, she became with child after many years of trying and failing with my uncle? Is it any coincidence that Baelish got the position he has now in king’s landing after that happened? I think not. We both know coincidences do not happen. She is doing something, and it is with his direction.”

There is a long silence that follows this, as they all brood over the implications of what he is suggesting, eventually it is the Knight of Ninestars who breaks the silence. “If this is indeed true, then we will need a damned good reason to go against Lysa and her son. Without one we shall be committing treason and breaking the honour with which we all hold so dearly.”

Elbert considers this and then asks. “Would you rather fight for a cause we all know to be just and true, or would you rather stand by and let those who might have had a hand in starting this war go unpunished? Because I for one want to avenge my uncle and get justice for those who have been wronged by the Lannisters.”

“But then how are we to convince the others to join us? Some are too busy courting Lysa to be of use to us, or to even consider going against her. Others such as Corbray and Belmore can be bought off, and I am sure the Lannisters will be looking to do so.” Lady Anya says.

Elbert looks at the woman who is a distant cousin and then says. “We show them what life would be like under the Lannisters, we show them what Lysa wants us to become. She wants us to sit on our arses and do nothing so she can protect her son. And yet she does not do anything for us. Taxes are growing, the crops are shrinking and some of the clans are growing more troublesome. She sits on her own arse and waits and does nothing. This is what the Lannisters want, and it sickens me as I am sure it sickens others. We show them that this is what will happen if we do nothing.”

“So then what do you suggest we do from there? We show them the harsh reality and then what?” Yohn asks.

Elbert looks at his goodbrother and smiles. “Why we call men to arms and we march to beat the lions. Lysa speaks of vengeance yet she does nothing to give it to us. We shall get it on our own.”

“And what if Lysa protests as is her right as Lady Regent. She could well look to the throne for guidance and help. And whom would they send if not Baelish the worm whom she loves so?” Templeton queries.

Elbert grins at this. “I have my sources at court. I did learn a thing or two from my time there, no matter how unpleasant it was. I have friends who know how to begin this dance and how to plant trails. Baelish will be looking at some hot water with the Lannister siblings, and will not have the time nor the ability to come to the Vale should it come down to it.”

His goodbrother looks at him amazed. “You still keep in touch with some of your friends in the gold cloaks? I had thought you disliked that place?”

Elbert laughs somewhat. “Oh I did, but I made some very useful contacts whilst I was there. And there are one or two whom I kept on my payroll who have developed some useful information for me. Tyrion Lannister’s kidnapping for instance was the work of Baelish. Soon enough his friends the lions will figure this out and he will never see the light of day.”

“And what will you do if Lysa does protest?” Anya asks.

Elbert is silent, as he considers how to respond to this. He knows he has to tread very carefully, for he does not wish to suggest something that will make his allies reconsider and so, when he has reached a suitable judgement he says. “I will make her an offer she cannot refuse. I will show her what I know, and then she will have two choices. Either move aside or be forced aside. It is time we reminded the Lions that we are fierce as well.”

 

 

Chapter Text

10th Month of 298 A.C. Ashemark

King Eddard I Stark

For so long he had wondered what it would be like to wear a crown, never had he admitted to himself that he did sometimes dream of fulfilling his grandfather’s desires, but now that he was King in the North he had come to accept that being king was not completely different to being Lord of Winterfell. His men still treated him the same, perhaps because he had been their lord for sixteen years now and had led them through countless events and other things. They treated him the same and he was grateful for that, none of the foolish flattery that the southerns attempted was tried on him. Though the weight of the crown sometimes felt overbearing, and he wondered whether or not he was doing the right thing. By rights Stannis was Robert’s heir and King on the Iron Throne, but reports were coming of strange tidings coming through of Stannis and his red woman, and Ned was not sure whether he would have been comfortable having the man being King. He had done nothing, and now his own brother was pushing onward.

The battles that had been fought had been relatively painless in terms of losses. Nunn’s Deep and Pendric Hills had very little protection a surprise really considering how much Westermen were said to value their gold. Lord Rickard and Lady Maege held those two gold mines with their men and were slowly filtering it back to Riverrun along with livestock. That was something of a boon what with the winter fast approaching and the need to capitalise on every available resource having become apparent. Ashemark had been more brutal, the Marbrands were known for being tough and thick skinned and took everything Ned had had to throw at them and more. It had been a somewhat costly victory but it was a victory nonetheless, Lord Marbrand was dead his heir and spare were dead leaving only Addam Marbrand to continue the family line. It had been after the taking of Ashemark that Ned had decided to send a force of men under Roose Bolton to raiding. The man was trustworthy enough to carry out that task and leave no survivors and so that was he had been asked to do.

The war council being held right now was more a formality than anything else and yet it was necessary. “We know that the hills and the deep are secure Your Grace,” Lord Willam Dustin was reporting. “We also know Lord Bolton has continued his march down the western coast and is raiding at will. Sooner or later the Lannisters will need to formulate a response.”

Ned looks at the map before them. “Stafford Lannister is mustering men at Oxcross is he not?” when Willam nods, Ned continues. “Well then, we can either wait for him to come calling and potentially gather more men from the Crag, and the Banefort or we can strike out now and hit them whilst they are not ready.”

Willam looks somewhat surprised. “Are you certain Your Grace? Attacking them now might be a good move but it is also something that might well be expected. After all we are not exactly sticking around for siege warfare now are we?”

There is some laughter at that and even Ned has to smile, but eventually it quietens down and he responds. “Whist that is true, and any decent commander might expect it, I was not meaning we hit Stafford Lannister right now. We must lure him away from Oxcross, make him think we are going to attack elsewhere and then strike.”

“Where would you suggest Your Grace? The Crag is nearby, but is strategically useless. And I am certain Lord Bolton is heading towards there anyway. The Banefort is too far northward to be much use and besides it would bring about an attack from the rear.” Lord Willam says.

Ned nods having already considered this and responds. “We shall not be going in that direction my lord. No, send a rider out to Lord Bolton and tell him to meet us on the Lion’s Pathway. We are going to be heading towards Sarsfield.”

“Sarsfield Your Grace? Is that wise?” Ethan Glover asks. “After all it is quite a strongly fortified castle and might well cost us more men than it is worth.”

Ned looks at Brandon’s old squire and responds. “We will not be taking the castle. Instead we shall make it look as if we are going to be laying siege to it. Of course it takes time to build siege towers and such we shall make it look as if that is what we mean to do. With that thought in his mind and with food running out, Sarsfield will send word to Lannister, and that is when we shall strike out.”

“Baiting him to come to the rescue before his men are ready to fight, that is genius.” His son Robb says.

Ned nods at his son and then says. “Now that we know that is the plan, we must make a plan for when that battle is fought.”

His son Robb speaks then. “Aye, because of course with Stafford Lannister’s host beaten there is nothing much stopping us from taking Lannisport. The city is walled that is true but most of its defenders are away. The city watch must not be as foolish as to think that they can withstand a full assault.”

There are some murmurs of approval and then Old Theo Wull speaks in his brisk manner. “What of the old lion? He will come calling soon enough will he not? After all, the longer we wait here, and the more chaos we cause the more reason he has to come. We do not want to be caught with our breeches down.”

The Greatjon roars with laughter. “I do not think we will be Theo. In fact it is the old lion himself who has been caught with his breeches down. We are taking his land from him bit by bit, sooner or later we will have his precious little castle as well.”

A lot of laughter follows this statement, and then when it has settled Ned speaks solemnly. “Of course Theo is correct, we do not want to be caught unawares. That is why I want men posted here, once Stafford Lannister has been dealt with we shall need to find a place with which to deal with Lannister. Somewhere where both ourselves and King Axel’s men can do battle and break the Lannister host in two.”

A silence follows this as they all consider where the most suitable land could be, and then eventually Jon speaks. “Why not here?” he says pointing at the Lion’s Mount. “If we station ourselves here at the Lion’s Mount we can easily do battle. The terrain is favourable and Tywin Lannister and his men will be saddle-sore and weary from fighting.”

There are loud choruses of approval at this and Ned smiles at his son causing Jon to smile with pride. “There you have it my lords. Once Oxcross is done, we head to the Lion’s Mount and we shall fight Tywin Lannister there. And that is where we shall win this war.”

At that the meeting comes to an end, and as the other lords file out, Ned signals for his sons to remain behind. They do so though they look anxious, once the last of the lords has left the room Ned speaks. “You both did well today boys.” His sons glow with pride and he smiles at them and then continues. “We shall not be remaining at Ashemark for too long another week or so at the most. The most basic of weapons and equipment shall come with us towards Sarsfield. In the meantime there are a few things I wished to speak with you both about. The main one being the matter of betrothals.” His twins look somewhat tired at this and Ned cannot help but laugh. “I have received numerous offers for your hands from Lords Umber, Karstark, Lake and even Long. Willam has said nothing but I know that he is eager to consider tying our two houses together. I would get your thoughts. Whom would you most like to wed?”

Silence and then Robb says. “I’m sure Jon would love to tell you all about Jorella Mormont.”

Ned looks at Jon then, and his son is blushing something fierce. “Jorella Mormont eh son? Care to explain what your brother means?”

His son is blushing something fierce then. “I….I….I like Jory father.” Jon stammers.

“Jory now is she eh Jon? A few weeks ago it was Jorella, now it’s Jory. What next?” Robb teases.

Ned smiles slightly at the sight of his sons teasing one another and then asks. “How much do you like her son?”

His son is blushing something truly fierce now and Ned is almost tempted to take pity on him when Jon responds. “I like her a lot father. Very much so.”

“And do you like her enough to marry her?” Ned asks, he is not a fool he suspects he knows what his son’s liking of Jorella Mormont has led to, he knows her mother after all.

Jon looks at him then and the look in his eye is all the confirmation Ned needs, he knows he should be disappointed in his son, but at least the boy has found someone he cares about enough. “Yes father I would. I do, I want to marry her.”

Ned nods. “Good, I shall speak with Maege when she comes to Ashemark on the morrow. We must get that organised soon enough. You will speak with Jorella and see she is just as willing.” His son nods, and then Ned turns his attention to Robb his eldest. “And what of you Robb? With all the girls you have dishonoured, surely one of them has taken your fancy?”

His eldest son blushes scarlet then. “I, it was always consensual father. There was nothing dishonourable about it.”

Ned laughs. “You are lucky there are not many bastards running around now son. Be more careful otherwise I will begin to think Theon Greyjoy has replaced you. But yes, what of you Robb? Whom has taken your fancy?”

His son is silent a moment and then responds. “Not that I am aware of father. No one I would consider marrying at any rate. But what of the Freys, have they sent anything towards Uncle Axel for recompense?”

Ned sighs. “No, at this present moment in time they have not. Though there was word from a rider, it seems Ryman Frey did not make it to meet Renly, something happened to him along the way and he is now rotting in the ground. As for the man’s father, Ser Stevron appears to be ailing, he took a wound during some scuffle with Lannister men and is quickly losing ground. So now that leaves the issue of whether or not there will be a crisis in the Twins.”

“Why would there be a crisis in the Twins father?” Jon asks.

“Because with Ryman dead, and Stevron coming close to death, who knows how long old Walder Frey will live. And if he dies, then his descendants will be fighting tooth and nail to try and get their bony arses on that throne of his. That means they will have not a chance to consider anything else.” Ned responds.

“So then Robb will be getting off easy then?” Jon asks. Ned nods and he sees his second son hit his firstborn playfully and says. “You always get off light Robb.”

His eldest laughs and then turns serious when he asks. “What of Theon father? He was not here, and whilst I can understand that, surely he has his uses. Especially if we wish to take the Rock.”

Ned sighs. “I will not let Theon out of my sight Robb. He might have done much to prove himself a good fighter, but allowing him back to the Islands is asking for trouble.”

“He would never do anything to harm us!” Robb counters.

“He is a Greyjoy, sooner or later they all do.” Ned replies.

 

Chapter Text

10th Month of 298 A.C. Red Keep

Lady Sansa Stark

Gods when she thought of how she had looked forward to coming to King’s Landing and how she had hoped it would be different and filled with more activity than Winterfell and the north she wanted to scream and cry. She had been so naïve, so foolish to believe the lion’s den was anything but a pit of deceit and treachery. Joffrey whom she had thought a knight in shining armour was a monster, a true monster, he was cruel and vicious and he had a strange and twisted mind, the scars on her back and front and arms and legs could testify to that. And the boy’s mother was a witch, a true and horrible witch. She did nothing to stop her son, in fact she always seemed to blame Sansa for whatever punishment Joffrey decided to inflict on her that day. It was as if she did not know or want to know what sort of evil her son was. It had been so different before father’s arrest, everyone had been so charming to her, they had gone out of their way to get to know Joffrey’s betrothed, and Sansa had been so flattered by it all. She had so desperately wanted to please everyone and so she had done what she had thought needed to be done. Of course it was all a lie, but she did not know that then, and so she had gone to Cersei when father had said he wanted to leave, she did not know that he was speaking the truth when he said Joffrey was no good for her, she was a foolish girl then. Gods she was so foolish.

The royal family was a broken thing Sansa had learnt. Joffrey was a monster, a cruel and vicious monster who delighted in tormenting people. Ser Dontos had nearly drowned during Joffrey’s nameday tourney and had it not been for her he would have done. Every time word came of her father’s victories in battle, Sansa was beaten, blackened and bruised. One such beating had left her physically unable to stand for almost three days afterward. The beatings had somewhat subsided with Tyrion the hand being here, but they still happened sometimes when Joffrey came to visit her in her chambers, and did things that gave her nightmares. The queen was a horrible woman, someone who gave compliments but meant them as barbs. She was a bitter woman, who looked at Sansa as if she was some sort of simpleton, and by the gods she wanted to go home and yet her father did not send someone to come and get her, and Sansa could not understand why. But the queen, the queen knew something and she often taunted Sansa for this fact. That Myrcella and Tommem were sweet and kind natured completely surprised Sansa, but Myrcella was going away to Dorne soon and Tommem was seeing her less and less, and so she was all alone.

All alone for no one would come and see the broken daughter of a traitor. Her father did not want her it seemed, for he was not coming to save her nor were her brothers coming to save her. She was left alone here like some sort of unwanted clothing, just as she had been in Winterfell, when her brothers had played with Arya and laughed with her. Sansa had been the odd one out then, not one to take part in games she thought would displease her mother and father, but wanting so badly to take part as well. And the fact that father seemed to prefer Arya had only stung all the more, he had always sided with her during their quarrels in King’s Landing and had seemed so disappointed with her. She…. She did not know what to think anymore, she wanted to go home and she wanted her mother.

This was why she was as confused as to why Tyrion Lannister had invited her to the tower of the hand. He was a kind man, but he was a Lannister and so Sansa was weary of him. “My lady, I know that this will seem as a very strange question, but are you doing well? My nephew has not tried anything untoward to you since we stopped those beatings has he?”

Sansa goes to respond when a voice in her head that sounds oddly like Cersei tells her to be quiet, it could be a trap. Instead she says demurely. “No he has not tried to do anything to me my lord. He has been quite caring and gallant. “

Lord Tyrion laughs. “My nephew gallant? The day Joffrey becomes Gallant is the day I become as good a swordsman as my brother.”

“I had heard that my lord was very good on the battlefield at Ruby Ford. They say you fought valiantly and bravely.” Sansa says.

This surprisingly does not cause the hand to smile and instead he grimaces. “Aye that battle was fought hard and we lost still. Regardless, if my nephew does try anything my lady do let me know. He must learn to keep his thoughts to himself.”

Sansa does not say anything but she does take note of this. When she sees the Lord Hand looking at her intently it becomes obvious that she is meant to say something. “I think the King has done his best with the pressure he is under. He has done a gallant show of holding onto the realm.”

Again the hand snorts. “A gallant show indeed. That is all it is. But tell me my lady Sansa, do you wish to continue being betrothed to my nephew, knowing what he is?”

Tread carefully here, Sansa thinks. She hesitates a moment before responding. “King Joffrey has been nothing but kind and generous to me. Considering my traitor family, I am very lucky nothing has been done to me. It is my heart’s desire to remain betrothed to King Joffrey and to marry and bear him children.”

A moment’s silence follows this, and Sansa worries that she has given herself away and that she will be dragged away. But then the hand merely sighs. “I suppose that that is a fair enough statement, my lady. But should anything arise that gives you cause to reconsider, please do let me know. Now, I must ask you one more thing.”

Sansa freezes, her heart begins beating rapidly and so she asks. “And what is that my lord?”

“Why do you go to the godswood to pray so often? I would have thought by now you realise that the gods do not listen to us mere mortals.” The hand states.

Her heart is hammering away now, she swears it is so loud that even the hand could hear it. She chooses her words carefully here when she responds. “I go to pray, that I am alive and that my family is safe is proof enough that the gods do listen. At least the old gods do.”

For a moment there is some change in the hand’s eyes, they harden and then soften, and Sansa can feel her heart hammering away. The man laughs though. “Ah true Stark steel, I was wondering when that was going to show. Very well then you may continue to go the Godswood so long as you are not doing anything too suspicious.”

Sansa laughs shakily and then stands, but before she goes she asks. “My lord, might I make a request of you?”

“And what is that my lady?” the hand asks her.

Sansa swallows nervously and in a soft voice asks. “I was wondering if I might be able to see my friend Jeyne Poole. I have not seen her since my father was arrested. It would be of great comfort to me to see her.”

The hand looks at her a moment, some expression passes through his face but she is not quite sure what, after a long silence he sighs and says. “Very well I shall see what I can do. But I make no promises.”

“Thank you my lord.” Sansa replies before moving towards the door, she is escorted by one of the clansmen the hand brought from the Vale, back to her rooms. And it is there that she sits and reads through some book or the other. There is not much she can do to pass the time, so she merely sits and reads, but when it appears that none of the words are sinking in she puts the book down and goes to the bed, just a few moments sleep is what she says, and she closes her eyes.

As she sleeps she dreams of running through fields, of seeing animals and the two legged man folk that come across her and run away at the slightest touch or smell of her. She runs with the pack, her brothers and sisters and she howls at the moon, and oh what a joyful sight, something she has longed to do for as long as she can remember, she runs and runs, and she feels so alive. And yet this cannot be true, for she is dead, long dead, buried in Winterfell. But still the dream continues, and she runs and runs.

The creaking of the floorboards brings Sansa out of her dream and back to reality. She blinks the sleep from her eyes and sits up in bed, she squints at the window, and sees that the sun has set. Gods how long has she been asleep? The sound of the floorboards creaking some more draws her attention to the centre of the room where a cloaked figure stands. She looks at the figure, blinks, looks away and then looks back at the figure, who this time has come closer. “Do not scream my lady.” The figure says. “I have not come to hurt you.”

Sansa looks at the hooded figure before her, and sees he wears a mask, shaped like a sun. Her voice is soft when she asks. “Who are you?”

“I am a friend of your father’s I have come to help you my lady.” The figure responds.

“How? How can you help me? No one wants to help me, not even my own father.” Sansa asks.

“Your father does want to see you free, but he is not able to come himself. Instead I am here. Now listen to me my lady, the lady Myrcella is going to Dorne in three days’ time is she not?” the figure asks.

Sansa nods. “Yes, but everyone knows that.”

“And all eyes shall be on her, to make sure nothing happens to ruin her journey to the port. Or that any harm comes to the royal family. But you are not yet part of the royal family and so they will not be paying as close attention to you. That is what will help us.” The figure replies.

“How?” Sansa asks. “They will be watching me just as hard if not more so. I am a hostage here, they are not like to let me slip through their fingers. I do not think this will work Ser, perhaps you should leave.”

That seems to make the hooded figure angry. “You would allow yourself to suffer here at the hands of these traitors and oath breakers? Where is your fire girl?”

“I want to remain alive!” she snaps.

At this the figure chuckles. “Oh you will be alive and so much more than alive, you shall be free.”

“How?” she asks once again. “How are you going to get me out of King’s Landing without me getting killed?”

The figure chuckles once more, “The people of King’s Landing have grown hungry and tired. The Lannisters have more enemies than friends here. And I am one of them. There will not be a smooth send off for the princess Myrcella. You must be ready, for when the people come calling, the whole city shall know, and you shall escape. The riots will be your freedom.”

Chapter Text

10th Month of 298 A.C. Dragonstone

Ser Davos Seaworth

Dragonstone was a grim and foreboding place, a place where dragons both real and man had dwelt in ages past. It had been built to reflect the solemnity of the island and the darkness of the people who had created the island or the castle. Davos rarely liked coming here, and yet he did so for his liege and his king was here. And wherever Stannis Baratheon went so too did Davos. His wife Marya did often tease him that he was wed to Stannis and she was merely his mistress. But that was something he was always quick to dismiss he loved his wife and their children, but Stannis was the man who had given them something, some way of making a living other than smuggling, and he was determined to pay the man back in kind. No matter how damp and grim Dragonstone was.

His lord and king was a very misunderstood person, many saw Stannis Baratheon and they saw a man to stubborn to bend someone who could not adapt or change. They saw a man who was the lesser of his two brothers and they laughed at him. They did not see what Davos saw. Davos saw the steel and the determination to do what was right underneath the layer of stubbornness. He saw a man who was determined to ensure that wrongs were made right and that justice was brought to a realm beggared by Lannister greed and corruption. When his king had returned from King’s Landing declaring that Cersei Lannister had cuckholded King Robert and that the Princes and Princess were actually the Kingslayer’s children, Davos had readily believed his king, for what other reason could Stannis have for saying such a thing other than if it were the truth.

Others had flocked to Stannis’s cause either because they believed his claims, or they had some gripe with the Lannisters and wished to see that righted, or simply because they were ambitious and thought King Stannis could further their ambitions. Word had come from the Florents in the Reach that they were brewing something or the other will their allies, minor houses such as the Peakes, the Osgreys, the Costaynes and the Ambroses and Appletons. All houses that were not completely major threats but which together posed a significant challenge. Davos was not sure what to make of these lords and their games, there was something distinctly unsettling about them all.

And then of course there was the red woman, who had come some moons before Stannis had returned to Dragonstone. The red woman with her strange ways and strange language, and strange god. She had taken over the thoughts and mind of the Queen, Selyse who Davos had always thought somewhat unhinged, and she had also gotten a legion of followers from amongst the castle folk and the lords come to seek the king’s favour.  Davos did not like her, he mistrusted her and her strange ways. And that she had killed good old Maester Cressen only served to make her more of a threat to Davos. She had removed him and then convinced the King to burn the Sept at Dragonstone, such a thing was blasphemous and though the king kept to no god, Davos feared he was falling under the red woman’s spell.

This fears were made worse by the feeling that many potential supporters of the king were being turned away because of the red woman. Why, word had come of the treason committed by two unlikely sources. “So Eddard Stark has finally shown just how little the south means to him. I cannot say I am surprised.” The king said reading the letter before him. “The south has never been good to the Starks and now they are taking their revenge. Traitors.”

“Yes indeed they are Your Grace. They must be severely punished. Such a crime cannot go without notice.” The lickspittle Ser Axell Florent responds.

“Stark was always a fool, he followed your brother around like a dog. He did nothing but complain and now he has done this. He must be killed Your Grace.” Ser Ryam Florent urged.

“Stark is winning his war against the Lannisters. Surely it would make sense to ally with him and then break him later.” Lord Monford Velaryon says.

“Ally? The man has declared himself a king, when the true king sits before us Monford. Has the sea dried out your brain? Allying with a traitor such as Stark will give others ideas above their station. He must be punished.” Axell Florent states.

“Punish him? You would punish a man who has done his grace a favour by denting the Lannister forces thus weakening them. King’s Landing is ripe for the taking. Stark must become an ally not another enemy.” Velaryon replies.

“Stark has not done what he has done for his grace. He has done it for himself. He let his own daughter rot in King’s Landing whilst he escaped. That is how much honour the traitor has left.” Ser Ryam responds.

“Stark has been practical and is doing what he needs to do to ensure that he is getting the rewards and the benefits he needs to keep fighting. We do nothing sitting here.” Velaryon responds coolly.

“The man is causing damage that is beneficial to his grace yes. But at the same time he has not declared for his grace and instead intends to break the kingdoms in two. That cannot be allowed. Stark must be shown reason. ” Ser Ryam counters.

“Then we shall sit here and wait whilst Stark does all the work for us. And you wonder why none but us has come to support the king. This is why, everyone else is fighting for the kings who are actively supporting them, and yet we remain here like scared little girls. What are we afraid of gods dammit?” Velaryon blusters.

“I am not afraid my lord. I am being patient and waiting.” The king says finally speaking.

“Waiting? Waiting for what? For the Starks and the Tullys do deal with Tywin Lannister and his men? Waiting for Renly to come and take King’s Landing and then beat you when you set sail? You must act now Your Grace, otherwise there will never be another chance for you to take the throne.” Lord Monford says curtly.

There is some muttering at this, but before anyone can respond, the red woman speaks, her voice carrying a musical lilt to it. “My Lord Monford, you speak out of turn and rashly. The King does not need to wait for anyone to destroy his enemies, the Lord of Light shall do it for him. With each battle, the enemies grow weaker, and the true king grows stronger. King Stannis shall sit the throne before the year is out.”

There is a chorus of approval at this mainly coming from the lords and knights who follow the red woman. Davos though has a few questions he wishes to ask. “How can you be so sure of that my lady? Yes it is true that the king’s enemies are fighting one another and reducing themselves to nothing, but unless his grace fights and takes part in the war, none will try to keep him there.”

Davos sees Lord Monford nod, as well as old Adrian Celtigar, the red woman though is smiling and her voice is soft when she speaks. “My knight of onions, you are of little faith. The Lord of Light will ensure that there is enough strength and support for his grace. All those who remove the darkness from their hearts shall support his grace, the one and only King Westeros needs.”

More murmurs in support of this follow, but Davos is undeterred. “And how is that my lady? I am no great lord, but even I know that no one will follow a King who sits on his own arse whilst others do the hard work for him. If his grace wishes to sit the throne he must work for it. And the only way to work for it is by war.”

There are some cries of outrage at this. “You would dare speak to our king like that? You nothing more than a mere smuggler?!” Ser Axell responds. The man looks to King Stannis then. “Your Grace, please listen to the Lady Melisandre, she speaks sense, she knows of what she speaks. We must wait and when our enemies are weak and broken then we should strike.” The man implores.

“And what come up against Renly Baratheon and his army of men? We would not stand a chance. Use your brain Florent. Renly and his roses, are going to have their thorns into everything should we attack. There would no hope for us.” Davos counters.

More murmuring follows this and the oaf Ser Imry Florent speaks. “You would do well to watch your tongue smuggler. You have no experience at battle, let alone the ins and outs of King’s Landing. This is not Flea Bottom, this is a true war, and as such you should let the warriors discuss it.”

Laughter follows this and though Davos can feel his cheeks burn in anger, he remains quiet. “Silence!” the king’s voice rings out loud and true in the room of the painted table. “Ser Davos speaks true and I would hear what he has to say.”

Silence and then Davos speaks tentatively. “Your Grace must know that to get the loyalty from the lords who refused the offers that you gave them, you must move into the field. Lords Stark and Tully have gotten their crowns through fighting for and with their men. You must do the same, only then can you truly hope to win the throne.”

“And how do you suggest I do that onion knight? I currently do not have enough men to significantly challenge any of the usurpers.” The king says his teeth grinding loudly.

Davos wants to shout at his King that that does not matter, fighting would do the job to get him more men, but he knows his king well enough to know such an approach would not go down well and so instead he merely responds. “You must go to a place where Renly Baratheon is most vulnerable. We know from the last reports that he is at Tumbleton he is advancing on King’s Landing far more rapidly than we had anticipated, we must bring him closer to us. Storm’s End must be where we go.”

A booming laugh alerts him to the presence of Lord Daron Bar Emmon. “And how pray tell would we go there? The storms are picking something fierce, it is further away from King’s Landing and the ships are not strong enough to withstand the voyage.”

Davos looks at the man and says. “The royal fleet or at least as much as can be salvaged is here, we also have the services of Salladhor Saan. We can make it to Storm’s End with force and will if we need to. But it must be done.”

“Saan is a sellsail and more than likely to abandon us if we set sail for Storm’s End. It has never been taken. Not by land and not by sea. This is a mission doomed to fail smuggler.” Imry Florent states arrogantly.

Davos though has long since stopped paying attention to Florent, he is looking at his king. His words are strong when he says. “Your Grace, you know that Storm’s End has never been taken because no one who actually lives in Storm’s End has ever tried to take it. You grew up there, and you know the ins and outs of it better than anyone except Renly. You can take the castle if you need to. The mere threat of it falling should be enough to bring Renly scampering back.”

Silence, Davos can feel his heart hammering away in his chest, he waits for his king to speak, and then King Stannis does. “Ready the ships, we sail for Storm’s End in three days’ time.”

Chapter Text

 

10th Month of 298 A.C. King’s Landing

Tyrion Lannister

King’s Landing was a cauldron ready to explode. It was heating up, there was increasingly a number of discontented smallfolk and minor lords turning up at the Red Keep to complain about food shortages. Tyrion had tried his damndest to explain to them that with the Rose Road still blocked off there was literally nothing they could do about that. Until Renly Baratheon either took the city or was slain, the Rose Road would remain blocked, and there would be little food coming into the city. That did not seem to appease the complainers too much though. For they brought up the fact that the royal family was still eating well enough as were the lords of court, and whilst this was true, their own supplies were steadily running out, sooner or later they would need to look towards the Lords of the Point and the other lords of crownlands for subsidence and that was one conversation he did not wish to have.

As for the plots he had gotten himself involved in since he had arrived, well one of them had come to fruition already. He had come needing to find out which of the members of the small council who were not his sister he could trust, and so he had devised a plan, telling Baelish he wanted to speak with Lysa Arryn about betrothing her son to his niece Myrcella, he had spoken to Rosby about strengthening support in the crownlands and perhaps a match to someone within Crackclaw Point, and for his true intention he had told Pycelle about betrothing her to Trystane Martell. Not once had he told Cersei and none of the people had had told had spoken a word to anyone until Cersei came storming into his rooms demanding that he cease all attempts to negotiate with the Martells. There was genuine fear in her eyes when she said as much, and though he could understand such reasoning, he had to explain to her why it would be better to give the Martells Myrcella and a seat on the council, than to have them away from court and plotting. And besides word had come that Stannis Baratheon was finally stirring from Dragonstone, Myrcella needed to get out of King’s Landing before something happened. She had agreed reluctantly, and Tyrion had thrown Pycelle in the black cells. He would not have a traitor against him.

And now the day had come for Myrcella to leave for Dorne, it was a day that filled Tyrion with a sense of both dread and nerves. His niece was a sweet girl, she had none of the anger or bitterness of her mother for all that she looked like Cersei in miniature. She held herself high and proud and rode like a true Lannister, no matter her name, Tyrion knew the truth had always known the truth and that this sham was still going on was something of interest, but also something he knew needed to happen for them to all remain alive. And so they rode forth from the Red Keep the royal party and the gold cloaks clearing a path for them, they rode down Aegon’s High Hill towards the Sea Snake’s port and Tyrion saw the hunger and the glazed looks of the smallfolk as they rode past. The nerves that had been boiling in his stomach began fluttering around as he got a clearer look, there was something going on in the air, some tension or the other. What it was he could not quite put his finger on it, but he could sense it nonetheless. There was something in the way the eyes of the smallfolk followed them and the way their faces seemed to twitch as they saw the horses that made Tyrion distinctly uncomfortable.

They ride on towards the port, and still this sense of unease does not leave Tyrion he barks an order for the guard, both the Kingsguard and the gold cloaks to move closer together, better to protect them. His sister looks at him slightly and he merely shakes his head, she snorts and turns back to face the front. They ride on and the crowds are deathly silent, there is something going on, something is going to happen what it is he does not know, and by the gods he does not know what it is and it is beginning to drive him mad. When they get closer to the Sea Snake’s Port, the crowd begins to liven up a bit, it seems they have sensed that a departure is about to happen, and regardless of how hungry and famished they are, the commons always like a good show.

There is murmuring and cheering and the odd cry of glory for Joffrey, but more often than not people cheer for Myrcella, his niece may be young but she has a way of making people like, even love her. He hopes that she can do that in Dorne, with the way things are going in this war for them, they might just need that ability of his niece’s. They get to the port and his niece dismounts from her horse, the High Septon is already standing there, his big belly sagging in his robes, and he begins to say some bullshit prayer to the seven. Tyrion long ago stopped believing in gods, especially gods that would take his wife from him and leave a child. But damn the man rattled on and increasingly Tyrion felt the urge to run up and slap him. He breathes a sigh of relief when the man finally stops blesses Myrcella and then his niece is boarding the ship bound for Dorne. Ser Arys and some twenty red cloaks go with her.

They all wait until Myrcella has disappeared from view, Tommem is crying softly, Tyrion knows and he also knows his sister will completely ignore the boy in favour of Joffrey. A quick glance at his nephew and Tyrion knows something is going to go wrong on their way back. His nephew never liked not being the centre of attention, and today that has been the case. He just hopes that the Stark girl does not get picked on, the last time he got Bronn to stop Joffrey, and the girl had very nearly died from blood loss. That she is even here today is a miracle. The king says something to the Hound causing the man to bark a laugh and then they have all turned round and are riding back for the Red Keep.

The ride back passes by relatively silently and peacefully, there are still those watching and looking at them with hungry expressions on their faces, but there is nothing so daunting as to make it seem like something bad is going to occur. Perhaps he was merely imagining what he saw earlier, these people seem harmless. And so they ride on, through the glaring heat of the summer sun, through the throngs of bodies pressing in against the streets and the houses and huts that have come to see them from the port back to the Red Keep. He does not think he has ever seen so many people during his time in King’s Landing and considering how often he has ventured here in the past that is saying something. As they near Aegon’s Hill and the hook leading to it, he sees a woman who looks startlingly like Tysha, and his heart stops then. He nearly stops his horse, but at the last moment he blinks and she is gone, the feeling of something bad comes back to him then. He has not seen Tysha since that night, all those years ago, and by the gods not again.

As they get to the hook a woman comes in front of the Lady Sansa’s horse holding up a babe. “Please my lady, please. My babe, my babe is dead.”

“Get out of the way!” The king snarls at the woman.

“It is okay my King,” the Lady Sansa says sweetly. She reaches into her robes and pulls out her purse and then throws a few coins down to the woman. “Here my lady.”

The woman ignores the coins and shouts. “My babe is dead. My babe died because of you! Whore!” the woman spits.

“You will not spit at my betrothed. Kill her.” The king snarls.

Ser Meryn Trant, dismounts from his horse and draws his sword, the woman is still standing in front of the Lady Sansa’s horse, the babe held high when Ser Meryn shoves his sword in her back and then pulls out. The woman and her babe fall down dead.

A bad move that, for whilst blood spatters onto the Lady Sansa, and the king laughs, the sight of the woman and her dead babe, seems to stir the commons from their apparent stupor. The noise they make in anger is louder than any whore that Tyrion has fucked. An angry buzz begins echoing through the narrow streets, and from out of nowhere it seems that a pile of dung has been thrown at the King, hitting him squarely in the face. The king of course roars for someone to find the person who threw that pile of dung. And that it seems breaks the commons completely, they surge forward, piling into them all.

Tyrion feels a blackness begin to engulf him as the commons swarm in, though they are mounted, the commons outnumber them. And it shows, he sees one gold cloak, and then another and another fall as they are pulled down to the ground and beaten to their deaths. Meryn Trant has managed to kill three or four members of the commons before his sword is knocked from his hand and he is overwhelmed by sheer numbers. It is that, and that alone that makes Tyrion come to his senses. “Charge through. Now!” he roars slapping his feet into his horse’s flank causing the animal to go charging through, the king and everyone else follow him and still the commons come swarming, clearly word has spread, and now they are beginning to suffer for their number.

More and more smallfolk are swarming in, dragging members of the court from their horses and beating them. Tyrion cannot see the King or his sister or Tommem, but he does see Lord Rosby getting beaten to a pulp, he sees Preston Greenfield struggling to hold his own against six members of the minor nobility armed with nothing more than spikes and blunted swords. And then there is Sansa Stark, her horse getting pulled and pushed this way and that, gods he needs to help her, but he does not know how. He roars at Bronn to aid her, but before his friend can get there, the smallfolk have dispersed and a hooded figure is riding towards Sansa, a bow in his hand, and then as if by magic the Stark girl has gone, riding off on the hooded figure’s horse.

“After them!” Tyrion barks, without the Stark girl this war is lost to them. And so with the help of Bronn and the clansmen they clear a way through the commons and go charging after Sansa Stark and her mysterious saviour.

The charge it seems is fruitless, he can see the horse and Lady Sansa but they are too far away for him to get to without doing something ridiculous and foolhardy. And then he remembers when he was a little boy and he always wanted to do something for his family, to make them proud. This wars with his desire to be practical, and then he feels something pulling on him. He looks down and is horrified to see a peasant tugging down at him, how the hell? He begins kicking at the man, but then more and more come and it seems the swarm has come to him now. Gods be good.

Chapter Text

11th Month of 298 A.C. Sarsfield

King Eddard I Stark

War, an unpleasant business, a very unpleasant business. Ned had never been fond of war and bloodshed. Not like others, not like Brandon and Robert two men who had always revelled at the sight of blood on their swords. He hated the feeling that he was nothing but a butcher, a butcher bringing others to the slaughter. The crown weighed heavily on him as it always did, and he was not sure just how much more of this he could take. They had had enough time to build their siege towers and to get reports on the movements on the other Lannister soldiers, there was little happening in the Westerlands other than the lords trying to fervently rebuild their homes and lands. They had seen the pile of skulls and dead bodies lined up in formation as they had marched from Ashemark some 14,000 strong towards a place that had seen little fighting.

Sarsfield was a simple castle built around a small town. The lord of Sarsfield was a big and broad man who was more beast than man as far as Ned could remember. Lann Sarsfield an oaf if ever there was one. But he was a smart oaf in the sense that the moment Ned and his men had begun hammering away at the gates of the town, the man had sent of ravens toward Oxcross no doubt. The archers had brought down most if not all of the ravens that had taken flight, yet there was one Ned was sure that had gotten away. That was something Ned was not all too sorry about the sooner Stafford Lannister came scampering in to aid his cousin the sooner they could destroy the Lannisters for good and for all.

The gates had been battered down, and now Ned and his men were charging into the town killing those who came in sight. Be they civilian or guardsmen they were cut down. This was not something Ned enjoyed doing but it was something that needed to be done, it had to be done. Ned swung Ice once and cut right through some man brandishing a stick, another swing brought down a man wielding a pitchfork, another swing brought down a guardsmen dressed in nothing but a shirt and breeches. On they pushed, Ned roaring commands as they went, his sons by his side their wolves streaming through past them and ripping through the men and women they came face to face with.

Another roar and soon enough they pushing towards the town square, this was where the main guardsmen were. Speaking to the prisoners, Ned had learnt that Sarsfield had guardsmen and then it had guardsmen. One was the drunken sort ill trained and ill disciplined, the other sort was the trained and professional lot. It seemed the professional lot was the one they were about to face. Ned roared a command and soon he and his sons were leading the charge into the wall that had become the guardsmen. A swing here, a cut there men were beginning to fall like flies. His sword was stained red with blood, and still they pushed on. A swing, a hack, a cut, on and on it goes. His head is pounding his arms feel weaker, but still they go on, to stop is to invite death and destruction.

The guardsmen here are putting up a fair fight, Ned must admit, they are giving as good as they get, and Ned can feel his arms beginning to weaken but he thinks of his wife and his children and that gives him the strength to push on. Ice is like a bludgeon in his hands he swings and knocks people out of the way not truly caring for whether or not they are alive. He pushes on his sons by his side, he checks frequently to ensure they are by his side, losing them nor would be unthinkable. A swing here, a swing there, Ice is dripping red with blood, from tip to blade it is covered, and still there are more men coming. It seems Sarsfield is throwing everything he has at them except for himself and his sons, the coward. Though he can understand why the man is doing it, there is no honour in it. Still pushing such thoughts from his mind he continues his part in the butchery.

He barks a command and he and his men give one big push and soon enough the guardsmen are falling back or falling to their knees. The wheel is working, it is spinning in full formation and it would normally be something that Ned was proud of, but today there is only the grim determination of ensuring that they do not falter now, not with victory so close. Another charge and the guardsmen break and fall, either that or they fall to their deaths. His men give a triumphant roar but he knows that more is to come, he can see it from the way the gates of the castle open and more men come streaming out. Ned sighs and barks another command. And he and his men come through the charge with their weapons drawn as the men coming from the castle fall upon their own spears and weapons.

The men are pushing through now, sensing victory, Ned can sense it as well, he can feel that the Sarsfield men are beginning to fall apart here. Their commanders are not able to push through their orders, their men are beginning to break. “Hammer and chisel men, hammer and chisel.” Ned roars his men roar with him and they begin the moves that they have all been practicing during the wait for more war, and Ned feels his heart hammering as they swerve in and out of the lines of Sarsfield men, and then when they reach the end they steer themselves into the Sarsfield men with crushing force.

The Sarsfield men break at that, their commanders are killed the troops begin to run into one another. There is an outbreak of slaughter and unmerciful killing. It would normally set Ned’s stomach to churning but he is too busy looking for his sons to care. He had gotten separated from Robb and Jon during the press and now he glances around nervously looking for them, praying they are not caught up in the slaughter, but somehow knowing that they are. He feels a sharp pain in his arm, and looks down to see blood pouring from a dozen small wounds, wondering how they got there he takes his attention off of the main scene of battle.

During the time in which he is checking for his wounds, the Sarsfield men are soundly beaten, and that would normally be cause for celebration but they still need to take the castle itself, something that none have been able to do. And yet, before they can even begin to think about doing that the sounds of horns and drums are heard and another army has come to fight them. Stafford Lannister is finally here and with him his army of green boys. Ned looks around anxiously for his sons, and he sees a flash of white and feels his heart begin beating all the much more quickly for he realises that Jon has gone charging into the fray.

He roars, and soon enough regardless of his own wounds is charging through swinging Ice, and grimacing through it all. He needs to get to his sons, he needs to make sure they are safe, he cannot lose them, not now. He cuts through the lions that come in his path barking commands all the while. His chest takes a fair few hits, but he does not feel them, he knows he will feel the pain later, but right now the adrenaline is carrying him. A swing removes an annoying man from his path, another swing removes a true threat, whether they are alive or dead makes no difference to him, and he needs to get to his son. He does not know where Robb is either, and he feels torn as to where to go but he is already charging towards where last Jon was seen, gods this is horrible.

Bodies are lying piled on the ground, building up with every second that passes. Every second with which he cannot find Jon, Ned’s heart hammers in his chest growing in frequency as the worry that he will find Jon’s face staring up at him grows. More and more men come charging at him and he cuts them down effortlessly, they are no true threat for him, he needs to find his son. That has become more important to him than the rest of the battle. He has to find his son, he has to.  Eventually he finds his son, Jon and his direwolf Ghost are fighting some four or five men at the same time, and his son is badly wounded. Ned roars and comes charging through with his own guards or soldiers with him. They cut a bloody path towards his son and then side by him as they take on the five men that are now looking less certain of themselves.

“Derryk take my son back to the camp. He needs to be seen to.” Ned barks

“But father I should remain with you!” Jon protests.

“You are badly injured you would be more use alive than dead son.” Ned barks back.

Jon goes to protest again, but Derryk speaks. “Your Grace, we might not be able to take Prince Jon back just yet, there is too much chaos.”

A man advances forward and Ned watches as he is cut down. “Do it Derryk get my son back to camp now. Moll and Jast shall accompany you.” He waits until his son and his protectors have gotten out of the ring before moving forward and roaring a challenge. For some reason his son’s wolf has not gone with him, and so Ghost is with Ned, and is snarling at the enemy.

The battle is relatively short, these are green boys and so Ned and his men are able to dispatch them with relative ease. His sword is still stained red with blood and his armour is covered with dirt and blood, he feels exhausted both mentally and physically and he is relieved to see that the fighting is slowing down now. When he and his men pull from the ring they find Martyn Cassel and his group of men. “Stafford Lannister is dead Your Grace, slain by Rickard Karstark. His son led some hundred men back in a retreat.”

Ned nods. “And my sons? How do they fare?”

“They are well Your Grace. Prince Jon has made it safely back to the camp, I saw him just before you came back. He is being treated right now. As for Prince Robb well he ensured that Sarsfield fell. The castle is yours Your Grace.”

Ned nods his thanks and then calls for his men to join him in the castle, he meets his son and sees the dead bodies of Sarsfield, his wife and sons. “They were dead when I came in father.” Robb says.

Ned says nothing but merely nods. He pats his son on the back, and then takes the place where Sarsfield would once have sat. He congratulates his men and they feast that evening and that night. But Ned himself cannot join in their festivities. He is plagued by ghosts both real and imagined.  Lyanna on a bed of blood her eyes staring unseeingly into the distance clutching a dead babe, one white cloak disappearing into the sunset, a heavy pall of grief enveloping Ned as he wonders what the hell he will do. A babe with purple eyes and silver hair and a secret, one of many, gods it is too much. And then there was that girl with auburn hair, the girl the same age as his daughter Sansa, and her mutilated corpse stares at him as he looks at her body, and he worries. His daughter, gods what has he done? His actions have cost them all so much, his daughter is suffering now, gods she is suffering because of his folly. Gods damn it, when will it be right? When will it all be right?

They have won here, but Ned feels as if he has failed, as a King, a Lord, a Husband and a father. Gods forgive him he is so tired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

11th Month of 298 A.C. Storm’s End

King Renly I Baratheon

Oh he knew what everyone was thinking, why had he crowned himself king when it was obvious that Stannis was the rightful king. Well he had grown up with his older brother, and could not help but shudder at the thought of that man on the throne. Gods, Renly would probably have to flee to Volantis to get away from the man and his damnable Florent wife. Stannis was far too rigid and stubborn to make a good king, Renly had learnt from Cressen and then Marwyn that to be a good king one needed to be able to compromise sometimes, to be able to admit when one was wrong, and to be charismatic to care for the people one wanted to rule. Stannis did not have those qualities, he was all about the law, well sometimes the law needed to be bent to ensure the best results. Plus there was that red witch of his that Renly had heard so many rumours about, that was bad, Stannis was not a godly man, neither was Renly truth be told but still the Red witch echoed too much of Aerys, and that was something his fool of a brother was too blind to see.

Of course being king was not a completely easy task, there were lords he had to appease and lords he had to discipline, and he could not be seen as being too favourable to the Tyrells even though they had given him his army and his queen. He knew his Stormlords well, he knew they were a quarrelsome lot who would balk at the displays of pageantry the Tyrells were apt to put on, but so far they had been oddly compliant, he sensed that the feeling of beating down the door and getting revenge for Robert was keeping them going. Then there was the fact that Stark and Tully had declared independence, he had suspected Tully might do something like that, the man was all pride and no sense, but Stark, Stark had surprised him. He supposed being locked in the black cells and subjected to the hooded man had done something to Stark. Ach well, there was nothing more he could do for that, apart from what he had already done. He had sent Brienne of Tarth and Robar Royce and a group of some ten knights with them to bring terms to Riverrun. He would allow Stark and Tully to keep calling themselves kings so long as they recognised him as High King of Westeros, a concept that Mace Tyrell had come up with, and a title Renly found he quite liked. Of course with that came the pressure of getting a male heir, he had not been able to perform when he and Margaery had been alone and had only managed to consummate the marriage with Loras there, his secret, his terrible secret was something that he feared coming out.

That was why when at Tumbleton he had learnt of his brother laying siege to Storm’s End he had very nearly had a heart attack. Stannis was one of the few who had known of his secret, and if he spoke, then by the gods no he could not think of it. And now looking at his brother, he wondered if this had been his plan all along. “Stannis, so nice to see you. Have you come to bend the knee?” Renly asked, putting on a front of bravado to hide his nerves.

“Bend the knee to you? No, I think not Renly. You are the younger brother. It is you who should be bending the knee to me.” His brother replies curtly.

Renly looks at Loras who laughs, Renly laughs as well. “Brother admit it. You have come here in a gamble. The whole realm does not want you to be king. From babes in their cribs in Dorne to old men dying at the wall, everyone denies you the throne and they proclaim me as their king. You are too stubborn and blind to see that.”

“Cersei’s children are not our brother’s Renly. I know you know it, you are not such a fool as to deny the fact that Joffrey is nothing like our brother. He is the Kingslayer’s bastard and any man who denies it is a fool.” Stannis replies.

“Convenient how you proclaimed this just after Robert died and Stark and Tully began rebelling. That must have hurt, knowing the one man who was guaranteed to support you now no longer does. That you are alone without any true support. That must hurt your pride brother. Is that why you have gone to fire as our cousin Aerys did?” Renly mocks.

“It is the truth. I did not do it for any gain, but to show how it is my right to have the throne.” His brother snaps.

“And the red woman, she is something that just happens to have fallen into your lap. You know I can see why you might have turned to religion, especially looking at Selyse and the fact she might have made you a cuckhold.” He japes.

Before his brother can respond the red woman is riding forward and speaking her voice oddly soft. “Stannis Baratheon is the rightful king, he is Azor Azhai come again. Born amidst smoke and fire. He will save the world from the coming darkness.”

“Smoke and fire? What is he a ham? He was born at Storm’s End the same as me and our brother Robert. There was no smoke and fire there. Stop your blathering woman and go back to your whoring.” Renly says a tinge of anger in his voice.

“Did you forget your courtesies at Highgarden boy? Or did your mother never teach you them?” Ser Imry Florent snarls.

Renly looks at the man and says. “Funny how the foxes have turned up here is it not. One might think you had grown tired of shoving your noses up someone else’s arse. But then again you never were brave enough to change course were you Imry? Now please shut up, this is a conversation between men not idiots.”

A pearl of laughter follows that statement and Renly feels his confidence growing. His brother though seems angry. “You are nothing but a boy Renly. For the sake of the mother who bore us both, I will give you a chance. Get down from your horse now and bend the knee to me, and I will forgive you, I will give you a place on the council and name you Lord of Storm’s End. I will even name you my heir until a son is born to me.”

Renly considers this a moment and whilst it is a tempting prospect he takes one look at the red woman and he knows he would never make it out the year. Laughing he says. “I think not brother. Why don’t you get off your horse and bend the knee to me. I am better suited to being king, and I have the men to prove it.”

“These men are all green boys not tested in the fires of war Renly. Come now do not be a fool, we have a true enemy, let us work together to fight them.” his brother responds, an almost pleading note in his voice.

Renly looks at his brother and says. “No. I think not brother, no one wants you as their king, least of all me. Admit defeat now and I will not have to kill you. I would hate to leave Shireen without her father.”

This seems to anger Stannis truly, as only the mention of his daughter could. “You are a fool Renly. These men will desert you the moment you lose. They are traitors and now you must die. I give you one last chance, get down off your horse and bend the knee or fight and die.”

Renly looks his brother in the eye and says simply. “I think I will take my chances fighting brother.”

“Then I shall see you tomorrow. You have a few hours yet to reconsider.” Stannis says before turning and riding off.

“Look to your sins Lord Renly, for the night and full of terrors.” The red woman says.

“No doubt like your woman’s parts.” Renly mutters.

Once Stannis and his party have left to their camps, Renly himself order his men back to their own camp. Whilst there they discuss various things, Renly is only half listening, all he can truly think on is the fact that soon enough he will have to fight his brother. The brother who raised him when Robert forgot him. True Stannis left for Dragonstone and never came back, but during the rebellion it was Stannis who held him and comforted him before that part of Stannis died the day Robert named him Lord of Storm’s End and not Stannis. Then Stannis stopped caring and stopped visiting, and Renly, well he had been just a boy, he did not understand and so he let the anger build at Stannis at Robert until he met Loras and it all changed.

He had learnt to love and to laugh again with Loras, he had learnt how to be free with Loras, and he had come to love the boy who had become much more than just a squire. His sister was an equally fascinating person and Renly knew some part of him loved her as well, he hoped the girl was with child for he feared what Stannis’s red woman might do. The conversation was going backward and forward about who would lead whom, Renly was not really paying attention but he knows one thing, he might be many things but he would not kill his brother, no he would not do that, he could not do that. He looks at Loras and his lover nods, and he breathes a sigh of relief. Loras will do the job, and he can rest easy knowing that at least his brother will die at the hands of a true warrior.

“Tell me my lords, the darkness, would it be best for attacking?” Renly asks to stop himself from overly thinking about killing his brother.

Lord Tarly speaks in agreement. “It is Your Grace. The darkness provides us with enough cover to attack without them knowing truly what is happening. They will be expecting the attack in the morning, something of this nature will catch them off guard and could possibly lead to our victory.”

“And it would be best to hit them from the sides would it not, for that is where they are most weak.” Renly enquires.

Lord Tarly again nods. “Yes, if such an attack was to happen, the sides are the best place to hit them. The centre will be guarded too tightly for us to slip in and cause the necessary chaos.”

Renly nods. “Loras you shall command the first attack on their camp. Have your men carry torches with which to set the camp ablaze. Lord Tarly once the tents are on fire, you will come with the left and begin killing those who come forth. Lord Rowan you shall hammer the point home with the right. It might not be honourable, but it will safe us losing men unnecessarily.”

All the men voice their agreement and then depart, apart from Loras but Renly merely shakes his head and his lover leaves. Ser Emmon Cuy and Ser Guyard Morrigen are on duty outside his tent tonight, and so he feels comfortable enough to sit and think for a moment. Darkness is beginning outside, he can tell by the dimming of the shadows on the ground of his tent. He sits and thinks and wonders what will happen when this is all said and done. Will people accuse him of treason and fratricide or will they not? Stannis had not been a brother to him since Storm’s End had been given to him when he was but a boy. Can one chose who is a brother and who is not? These are all things he wishes he knew the answer to but he does not.

Just as he is about to rise, he feels something take hold of him, something is grabbing his throat, he feels as if he is on fire. His hands fly up to try and remove it but it stays, its grip strong and vice like. Gods he can’t breathe, what is this? What is this? There is no one in the room, and he stumbles and falls and his vision turns to black. His breathing is slowing and quickening with frightening rapidity, and as his mind begins to panic he remembers the red woman’s threats, and with his last breath he mutters his brother’s name.

Chapter Text

11th Month of 298 A.C. Winterfell

Queen Catelyn Stark

The journey back to Winterfell had thankfully been uneventful, they had said goodbye to Ned and the twins before they rode off too battle, and Catelyn had felt her heart in her mouth, the nerves of losing her sons and her husband were all that much stronger now that they were all royalty. There would be a high price put on the capture or death of a king or prince of the north, a risky move that her husband had taken but one he had had to take considering the limited options available to them. And so she and Arya had ridden alongside the Mallisters and some men from Winterfell to Seagard and it was from there they had taken ships back to Barrowton, stopping briefly to speak with Lady Dustin a lady who was quite pleasant, and then from there they had returned to Winterfell, and never had Catelyn been so happy to see the wolf adorned walls as she had been there.

During the journey back to Winterfell, Catelyn had kept an eye on Arya, there was something different about her daughter, something she could not quite put her finger on, but her daughter who had always been full of life and energy seemed quieter and more reserved. She had spoken somewhat of what she had done since Ned had been arrested and Catelyn had been torn between relief that her little girl was still alive, and horrified that she had had to experience those things. She had felt a debt of gratitude for the boys Gendry and Hot Pie who had looked out for her little girl as they had travelled through the Riverlands, and had asked her brother Axel to look out for them, something which he had promised to do. The only thing that did seem to make her daughter smile was her direwolf, Nymeria, whom they had found prowling near Oldstones. That they had found the direwolf was a relief and somewhat of a surprise. And Catelyn was happy for her daughter even if she was somewhat scared with how angry the wolf had become. As for her babes Bran and Rickon well they were both well, they were adjusting it seemed, and the guilt Catelyn felt for running off like she had done was strong.

That was part of the reason she was now speaking to her son, to try and understand what it was he thought he needed to do and why the Reed children were talking to him of this. “Bran, I do not understand why you feel compelled to go beyond the wall. There is nothing there but cold and wildlings. It is too dangerous.”

“But mother, Jojen says that I have to go north of the wall to see the three eyed crow, otherwise bad things will happen. To us to everyone, I cannot allow that. Not if I have the power to stop it.” Her son replies.

Catelyn feels her heart clench then, for her son sounded just like Ned there. “Bran, sweetling, what do you think you can achieve going north of the wall? Truly what do you think you can do? How will you get to the wall to begin with?”

Her son hesitates a moment and then responds. “Well Jojen says that we would go with Hodor and walk north. The Watch needs help mother, there is danger coming.”

Catelyn looks at her son then exasperated. “So you would go north to the wall with nothing but yourself, Meera and Jojen and Hodor. Might I remind you that Hodor is a simpleton. That is the most ridiculous plan I have heard sweetling. Truly it sounds like some sort of childish fantasy.”

“It isn’t though!” her son protests. “Jojen dreamed that you would come back with Arya, before father was even released from prison. And now here you are. What he dreams do come true. Mother, please, I want to help. I feel useless here!”

“You are not useless!” Catelyn says sharply. “You are very helpful. I have spoken with Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrik and you did a very good job running Winterfell whilst I was away. You are very useful, and regardless Bran, sweetling, what do you hope to accomplish going to the wall. Your uncle Benjen would not let you cross.”

“Uncle Benjen is not at the wall mother,” Bran says softly. “He went north.”

At this Catelyn’s eyes widen slightly. “How do you know that sweetling? Was there a raven?”

Her son shakes his head. “No mother, it was a dream I had, in it uncle Benjen went north and never came back.”

“It was only a dream sweetling. If something had happened to your uncle Benjen then a raven would have come from the wall.” Catelyn reasons.

“Not if something had happened to the Lord Commander mother.” Her son responds.

“What do you mean sweetling?” Catelyn asks somewhat alarmed.

“Jojen dreamed of a black bear being hurt by crows. Lots and lots of crows.” Her son replies sounding scared.

Catelyn feels her anger grow then. “I will need to speak to Jojen, this is ridiculous. Truly Bran it is, nothing has happened to your uncle Benjen nor to the Lord Commander. It was only a dream nothing more. Now tell me why are you not playing with the two Walders?”

“I don’t like them. They are mean and foolish. Even Arya agrees.” Her son says.

Catelyn supresses a laugh then, her daughter had complained of them to her as well, and if she was complaining then they must be truly bad. “Still, they are our guests’ sweetling, you must at least show them some courtesy. They will not be here for long.”

Her son nods his head solemnly. “Please don’t speak to Jojen mother. I don’t want him to think less of me. He told me those things not to scare me I don’t think. I am not a baby, I am not Rickon.”

Catelyn smiles at her son and kisses the top of his head. “Of course not sweetling. Now what are you going to do?”

Her son is silent a moment and then says. “I am going to read a little I think mother.”

Catelyn nods and then turns and leaves her son’s room. Her thoughts are troubled by what she has just heard, perhaps she will need to speak with the Reed boy before this is all done. She does not want her son having nightmares again, she notices that Summer, Bran’s direwolf is following her and merely laughs. “Keeping what on me are you?” She ruffles the direwolf’s fur and then continues walking.

Eventually she reaches the solar and opens the door, and sits down. Looking over the ledgers for this month is like to give her a headache right now, this babe seems adverse to numbers. She smiles somewhat at the thought, another babe, another wolf for the pack. She hopes Ned will be happy with the news once the war is done.

A knock at the door brings her away from her happy thoughts and once she has called for whomever it is to come in she finds herself looking at Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrik. “You asked to speak with us Your Grace?” Maester Luwin says.

“Ah yes of course, please sit down both of you.” Catelyn says. Once both men are seated she looks down at some of the letters before her and then looks at the men in front of her. “There have been letters coming from Hornwood reporting of some disturbance or the other, Lady Donella it appears is quite convinced that these bandits as she calls them come from Bolton lands. What can you tell me about them?”

Ser Rodrik responds. “It appears that these bandits began surfacing around the time of Lord Halys’ death. News did of course come back from the riverlands Your Grace, and there was a period where Lady Donella looked as if she was going to come to Winterfell for protection, but then decided to remain. It was after that decision that her troubles began. These bandits come and steel livestock at night and sometimes even burn down crop and grain. Where they come from I could not say for sure, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say they are from the Dreadfort and its lands.”

“Why though? What reason could Roose Bolton have for doing such a thing? After all it is not like anyone on that land would do anything without the man’s permission. So what could he possibly want from Hornwood?” Catelyn asks.

“Land. The Boltons are always looking for more land. Roose should be no exception to that. Indeed, if he is like his father in that regard he will begin pushing for more, now that the succession of Hornwood is not clear.” Ser Rodrik replies.

Catelyn groans at that. “Of course, so long as there is no clear successor, the land is up for occupation. Now who are the possible successors?”

Maester Luwin is the one to speak then. “The most immediate one is Berena Tallhart, as she is Lord Halys’ sister. Now considering the prior issues that the Hornwoods had last a woman ruled those lands, it might be best if we look towards her sons. Brandon and Beren as possible successors. Brandon is of an age with Princes Robb and Jon, and could make a good lord with the right training.”

“Aye he could, but it will soon be winter. And with men like Roose Bolton and Wyman Manderly as neighbours he would need to be of strong mind and personality to hold the lands.” Ser Rodrik states.

“I think he should do okay.” Catelyn states, thinking of the bold and brass lad that had so amused Ned last time he was here. “And of course it is not as if he would not have support. I am sure his mother and father would be going with him to Hornwood, should the king so choose.” Both men nod their heads in agreement and Catelyn moves on to the next matter that had been troubling her. “Now, the Reed children, when did they come here and why did they come here?”

It is Maester Luwin who speaks. “They came here just before the harvest feast Your Grace, and they came to pledge their allegiance to The King’s cause. That they stayed was I assume something they did to give Prince Bran Company. After all he has not taken well to the two Walders. Why do you ask Your Grace?”

“They have been saying things to my son that I am not sure I entirely agree with. Things that are making my son nervous. I am not sure if I should speak with them or not. I understand that these might all just be childish games, but at the same time I worry for Bran.” Catelyn replies.

Silence follows this statement and then Ser Rodrik asks. “Do you wish for them to go back to Greywater Watch Your Grace?”

“No of course not. They are making my son happy, I do not want to take that away from him. I just wish they would not say so many things that would scare him. But then that is the way of children.” She replies.

The both men nod, and then Maester Luwin speaks. “With regards to the Hornwood issue, it could well be that these bandits are not raiding with Roose Bolton’s approval. The man has many relatives who would no doubt like some more land. Especially Torrhen Bolton. That man is someone who would be more than likely to do something such as this.”

Catelyn looks at the man and says. “If it is indeed Torrhen Bolton who is doing this, then we are in more trouble than first thought. For I do not think there is anyone alive who has survived his raiding.”

Both men knock and there is another knock at the door, Maester Luwin goes and opens it, taking something from one of his helpers, he looks through it once and then looks at her his voice solemn when he says. “It appears there are Ironborn ships off of the western coast. Deepwood Motte is under attack.”

Chapter Text

11th Month of 298 A.C. Riverrun

King Axel I Tully

The fighting with Tywin Lannister’s westermen was going somewhat well. They had severely dented his chances of truly finding out what the endgame was with regards to Axel’s goodbrother’s plan in the Westerlands. Tywin’s scouting parties had been captured or killed in a flurry of small battles within the Riverlands, and as such the man was blind, but not so blind that he could not see, the man would come, if there was any sense in him he would march from Harrenhal soon enough, for what was a lord without his lands? Axel had ensured that message had gotten across loud and clear to the Lannister men, capturing some Lannister cousin or the other and sending him back with those exact words. Blood for blood as it were, for during the fighting in High Heart Axel’s old mentor Ser Stevron had been cut down. Axel had reaped a bloody vengeance for that.

Right now though he needed to stay calm, his niece was back, escaped from King’s Landing and he needed to ensure she was okay. “Sansa sweetling, do not be afraid dear. I will not harm you, I just want to make sure you are okay. Do you understand?”

His niece nods, and gods she looks just like her mother did at that age. “Yes Your Grace.” She replies meekly.

“Come now sweetling, do not call me that. I am family, I will protect you, but I cannot do that unless you tell me what happened to you in King’s Landing.” Axel says.

His niece looks at him then and her blue eyes begin watering, he moves forward to comfort her but she draws back. “I….I did something wrong in King’s Landing. I said that you and my father were traitors, I…I lied to safe myself when I should never have said the things I said.”

He feels his heart break for the niece he has only just begun to know and says soothingly. “Hush now sweetling, you did nothing wrong. You only did what you had to do to remain alive. I know your mother and father will be very happy to see you again.”

His niece sniffles somewhat at that. “I….I… do not know uncle. I don’t know. Why would they want to see me when I betrayed them?”

“You did not betray them Sansa you did no such thing!” Axel insists.

“I did though. Every day in King’s Landing I lied and called them traitors. I betrayed them and everything my mother and father ever taught me. I lied to protect myself, when I should have been here.” His niece was coming close to crying now.

Axel looks at his wife helplessly and Jeyne as always comes to the rescue. “Sansa sweetling, you did not betray your family. You did what you had to do, anyone would have done the same in your place.”

At this his niece begins crying in earnest, and as if on cue, his wife stands and takes her into her arms, whispering soothing things into her hair. She looks at Axel and he merely nods and soon they are walking out of the hall and to where the children sleep. As he watches them go and then once they are gone, he cannot help but wonder what happened to his niece in that damned city to make her like this.

Soon enough his wife re-enters the solar and sits down next to him. “How is she?” he asks.

“Tired, and shaken. The journey was rough on her. I do not know what they did to her in King’s Landing, but it has clearly damaged her. She needs time, time to settle and get used to not being a prisoner.” His wife responds.

Axel takes his crown off and runs a hand through his hair. “Gods damn it, is there anything these god damned lions will not do to try and get more power and influence. Thank god they suffered those riots, otherwise I fear what might have happened had Sansa remained there.”

“It is a shame they survived them though. Their Kingsguard, appear to be so lax that the fact they suddenly came and remembered their duties is most unfortunate. It would have made our lives so much easier had they all died there and then.” His wife replies.

Axel roars with laughter. “Aye that is true. But then again it would not be a war with the commons did our jobs for us now would it? That’s what we have them for here in the Riverlands.”

His wife smiles. “True, very true my love. Hopefully Edmyn and the girls can help Sansa in the meantime. But now what of this man who has come with her. This hooded man who never removes his mask? Do you know him?”

He can hear the hesitancy in his wife’s voice and so takes her hand and squeezes it. “You don’t need to be afraid my love. I know this man, I know him well. We met once a long time ago when I went to King’s Landing when there were dragons on the Iron Throne.”

“But why would he help you? What reason could this person have for helping you? For helping us now?” Jeyne asks.

Axel looks at his wife and says simply. “Because we share a common enemy. The Lannisters might be in control now, but their methods of coming to power leave a trail of enemies in their wake. Especially in Dorne. So long as our enemies are the same, then so too are our goals.”

“And what about when they are no longer the same what then?” Jeyne asks.

Axel is silent a moment and then he says. “That day will never come. Not with this man, and not with what he wants. For we have wanted the same thing for a long time.” With that he says no more until Maester Vyman shows the hooded man into the room.

The man is dressed head to foot in black, the only thing that is not black is the mask, that is an array of orange. Axel stands and shakes the man’s hand. “Thank you for bringing our niece back here my friend. We are most indebted to you. Please sit down.”

The man nods and sits. His voice is like silk when he replies. “It was no trouble doing a favour for an old friend. After all, it was to our benefits that she was freed.”

“You left no trace that could come back to you or to us?” Axel asks.

His friend nods. “Yes. The riots looked completely natural, and as such the spider ensured that other things will now take up the lion’s time instead of searching for the girl.”

“What other things?” Jeyne asks.

“One of their own is missing. The lions place a higher value on a member of their own pride, than of hostages. At least the imp and the lioness do. That will keep them preoccupied for some time. Meanwhile, Stannis Baratheon is marching from Storm’s End with the Stormlords he took from his brother’s army.” The hooded man replies.

“Renly is dead then? The man actually did it?” Axel asks.

“Not the man, but the woman. The red woman killed Renly Baratheon through some foul means. I do not know how but she did it, I recognise the methods through my travels. But yes Renly is dead and now the Tyrells and their lords are kingless.” The hooded man replies.

“Kingless? They are ripe for the taking. But what can we offer them in order to ensure they do not go over to the Lannisters?” Axel ponders.

“Why would they go to the Lannisters though? Anyone can see that the lions are beat. It would be better for them to just declare independence. Of course Mace Tyrell seems to be a bit too much of an oaf to realise that.” His wife responds.

“Mace Tyrell wants his daughter to be queen of all the Seven Kingdoms. Anything else he sees as not acceptable. This is a fact that most everyone in court knows. But something the lions will have to accept if they want to remain fighting. Tyrell could take all the power once Tywin is gone.” The hooded man replies.

Axel looks at the man and asks. “What would you suggest then? How do you think we can convince the man not to side with the Lannisters?”

“I would not do anything. Let Tyrell do as he wishes. Sooner or later he will realise the mistake he has made.” The hooded man says standing up.

“Where will you go?” Axel asks.

The man stops at the door and says simply. “Back. I have work to be doing there before the end comes for the lions.” With that the man walks out of the room and Axel knows they will not be seeing him anytime soon.

“Do you think it is true what he said? That Tyrell will side with the Lannisters regardless of the fact they are losing this war?” his wife asks.

Axel nods. “Aye I believe so. We both know that the man has too much ambition and not enough common sense my love. And besides this would give him the chance to play the saviour of the city. Something any lord would die for. Whether or not it goes off according to plan is another thing.”

“Does it not worry you? The fact that the Tyrells could soon be bringing their entire strength to King’s Landing and then into the Riverlands?” his wife asks.

Axel thinks for a moment. “It does, but at the same time an army that size can easily be hit by food shortages along the way.”

His wife nods and then asks. “Who else do we have to see tonight?”

“Walder Rivers.” Is his response.

And sure enough his old friend comes walking in looking very, very tired. “Ah old friend, what news do you bring for me tonight?” Axel asks.

Walder takes a deep breath and then says. “Well we have managed to slay Armory Lorch finally. He will not be causing any more problems. Clegane is still somewhere but will be dying soon enough.”

“And what of my uncle where is he?” Axel asks.

“He is riding to Darry as you asked Your Grace, ensuring Ser Ryman and his son are safe and protected.” Walder responds.

Axel nods and then asks. “What of your own family? How has the death of Ser Stevron been taken? And has Ser Ryman’s body been found?”

His friend is silent a moment and then says. “Stevron’s death has hit us all hard. He was a good man, someone who would have made a very good lord. As for his son, well Ryman it seems ran afoul of a group of bandits, we found his body south of here near the brook end of the Red Fork, half eaten by carrion crows.”

Axel nods and squeezes his wife’s hand. “What of Cleos Frey? Has he come back from King’s Landing?”

At this Walder smiles slyly. “He will not come back Your Grace. As you ordered, he is currently lying in a ditch somewhere. My men saw to it that lion banners were sported by those who did the deed.”

“Good,” Axel replies. “Whatever terms the buffoon was like to bring would have been foolish and ridiculous. And what of your father? How has he coped with all of this?”

“It appears he is ailing Your Grace. The news of Stevron’s death hit him hard, and the fact that some of his sons have died during the fighting likely has hit him even harder. But soon enough he will be dead. Perhaps even before the year is out.”

“And who would succeed him should he die?” Axel asks.

“By law Edwyn. But because of how destroyed the family would be once the old man dies, anyone could be lord at the end of this.” Walder replies.

Axel smiles at his old friend and says. “And there is your chance my friend.”

Chapter Text

11th Month of 298 A.C. Sarsfield

Prince Robb Stark

The war in the Westerlands was coming to an end, they were winning and by quite a large margin as well. There was very little defence left, sooner or later they would march on Lannisport and take the city and from there Casterly Rock as well. Sarsfield had been a blood bath, there had been so much death and destruction that sometimes Robb would wake up sweating from the nightmares he had had. The feeling that war had such a high price was something that made him nervous and not entirely sure if he loved being a prince as much as he had first thought. Many good men had died protecting him, because there was a higher price on his name now. Regardless there was but one thing standing between them and Lannisport now and that was what they were discussing now.

Robb looked at his father and saw the grim look of a man on a set course and he then looked at Theon and felt his heart begin beating somewhat faster. He was nervous by the gods was he nervous. His father spoke. “My lords, I thank you all for coming and agreeing to take part in this war council. We have received some very troubling news from the north. The Ironborn have launched attacks on Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin, and as such this raises two very important questions. One of which is whether we continue attacking the Westerlands or march back to defend our home. The second of which is what to do with Theon.”

Lord Bolton spoke then. “Leaving for the north now would not be wise Your Grace. We are winning this war with the Lannisters. Taking every single man back to the north would look like a sign of weakness. The Lannisters would gain courage and have the chance to redevelop their men again. We cannot allow that.”

“I agree with Lord Bolton Your Grace,” Lady Maege says. “We are winning this war. Heading back north now in full force, whilst it is tempting would put us at a greater disadvantage. It is about moral as I am sure you know Your Grace. The Lannisters are down to their last legs, we should push onto Lannisport and take it now.”

“And of those of us whose homes are under attack Maege?” Lord Galbart asks. “My home is under attack and more than likely has fallen. My goodsister and nephew and niece are under threat. I cannot allow that to continue. And gods alone knows what Balon Greyjoy has planned. If we wait for the Lannisters to be completely drained the Ironborn could well be completely set up in the north. And then what would we do?”

“The likelihood of the Ironborn planning beyond successfully holding the Moat and Deepwood Motte is not likely my lord. Balon Greyjoy is not much of a forward thinker. He will take those two castles and then sit on his arse for the rest of his days.” Lady Maege replies.

There is some laughter, even Lord Galbart is laughing but he turns serious once more. “Still I would feel easier if I knew something was being done to retake Deepwood Motte and to deal with the Ironborn. After all there is something about the Greyjoys in particular that could well lead to them trying something that catches us off guard.”

Robb speaks then. “Well there is an obvious solution is there not? Why don’t we split the host in two? One part remains here in the Westerlands, and the other half goes north. The Ironborn at the Moat will be under attack from the Cranongmen and surely Lord Howland will aid us in sneaking past the Moat and ensuring that they are facing hardships from the north and the south?”

There is some muttering then and Lord Bolton speaks. “Prince Robb speaks sense. We need not send the whole host north, some can remain here and assault Lannisport whilst the remaining part goes north. The Ironborn would not be expecting that and I do not think they would have made the suitable preparations for it.”

“And what of Lannisport? The city is heavily fortified, and has one of the best trained city watches in the realm. It will not fall as easily as some of the other places have. We will need most if not all of our resources to ensure that it does fall. And even then there is no complete guarantee that it will.” Lord Rickard argues.

“That is true my lord,” father says. “We will also need a sizeable amount of men to deal with Tywin Lannister when he comes calling. This plan does make sense but there are problems. Mainly the fact that once Tywin Lannister does come calling, what is there to say he does not bring his entire host with him?”

Robb knows his father is merely testing him but still. “Tywin Lannister cannot afford to bring his whole host with him. With Renly dead, Stannis Baratheon is an even bigger threat. The man will be marching on King’s Landing soon enough. If Tywin Lannister is even half as smart as we all think him to be, he will be keeping one eye on King’s Landing. No doubt some of his men will be left behind to march south should the need arise. Surely there would not be the need for all twelve thousand men to remain here?”

His father nods. “That is very true. But the question arises as to who will command the host?”

Lord Galbart speaks then. “I would be delighted to have the honour of dealing the Ironborn a harsh blow Your Grace.”

The Greatjon speaks. “I would, I can get it done before you lot have to fight Tywin Lannister. I’ll even give you their heads as well Your Grace.”

Some laughter follows that and then Robb speaks. “I would do it Your Grace. I am the heir to the north, it only makes sense that I be the one to lead the fight. Let the Ironborn come, they will be rash and that will be their downfall.”

There is a long moment’s silence in which father looks at him for a long time and Robb worries that his father will say no. and then father sighs and says. “Very well, Robb you shall command the 5, 000 men who go north. Lords Umber, Glover, Dustin and Tallhart shall go with you as well. I want it done quickly and with relatively few deaths on our side. Fly direwolf banners and Howland will find you.”

Robb nods and then the rather hot headed Ethan Glover speaks. “What of him?” he says pointing at Theon. “What are we going to do with Balon’s heir?”

There is a long silence at this as everyone looks at father. Father eventually speaks though his voice is heavy. “The terms of my taking Theon were that should his father ever rebel again, I was to take his head. That was what was agreed upon when Robert sat the Iron Throne, and I am duty bound to follow that through.”

Robb speaks then. “But he has done nothing wrong. He was not the one who ordered the attack on the north. He has not been to the Iron Islands in nine years, he is more a northmen than an Ironborn. He has fought by my side in every single battle. And I know he will remain loyal to us through thick and thin.”

“You are blinded by your friendship to him my prince,” Ethan Glover responds. “He might appear loyal now but what is there to say that when the time comes to choose between us and his family, he does not go for his family? Ironborn are treacherous by nature. To trust him would be folly.”

“Surely he has shown just how dedicated he is to our cause? He has grown up under my father’s care. He is more a Stark than a Greyjoy. He has shed blood with all of us. He is not one of them.” Robb argues.

“Rules are rules. Your father took him on with the knowledge that should Balon Greyjoy ever rebel again, his life was forfeit. It would not do to keep him alive now. It would look wrong towards our people who are now suffering because of the Ironborn.” Lord Rickard argues.

“But Theon has done nothing wrong! The crimes of the father are not the crimes of the son! He should not suffer because his father is a mad man!” Robb responds.

“Robb is right,” Jon says, everyone looks at Jon then and Robb wonders what his brother will say. “The King took Theon as a ward and made that promise when the north was sworn to the Iron Throne. We are not sworn to the Iron Throne now, and as such there is no sense in killing Theon for a crime that he has not committed. Theon can be used to serve our own purposes.”

“And what purposes are those Jon?” father asks looking at Robb’s twin curiously.

“We have with us an heir to the Iron Islands, the only heir to the Iron Islands who is worth anything. We kill off the Greyjoys leading the charge on our lands, and we have more room for Theon to come to power. With Theon in power we have another ally, and more of a way to take the Rock.” Jon responds.

Though he does not like what Jon is suggesting Robb latches onto it and says. “Yes, you see Your Grace. Theon is more useful to us alive than dead. He can bring us the islands and the Rock in one fell swoop.”

There is some muttering at this and then Martyn Cassel speaks. “They speak truly Your Grace. The boy is more use to us alive. Dead he brings nothing but the reminder of a time when we were slaves. Alive he can bring us ships and the Rock.”

Silence and then father looks at Theon and asks. “What say you Theon? Would you rather live or die?”

Robb looks at his friend and sees a look of torment passing over his friend then, all these emotions are running through his face and then he says. “I would rather live Your Grace. I know nothing of my family and they know nothing of me. I would rather fight for you and a cause I believe in.”

Robb cheers then happy, and others do as well but his father looks grim. “It is a heavy burden turning ones back on one’s family. Is it something you are sure you can do?”

Theon nods. “I would not be turning my back on my family Your Grace. I would be fighting alongside them. The Starks have always been kind to me, and it is time I repaid that kindness.”

His father accepts this and then asks. “Is there anyone here who has a problem with Theon remaining here with us?” when no one voices any complaints, father goes on. “Very well then, Theon since you are innocent of any and all crimes committed by your family, I would ask you to fight alongside my son in the effort to retain the north. Prove yourself a true man of the north and you shall have what you so desire.”

Theon bows his head. “I thank you Your Grace. Truly I do, and I will not let you down.”

His father looks at Theon then with a cold and piercing gaze and says. “No you will not. For if you do, your head will be on a spike. And there will be no leniency for you.”

“Very well my king. I will do nothing to see that come to pass.” Theon responds.

With that the meeting comes to an end and they all retire to their own rooms. Later on though as they are eating in the great hall, Robb turns to Jon and says. “Thank you for speaking up for Theon.”

His brother shrugs. “I did not do it for him. I did it for you.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

12th Month of 298 A.C. King’s Landing

Tyrion Lannister

There were times when Tyrion Lannister thanked the gods that they had survived the riots of King’s Landing and there were times when he cursed the gods that he had survived the riots. That day still haunted him both when he was awake and when he was asleep. He had come very close to dying that day and would have done so had it not been for Bronn and the Mountain Clans, Bronn had cut a bloody path through the peasants as they had pushed and pulled, whilst the clansmen who had been at some brothel or the other had come out to see what all the noise was and had joined the fray. He had been battered and bruised at the end of it, but mercifully alive. Only to realise that Sansa Stark had escaped during the riots. Gods that had created so many fucking headaches for him.

After the Stark girl’s escape Joffrey and Cersei had both gone into fits of lividness which would have been quite amusing were they not quite so often angry at him. As if he had somehow caused the Stark girl to up and leave. He had sent men out to find the girl but so far they had had no luck and it was more than likely that she was in Riverrun by now. News which only served to make Joffrey’s anger all the more frightening, Tyrion was convinced that any day now he was going to find a knife pressed to his chest. And his sister was equally as bad, she constantly pestered him to find ways to get Jaime out of Riverrun, but the fact that Cleos Frey had not returned and was likely dead, meant that things were just getting more and more worse for them. And then there was the whole power play they were both attempting with Tommem first heading to Rosby under Ser Boros Blount and then the man surrendering and giving the boy to Bronn and Ser Jacelyn, and then heading to Rosby. As well as his sister’s demands he bring Myrcella back from Dorne. Gods it was all going so wrong.

The only good piece of news they had received in the past moon or so was the news that Renly Baratheon was dead. Killed by what many thought was an assassin sent by his brother. The Tyrells were thus kingless and as they were camped at Tumbleton, Tyrion had after much negotiation agreed to send Littlefinger to them to negotiate and alliance. Joffrey’s hand for Margaery Tyrell’s and the Tyrells would come and aid them. a good alliance Tyrion thought, but the man had not come back yet, and each and everyday news of Stannis’s movements grew more and more telling. Like today. “Reports come that Stannis Baratheon has set sail from Storm’s End my lord, he is heading towards King’s Landing with the might of the royal fleet, whilst Lord Alester Florent leads the ground forces. They will soon be in the Kingswood.” The eunuch says.

Tyrion sighs and nods. “I shall send the clansmen out into the Kingswood to set fires and to be a nuisance. The smallfolk might not like it, but they will be thanking me when Stannis and his red woman come calling.”

“You are going to send your clansmen to deal with a highly skilled and trained army? Have you taken leave of your senses brother?” his sister asks mockingly.

Tyrion can feel his patience beginning to run thin. “It is a sensible move. The clansmen are good at this type of fighting. Put them on the walls when Stannis comes and they will be butchered. No, sending them into the Kingswood makes them more useful to us. They can burn the tress and the houses and cause a nuisance. Lord Alester and his men will have to march through the Kingswood to get to King’s Landing in time. That will slow them down and ensure they are less aware of our numbers.”

“And what exactly are our numbers brother?” Cersei asks in that annoying tone of hers.

Tyrion sighs. “Roughly seven thousand men sweet sister. Two thousand of which are seasoned men of the city watch, four thousands of which are new recruits who are so green they are pissing grass. And the rest are all sellswords who will break at the first sign of danger.”

“Why do we have four thousand new recruits in the city watch if they are so green? Surely recruiting the sellswords would have made more sense?” Cersei asks.

Tyrion feels like slapping his sister. “The sellswords are called sellswords for a reason sister. The royal treasury has nowhere near enough money to pay for all of them and their demands. The new recruits whilst being your idea might I remind you, are more affordable. They do not want for much. But they will break should we appear to be losing.”

“So truly we are just fighting with two thousand men? Brilliant.” His sister says sarcastically.

Tyrion can feel his patience wearing thin and says. “There is another way in which we can increase our numbers.” He pauses takes a sip of wine and then says. “The Lords of the Crownlands. Apart from those of the narrow sea, the lords of the crownlands have no reason to love Stannis. He is a bitter man by all accounts, and as they are sworn to the Iron Throne they do owe us their men.”

“They were also sworn to the Targaryens for nearly three hundred years, what reason would they have fighting for us? They do not love us.” Cersei says sounding like a petulant child.

Tyrion wants to ask her whose fault that is but he refrains and instead says. “Aye they might not love us, but they do not hate us. They hate Stannis Baratheon and the red woman who is with him. They are pious lords these lords, we can use that to our advantage. We must get the High Septon to spread word of this, and bring them to court.”

His sister looks somewhat dubious but nods and says. “Pycelle send the ravens out to the lords of the crownlands. Tell them to bring their men and to come to King’s landing within the next fortnight. We must be well prepared. Though will the lords of Crackclaw Point come? They are said to be half wild, sharing more in common with the barbaric northmen than with us.”

Tyrion considers this. “A good point. But no Lord of the Point can give up the chance of a good fight. And whom better to fight than Stannis Baratheon and a lot of red demon worshipping idiots?”

There is a pearl of laughter then but it is nervous laughter and soon enough Tyrion finds himself asking. “What other news do you have for us Varys? What have your little birds been telling you?”

The eunuch is silent a moment and then says. “Eddard Stark and the northmen have taken Sarsfield. They beat Lord Sarsfield and his men, as well as the host commanded by Ser Stafford Lannister. His son Daven managed to lead some men back to Lannisport, to regroup. In all likelihood Stark will take some of the army and head for Lannisport and from there the Rock.”

“In all likelihood?” Tyrion asks. “What does that mean?”

“It would appear that Balon Greyjoy has finally decided what he wishes to do in this war. He has crowned himself King and has attacked the north. Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin have both fallen. Eddard Stark has sent his son half the northern host back toward the north to fight the Ironborn. And Theon Greyjoy has gone with him.” The eunuch responds.

A moment’s silence and then. “Eddard Stark allowed Theon Greyjoy to go north with his son? When it is Ironborn who are attacking the north? Either the man is a genius or he has finally taken leave of his senses.” Tyrion says.

“He should have executed the boy the moment he learnt of Ironborn attacking his coast. But no he is too weak to do what needs to be done. Pathetic.” Cersei spits.

“Not necessarily sweet sister.” Tyrion responds. “Theon Greyjoy owes his life to the Starks now. For all intents and purposes he is theirs. They can use him as a puppet for the Iron Islands once Stark has dealt with the Ironborn in the north. His sister and uncle will be duty bound to follow him. And if they are not alive then the Harlaws will ensure he remains in power.”

“The Ironborn will not follow Theon Greyjoy. He is what they call a green boy. He would be better off dead.” Cersei scoffs.

“Not true Your Grace,” Varys says. “For close to three hundred years the Greyjoys have ruled the Iron Islands that name carries weight there. Only another Greyjoy could replace Theon and not be killed.”

Tyrion looks at his sister then and he does not like the look in her eyes. “There is one more Greyjoy out there is there not. One who is not completely moronic, but one who could also be persuaded to do our work for us?”

“You cannot be serious Cersei. Euron Greyjoy was exiled from the Iron Islands for raping his own brother’s wife and laughing when his brother came to get redemption. He caused all kinds of problems in the Islands besides. Not even his own father could truly control him and you want to ask him to come back?” Tyrion asks amazed.

“The Starks have their Greyjoy, let us have our own. It is the right way to do things, I know father would agree.” His sister says stubbornly.

“Euron Greyjoy answers to no one Your Grace, his own father and brother could barely control him. To bring him back was to invite only more complications.” Varys responds.

“Euron Greyjoy would do as we told him to. Clearly the man wants the Iron Islands, and we can give him that, or rather give him the chance to take it.” His sister says.

Tyrion puts his head into his hands. “Where do we even find him? No one knows where he is.”

The eunuch titters then. “I think you are underestimating my capabilities my lord. Euron Greyjoy was last seen somewhere near Volantis, with his crew and a fleet of ships. There is word that he might well become a new pirate king. This could well be a more appealing option to him though.”

Tyrion sighs. “I do not think this is a good idea. Euron Greyjoy is more unpredictable and mad than his eldest brother.”

“They are all mad Tyrion. And it is not as if your plans have come to fruition now have they? Jaime is still in a cell, and we are losing this war. No Euron Greyjoy is the only hope with have.” His sister says.

Tyrion sighs. “Very well, have someone go and find the man.”

The eunuch nods and then says. “There is one more thing my lord, Your Grace.” Tyrion looks at the eunuch dreading the news and then the man says. “Word has come from Jorah Mormont. It would seem Daenerys Targaryen is with child.”

“Again? But I had thought her husband had died as had the child?” Tyrion exclaims.

“And it had seemed this way, but it seems Viserys Targaryen has finally decided to do as his ancestors did and has married her.” The eunuch responds.

Cersei laughs. “So what of it? The brother and sister have married like the incestuous mad men they are. They will see no allies here.”

The eunuch nods. “Of course Your Grace I was not suggesting as such. But there is word that some of the houses in the narrow sea as well as Dorne are looking toward bringing them closer to the throne.”

There is something that the eunuch is not telling them and Tyrion wonders what it is. “And how do they plan on doing this?” he asks instead.

“I know not my lord. I only know they are considering it.” Varys responds.

Tyrion nods and then says. “Send word to Mormont that if he wants to come home he had better remove the girl before she gives birth.”

Chapter Text

 

12th Month of 298 A.C Riverlands

Prince Robb Stark

After half a year of fighting, he was heading back home. Not as a victorious prince but to remove another threat from the kingdom. The Ironborn had managed to take Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin, and as such tensions were running high in the northern camp. The Glover men within the army were itching for a fight, and Robb had worried they would try to take it out on Theon, indeed some of the men had taken it out on Theon. Playing all kinds of pranks and jokes on him, he had had his saddle messed with, he had been bullied and picked on by some of the men, and through it all Theon had gritted his teeth and continued on. When they had all practiced fighting during the breaks in marching, Robett Glover had very nearly killed Theon there and then so angry had he become. It had fallen to Robb after Theon had nearly been thrown from his saddle for the fifth time to intervene and remind the men that though Theon was a Greyjoy, he was his to look after now, and that the next person who hurt Theon would lose the offending limb. His men had grumbled about that but had largely accepted it.

Then had come a surprise when they had gotten to Riverrun, Sansa, and Sansa safe and sound, having escaped from King’s Landing. The shock and joy he had felt at that had been very profound, he had been so happy to see his sister once more, he had hugged her and kissed her and thanked the gods and this mysterious masked man who had helped her escape. After celebrating her return he had sent word to Sarsfield where he knew his father would still be to let him know that Sansa had returned, and his uncle had already assured him that a raven had been sent to Winterfell informing mother of Sansa’s return. At first Robb had been determined to make Sansa remain in Riverrun as he and the northmen returned to the north to drive off the Ironborn, his sister would have none of it thought and had insisted she come with them. And truth be told Robb was rather glad she had, after getting her back, he did not want to lose her again.

And so they had marched from Riverrun Sansa in tow, and now they were camped somewhere between Oldstones and the Twins for the night preparing for one final march. As Robb ate and drank with his sister, he noticed some of the subtle differences in his sister, Sansa had always been confident and talkative but now she was very quiet and subdued, it was almost as if the fight had been beaten out of her. He clenched his fork in anger at the thought of Joffrey Baratheon laying a hand on his sister and his breathing began to get heavier. He felt a hand touch his own and looked up to see Sansa looking at him with concern. “It’s okay Robb, you don’t need to worry for me. I am here now, I’m safe.”

“You should have been safe from the beginning.” Robb says. “Father should not have left you in King’s Landing. It was wrong of him to leave and not try to bring him with you.”

“He would not have been able to. I was heavily guarded and watched when I was in King’s Landing Robb. Surely you know that?” his sister responds.

Robb sighs. “But still, we should have sent someone to go and get you. Relying on some masked stranger is not good enough. We are wolves, and we are a pack. We stick together, and leaving you behind was wrong.”

His sister takes his hand then and says. “Well I am here now, there is no point in thinking in what could have and could not have happened. We must looked forward to the present and the future.”

“When did you become so wise Sansa?” Robb asks.

Sansa laughs somewhat. “I have always been like this Robb. It’s just being in King’s Landing has given me a chance to realise that there are some things in life just not worth worrying about.”

As he looks down at her hand, he sees a bruise on it and asks. “Where did this bruise come from Sansa?”

Almost at once his sister pulls her hand out of his and says. “It is nothing. Nothing happened, there is nothing to tell.”

“Sansa, what happened?” Robb asks concerned.

“Nothing Robb truly nothing happened. It was just a little accident.” His sister says hurriedly.

“Sansa, you were never very good at lying. Now tell me what happened.” Robb demands.

His sister sighs. “Well if you wish to know it was Joffrey’s doing.”

“Joffrey’s doing? How?” Robb asks.

His sister sighs and asks. “Do you truly wish to know?”

“Yes.” Robb responds.

“Very well then. Well every time word came of a victory that either you or father had achieved, Joffrey would have me brought into the throne room and he would have the Kingsguard beat me until I was black and blue. This happened every time a victory was announced until Lord Tyrion nearly put a stop to it.” Sansa says.

Robb feels anger begin to boil inside of him. “He had this done to you? The little shit had this done to you.”

“Yes Robb he did. Joffrey was a cruel boy, and his mother was even crueller. The beatings were not just the worst things to happen to me either.” His sister says tears beginning to fill her eyes.

Robb feels his anger begin to grow at this. “What do you mean the beatings were not the worst thing to happen to you? What did that little shit do to you?”

His sister looks terrified and so he takes her hand runs soothing circles round it. She takes a deep breath and says. “He….he tried to force himself on me many times. He nearly succeeded once. Only a knock on the door stopped him from doing so. But he would bite me in places where only a husband should touch his wife and….” His sister starts crying then. “Please don’t make me say anymore.”

Robb stands then and pulls Sansa into his chest as he did when they were younger. “It is alright Sansa. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to. You are here now, not there. You are here and I will protect you.”

“It’s my fault that this happened to me. It’s my fault that he did this to me. Because I was a silly and stupid little girl.” Sansa sobs into his chest.

Robb pulls back then and says. “It was not your fault Sansa, do you hear me. It was not your fault, nothing was your fault. Joffrey is a little shit who will get what he deserves I promise you!”

His sister sniffles. “Do you promise?”

Robb nods. “Aye I do promise. On my word as a Stark and as a Prince, Joffrey Baratheon will pay for what he has done.”

His sister sniffles and then asks. “Can I sleep with you tonight?”

Robb was going to have a little fun with one of the camp followers tonight, but decides his sister is more important. “Of course.” And so he calls for Olyvar to go and get his sister’s things from her tent which was anyway next to his and then looks the other way when his sister gets changed into her night clothes.

When she is firmly wrapped up in the blankets on the bed, Robb gets changed and is about to go to sleep on the mat he had put on the floor when Sansa says. “Could you…could you come and sleep here as well? I’d feel safer.” Robb nods and gets into bed, and holds his sister as she drifts of to sleep, as he listens to her breathing he curses Joffrey Baratheon and the day the king came to court and swears to get his bloody vengeance.

The next day, he and Sansa get up and get changed and act as if the conversation they had the night before had never happened, but of course it had happened. And if Sansa rides closer to him than she did the day before he says nothing, in fact he is rather glad of the fact. Now that she is closer he knows he can keep a better eye on her, and when he cannot Greywind can. She will never suffer again, not if he can help it.  When the twins comes into view Robb feels his heart begin to quicken with nerves and anticipation. They are greeted by Ser Edwyn Frey a grumpy man who nods at his bastard cousin Walder Rivers who had come with them on Robb’s uncle’s orders. And so they are shown to their rooms and allowed to freshen up before coming to greet Walder Frey.

The Old Lord of the Crossing is sat in the seat of the Twins, looking more like a dying baby than a man, but his voice still carries. “So these are the wolves of Winterfell eh? The girl certainly is lovely, I can see why the King was so besotted by her. As for you boy, are you the one who beat the Kingslayer?”

“Yes my lord I am.” Robb responds.

“So you are the bastard who thought my girls were not good enough for you. Pah, I thought you Starks were honourable people. Where is the honour in breaking a marriage pact?” Walder Frey asks.

Robb grits his teeth and replies. “The pact was done as a way to ensure a safe crossing. We both know it would never have held my lord.  There was just too much riding on other things happening.”

“And so the prince tries to justify the action.” Walder says. “That is always the way of these royals, thinking they are oh so better than us, when really they are just the same but with a fancy title in front of their names. Tell me boy, why should I allow you to cross back into your home and not kill you where you stand?”

Robb is silent a moment and then says. “I have some five thousand men with me my lord, you have less than a thousand. It would be easy to say who would win in a fair fight. But this would not be fair, you would use treachery and deceit to do something or the other. Why that might have been your plan all along, indeed your son Walder Rivers warned me that this might be the case, and so before we arrived here I had Walder and some of his men kill off Edwyn Frey and some of the bastards who were looking for a fight.”

“Pah. You are a Stark, you are too honourable to do something like that.” Walder Frey says.

Robb smiles at that and merely says. “Smalljon, tell Walder he can come in now.” The giant heir of House Umber bows and walks towards the doors to the hall, and opens them and calls out.  A moment later Walder Rivers and his bastard boys walks in with the heads of Edwyn Frey and many other Freys and Frey relations who were plotting to have them all killed. “Did you get the job done Ser?” Robb asks.

Walder Rivers lays the head of Edwyn Frey at the foot of his father’s throne and says. “Yes my prince, yes I did.”

“And did they talk?” Robb asks.

“Yes. They claimed that Walder Frey had ordered them to be stationed throughout the hall and the grounds ready for an order to be given out, within which they would begin attacking our men.” Walder Rivers states.

Robb looks at Walder Frey when he asks. “And why was this?”

“In retaliation for the broken betrothal my prince.” Walder Rivers responds.

“Thank you Ser.” Robb says to Rivers before looking at Frey and saying. “So you see my lord, your plan failed. Your heir is dead as are many others. Now will you let us pass?”

Walder Frey looks somewhat stunned at this and then mutters. “I suppose so. But tell me what will you do if I don’t?”

Robb looks at the man then and says. “Kill you, and find myself a Frey who will.”

Chapter Text

12th Month of 298 A.C Moat Cailin

Victarion Greyjoy

Moat Cailin, the key to the north was a ruin. The once great castle had been reduced to ruins over the centuries as the northmen had become complacent and had begun to believe no one would try to sail from the Fever River to the Moat. And so their defences were sorely lacking, and that was something Victarion had taken full use of, whatever northmen had been there guarding the moat had been killed by Victarion and his men. Their heads now adorned spikes and Victarion was confident they could withstand any attack coming from the south.

The cranongmen though, or bog devils as they were more commonly known had been causing trouble for his men, when they had travelled the short distance to get supplies many of his men had gone missing or had turned up outside the Moat dead and scarred. And so a war had begun with the cranongmen whenever one of them came close Victarion ordered his men to attack using arrows or spears or whatever else they could get their hands on. More often than not the cranongmen would disappear after the initial round of fighting, leaving behind a dozen bodies, both of their men and his own.  All would be quiet for a few days after that and Victarion and his men were allowed to restock on key supplies, but once that had been done, the cranongmen would come back and would hit them even harder. And in the past week alone Victarion had lost some forty men during the fighting, which along with growing hunger due to the burning of some of the ships was causing tensions to run somewhat high.

Victarion was used to such things and as such had managed to placate the men by giving them the chance to fight the cranongmen and whatever other northmen were coming from Winterfell to try and fight them. But then news had come that the wolf pup, or one of them anyway was heading from the Westerlands to try and retake Moat Cailin, Victarion laughed when he heard this, and the boy would have to come through the swamps of the neck, with a full army. The boy would have to drag all his men through the dampness and the dirge that was the neck, all the while Victarion would be waiting with the full protection of the impenetrable fortress. Of course the cranongmen were like to aid the boy, but their numbers had taken a severe beating and Victarion had their best scout as his prisoner and so he was fairly confident that the boy would struggle.

Furthermore, there would be no aid coming from the northern houses. His niece and brothers had seen to that. Asha was in Deepwood Motte holding off the clansmen and whatever men the northmen had, whilst Aeron was drawing distraction to the Stony Shore, and Urrigon, brave Urrigon was raiding inland, leading northmen astray on a nice little chase. They would never catch Urrigon though, even on land, in foreign territory his brother had shown he could be a very slipper customer. Yes, there would be no chance for the wolf boy to get aid from his people. And Victarion would delight in ripping the boy’s head from his shoulders.

Whether or not his nephew Theon was amongst the northmen, Victarion knew not nor did he truly care. All he knew was that if he found his nephew he was to capture him and bring him back to Pyke, for Balon wanted to speak with the boy and so Victarion would bring him to Pyke. As he stood on the walls waiting for the northmen to come he wonders whether or not his brother means to take Winterfell, doing so could well break the northmen and their hold that was something he truly looked forward to. Almost as if reading his thoughts the drowned god gave them the sign that they had been waiting for. A horn sounded somewhere in the distance, and he knew that northmen had been sighted.

Sure enough, as he looked toward the south he could see direwolf banners flapping as well as various other banners that signified the houses of the north. The true battle was going to begin. He barked commands and ordered his men to various positions on the walls of the Moat, and he waited for the first signs that this was the true northern host and that it was going to be a good battle. Something worth talking about for years afterward. As they began hammering away at the southern gate, Victarion roared for his archers to rain hellfire down on the northmen. He saw and heard many of the northmen go falling down drowning under the weight of their armour into the swamps below. This happened some four or five times before the northern archers began fighting back.

Victarion watched as some of his men either fell backward and broke their skulls open and died, or fell into the swamps and into the bowels of hell. He grunted as he felt an arrow whizz past him but kept barking orders. Below him the southern gate groaned under the pressure of the battering rams which the northmen were using. A cry from nearby alerted him to the presence of northmen on the walls. Saying a quick prayer to the drowned god, he strode off to meet the oncoming challengers. The northmen were crawling up and Victarion barked at his men to allow the northmen to get to the walls before they killed them. His own axe cut through two or three men and the feeling was so good, he roared for more men to come and die.

The northmen duly obliged, they came scrambling up the walls and some fell to their deaths others Victarion and his men killed on the walls in close quarters. Victarion had never liked fighting in open spaces the closeness of fighting on a ship suited him better, and it was on the walls that he thrived. Cutting down one man after another as the northmen fell to their deaths. He roared his triumph, and waited for more men to come scrambling up hoping to best the Lord Commander of the Iron Fleet. And that was when the southern gate broke and northmen came streaming into the Moat.

Victarion roared with joy at this, and cut down the man he was fighting before cutting his way through the northmen still on the walls, and then he was on the stairs cutting down through northmen. One man fell down and Victarion laughed at that, another put up a better fight slashing and hacking away Victarion used his shield to deflect the blows and laughed as the man began to grow tired, and soon enough Victarion swung and swung before the man fell to the ground riving on the floor.  He moved down the stairs and clashed with another Northman. This one actually had some fight in him and hit Victarion with enough force to knock his shield from his hand leaving them both free to fight with their weapons.

Backward and forward they went, one man hit the other and left a dent, another hit the other and saw his blow blocked. The dance went on like this for some time, Victarion swung and swung sometimes he got what he wanted, other times he did not. He tried to keep his patience but he could feel it waning, he wanted this bastard dead and he wanted him dead now. With that in mind he began pushing forward using his weight and strength to force his opponent on the back foot, his axe was weighing down on his opponent like an aurochs and so Victarion roared with triumph when he knocked the man’s weapon from his hands and then using his helm head butted the man and stepped over his body to move onto the next enemy.

The northmen have spirit he will give them that, and though there seems to be no end to them as they continue to appear out of the wood, Victarion and his men continue to fight and kill them. It fills him with a sort of savage pleasure, the thought that he and his men are beating these battle hardened warriors, and as such he roars more and more words of command and encouragement to his men. Something which seems to only further the enemy’s ire, and makes them attack in greater and greater numbers, allowing Victarion and his men to see where their weaknesses are and expose them.

Victarion thought that perhaps victory was in sight the northmen were tired and looked as though they could not believe they had come all this way only to lose. That was something he capitalised on shouting out insults at the enemy and roaring encouragement for his own men. It seemed to do some good for his men continued and did not disappear as they had done against the cranongmen and so they continued fighting. The northmen began to fall by the way side, their bodies were more than Victarion’s men and he could sense victory coming, he cleaved a big giant of a man in half and roared, when he heard the sound of a battering ram.

He knew not where this ram was coming from, this had to be the northern army, and then he remembered that the Stark pup had not been sighted, and he realised who this was. The northern gate burst down and soon enough there were more northmen streaming in. his own men were tired by this point and so he roared a challenge and lead what men he could find to meet the new northern host. He cut down one man then another and then another, but the northmen were more plentiful and powerful than he and his men and they ended up getting pushed back. His arms were aching, his body was battered and bruised but still they pushed forward. He was determined not to lose this battle not after they had been winning it for so long.

It was at this point that he came face to face with a man with an ironed fist on his armour and Victarion realised that this man was a Glover, he laughed and fought the man willingly. The man was strong though and sure enough, Victarion found himself being beaten. Every blow he landed on the man was met by some two or three blows from the man on his own person. He came very close to death then but only the tide of battle prevented him from that fate. Instead it brought him close to another ironed fisted man and another round of fighting, this time he got the advantage and managed to remove the man’s head after a long round of fighting though he was exhausted.

Battered and exhausted, barely able to raise his arms up to wield his axe he comes face to face with whom he belatedly realises is his nephew.  Theon looks like a rat as far as Victarion is concerned, his face looks beaten and bloody and his armour is dented in several places. Victarion remembers the promise he swore to his brother and so advances on Theon but does not attack, his nephew does though and the sword hits the handle of Victarion’s axe not once, not twice but thrice. Victarion barks a laugh and uses some of his rapidly dwindling strength to push the sword off and decides that so long as Theon is alive his brother will not mind. He begins swinging his axe, but his tiredness means he is less accurate and his nephew manages to duck a fair few of his swings, the ones he doesn’t duck he either blocks or takes on the chest.  An admiration for his nephew blooms in Victarion, perhaps his nephew is not such a flower after all. But then the tide of battle throws him away from his nephew and towards the wolf pup.

Somewhere along the line his axe had dropped from his hands and so he is left to fight the pup with only his hands and his wits. He sees how the man mounted on horseback will fight, but he knows he does not have the time or the strength to block the blows. So he moves as he can to avoid them, sometimes he is successful other times he is not. But when the wolf comes into play he knows he is done, the wolf tackles him to the ground and begins mauling him before being called off by the pup, and Victarion stands, staggers more appropriately to his feet and sways slightly before falling down again. His eyes close and a blissful darkness engulfs him.

Chapter Text

 

12th Month of 298 A.C. The Fords

King Axel I Tully

It was all going according to plan, the Lannisters had lost their scouts and two of their most prized outrider leaders in Armory Lorch and Gregor Clegane, and word had come from the Twins of Walder Frey’s death and the struggles that had caused. The Lannisters were running out of luck and it seemed allies, many of those in the riverlands who had attempted to side with the Lannisters had changed course and had come to Riverrun to reaffirm their loyalty to him. Yes it seemed the Lannisters were truly going to be going down the river very soon.

It seemed that Tywin Lannister was creeping towards desperateness, more and more men were being thrown towards the left wing of the ford and were drowning in the ford, Axel had watched from the battlements as the men he had stationed there killed the Lannister outriders once more. Thus blinding the old lion and meaning either he was going to be very wary to come this way or he would go charging headlong into the waiting hurricane.  Axel did know that his goodbrother was stationed in the location where they had agreed, and had sent a feint out towards Casterly Rock and Lannisport. Thus meaning that the old lion most definitely had to come this way or risk facing mass desertion. Oh by the gods he wished his father could see this now. Tywin Lannister with his tail between his legs, it was a good feeling.

He was armoured and ready, some fifteen thousand men with him stationed over the three different fords ready and waiting for the first sign of Tywin Lannister’s approach. His heart was beating a steady rhythm as they waited, he was confident the plan would go accordingly, the man was blind which would make him suspicious but at the same time he could not avoid coming back to his home otherwise his men would desert him en masse. Yes he was very confident the plan would go accordingly today. He looked at his son and was proud to see the same sort of quiet confidence he felt reflected in his son’s face. His son had done well during this war, keeping a calm head and doing his duties like a true prince. Axel was very proud of his son, and would need to start looking for a bride for him soon enough. As for his girls well, they could be his girls for just a little bit longer, there was no rush.

A horn sounded and he knew that was Edmure sounding the call of the Lannister army. Axel nodded at his son and they both steeled themselves for the sounds of battle that were to come. He counted down from seven, at seven it was silent, at six there were the sounds of hooves in the distance, at five the hooves were drawing closer, at four he could see a banner, at three he could see the men, at two he saw them coming closer, and at one he roared a command. Axel Tully and his rivermen rode forth from Riverrun to the approaching Lannister host. He knew it would be a probing force but he meant to damage this host for the other Riverlords knew to allow some of the men through.

His heart begins to speed up as they drew nearer and nearer to the men and then they entered the fray. Swords clanged and sparks fly and Axel felt his heart hammering away. Swinging and slashing his sword, he cut down three men within the space of a few moments, another few men were knocked from their horses after that and another few men fell to the ground either injured or dead. None could touch him and though his son was always near him and in his thoughts, he mainly focused on killing or maiming those soldiers who came into his path. His horse, the same horse he had had since he was a boy was used to his changing movements and seemed to know what he wanted to do before even he did. And so it guided him to where he needed to be and as the battle progressed he became ever more grateful for that.

On he pushes, the north is their weakest breach point and so Axel rides there with his men. And it is there that he meets the new Lannister commanders, some nameless, faceless Lannister cousin, and it is there that Axel roars his commands and the archers with his company let the arrows loose, he watches with some grim satisfaction as the lions begin to fall into the ford. Once the initial force of men are dealt with he raises his already blood stained sword into the air and leads the charge towards the enemy. The Lannister commander seems to have soiled himself, but it makes no matter he keeps running and Axel and his men keep following. The commander’s soldiers die, their bodies begin to fill up the ford and cause it to overflow but Axel is determined to get his hands on this Lannister boy who has dared to come to his home.

Eventually he catches the man and it is a rather easy duel if Axel’s being honest with himself. One slash and the boy is wounded, another slash and the boy is bleeding profusely, and another slash and the boy is dead. He looks at the boy’s corpse with disdain, no true lion and no true knight, not worth the shit on Axel’s horse. A shame really, he was looking forward to a good and proper fight with a Lannister. Still there are more men to fight and kill and so Axel puts away his disappointment and joins his men. The rest of this lot of soldiers put up a better fight than their commander and former fellows of war. His sword is dripping red with blood by the time they have cleared the Lannister scum from the north bank. His armour is covered in blood and dirt, some of it his own most of it the enemy’s. Edmyn is by his side then dripping in sweat his armour covered in dirt and blood, and together they ride onward to where they are needed.

Next it is onto the north eastern bank of the ford and it is there that the true challenge comes. Armond Hill bastard of Lannisport has command of the men there, and he gives a good fight. Men from both sides come streaming over the bank their armour and their horses getting wet from the ford, and they clash. Steel against steel, sword against sword, and hammer against axe the list is endless and the sound is like music to Axel, the sound of a good fight. He cuts his way through most of the enemy, taking blows here and there, his son by his side doing what they both do best killing Lannisters, and then he comes face to face not with Armond Hill but someone else a little rat of a man, who tries to surrender but Axel misinterprets it as an attack and so removes his hand from his arm.

The fighting continues well into the evening, and by that time Axel is covered in blood as is his son. “You did well lad,” Axel says in praise of his son. “Those blows were something to behold.”

“Thank you father. That Lannister bastard was damned hard to kill though. I think he might have cut the favour Jayne gave me.” His son responds.

“Oh so it’s Jayne who has taken your fancy now is it? You will have to decide soon lad, we can’t have them all vying for you.” Axel teases his son.

His son blushes. “I like Jayne she is a nice girl. But her father is somewhat of a brute don’t you think?”

“Aye I agree. But he will be dead before the battle is out. The man was going on some sort of rampage during the battle if what Edmure says is true.” Axel responds.

“Where will the Lannisters attack tomorrow do you think father?” his son asks.

Axel considers for a moment and then says. “The Stone Mill.”

“Why?” his son asks.

“It has some land that is flat enough for them to ride, but high enough that we would have difficulty doing as we did today.” Axel responds.

His son nods and disappears off for a nap, whilst Axel remains awake and alert. Sometime later his brother comes and finds him to tell him Lannisters have been sighted near the Stone Mill and so he wakes his son and together they with their remaining men ride toward the Stone Mill.  Ser Brynden has guard over the Stone Mill and is fighting a ferocious battle when Axel and his contingent arrive, Axel gives a roar and leads the charge into the fray.

These Lannister soldiers do not seem quite so desperate and for a moment Axel wonders why until he remembers that they think they are going to lose here. He knows he needs to show restraint and so instead of going in and killing all of them he kills one or two of them and wounds the rest. His men follow his lead and so the Lannister men gradually begin to gain more confidence and some begin streaming past into the hills of the Westerlands, more and more men do so and though he knows his men are growing anxious, he knows that the moment the old lion shows the plan will begin and so will the chase.

Still he cannot let the Lannisters get suspicious and so he begins hacking away at those men who come before him dressed in red. He swings his sword and begins killing again. Edmyn is by his side through all of this doing himself proud. Axel himself feels nothing but pride for his son, and so is more than honoured to fight alongside him. Together they cut down Lannisters, and cut down Lannisters soldiers and push forward, pushing forward swinging their swords and laughing whilst more and more Lannister soldiers fall to their deaths.

The fighting goes backwards and forwards, some, Axel knows he is getting more and more tired, he knows he is wounded but still he keeps fighting, for his father, for his wife and children and for his people by the gods will he keep fighting. His sword drips from point to hilt with blood but still more men keep coming and somewhere along the way the plan is forgotten and only the drive for revenge carries him and fills his mind.

When the drive is somewhat broken, there are dozens of bodies lying around him, surrounding him, and he looks for his son, but his son is nowhere to be found and for a moment he begins to panic until he sees his son barking commands and telling their men to hold, and not to chase after the Lannisters. He feels pride swell up in his chest at that and rides over to his son and asks. “What happened?”

His son startles a moment and then responds. “They sent some men to distract you in an attempt to sneak passed some of the men wanted to follow them but I ordered them to let them through. We could not let them get to suspicious though right father?”

Axel nods. “You did well son. But tell me where are Edmure and the Blackfish?”

“Uncle Edmure fell in battle he got dragged somewhere I do not know where. But the Blackfish has led some of the men across the border in chase of the Westermen who have managed to get through.” His son responds.

Axel nods. “Very well we shall get ourselves tended to and then we shall ride in pursuit. We cannot let your uncle have all the fun.”

His son nods and then together they ride to where the injured are being tended to, he dismounts and winces slightly but walks with his arm around his son as they come to the wounded tent, and he feels his heart stop slightly as he sees his brother’s unmoving form. It is that, that makes him stop and turn round and say. “We shall rest when the Lannisters are dead. Come Edmyn we have lions to kill.”

Chapter Text

1st Month of 299 A.C. Lion’s Wait

King Eddard I Stark

Sarsfield still haunted his dreams at night. It had been a complete massacre and by the gods did he wish the images that kept filling his head would leave him, he did not want to keep reliving the moment he had seen a girl the same age as Sansa lying there without seeing, her throat slit and her corpse mutilated. It was the sort of stuff that made him wake up in cold sweats the kind he had not had since the rebellion all those years ago. Sometimes he would dream of Lyanna and her final few moments and the decision he had made long ago, and he would wonder when that decision would come back to haunt him. It seemed it was happening now and there was little he could truly do to stop it.

But he could not spend too much time dwelling on such things, he had to fight this final battle in the Westerlands before victory could be completely assured. The raiding in the Westerlands it seemed had worked, Tywin Lannister in a desperate bid to save face and to save his home was marching towards the West, he knew that Axel would give him a severe case of bloody nose, but whether or not his goodbrother would be able to fully keep his anger in control was something that worried Ned somewhat. There was also the news of the deaths of some one hundred men who had been sent to Lannisport to add a feint to drive Tywin Lannister harder that was playing on Ned’s conscious as well.

It seemed that the plan both he and his goodbrother had concocted had worked for there were men carrying Lannister banners and colours streaming into the Wait now. This stirred Ned and his men from their rest and drawing Ice from his sheath he gave a battle cry and then battle commenced.  Ned lead the charge and he and his men crashed into the oncoming Lannisters, he swung Ice as if it were nothing more than a stick, swatting away men left, right and centre. He knocked a few men off their horses with the power of his blows, and a few more men were brought down low to meet the gods. His sword was running red with blood, his own blood was pumping in his skin and making him feel alive. The battle rage was upon him, every single hurt and nerve he was feeling he took out on the Lannisters and their men.

The rule was simple everyone who was not a Lannister in the enemy army was to be killed, those who were Lannisters were either to be maimed or captured. And of course Tywin Lannister was to have both done to him, but the old lion was more than likely riding in the rear as was his wont. It made no matter though, Ned was determined to end the Lannister threat once and for all. His sword did not stop moving, cutting a man here, blocking a swing there, on it went, he took a few hits on the chest and his armour got dented in several places but still he kept fighting and his men did as well. Jon was by his side through all of this, swinging his own sword like a man possessed, the direwolf Ghost was ripping through men with a savage hunger, not for the first time Ned was glad the direwolf was on their side.

On they went, Ned barked a command and he and the men began turning their horses, pushing inward on the Lannister men still streaming into the wait, and began the final press, this was going to be the thing that broke the lions. As they pressed inward the lions began clawing at their cages, screaming and shouting, some cried out for mercy, but Ned thought of the girl at Sarsfield who was staring without seeing and he denied the lions mercy. For too long they had dictated terms to the realm now it was time for the lions to get a taste of their own means. He pushed in harder, and the lions began to fall to their deaths, he roared and more men pushed in, crushing the lions.

The lions seemed to be weakening, there was less fighting and more cowering going on than Ned would have thought possible for men led by Tywin Lannister, then again he supposed that after fighting against someone such as Axel Tully one would lose the desire to continue fighting. And yet there were some within the Lannister ranks who continued to fight while their fellows died or surrendered, it was a butchery truly it was more so than Sarsfield, and Ned knew he would not be haunted by visions of dead lions tonight. Instead as victory came closer and closer Ned began pushing his men harder and harder towards achieving their goal his men sensing victory begin fighting all the harder, and the lions begin quivering and shaking.

Ned is covered in blood from head to foot, most of it lion blood, some of it his own, his sword is red, from hilt to point and still there are more men coming forward willing themselves not to break. But Ned is a wolf and he knows when and how to sense fear and these men, these men are very, very scared. He barks commands and his men begin moving closer towards the lions, the lions look battered and broken, and victory is within reach. Another push and more men begin falling to their deaths in the swamp that has become the Lion’s Wait. A roar goes up and he sees Tully banners, Mallister banners, and all the banners of the lords of the Riverlands following the Lannister men, giving them chase and crushing them against the rocks of the Wait. The hammer and the anvil have come and closed Tywin Lannister and his men.

The lions surrender when the standard of Tywin Lannister disappears and his guard is no more. Victory is theirs. The celebrations last for what feels to be a long time, but perhaps is not, no matter, Ned celebrates with his son and their men, drinking and cheering the defeat of Tywin Lannister. He greets his goodbrother and thanks him for the good news on Sansa’s rescue and the victory his son has won at Moat Cailin, and he knows they will talk much more later on, but for now he celebrates.

Later on whilst others are still celebrating and Jon is with his betrothed, and so Ned accompanied by some of his guard walk to where the prisoners are being kept, there is just one man he wishes to speak to tonight. Tywin Lannister, looks beaten and battered and yet there is still an air of defiance about him, an air of respectability, Ned finds himself grudgingly admiring the man. “Ah Eddard Stark, the quiet wolf. A supposed king, have you come to mock me?” the lion asks.

Ned is silent a moment and then says. “No, I have come to speak with you Tywin Lannister.”

“Speak with me? Whatever for? I did think you would have me killed, after all is that not what you Starks do? Kill your enemies.” Tywin Lannister responds.

“We kill those who are of no use to us my lord. But those who are of use such as yourself and your son, why we keep them alive. You have a use to us my lord and I intend to make use of that.” Ned says.

“You have a use for me? I am surprised my lord I would have thought that you would simply remove my head from my shoulders. After all that is what your brother Brandon would have done.” The Old lion responds.

“Then be glad I am not my brother. You will remain alive so long as you have a use. And now it is time for you to prove that. Tell me why did you attack my goodbrother’s homeland?” Ned asks.

“Because your wife kidnapped my son. It was an insult to my honour and the honour of my house. Something that I could not allow to stand.” The old lion responds bluntly.

“Why not send men to King’s Landing to petition for Lord Tyrion’s release? Your daughter is the queen, Pycelle is yours, and Robert would have been bullied into listening to you.” Ned says.

“You were still the brother Robert chose Eddard Stark. Petitioning him for my son’s release would have done nothing. Forcing your hand or that of your goodbrother’s on the other hand would have. And so that is what I did.” The old lion responds.

Ned feels anger rise up inside of him. “So you sent Gregor Clegane into the riverlands to bait me? For no other reason than to bait me? You have started a war for no other reason than simply to aggravate the situation that was already present in King’s Landing? What of the Kingslayer? Was his attack on me and my men also part of your plan?”

The lord of Casterly Rock says nothing for a moment and then shakes his head. “Jaime has always been impulsive. So no, his attack on you and your men was not in my plan, but it merely served to get him out of King’s Landing and away from Robert’s wrath. The rest was done by your goodbrother and by yourself.”

“And yet you continued on with this folly of yours why? You would not get any support for your war. And had Robert survived you have died when you meant to have me killed.” Ned responds.

“Robert died, and your goodbrother allowed my son to regroup. Yes we suffered losses but so to have you, and now your home is under attack. I might be beaten but there are still more of my kin rallying men preparing to deal with you and your allies. There will not be a moment’s rest for you now.” The old lion says.

“Yet King’s Landing is now open and vulnerable. Your daughter and grandchildren will be dead. Stannis will sit the throne and your dreams will have ended fruitlessly.” Ned says mockingly. The anger driving him on.

“And you think that Stannis Baratheon will merely sit on the throne and allow yourself and the riverlands to be independent? Come now my lord, I know you are not that naïve. Stannis Baratheon will never rest easy until you are dead. You and all those you care about are dead. Would you rather have him sitting in King’s Landing or my grandson, someone who can be easily told what to do?” the old lion says his voice soft.

Ned knows what the man is doing, and decides to play along. “And you are suggesting that we ally with you and yours? The very people who brought this war upon themselves? Surely this must be your delusions speaking my lord. I will never side with a Lannister so long as there is breath in my body. Any potential allies you might have had are gone broken with this defeat, Walder Frey is dead, and the Vale will never side with the family they believed killed Jon Arryn. Your family is done for. Accept that and you might avoid end up as a head on a spike.”

The Lord of Casterly Rock is silent for a long time after that, no doubt considering what Ned has just told him and offered him. When he does speak his voice is soft. “And do you intend to take Casterly Rock my lord? Or will you march for King’s Landing now?”

Ned is silent, he knows the man is trying to get something from him, some sort of information, what he knows not but he will not give the man the information. “I will do what needs to be done to ensure my people and my lands are safe.”

The lion of Lannister smiles then, and it is such a startling sight that Ned worries that he might well faint. “And that is where we are both different my lord. Enjoy your victory for now.”

 

 

Chapter Text

1st Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Tyrion Lannister

The day he had both looked forward to and dreaded for most of his time in King’s Landing was finally here. Stannis Baratheon and his fleet were fast approaching King’s Landing and as Tyrion and the other men all stood atop the walls looking as the ships sailed into the bay, his heart was hammering away somewhat. Nerves were filling him, he could not afford to mess up, to do so would definitely mean their heads on spikes, and he rather liked living. Or worse yet being given to Stannis’s red woman and her fires, he had read about what it was like to die by flames once and he did not want to experience it. And so as Stannis’s ships began moving closer and closer into the bay, his heart began hammering and he began the count down.

The moment he got down to four his nerves broke and he barked the commands. Bronn and a dozen other archers stationed on the walls nearest the bay and the ships let loose their arrows, and Tyrion watched with a morbid sort of fascination as there was silence and then the ships sprang to life. The wildfire which had been dormant for so long took to the oil and the arrow like a child takes to water, or he took to women and wine. It lapped up the substance and began consuming it in vast amounts pulsating and growing ever stronger through the dimness of the night. Bright shades of green were visible in the sky, and from where Tyrion was stood on the wall he knew that soon enough the fire would spread.

The wildfire grew and grew and more and more of the ships in the bay began to burn and it became a sight that Tyrion suddenly found himself enjoying more and more. He could hear the screams of men as they burned and as the ships took to light, his hunger to see more and more of it grew. Gods this was addictive, this feeling of power, this feeling that there was nothing that could go wrong, not so long as the wildfire continued to work and do its job. More and more of Stannis’s ships came into the bay only to be burned, the screams of men living and dying filled the air and he knew the men were feeling the same way he was, a sense of relief as well as a morbid fascination with that the fire was doing.

Some of Stannis’s ships began to burn even before they reached the bay, those ships that saw the display and tried to flee but only caught more flame, more men were burning to their deaths, and slowly but surely fewer and fewer ships were seen on the bay. Still Tyrion knew that more ships would come into the bay, it was just the way that this war was going, and soon enough more ships began entering the bay those ships that had not gone in the initial probe, and knew about the wildfire travelled at a somewhat slower pace and circumvented the bases of wildfire to land men. And this was when Tyrion’s heart began hammering a new.  These men flew the banners that Stannis Baratheon was using now, the flame heart of his red demon with the black crowned stag of House Baratheon inside of it. As Tyrion watched these men begin pouring off of the ships he called out to his own men. “The enemy is here broken and battered. Let’s send them back into the sea shall we!” his men gave a roar and soon enough arrows and spears were being rained down on Stannis’s men as they came charging off their ships.

Tyrion watched from atop one of the walls as his men let loose arrows and spears on the enemy down below, a lot of nerves were going into those throws for they did not come in any specific formation or even any specific order they just came. And it seemed that this was having more of an effect on Stannis’s men, they were being felled by a random assortment of weapons and knew not where they next blow would come from. Tyrion could see the bodies begin to grow on the ground, gods this was something that he had waited for all these moons of planning and worrying were coming to fruition the enemy was being routed.

The walls start shaking then and Tyrion knows then that the plan has not gone as well as he would have hoped. Another blow and the walls begin shaking violently. He knows the men will be scared now. “Stand firm men. For your king, for your women back home. Let us show these curs who will win tonight!” Tyrion roars. And his men roar back and even though the wall shakes a third time, his men do not break, they hold firm and begin throwing their weapons and boiling oil down on the enemy. Screams echo from down below and Tyrion knows they are gaining some traction, some beautiful traction. Gods it feels good to know they are winning.

The walls shake and a thudding crash is heard. Men are screaming on this side of the walls now, gods what has happened? Ser Jacelyn comes to him then. “They have breached the Iron Gate my lord. Some 2,000 of them are streaming in. we are being overwhelmed.”

Tyrion looks at the man a long moment desperate to ask him what he wants him to do about it, and then he realises that for all intents and purposes he is the commander and so he barks. “Who wants to come and kill some sheep fuckers with me?” the men roar and so begins their descent down to the steps and toward the Iron Gate.

Tyrion mounts his horse as quickly as he has likely done so before and rides but before they even reach the Iron Gate they see the fighting, or rather the fighting finds them. Stannis’s men charge at them and soon enough he is wrapped up struggling to control his axe, and struggling to keep mounted. By his side Sandor Clegane and Ser Balon Swann fight swatting away those who come too close on his left and right side, but in front of him all kinds of people come charging and to be honest he is surprised he is not brought down low by it. Gods the pain in his arms is intensifying. And just as they have killed one of the last people from the breach in the Iron Gate, another deafening crunch is heard and Tyrion knows that another gate has fallen.

Roaring his anger, Tyrion leads men towards where he thinks is the gate that has fallen but soon enough realises they are being assault from all sides. “The River! We have to hold the river!” he roars, and some men follow him Ser Balon moves for the Red Keep, whilst Tyrion and the men he has with him move for the River Gate. They arrive just in time to see it fall and meet the assailants head on. Tyrion just about manages to remain on his horse as he leads the charge against the attackers.

They are big men, hungry for battle, and as such he struggles to stay mounted. His axe his hits a few of them but very rarely does it do much true damage. Some men fall around him the enemy sigils blazoned on their armour but more and more it is his own men who are falling. By his side the Hound is cutting down men with a ruthless intensity, and it is that he knows which is keeping the other men with them and not running for the hills like cowards or any sensible man would do. They reach the entrance of the gate and see more men streaming in, some shining brightly off of the glow of the wildfire, others somewhat looking burnt. But still they come charging and their charge pushes Tyrion and his men back into the city. More death and destruction follows.

Tyrion roars at his men to push back and so push back they do, they push as hard as they can gain some traction, Stannis’s men are falling back now, being pushed through the gate and back out onto the outside dock. Tyrion sensing a chance to gain something of a victory roars for his men to follow them and so follow them they do. A ferocious battle follows this, as Tyrion and his men fight with a savagery he did not think they possessed, and the enemy fights back just as hard. Men die from both sides, Tyrion takes a nasty cut on his shoulder that he knows will begin to bleed soon enough but still he keeps fighting, determined to prevent the enemy from getting back into King’s Landing. A blow to these plans comes when he hears a grunt and sees Sandor Clegane fall from his horse an axe buried in his head. The man falls to the ground with a sickening crunch and as Stannis’s men cheer heartily his own men begin to scramble for release some begin turning and running whilst others look to him for guidance.

“Let us take them and shove their red god in their rear!” he roars in a desperate attempt to keep his voice calm and hide the nerves he is feeling. This time his men do not roar back but merely follow him into the bowels of hell. His axe feels like a heavy weight in his arm as he struggles to lift it and swing, he fights and swings, but men do not fall to their deaths instead they merely grunt in pain and continue riding. He is turning into nothing more than a mere nuisance but he shall be a very pressing nuisance if that is the case. And so he keeps pressing in and around the enemy trying to provide openings for his men to kill them. He swings his axe and hacks away at them determined to give them not a moment’s rest, and sometimes he succeeds other times he is swatted aside and barely remains on his horse.

Eventually somehow he finds himself back within the city, the River Gate battered and broken nothing more than a distant memory. How he got back into the city he knows not, but he knows Preston Greenfield and Pod are with him. He looks around and sees that the river is aflame, there is fighting within the streets now suggesting more gates have fallen. He leads what men are left to him into the city trying to find out what it is that is going on. He finds Ser Jacelyn broken and bloodied, dying, still standing and roaring orders. “My lord, thank the gods. I had thought you lost.”

“I am very much alive Ser. But pray tell me what is going on? How did Stannis’s men break into the city?” Tyrion asks.

“The river gate is gone as I am sure you have seen. The Iron Gate is gone as well. The harbour is theirs as well. It appears we were misinformed about where they would be coming from. Stannis Baratheon was not with a single one of the forces that has held.” Ser Jacelyn responds.

“If he is not there, then where in the seven hells is he?” Tyrion asks aloud.

As if in answer to that, a big blast of wind hits them then, and suddenly the air goes very cold and then very hot, and then a shadow appears over the moon. Fires erupt everywhere then, there is not one place where there is not a fire, fire everywhere, darkness, and light fighting one another for control. Tyrion is rooted to the spot not sure what the hell to do, and neither is Ser Jacelyn. Around them the enemy is pushing throbbing through, roaring their commands. And then it hits him memory of what happened to Renly. “Where is the king? Protect the king!” Tyrion roars and then he spurs his horse to where Ser Jacelyn is saying the king was last. But when Tyrion gets there he does not find Joffrey instead he finds some man choking to death. He shouts at Ser Boros Blount to tell him where his nephew is and the Ser cannot respond before a shroud grabs his throat as well.

Out of the darkness comes fire, and in that fire rides Stannis Baratheon, strong, tall and proud, his men following him. Tyrion feels such irrational anger then that he cares not for where his nephew is he will not let this whoreson defeat him. He roars and charges, his men or rather what is left of them follow him. And they do battle with Stannis Baratheon and his men, fighting and fighting but not truly doing much more than killing their own men off. They keep doing it though and eventually through the fire and the flames Stannis’s men begin to fall to their own deaths. Tyrion is cut, battered and bruised, but he does know that they can hold just for a little while longer.

A swing from a sword knocks him from his horse and as he lies there awaiting death he sees his nephew’s broken body, beaten and bruised in so many places, eyes unseeing, but then would that be his nephew? Or is Joffrey still alive safe in the Red Keep? Just as he looks and sees his killer about to strike another round of horns is sounded and somewhere deep down he knows help has come, the roses are here.

Chapter Text

1st Month of 299 A.C. The Gates Of The Moon/ The Eyrie

Ser Elbert Arryn

The Gates of the Moon was an old fortress built in the days when the Arryns reigned as kings, and when there was muscle in the Eyrie not some cowering little boy and a scared woman. Elbert was fond of the place, it had been his home since the rebellion had ended all those years ago, and he had created a family here with Ryella, soon enough this seat would be Artys’, everything was in place. They were heading to the Eyrie soon enough and the mad woman and her brat of a son would be removed from his uncle’s seat and home and exiled. He had been looking forward to this day for some time, ever since his own suspicions had come into play he had looked forward to this day and now it was finally here.

Elbert had called a family meeting in his solar so that everyone in the family was aware of what was going to transpire today and whether or not they would be required to speak. If all went well none of them would need to but he would not take a chance and a risk. They would be prepared for anything that mad woman might throw at them. And so it was with this in mind that Elbert spoke. “Thank you all for coming, Ronnel, Ryella, Artys, Alyssa and Alys. You all know of how we were denied our rights when that bastard was born. Today we correct that, and we make sure that never again shall the Lannisters have their hands in our kingdom.”

His son Ronnel spoke then. “I am still not sure whether or not this is the right thing father. We do not have completely solid proof that Cousin Robert is a bastard, mere speculation and letters. Letters can be forged.”

Elbert knew his eldest son and heir was going to say something like this and so he replies. “Only you would think of something like that my boy. The other lords of the Vale are not quite as clever as you to think of that. Regardless, Lords Royce, Templeton, Belmore, Redfort, Hunter and Waynwood are all sided with us. They are the ones who count. They believe as I do that Robert is no true Arryn, but the bastard of Petyr Baelish. You have the letters my love?” he says that last part to his wife Ryella.

His wife produces the letters and says. “Of course, all of them with the appropriate sign and seal from the respective time they were sent. I spoke with Maester Coleman three days ago and he recognised Lady Lysa’s writing. He will speak should we have need of him.”

“Even Maester Coleman believes these accusations?” Ronnel asks in surprise. “By the gods, how badly has Lady Lysa let things slip since her husband died?”

Elbert’s second son Artys speaks then. “Lady Lysa always was a bit of a loose headed woman brother. It is no surprise that this has happened, she has no friends here nor has she tried to make any. That will be her downfall.”

Elbert sees his eldest son ponder this and then hears him say. “I suppose that does make sense. She always was a bit strange around us.”

Elbert nods. “Indeed she was son. That was because she was afraid we would discover the truth, which we have and now she shall pay for it.” He pauses then, and then looks to his wife. “Yohn will be there when we arrive will he not?”

His wife nods. “He will be my love, and he will bring his men with him.”

“Good,” Elbert replies. “We shall have more than enough men to overpower the Eyrie’s household guard should it come to that. Hopefully it will not but if it does, we shall have the men to do it.”

His daughter Ryella speaks then. “What will happen to Lysa father? Will she remain here in the Vale? And what about Robert?”

Elbert is silent a moment and then responds. “Lysa and Robert will be going back to Riverrun once this is all said and done. They will never come back to the Vale ever again. I will not have such traitors in the Vale.”

His daughter nods and then Ronnel asks. “What of Petyr Baelish? Surely the Iron Throne will try to send him here to convince Lysa to not take part in the war? What will you do to him father?”

Elbert is silent a moment and then says. “Baelish, Baelish…. Baelish will be thrown into a cell and then made to watch as all he has worked for comes crumbling down. He will fall, and I will be the one who pushes him. The man has betrayed everything we as a people stand for and I shall not allow him to live.”

Ronnel nods and then Elbert’s second son Artys asks. “And when you are crowned father, what will you do then? Will you join the north and the trident in fighting the Lannisters? Or will you deal with the mountain clans?”

An interesting question and one that Elbert ponders over for some time before eventually giving his response. “The mountain clans can be dealt with at a later date. They will still be here when we return from the west. The Lannisters are the more pressing problem. They must be dealt with and soon, they have lost Tywin Lannister, they are weak. They shall be crushed. And then we shall look at the clans.”

“Will you do as Uncle Jon did, or as great grandfather did and try and integrate them into the kingdom?” Ronnel asks.

Elbert looks at his son then and he remembers seeing his own uncle slain by a Burned Man and feels the older anger begin to grow inside of him, his wife must notice for she takes his hand under the table and squeezes. He nods his thanks to her and then says. “They will all die. They have had more than one chance to try and become part of the kingdom, that they have not means that there is no hope for them. They will die and their homes will be burned. No more will they infect the Vale.”

His son nods and with that the conversation comes to an end, they all stand and leave the solar preparing their things. Once he is finished packing his things, Elbert looks around the room one last time, never again unless it is during winter will he come to this place and sleep here. No from now on this will be Artys’ home and the home of his wife when that time comes. He feels a certain sadness fill him then but it is quickly replaced by the anticipation of what is to come. Soon enough they are putting their things on to the mules that will transport them up to the Eyrie.  Elbert and his family follow on their own mules and soon enough they are at the castle. Night is beginning to fall but Elbert knows that this cannot wait, as they enter the castle, he sees Royce and Waynwood men sat talking and drinking, Hunter and Redfort men gambling and other men mingling. He and his family walk into the great hall where Lady Lysa is sat on the throne, his uncle’s throne and he feels anger boil inside of him. His allies are already present and when he looks at the woman, he smiles and bows. “My Lady Lysa, thank you for allowing me to come to the Eyrie.”

The lady sighs and says impatiently. “Rise Ser Elbert and tell me why it is you have been pestering me for so long.”

Elbert rises as do his family and he says strongly. “I have come my lady to plead with you once more time to join the north and the trident in fighting the Lannisters.”

The lady sighs then and says angrily. “And again I say no. I will not commit the people of the Vale to a pointless war. Not to a war that could harm my son, your liege lord. We are all safer here.”

Elbert feels anger rise inside of him. “We are not safe here anymore my lady. The Tyrells have sided with the Lannisters now. They have the ability to attack Gulltown and come crawling up our lands. We must act now to hinder them before they can do that.”

The Lady Lysa looks mad her eyes blown wide when she replies. “They will not come to attack us. We have done nothing to them. They have no reason to attack us. We have been neutral all this time. They will only attack us if we do as you say! Why are you so eager to go to war?”

“For revenge and for justice!” Elbert snaps. “The Lannisters killed my uncle, and they have always treated the Vale like dirt. It is time we made them realise we are not so easy to push around. Or have you forgotten what you said to me when you returned from King’s Landing? You want to make sure your son is safe, give him a crown and make the lords of the Vale want to fight for their king. Otherwise give up now and go back to King’s Landing.”

There is muttering in the hall then and his wife is holding his hand, the Lady Lysa looks half mad when she shrieks. “You dare speak to me like that? You, nothing more than an up jumped knight?” Elbert tenses then and Ryella squeezes his hand to keep him in place the mad woman goes on. “I am the lady regent of the Vale until my son comes of age. You will do as I say and you will not question me.”

Still holding his wife’s hand and feeling the anger flow through him Elbert snarls. “You are nothing but a whore Lysa. A whore who likes fucking a man beneath your social standing. A whore who knows nothing other than how to run and hide. I know the truth and all these lords here know the truth as well. Your bastard is not Jon’s son, he is your lover’s son. He is Petyr Baelish’s son.”

That the hall is completely silent Elbert knows is because those present all know the truth. The only one making any noise is the woman before him. “You! You dare call Petyr beneath me? You call me a whore?! You are worth nothing, nothing!”

At this there is a lot of murmuring and Elbert snarls. “So you do not deny it then? Robert is indeed your bastard with Petyr Baelish? You cuckholded Jon and made your bastard the lord of the Vale?”

“YES! Yes I am. I do not deny it, for so long I have denied it but I will not deny it anymore! Robert is the most precious thing in the world. He would make a better lord than you or any of your brats!” the woman shouts.

There is a large outcry at this and Elbert merely smiles. He looks at the men he brought with him and says. “You have heard the woman, her son is not the Lord of the Vale, and is indeed a bastard. The woman has admitted to betraying her husband, who was the Lord of the Vale. Remove her from this hall at once.” After a moment’s hesitation his men walk up and forcibly remove Lysa Tully from the throne and drag her down the steps. Elbert looks at her and then walks past her to sit on the throne his ancestors and his uncle all sat on once. The throne feels comfortable and as his wife and children come to stand beside him, he looks down at the dishevelled form of Lysa Tully and says. “You and your bastard are hereby banished from the Vale. Should you ever dare to try to re-enter the Vale you and your son will be executed. You shall be banished to Riverrun to spend the rest of your days.”

The woman laughs then, a mad laugh. “You are not Lord of the Vale, you have no authority to do this.”

Sat on the throne, Elbert feels nothing but contempt for this woman before him. “I have the authority I need. I have proof of your infidelities. And furthermore I have the backing of the lords who matter.”

“What lords?” the woman asks.

Elbert looks at Yohn who steps forward then. “I support King Elbert my lady. He will bring the Vale back to its glory.”

Lord Hunter steps forward. “I too support King Elbert.”

More and more of the people present in the hall come forward and swear themselves to him, and he sees the Lady Lysa’s eyes begin to widen and her chest begin to heave. “You are all fools! The Lannisters will come and kill you all!” she screams. “Tywin Lannister will get you all!”

“Tywin Lannister is dead.” Elbert responds calmly. “Take her away and keep watch over her.” He says to his men who drag her out kicking and screaming. Once she is gone, Elbert turns to Yohn and asks. “You have the crown I trust Yohn.”

“Of course Your Grace.” His goodbrother responds taking the crown from a servant, and then giving it to Ryella.

His wife takes the crown, and as she walks toward him a smile on her lips, Elbert sees the wings of the falcon and the falcon itself emblazoned on the front of the crown. His wife stops before him and he leans forward. As his wife puts the crown atop his head she says. “Long Live King Elbert Arryn the first of his name, King of the Mountain and the Vale.”

As everyone else in the hall says the same, Elbert feels a sense of power flow through him. The dream has come true.

Chapter Text

1st Month of 299 A.C. Red Keep, King’s Landing

Ser Kevan Lannister

The body was still, the boy was almost beautiful in death, but Kevan knew that there was a danger and an evil lurking inside of him, something dark and troublesome. The High Septon droned on and on about this and that, Kevan was not truly listening though, his thoughts were away from the Great Sept of Baelor where there were many mourners, whether they truly mourned the death of King Joffrey he did not know, but they were here and it made it seem to the Tyrells that they were not alone, the Lannisters still had allies. How long that would last for he did not know, but he knew that now with Joffrey dead, the Tyrells might well have an easier time of controlling things at court, and that worried him, it worried him a great deal.

The High Septon finished speaking and the body was covered and people began moving to pay their respects to the fallen king, and to the king’s mother. The new king was stood of to the side looking lost and forlorn, never a good sign, never ever a good sign. His future queen was there holding his hand and whispering reassuring words to him, she was a sweet girl Margaery Tyrell, but there was something in her that made Kevan suspicious, almost as if she were too sweet. Of course it could simply be he was seeing shadows where there were none. The battle of the Blackwater had been a close run thing, Tyrion had done a damn good job of making it hard for Stannis Baratheon and his men to come into the city but they had eventually broken through and they had almost made it into the Red Keep. That they had not done so, was because of the Tyrell host, some eighty thousand men streaming through with Kevan and his own two thousand men at their side, pushing in and slaying all in their path. The knight of flowers had slain Stannis himself, and there had been a sense of victory but it had been bittersweet for Joffrey had died, how they knew not though the red woman was suspected.

As he paid his own respects to the king and the new king, his niece pulled him aside and said. “Have you thought of what I asked of you uncle? Will you become Tommen’s hand?”

Kevan looked at his niece then and merely nodded. “Aye I will. Giving the position to the oaf of Highgarden would be suicide. We cannot trust him too much, he might have saved the city but he will make more of a mess of things that we thought possible.”

They walked down from the steps and began moving towards leaving the Great Sept of Baelor, his niece whispered. “The man wants his daughter married to Tommen before he even considers sending his men out from the city to deal with the enemy. The impudence of the man that his head is not on a spike for siding with Renly is because of Tyrion.”

“He wants a guarantee that the investment he is placing into the crown will not be wasted. It is a prudent move, the marriage will tie us all closer together, and show that the realm is not completely torn apart. And furthermore it means that the man cannot back out of the commitment he has made should things get worse.” Kevan responds softly.

“He wants the marriage to occur now though uncle! A few days after today he wants the wedding to be held. The impudence of the man, my son has just died and he wants his daughter married off. I do not believe for one moment that she is still a maiden. Renly might not have liked women but he certainly knew what to do with them, he was Robert’s brother after all.” His niece snarls.

“Keep your voice down Cersei, by the gods do you want to insult the Tyrells before we have the chance to make it so they cannot withdraw their support?” Kevan whispers harshly.

“They would not dare! The fat flower will finally get his wish of having his daughter as queen, he would not dare to leave before then.” His niece responds.

“Continue insulting the virtue of his daughter and he might very well decide that he does not wish to be associated with us. We are losing this war Cersei, we are not winning it. We need all the allies we can get, so please for the love of the gods, keep your mouth shut.” Kevan whispers desperately, as they walk towards where his niece’s litter is.

Before his niece gets into her litter she says. “I will for now. But the man had best not overstep himself. Otherwise I will show him why we are lions uncle.” And with that she enters the litter, whilst King Tommen mounts his horse, Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard by his side, Kevan mounts his horse and they ride off for the Red Keep.

As they ride towards the Keep, the king asks. “Great Uncle Kevan, when will I be crowned?”

Slightly taken aback by the question, Kevan pauses a moment considering and then says. “In three days’ time Your Grace. Why do you ask?”

“Because Margaery says that a king needs a crown. And that the only way I can get my crown is if the High Septon places the crown atop my head himself.” The king responds.

Before Kevan can respond the Lady Margaery speaks. “I merely thought it made sense my lord. After all what is a king without a crown.”

“Indeed my lady. In two days’ time you shall be crowned Your Grace, and you will be king.” Kevan responds all the while wondering whether or not his niece was right, and that the Tyrells are planning something. Gods he wishes Tywin was here, but no his brother is not.

They arrive at the Red Keep and Kevan dismounts and then helps the king to dismount, once that is done he bids farewell to the king and joins his niece in walking toward the council chamber. Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard following them. They walk in silence and once they reach the council chamber, they take their respective seats, Cersei at the head of the table as regent, and Kevan at her right hand side as hand of the king. The other members of the small council are present, Mace Tyrell saviour of the city and master of ships, master of laws Lord Gyles Rosby, master of coin Petyr Baelish, and master of whispers the eunuch Lord Varys and Grand Maester Pycelle. With Lords Tarly and Rowan sitting on the council as advisors. His niece speaks first. “Thank you all for coming. It has been a tiring few weeks my lords, Stannis Baratheon the usurper is dead, thank the gods. But my beautiful son and king Joffrey is dead as well, felled by gods alone knows what. Varys have you been able to discover anything more about that?”

The eunuch is silent a moment then replies gravely. “Alas I have not Your Grace. All those spoken to have repeated the same tale over and over again, that a shadow came and choked the life out of King Joffrey. When pressed further they all said that the shadow looked like Stannis Baratheon. They all claim there was nothing they could do to stop it from happening.”

“Of course they do. They want to keep their heads on their shoulders. A shadow, pah, my arse.” Lord Tyrell says.

“We should not rule it out my lord,” Kevan says softly. “Stannis had a red priestess with him and it is said she was able to perform magic or something akin to magic. That she is not here, is another reason to believe that it might have been her.”

“You truly believe that my lord?” Lord Tyrell asks incredulously. “Magic? There has been no magic in Westeros since the dragons died, and the dragons have been dead for a very long time. No this was most surely the work of a turn coat.”

“Then I fear we shall never know who did the deed, for none of them will speak.” The eunuch responds.

“Then you shall make them speak. Lord Rosby you are master of laws, speak to the head to the head torturer and get him to get something out of one of those oafs.” The queen regent says. Rosby bows his head and then Kevan’s niece speaks once more. “I want a price put on the red woman’s head. The first person to bring it to me will be rewarded healthily.” Baelish nods.

Kevan then turns to Lord Tyrell and asks. “How soon will the Redwyne Fleet be able to mobilise? There are still supporters of Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone, his daughter is there as well, and with the fleet we can take the castle and the island and end any resistance within the crownlands.”

“I know for certain that Paxter will be setting sail now. He should be here within two weeks or so and then he can proceed to Dragonstone.” The Lord of Highgarden responds.

Kevan nods and then turns to Pycelle. “Now Maester, you said there had been word from the Vale pray tell us what this letter says.”

The grand maester unfurls the letter and reads aloud. “I Elbert Arryn, son of Ronnel Arryn and Rowena Belmore, and nephew to Jon Arryn former Lord of the Eyrie and Warden of the East, do hereby renounce Lady Lysa Tully and Robert Stone as traitors to the Vale. Robert Stone is not the trueborn son of my uncle, he is a bastard born of a tryst between Lady Lysa and Lord Petyr Baelish. As such they are both condemned to death should they ever return to the Vale. I as my uncle’s true heir, name myself King of the Mountain and the Vale and do hereby renounce fealty to the Iron Throne and declare war on it. For justice and revenge.”

Silence follows this and then Kevan turns to Lord Baelish and asks. “Is this true? Is the boy yours my lord?”

There is something in the man’s eyes that makes Kevan think he is lying when he responds. “Of course not, Elbert Arryn is lying, he is also a power hungry war monger, who has the support of some of the most powerful lords in the Vale.”

“So there is nothing you can do to try and stop this?” Kevan asks.

“Unfortunately not. Unless you were to send me to the Vale myself and try and speak reason into the oaf’s head.” The master of coin says.

Before Kevan can respond his niece says. “No you shall remain here. You are master of coin you shall remain here and do your duty. Let Elbert Arryn make all the declarations he wants, he will never march not with the mountain clans at his back.”

“The clans are not the problem, they will be dealt with soon enough. No it seems Arryn will march west and join with his friends and allies, in the north and the riverlands, and with Tywin Lannister in chains, there will be nothing stopping them from marching here.” Lord Randyll says.

“That is why we must have an army out in the Riverlands to cause harm to the potential alliance. The moment Axel Tully learns his home is under attack once more he will come crawling back.”  Kevan responds.

“And I will send my armies out when my daughter has been wed to the King.” The Lord of Highgarden responds.

Before his niece can argue back, Kevan turns to Varys and asks. “What more news do you have for us my lord?”

The eunuch is silent a moment and then responds. “Eddard Stark and Axel Tully and their men are laying siege to Lannisport. Their combined armies are destroying any potential source of reinforcements the city could get, and of course any potential allies that the city might get are being beaten in the field. Meanwhile, the Ironborn continue raiding the north, though Moat Cailin is back in northern hands, Deepwood Motte it seems will be back in northern hands soon enough as well.”

Kevan looks at the man and then at Lord Tyrell. “You wish for your daughter to be married my lord, and I understand that. But we have a kingdom to defend. Take your armies out and fight. Prove your loyalty to your king. The moment you step foot into the Riverlands, Axel Tully will have to come scampering back.”

Tyrell looks as if he is about to protest, but then Lord Tarly speaks. “What the hand says makes sense my lord. I will go and I will fight in the riverlands.”

Tyrell looks angry at this but eventually sighs and says. “Very well then. Lord Tarly will go with some of the men into the Riverlands. Does that satisfy you my lord hand?”

“It is not a case of satisfying me. It is a case of dividing our enemies.” Kevan responds.

Chapter Text

2nd Month of 299 A.C. Lannisport

King Eddard I Stark

Lannisport was like all most everything else that the Lannisters did, it was big and extravagant, even from the outside Ned could tell that there was a lot of wealth and splendour inside the city. It made him somewhat mad, the Lannisters were so full of themselves that they had named the city after themselves and were lavishing themselves with the fruit of the hard work that their people had done. It made no sense to him, and yet still the people of the city fought for them. They had been laying siege to the city for about a week now cutting of supplies from the land, and attempting to get round to the docks to burn their ship. As of now the ships were still there, but with the Westermen soldiers slowly fading into obscurity with news of Tywin Lannister’s capture spreading, Ned was confident that the city would soon fall.

He was still plagued at night by nightmares of the girl, the girl who looked so much like Sansa. Her red hair and eyes haunted him in his dreams, that Sansa was in the north was not that much of a comfort, for the north was rife with Ironborn. He regretted what his actions had cost his daughter, and his other children, their innocence was gone because of his naivety, he swore he would never allow such a thing to happen again. Ned was determined to end this threat and then perhaps march north to deal with the Ironborn once and for all, or perhaps even march on King’s Landing and show the Lannisters just what was what. There was no time now for half measures, they had to be put in their place and they had to be show it soon enough. Of course the thoughts of the girl at Sarsfield brought back memories of the promise he had sworn all those years ago in Dorne, and the dreams and the guilt that had haunted him ever since that day. He knew that soon enough the time would come to reveal it to his sons, Cat already knew, he had had to tell her the truth, but soon enough his sons would have to know, for it would affect them.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a crash and as he stepped out from his tent he saw that the lion’s wall, the entrance to Lannisport from Sarsfield had been brought down. He was already armoured, and was soon mounted, barking orders for his men to continue their assault on the other walls, he rode to find his goodbrother. Jon by his side, they found King Axel mounted and looking at the fallen wall. Ned greeted him and then a momentary look passed between them before they were barking out commands for their men to saddle up and prepare to enter the city. Ned looked at his son then and saw the grim determination on Jon’s face, and he knew that his son would not be moved from his side today, no matter what Ned said, and so sighing he signalled for his son to ride by him. His breathing levelled as they waited for the Greatjon to blow the horn that would signal the attack, as they waited another wall fell as the crash sounded throughout. His men roared, and then the horn was blown and Ned led the charge his son and Ghost by his side.

The city watch of Lannisport was said to be one of the finest fighting forces in the seven kingdoms, and today they proved it. Despite the oncoming charge of northmen they did not break or flee as the men at Sarsfield had done, they held their ground and waited for Ned and his men to come. The impact of the horses and the pikes sent many northmen reeling to the ground, and yet, Ned and his son remained horse. They charged the red cloaks and began cutting down men as they came forth. Swinging Ice as though it was nothing more than a fork, he cut down one man after another, his sword growing red, his arms moved with the blood flowing through his veins and the adrenaline took over. He swung and more men fell to their deaths, some tried to fight back only to be brought down low.

The city watch remained standing even as Ned and his men continued cutting down their brethren, they did not charge forward nor flee, and they remained standing where they were. Ned and his men cut them down, some of his own men fell to their deaths and yet more remained ahorse or standing cutting down the lions where they stood. The body count continued to grow and Ned knew that before the day was over the streets would be awash with blood. It somehow seemed poetic for the slaughter that the whore of King’s Landing had ordered for his own men in King’s Landing. He would get his revenge now, and it would be sweet. He let loose a roar, just as Ghost howled sending more men into a frenzy and causing the body count to grow.

Ned led the charge deeper into the city, the city watch of Lannisport was spread thin now trying to defend the city against the oncoming onslaught. Yet Ned knew there was another Lannister host somewhere within the city that was what he was looking for, he did not care for the city watch they were nothing more than a nuisance, yet the host commanded by Daven Lannister was more important. And yet it seemed this Lannister was as willing to allow other better men to die for him, Ned and his men as well as his goodbrother and the rivermen continued swinging and cutting down the red cloaks of Lannisport, there was no satisfaction in this, mere duty. That was all it was, the eyes of the girl were haunting him still, and he tried to shake her off, but still she remained.

The girl haunted him as he cut down man after man, whispering the darkest secrets of his heart, taunting him with what she knew. He growled but she did not go away, she remained by his side has he cut down another golden haired man, and another one. The image of her and her corpse haunted him and made him blink and stutter through the fighting. The girl turned into Sansa, and he saw her throat slit, her eyes clawed, and then the girl became Cat, his beautiful Cat, her eyes like those of stone, her presence like that of death. Gods why was this happening to him now? Now of all times the nightmare had to come to fruition. He was thrown off of his horse, and just about managed to role to safety before getting up and picking up Ice. He faced down three men at once and killed them one at a time, death his constant companion.

His damned leg hurt, but death whispered in his ear, and he swung and danced around the men who came charging toward him. These were not men of the city watch but innocent civilians who were trying to defend their homes, and yet because it was a case of him or them, Ned had to kill them. Death thanked him for that, for doing it a service and he cringed inside. He looked for Jon or Ghost but could not see them, he hoped they were safe. His leg ached, and still men kept coming, even women and children and he killed them all with an intensity that he did not know he had possessed beforehand. His arms ached, his body was sore and still he kept fighting he had no other choice.

Somewhere in the distance a horn was sounded and Ned knew that this was the Lannister army, the final Lannister army. He limped forward not truly knowing where he was going, but just knowing he needed to find his son. As he limped through the streets, he saw men fighting men, men fighting women, and men fighting children. It was a complete slaughter, there were bodies everywhere, on the streets on doors, and rivers of blood were flowing down the streets as well, caking Ned’s boots in red. And death continued to whisper to him, the girl was silent, but death, death whispered and he could swear he was seeing Brandon and their father beckoning to him, but he was not ready for death yet. He had too much to do, and just as he was about to say as much the Lannisters were upon him.

And then they were gone, there were no Lannisters but an empty street. He blinked and wondered where he was. He could hear voices but he could see no people, and that was when Ghost found him, his son’s direwolf covered red with blood, still proud and majestic, and soon enough Ned was mounted on a horse once more though he did not know where the horse had come from. Ice was raised high in the air and soon brought down in a cutting arc as it removed a man’s arm, and then removed a man’s hand. The battle continued, clearly the Lannisters were trying hard to push themselves forward and back in control. But they were outnumbered and outmatched, they did not have the skill to fight and win against Ned and his men, nor his goodbrother and the rivermen. The fight continued for some time though, the lions were not going to give up their den easily.

Ned felt exhausted, and worried, he could not see Jon anywhere, and yet Ghost continued to remain with him despite Ned telling the damn wolf to go and find his son. Together they fought off the lions and brought down more than Ned would have been able to do on his own. He struggled through the fight, his arms were aching, his leg was throbbing and still he continued. The push, the final push that was what was needed. He barked a command and from somewhere, his men came calling streaming through the streets, Jon leading the charge, and they were smashing through the Lannister host, tearing them down as they rode. It was a sight that would go down in the songs, though whether or not he would be alive to hear them, he did not know. He was so tired. So very tired.

They push through the Lannister soldiers, and Ned swears every single one of them is gold of hair and green of eye. His anger at the Lannisters intensifies, as the fighting continues, and his swings reflect his anger, he is fighting to kill now, he does not care about taking prisoners. Let the Lannisters and their city burn, let them see it from their rock. He wants them to know pain, he wants them to know hurt. And he wants them to know that it was he who caused it, he is tired of being quiet, for too long as he been quiet, he is determined to show them that he is just as deadly if not more so than his father or brother were. The north remembers, and as death whispers in his ear, he kills more and more of the lions and his men cheer as they fall down to their deaths.

Daven Lannister has a thick mane of hair, making him look like a lion, and it is him who Ned takes the greatest pleasure in killing, he growls as he approaches the man and in one slice has removed his arm, and then another sees the man’s other arm removed. He turns his horse back and removes the man’s head from his back. His men cheer and Ned roars for them to take the castle. It is time for the castle of Lannisport to fall. He leads the charge up the hill toward the Lion’s Seat, and as he does so death whispers that his time is coming, soon enough his time will come. But not today, he has too much he needs to do, far too much. As the gates of the castle of Lannisport are thrown open, Ned’s leg pains and he sees black, and then the girl comes for him.

Chapter Text

2nd Month of 299 A.C. Somewhere in the North

Prince Robb Stark

Moat Cailin was free, the ambush had worked. The cranongmen had done their job to perfection and fooled Victarion Greyjoy into thinking he had won his battle with them. Because of his confidence the fool had not thought to send regular patrols out to ensure his ships were still completely decked and ready, nor had he sent too many patrols northward. That had cost him, his ships were gone and any potential chance of escape he might have had was over by the time the Greatjon and company had attacked from the south. When Robb and his men had arrived from the north, it had been a massacre, Victarion Greyjoy’s head adorned a spike now, and soon enough there would be more Ironborn joining him in death.

There were Ironborn ranging on the western coast, and so Robb had sent men under The Greatjon to deal with Aeron Greyjoy and his meddlesome raiders, and whilst reports continued to come in of Urrigon Greyjoy and his strange disappearing group of raiders, there was not much else Robb could do about that other than hope the man would eventually make a mistake as Theon said he would. From Moat Cailin Robb and the bulk of his men had marched to Winterfell, where they had made sure there was sufficient protection for his siblings and mother, and after ordering Bran to remain in Winterfell no matter what the Reed boy might say, he had decided to march on Deepwood Motte. For as Theon said, Asha Greyjoy would be a trickier opponent to deal with compared to her uncle as she had some ounce of cunning whereas Victarion had none.

As for Theon, well it seemed that his display of bravery had been more than enough to convince some of the men that he was not going to turn cloak on them at the drop of a hat. There were some who still muttered about his presence but overall, it seemed the men were willing to fight alongside him, so long as he remembered who and what he was. And it seemed that his friend had not forgotten that despite the headiness of their victory, he remained grim and solemn rarely talking and very rarely japing about the things he normally would. Robb had tried to get him to speak more, but he would not do so and as such it seemed that he was not going to speak until his family was completely removed from the north. That was something Robb was somewhat relieved about, but also somewhat worried about. He worried Theon was dying from the inside.

Right now though he could not truly afford to worry about his friend, they had marched from Winterfell with some six thousand men, and as such had arrived at the Wolfswood to find men waiting for them. It was clear Asha Greyjoy was not as stupid as her uncle. A fierce battle was currently ensuing, and as such Robb had to keep his focus on the fighting going on in front of him. His sword swung wildly, as he cut down one man after another, after another. The Ironborn were pushing hard, they were not going to lay down and die, and so they gave as good as they go. Robb had to admit he was impressed by them, there was a deep sense of stubbornness within them that was not going to break. And though they were outnumbered they fought with the intensity and strength of twice their number.

He supposed the fact that Theon was fighting by his side, and not theirs, was another reason why the Ironborn fought so hard. To them Theon was a traitor, or a prisoner something of the sort. Still his friend fought fiercely as well, killing those who might well have been his friends back on the Iron Islands. He did not flinch in doing so and Robb admired him for that. He turned his attention back to the throngs of Ironborn streaming into the Wolfswood toward them, and he swung his sword, cleaving his way through the throngs. Determined to end the Ironborn presence and move on toward the seat of House Glover. By his side Greywind growled and snarled, the fighting got fiercer the deeper into the Wolfswood they went. It seemed the Ironborn were on the back foot, but one can never be too sure.

His body ached from the pain of the fighting, but still he pushed on. Swinging, and slashing, roaring commands as his men circled the Ironborn and reduced them to nothingness. They fought all the harder as their numbers grew thinner, still it was not too easy of a fight. Robb took many a cut and bruise on his chest and arms, and he knew he would have some severe wounds once this was all said and done. Beside him Greywind barked and snarled and chewed and killed, and the enemy seemed to be lessening in strength. Their will to hold seemingly vanishing as Robb and his men continued their advance. His sword was covered red with blood, and the stains and the bodies on the ground made him think the Wolfswood would need to be renamed at the end of this.

On they pushed closer and closer to Deepwood Motte, the Ironborn were beginning to break. Their strength was shattering as more and more of their number were killed. It seemed they were merely holding out hope for aid from Deepwood Motte, but none came, and Robb sensing that these Ironborn were growing more and more weak, he roars a command and his men follow. Into the depths of the wood they go and the Ironborn are soon fending off their attacks against the very walls of the Motte.  Needless to say it is a slaughter, the Ironborn stand no chance against their might, and soon enough the bodies are on the ground and the Motte stands before them.

But before they can begin putting into place their plans for getting into the Motte, the southern gate flies open and more Ironborn come streaming out, at the same time that the northern gate does. It seems the Ironborn inside the castle have decided they would rather die fighting than be cooped up inside like scared hens. That is something he can respect, and so he barks a new set of commands and his men follow him screaming and roaring. They meet the Ironborn in a large cascade of activity, swinging their weapons and daring anyone of them to bring them to death. Robb cuts a bloody arc through the squids and feels his blood soar, as he turns his horse and rides back through them, killing and maiming as he goes.

These Ironborn are much more skilled than the Ironborn from before, these are more disciplined, more determined or set in their chaos. They know their way around the wood somewhat, and they use that to their advantage, as well as the fact that Robb and his men are tired. He sees some of his guard go down fighting, and he and Greywind tear through those that do the deed, but he sustains a fair few injuries doing so. It makes no matter though, he is determined that these Ironborn shall be killed, every single last one of them down to the last man. He barks commands, and his men follow, the Ironborn from the southern gate are culled and massacred, and increasingly there are more squids on the floor of the Wolfswood than northmen.

His bones ache, his arms ache, his eyes are sore, but still he continues fighting, he will not give up now, not when they are so close to victory. Robb roars a command and Greywind goes flying through the air bringing down one squid after another before Robb or his men get there. His men cheer at the sight, and even Robb feels somewhat relieved, but still the push continues. The squids are more than determined, and continue their relentless charge. His sword is completely red now, and his armour is covered in blood, dirt and gore, and still the squids keep coming. It is as if there is no end to them.

Through Greywind’s eyes he can see the squids that are too hard for him to get to on horseback. And it is through Greywind that he can tear their limbs off, piece by piece, he relishes in the blood that comes into his mouth then, in the feeling of absolute power that this gives him. It creates something inside him, something that both the beast and the man want, the desire for more. More blood, more fear, and so as he spits out an arm, he howls and the men folk howl with him, and then it is onto the rest of the squids. He tears them down and rips their throats out drinking in their blood, whilst their fellows look on in shock and in horror. The squids try to kill him, but the wolves tear them apart and soon enough there are more of his kinsfolk than there are of the squids.

Robb blinks and sees that the Ironborn that came out of the southern gate are all dead. All completely dead, their bodies lie on the ground unseeingly, their throats torn, arrows piercing their bodies, or swords, or spears. They are dead, and they will never create problems for the north again, but the squid that Robb is looking for is not here. He looks at his friend and Theon says nothing but Robb knows that the girl will be at the north gate. He can hear the fighting still raging on there, and so raising his sword he barks a command though it comes out more like a growl, and leads the charge as he and his men move towards the northern gate.

As they ride toward the northern gate, Robb sees the bodies of squids and northmen scattered around, all looking into the air unseeingly. The sight angers him, and he swears these Ironborn that are left fighting will not see their homes again. They will no, no respite from the northern fury that is about to be unleashed on them. that is a feeling that is strengthened when he sees Galbart Glover, the master of Deepwood Motte lying there, his eyes gone, his face covered in blood, and his body dented and broken. His anger manifests itself through a growl and a raising of his sword, and heedless of whatever plan he might have had beforehand he charges straight into the fray.

These Ironborn are tired and broken, but Robb does not care, he fights and he fights. A red hot rage has overtaken him, these squids shall die, and they shall die a painful death on the field of battle. He swings and kills, his men following his lead, there will be no mercy for these squids. He can taste blood in his mouth from where Greywind has killed squids. Gods this is good, this feels right, oh so right. His arms no longer hurt, the anger has taken that from him, and his anger is fuelling him now making him go on past the point of endurance.

When every squid bar one is dead, Robb calls to a halt, and his men though clearly wanting to continue respect his wishes. There are Ironborn everywhere, their bodies are a stain on the north, and Robb will ensure that they are drowned as they are so fond of doing. He will ensure that they never return to their homes. But that is not the matter now, no the matter is the woman who stands there no weapon in hand, broken and alone. Asha Greyjoy, Robb snarls at her and his men growl. “Theon,” he barks.

His friend rides near him. “Yes Your Grace?”

“Your Grace? Have you lost your balls brother? That is not your king.” The woman replies.

Robb ignores the woman and merely says. “If you are truly my man, you will kill your sister.”

“Your Grace?” his friend asks confused.

Robb turns and looks sharply at his friend. “Kill her now and no one here will ever question your loyalty. Refuse to do so and you die with her.”

There is a long moment’s silence and instead of replying, his friend dismounts and draws a dagger from his belt. His sister is muttering at him now begging him not to do this. Theon ignores her, and Robb watches as the dagger is plunged into Asha Greyjoy. His friend continues stabbing, crying as he does so, but Robb allows him to, satisfied that Theon Greyjoy is dead, this man is now his, for good.

 

Chapter Text

 

2nd Month of 299 A.C. The Water Gardens

Princess Arianne Martell

Almost all her life she had been taught to hate the Baratheons and the Lannisters for what they had done to her aunt Elia and her cousins Aegon and Rhaenys, it was just normal for them to curse the Usurper and his kin. There was nothing odd about making promises to kill them, nearly every Dornishmen and Dornishwoman had done so since news of the sack of King’s Landing had reached Sunspear. Her father and her uncle had done nothing to dissuade this, and so she was very surprised when her uncle-not her father- told her that her youngest brother Trystane was to marry Myrcella Baratheon the usurper’s only daughter. Such news was a shock and a surprise, she thought her father had taken leave of his senses, and then her uncle had told her that the girl would be a hostage for good or for bad, and something inside her had wondered at that.

The girl was sweet alright, she might look like Cersei Lannister in miniature, but she did not have any of her mother’s coldness, according to what her uncle said. And it was clear she adored Trystane. Her youngest brother adored her as well, truth be told Arianne thought that it was quite sweet watching the two of them get along so well. She herself thought the girl was sweet and kind and she genuinely did seem to like it here in Dorne. So that was a point in her favour, another point in her favour was that she was curious about the place that would one day become her home, she wanted to know about the different people and customs of Dorne, and she did not sneer when she learnt something that was perhaps unsavoury. Yes she would make a very fine wife for Trystane.

And yet whilst her brother had his future wife there by his side, she remained single. She was twenty and three now, and had never been betrothed nor had any truly eligible bachelor presented to her. Edmure Tully might once have been her husband but her father had rejected that offer. Instead he had offered her to Lord Eldon Estermont, a man so old he could have been her great, great grandfather, then there was old Lord Wyl, a man so crazy he was convinced there were dragons still flying the skies. And as if to add insult to injury her father had even considered a proposal from Walder Frey. That had stung, she had been so dejected and angry along with her cousin Tyene she had fled towards the Reach and Highgarden where she would marry Willas Tyrell, only for her uncle to come and lead her and Tyene back. Not once did her father explain himself, leaving it to uncle Oberyn to do all the explaining. She despised her father, and she despised her brother Quentyn whom her father clearly favoured to be his heir. Why she could not understand, Quentyn though a boy, was a complete moron.

She wondered if perhaps that was why her father had summoned her to the Water Gardens, to finally tell her to her face that she was not going to be his heir or succeed him as ruler of Dorne once he was dead. That she was finally going to be sold off to some crazy old man who could not fight for her rights, anger filled her as she thought of it. As she looked at her father sat there in his wheel chair, gout making his limbs flare and puffy. Her uncle stood by her father’s side as always, a serious look upon a normally laughing face. Anger made her shake, and she was about to speak when her father sighed and said. “You are angry Arianne. I know you are.”

She snorts. “And what gave that away father?”

“Your whole body is shaking with anger, and you give off the sense of a person deeply in rage. Tell me what has made you so?” her father asks.

The question rankles her. “What makes me angry? Do you truly have the nerve to ask what makes me angry father?”

“I am asking am I not? I would not ask if I knew.” Her father replies calmly.

Her whole body shakes with anger now. “That is nice of you father. That you deny knowing what it is that makes me angry, when you are the very source of it. You and Quentyn.”

“And what have we done that has so angered you Arianne?” her father asks.

Arianne strides forward then and snarls. “You know damned well what you have done. But since you seem so gods damned forgetful as of late father, let me remind you. I saw the letter, the letter you wrote to Quentyn when we were no more than children, telling him that he would one day sit where you sit. You did not even mention me. What have I done that so displeases you apart from be born a girl?” The look that passes between her father and uncle then is one of shock. “Do not try to deny it father. I have the letter with me. You are trying to remove me from the succession, and for no other reason than the fact I was not born with a cock between my legs.” She snarls.

“Arianne….”  Her uncle starts.

“No, don’t you defend him uncle. You were the only one out of the two of you who ever treated me as a person. Not some scrap of meat to be sold off to some man who could be your own grandfather. He was.” Arianne snarls looking at her uncle.

Her uncle looks hurt and then he turns to her father and says. “Tell her Doran.”

“Tell me what?” Arianne asks.

“The time is not right Oberyn. She cannot afford to know now.” Her father responds.

“Tell me what?” Arianne asks louder.

“If you do not tell her, I will. This has gone on long enough Doran. She has suffered long enough.” Uncle Oberyn snaps.

“TELL ME WHAT?” Arianne all but shouts.

Her father sighs then and says. “That letter you saw, was not me disinheriting you Arianne. I could never do that to you, for you are still my little girl. No it was me planning for the future.”

“Future?” Arianne asks confused looking between her father and her uncle. “What do you mean?”

“I never meant to disinherit you Arianne. You are my firstborn, and my only daughter, I could never do that to you. And if you wish to become Princess of Dorne upon my death, which will be sooner than we think, then you are most welcome to it. But I had a grander plan for you.” Her father says.

“Did that plan include offering me off to the oldest men in the seven kingdoms?” Arianne asks scathingly. Her father winces at that and she presses on. “Or refusing a potentially very good match that could have helped us during this war?”

Her father sighs again and says. “I needed to make it look like I was making an effort to see you married. But I needed to make sure you could still be available should the plan come to fruition.”

“What plan father? I do not understand, what plan would require you to make it seem as if you were looking for a marriage for me, when only using the ploy as a screen?” Arianne asks her frustration growing.

“A pact was signed long ago, just after Jon Arryn returned to King’s Landing, with a guarantee for peace from Dorne. We promised not to make war then, but we never said about anything in the future. You were always to be a queen Arianne. Always, nothing else would do for you.” Her father responds.

“A queen? You wanted to make me a queen? But to whom? You did not offer me to Renly Baratheon, or even to Robb Stark when the war broke out.” Arianne says confused.

“Those two are not the true king. You were to be the queen over all of Westeros Arianne. And we would also get revenge for Elia and Rhaenys.” Her father responds.

“You meant to marry me to Viserys Targaryen? A Martell Queen for a Targaryen King? Is that what it was?” she asks something like anticipation filling her now.

“Not Viserys Targaryen no. The boy whilst a prince is nowhere near good enough for you Arianne.” Her father responds.

“But he is the only male Targaryen left alive, unless you wish for me to try and marry the girl.” Arianne japes.

Neither her father nor uncle laugh at that, it is their seriousness that makes worry begin to grow inside her. “There is another male Targaryen alive, who has a far better claim to the Iron Throne. One who is more closely related to us than Viserys Targaryen.” Her father responds.

“Who?” Arianne asks somewhat confused.

“Your aunt’s son Prince Aegon.” Her father responds.

Shock descends upon her then, how could this be possible? Her cousin is dead, dead alongside her aunt and other cousin. “How?” she asks. “He died during the sack of King’s Landing. His body was presented to the usurper.”

“That was not his body that was presented but the body of a baby from Pisswater Bend in King’s Landing. Elia had the good sense to know that something would happen to her son should Robert Baratheon win, and so she sent the eunuch Varys out to find a babe who could take his place. She looked for someone to replace Rhaenys as well, but alas no one could be found in time.” Her father pauses then taking a deep breath. “When the rebels came, the eunuch took Aegon from Elia and gave the babe to one of our own men that was there in the city, they fled by ship to Pentos where the boy has been raised. After the rebellion, a pact was signed between myself and Aegon’s three white swords, that in exchange for our support, Aegon would marry you.”

Arianne feels dazed as she digests the news. All this time……”Why did you not tell me sooner? Why all the secrecy? I would not have told anyone.”

Her father sighs then. “I wanted to tell you, truly I did Arianne. But I could not risk anyone finding out. You were young when the pact was made, and there was always the risk in those days that the usurper and his spies would come to know the truth. But the usurper is dead now and his kingdom is falling to pieces. Aegon shall return soon and we shall have our revenge.”

Arianne looks at her father for a long moment then and asks. “And what of Myrcella. She is a Baratheon, Aegon will want her dead in revenge for his sister’s death will he not. Are you willing to have an innocent little girl die?”

“Myrcella is under my protection, she is betrothed to your brother. She will not die. Your cousin knows this. She will marry your brother as intended. And we shall provide Aegon with the support he needs to take the throne.” Her father responds.

Arianne looks at her father and asks. “But we do not have all the strength necessary for him to win the throne father. You must know that. The Lannisters hold King’s Landing and have the Tyrells backing them how then are we to beat that?”

At this her uncle speaks. “The Tyrells and Lannisters are fighting one another inside King’s Landing and outside they are fighting northmen and rivermen. They will not have the strength to fight on a third front. We shall aid Aegon with our might, alongside the loyal lords of the Stormlands and the crownlands, and the Reach as well. This will not be an easy fight but it will be a victorious one.”

“You are certain?” she asks.

“Most definitely.” Her uncle responds smiling slyly.

 

Chapter Text

2nd Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Ser Kevan Lannister

Mace Tyrell had gotten what he wanted. His daughter was now Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Her marriage to King Tommen had occurred some three days ago, and though the queen and the king had not shared a bed, they had been spending a fair bit of time together. In a sense Kevan was happy with that, it would do Tommen good to know a woman other than his mother as king, but at the same time he was somewhat nervous. There was something about Margaery Tyrell that made him sweat, something predatory about her, something in the way her eyes moved and the way her smile never truly reached her eyes. Yes it was a big concern for him, and yet they needed the Tyrells, and they needed the Tyrells happy, and so Kevan kept his mouth shut, though his niece did not and almost every day was a constant struggle to keep the small council and the court working.

As for the family, well that was another headache that he had to consider. Cersei was growing more and more erratic, whispering and muttering about shadows on the walls and hired knives and all kinds of nonsense. The thing was, Kevan was not entirely sure she was making these things up. He would not put it past Mace Tyrell to try something like that, to take more control of the small council and the court. And yet, whilst he kept his fears to himself, Cersei talked about them out loud and in places where Mace Tyrell and his family could clearly hear her. There had been more than one incident where Kevan had had to use all the good intentions he could muster to stop something from getting out of hand. The king was a sweet lad, but he would need to learn to toughen up otherwise he would be eaten alive, and yet he was but a boy and Kevan was hesitant to do more to toughen him so. Tyrion was ailing, his nephew, the one who had kept King’s Landing together before the Blackwater was dying that much Kevan knew, and he despaired over it. Without Tyrion there, they would be lost, just as they were without Tywin. As for his own son, Lancel was an idiot, someone who had decided he would turn to piety instead of fighting for his family.

His mind was clogged with so many worries that today’s council meeting was just another burden that he had to attend. The other members of the council all looked tired and haggard as well. His niece attending as regent seemed worn out, Pycelle looked as if he might well die there and then, Varys seemed exhausted, and Baelish, Baelish looked scared, as he should do. And then there was Tyrell and his men, they seemed the more jubilant, confident that Tarly could achieve what Tywin could not. He took a deep breath and then spoke. “My lords, we are at an interesting point in this war. The riverlands are once again vulnerable and with Lord Tarly riding out in considerable force they should be put under significant pressure once more. And news has come from the Westerlands, that Eddard Stark is nearing death’s door. It seems the taking of Lannisport grievously affected him and his men.”

There was a lot of murmuring then and his niece asked. “What happen to Ser Daven? I had thought he was raising men to deal with Stark and the men he had with him?”

“Ser Daven did Your Grace. But what he did not expect was to be faced with an army of combined northmen and rivermen. Lannisport fell well enough and his army was routed and slaughtered. Ser Daven himself was killed but not before he severely wounded Stark.” Kevan responds.

“Do we have any more men that could start an offensive on the northmen?” his niece asks.

Kevan considers this a moment and then shakes his head. “Unfortunately not. Most of our forces were engaged in the fighting either in the riverlands, or during Stark’s raiding of the west. What little men we have left is not enough to mount a significant challenge. Unless we wish to leave ourselves completely vulnerable.”

His niece’s shoulders sag in disappointment. But Tyrell’s booming voice rings out then. “Surely when Tully learns that his home is under attack once more, he shall have to retreat back like a dog with its tail between its legs. That will leave Stark with what some two thousand northmen? Surely there is enough men in the West to deal with two thousand savages.”

Kevan looks at the Lord of Highgarden and considers what he has said for a long time. There should be enough men within the foothills of the mountains of the West that could be rallied. But the question is whom would rally them. All the possible Lannisters are either dead or captured. It is then that an idea strikes him. “Lord Tyrell how many men do you have left in the Reach that could be called upon quickly?”

Tyrell looks somewhat surprised by the request but after a moment of thinking responds. “Around three thousand. Why Ser, what do you have in mind?”

All eyes are upon him now, and he takes a moment to get the idea sorted in his mind he then looks at Tyrell and says. “A march up from the Ocean road would take your reachmen straight to Lannisport. Stark and his men would not be expecting that. It is possible that a surprise attack could be sent their way. But there is too much risk there. Varys where did you say that Stark had kept Tywin?”

The eunuch moves as if jostled from sleep. His voice suggests as much. “They kept him in the Lion’s Prison my lord. Heavily guarded with rotating shifts of men guarding him. They do also move him from time to time my lord.”

Kevan nods, a smart move by Stark, keeping a prisoner on the move unsure where they were directly, but keeping him at the Lion’s Prison, that would be costly for Stark he would make sure of that. He looks at Mace then and says. “Send word to your son at Highgarden my lord, tell him to raise men as many as he can, and to send them toward the Lion’s Prison. We will get our commander back.”

There is a moment’s silence then as they all process what he has said and then Tyrell asks. “Do you think it is possible to do so? We all know what the Lion’s Prison is like, it is a damn sight near impenetrable, unless you have people there to show you how to enter and leave. Where would such people come from Ser?”

Kevan looks at the Lord of Highgarden for a moment and then says. “My son Lancel is one person who knows the land as well as anyone near the prison. I took him there to visit once or twice. Or failing that, there is Ser Lann Hill, the bastard of the Hills, who could very well show you. He has a collection of clans under his command that would be very useful towards breaking in and out of the prison.”

Kevan can see his niece smiling, and he knows why. Lann will help Tyrell get Tywin out of the prison and then proceed to butcher Tyrell’s men. A very useful way to weaken Tyrell’s strength and possible hold over them. Tyrell himself however, does not consider this, how could he when he does not know Lann’s reputation. “Very well then. How will you get in contact with this Lann fellow?”

“There is no need to get into contact with him my lord. You need merely march up the ocean road and he will be there waiting for you. He knows that we are allies and so he will aid you as best he can.” Kevan responds.

The Lord of Highgarden nods and then turns the attention of the small council to the Vale. “That is all well and good, but with the Vale being independent now, what is there to say that they will not come down south to stop Randyll from causing damage in the Riverlands?”

There is a moment’s silence and then his niece speaks. “The Lords of the Stormlands swore fealty to King Tommen after the blackwater. It is time we tested just how loyal they are to their king and their liege lord. Let us send them into the field and see how well they fare.”

“A good suggestion Your Grace,” Kevan says. “But as King Tommen is Lord of Storm’s End and thus Lord Paramount of the Stormlands, custom would dictate that he come into battle with his lords. However, as he is but a child, that does negate that. This does therefore leave us with a slight problem as to whom to name commander of the Stormlands force.”

His niece is silent a moment and then says. “Ser Balon is from the Stormlands, he should be given command of their forces. Not only that but he is a knight of the Kingsguard, and therefore may speak with the king’s voice.”

There are murmurs of agreement at this and Kevan says. “A good choice Your Grace. If Lord Tyrell has no qualms with this, then the Stormlords will be led by Ser Balon.”

Lord Tyrell nods and the others of the small council voice their agreement as well. Kevan happy with this turns to Varys and asks. “Tell my Lord Varys, what news is there from the north?”

The eunuch is silent a moment and then responds. “Word has come from my sources amongst the northern army that Robb Stark has managed to take Deepwood Motte back. A slaughter, the Ironborn that were there with Asha Greyjoy were all killed including Greyjoy herself. It seems that Stark has become somewhat like his ancestors of old, and demanded that Theon Greyjoy kill his own sister.”

A ripple of shocked whispering follows this pronouncement, and Kevan feels sick to his stomach. “He….he truly demanded that?”

“Yes Ser he did. It seems Robb Stark wanted visible proof that Theon Greyjoy was no longer an Ironborn and was indeed his man. And it seems Greyjoy did the deed, rather willingly. Though according to my sources, this has caused some tension between the two. And even some muttering amongst the northmen.” Varys responds.

At this Cersei speaks. “What sort of muttering? I thought the savages would approve of something such as this?”

Kevan does not like the way his niece’s eyes are wide when she speaks. But he pushes his fears down to listen to what the eunuch has to say. “It seems that some approved of the action. Whilst others believe Robb Stark went too far in demanding that Greyjoy do the deed. They believe he should have done it himself. No one is as accursed as the kinslayer, but the man who makes one a kinslayer, well he, he is someone who doubt is cast over. That is what my sources are saying.”

Kevan leans forward then and asks. “Is this something that could be used against Stark?”

The eunuch sighs then and says. “I do not know my lord. The northmen are fiercely loyal to the Starks, but even they must have limits. I shall see what my sources say and state what my findings bring. If there is a chance that it could be used I will say so.”

Kevan nods and then turns to Pycelle and says. “Maester you said you had some interesting news from Oldtown.”

The Grand Maester looks as though he is about to fall asleep but he snaps awake at the mention of Oldtown. Mumbling something or the other to himself he clears his throat and says. “Yes….Yes news from Oldtown. My old friends there have been writing to me speaking of strange occurrences that have been happening in the city as of late. It appears as if the Hightowers are preparing for something or the other. Though they did not bring much might to the capital, they are arming their people and their ships are getting armed. Furthermore Lord Leyton continues to delve deep into the archives of the citadel looking for some book or the other. Why he does not say, but it is clear he desperately wants the book.”

Kevan looks sharply at the maester and then looks at Lord Tyrell. “Do you know what could have caused this?”

The Lord of Highgarden looks flustered as he replies. “I…I do not. My goodfather is an eccentric man Ser. I shall send a raven and ask what he is doing.”

Kevan nods. “See that you do my lord. We do not want anything strange occurring in our own lands now.”

Chapter Text

3rd Month of 299 A.C. Riverlands

King Elbert I Arryn

Finally after years of waiting and preparing, he was king. He wore the crown that should always have been his. The whore and her bastard were locked in the sky cells for now, they would be taken to Riverrun once this war was over. The whore had cursed and screamed at him and admitted her guilt many times over, and then she had threatened him, pleaded with him, and he had remained unmoved. She had brought this on herself as far as he was concerned. Had she tried to have a child with his uncle then they would not be in this mess, and yet she had not. The boy, Baelish had encouraged her on her path to evil, and now she would pay, as would her bastard. Elbert wanted that bastard gone as soon as possible, but of course the war needed to take first priority.

And though his heir Ronnel did not seem so completely keen on what they had done, he was showing his keen mind and was helping plan the war effort. As far as they were aware, or had been at the time, twenty thousand men had set off from King’s Landing under the command of Randyll Tarly. Their goal was to take Maidenpool a valuable asset as it were in the war in the Riverlands. Elbert’s aim was to prevent the takeover of Maidenpool and ensure the Lannisters and the Tyrells lost one of their finest commanders. If Tarly were to be killed, then that would mean that one of the best commanders in Westeros was gone, dead and buried. The Lannister cause would sink faster than a ship sailing near the fingers. It brought him unnameable joy to think about killing Tarly, the man was a cunt.

The plans had been made and thirty thousand men had answered his call to arms. Lords Royce, Belmore, Hunter, Templeton, Melcolm, Waynwood and many others had answered his call to arms and had made the journey to the Gates of the Moon. More plans were made, targets were set, and some men were left to defend the Vale from attack, particularly in Gulltown where the Lannisters might think to send the royal fleet. Once these plans were made, there was no more conversation to be had and so they marched off. Elbert had the feeling that this was going to be a very good campaign. A chance to finally earn the glory that had been denied to him in the rebellion. He would show himself the true successor to the kings of the Vale.

As they had marched they had learnt of the fall of Lannisport, and the injuries that Ned had suffered. Elbert had worried slightly for his old friend, worried that he would die before he could meet him again. But he also worried at what the man would say of what he had done to the whore and her bastard, after all they were still kin to Ned and his wife. And Ned did love his wife fiercely. That was the one thing that had Elbert apprehensive about meeting Ned and his goodbrother Axel, they would more than likely not react well to the news. But it had to be done, Axel would accept that, would understand why Elbert had done what he had done. There was no place for traitors not now.

These concerns had been pushed back and some frustration had crept in when he had learnt of just how easily and quickly the craven Lord Willam Mooton had surrendered his city and his daughter to Randyll Tarly. The men of Maidenpool were now belonging to the crown which would make Elbert’s plans all the harder. A siege would take too long and would give the Lannisters a chance to send some more reinforcements, and so after much discussion it was decided that they would draw Tarly out slowly. The man sent scouts at regularly from what Elbert’s own scouts commanded by Ser Andar Royce reported. They brought tidings to the man, and told him position of some of the Riverlords, who are trying to amass some sort of defence against further invasion attempts.

Using this information, Elbert had sent his scouts out to intercept and kill Tarly’s scouts. This had worked just as he thought it would, men from Maidenpool proper had been sent out to find out more of Tarly’s disappearing men, and they too Elbert had ordered killed. But not before they had spoken and told him all he needed to know. Morale was low in Maidenpool, the people of the city were not happy with Tarly or his men, there was a chance of revolt, if the soldiers in the city were outside of it, Tarly would lose the place for sure.

And yet no matter how many times Elbert sent bait Tarly’s way he did not bite, he remained inside the city whilst his scouts disappeared and the soldiers of Maidenpool lessened. A smart move from the cold man, a man whom no one would follow were it not for the fear he could inspire. A fear that made his soldiers resent him somewhat. Would make them turn traitor. When a new set of scouts had emerged from Maidenpool Elbert had slaughtered all but one, and ordered that one man to tell Tarly that he wished to speak with him. To talk terms, man to man, commander to commander. That little trick seemed to have worked. For if there was one thing Elbert was sure of, it was that a man like Tarly would have a big enough ego, that even if he were lacking in other areas his ego would more than make up for it. And as he sat on his horse on Florian’s hill waiting for the man to come with his army Elbert could not help but smile. Soon enough this would be over. Tarly would be dead and Maidenpool would be secure, and Stark and Tully would not be able to completely harangue him over the whore.

The men down below were nothing but specs from this high up, though he could see their obnoxious banners from here. The lion and stag of Lannister, the huntsman of Tarly and the golden rose of Tyrell all flapped proudly and vainly in the air as the men, the army had come. Tarly was not taking any chances, he was going to bring his army to this negotiation just as Elbert had brought his. He waited until the men were close enough to shout at before he barked. “Lord Tarly it is good to see you once more. Would that it were in more pleasant circumstances.”

Elbert’s sons Ronnel and Artys were by his side as he spoke. Tarly himself shouted back confidently. “Come down from there Lord Elbert and we might speak. Peacefully there is no need for us or our men to fight or die.”

Elbert snorts. “And are these your words my lord? Or the words of the oath breakers that you fight for?”

“They are my own my lord. You do not need to fight me. We can talk about this like men. There is no need for others to die. Come down from your hill, talk to me face to face and we can discuss terms.” Tarly says.

Elbert laughs. “Terms? And what terms would those be?”

“Bend the knee, and acknowledge King Tommen as the true king of Westeros. Bend the knee and beg for forgiveness and King Tommen will give it to you. He will also ensure that Lysa Tully and her bastard are dealt with appropriately. You will be named Lord of the Eyrie and Warden of the East.” Tarly responds.

Silence and then Elbert speaks. “Those are nice terms. Would that I could believe you Tarly. You work for liars and oath breakers. Tommen Baratheon is no king, he is not the son of Robert Baratheon. That much all know. He has no hold over me and mine. The Vale is free and independent of Lannisters and Tyrells. Why should we come back to you? When you would more than likely kill us.”

“You would chose death over the chance to live Arryn?” Tarly asks him.

Elbert looks down at the man and snarls. “I would chose freedom over being forced to bend the knee to a boy who knows nothing of winter, or my people. Who knows not what it is to freeze, or to fight. The boy you enslave yourself to gives you nothing Tarly. You will die today, and you will die broken and far from home.”

Tarly says nothing for a moment before responding. “If I die, then you will die as well Arryn.”

With that they both pull down their visors, the talking stops. Elbert nods and the archers come forward, commanded by Lord Dennis Melcolm one of the best archers in the Vale. A moment’s silence and then Elbert barks a command the arrows fly. He watches as they fly down, and take out the first line of defence, and then another. The Reachmen are beginning to charge now, the archers are taking them out though one by one they are falling like flies. Elbert laughs but he knows this will not be how the battle ends, Tarly is too clever to have fallen for this. And so barking commands the vanguard follows him as he turns his horse toward the left of the hill and then down the slope.

As the arrows continue to rain down on the advancing Tyrell host, he wonders where Tarly and his men have gone. The man was there last Elbert saw of him, he could not have disappeared too quickly. He waits for a moment and when the archers pause in their firing he nods to Albar Royce who sounds his horn and then the march has begun. They smash into the Tyrell host and it is chaos, Elbert swings his sword from side to side, taking men down as he goes, the frenzy of battle is upon him now. The feeling he has waited sixteen years for, and it feels good, so very good. He swings his sword and cuts again and again, more men fall to the ground or disappear from him.

The battle ebbs and flows through the haze of his lust he knows that. He takes a fair few blows himself. The reachmen are fighting with a strength and surety he did not expect. They are weakening him and his men, taking them down by the sides and working their way in. Elbert swings his sword and finds that where before he hit and struck true, now he is missing and is being hit in retaliation. His body takes a hammering, his armour is dented, and he is bleeding. There are wounds and his body aches, but somehow he continues fighting.

He is unsteady on his horse and he knows that if someone bigger than him comes along he will fall. Luckily it seems the reachmen do not have Gregor Clegane in their midst and so he stays ahorse. Swinging his sword and bringing men down low. The push of battle continues and they switch places with the Tyrell host they are now on the offensive, pushing the Tyrells back toward the city, where Elbert hopes there will be men from Maidenpool waiting to take them in the rear. He continues the push and roars commands as more and more of his men and the Tyrell men now begin to engage in the fighting.

His wounds are beginning to make him feel uneasy on his horse. He sways and as he sways he takes more hits to his body. He knows he is close to having to leave the battle but he cannot leave yet. Not now, not when it seems as if victory is within reach. Ronnel and Artys fight by his side, fighting with bravery and skill beyond their years. Pride fills him then, pride for his boys, they will make good kings when their time comes. He brings down another rose, but he knows that he will not see through this battle. A horn sounds somewhere in the distance, and Elbert wonders whether or not his wife will want his body brought back or whether she will ask his boys to come home. He does not know the answer he wished he did. His wife Ryella, her eyes burning into him asking him not to die, not to leave. But he is so tired, he wants to sleep, he has waited so long for this and now he has gotten his dream. Elbert sways and a blow from a mace wielding monster knocks him off his horse and onto the ground. Blood and mud and gore fills his vision before another man comes and this time he sees nothing but his wife calling out to him.

Chapter Text

3rd Month of 299 A.C. Lannisport

King Eddard I Stark

The girl haunted his dreams, she haunted his waking hours. Always the same, her hand outstretched as if asking him to come with her. Where she wanted to take him he did not know, but he did not think he would like it if he went with her. There was a fear inside of him of the unknown just as there always had been, he was not a brave man, and he was a man who did what was expected of him and nothing more. And yet this girl kept returning to him, her hand outstretched her auburn hair loose around her, asking him to come with her to somewhere he did not want to go. Her words were sweet, always sweet and never angry, she reminded him of Sansa, and that scared him, was this girl what his daughter would have been had she remained in King’s Landing? A vapour, a shadow someone to taunt him and others like him? Gods he felt horrible just thinking about it, what he had subjected her and Arya to, it was his fault, all his fault and the guilt was crushing.

The guilt felt all consuming sometimes when he lied awake at night unable to sleep for fear of seeing the girl once more. He would think of all the wrong he had done during his life. From the time as a child he would wish he could be heir to Winterfell, not Brandon, and the guilt of learning of Brandon and father’s deaths. To meeting Catelyn and feeling as if she was far more beautiful than Ashara, and then learning of their daughter’s death. And then Lya, sweet Lya, who had caused so much trouble and war and death. The white sword of morning who stood guard as Eddard spoke with his sister in her final moments. The lies they concocted to protect Lya and the child, the child who would come back one day to cause them all so much pain. The white swords across the sea who were in hiding. So many lies, so much guilt and pain and the truth, he swore to himself that he would tell his family the whole truth when this was all over. They deserved it.  All of them especially Catelyn, she knew some of the truth but not all. It was time for him to stop lying to them all.

For now though, the guilt would have to continue to gnaw away at him, for he had other things that needed to be attended to. A war council had been called in the solar of the Lord of Lannisport’s castle. They had been here for nearly a month, a month to long in Ned’s opinion and yet the taking of the city and the injuries they had suffered had necessitated they remain here for as long as they had. Still he knew that his men were growing restless for he too was. He looked around the room and once everyone was seated he spoke. “My lords, King Axel, thank you for your patience. It has been a long time since we actively engaged in the war. Lannisport and the west are ours, and yet Casterly Rock remains defiant. It would be foolhardy to try and take the castle now, not with our limited numbers and with so many other problems afoot. Therefore there is another way we could take the castle. Tywin Lannister.”

There is some murmuring at this and then Lord Rickard Karstark asks. “Are you suggesting we use Tywin Lannister as a tool to get the Lannisters in the Rock to surrender?”

Ned nods. “We cannot keep the man alive for he is far too dangerous alive. Nor can we keep him as a prisoner here forever, otherwise someone will try to free him. No we use him as a tool, threaten to kill him unless they open their gates. If the Lannisters truly value their liege lord, they will open the gates without a fight.”

“And if they do not? What will you do then?” Lord Bolton asks in that soft voice of his.

Ned is silent a moment as he considers this and then he responds. “Then Tywin Lannister will die and his body will be sent in pieces to the Rock and King’s Landing. The man is far too dangerous to keep alive indefinitely, there will be attempts to free him. We must dispose of him before he becomes too much of a threat.”

There is a chorus of approval at this and then King Axel speaks. “And how many men do you have to be able to ensure these lions take your threat seriously my king?”

Ned looks at his son and Jon responds. “We have somewhere in the region of ten thousand men my King. More than enough to show the Lannisters that we are certain with what we want to do.”

King Axel nods and says. “That is good very good. We ourselves have some six thousand men left. It would be good to combine the two and perhaps try for an assault on the Rock. There are tunnels that would lead to the main entrance, if what the prisoners have been saying is true. All we need is to find these tunnels and ensure that we keep the main force in the castle occupied.”

There is some more murmuring then and then Ned asks. “That is all well and good. But to find these tunnels we must have people who are willing to talk. And so far none of the prisoners have said much beyond the fact that there are tunnels there according to what you have told me. How then, do we get this information?”

There is a moment’s silence as they all consider this and Ned is not surprised when Jon speaks. “We could get the information from Tywin Lannister. We still hold the Kingslayer prisoner in Riverrun. If we make it clear that his life is in danger what is there preventing Lannister from talking?”

There are more murmurs of approval and Ned’s goodbrother says. “The lad has a point. Lannister clearly values his son’s life more than most other things. If we make clear that that is in danger, he will talk I am sure of it.”

Ned considers this and then says. “Very well, we shall see what comes of that at a later date. But now, what more news is there?” he winces slightly as he moves in his chair.

Willam speaks then. “Well Your Grace, the Lords of the Westerlands, or rather does that are left have all retired to their keeps and their lands in preparation for winter. They have agreed to not take up arms against us again unless given valid cause to. And Lord Joffrey Lannister of Lannisport has begun making the negotiations to bring the reparations into place for the Riverlands.”

Ned looks at his goodbrother who continues. “Lannister has brought about a reasonable some of around two hundred thousand gold dragons plus other supplies such as food for my people during the winter that is to come. He is also willing to provide men to aid in the taking in of crops during the harvest.”

“A good deal. Something that is completely different compared to how the Lannisters would normally act is it not?” Ned says.

“Aye that it most definitely is. But this Lannister is someone who knows the value of keeping an enemy satisfied, particularly one that has borders with him. Joffrey Lannister is no fool, he will continue to do as he says he will otherwise he will die.” Axel responds.

“Does such a man have authority though? He might be a Lannister but he is a Lannister of Lannisport. Not a Lannister of Casterly Rock. Will the lords do as he asks of them?” Lord Blackwood asks.

There is silence there and then Lord Vance speaks. “From what I have observed, it would seem that the lords are more than willing to do what is asked of them, so long as it stops their lands and their people from getting hurt further. Winter is coming and as such they want to be prepared for it.”

“And yet if the Lannisters of the Rock push them to, they will resist and we shall have more fighting. It is not beyond the realms of possibility.” Lord Blackwood responds.

“What makes you think the Lannisters of the Rock will push forward with such a plan? They are out of men willing to fight for them here in the West.” Ned responds.

“Ah that is true, and yet word has come from Riverrun that the Tyrells have sent men into the Riverlands to try and plunder and pillage some more. Randyll Tarly took Maidenpool from that coward Mooton.” Axel says.

Ned looks at his goodbrother and asks. “And has Edmure done anything to try and combat this?”

Axel laughs. “Edmure has been too busy trying to keep himself alive to do anything else. No I will need to return to the Riverlands with my men, unless I want roses swarming over it. There is also the issue of Elbert Arryn.”

Ned snaps to attention then at the name of his old friend. “Elbert? What has Elbert got to do with anything?”

His goodbrother snorts and Ned senses the atmosphere in the room grow tenser. “He has imprisoned my sister and her son, declaring my sister a cuckhold and a traitor and her son a bastard. He has also declared himself King of the Mountain and the Vale.”

Ned feels something akin to shock run through him, he knew Elbert had been bitter about Lysa and Jon’s marriage but this… “What proof does he offer?”

His goodbrother takes a letter from his squire and hands it over. Ned reads it with increasing worry, some of the accusations his friend makes seem too good to be true, others, seem too true to be false. And then there is Baelish, and the confession the bastard had made to him before he had betrayed him in King’s Landing. He puts down the letter and looks at Axel. “What do you make of this my king?”

His goodbrother looks at the letter and then at Ned, and Ned knows his goodbrother is angry, and yet his voice is calm when he responds. “There are several things in that letter that he states, which are very true. My sister was always too close to Petyr Baelish for her own good. That relationship cost her a good marriage once, and a child before. I was always certain Baelish had been manipulating her. And yet to imprison her? I do not know. I shall have to see for myself.”

“Elbert states in his letter that he will be coming into the Riverlands to deal with the Tyrells. Will you meet him then?” Ned asks.

“Aye I will. And we shall discuss these claims he has made and what true evidence he has. We cannot afford to alienate the Vale, not with the Reach and the Stormlands backing Tommen Waters.” His goodbrother responds.

Ned nods and the council meeting comes to an end, and though the other lords have left, Jon, and Ned’s goodbrother Axel and nephew Edmyn remain in the room. “Is there something more?” Ned asks, wincing slightly at the pain in his chest.

It is Jon who speaks. “There has been word from the north father. Moat Cailin and Deepwood Motte have been retaken, Victarion and Asha Greyjoy are dead.”

Ned nods. “That is good news indeed.”

“There is more though. Aeron Greyjoy managed to escape the Greatjon and Urrigon Greyjoy continues to run amok in the heartland of the north. Furthermore, it seems Balon Greyjoy has set sail from the Iron Islands with a host of men intent on complete domination.”

Ned nods. “The man is mad, he cannot hope to hold the north even with whatever pitiful strength he has with him.”

His son nods and then his goodbrother says. “There is one more thing though.” He pauses and Ned looks at him enquiringly. “Euron Greyjoy and his fleet have set sail.”

Ned feels something akin to worry stir inside of him. “Do we know where they are going?”

“Some say the Reach, other sources report the north as well.” His goodbrother responds and Ned feels dread begin to grow inside of him.

Chapter Text

3rd Month of 299 A.C.

King Axel I Tully

The war was progressing nicely, the Westerlands were a smoking ruin as far as Axel was concerned. They would not trouble him or his people again for a good few years now, and with winter about any attempt by Casterly Rock to do some sort of retribution would be met with fierce resistance by their bannermen, and possibly a revolt. The thought of the lions toppling to the ground was enough to make Axel smile. Truly it was. It was almost enough to make him forget that there were roses in his kingdom, Maidenpool had fallen and Axel knew, he just knew that more of those god damned roses would be coming into his kingdom to try and cause trouble. The fact that the Vale was now entering the war was somewhat good, but that relief was somewhat tempered by the fact that his sister and her son were in cells in the Eyrie. And whilst Axel knew that the accusations that Elbert Arryn was levelling against Lysa were undoubtedly true, there was a part of him that could not help feeling angry, his sister no matter what she was or might be, was still his sister. And as her older brother it was his duty to do something about it. Especially as their father was to pass from this world at any time.

Returning home from the Westerlands had been a relief, there was something about that place that just did not sit well with Axel. Something about being in a place where wealth was so obviously displayed and flaunted did not sit well with a man who had grown up appreciating the sparse resources that the humble life of a squire could afford. His brother Edmure had held the riverlands together reasonably well preventing any fights from breaking out amongst their bannermen and also ensuring that non enemy force had come too close toward striking at their heart. Of course his brother had taken away his nervousness by bedding half the noble women in Riverrun at this point of which there were a fair few, and according to Vyman some of them were with child. That would be an issue for his brother to deal with, not him. Their father was getting worse, stuck in a constant state of delirium he did not know who or what he was or anyone else was most of the time. It pained Axel thinking about it, his father once so strong and practical was now a quivering mess. His time would come and Axel needed to make sure he was ready for it.

Axel’s own family provided a respite from the constant grind of being king. His wife, his lovely, smart wife Jeyne was his rock, he leaned upon her and she provided him with comfort and advice when he needed it. What he would do without her he did not know. Somehow his wife had managed to curtail the furiousness of his brother and his lustfulness and ensure that the lords whose daughters had been intimate with Edmure were either not too insulted or demanding. She had ensured that her own brother had not gone off and done something stupid either. She truly was something special, and he thanked the gods and his father for making it so that he was married to her. Their son Edmyn had shown his strength and courage during the fighting, bold and brave, he had the makings of a fine heir, and Axel was proud of him truly proud of him. Their daughters were growing into fine young maidens, and soon enough Axel knew he would have to find good husbands for them both. The thought pained him somewhat.

Of course all of that would have to wait for the war to end. To that end, Axel had convened a meeting with his uncle Ser Brynden and  his brother Edmure to discuss the state of affairs and what would happen next. Edmure spoke first. “There has been word from the Saltpans, it seems Elbert Arryn is dead. Slain during the fighting for Maidenpool. The lords of the Vale led by Ronnel and Artys Arryn, Elbert’s sons retreated back to some hill or the other. Emissaries were sent out to Saltpans to get men.”

A blow that, a deep blow. “Elbert was a good man and a fine warrior. His death is a blow and means that the lords of the Vale are now under the command of a boy no older than Edmyn. That will be difficult for us to navigate. It also means the Lannisters and the Tyrells have some advantage.”

“That is very true. But it does also mean that perhaps we can get Lysa and her son put back where they belong.” Uncle Brynden says.

Axel sighs, and Edmure speaks then. “Surely you do not believe the ramblings of this Elbert Arryn brother? The man was clearly bitter about being passed over. You, yourself said as much as time progressed he became worse. What is this other than an attempt to usurp Lysa and Robert?”

Axel sighs once more. “The accusations are not baseless Edmure. Lysa has always been too close to Petyr Baelish than was good for her. The man was sent away from Riverrun when you were a boy because he slept with her.”

“When did this happen?” Edmure asks surprised.

Axel looks at their uncle and sighs once more. “After that duel with Brandon Stark. Baelish was injured and wounded or some such and was resting in bed, and I believe Lysa snuck into his room thinking to comfort him the way a woman can with her body. Father found out and dismissed Baelish quietly and then made Lysa drink moon tea to kill whatever might have been growing inside of her.”

“I….I… never knew.” Edmure says.

“You were never meant to know. No one was, though of course father had to tell Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark when the rebellion happened so that they understood what Jon was getting. But Lysa, Lysa never forgave father or Jon Arryn for it I think. And as such she continued to write to Petyr as well as to pester Jon Arryn to give the boy now a man a place of high rank. I believe they continued their affair when Baelish came to King’s Landing.” Axel says.

Both his uncle and brother are looking at him then somewhat surprised. “How do you know this?” his uncle asks.

Axel takes a sip of wine and says. “Because I have my sources in King’s Landing uncle. They reported to me about this event and I warned Lysa, I warned her what this could mean for her and for her son. But she did not listen, she claimed that no one would ever know. And now they have.”

“Does, or rather did your father know of this?” uncle Brynden asks sharply.

Axel shakes his head. “No. He felt guilty over what he made Lysa do and as such was not willing to think wrong of her. For so long he wanted her forgiveness but did not know how to ask. Knowing this would only have crushed him. I could not have done that to him.”

His uncle nods and says. “Very well then. Of course telling him now is pointless. He would not know what we were talking about, and I do not think he would want to know. Lysa, Lysa was always wilful but she has done something here that I do not think we can help her out of. We can only try and convince Ronnel Arryn that she and her son be allowed to come back to Riverrun.”

“We are not going to try and put her and her son back into the Eyrie?” Edmure asks surprised.

“No.” Axel says. “There is no chance of that working. According to the letter Elbert sent, she confessed in front of a full hall in the Eyrie that she and Baelish had had an affair for years and that Robert was their son. No one will want her in the Vale. The only way to avoid her dying, is to ask that she be returned here.”

Axel looks at his brother and sees something of a protest forming on his lips before he merely sighs and says. “I suppose that is the best we can hope for.”

Axel nods and then asks. “What of the Twins last I had heard there had been some commotion following Robb Stark’s passage north.”

At this Edmure brightens up and laughingly responds. “Well the shock of it all killed old Walder Frey. The weasel is lying in some ditch somewhere now rotting. His heirs are fighting over the matter of succession now and have been for some time. Walder Rivers has continued to show himself valuable to Cat’s boy in the north and seems to get on well with the northmen from what Cat wrote in her letter. As for the others well if they are not dead by this point then I do not know when they will be.”

Axel nods and then asks. “Has there been any actual fighting in the twins?”

His brother shakes his head. “Nothing that could be considered a true threat to stability no. Just minor squabbles and some bickering is all. But with the number of Freys that there are is that truly a surprise?”

Axel nods and then responds. “That is all well and good but it is time this issue was resolved. I will speak to Vyman and have him draw up a decree of legitimisation for Walder Rivers. The man is the only one worthy enough to sit that damned seat in the Twins and not screw up.”

“The bastard? Is that a wise move?” Uncle Brynden asks.

“I believe so. After all, Walder is a proven warrior and knows his family better than most. Being a bastard means he has insight that others would not have, and it also means he will be loyal to me. He owes me a lot now. He will do as I ask.” Axel responds.

His uncle nods and then asks. “And what of the Roses at Maidenpool? What is your plan for them Your Grace?”

Axel looks at the map in front of them and says. “They are currently at Maidenpool, the death of Elbert Arryn would have given them a boost of confidence. They will be waiting for us to make a mistake now and perhaps try and attack the city. Something which would be impractical and waste numbers. And yet, if I know Randyll Tarly he will begin sending out scouts once more to forage the land, we must remove these scouts and leave him blind. We must draw him out and make him wonder what is going on. If he asks for aid then so be it.”

“There are also Stormlords coming from King’s Landing brother. Led by Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard.” Edmure contributes.

Axel considers this. “It is likely that this man will either lead his men to Maidenpool, or if he is acting under orders of the Queen Regent then it is possible he might try a more daring raid.”

Uncle Brynden nods. “That is true. Considering the Stormlords are now directly sworn to Tommen Waters, they are more than likely to follow instructions from the boy and his mother than the Tyrells. It is likely that the woman will send them directly into the heart of our kingdom.”

Axel nods and then looking at his uncle says. “I want you and Lord Raymun leading a force of some three thousand men toward the Stoney Sept. spread out from there and await the Stormlords, hit their trains and run. Do as much damage as you can as quickly as you can. They will come chasing after you and when they do we shall be waiting for them.”

“You intend to wait for them then?” his uncle asks. Axel nods and then his uncle asks. “Where?

“Hollow Hill. It is time the Stormlords remembered what happened there.” Axel responds.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

3rd Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Ser Kevan Lannister

There were times at night where he would wake up shaking and sweating, unsure of where he was or how he got there. Nights where the visions of his past would come back to haunt him, dreams of seeing his grandfather killed, of seeing the horrors that had been captured in the Rains of Castamere, his consciousness was rebelling against him, and everything he thought he had pushed down into the abyss was coming crawling back. It was a nightmare, a nightmare that he relived every night on and off for a few hours. A few times he could have sworn there was something at the end of his bed, waiting, and standing its hand outstretched. Something that terrified him and fascinated him in equal measure. It was the shadow of death he was sure of it, the Stranger waiting for him to fall to his death, inviting him to.

There were times when Kevan did think accepting the invitation would be a relief. Things were spiralling out of his control in King’s Landing. His niece and the Tyrells were vying for power and influence over the King. Making barbed remarks at one another and trying to bring the King’s attention to themselves over the other. Cersei through being the king’s mother and knowing on some level what the boy wanted, more often than not though she got King Tommen confused with Joffrey, something that often left the King crying and upset. The Tyrells used Margaery who was filling the void that Princess Myrcella had left and was acting as an older sister for the king, and she seemed to be doing well at it. The king spent more time with her than he did anyone else. That worried Kevan somewhat, for there was something about the Tyrell girl that he just did not like, what it was he did not know but there was something there. Of course he could not do anything, not without risking offending the Tyrells and having them go scampering back to Highgarden.

His niece was descending into something of a paranoid state. Seeing shadows everywhere she went, voices in her head telling her things. It made him wonder whether or not Tywin’s fears had been misplaced and if perhaps it was Cersei and not Tyrion who might have been the result of Aerys morbid fascination with Joanna. That thought worried him, as did the fact that his niece continued to speak to the Alchemist’s guild about producing more wildfire, he feared what she was going to do with it. And on his orders some of his men had been ensuring that alchemists went missing and did not have the chance to complete their work. There would be no wildfire plot, not if he could help it. Tyrion was getting better somewhat, but was still very, very ill. His nephew was struggling with something, it was if his will to continue to fight was lessening every day and then increasing every night. It was frustrating for Kevan he could use having his nephew here to help temper Cersei.

And then there was his own family, Lancel the fool had found the gods after his wounds, his recovery whilst a miracle had also spawned some foolish notions in his head about the seven and joining the faith. Kevan’s patience was growing thin with the boy and his attempts to take him away from such a foolish course of action were not overly successful. His two other sons Willem and Martyn were prisoners in Riverrun. That was frustrating, that was very frustrating, it was also very nerve wracking for Kevan, he wanted to do the right thing, but everything inside of him was worried about his sons and their lives. He wanted this war over and done with soon, before something inside of him snapped.

The small council though did not seem to be able to come up with any notable ways of ending this war without more fighting and bloodshed. Mace Tyrell in particular seemed most intent on prolonging the war. “Elbert Arryn is dead and the forces of the Vale have fled back toward the Saltpans. We hold Maidenpool, and we have more men ready and waiting to join the fighting. We can push on in toward the main riverlands, and end this war with a good few chosen blows.”

“Pushing through from Maidenpool leaves the city open to be retaken. The Tullys have men left to call and the Arryns are not completely broken. If Randyll Tarly moves from Maidenpool then the city will fall back into Tully or Arryn hands the moment their armies show up outside the gates. Willam Mooton is a coward and he will surrender.” Kevan argues.

Tyrell though is not willing to give the point up. “We have some fifteen thousand Stormlords marching toward the Riverlands now. They could divide into three sections and hit various parts of the Riverlands. Drawing Tully and his men out from Riverrun. Meanwhile if Randyll were to march from Maidenpool and deal with the Arryns once and for all, we would have a clear victory insight.”

“We will not beat the might of the Vale and the Riverlands with just two armies.” Kevan responds his anger growing. “We need to send more men into the Riverlands to cause more of a disturbance and cause Axel Tully to wonder which army is more pressing. The northmen will soon be returning to the Riverlands as well, we must take them into consideration.”

Tyrell snorts. “The northmen will not be a problem. There are only two thousand of them left with Stark, and the man himself is near death’s door.  Once my son as mustered the remaining forces at Highgarden and marched up the Ocean Road, Stark and his northmen will be done for.”

“And how long will it be before your son and his men can march Tyrell? A week, more?” Kevan asks. “That is time we cannot afford. No matter what number of men Stark has, he still has valuable prisoners, and he can use them as a way to get out the Westerlands without fear of attack. We must make suitable plans.”

“It was you who asked for my son to call for more men in order to march up the Ocean Road. Are you suggesting now that that was unnecessary?” Tyrell booms his face turning red.

“No my lord I am not. I am merely suggesting that look at sending some more men into the Riverlands in order to ensure that the fight is more balanced and favourable towards us.” Kevan responds patiently

“If the number of men we have out in the field is such a concern why not call upon the Lords of the Crownlands to do their duty my lord?” Mathis Rowan Lord of Goldengrove asks. “It would make sense there must be at least ten thousand men left that the crownlords could muster, which would make it easier for us to plan for an attack against the three traitorous lords.”

The man speaks truly and yet Kevan is not completely certain he wishes to test the loyalty of the crownlords, considering that some of them fought for Stannis Baratheon at the Blackwater. Lord Tyrell though has latched onto this suggestion eagerly. “Yes that is a very good idea. There should be more than enough men from the Crownlands especially if one were to go to Crackclaw point to get men to fight in the Riverlands. It could be done and it should be done.”

“And what of your own men my lord?” his niece asks. “You have some twenty thousand men at Maidenpool, and yet there are still some sixty thousand here in the city. Your daughter is married and is the queen, you do not need so many men into ensure her safety. Send some of your men into the Riverlands, and the lords of the riverlands and the Vale will wonder how they can beat this beast that they see before them.”

Tyrell does not snap as he did before instead he says. “That…. That would be wise. But then what of the city? Who would defend it? The Gold cloaks? They are no true fighting force.”

“It is kind of you to worry my lord, but my uncle has two thousand Lannister soldiers with him as well as half a dozen free riders and other men. More than enough to protect us from any localized threat. Go and win some glory, prove to the rebels they are nothing.” His niece replies sweetly.

Tyrell seems to consider this a moment and then he says. “Very well I shall march out soon enough with men to deal with these forces, but I shall leave around twenty thousand men here to defend the city just in case something goes awry.”

Kevan nods and then asks. “And what of Dragonstone, has Lord Redwyne written to say how that siege progresses?”

Pycelle speaks in his slow tones then. “Lord Redwyne writes that the people of Dragonstone are defiant and are holding out far better than he first anticipated. They are of course running out supplies and any attempt from the neighbouring islands to provide them with such supplies are being captured and overturned. He believes Dragonstone will fall within the next two to three weeks.”

Murmurs of approval fill the room then and Kevan says. “That is good news. Very good news. Once Dragonstone has fallen, Shireen and Selyse Baratheon shall be brought here and their fate decided.”

Tyrell speaks. “The Florents sided with the Stannis need I remind this council. Selyse is a Florent by birth and her daughter is half Florent. They must be removed from King’s Landing before they can cause too much trouble. Sending them to Oldtown and the Silent Sisters would be the best place for them.”

“Of course my lord. That is the most sensible case, but the Florents might protest and as such they have been demanding that they receive Brightwater Keep back in return for bending the knee. I have of coursed refused to grant such requests. But I wonder what you think they might do once this comes to light?” Kevan responds.

“What can they do? The king they fought for is dead. There is nothing more left for them to do apart accept their fate. If they complain I will crush them myself.” Tyrell responds.

“Noble sentiments my lord.” Kevan says. “Now tell me Varys, what news is there from the war in the North?”

The eunuch is silent a moment and then says. “It seems Robb Stark has managed to free Deepwood Motte as well as Moat Cailin. Aeron Greyjoy and Urrigon Greyjoy though continue to evade capture and continue to cause problems for the northmen. Furthermore it seems Balon Greyjoy has finally decided to venture from Pyke bringing the bulk of the strength of the Iron Islands with him. Where he intends to land is not clear, but it seems that Stark will have a tough fight ahead of him.”

Kevan nods. “Good let the Ironborn and the Northmen fight one another and reduce their numbers. There will be less mouths to feed come winter then. What of Euron Greyjoy has there been any news on him?”

The eunuch nods. “Yes my lord. It seems Euron Greyjoy has responded favourably to the terms that were offered him. He and his fleet have set sail and it seems they shall be heading toward the north for a full fight before the moon is over.”

Kevan nods. “Does the Crow’s Eye know that his brother is fighting a war with the north as well?”

The eunuch shrugs. “If he does, it will not bother him. He does not quite like Balon, and as such if he sees him, he will kill him. Thus reducing the number of enemies King Tommen has to fight.”

Kevan nods and then asks. “And what of Dorne, what is the feeling there?”

“The Dornish are watching and waiting as they always do. Prince Oberyn has of course marshalled men to prepare to march into the Riverlands should the need arise. Other than that, nothing more has happened.” The eunuch responds.

“Good, send word to Prince Doran that we thank him for his efforts. When this war is done, his service shall not be forgotten.” Kevan responds.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

4th Month of 299 A.C. Deepwood Motte

Prince Robb Stark

The Ironborn had been dealt a harsh blow at Deepwood Motte, those that had come under Asha Greyjoy had been massacred, not a single one left alive. A clear sign to Balon Greyjoy that he would not tolerate the squids on his land. They were to be dealt with just as harshly if not more so than the Ironborn would have treated any prisoners that they took. The thought of Galbart Glover’s lifeless body looking up at him still angered him, the man should not have died, should never have had to come to this. He should have been alive enjoying the fruits of his labour. For his service and for how loyally his brother Robett had served and continued to serve, Robb had named Robett Lord of Deepwood Motte, a title he knew his father would appreciate and approve of. After all they had done the Glovers deserved nothing less. They deserved more, and Robb was determined to ensure they got it.

Theon Greyjoy was broken, that much Robb knew, his old friend looked like a shadow of his former self, he looked haunted and dazed. And that was something Robb preferred. He did not know truly where this new desire to see his former friend broken like this had come from. Perhaps it had come simply from the war and the fact that he had seen so many good northmen die fighting Theon’s father and his people. Needless deaths, but because Balon Greyjoy was too much of an idiot to realise his cause was doomed to fail, men had had to die. He supposed that was why he had made Theon kill his sister, something that had been gnawing away at him since the event. It had seemed necessary at the time, a way for him to ensure Theon was his man, through and through, and yet something about it ate away at him. His former friend was broken and did all that was asked, but there was no fight in him and that bothered Robb.

The Ironborn were still a presence in the north despite what Robb might wish. Aeron and Urrigon Greyjoy were still a continuing nuisance, attacking and disappearing as they wanted. Keeping close to where there was water, they slipped away when any force tried to attack. It was beginning to wear on his patience and as such he needed a way to deal with that problem. It was why he had summoned the Greatjon back to Deepwood Motte, and had decided to call a war council to ensure that they knew just what they were going to do. His men looked tired but determined and as such so was he. “The Ironborn are not done yet. They are still a present threat, something that must needs be dealt with. Lord Umber when you fought Aeron Greyjoy and his men, what did you gauge from them?”

The Lord of Last Hearth had a rare moment of silence before he responded. “They were cravens my prince. Fighting one battle and then retreating only to come back and hit us again when we were not expecting it. It seemed as though they were trying to drain our numbers and assess what sort of situations they could put us in.”

“A responsive war. That is what they were waging.” Lord Robett Glover says.

“What do you mean by that my lord?” Robb asks.

“It means that they are testing us. Seeing where the faults are in our defences, and though our numbers far outweigh theirs, they are trying to drain our numbers before a wider and greater attack occurs. That is why Aeron and Urrigon Greyjoy are disappearing into the woods and the rivers whenever we come close to defeating them. There is something more they are planning for.”

“What could it be though? We have defeated their two main commanders. Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin are ours once more. Their chances of gaining more of a stronghold in the north fell away when Asha Greyjoy died. What more could they want?” Robb asks.

“Is it possible that they are looking to lessen our numbers here so that we cannot go back south to aid your father my prince?” Lord Waterman asks.

“What you think Balon Greyjoy has aligned with the Lannisters and Tyrells?” Lord Robett asks. “Not a chance. Balon Greyjoy is about doing things the old way, that means no alliances merely raiding and pillaging on one’s own. No there is more to their plan than we are aware of.”

“Could it be that they are considering a full scale invasion of the north?” Lord Harlon Ironsmith asks. “After all the men that were with Victarion and Asha Greyjoy were no more than two thousand between them. Perhaps slightly more. And as Aeron and Urrigon are still able to conduct these raids of theirs despite the fact that we have fought them more times than be counted, this suggests they are getting men from somewhere. Perhaps Balon Greyjoy means to invade himself.”

“It is possible. Balon Greyjoy could well be bringing his full force here. He is about the old way, and his men will not follow him or continue to do so unless he is willing to commit to a true invasion that he, himself leads.” Lord Forrester says.

Robb considers this and the turning to Lord Theo Wull asks. “What do you think Theo? Do you think Balon Greyjoy will come?”

The Wull of Wull is silent a moment and then in his great booming voice replies. “Aye, if the man has any steel inside of him he will come. He will come to die. The Ironborn are nae the brightest lot in the world my prince. And when they do come I want to be there ready to send them back with an axe to the face.”

There is some booming laughter then and then Robb says. “If we go under the assumption that Balon Greyjoy is to come with more men, then we must see where he could land.” He pauses a moment and looks at the map before him. “The Stony Shore, Sea Dragon Point and the Rills are all possible places for him to land. Though perhaps Flint’s Finger as it does provide better places to secure his ships.”

Murmurs of agreement follow this and then Lord Robett speaks. “His brother landed at the Stony Shore, therefore I think it more than likely that he will land either in the Rills or at Flint’s Finger. Both places are further south and closer to the islands. Providing him with the element of surprise somewhat. Sea Dragon Point is too impractical for him. It would expose him to the elements and toward our own men.”

“The man has invaded the north. Do you truly believe he has any sense Glover?” Theo Wull asks.

Laugher follows this and even Robb has to smile. “So it’s either Flint’s Finger or the Rills. Well, Flint’s Finger provides him with some secure place to put his ships, and considering Victarion Greyjoy did not come with the full Iron Fleet one must think that Balon will. There is also the fact that Flint’s Finger is ruled by an old man who has no clear heirs.”

Lord Waterman speaks then. “Karlon Flint has always been a coward my prince. If Ironborn come to his door he will surrender and give them whatever it is that they ask for. It would be best to send men towards the Finger to secure it and to remind Karlon whom he swears fealty to.”

There are murmurs of agreement there but then Lord Ironsmith says. “Aye whilst Karlon is a craven, he is also prideful and as such might take badly to being told that he is not trusted.”

“And yet I cannot afford to leave his lands undefended. The Finger is a good place for an invasion to land. I cannot allow that to happen. I will not send all the strength south but some one thousand or two thousand men must go south as a way to ensure that Flint remembers that he cannot surrender so easily.” Robb responds. “As for the Rills, the Ryswells have remained strangely quiet during all of this, and as such I think it is perhaps best if we head there next.”

More murmurs of agreement. “Most definitely my prince. The Rills is the most solid location to go to next. If Balon Greyjoy is to land there, he will not expect an army to be waiting for him.”

“So we are agreed. We shall march to the Rills and from there men shall go to Flint’s Finger. We shall march in two days’ time.” Robb says ending the council meeting.

The meeting ends, and Robb stands leaving the room in good spirits, as always Theon is there waiting for him outside. He merely nods at his former friend and walks down the hall to his room. They walk in silence for a moment and then Robb says. “Your father is more than likely going to come north is he not Theon?”

“Yes my prince,” Theon replies. “He will come to finish what Asha and Victarion Greyjoy started.”

“And where do you think he will attack Theon?” Robb asks.

His friend is silent a moment and then responds. “Flint’s Finger I believe my prince. Balon Greyjoy knew Karlon Flint, when both were younger. He will try to use that. Either there or the Rills.”

“Very good.” Robb responds. “Now tell me Theon what did you learn from the men today?”

Theon is silent once more and then in a broken voice he replies. “The body of Asha Greyjoy has been cut up and sent to the islands in pieces. And her head has been mounted on a spike on the walls of Deepwood Motte.” Robb nods all this he knows for he ordered it. “There is also talk of whom you are going to marry my prince. Some feel you are going to marry Alys Karstark, others that you will marry Lord Wull’s daughter and others that you will marry Lord Manderly’s granddaughter. It has become a topic of much discussion and it seems that more than one person feels you will marry Alys Karstark to placate her father.”

Robb nods. “Very interesting. What more did you learn if anything?”

“Nothing my prince. No shares anything with me anymore. I am nothing, no one.” Theon replies sounding broken.

Robb stops walking then and looks at his former friend and says. “That is how it should be Theon, you are nothing do you understand. You are merely alive because I kept you alive. You are mine to do with as I please.”

“Yes my prince. I was too might before. I am nothing more than your servant. I live to serve you my prince.” Theon responds.

Robb nods and then says. “Now I want you to go and clean my armour and ensure that it is spotless. I do not want it dirty for when we go to fight Balon Greyjoy or his men. And when that is done there are some other things I want you to do.”

Theon bows low and says. “Yes my prince. Of course my prince.”

“And Theon, remember that if you do this well, then I might even give you the chance to fight in the next battle we fight in. If you do not then, you will be punished accordingly. Do you understand?”

“Yes my prince.” Theon says bowing again before hurrying forward towards Robb’s room.

Robb stands in the hallway for a moment wondering how things became like this, and wondering if this was how his father felt after Robert’s Rebellion, the anger and the pain that was his constant companion. Greywind was by his side silent as always but Robb could tell that his wolf did not like the calmness. There was a storm brewing, something was happening and Robb did not know whether it was good or not.

Chapter Text

4th Month of 299 A.C. Saltpans

King Ronnel II Arryn

He remembers the sounds of men screaming in pain, he remembers watching men fall to their deaths pleading for mercy. Hells he killed more than one man during the battle for Maidenpool, and yet the death that stands out the most is his father’s. For so long Ronnel had idolised his father, the man who had survived being imprisoned in the black cells of King’s Landing during Robert’s Rebellion, the man who had been one of the first through the broken walls of Pyke, the man who had taught Ronnel everything he knew. The mere thought of him dead did not sit well with Ronnel, he felt lost and alone and confused. He did not know whom to turn to, his brother Artys was angry, truly angry, and the lords were all saddened by the death of such a promising king. It hurt, to think that perhaps he had caused his father’s death by getting stuck in the flow between their men and the Tyrell men. His father had been trying to protect him, when he had died. That weight sat heavily on his shoulders, and it was a burden he knew he would carry to his own grave.

Ronnel had never been completely sure about his father’s plans for their family. He understood the anger and frustration of being removed from the heirship by some weakling like Robert Arryn and when his father had told them about the treachery of Lysa Tully, Ronnel had been happy that it had been found. And yet there was something about the way his father had gone about it, the way in which he had publicly removed the woman and her son from the Vale and flung them into the sky cells that did not quite sit well with Ronnel. The way his father had done it had left somewhat of bitter taste in Ronnel’s mouth, he knew that Robert Arryn would more than likely die in those cells and the thought of having the death of an innocent yet bratty child on his consciousness did not sit well with him. The Tullys and the Starks were like to be wroth as well, his father had left something of a mess for him to clean up. But first he needed to decide what their next step in this war was going to be.

He had convened a war council of his most trusted and experienced commanders to meet and discuss their options. Lord Yohn Royce of Runestone and his cousin Nestor Royce, Lord Belmore, Lord Hunter, Ser Symond Templeton, Donnel Waynwood and his cousin Harrold Hardying who was Ronnel’s kin, Lord Lyonel Corbray and his brother Lyn and many others were present as well as his brother Artys and their host Lord Cox. Ronnel looked around the room and said. “We have spent near two weeks here in Saltpans. And whilst I thank you Lord Cox, for the hospitality we cannot remain here forever. The longer we wait here, the more we drain supplies from the Saltpans and the weaker we appear to our enemies. I would hear your thoughts on what we should do.”

As expected, Lord Yohn Royce spoke first. “I believe we must join the Riverlords and march together down to Maidenpool. Only then can we be sure to take the city. Without their support we will be smashing ourselves to pieces, and exposing our rear to whatever host the Tyrells might send.”

“What guarantee is there that the Tullys will want to ally themselves with us? King Elbert, may the seven bless his soul, might well have made an enemy out of them through his treatment of Lysa Tully and her son Robert Stone. Whilst there can be no denying the woman’s treachery she is King Axel’s sister, and the man is known for being loyal to his family. What is there to say he still wishes to ally with us?” Lord Lyonel asks.

“They will ally with us if it means driving the Tyrells and the Lannisters out of their lands. We share a common enemy, putting aside the grievances he has with our king, is in his best interests. King Axel is not a foolish man.” Lord Yohn counters.

“And what of his brother and uncle? They will both want something to be done about Lady Lysa, if nothing more than to ensure she is pardoned and treated with respect. You cannot afford to do that Your Grace, without looking weak.” Lord Lyonel says.

“They will surely follow their king in this. We are waging a war, as are they, they cannot afford to alienate one of their potentially crucial allies. I say we leave Lady Lysa and her son out of this. King Axel knows that he needs us to help him beat the Tyrells and the Lannisters back.” Lord Yohn says.

Ronnel nods at this and says. “Lord Royce is right. The Tullys need us just as much as we need them. If King Axel is as sensible as he appears to be, he will not bring up mention of Lady Lysa until we have dealt with our common enemy. Of course to ensure that the deal is achieved without complications, I do think perhaps it would be best to ensure that Lady Lysa and her son are prepared and ready to leave the Eyrie for Riverrun once this war is done. To ensure that the alliance is further secure, perhaps offers of marriage can be made as well.”

He can sense the anticipation in the room, he knows his lords want him for their daughters or sisters, but he knows that in order for the alliances he is planning to go through, he will need to offer more. Lord Hunter, new to his post after his father old Lord Hunter died says. “A smart move Your Grace. Offering your brother or one of your sisters is the sure way to ensure that the Tullys and the Starks look more favourably on our tenure in this war.”

Ronnel sighs and says. “Not my brother my lord of Hunter. I will offer myself for marriage, to either one of King Axel or King Eddard’s daughters. It makes sense, and is the smartest course of action. It will ensure the safety of the alliance and strengthen our borders.”

There is silence for a moment and then Ser Donnel speaks. “A very smart move Your Grace, ensuring that both kings are thus tied to you in blood just as they are tied to Lady Lysa. It will ensure they look more favourably on whatever it is you decide to do with the traitor and her son.”

Ronne looks at the man before saying. “Yes, that it does. Lady Lysa and her son will be stripped of the Arryn name and sent to live the remainder of their days in Riverrun on pain of death of ever returning to the Vale. But that shall be done once this war is over. We still have the issue of where to march to. And as much as I would like to march for Maidenpool and cut Randyll Tarly’s head off myself, there are other armies coming up towards us.”

His brother Artys takes up the thread from there. “As well as Lord Tarly’s men in Maidenpool, there are armies coming from King’s Landing commanded by Ser Balon Swann and Mace Tyrell respectively. The army commanded by Balon Swann, in my opinion is the more threatening of the two. The Stormlords are a fierce people, devoted to the Baratheons who will stop at nothing to see their king safe. This could well end badly for us if we do not deal with them.”

“And where are the Stormlords now?” Ronnel asks.

His brother looks at Harrold Hardying briefly before saying. “Our findings say that they are marching up the Blackwater Rush attempting to head straight for Riverrun, on orders of the Queen Regent.”

Ronnel looks at the map before him then and says. “A forced march could see us hit them from the side if we were willing to take that risk. It might draw Tarly out, if the man is not too badly injured. But then we do risk the chance of Mace Tyrell coming and hitting us in the rear as well.”

Yohn Royce speaks then. “Tyrell will more than likely try to play it safe and head to Maidenpool to join with Tarly. It would best if we were to march for Riverrun and join the Riverlords as they dealt with the Stormlands host, Your Grace. That would mean then that there is one less enemy to deal with.”

There are some murmurs of agreement, but then Lord Gilwood Hunter speaks. “It would make more sense to confront the donkey that is Mace Tyrell. The man’s one military accomplishment is the lavish feast that was the siege of Storm’s End. He knows nothing about true warfare. Why not exploit that and dent a hole in the Tyrells, and cause their inner tensions to sizzle?”

“And where are you getting these rumours of inner tension from Hunter? The Tyrells seem perfectly content with their lot. Tyrell’s death will do nothing, he has three sons, one who is very smart, another who has earned his stripes as a commander and another who is one of the best swordsman currently alive. And their sister is Queen, they will not leave her to rot.” Lord Belmore says.

“Trust me when I say that, it would be wiser to attack Tyrell before he gets to Maidenpool than to attack the Stormlords as they march for Riverrun. Once Tyrell joins Tarly that will be a force that we cannot deal with.” Hunter says.

“What makes you so certain that the death or capture of Tyrell would strike more of a blow to the alliance keeping the bastard on the throne than the death or capture of Tarly?” Ronnel asks.

Hunter looks smug then and responds. “Tyrell might be a bumbling fool with no sense of war, but he is a bumbling fool is lord of the richest kingdom in Westeros. Capture him and we shall be able to get a very hefty ransom for his release. And if not a release then we shall hold a card that will force the Tyrells to at least consider suing for peace.”

Ronnel looks at the man for a moment and then at his lords, all of whom seem to be considering this as well and then he says. “If we were to go with your suggestion my lord, what is there stopping Tarly or the Stormlords emerging from their routes and hitting us to the side? We need a solid alliance with both the Starks and the Tullys before we even consider taking on the Tyrells, and to achieve that we must go to Riverrun.”

“And risk being hit by the Tyrells regardless? Once Tyrell and Tarly join forces, we are not going to be strong enough to beat them.” Hunter pines.

“And if we do not go to Riverrun, we run the risk of being left dry. We cannot afford for any grudges the Tullys or the Starks might have to bear into fruition, this matter with them must be sorted and it must be sorted now. The only way to do that is to ensure that we are tied together through bonds of marriage and friendship. That is the only way one can ensure that they will not hold what my father did against us. Tyrell and Tarly might join forces, but Tarly is near death and Tyrell as you say knows nothing of war.” Ronnel argues.

Hunter looks put out and Lord Royce asks. “So you will go to Riverrun then my king?”

Ronnel nods. “It is the only sensible option that I can see. Let Tyrell and Tarly try to join forces. Once we have beaten the lords of the Stormlands they will be left alone and without allies. That is when we may be able to deal with them.” he pauses, turns to his brother and says. “I want you and your scouts to continue searching the area and setting up traps, I do not want to be caught unawares.” His brother nods and then Ronnel looks at the room at large and says. “We leave in two days’ time. Prepare as best you can.”

Chapter Text

4th Month of 299 A.C. Maidenpool

Lord Mace Tyrell

There was some part of Mace Tyrell that had never truly stopped dreaming about being a knight in one of the songs his daughter used to listen to, or of having his children be happy and pure. His mother had tried to beat that out of him and yet it would never leave him, and despite the fact that he was not a warrior, he knew how to command and he knew what was best for his people. Of course the chance to have his daughter as Queen was something that he could not pass up, an opportunity to finally have Tyrell blood on the throne was something that made him feel proud. Their house had once been nothing more than stewards now one of their own was a Queen, and they were becoming the power behind the throne. It was more than enough to make him feel proud, he knew his father would feel proud. Mother of course was more than disparaging about him, saying he was an oaf and all, but he knew that she preferred his sisters, she always had done. He had accepted that long ago and worked to ensure that she never looked at him more than need be. Margaery sweet darling Margaery who his mother thought was completely hers was still his little girl who used to run to him when she was frightened and when she was happy to see him again, she knew what he was planning. If the Lannisters lost this war as was looking likely she would be safe he was certain of that.

Mace was determined not to allow his family to fall the way of the Lannisters. With Tywin Lannister gone, the Queen Regent and her uncle had been unable to stem the flow of blood that was pouring from the gaping wounds of the Lannister cause. They were propped up by him and his family and army, without him and his army, the Lannisters would be dead in the water. It was why he had wanted his daughter married to Tommen, so that should the Lannisters consider trying to turn their coat he would be able to use the marriage against them. The Queen Regent was mad, very mad, and she seemed to be seeing things that were not there, he knew the rumours, his mother had made sure he knew the rumours about Tywin Lannister and his get, and wondered whether or not there was more to them. Had the mad king truly done the deed with his hand’s wife? Was it the Queen and her twin, the golden lions of the Rock who were the mad king’s and not the imp? If that was the case it would most certainly explain why the Queen Regent had been paying more and more visits to the alchemist guild. Oh she and her uncle thought he did not know, that was some sort of idiot, but his daughter was married to a little boy, a little boy with a crown on his head and that came with benefits. The queen regent was going mad, and her uncle, her uncle whilst a capable man seemed to be getting worn down by his niece’s eccentricities, and it was something that saddened him for Kevan Lannister was a good man. That the dwarf was getting better did not truly affect Mace, the dwarf would have little part to play for now and when he did Mace knew just what to give him.

Of course when the suggestion for glory had come from the hand of the king, Mace had thought of taking it. He knew they wanted him gone from the capital, and perhaps now was the right time to go. He would make plans to have Margaery taken out of the city should things go wrong. The capital was soon to be catching fire in more ways than one and he did not truly wish to be there when it happened. He did not want any of his family to experience that when it happened. And so to that end he had marched with some fifteen thousand men to Maidenpool, half the time expecting the Riverlords or the Valemen to come and attack him, instead he found himself having to deal with some fifteen hundred Florents and their men complaining about this, that and the other. He had threatened to kill them all if they did not stop their complaining and when they had laughed he had hung their Lord from a tree and left him there. The next commander had not complained once. And now they were in Maidenpool, where Lord William Mooton had greeted them docilely, the man was a craven all knew that, and yet there was something in him that made Mace suspicious.

He had come expecting to find Randyll and his men in good spirits, instead he found the men looking somewhat down, and they had taken a severe beating during the battle with the Valemen and had lost many a good man. Randyll himself was quite badly injured during the fighting, and through sheer force of will was fighting of the Stranger. Mace was with him now, talking to him and seeking his counsel. The man scared him somewhat, had always scared him somewhat and yet he had proven to be loyal.  Mace did not wish to burden him and yet he needed his advice. “We were untroubled marching here Randyll. Not a single Vale lord or Riverlord came and harassed us. I was quite surprised. I was expecting more of a fight.”

Randyll Tarly looks pale and ghostly on the bed as Mace looks at him, his voice though is still strong. “It makes sense. Arryn no doubt is heading to Riverrun as we speak to try and arrange an alliance with the Tullys, to try and soothe the wounds of what his father did to Lysa Tully and her son. That was something the Tullys would not forget nor forgive unless given something in return.”

“And you think the boy means to offer himself? As a marriage to Tully’s girl Minisa? Would Tully accept that?” Mace asks.

Tarly takes a deep breath and then says. “He would be a fool not to. An alliance with the Vale and a blood tie to the new king and his position is strengthened should the Lannisters find more men in the West. Furthermore it means he has more men to use to deal with the Stormlords.”

Mace looks at the man and then says. “He means to reduce the number of enemies he has to fight on down to just one. Once the Stormlords are gone and dealt with he will turn to Maidenpool. Will he have the numbers to defeat us though? Will he even have the numbers to come and take the city? Maidenpool is well defended.”

Tarly coughs and then responds. “It makes no matter if he has the men or not. Mooton is a coward and will turn cloak the moment there is an army outside his gates. He did it when I arrived here and he will do it again. If you want to prevent that from happening, you must have Mooton killed and marry someone you know you can trust to his daughter.”

Mace considers this and then says. “In order to gain control of the city, a marriage between your son Dickon and his daughter Eleanor perhaps? That could work. It would also ensure that the Tarly name continues. What are his sons like?”

Tarly coughs somewhat and then says. “His eldest is an idiot, someone who can be manipulated easily, and someone who can be brought round to one way of thinking. The second son is more of a hot head, and will need to be dealt with. There is a third son, but that one does more of the inappropriate behaviours than need be brought to light.”

Mace nods. “The second son will be removed, as for his eldest son, perhaps a marriage between your own daughter Talla and him could do the trick. Or if not then there are more than enough Tyrell relations to ensure that the place remains under our control.”

The Lord of Horn Hill says nothing for a moment and then asks. “What do you plan on doing with the Lannisters my lord? Kevan Lannister cannot hope to keep control over his niece for much longer, not with things progressing how they are.”

Mace looks at his old friend, and says. “I will get my family out of there before the Lannister woman has anytime to do any lasting damage. She grows madder by the day, and she has been speaking to the Pyromancers more than once. It seems she is intent on doing something to the city before things get any worse.”

The lord of Horn Hill snorts before wincing slightly in pain. “Of course. The Lannisters and the Targaryens always danced too close to madness for my liking. But what will you do about the boy? Will you take him with you when you withdraw from the city?”

Mace considers this for a moment and then says. “If my daughter wishes it then I will. The lad is sweet, and perhaps he could be raised to be a warrior king, but there are already a lot of doubts about his parentage should the city fall it is likely some will see this as a sign from the gods. And in that case I do not want some bastard dragging me down. No I will take my daughter back to Highgarden.”

Tarly coughs then. “Good, that is very good my lord. You do not want to be associated with the Lannisters should go south. Will you declare independence?”

And so they have arrived at the heart of the matter. The reason Mace had truly agreed to come to Maidenpool. He looks at his old friend then and says. “I do not know Randyll, truly I do not. It seems as though things might be looking up for the Lannisters but if the Tullys and Arryns ally together then it is likely that the Lannisters are done for. I do not want to attach myself to a sinking ship, and as such it might better to be independent.”

Tarly looks at him then his eyes piercing, looking deep into his very being, and Mace is reminded of the time he first met Randyll Tarly when he was but a little boy, scared of his father’s most feared and powerful bannerman. The man is old now but still strong and imposing. His voice is commanding when he replies. “Independence will be a tricky thing to achieve my lord. The Florents will rebel and their allies will side with them. You will be stuck waging a war within the Reach for many years, and might even face retribution from the north, the vale and the riverlands for your part in aiding the Lannisters. Better to play a waiting game and allow the Riverlords and the Vale to tear themselves apart against the Lannisters and the Stormlords. And then when the moment is right strike.”

Mace nods. “That does make sense. I did have to hang Lord Alester Florent because of his constant barbs about this and the other. His son seems a more reasonable man and yet I do have the feeling they are plotting something. What it is I do not know. But they are plotting and I do not like it.”

“Keep some of them close and send the others off to die my lord. That is what I would do. Divide their house and strip them of male heirs. Make it easier for your son to claim Brightwater Keep, and then you shall have them by their balls.” Lord Randyll replies.

Mace nods and goes to stand his friend looks tired now and he wishes to give him as much rest as he possibly can before he leaves though he turns and asks his friend. “What of the Dragons? Would they be a viable option?”

Randyll Tarly looks at him tiredly and says. “Only if you are willing to play with fire my lord. Only fire.”

 

Chapter Text

4th Month of 299 A.C. Sunspear

Princess Arianne Martell

When she had heard her father’s plan, all of it not just bits and pieces, she had been completely astounded. Astounded because of the clear depth of planning that her father and her uncle had put into ensuring that the plan worked and that the Baratheons and the Lannisters did not find out about it. It seemed her father and uncle had been working on this plan ever since the rebellion had formally ended, and now, now it was so very close to coming to fruition. There was a part of her that admired her father, he had spent so long dealing with everyone clamouring for revenge and calling him all kinds of names behind his back and yet not once had he capitulated and tried to speed the plan along to please anyone, he had stuck to what he knew and now he was going to reap the benefits. Another part of her was hurt that he had not confided in her his plan earlier. That it had, had to come to the shouting match between her and him, with her doing most of the shouting before he had told her his plan. That lack of trust her and she could understand now why her mother had left. At the same time she could somewhat understand why he had not told her, after all she was not exactly the best at keeping her mouth shut when angry or happy, and likely would have told someone or the other.

But that was all in the past now, despite whatever grievances she might still have with her father, they were both working to repair their relationship, Quentyn had been recalled from Yronwood for this very reason and now she and her brother who had never gotten along all that well were beginning to repair their relationship as well. It helped, she supposed that the Targaryens were here, they had come some three days ago, with little to no fanfare, their ships docking in at Plankytown a fair few war galleys were at work there, and her cousin and soon to be husband had brought an army of sellswords with him, the Golden Company, the windblown, the Long Lances, the Second Sons all kinds of profitable sellsword companies had flocked to his banner and her father had sent out ravens to the lords and ladies of Dorne demanding they call their banners and prepare for war. After sitting out most of the war, Dorne was finally ready to march.

As for the Targaryens themselves, well they were an interesting lot. Her cousin and soon to be husband Prince Aegon, or King Aegon as he styled himself was a handsome man, with pale silver hair, and purple eyes, he looked like a strong. Strong and confident, Arianne found herself enchanted by him and his confidence. He knew how to talk and he knew exactly how to back up what he said. He had beaten Daemon Sand numerous times in the sparring yard, as well as Obara countless times. In fact Arianne did not think there was anyone he had not beaten in the sparring yard and that included her own uncle. He was the very thing a king should be and she could not wait to get into his bed and see just how much of a man he was. Her betrothed’s uncle was a different sort of beast. He too had the typical Targaryen looks, but there was a sense of something different about him. He was aggressive where his nephew was charming, he was blunt where his nephew was glib. And he was a fierce swordsman but nowhere near as good as his nephew appeared to be. There was a hardness to him, a weariness that there was not in Aegon, and he frightened her somewhat. Princess Daenerys herself was a delicate girl, sweet and caring, she rarely spoke unless spoken to and seemed to be quite content living in the shadows of her brother and nephew. Arianne knew her brother Quentyn was besotted by her, it was written all over his face that he was, and yet he would not marry her, could not marry her if the Targaryens wanted more allies in Westeros, she would need to remain open and available.

As it was, she found she was spending more and more time with her betrothed as the days went on. Today being no exception. There was something about him, something that instantly drew him to her, something that made her want to spend time in his presence, and listen to him talk. “Your lands are very beautiful princess.” He said in that silky voice of his.

She smiles at him then and responds. “Why thank you my prince. They are indeed, and I will miss them when it comes time to leave.”

“Please call me Aegon. We are cousins and are to be married soon enough. We might as well call one another by our given names.” Aegon says.

She smiles once more and says. “Of course Aegon, but only if you call me Arianne.”

He smiles at her then and she feels her heart skip a beat. “Of course Arianne. So tell me Arianne, what do you make of our chances to win this war and sit the throne?”

A difficult question, but one in which Arianne suspects she knows the answer to. “I believe our chances of gaining the throne are quite high Aegon. After all, the Lannisters are heavily reliant on the Tyrells and now that the Tyrells best commander is weak and bed ridden they will soon be pulling out of any proper engagements. They are spread too thin, and as such will look to end the fighting at the soonest possible opportunity.”

Her cousin looks intrigued at this and asks. “You do not think they will continue fighting then? Despite the fact that Mace Tyrell’s daughter is married to the bastard who sits my throne? I had thought that was all the Tyrells wanted? And seeing as they now have it why would they give it up so easily?”

Arianne considers for a moment and then says. “Our uncle is very good friends with the heir to Highgarden Willas Tyrell, and he has told me and my father Prince Doran, that according to Willas, should Margaery be threatened in King’s Landing then there is not a chance of Mace Tyrell staying around to watch the Lannisters fall. He will take his daughter out of the city as fast as he can and retire to the Reach.”

Her cousin stops and looks intently at her then. “Interesting, very interesting. I had been led to believe that Mace Tyrell would stop at nothing to ensure his blood sat the throne. Perhaps my sources had it wrong.”

Arianne looks behind them to where her cousin’s Kingsguard stands silently in watch, and then she looks back at her cousin. “Well with a man like that advising you I am not surprised. In my opinion Tyrell might be ambitious but he is still a father. And he would want to protect his daughter from any sort of harm. Keeping her in King’s Landing for longer than necessary with the Lannisters falling apart is not keeping her safe.”

Her cousin nods and then says. “That is true what you say. Perhaps if we can make the Starks, the Tullys and the Arryns see it that way as well, we might make of an effort to bring down the Lannisters and the Tyrells. We have a common enemy there is no need for us all to fight.”

Arianne nods at what her cousin says and then says. “It is possible Arryn might consider bending the knee. He is young, the other two are old and fought to remove your family from the throne Aegon. It is possible that they might not wish to fight for you.”

Her cousin looks at her a moment and then says. “Then I will offer their heirs the chance to take over from their fathers and see where that gets me. Not every father and son get along well.”

With that they both fall silent and continue walking for a time, Arianne mulls over what her cousin has said, and to her it does seem reasonable, she thinks of her own childhood and the resentment she felt toward her father and then toward her mother. It is possible that perhaps the Stark and Tully heirs would want to step out from their fathers’ shadow. That could well be something they could use, especially with Daenerys still being available for marriage. They come to a stop when they hear the sound of sparring coming from the yard, Arianne looks across to see Prince Viserys a look of grim determination on his face sparring with a man from the Golden Company. Her betrothed must see the look of apprehension on her face for he asks. “Does my uncle worry you Arianne?”

Arianne looks at her betrothed then and says. “Slightly, there is something about him that just frightens me. He is quite aggressive and reminds me of the descriptions of Bittersteel that I used to read as a child.”

Aegon laughs. “If you tell him that he will be very happy. Bittersteel is one of his heroes, despite the fact that the man was a traitor. He is harmless really, angry sure, fierce most definitely. But if he believes you to be honest and true then he will never harm you. And besides he likes you.”

Arianne looks at her betrothed in surprise then. “He does?”

Aegon laughs once more. “Oh most definitely. He thinks you have spirit and fire a plenty more than enough to be Queen of Westeros and married to a Targaryen.”

Arianne smiles then and moves closer to her cousin, looking up at him her eyes sultry she asks in a whisper. “And what of you my king, what do you think of me.”

She can see the desire in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he replies. “I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. And you will make a fine queen.”

She moves closer then so that she is pressing against him, she can feel the bulge in his trousers and when she cups it, she whispers. “Not just any queen, your queen.”

Her cousin moans softly then and Arianne begins moving her hands up his trousers toward the ties holding his breeches up. His hands stop her on the top of them and he whispers. “I look forward to our wedding night my queen. But until then we must continue getting to know one another.”

Feeling slightly put out, but also very intrigued, she moves her hand away and then slots her arm into his and asks. “What do you wish to know Aegon?”

He looks smug when he replies. “Your brother Trystane is betrothed to Myrcella Baratheon. I want to know what she is like. Will she be a threat to our reign on the kingdoms?”

Arianne considers for a moment and when they start walking once more she replies. “I do not think so. Myrcella is a sweet girl, and she, I believe is infatuated with Trys. Neither of them would do anything to harm us I do not think. And so long as it is you and I ruling together there is no reason for them to try and do anything.”

Her betrothed is silent for a moment and then says. “That is good, very good. Some of my councillors have suggested that I have her killed simply to remove the threat she poses to my throne. But I am not Tywin Lannister, I am not child killer. And if the rumours of her parentage are true, then she is no threat whatsoever to my throne, and it does give us a chance to claim the Westerlands as well.”

Arianne looks at her betrothed and then leans up and kisses him full on the mouth when she pulls away she says. “You will make a very fine king, Aegon.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

5th Month of 299 A.C Lannisport

King Eddard I Stark

This war was nearly over and done with, the Lannisters were broken, they had no strength left to throw at him and his men, the Tyrells were soon to find themselves out of touch with the realm at large now that the Arryns had arrived and the Stormlords were throwing themselves into chaos now that that Ser Balon Swann was dead. An interesting feeling this, knowing that the war was closing down, and yet there was a sense for Ned that there was more left to do, something more was coming, this war would not end as peacefully as the Greyjoy rebellion or even perhaps Robert’s rebellion had. And then there was the fact that the boy was here, the Targaryen boy, was here with his army in Dorne, and Ned was wondering what this boy was like, he had grown up across the narrow sea with swords around him, there was something there inside of Ned that made him feel regret. Something deep rooted from the rebellion, something that made him want to scream, his nightmares were becoming worse and there was no sign of release from them. He wanted to return to Winterfell, to get away from all of this, from the pain and the suffering, but he dreaded what he would find when he returned home, accusing eyes, or sympathetic ones, it made no difference his ghosts were there.

Elbert was dead, gone, killed by the Tyrells during the battle for Maidenpool, a blow to the alliance, but not a hurdle that could not be overcome. Elbert’s son Ronnel was supposedly more agreeable than his father had been, and Ned wondered if more favourable terms could be negotiated in any alliance treaty that might be agreed upon. Of course before such a thing could be entertained there was the issue of Casterly Rock, which despite the abandonment of most of the west remained firm and steadfast. A thorn in Ned’s side something that needed to fall before he could consider heading east, something to stop from raising the west once more. It was this that had made him turn to Bolton, the man sat opposite him now. He looked at the old Lord of the Dreadfort and asked. “Has the prisoner spoken?”

There was something off putting about Bolton, his eyes were colourless and his expression was non-existent, it was as if he was a dead man in a living man’s body. His voice was soft. “No Your Grace. Lannister continues to refuse to talk. I have tried almost every method that I can think of and yet nothing changes. He remains firm in his silence.”

Ned considers this and then says. “Perhaps it might be time to use the tradition that your family is so fond of my lord. Traditional methods might not work on Tywin Lannister, I would not be surprised if he has tried them out himself to become immune to them. But the method you and your kin use, that is something that he would not dream of.”

He would smile at the look on Bolton’s face but he is not sure whether he knows how to anymore. “But my king, flaying is not allowed. It is illegal is it not? You, yourself made it so.”

Ned looks at the man and says. “It is forbidden in the north my lord. And we are not in the north anymore. But of course should things go as I hope they will today then there will be no need for you to do what you do. However, should these Lannisters prove to be more foolhardy than first thought that you will have free reign to do with Lannister as you please.”

The man looks shocked, and Ned thinks his response is the only time he has ever heard the man stutter. “Thank…. Thank you my king. I do not know what to say.”

“Say nothing. Should it come to it, you will get what you have wanted nothing more, nothing less.” Ned says, their meeting comes to an end then. Ned is left alone with his thoughts, and once more he wonders whether or not he made the right decision that day at the Tower when he made his promise to Lya, the effects are being felt, or rather have been felt for a very long time now. And Ned knows that the day will come when he will need to tell his whole family the truth, the complete truth, especially his sons, Jon most of all.

He sits there thinking over all that has occurred until his son comes and tells him that it is time. Dressed in his armour already he merely mounts his horse, and nods in approval as Roose and Domeric drag Tywin Lannister by his chains to the meeting point. They wait for a few moments before the gates open and riders appear and on the mount of the hill Ned hears the voice of Damion Lannister. “We have come as you asked Stark. Now what is it you wanted to discuss?”

Damion Lannister is not an imposing man, the castellan of Casterly Rock is short and balding, even slightly stooped. Frankly he is grotesque as far as Ned is concerned. He takes a deep breath and then says. “Thank you for coming to treat with me Lannister. I have come to offer you terms.”

Lannister snorts. “Terms? Why would you offer me terms of surrender? I could survive any sort of siege you tried to put in place. The rock is impregnable.”

“You are outnumbered, and I have knowledge of ways to get into the Rock without you knowing about it Lannister. There are no more Westermen for you to call on for help. Your cause is broken, I have Tywin and Jaime Lannister in custody. The best you can do is surrender.” Ned responds.

“And what will you do I if I do not surrender Stark?” Lannister asks.

Ned looks at the man and then turns round and nods at Bolton who drags Tywin forward. The Lord of the Rock is broken and bruised, his skin is covered in lots of ugly marks. The work of a Bolton. Bolton puts a dagger against Tywin’s throat and Ned looks at Damion who has gone pale. “If you do not surrender I will kill Tywin and Jaime Lannister, and their skins will decorate the outways of my camp. And when night falls I will enter the Rock and slaughter all of you.”

Lannister looks shocked, the knife is still pressed to Tywin’s skin and Damion’s voice seems hesitant when he responds. “How do I know you are being serious Stark? Why would you do such a thing? It is not the honourable thing to do.”

Ned snorts then and says. “Surely you must have learnt by now that honour does not dictate my life anymore Lannister. I will do what is necessary to ensure my people are safe from harm. If you do not bend, I will have you all killed.”

Damion Lannister looks uncertain, he looks at Tywin whose form is being held up by chains and then looks at Ned and asks. “And if I were to surrender what would you do then?”

Ned looks at the man and says. “Then you and your family would have two choices, disband the garrison and leave Casterly Rock and never return, or you could surrender and accept defeat and the reparations that are due to my family in the Riverlands, and that which have been agreed upon by King Axel and Lord Joffrey.”

As expected Tywin speaks then his voice hoarse. “He did not have the authority to negotiate such terms. He is not the Lord of the Rock I am. Those terms are invalid do not agree to them Damion.” Lannister falls silent with a cuff from Bolton.

Ned looks from him to Damion and says. “Those are the terms what will it be? More needless death or peaceful surrender?”

There is a long silence after Ned has finished speaking in which he can tell the castellan of Casterly Rock is considering all of his options. Ned sits on his horse and waits, whilst his son’s direwolf Ghost prowls around reminding the man of whom it is he is dealing with. The birds are beginning to approach their new point in the sky by the time Lannister finally speaks. His voice is soft when he says. “I surrender. I will tell them to open the gates.”

A murmur of approval from Ned’s men follows this and Ned looks briefly behind him at Tywin Lannister to see the man looking livid but powerless to stop it. They ride in silence following Damion and his escort, and when they get to the gates of Casterly Rock, Ned stops and says. “Tywin will not be allowed in right now. There are some more things that must be discussed.”

Damion looks at him a moment and then says. “Very well.” He then proceeds to ride through the gates shouting for the men to put down their weapons, and as Ned and his men ride in they see men and women and children alike on their knees saying gods alone knows what.  Some part of Ned feels proud of that, whilst another part is merely glad that there was no more bloodshed.

Eventually after dismounting and seeing to it that their horses and soldiers are taken care of, Ned and his lords find themselves in the solar of Casterly Rock. Damion Lannister and his family are all gathered, ready to further speak of the terms. “When we were outside these walls you said we had two options. Surrender and leave, or surrender and follow your lead. What did you mean by this second option?”

Ned smiles at the man a rare thing and his voice is soft when he responds. “You have surrendered, but I need a guarantee that you will not take up arms once more. That is why I shall be leaving Roose Bolton and his son as well as three thousand Bolton men to aid you in the repair of the Westerlands, they will make sure that nothing suspicious goes on. Furthermore, your cousin Cerenna shall marry Domeric Bolton. And your own son Lucion shall be taken as a honoured guest to Winterfell to repair relations between our two families.”

“So really the standard terms of a surrender then?” Damion asks sounding unimpressed.

Ned looks at the man, his eyes hardening. “Other hostages shall be taken, there are too many of you for me to be secure enough to leave any more than necessary. Those that do not co-operate shall be killed. There is also one other thing, the days of Tywin Lannister and his family ruling the Westerlands are done. I need a man here who I can trust to rule sensibly and keep the peace. Your actions have shown that you are a smart man willing to put the safety of your people above personal ambition. If you are willing I would name you King of the Rock.”

There is a surprised ripple of talk in the room at this, Ned knows that none of his bannermen were expecting this let alone Damion Lannister. He looks at the man who seems surprised and concerned. “Why? Why would you offer me a crown?”

Ned looks at the man and says. “Because you have shown yourself to be different than your cousins. You are not a man who lusts after power as far as I can tell. You did your duty in holding the castle, and you gave it some thought before surrendering. A king needs to be considerate of all kinds of situations and you have the brains for that. Tywin and his line have shown themselves incapable of such things. Tell me do you want them back in the Rock?”

The look of horror on the man’s face would make Ned laugh if the situation was not so serious. “Of course not. They have cost me more than I care to think on. I do not want them anywhere near the Rock. Not ever again.”

Ned nods approvingly and then asks. “So what will you do then?”

The man looks at him and says with great conviction. “I will take your offer and become the King the West needs.”

Chapter Text

5th Month of 299 A.C. The Rills

Prince Robb Stark

The squids had come in greater number as Robb had thought they would, Balon Greyjoy leading them in great numbers. And Flint had capitulated as he had known he would men from the Finger were riding with the Ironborn raiding and pillaging as they went, and there was trouble in the rills. Barrowton, had been harassed and it seemed that the Ironborn were getting ready for a final assault. Balon Greyjoy it seemed had decided to make this stand his final stand, the time when his singers would proclaim him great, no doubt the man thought him afraid and weak, the rills were burning and Barrowton had lost many capable men, the thought angered him and yet it was necessary. The Ironborn would put the burden of their attacks on these places and be weakened and over confident when Robb and his men came calling.

They were based over the top of Ryder’s Peak, a place that gave them a good view of the Ironborn camps and their movements. Watching go about their business as if they had not a care in the world was frustrating and Robb often found himself angry after a day spent watching and observing. The Ironborn knew not of the peak for it was hidden from their line of sight, and yet they acted as if they were the ones ruling the place where they were camped, and such a thing felt like a sin, a crime to the old gods. Robb took his frustrations out on the only person possible. Theon Greyjoy suffered from a broken arm, and a broken leg, and a few broken fingers. There was some guilt there from Robb about this, but at the same time he would not forgive or forget what Theon had said or done when they had learnt of the Ironborn invasion. That was a crime he would never forget.

Of course now they were preparing for launching the attack on the Ironborn camp, scouts had gone out under Waterman and were reeking all kinds of havoc on the Ironborn fighters, drawing them out and slaughtering them. The men of the Finger were there as well, fighting hard to keep their heads on, but Robb was not interested in them, he was more concerned with ensuring that the squids never again came to challenge the north. He knew the Mormonts would be seeing to their ships and that the Stouts would be riding out to hit the Ironborn in the rear. It was just this waiting that was beginning to get to him. He never liked waiting before a battle, he would rather be down there fighting, and ensuring that he and his men were doing their jobs. He hated all of this waiting and watching. He was not good at it.

The sound of horns drew his attention away from his thoughts, the camps were on fire, and his scouts had done a good job. The Ironborn were under pressure here now, smiling he looked at the Greatjon who blew his horn in recognition, drawing forth his sword, Robb roared a command then they were off. Down the hill charging as fast their horses could carry them, through the trees and woodland and down onto flat ground. They charged through toward the Ironborn camp and met the defenders who were there weapons drawn ready and waiting. Robb met them with a savage grin and the sound of steel on steel as he and his men rode them down was music to his ears.

His sword cuts through the air, slashing and cutting, men fall below him and his sword grows redder and redder. The push continues, he rides a man down and Greywind tears the man’s throat out. They ride on as more Ironborn come swarming through the camp and from ships somewhere in the distance. A great number of them now ready to fight and die. Robb roars a challenge and rides out to meet them, his sword does not stop swinging for a moment. It goes this way and that, bringing men down and about, his arms ache slightly but still he goes on, it makes no matter to him. These are Ironborn their mere presence offends him. His sword arch through the air and cuts them down again and again. More and more squids fall to their deaths, but not the squids Robb is looking for.

His scouts had reported that Aeron and Urrigon Greyjoy the raiders who had caused so much trouble in the heartland, had joined their brother in his foolish attempt to establish dominance over the north. They would die, as would Balon, and perhaps Theon as well, end the man’s misery or not. As he rode through the ranks of Ironborn killing as he went, he sees the bodies of good northmen lying there not looking or seeing anymore and his anger begins to grow. The Ironborn will suffer for this, they will most definitely suffer for this. His sword continues on its path to fulfilling the bloodletting that he wants it to. There are more Ironborn riving on the ground now bleeding from a dozen wounds, and their bodies are piling up growing in number. And yet there is an insatiable hunger inside of him for more, for more death and destruction of the squids.

To this end he barks a few commands and the men under his command turn from their current path toward the right and begin burning and slaughtering as they do so. The Ironborn are thrown off course, and Robb smiles savagely at this. Greywind as if reflecting his master’s mood begins snarling and jumping and tearing through those Ironborn on the ground who are defenceless. Not the most honourable of fights, but right now Robb does not care about honour. There is no place for it in the heat of battle. Only victory that is his only concern. He cuts through another rank of Ironborn allowing his men to do the rest he is looking for one of the Greyjoys they must die for what they did.

He sees the banners of House Greyjoy flying nearby and drives his horse and his men toward that banner. His heart is hammering, his eyes are wide he knows, he can taste the blood from where Greywind tore out the throats of some of the squids beforehand. He can sense victory, as he comes closer and closer toward the banner he sees men beginning to form up to prevent him from attacking whoever it is they are guarding. He and his men ride through them killing them through sword, axe or horse, and they fall to the ground. There dressed in armour before him is someone he does not know, but does not look like a Greyjoy the man is surrounded by some three or four other men and Robb wonders if he is someone else. His thoughts stop then when he decides he does not care, he will bring the man to his death either way. He rides forward sword drawn and swings, the man blocks his swing but he continues regardless, pushing using his might, and strength, Greywind assists tearing at the man’s legs and arms. The man falls to the ground his arms gone, blood seeping through him. Robb snarls and rides through the rest of the camp burning and killing.

Robb can sense victory, he can smell it. The Ironborn are afraid, they are regrouping now using horses stolen from the rills getting ready for their own retaliation but Robb knows they are deathly afraid. They were not expecting such an attack, and that suits him just fine. A man will make all kinds of mistakes when afraid. The Ironborn have shown they are no different. When the horses come galloping toward them Robb and his men know what to do, they hold the line and hold firm. The Ironborn unsure on horseback smash into them. Some fall to their deaths others put up more of a fight and it is those that Robb respects, they stand and hold but they die nonetheless, their bodies broken and smashed by the collision. The horses ride off once their riders are dead, and the push continues.

They are in the heart of the Greyjoy camp now, the tents are burning around them, the Ironborn are either fighting one last stand trying desperately to hold their ground or they are mounted on horses, hastily trying to keep themselves balanced as the horses shy away from the flames. Robb smiles once more to see the sight, this is how it should be with the Ironborn burning to their deaths, and they are not worth a clean death none of their damn kind is. He barks commands, and his men follow him toward the centre of the camp, where the Ironborn are either mounted or surrounding their commander, whom he supposes is Balon Greyjoy. It makes no matter, for Robb and his men soon overwhelm the enemy with sheer force and greater size. The Ironborn are broken and defeated, and yet some of their number put up a stern resistance, Robb takes great pleasure in killing them handing them the deaths they so desperately crave.

The battle eventually comes to an end once those Ironborn still left alive realise they are done for. Their comrades lie on the ground dead and unseeing. A massacre, Robb and his northmen have defied the odds and beaten the Ironborn, those that are alive are taken as prisoners and the rest are burned, Robb will not have their bodies staining the north. He and his men ride into the Ryder Castle, where the Ryswells are stationed things are seen to, and Robb has himself treated, he took a fair few nicks and cuts during the battle, and as such it is nothing serious. Once that is done, he goes to the great hall of the Ryswells castle where his men are gathered as are the prisoners.  All goes quiet as Robb speaks. “We have won a great victory today my men. The Ironborn have been defeated, the squids have lost their ships and whatever fighting strength they had is gone. Broken. They will cause us no trouble anymore.”

There are loud cheers at this and as prisoners are shoved to the front the Greatjon booms. “The three main prisoners my prince. Balon, Urrigon and Aeron Greyjoy. The scum of the highest order.”

His men begin jeering as Balon, Aeron and Urrigon are forced to kneel. Robb looks at all three in disdain. “You three are the reasons the north is in this state. You broke a peace and caused war where none was required. You all shall die for your crimes. Do you have anything to say before you die?”

There is silence in the hall then, and then Balon Greyjoy an old and haggard man speaks. “You might think you have won this war boy, but the old way never dies. More will come and take our place. You will never know peace so long as you live.” The man pauses, and then looks at Theon. “And you, Theon, Greenlander, if you are truly my son you will do the deed yourself. Have the balls to kill me if you are true Ironborn.”

Robb looks at Theon who took a fair few blows himself during the battle, his friend looks shaken and looks as if he is about to protest. Smiling Robb speaks. “Theon, your father has made a request of you. Are you going to be rude and deny him it?” his former friend looks at him surprised and horrified, but Robb does not care he looks at Theon and says. “Theo give the man your axe, let us see what an Ironborn is like, do they truly bleed salt and iron?”

Wull gives Theon his axe then and his former friend takes it and walks over to his father who is staring at him. When the Greatjon pushes the man’s head down, they all hear Balon say. “Remember the old way son, remember the old way.” His head is removed from his body then, it takes three swings of the axe but eventually it is done and eventually his head rolls on the floor.

Robb picks up the head then and raises it for all to look at. “This is Balon Greyjoy the King of the Iron Islands, a man broken and destroyed. The north does not accept Ironborn. His head shall adorn a spike on Winterfell’s walls from now until the end of time. Remove his body from there and give it to the crows.”

As men move to remove the enemy’s body, someone asks. “What about the other two squids my prince?”

Robb looks at the head and then hands it to Theon who had given the axe back to Theo, the man is looking at his father’s head in revulsion. Robb himself is looking at the two prisoners on the ground below him who are looking at him with horror. “Remove their hands and feet so they might never touch the north again. And remove their tongues so they might not speak any Ironborn nonsense whilst here. Then send them to Deepwood Motte for the Glovers. Let them get their retribution.” Robb decrees.

As the prisoners are dragged away, Robb can hear their screams, he merely smiles. Justice has been done, the squids are finished.

 

Chapter Text

5th Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Ser Kevan Lannister

Things were going horribly wrong for them, Kevan knew that, they all knew that. New enemies seemed to be appearing from almost every corner now, and they were running out of ways to deal with them. It was one long headache, things were just getting more and more worse, and there was a pain inside of him that it had all been for nought. Their efforts, their attempts to break their enemies, all for nothing. Perhaps it would be best if they just surrendered, there was nothing more for them to do. They were as a house finished, they could not realistically stop their allies or their enemies from overwhelming them. It was over, truly Kevan did just sort of want to minimize the damage but it seemed as though other forces were preventing him from surrendering.

One of those forces was his nephew. Tyrion had recovered from his injuries enough to be able to talk, but not walk and it was him who Kevan was speaking to now. “Your sister grows worse every day. She sees shadows where there are none. She is treating our allies as if they are enemies. It seems as though the final straw might come for her any day now. I worry for her, but more than that I worry for Tommen.”

His nephew looked up at him from his bed, his face half covered where he had suffered wounds during the blackwater. His voice nothing more than a rasp. “Cersei might be going mad, but I do not think she would deliberately try to harm Tommen. She loves her children too much to do something like that. It has and always has been her one redeeming quality.”

“I worry that in her attempt to protect Tommen from what she sees as the evils of the capital, she might very well end up having her son killed. The boy is young, too young for the things that have been thrust upon him. And yet his mother and his wife fight over him like two hens fighting over the prized male.” Kevan responds.

His nephew laughs. “Ah yes, the Tyrell girl. Tell me what is she like?”

Kevan takes a deep breath and replies. “She is a sweet girl, and she dotes on Tommen. But there is a steel underneath the façade. A cleverness borne of being the granddaughter of the Queen of Thorns. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She will hesitate at nothing to get what it is she wants.”

Tyrion snorts then. “Just like Cersei, oh how fortunate we are that we have two people of exactly the same mentality fighting for the throne. Things are bound to get interesting from here. Especially with the only things that could have kept Cersei in control gone. Father is as good as dead and Jaime, well Jaime has been as good as dead for a long time.”

Kevan feels a tinge of annoyance at his nephew’s words but he knows he speaks the truth. “I have done the best I can to control Cersei. But her desire to keep power is overwhelming my efforts. I do not think I can continue doing this for much longer.”

His nephew grasps his hand then and says. “You cannot give up just yet uncle. If you give up then we are lost. I cannot do anything, not until I can bloody well move and I do not know if that will be anytime soon. No you must be the one keeping things going. If Cersei is allowed full control of our holdings she will drive us to ruin. We must keep her away from complete control.”

“How?” Kevan asks feeling tired. “How can I do that, when I do not know whether I wish to remain here?”

His nephew sighs then a sound that makes Kevan’s ears hurt so raspy it is. “I do not know uncle. If I did I would tell you, but I do not. I fear this is one of those things, where one must figure it out for one’s own self.”

Kevan sighed then. “Very well. I shall leave you to your rest Tyrion. Sleep well.” Kevan moves away from his nephew’s sickbed then and turns and walks out of the room, his thoughts occupied with all the things that will be discussed in the council meeting today.

The small council, when he arrives is already present, his niece Cersei, Lord Rosby is there coughing away looking and inch closer to death, Varys is present looking through his notes, Baelish is there, looking shifty as he has done for some time. And then there is Pycelle who looks half asleep. He sits down in his chair next to his niece and the meeting begins. “Much and more has happened since we last met my lords.” His niece says. “We have had much treachery amongst our ranks and suffered many losses. And yet our armies led by Lord Mace Tyrell continue to fight bravely. Ser Kevan if you would begin with the talk of the battle of the Hollow Hill.”

Kevan takes a deep breath and then responds. “Thank you, Your Grace, the battle of the Hollow Hill was fought between the Stormlords led by Ser Balon Swann of the Kingsguard and the forces of Axel Tully and Ronnel Arryn. The battle turned and twisted as one side then another looked to be gaining the advantage, the death of several of our key commanders though limited our effectiveness. Ser Balon and Ser Ronnet were amongst those killed during the fighting. As such our forces were routed and pushed back into their own lands. The only notable death from the enemy side was that of Ronnel Arryn who died of his wounds.”

“Ones less traitor to deal with.” His niece says delighted. “That is very good, Lord Baelish I want a reward offered to the man who can bring me Artys Arryn’s head. The sooner we break that alliance up the better.”

“It will be done my queen.” Baelish replies his voice soft as silk.

“What other news is there from the riverlands?” his niece asks.

“It seems that the Tullys and the Arryns have cemented their alliance. Axel Tully’s son Edmyn will be marrying Artys Arryn’s sister Ryella. It seems they have arranged for the marriage to occur once the war is done.” The eunuch says.

“And what have they decided to do about the witch Lysa Tully and her brat?” the queen asks.

Kevan sees the eunuch glance slyly at Baelish before he speaks. “Lysa Tully and her son are to be brought to Riverrun once this war has concluded and they will remain there for the rest of their days, and are to never return to the Vale on pain of death.”

The queen looks thoughtful at this and her voice is filled with venom when she speaks. “Lord Baelish you have allies amongst the men of the Vale who are looking for advancement. How soon could you get word to them?”

“That depends my queen on what the message you would ask me to pass onto them would be? They can either be quite fast moving or quite slow.” Baelish responds.

Kevan eyes his niece warily, and when she speaks his heart sinks. “Send them word that they will receive a sizeable sum if they remove Artys Arryn’s head from his body and present it to me at court. It is time we broke these rebels into two.”

Kevan remains silent as Baelish begins drawing up his plans for the move, he feels a pit of despair filling him then. This move of his niece’s will not work, it cannot work, and yet there is nothing he can do to stop it from happening. When his niece looks at him and asks. “What news is there from the Westerlands, what have Stark and his northern savages been doing?”

Kevan looks down at the letter on the table before him and sighs. “It seems that Eddard Stark has taken Casterly Rock through trickery and threats.” He pauses as his niece spits curses vile words and venom. This goes on for a long time when she has eventually calmed down he speaks once more. “Damion Lannister the castellan has also declared himself King of the Rock and the West, with the backing of Eddard Stark and the northmen.”

His niece begins spitting vile then, words such as traitor, and scum coming pouring from her mouth. Kevan looks at the other members of the small council and sees the fear and worry that he feels reflected on their faces. When his niece has calmed down enough she speaks. “How many men do we have left here uncle?”

Kevan looks at his niece with great suspicion and says. “We have some two thousand men here from the West and some twenty thousand reachmen under the command of Garlan Tyrell left here.”

“Good I want them to leave her first thing tomorrow. I will not have a usurper sat in my father’s throne. It is time this ended once and for all. Uncle you shall command the Westermen and Ser Garlan shall command the reachmen. Ride out at first light, and ride with great speed.” His niece says her eyes blown wide.

Kevan looks at his niece and protests. “We cannot afford to leave the capital vulnerable Your Grace. Already men have left under Mathis Rowan’s command toward the reach to deal with Euron Greyjoy and the pretender Aegon Targaryen, we cannot allow any more men to leave.”

“And we cannot allow a usurper to sit in my father’s place. This must end and you must be the one to end it. Ensure that it is done and do it soon.” The queen says.

“What about this Targaryen pretender?” Pycelle asks speaking up then. “If it is true that he truly is the son of Prince Rhaegar then things will get a lot worse for all of us. His father’s name holds a lot of weight still.”

“Aegon Targaryen was killed during the sack of King’s Landing, this is nothing more than an imposter. The boy is using false hope and promises to gain allies. His use of Euron Greyjoy will not endear him to the Reach.” Baelish says.

Through all of this the eunuch has remained silent, his eyes darting from one person to another. When he does speak his voice is soft. “Perhaps it would be wrong not to take this threat more seriously. The pretender has the support of Dorne and some of the reacherlords are already supporting him. More will flock to his banner the more we do nothing about it.”

His niece of course dismisses this suggestion. “Nonsense the man is a pretender and the Dornish always have been traitors. It was only a matter of time before they showed their true colours. When we are done with my usurping cousin we shall turn our attention to Dorne. And they shall know the full wrath of the Iron Throne. Dragonstone has fallen, the Redwyne fleet is ours to do with as we please. I want word sent to Paxter Redwyne he is to sail for Dorne and is to begin raiding their coasts. And furthermore, Willas Tyrell is to lead his men down toward Dorne as well. Let the Dornish fight more battles than they can handle.”

The meeting comes to an end then, and despite how he disagrees with what his niece is advising, he has no choice but to obey. Resigned to his fate he stands up and walks out, the last man out of the small council chamber he nods to the Kingsguard on duty and walks back to his room in the tower of the hand. Their family has fallen, Tywin and Jaime are more than likely dead, their armies are spread too thin, and his niece is growing increasingly paranoid. It seems the legacy that his brother worked so hard to build will come crumbling down around them.

He enters his room in the Tower of the Hand and sits down at his desk, and begins reading some more correspondence with the remenants of King Tommen’s kingdom. A knock at the door disturbs him from his reading, one of his servants enters the room and says. “My lord, there is a man here to speak with you he says it is urgent.”

“Show him in then.” Kevan says. The lad bows and leaves. The door opens a few moments later and a cloaked figure enters the room. “What may I do for you?” Kevan asks the figure.

The figure remains standing and their voice is soft as silk when they reply. “No more than you have already done for me my lord. But you will not be going west tomorrow.”

Kevan stands then and asks angrily. “What do you mean I will not be going west? Who are you to stop me?”

The figure walks toward him then and Kevan tenses. “I am someone who has waited a long time to do this.”

“To do wha….” Kevan begins, he is interrupted by the feeling of something being plunged inside of him. He looks down and sees a dagger buried inside him. He looks at the hooded figure and asks. “Why?”

“For my sister. It is time those who ensured she died suffer for it.” The hooded man replies, before he stands back and Kevan falls to his knees. The last thing he sees before the world goes black is purple eyes.

Chapter Text

5th Month of 299 A.C.

A Lonely King

The darkness was all consuming, something that he had become used to, ever since they had sent him here. The nine siblings, destined to break his power and scatter him to the winds, it was harsh but then again it had been he who had done the deed. His wife had died long ago, that thing that was called death which did not harm him, the thing which caused him all kinds of pain. It was at once his saviour and his burden, to carry through the ages, the last of his kind, the last one to know the truth behind the kingdoms. It was a burden that would drive any man insane. It had driven him insane many times before, but always his wife had been there to bring him back from the edge. She would not be there to do that this time. And for that he cried. He cried for many times over.

“It has happened Your Grace,” the man with the horn on his head said. The man had come many years ago to serve, as his ancestors had. “The boy has returned to Westeros and has begun causing the war to begin again.”

“Goooooood” the king drawled in his cold voice. “Let them fight, let them know the pain to which they would cast me.”

“What of our man in the lion’s seat? What do we do there? Do we allow him to continue or do we allow him to disappear?” the man asks.

The king considered for a moment and then responds. “Let him continue on his path. Let us see where he goes. He has served us loyally these past few years, let us see whether he can convince the boy to allow us through. If he can he may live, if not kill his family.”

The horned man nodded and bowed before leaving. The king was left atop his throne of ice considering all that was happening and about to happen and that which had happened. For thousands of years he had planned this. The moment he would come back to the world of the living, the moment he would see darkness fall on the world. She would have wanted it, his love, and his love who had been taken away from him. She would want this to happen. And he thought of their line, the line that were kings south once more. And he called forth another one of his servants. “Tell me what news do you have of them?”

The cowed wolf spoke his voice soft. “They are moving to the seat of the fish my king. They bring with them a lion, of the line of Lann. They will be bringing him for his death. The line of Lann will end, my vision has told me this.”

“And what of Nagga’s children? Where are they?” the king asks.

“Dead my king,” the wolf replied. “Long dead, killed by the young wolf. He drinks their blood and makes the last of the line clean the entrails from the trees. The wolves are free from the squids.”

 

“Good. Nagga has had his fun, and they have been tested. They have shown that they are worthy to wear the crown that my son made for them. Let them rest in peace. They have known war.” The king replied his tone icy.

The wolf bowed its head and then asked. “What if the king chooses to continue fighting with the trout and falcon? I will not have the power to convince him against the course.”

“He will not go against the course. He has our advisor with him does he not?” the king asks, his voice growing more irritated.

Your Grace…….our advisor has been left behind to make sure the red lion does as told.” The wolf says his voice no more than a whisper.

“Why was I not informed of this earlier?  The man must be with him otherwise it will not work. The plan will not work. I thought I had made that clear, he must be with the man, and otherwise this will not work. The north will fall. What part of that did you not understand?” the king asks his voice growing louder.

The wolf slinks back from the king whimpering. “I am sorry Your Grace. I am sorry, it was something beyond my control. I… my powers only go so far.”

The king moves his hand and the wolf dies instantly, its throat slit. “Useless wolf, never as good as his mother promised him to be.” the king says more to himself than anyone else. He looks around the throne room and then says in his soft voice. “Fenrir.”

The wolf walks on its hind legs toward him and comes before him. “What might I do for you Your Grace?” the wolf asks in its silky voice.

The king looks at the wolf and sees its purple eyes glistening in the light of the ice. “I want you to do as Freki was supposed to do. Keep the north safe for now, and ensure that the king does not lose his crown. Ensure that your son makes the boy king, of the highest order. But nothing more.”

The wolf bows low and replies. “I will Your Grace.”

The king watches as the wolf walks toward the end of the throne room transforming into a person as he does. He need not look to know that the form that the wolf has taken will have pale skin and even paler eyes. He smiles somewhat as his son disappears. “The rest of you may go. Do as you have been instructed and leave me in peace.” The king commands.

The other figures of ice disappear then back to their hidden enclaves, waiting for the time when darkness will once again cover the earth and winter will rule forever. The king sits his throne and broods. He thinks of all that had happened and all that will happen. The free folk will no doubt try to cover their tracks and move south, and his son’s descendant will get word of that sooner or later and will prepare to fight. That will be when he makes his move. He will come back south and remind the world why it is that winter is the remover and the giver of life. Standing from his throne, his eyes a pale blue, the night king smiles and outside it begins to snow.

Chapter Text

6th Month of 299 A.C. Riverrun

Prince Jon Stark

The war had been raging on for a year now, and in that time Jon had seen and done many things. He had killed many men, he had fallen in love and taken a girl’s maidenhead, he had had his belief of honour called into question because of the actions of his father and brother, and he had found that he preferred not having such a stringent compass put on him because of it. Jon had discovered that he had a talent for talking during the negotiations with Damion Lannister, it had been Jon who had talked down the man’s brother or cousin- it was hard to tell who it was- from doing something incredibly stupid. It had been he who had convinced the Marbrands that continuing to resist was not a smart move. All of these things and the fact that he had also managed to keep some of the more, elusive characters in the army from doing anything too stupid made Jon think that perhaps this war had not been all that bad. Yes there were nightmares, and the things he had done were sometimes things that kept him up at night, but at the end of the day they were winning the war, and it was time to enjoy it.

Gods alone knew Jorelle kept going on about that. She was a very interesting girl Jorelle, he had liked her from the moment he first saw her at Winterfell when Robb had called the banners. They had gotten on well, like a house on fire, they knew one another so very well now. It was safe to say that he did love her, truly love her. He could not imagine a time without her in his life, and the thought of her not being in his life pained him. They slept together now, whenever they made camp for the night, she shared his tent and his hearth, and surprisingly his father had said nothing on the matter. But Jory, she was, she was everything to him, and he did truly care for her. During the taking of Lannisport, he had been truly scared for her, worried she might die, and something in his dreams had said she would, but he had saved her from it. Ghost killing the man who would have dared to harm her and that had not come to be. His heart hammered at the sight of her, and the thought of losing her made him feel grief stricken.

Then there were his dreams, they had come slowly at first, when he had been in the Riverlands the first time round and then they had starting coming much quicker when they had moved to the Westerlands. Dreams of an all-consuming winter, ice on the ground, and an army of the dead marching south toward a giant wall of ice. Lead by a man who had once lived but was now dead, his eyes a pale blue. The dead marched and war came to Westeros once more. Covering in shadows. He did not know what it meant, but it terrified him. And there had been dreams of a boy with silver hair and violet eyes, a dragon in snake’s clothing. When news had come of the landing Of Aegon Targaryen, Jon had gotten some closure on that matter, it had been the Targaryen boy he had dreamt of landing in the land of snakes and removing the lions from power. But what did not make sense was the dreams and whisperings of a promise that always followed his dreams of the boy. It made no sense. Nor did the dreams he had of a man that looked like his father donning a crown of ice, and leading an army toward the south, an army of dragons and wights, and things he did not understand.

It was very confusing, but he knew that was not why his father had asked to speak with him. They had just finished discussing the plans for Maidenpool and Jon suspected his father wished to go over the plans with him. His father looked tired, and worn, his skin was beginning to pale, and his eyes, and they were becoming paler as the days wore on as well. It unnerved Jon somewhat, this was furthered by how tired his father sounded. “Tell me what you make of the plans for Maidenpool then son. Do you think we are right to trust Artys Arryn?”

Jon considered the question for a moment and then said. “I believe so. But you are right to be wary of him. The man is too hot headed for his own good. He wants to keep fighting even though this war is winding down. Perhaps this battle will teach him that war is no game. Though I do wonder why Uncle Axel is so convinced that the garrison of Maidenpool will revolt.”

His father smiles one of his ever rarer smiles. “Because Tarly is dead, without Tarly there will be no order in the city. Mace Tyrell is not known for his smarts, he is known for being an oaf. He will suffer gravely now that Tarly is dead. The laws that man put in place in Maidenpool will come back to hit Mace Tyrell on the arse and end him for good and all. The garrison will revolt and the Tyrells will be hard pressed to face that garrison and an enemy attack.”

“And with Artys Arryn being as hot headed as he is, the initial attack on the city will be quick and bloody. Tyrell will panic without his best commander there to aid him. The gates will open as a result. That is what you are going for is it not father?” Jon asks.

His father smiles. “Indeed it is. Had Ronnel Arryn survived perhaps we might be able to settle the anger with the Vale, but Artys is too much of a risk. He will do something stupid and end up either being killed or injured. And with your cousin being betrothed to his sister, there is a chance we might be able to bring the man round.”

“Do you intend to reinstate Cousin Robert?” Jon asks.

His father snorts. “Gods no, the boy is a bastard and will never rule anything. No, we shall use the fact that Artys Arryn’s sister is betrothed to your cousin Edmyn to force Artys to listen to our council. The man is too wilful to be a good king, he needs more sense. Hopefully this will give it to him.”

Jon considers this for a moment and then it hits him. “The attack on Maidenpool, it will cost him men and some of the support of his lords. He will need to become more cautious to keep his lords happy.”

His father smiles once more. “Exactly. A harsh lesson, but one the boy needs to learn.”

Jon looks at his father a moment and then asks. “And once Maidenpool is done? Where do we go from there father?”

“We march onward to King’s Landing, where the lions sleep. We will end the lions once and for all and ensure that they never dare to challenge us again.” his father responds.

Jon considers this a moment. “You mean to take the city and offer it to Aegon Targaryen as an offering of alliance? But surely he will want you to bend the knee? After all he is a Targaryen and surely they will want all of the kingdoms under their control.”

A strange look passes over his father’s face at the mention of Targaryen, but then it is gone. His voice is measured when he replies. “Targaryen does not have enough support to force any of us to bend the knee. He is in a relatively secure position for now. Offering him the south, the reach, the Stormlands, Dorne and the Crownlands would be a fair deal. He wants the throne he can have it, but he will not have the whole seven kingdoms.”

Jon looks at his father and asks. “What will make him so willing to allow that father? He is a Targaryen after all and surely he would be pressured into taking all of the kingdoms as his ancestor did?”

Once more a strange look passes over his father’s face, and Jon wonders why that is, is there some secret he is keeping? His father’s voice is soft when he responds. “The kingdoms have been at war, there is not much strength left to mount a full invasion, but doing so would lessen his chances of acceptance. The boy will need acceptance if people are going to be willing to allow his rule in the south. If he is smart, and if his councillors are smart they will council this. And he will accept it.”

Jon is not sure he completely agrees, but he can sense the topic is making his father uncomfortable therefore he changes the topic of discussion and asks. “And what of the Iron Islands, what do you plan on doing with them?”

“If Robb’s letters are true, then Balon Greyjoy brought most if not all of the fighting strength of the Ironborn with him, leaving behind only old men, women and children on the islands. They are done for, for now. Theon will return and claim the Seastone Chair and will do so under our direction. That is the only way to ensure that things are secure there.” his father responds.

Jon nods. “You intend to use some of their ships to do the deed then? As well as build ships on the western coast?”

“As well as sending some of the Lannister ships to aid in this venture yes.” His father responds.

Jon considers this a moment then and asks. “Why have you not asked me about Jory father?”

His father’s eyebrows raise slightly and he himself asks. “What do you mean son?”

Jon swallows then feeling slightly nervous. “Well, we have not exactly been discreet about it father. We have been sleeping together for some time now. And I thought you would have reprimanded me because of it.”

There is a moment’s silence and then his father bursts out laughing. “Oh Jon lad, I don’t care if you are sleeping with her. You clearly care for her and you are not taking advantage of her, so I have no qualms about it. Yes you are not married now, but I sense you wish to ask for her hand, so I am willing to allow this to go on for some more time.”

“Okay father, thank you.” Jon says breathing a sigh of relief.

His father does hold up a hand then. “On one condition. Before this war is over you two will be wed. I will not have my grandchildren come into this world bastards. That cannot happen.”

Jon bows his head then. “Yes father.”

“Good,” his father replies. A silence follows after that, and then his father speaks once more, just when Jon thinks they are done. “Tell me Jon have you been having dreams?”

Jon looks at his father surprised. “How…how did you know father?”

“Because I am your father, I know when you have been dreaming things that disturb you. Tell me about them.” his father responds.

Jon takes a deep breath and then says. “Well, I dreamt of Aegon Targaryen before we heard of his arrival here. I dreamt of a boy with silver hair and violet eyes, a dragon pretending to be a snake. And I keep hearing a whispered promise and a woman’s voice as well whenever thoughts turn to him. I do not understand that.”

Once more a strange look passes across his father’s face, it looks pained at the mention of a whispered promise, and Jon does not understand that. His father though looks at him and says. “There is more is there not? Go on son.”

Jon takes a deep breath then says. “I keep seeing things in my dreams and when I am awake as well. An army of the dead, marching toward the wall and leading it a pale figure with a crown on his head. His eyes are blue as the sea and he looks angry very angry. I keep feeling as if there is something I am supposed to know about him, I recognise him, I feel as if I have met him before, but I do not know where. And then I see someone who looks like you accepting a crown of ice from this man, and winter covering the kingdoms. An eternal night.”

He looks at his father then not sure what sort of reaction to expect. His father looks worried. His voice is barely more than a whisper when he says. “Those dreams that you have just described to me of an army of the dead and a king with blue eyes leading them, are exactly the same dreams my grandfather Lord Edwyle dreamed when he was alive.”

Jon’s interested is perked then, his great grandfather is rarely spoken of and if he is, it usually is in harsh whispers. “And what did he do? What happened to him?”

His father grimaces. “He went mad, and began killing his people indiscriminately, and raving about the darkness that was to come. My father had to fight a war to put him down. But before he died, Lord Edwyle became very close to Lady Jonella Bolton.”

“How…..how do you mean?” Jon asks unsure of whether he wants to know.

His father sighs. “Jonella Bolton was a Bolton by birth and married to her cousin Domeric. Domeric died during some war or the other, and when Lord Edwyle went mad he and Jonella began sleeping together. There was a child from their union.”

“What happened to the child?” Jon asks though he sense he already knows.

“The child grew up in the Dreadfort, and in time became its lord, and is now serving in the Westerlands.” His father replies grimly.

Chapter Text

6th Month of 299 A.C. Winterfell

Prince Robb Stark

It was good to be home, war was in his blood, but home, home was where his heart was. The fact that the Ironborn were gone, destroyed was good. It meant that he would only need to ride south for one final push alongside his father and brother before they could return home for good. The Ironborn, pah, they were no true fighting force, just a lot of savages who knew how to sail. They did not know how to fight on land, they were brutes and barbarians, and Robb had gladly killed them. There were only old men and children and women left on the isles now, and if Robb’s father did give the order, Robb would make sure those old men and those children who were boys never again considered coming north for raiding. The heads of the Ironborn that had been taken prisoner during the battle of the Rills now decorated spikes on Winterfell’s walls that was where they belonged as far as Robb was concerned nowhere else. As for Lord Flint of Flint’s Finger, well the Dreadfort was in need of practice. And so that was where the traitor had gone.

Winterfell was filled with life, Robb and his men were adding a very colourful atmosphere to things, and he liked it. Winterfell had seemed far too quiet if what his mother and sisters were saying was true. There had been a sense of dread hanging over the castle whilst the Ironborn had been in the north, and that was something Robb never wanted to have happen again. His father’s orders to build ships on the Western coast had been met with loud approval and so Robb had given the order to the Glovers and their men. The wood from the Wolfswood would do the job nicely. His family were happy and content, his mother had given birth to a boy whom she had named Hoster after her father and as such his brother was a sweet babe, he had a pale complexion and blue eyes, though his hair was brown like Jon’s. His mother was happy and content and she wished for father and Jon to come home. Sansa seemed to have recovered somewhat from her ordeal in King’s Landing, though there were times when she was troubled by nightmares and those were the times when she would share his bed. As for Arya, well Arya seemed to have become something of a terror, causing havoc, but always quietly, Robb was worried for her, but did not know how to approach the matter. Bran, Bran was quiet and he spent more time with the Reed children than Robb was happy with, there was something off about them, something Robb did not like. He was not sure, what it was, but he did not truly like it.

Regardless, he could not focus on that just now, he had called his mother, Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrik to his father’s solar to discuss matters of grave importance. He looked around the room and he could sense the tiredness in the people he was with. Robb takes a deep breath and then begins. “I have been gone for a year now, the north has been fighting the squids for most of that time. Thankfully the squids are gone, but there is much and more that needs to be done. We must rebuild the Rills and Barrowton must have its walls fixed. Flint’s Finger needs a Lord as well. There is much that must be done before I leave for the south once more.”

There is a moment’s silence, and then Maester Luwin speaks. “The Rills and Barrowton should be covered by the finances we have put aside on King Eddard’s orders. Furthermore, there should according to Lord Ryswell be enough in the coffers of Ryder hall to cover any damage that has been done to their lands.”

Robb nods. “That is good, very good. The Ironborn have been taught a suitable lesson on what happens when they mess with the north. If they have any sense they will not come this way ever again.”

Maester Luwin nods and then says. “A raven did come from Harlaw as you are aware my prince. Lord Rodrik Harlaw wishes to discuss terms with either yourself or your father. He wishes to establish trade links to rebuild the Islands from the damage that Balon Greyjoy’s madness wrought.”

Robb looks at the maester a moment. “The man wishes to rebuild the islands does he? Does he wish to exact revenge for the chaos that I have caused his people? Does he wish to exact a toll on us?”

“No my prince, it seems he is quite genuine in his desire to achieve a peaceful relationship with the north. As you, yourself said, the Ironborn have lost all of their fighting capability, they do not have the power to resist any change you wish to bring.” The maester responds.

Robb considers this a moment and then looks at his mother and asks. “Mother what do you make of this offer? Do you think it is genuine?”

His mother looks at him in thought before replying. “I believe so. I do not know much of Rodrik Harlaw, but what I do know came from your father, and your father always believed the man to be the most reasonable of the Ironborn.”

Robb considers this a moment. “Maester Luwin write back to Lord Harlaw and tell him to send his terms and conditions here. We shall discuss this in more detail only then. I will not do anything until I know exactly what it is the man wants. I will not subject the north to the islands if there is nothing in it for us.”

“A wise choice my prince.” The maester says taking a note on one of his many scrolls. “No doubt the man will ask for Theon back.”

Robb looks at the maester a moment and then says. “Indeed he might very well do so. And it would suit us to have Theon in the Islands. But as I said he will only go back on our terms nothing more, nothing less.”

“Very good my prince, very good.” Maester Luwin says making a note of this on the same scroll.

There is a moment’s silence and then Ser Rodrik speaks. “There is the issue of Flint’s Finger my prince. And whilst I completely agree with the stance you took on old Lord Flint, traitors must be punished, there is now a bit of a dilemma as to whom should take the Finger. There are at least four claims I know of.”

“Three actually Ser Rodrik.” Maester Luwin says. “One from the Flints of the mountains, one from the Flint’s of Widow’s Watch and of course one from House Ryswell.”

“And which has the stronger and most recent claim?” Robb asks.

Maester Luwin looks at his papers for a moment then responds. “The Ryswells my prince. Lord Rodrik’s mother was a Flint of Flint’s Finger. They are the more powerful of the three claimants as well.”

“Ah but the Flint’s of Widow’s Watch will have the backing of the Manderlys you can be sure of that.” His mother says.

“And the Manderlys are one of the most powerful houses in the north it would not do to anger them.” Robb says, all the while thinking it makes no matter if the Manderlys are angry or not, what he has planned for them will more than appease Wyman Manderly.

Luwin looks slightly uncomfortable at this. “Whilst it does make sense to perhaps go with the Flints of Widow’s Watch, perhaps it might make more sense to give the Finger to the house with the most legitimate claim?”

Robb looks at the man a moment, his eyes hardening. “And what is a legitimate claim? Is it through blood, or is it through force of arms? The Ironborn tried to legitimise their claim through force, Robert Baratheon legitimised his claim to the Iron throne through force. My own ancestors legitimised their claim to the north through force. No a blood claim is nothing more than a nicety. The true issue here is which house will be more loyal. House Flint of the Finger was led by a blind old man, a man who should have been killed many years ago. The Flints of Widow’s Watch have their own agenda as do the Ryswells. No, the only house I would trust to sit in the Finger is the Flints of the Mountains. I shall send a raven to my father, but I know he will support me.”

“My son is right. There is no point worrying about niceties now. The Flints of the Mountains have always been Stark men. They have no agenda, they will fight to the death for Winterfell. It is time they were rewarded as such.” His mother says.

The maester nods. “Do you wish for me to send a raven to Breakstone Hall then my prince?”

“No,” Robb replies shaking his head. “Let the letter wait for a while yet. Let us see what these men do. Let us see what their true aims are.”

The maester nods. “Of course my prince.”

A silence descends on them then. Robb looks through some of the letters on the desk in front of him, and his thoughts turn to the Reeds. Looking at his mother he asks. “Do you know why the Reeds came here?”

His mother looks slightly taken aback by the question but merely shakes her head. “I do not no. Why do you ask?”

“Because they have been here an awfully long time, and do not seem to be getting ready to leave anytime soon. They continue speaking of taking Bran beyond the wall, in a mission that is complete nonsense and truly, I think they might be better of leaving.” Robb replies.

“Do you mean to send then away then?” his mother asks.

Before he can reply, maester Luwin speaks. “I would advise against that my prince. The Reeds might not be as powerful as some of the other lords of the north, but they are an old and proud family. And your father and Lord Reed are good friends, it would not do to isolate them.”

Something in his expression makes the maester shrink back a little. He takes a deep breath before replying. “I do not intend to send them away. I intend to see our two families joined in marriage. It is clear to me that my brother Bran cares a great deal for the girl, and that she cares for him. Whilst Bran is still young, they can be betrothed. That will be one way to ensure our families remain closely tied together.”

 He looks at his mother, and she voices her agreement. “I am sure if you write to him, your father will approve of the marriage.”

“And what of the boy?” Ser Rodrik asks.

“He will remain here as well. For a time. There are some things I mean to speak with him about. He needs to stop telling Bran all of these tales, they are unnecessarily scaring him. My brother is a prince now, he cannot act like a baby.” Robb says, feeling the anger grow inside of him.

He feels his mother’s hand on his arm then, and looks down to see that his hand was clenched into a fist. He uncurls his fingers then and looks around the room, his mother is looking at him with some concern whilst Maester Luwin is looking at his scrolls and Ser Rodrik is looking through some letter or the other. The maester looks at him then and asks. “And what of you my prince? Have you thought of whom you wish to wed?”

Robb considers this for a moment and thinks of his dreams, of the darkness and the whispering words. And then he looks at his mother who merely nods. He looks at the maester once more and says. “I think it is about time the Manderlys were rewarded for their loyal service.”

Chapter Text

6th Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Queen Cersei Lannister

The words that the witch had spoken that day many years ago were haunting her dreams and her waking hours. She remembered the wording and what had come afterward, the deaths of those girls who had come with her, the beating she had gotten her sworn sword Meryn to give Jeyne Farman. It was all coming back to her now, it was driving her mad, the constant visions, and the presence of something at the back of her mind that she had kept at bay for so long. It was coming true, all of it.  She had become a Queen to a man who had more children than she did. All of Robert Baratheon’s bastards were either dead or hiding somewhere, she had seen to that. But there was the one who had escaped, he was not a bastard though, the bull was hiding somewhere, she had allowed for that to happen. She could not risk him dead, he was hers, and hers alone, neither Robert’s nor Jaime’s, but hers. Gods she wanted him here, she wanted him here with her, but that would be madness, the realm thought he had died when he was but a babe, no one else remembered him. She was going mad thinking about him, he was gone now, somewhere far beyond.  Somewhere she could not reach him. She needed to keep Tommen safe, to keep him safe the boy could never know of who he was. That was essential, and yet it was like a dagger to her heart. It was a sense of pain, a constant sense of pain. The feeling that she could not get her child, her firstborn. By the gods it was driving her mad with pain and grief. Would he have been a good king? She would like to think so, the best of her and her lover, gods it was painful thinking about him. Gods, she could see him now, his blue eyes looking at her lovingly, and the laughter that he had, it had been infectious, and she would often smile when he did. He had been the only thing that she and Robert had ever agreed upon, and then she had had to give him up to the flames. He was somewhere else though she was sure of it. Just like shew knew Myrcella was not dead, despite what the eunuch’s spies said. She would know if her daughter was dead, just as she would know if her baby was dead. It was hard to get thinking about this, it was painful and she had experienced so much pain. She did not think she could deal with much more of it. Her son who was king was nothing more than a babe, Tommen, nothing but a poor imitation of Jaime as he had been when they were nothing more than babes themselves. He was weak, he was not Joffrey and he certainly was not her firstborn. That shamed her, and the Tyrell girl would dig her claws into him the first chance she got.

The Tyrells were responsible for her uncle Kevan’s death. She knew it, she just knew it. Her uncle was a strong presence, and the Tyrells one way or another had gotten rid of him. The fat flower might be in Maidenpool but his mother and his daughter were here and they were far cleverer than the fat flower. They would have done the deed quietly whilst no one suspected it. It was clever she had to give them that, the guards had found her uncle dead, having bled to death. Knife wounds, no doubt some sell sword or hired knife had done the deed, for a chance to kiss the Tyrell girl. It was aggravating, her son was not safe. He truly was not, she had no doubt that the first chance the Tyrell girl got, she would try to fuck her son or fuck someone else, a Lannister cousin and try and pass the child  off as Tommen’s. The mere thought of it all made her angry. So very angry, the nerve of the Tyrell girl and her grandmother, to come here, when they had come as beggars, to try and remove her from power and remove her sons. She knew it had been them that had seen to it that Joffrey was killed during the fighting with Stannis. It had to be them. it was all them, all of it, it was all on them. This grave infortune it had fallen on her and her family because of the Tyrells, and they would pay for it. She swore a holy oath that they would pay for it. They would succumb to their greed and avarice and pay for what they had done. She would see it done. Her uncle’s body lying in state at the Great Sept of Baelor, the blood oozing from him and the mere looks of disdain that the Tyrell whore and her harridan of a grandmother had given her uncle, all of it had been seen and Cersei was determined to see them pay for it. They would not get away with this, they had risen too high too quickly and she meant to see their fall just as quick. The Tyrells would fall and death would come for them. She was determined of that, she knew that death would come for the roses, she knew it, and she just knew it. Already she had accusations getting ready to be made against Loras Tyrell, to feed the fire that was the growing anger that was the Faith. She was going to see the man imprisoned and his sister removed and killed. Cersei laughed at the thought of this, her revenge, it would be sweet, so very sweet. By the gods would it be good, to see the smugness rubbed off of the Tyrell girl’s face. Oh she hungered for it. She desperately hungered for it. The sweet taste of revenge. But first, first she must play her moves on the council.

“What news is there from the Riverlands? Has Mace Tyrell finally moved from his hiding place in Maidenpool toward doing something about the threat of the traitors?” she asks barely keeping her voice calm.

The eunuch looks at the scroll before him before replying. “It appears not Your Grace. Mace Tyrell remains sequestered in Maidenpool awaiting something or the other. It also seems that the man has lost a valued friend and commander in Lord Tarly. The man finally succumbed to his wounds some five days ago.”

“A shame,” Cersei says taking a sip of wine. “Tarly was the only one capable of doing anything worthwhile in the Reach. With him gone, what is there preventing this fool of Highgarden from capitulating and bending the knee?”

“The fact that his daughter is still here and is still Queen Your Grace.” Lord Baelish replies. “The moment his daughter looks in danger Mace Tyrell will come scampering back here, like a mouse with its tail between its legs. Keeping the Tyrell girl here reminds Mace that we have his most valued possession.”

Cersei nods. “And the gold cloaks are keeping a firm eye on her and her grandmother?”

“Yes my queen. They do nothing without the gold cloaks learning about it. And as such I know about it before they do as well. My own men are part of their guard.” Baelish responds.

Cersei nods. “Very well, and Tarly had a daughter did he not?”

“He has two my queen,” Lord Varys says. “Talla who is some ten and five namedays old, and Yara who is some ten and four namedays old.”

Excellent. “Ask them to come here. The Reach is no place for two maidens. Especially with Euron Greyjoy and his pirates raiding with impunity. They will come here and we will see that they are given marriages befitting their station.”

Lord Varys nods and then asks. “And what of the boy? Lord Tarly’s son Dickon is in Maidenpool and is currently married to Willam Mooton’s daughter.”

“You have spies in the Tyrell army do you not?” Cersei asks. The eunuch nods. “Good, use them. Have Tarly killed. It is time we started reclaiming some of what the Reacher lords have taken.” The eunuch nods. Cersei then looks at Maester Pycelle. “How is my brother doing? Will be able to join this council meeting any time soon?”

The grand maester looks somewhat abashed when he says. “I have tried my best Your Grace, but it looks as if Lord Tyrion will not be able to do much more than sleep and eat at his bed for the time remaining. I do not know what it is, but something is preventing him from getting better.”

Another Tyrell plot. Cersei thinks, aloud she merely says. “Are you sure you have done all you could to ensure that my brother gets better Maester? I know your mind is not what it once was.”

The grand maester looks indignant then. “I have done all within my power to try and bring Lord Tyrion back to a suitable state of being my queen, I assure you. And yet I have not been able to find out why it is that none of the methods I have used have worked. Something that perhaps might be a personal decision of Lord Tyrion’s.”

Cersei snorts. “You truly believe my brother would want to die? No, this is something else. Someone else is deliberately preventing my brother from getting better. Do you know the Tyrell maester?”

“Maester Ebrose? I know him somewhat. Why my queen?” the Grand Maester asks.

“I want him placed under arrest.” Cersei says looking at Lord Baelish.

“Arrested? For what crime?” Pycelle stutters.

“The crime of trying to kill a member of the royal family. The Tyrells think they can out manoeuvre me then they are grossly wrong. It is time we showed the roses who is truly in power. Did you not say that Margaery had come to you asking for Moon Tea?” Cersei asks remembering something that the man had told her.

The Grand Maester looks somewhat perplexed. “I…I… yes, yes she did my queen. But she said it was for someone else.”

“A lie it would seem that the Maiden of Highgarden is no maiden. I believe it is time we made sure that my son’s wife truly is what she claims. I want her brought for questioning.” Cersei says feeling triumphant.

“Do you wish for the man to ask her?” Baelish asks.

“I do, he will get the best results. And should she refuse to co-operate, well the faith has been acting up for some time. Perhaps it would be best to get them involved.” Cersei says dismissively.

“Your Grace I must want against this.” The Grand Maester says hurriedly. “This is a most inappropriate course of action. The Tyrells are our allies, we cannot antagonise them to this extent. They will withdraw their support and then we shall be left with nothing.”

“They will do nothing. Not a hair on Margaery’s head will be touched. She is merely going to be questioned, about some vile rumours that have been spread about her.” Cersei responds.

“What do you want done with Shireen and her mother?” Baelish asks.

“Kill them. They are nothing but a nuisance now. Remove them and feed their bodies to the flames. The faith should like that.” Cersei says.

There is silence for a moment as the council digests what she has said and then the eunuch says. “My Queen, my little birds have been reporting to me that it seems that Euron Greyjoy is looking for better pay than the pretender Aegon Targaryen can give him. He is looking for gold for the services he is willing to offer.”

“And what does the traitor want?” she asks.

“He wants gold, and he wants the Iron Islands and a chance to avenge his fallen kin. He wants the Stepstones as well.” The eunuch says.

“Well if he beats Paxter Redwyne and gives me Aegon Targaryen’s head he can have it.” Cersei says dismissively. “If not then he will die and the islands will be torn asunder.”

 

 

Chapter Text

6th Month of 299 A.C. Oldtown

The Mage

For years he had looked for the book, searching every nook and cranny that he could possibly think to look, and yet there had been nothing, no relief. Nothing. Not even a faint trace of it that it would even exist had been called into question many times. The old Maester at the wall had said that if it had existed it was long since gone, his own brother had long doubted its existence, and yet his brother was dead, killed on the Trident by the usurper. All he had ever seen of the book was one page, just one page and that had been enough to convince him that he needed to see more, that he most definitely needed to see more. And yet all his searches had been in vain, he had been to so many places over the years looking for it, and yet nothing. Even those damn necromancers in Asshai did not know what had become of it. And then, and then, he had found it, hidden away in a dark and deep section of the citadel. The book people had killed for. The book of Daenys the Dreamer.

He looked at the book, anticipation filled him, and he was excited, very excited. He looked at the book at its simple cover and knew that there was history within its pages. He took a deep breath and then opened it and began to read. The pages were worn with age, but the smell, the smell was that of a new book as if it had been untouched by the ages, it excited him. But what also excited him and scared him was the words on the first page.

To the mage,

I do not know who you are, but I know you have searched long and hard for this book. I hope that the finding is as satisfying to you as the writing of this was to me. It has been a strange time for me, my family has recently moved to the island citadel of Dragonstone, we are mocked by the others for being nothing more than cowards, but I know, and I know the kingdom my descendant will conquer will know that I was right. We were right to come here.

My people have become vain and over proud we have become what the Ghiscari were before us, and what the Archonians were before them. Our dragons give us power, but the age of the dragon is waning. I hope you find this book informative, Balerion knows you will need to. There are dark days ahead of you my child, but know that this book will be there to guide you.

Marwyn’s heart was hammering in his chest as he finished reading that. He wanted to read through all of the book now and find out all that he had wanted to know since he had learned of who he was. Of the blood flowing through his veins, but he did not have the time for that. Word had come from the wall, of dead things in the water, and he knew that he needed to find the pages where the dreamer talked about this. He hummed a song his mother used to sing to him when he was a child as he turned the pages with great care, looking for what he was searching for. The song was somewhat ironic considering what he was looking for, a song about a wolf maid taken by a dragon prince and a bloody war coming from it. How his mother had known about that he did not know. But he had long since stopped questioning her.

“Aha. There you are.” He says triumphantly as he finds the page he is looking for. It is decorated with dancing wolves and dragons, and he fixes his eyes to the page.

The wolf and the dragon have danced once before, when Valyria was but a fledgling kingdom, and the Wolves were all powerful. A pact was made that should one ever be threatened the other would come to its aid. That is why the wolves have always served my family despite the fact that we have not always done right by them. But following the abduction of the wolf maid, my family has since fallen out of power, and the stag has come to the throne. And yet, war has come once more I sense, for the stag will never be succeeded by a true born son. Unless the bull is returned to the mother.

The wolf of the north will look to protect his sister’s child as best he can, and in turn will commit a sin so grievous his family will forever be darkened by it. The blood of darkness runs deep in the wolves of the north, for they are the ones who fought for darkness and light when the children came crawling to the depths of their fiery abyss. Winter must come for there to be a chance for the people of the world. We cannot stand to see the necromancers or the Deep ones return. For they will bring the end of all that is pure and perfect.

It is always dark before the dawn, but there are times when those who have the power to change thrust upon them, that this power will corrupt and corrode. The young wolves must learn their path, as must their parents. For they are the ones who shall lead us from the fire to the winter, and through them we shall survive. The dragon who the wolf of the north promised to protect will emerge once again, and a crow will sit at his right hand, and on the left a spider most treacherous. The lie that was told to protect him will come, and the sun and the viper shall sit in union as judgement is passed on him.

For a wolf maid once damned a kingdom to war to dance with her silver prince, and now the wolf maid’s child must rise from the shadows to claim the throne, and die before its family can claim what is rightfully theirs.

Marwyn stops reading then and takes a deep breath. “For the love of the gods, it seems I must travel once more.” He says, sighing.

Chapter Text

7th Month of 299 A.C Maidenpool

King Axel I Tully

The war was coming to a close, the Lannisters and the Tyrells were tearing at one another’s throats, and there was a sense of discord amongst the enemy ranks that was greatly beneficial. Of course there was a sense amongst Axel’s men and those of his goodbrother’s that the Arryn boy was too hot headed for his own good. That he was going to get them all into danger, he was not his brother who had been calm and collected if somewhat nervous, he was quite aggressive and unafraid to say what he thought. Which in some regards was a good thing for it meant that they knew exactly where they stood with him, but in other regards it did make it hard to plan accordingly. That was why the boy had been given command over leading the initial assault on Maidenpool, the city would be weak what with Randyll Tarly’s death and the fracturing of alliances between Mooton and Tyrell. It should provide the perfect chance to expose some of the weaknesses within the city. As for his goodbrother, well there was something different about Eddard, before he had been honour bound and a very quiet man, now there was a darker side to him, a side Axel had rarely seen but had always suspected was there beneath the surface. The man was willing to do whatever it took to win this war and Axel could appreciate that.

As for things at Riverrun, well his father was gone, done with this mortal coil for the final time. He had breathed his last and gone out peacefully. The journey for his father had begun and ended at Riverrun and though his final moments had been painful, Axel was glad he had had the chance to be there when his father had gone. His uncle and brother were holding down Riverrun, and Axel knew that when he returned he would need to discuss marriages with his brother, after all Edmure was nearly thirty and as such needed to be wed quickly given the state the kingdom was in. The number of noble ladies that his brother had impregnated only continued to cause headaches for Axel and he was more than tempted to give his brother off to one of them. But of course they would not be good marriages, and so he refused to give into the temptation. His own son was betrothed now as well to Ryella Arryn the sister of King Artys Arryn, a match that Axel was not entirely sure he was comfortable with, but a match that had secured their alliance nonetheless. He was also getting requests for betrothals for his two girls and though he was not entirely willing to consider them, he did think that perhaps the time was coming where he would need to discuss such a thing with his daughters.

Right now though, he could not truly concentrate on the issue of marriages. For they had marched forward from Riverrun the allies for Maidenpool. The city where the Tyrells had their last bastion of power in his kingdom. He meant to end the threat there and then, Mace Tyrell would die a painful death as would Willam Mooton, and neither man would escape their crimes. Artys Arryn had already set off with his Valemen for the city and Axel could see and hear the barrage that the boy and his men were giving the city walls. It gave him a bizarre sense of pleasure watching as the walls of the city that his most hated bannerman lived in was attacked, it was justice. The man had betrayed his king, and now he was going to pay for it with his city and the lives of his family. Axel watched as the Arryns and their men battered down the walls and began removing the defenders from the walls. He knew that Mooton or rather Tyrell would soon order the city gates opened so that they might retaliate, and that would be when Axel and his goodbrother rode forth down the hill and toward the action.

As he waited for that to happen he looked around and saw that his goodbrother and nephew in the distance looked grim, there was something about them, something that was different, he was not completely sure what it was but there was something not quite the same as it had been before the war had come to this point. His own son was beginning to change as well, no longer was he a boy with the ideals of a child in his head, he was a man who knew the grim realities of the world and the destruction that man could bring to themselves. War had a way had of doing such things, it was how the world worked, and it was something Axel believed should work, that such realizations should never come from war, but that to try and protect one’s own children from such things was foolish. The world would never be nice to anyone, and so why should they be nice to anyone? It was a question he had often pondered, but then again there were many things that war could make a man ponder.

As a groaning sound filled the air, Axel stirred from his reverie and drew forth his sword. He took one quick look across the hill to where his goodbrother had also drawn his sword, he looked at his son and then said a quick prayer, and then he barked the commands and they rode down the hill. It was more a gallop than anything else, Axel allowing the blood that was quickening through his veins to guide him. It was a chance to allow the tension and the frenzy of his mind to take over before the battle began. Just as they reached the Valemen the gates to the city opened and the Tyrell host came pouring out. Axel roared with glee and entered the fray of battle his sword drawn. The chaos that was about to come before them was something he relished the chance to kill invaders. The people who threatened his home and his family, they were the ones he fought for.

They are the ones giving him the strength to raise his sword to kill and fight. To protect those he holds most dear, he swings his sword and allows the heat of battle, the craziness of it all to engulf him. His sword has a mind of its own, it swings and cuts, and arcs through the air, as men come towards him. Some of them die, some of them don’t. Those who do not die lose limbs and tail off to the side crying out in pain and agony. Axel cannot feel anything for them but contempt. They were the ones who decided to come here and try and take his people away from him. He will not allow that to stand, he is the king, and the Tyrells have no place here.

The streets are lined with people fighting for themselves, the people of Maidenpool are fighting their fellow Riverlanders, they are fighting the reachmen, and they are fighting to remain alive. Axel cannot blame them, but he has no time to try and reach some sort of accord with them, the reachmen are numerous and as such he must concentrate on removing them from the world. His sword follows its own path as it arcs and swings, more men fall to the ground, bodies are growing on the streets, there is a river of blood flowing through the streets of Maidenpool, and yet there is none here that he knows to be the commander of the army.

He looks to his side and sees his son Edmyn fighting bravely and boldly, his son looks natural at this, his sword seemingly a part of him. It makes Axel proud that his son can hold himself well on the field of battle, but it also makes him sad that his son had to learn how to do that in the first place. He curses the Lannisters and the Tyrells for that, and that is what drives him on. It is what makes him continue pushing through the city as the throngs of people mix in with one another. It becomes hard to distinguish friend from foe, and Axel has a feeling he may have killed some of his own today, but the guilt is pushed down by the anger that it has come to this. Mace Tyrell’s greediness has cost them all and now the man shall pay.

The push continues, Mooton Castle sits atop a slight hill and Axel knows that Willam Mooton will be locked inside the castle cowering like the craven he is. His brother would never have cowered, his brother would have stood firm and would have welcomed the fight. That is why his brother is dead, and the Mootons have fallen so far from favour, they are not willing to take risks and so must pay for it. He will ensure that their line ends today. They will not remain here nor shall they hold the city. Perhaps Edmure will marry the girl Eleanor, Axel thinks her name is. Yes that would work, it would teach Mooton well as well. The push continues, and Axel’s sword drips red. There are many and more bodies on the ground, soldiers, women, children, men, those who did not get out of the way when the fighting began, they all lie there unseeing, and desolate.

The Tyrells have made this happen, they have brought this destruction. It makes him angry, a former steward has cost them all of this. A man’s greed has seen the war continue. They could have worked together, but the man continues on his path to destruction and Axel is determined that the Tyrells will never rise high again. He roars a command and a challenge and men rush to do his bidding and to come and fight. Those that come to fight die, they do not die honourably, and they are slaughtered like lambs. He laughs as he fights, laughing from the sheer stupidity of it all. The Tyrells are done for, they must know this and yet they continue fighting because Mace Tyrell is a man too stupid to recognise when it is a good time to surrender. They will die, many more will die to keep a Tyrell as queen and it makes him sick.

Maidenpool is awash with blood, red pools on the streets, and forms a river. It is a sight Axel has only ever seen once before, and that time it ended in death, for almost all of them. His son is by his side fighting through the chaos that is still pushing its way toward them. They are both covered in mud, gore and blood, and still they have the strength to carry on. That is the thing about battle, when one is caught in it during the heat of the moment, one is able to do almost anything. It is only later when the fighting has stopped and the adrenaline has cooled that anyone thinks to wonder where their wounds have come from, where their pains and hurts come from. Axel knows that he will be injured once this battle is done, but right now he does not care. He simply wants to make sure that the enemy is dealt with.

He gives a command and the final push toward Mooton Castle begins, he knows that once this is done, the Riverlands will be safe for a time. But tiredness is beginning to engulf him, he does not know how long the fighting will go on for, he hopes it will end when they reach the castle. But knowing that Mace Tyrell might well still be alive, he wonders if the fighting will continue on for longer than it needs to. The thought of that makes him angrier and encourages him to keep fighting. His sword is red now, completely red and after dealing with three men they break down the doors of Mooton castle and ride through toward the great hall, where they find the body of Mace Tyrell and a cowering Willam Mooton.

Chapter Text

 

7th Month of 299 A.C. Winterfell

Princess Sansa Stark

It was good to be back in Winterfell, it was good to be back home. The nightmare that had been King’s Landing, was firmly over, there was no going south for her. No going south at all. She never wanted to leave the north again, and she had told her mother that. Her mother had said she need never leave the north again either, and for that she was most grateful. She still woke up sometimes sweating and crying, from the nightmares of what Joffrey had done to her. The beatings, all of it would come back to her during her dreams sometimes, and there would be times when she would wake up and think that Joffrey was there, actually there in her room. Those were the times she had gone to Robb’s room for comfort. Her brother would welcome her sleepily and without complaint and she would snuggle up to him and he would keep her fears at bay just as he had done when they had been little. Yes she missed those that were no longer with them at Winterfell, Jeyne Poole and others, but she was just so happy to be with family once more that she did not truly want to think about the past.

Her family it seemed was willing to go with that as well. Her mother rarely spoke of what had happened when the royal party had come to visit, so preoccupied was she with little Hoster that perhaps she did not want to think of the darkness that had engulfed their lives since. Robb was busy either dealing with the remenants of the Ironborn or in ensuring that all was safe and secure in Winterfell for when he marched south once more. He was to marry Wynafryd Manderly at the conclusion of the war, and that was something Sansa was looking forward to, she did like Wynafryd she was like the sister Sansa had always wanted when she was younger.  That was not to say that she did not appreciate Arya, oh she most definitely did, a lot more than she had done before they had gone south. Her sister was fierce, she did not like taking orders from anyone but mother or Robb, and as such she often caused trouble for others, but always seemed to get away with it. Sansa did not know whether she was more accepting of that fact because she was older or simply because she was relived to be with her family once more, but she found she did not mind as much as she once had done.  Bran worried her, he was too friendly with the Reeds as far as Sansa was concerned, and the boy Jojen was putting too many scary thoughts into his head, things that Sansa could tell were making Bran very, very nervous, and as such she wanted him to stop being with them, but something would not allow him to.  Rickon of course was running wild, causing all kinds of havoc, but also seemed to be quite delighted in being an older brother. And little Hoster was sweet. So very sweet.

It was her worry for Bran though that had compelled her to find her mother. And as always her mother was in father’s solar looking through the accounts and various other things. Sansa cleared her throat and her mother looked up. She walked into the solar and stood in front of desk, unsure of how to begin. Eventually she spoke. “Mother, I am worried about Bran.”

Concern flashes through her mother’s eyes then, and she remembers that Bran is of course mother’s favourite child, and jealousy briefly flits through her. “What has happened? Has something happened to him?” her mother asks.

Trying to stamp down on the jealousy she feels Sansa replies. “Nothing has happened to Bran. But I am worried for him. He looks so worried nowadays. I think he has been spending too much time with the Reeds, especially that boy Jojen.”

Her mother’s face shows her concern, and once again Sansa finds herself feeling jealous. “What do you mean Sansa? Has your brother said anything to you?”

“He has not no. But I can tell something is bothering him. He looks so worried most of the time, and he never, ever smiles anymore. Something about being with Jojen is doing this to him. I do not know what it is, but it concerns me.” Sansa says.

Her mother looks at her a moment and then asks. “Do you think the Reed boy could be saying something that deeply upsets Bran? Do you think he is saying it deliberately?”

There is a hint of anger in her mother’s voice, and Sansa chooses her words carefully when she replies. “I do not know mother. I do not think so, but you know what Jojen Reed is like, he talks about these dreams of his, and I do not know whether he says them to scare Bran or whether he actually believes them.”

Her mother sighs then. “I did ask Bran whether he found what the Reed boy was telling him disturbing, and he said he did not. But I know he is lying, I do not know what it is the boy is telling him, but I suspect it has something to do with Bran going north beyond the wall.”

“But why? Why would Jojen want Bran to go beyond the wall so desperately? It makes no sense. It is dangerous beyond the wall, there are wildlings there, and it would not be safe for anyone to go beyond the wall, let alone Bran and Jojen.” Sansa says.

Her mother sighs. “I know that Sansa believe me I know that. And yet Jojen it seems is quite insistent that Bran has to go north. I do not want him to go north, and I know your father would most definitely not want him to go north. I do not even know why the Reeds came to Winterfell. It is passing odd to me.”

“Did they not say anything?” Sansa asks.

“No, they only came to swear fealty at the harvest feast and have remained since. I had hoped your brother would become friends with the two Walders, but I cannot blame him for not trying to become their friends. They are repulsive people.” Her mother replies.

Sansa snorts then. “How long will they be here? Walder Frey is dead, and his son Walder Rivers is the lord of the Crossing now. Surely you do not need to keep them here for much longer?”

“I do not know. Walder Rivers is not his father that is for certain, and yet he has many other contentious relatives to deal with. Eventually when things are more settled south of the neck your father and I shall broach the subject. Until then they must remain here.” Mother replies. Sansa nods then, and her mother looks at her a moment before she says. “I know there is more you wish to speak of Sansa sweetling. Say what is on your mind.”

Sansa takes a deep breath memories of King’s Landing coming back to her thick and fast, a hand grabbing her breast, a voice, the smell of mint. She shudders then and looks at her mother. Her voice shakes as she asks. “Mother, what do you know of Petyr Baelish?”

Her mother looks surprised by the question, and Sansa does not know whether that is a relief or more confirmation of bad news. “Petyr was fostered at Riverrun when he was a child. I grew up with him. Why do you ask sweetling?” her mother responds.

Sansa takes a deep breath then and says. “When I was in King’s Landing, Petyr Baelish spoke to me. He spoke to me about all kinds of things, I think he was trying to help me, but all he did was confuse me.”

Her mother looks worried then and asks. “What did he speak to you about Sansa?”

Sansa looks at her mother then, worried and scared. “He said that when you were children, you and he loved one another. And that you wanted to marry him, but that grandfather Hoster made you marry father. But he said that you did not give father your gift. He said you gave it to him instead.”

Mother looks horrified. “Gift? What gift sweetling?”

Sansa takes a deep breath and then says. “Your maiden’s gift.”

There is a moment of silence and then her mother says. “Sansa, what Petyr told you was a lie. I was a maiden when I married your father. And I might not have known your father or loved him then, but I most certainly love him now. As for what Petyr said, I did love him, but as a brother. Like the way you love Robb or Bran or Rickon. Do you understand?”

Sansa nods and asks. “But then why does he believe you did?”

Her mother sighs then. “Because Petyr is mad Sansa that is why. He wishes to believe the lie he has told himself. It is not true nor is it something that you should ever consider. But I must ask, why have you not mentioned this before?”

Sansa swallows nervously. “I…I was not sure what to ask. I did not want to say something that would upset you. I never wanted to upset you.” She can feel herself beginning to cry and when her mother wraps her in her embrace, Sansa feels guilty, she is not a little girl.

“Hush now sweetling. You would not have upset me, you have not upset me. I am glad you asked. I know what happened to you in King’s Landing was not pleasant and the people responsible for that shall pay, but you are home now, you are safe. I will never let anything happen to you again.” her mother whispers into her hair.

Sansa sniffles then, but asks into her mother’s chest. “Why did father leave without us? Why did he leave without me and Arya?”

She feels rather than hears her mother sigh. Her mother pulls away looking at her and wiping her tears away from her face, like she used to do when Sansa was a little girl. “Your father wanted to bring both you and your sister back with him when he escaped, but the man who helped him escape could not get all three of you out. I know your father was deeply pained by what he had to do. And not a day went by that he did not want to go back and get you.”

Sansa looks at her mother and she knows she is being silly, but the doubts that have been creeping into her mind come crawling back. “He…he does not like me does he? Father I mean? I am not the daughter he wanted. That’s why he always spent more time with Arya than with me.”

Her mother looks sad then. “Oh Sansa, sweetling, of course that’s not true. Your father loves you, he loves you more than most other things on this world. He loves you and he cares for you so very much. Whatever makes you think that he does not?”

Sansa sniffles then and she knows she is being silly but still her desire for approval comes forward. “He…he never spoke to me when we were in King’s Landing. Even after Lady died, he never spoke to me. He only spoke to Arya. It was as if he was disappointed in me.”

She can feel the tears begin to run down her face again and though she tries not to cry, they come thick and fast. Her mother pulls her into another embrace then and whispers into her hair. “Sansa, your father regrets that, truly he does. He did not know how to speak with you about what happened, he did not know what to say. And he was scared that you would not care for him anymore. He wanted to protect you and so he kept his distance.”

“But why?” Sansa asks. “Why did he do that to me and not to Arya?”

Her mother sighs then and pulls back to look at her. Her face is filled with love and concern. Her voice is soft when she asks. “How much do you know about what happened around the time of your birth?”

“Only what you and father have told me.” She replies.

Her mother sighs once more. “Perhaps it is time I told you the whole truth.”

 

Chapter Text

7th Month of 299 A.C. Somewhere in the Reach

Lord Jon Connington

He had had many lives since the day he had failed at the battle of the bells. He had lived as an exiled lord, drinking away his sorrows trying desperately to cling on to something that was long since lost to him, he had lived as a sellsword, fighting amongst a band of brothers doing his bit to remain alive, and he had served as a tutor to a young king and his aunt and uncle as they strove to reclaim what had been taken from them. It was this last role that had caused him the most amount of headache and pleasure, it was this role that had given him a chance to avenge Rhaegar, his silver prince. Gods it had been so long since he had seen Rhaegar’s face, his silver prince had not spoken to him before leaving for Harrenhal and the Stark girl, their love had never meant to be and it had pained him. But for the good of the world he had said goodbye to his love and departed. It was for his love he had fought for his love at the Stoney Sept, and that had cost him dearly.

He had failed the father, but he would not fail the son. Aegon with his silver hair and purple eyes looked very much like his father had done at that age. Strong, handsome and good with a sword and smart, the boy was the perfect king. He was the one they all thought would come to save the world from darkness. All of it, all of it made sense, the boy would lead them to an age of enlightenment and purity. Then there was the boy’s uncle, Viserys was everything Aegon was not, he was hard and cold, he was good with a sword yes, but he did not have any charm or anything that made his nephew so good. He was the embodiment of the mad king but not mad. It was sad truly, for Jon remembered the boy the prince had once been, and that boy had been a wonder to behold. The king’s aunt was in Dorne, she was safe there, she was beautiful and smart, but she was no fighter, and as such it was a smart move to keep her there. There was less chance of her being taken a hostage in Dorne. Especially now that they had killed the Lannister girl. To Jon it felt as if they were coming ever closer to the throne, they had not lost a single battle, and Euron had done as the king had requested. He had sought to turn his cloak to the Lannisters, on the King’s advice. It seemed the horn was working very well. There was something about the horn Jon did not like, it was big and foreboding but there was something else, something dark and cold about it that belied the fire that emanated from it.

It made no matter, this war was not going to be won by a horn, and it was going to be won by force. And that was they had marched from their previous location toward Tumbleton. They were facing pockets of resistance from reacherlords and whatever measly forces the Lannisters sent their way. And right now, right now was another battle they were fighting. It seemed the Tyrells had more men in them than Jon had first thought, they were standing firm, it seemed Mace Tyrell was not willing to give up the chance to have his daughter as Queen, and even though the Lannister woman was causing all kinds of trouble for him, Tyrell continued to send men out to fight and die. This battle was no exception. Jon was in the midst of the fighting whilst, his king and the three white swords sworn to protect the king and his uncle were amongst them. His sword was red, but his mind was still keen, there were enemies about and he meant to see them die.

Over the years and the countless battles Jon has fought he has come to realise that battle does something to a man. It makes a man turn into an animal. Every single man he has every fought with has said the same thing, they turn into something different when they fight. Some embrace it, others are destroyed by it, but all Jon knows is that right now, that feeling is what is keeping him alive.  He is not as young as he used to be, he knows that, but what he lacks in youth, he more than makes up for in skill and experience. He is able to read what sort of moves these fighters are going to make before they make them, and as such is able to plan accordingly. That has what has kept him alive throughout this campaign, his body might be protesting, but his mind is sharp. As sharp as it needs to be, they fight and there are masses of bodies here. It is chaos.

The sort of chaos he has come to adore over the years. All that time spent teaching the king about war, has made him hunger for more. For a chance to prove himself, to prove that he is not a failure, that the voices inside his head are wrong. He failed the father, he will not fail the son. Even if the son is Elia Martell’s son, he is still Rhaegar’s son as well. And Rhaegar would have made the finest king that Westeros has ever seen, better than the old king. He was taken before his time, and the anger of that thought is what carries Jon, is what makes him so deadly. For a man who is angry knows no limits, and will continue fighting even when all is said and done. The reachmen before him fall like flies and are squashed like ants. His head is pounding but the rush is still there. The urge to kill is still strong. He allows himself to give into the urge and the bodies become blurs.

Something that has become increasingly true for Jon as the years have progressed is that in battle he is a monster. A true monster, he was not like this when he fought at the battle of the bells, perhaps if he had been, Rhaegar would still be alive and Aegon would have grown up as Prince of Dragonstone. The regret and the sound of bells still haunts him at night and even sometimes during the day. It is something that he has lived with most of his life, and it is something he hope seeing Aegon on the throne will cure. He cuts his way through another man and begins pushing through the lines, looking for the King or the prince. He can see neither and his nerves begin to grow. The king is a very good swordsman but he can be rash on occasion. He just hopes that Ser Arthur and Ser Gerold are with him. It would be too much for all three to be there, the king would not like that.

His body aches, it is covered in bruises he knows from this battle and past battles, but still he pushes on. He cannot stop now, not now that they are fully engaged. This is to be the battle that pushes them onto King’s Landing and the throne, and he will be damned if he lets such an opportunity slip. His arms ache, but he ignores the pain and continues pushing his way through the fray. He cuts, and slashes, ducks and dives, and men continue to fall. The river is clogged with bodies, its water is running red, and yet Jon knows that the fighting is not done yet. The Tyrells will not give up, they will not give up without a fight. That is something he knows to be true, he just wishes they had more men. He does not think that their current numbers will be enough to stave off a full on attack and that worries him. There was been no word as to what the situation is in the Westerlands or in King’s Landing itself, all he knows is that to expect this to be the full force of the enemy is foolish.

There is no doubt in his mind that something is going to happen. The Tyrell men have been very careless in their line of attack today, and either that means their commander is an idiot, or it means that they have something up their sleeve. Age and experience has taught him that more than likely the Tyrells have something planned. What it is he does not know but it is making him anxious and he knows that the king will be the intended target. The men he is fighting now are nothing but a nuisance to him, he needs to get to the king. He has to make sure the king is safe, that is the one thought that is driving him through all of this. The one thing that makes it possible for him to take on three men and kill them all. He needs to get to the king otherwise this will end badly for them all.

There are so many bodies out on the field of battle, it is hard for Jon to navigate his way through the press. It is hard, and it is difficult for him to see very far, something is off, he can feel it in his bones, and something is very, very off about all of this. He is not sure what it is, but he knows that there is something about to happen. Jon knows he needs to get to the king before this happens, otherwise all those years of training and preparation will be for naught. He cannot allow that to happen, he will not allow that to happen. Jon Connington, roars a challenge and more than half a dozen foes come out to meet him. His heart is hammering in his chest, his arms and body are sore, but he knows he must face these men and kill them if they are to win. These are the men who decide the battle in his mind. He waits for them and then their dance begins. Their movements are fairly easy to pick up on, one feints the other dances, and they all end up dead. He is too skilled for them, the reach might be the heart of chivalry but their fighters are nothing more than puppets meant for slaughter, and that is what worries him. There must be something more going on here. The lords of the Reach would not simply allow for their men to be slaughtered like this, they must be planning something.

He is so concerned with what might be happening in the future, that he forgets to take stock of the present, and before he knows it, his horse has been killed and he is struggling to get out of the saddle before he is crushed. He just about manages to escape being crushed by his horse, but as he staggers to his feet he finds himself surrounded by more than four men. All of whom look fresh and ready for the kill. He takes a deep breath and so another dance begins. The first man he kills is tall but is as thin as a stick he lacks strength and so Jon manages to kill him easily. The second man is broad and strong, and Jon knows he will be dead soon enough, and so he throws himself into the attack carelessly, he slashes and feints ducks and hacks and the man falls down without his head, though Jon has lost use of an arm. The third man dances forward and backward with Jon and their progress continues and halts, as Jon fights off the others as well. His body is crying out in protest, his mind is as well. He knows he will die soon enough, but he cannot die weakly. He must die like a man, like a knight. He buries his sword deep inside the third man, and leaves it there. A horn sounds and he hears a dragon roar as he meets his death with a smile and a laugh.

Chapter Text

7th Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

Queen Cersei Lannister

The Tyrells are done for Margaery Tyrell has been imprisoned and her cousins and other Tyrell relatives have either been killed or imprisoned as well. The city has been purged of Tyrell presence and Cersei smiles at the thought. No more will they be infected with roses, there will only be the scent of lion. Lion will hold things together and ensure that there is no darkness, only light. The roses are gone, Dickon Tarly is dead, and there is nothing more for the roses. Nothing more at all. Mace Tyrell is dead, his sons either dead or captured. It is a good feeling, something that Cersei wants to know more of. She wants that feeling the feeling of power, of being in control. She does not want to feel weak, never again will she feel weak. Never again, never again. She will not allow that darkness to return, it will never return. Shireen Baratheon and her mother are dead burnt alive just like the red god they so adore. Their blood will keep her alive, will keep her going strong through the darkness ahead. She will not fall to greed nor to power, she will keep going, and she will ensure that her son does as well. She will not allow him to fall to the darkness.

And yet they were not safe. The darkness was coming for them. Tyrell had failed to do his duty and died at Maidenpool. Stark, Arryn and Tully were heading towards the city, for some sort of savage animalistic ritual. There were no men to command defence of the city. Garlan Tyrell had gone and gotten himself captured during the battle against the pretender’s forces. And his brother Loras was in a black cell for crimes against humanity. It seemed that the Tyrells had worked this to their favour, allowing themselves to be arrested, in order to ensure Cersei’s fall. They had played a clever game, for Cersei had over stretched her resources, there were barely enough men to make it worth wile. There was going to be a fight, and they would lose. But she would not lose. She would remain strong and defiant. She would kill them all if she had to. She would not let them take her son away from her.

The voices came back strong now. Taunting her, making her feel as if she was nothing. She was more than they ever had been. Whilst her father and brother were being captured by savages she was ruling the city and keeping the people safe. She was the one ensuring there was enough food and supplies for her father and brother, and they had failed. If only she had been born with a cock she would never have allowed such a thing to come to pass. She would have known the traps and plans the traitors had devised and she would have dealt with them. And yet the voices continue coming, telling her how useless she is, how bad of a sister, daughter and lover she had been. She wants to scream, she wants to tear her hair out but she knows that will do nothing, the voices will only continue screaming at her, demanding some sort of attention.

There is a hole in her heart from where she knows her children once were. Joffrey, her golden lion, her dream of a better future, slain by the roses. He looks at her taunting her, with how perfect he would have been. He looks like Jaime and thinks like her, a cunning man, someone who knows what he is doing. An illusion her boy is dead, he died so long ago now that she is not sure whether or not she knows what is true and what is false. Then there is Myrcella her daughter, her beautiful little girl, who died in a foreign land, she wants to scream at her brother, but Tyrion is dead. Gone, killed by the roses as well. It is all gone, it has all gone wrong. Her little girl is dead, and now there is nothing for her. The bull is somewhere out there in the riverlands, she knows because Varys told her. He is somewhere safe, her firstborn, he will be okay, so long as he never knows of his parentage he will be safe. Otherwise he will be hunted down and hounded. She could not bear that thought. Not him, not the child who was hers and hers alone. Never anyone else’s only hers. He was only ever hers.

It is a sharp pain this, this feeling that something, no matter what she does, something is going to happen and they are all going to die. Gods it hurts knowing that, she has tried, gods has she tried. And yet the voices keep telling her she has not done enough, that she is no true lioness, that a lioness would never give up so easily. She has not the strength to keep going, she wants to sleep. She wants to sleep and never wake up again but she does not know how to do that. That does make sense to her. There is only the struggle for life, and any who give up before she tells them to be going to die. She has the Kingsguard here with her, they will ensure they do her will. She looks around and her hand clasps the dagger she has. The way to protect herself from Stark.

Cersei will not go the way of Elia Martell, she will not die screaming. Raped by some brute or savage. She will go fighting, just as she always has. That is what the dagger is for, she will slit her own throat and that of the boy who is not Joffrey, the boy who took her son’s place. Tommen, is his name, a false king, he is not true lion. She is surprised he is hers, so disgusted is she with how weak he is. He looks at her pitifully then, his lower lip quivering and Cersei feels anger growing inside of her, who is to cower, he is a king not a lamb. A Crashing sound echoes around the room and the hens scream, but Cersei knows what is happening, they are here the traitors. They will not get her though, gods no. she pulls the boy who is her son but is not her son to her then, presses the dagger against his throat and in one motion slits his throat. She does nothing when he falls limply into her arms. She merely stares at him for a moment before pushing him off of her and then thrusting the dagger inside herself. She will not die like Elia Martell, she is a lioness of the rock.

Chapter Text

8th Month of 299 A.C. King’s Landing

King Eddard I Stark

He never thought he would be back here, actually no that is a lie, he always knew he would come back here. He always suspected it from the moment he made the promise to Lya that he would come and go and come back again, just as Howland said he would. Howland, his friend, his friend who will have to die if his son does not leave Winterfell, the thought makes him sad. He knows Howland will do what is right even if the boy does not. Ned will not allow his son to go beyond the wall before he is ready. He will not allow it. Howland knows this and so his friend will do something to protect his son, unless the swamps have turned Howland as dark as this war has turned Ned. He does not know anymore, sometimes he wonders if this was always going to be his fate, and if it was, was that why his father sent him to the Vale? To ensure that this would come to pass? There is so much he does not still fully understand, and yet he still must tell his family.

The battle of Maidenpool had been a slaughter. The forces of House Tyrell and House Mooton had never stood a chance against them. Ned had made sure of that. He had ensured that they would never stand a chance against them. The horn he had carried since he was a boy had come into use, it was not the real thing, but it did something similar to the true horn. The men of Maidenpool had turned on one another and on the Tyrells. Tyrell had lost the war the moment Tarly had died, his army was stretched too thin. Ned had fought like an animal, like the animal he truly was. There was no restraint now, he had fought and fought and embraced the wolf within. His son and his son’s wolf had fought as well. The call of the wild had come for them and they had embraced it. It had felt so good to do so, it had been too long since the last he had done it. The girl still haunted him but not as much as she had done before. Maidenpool was theirs,. The Mootons were all gone except for the daughter, Eleanor, whom Ned’s goodbrother had decreed would marry Edmure. It was a good marriage and one that Ned knew had been coming for some time.

From Maidenpool they had marched for King’s Landing. A fierce fight had ensued there. The Lannisters and the Tyrells might have lost many of their men but still they fought. Ned had gone down the darkest route he could have imagined, embracing the animal within. He had allowed the killings of innocents to achieve the taking of the city. It haunted him somewhat, but he knew they would find more peace in death than what would happen soon enough. The Targaryens and their allies had come as well, fighting and riding high on the back of victories. There was a serious clash between their two forces until the horns had sounded and then the city had fallen.  Cersei Lannister had denied him the chance of revenge, killing herself and her son. There were others though, others who were killed in revenge for the deaths of so many good men and women during the course of the war.  Ice had had its hunger sated, it was dripping red with the stains of the fallen. Ned though knew there was one last thing he needed to do before he could leave.

Aegon Targaryen had summoned him to the throne room, the Targaryen looked just like his father, silver hair and purple eyes. But there was some of his mother in him. The boldness, the anger, the blood of a wolf that was what Ned had seen during their brief encounters before now. The boy was sat the throne, his arms resting on the barbs of the throne. He looked tired and weak, but there was strength, her strength that he saw. It was her that he saw somewhat as he got down on bended knee and said. “You wished to see me, Your Majesty?”

Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Oswell Whent stood guard at the foot of the throne, and Ned knew they were waiting for the king to speak. Ned waited as well, and after what seemed an eternity he did speak. “Rise King Eddard. The King of the North, and the man who has made this all possible.”

Ned rises and looks at the boy. “I would not say I made it all completely possible Your Majesty. After all, the Lannisters did most of the work with their greed and their incompetence. I merely drove the stake into their hearts.”

The king laughs then. “True very true. I knew Arthur was right when he said you had a sense of humour my king. But tell me, why the crown? I had thought the plan was always for me to be the king of all of Westeros.”

Ned looks at the king then and says. “It was not intentional Your Majesty. But yet, I did not know when you would return, and I was never going to bend the knee to a Baratheon again. Not after what I had seen the throne do to Robert. You are a king over all of Westeros, you are the High King.”

“High King, aye another title. And yet there are kings throughout the realm once more. Tell me uncle, how is that what we agreed upon? It does not seem the case.” His nephew replies.

Ned takes a deep breath and says. “A high king has more power than a king ever could. You have the horn you can make anyone do whatever you wish. You do not need a mere title.”

His nephew looks thoughtful at that and then says. “I have often been told by Arthur and Gerold and Oswell that I owe you my life my king. I know you were good friends with Robert Baratheon, and yet I wonder, why did you allow me to escape? Why not bring me before your friend?”

Ned looks at his nephew then and says. “Because you are my nephew. You are Lya’s son. And Robert, Robert would have killed you the moment I showed you to him and he would have thought we had something to do with Lyanna running away with your father. I could not risk my family or you, and so I did the only thing I could think of. I allowed you to leave with your three white swords and Ashara to a place where you would be safe.”

“That was a very risky thing you did uncle. It could have gone so horribly wrong for you. And yet it did not, and I do have to wonder if perhaps you are better at this game of thrones than almost anyone gives you credit for.” His nephew says.

Ned smiles a rare smile then and responds. “It helps if the rest of the players underestimate you, Your Majesty. They will believe that you can be played and used, but they are the ones being used. You might want to keep that in mind when dealing with the Martells and Varys.”

His nephew looks at him then and asks. “That was another thing I have been wondering as of late. Why do they believe I am Elia Martell’s son? Why not merely tell them the truth?”

Ned sighs. “Because Your Majesty, they would never support you then. It made more sense to tell them that one lie, then to have them believe it was all for naught. Olyvar made that lie more convincing as well.”

His nephew nods. “Ah yes, Olyvar, the great phantom of the Red Keep. I do believe we are yet to meet. He would make a fine master of whispers, if the position was still valid. So tell me uncle, what other crimes have you had to commit to ensure that I was alive for this moment?”

Ned closes his eyes then as Lya’s words come back to him, and the deeds of that day. “I led my friends to their deaths. They went willingly because it was I who asked them. Good men died so that you could live. I ensured that they died and did not tell a soul. Others had to change who they were so that they could not break the secret. There has been so much that has gone on for this. And it has come close to breaking my family apart.”

“Then surely it would be better for the world to know. That you can be lauded as the rightful saviour of Westeros. You do not need to suffer any more uncle. I am here.” His nephew says.

Ned can hear so much of Lya in his nephew’s voice that his heart aches then. “We cannot do that. Doing that would ruin it all. You must remain as Aegon Targaryen son of Rhaegar and Elia, nothing else. Otherwise all we have worked hard for will come to an end. I will not allow you to die nephew.”

His nephew smiles sadly then. “Viserys is already working on a way for me to die. He will ally with someone or the other who wishes to bring me down. Euron Greyjoy is another who is looking for a way to bring me down. I will not live too long unless the horn is kept within my possession and yet the horn will not continue working for me forever.”

Ned looks at his nephew confused. “You are half Stark though, it should work without worry for you.”

His nephew laughs. “I am half Dragon uncle. It will never work as well for me as it does for you or your children. I am merely the one who was to keep it warm for you. It must go back north with you. Take it north and away from Viserys before he learns of what it will truly bring.”

Ned looks at his nephew then and says. “I cannot take it north. You need it! You need it to keep them all at bay. It is not winter yet.”

“Winter is coming uncle that is what our words say. For it to come you must have the horn. I know I am not long for this world. You will take the horn north with you and that will be that. I will not let my uncle or your honour stop this from happening. It has been foretold and so it shall happen.” His nephew replies coughing slightly.

Ned wants to protest but Ser Arthur speaks. “It has to be this way King Eddard. The king knows he must die in order for you to take what is yours. You know it as well. It must be this way otherwise Viserys will bring the fire and the necromancers back.”

“And what of your wife?” Ned asks looking at his nephew. “What of her and your unborn child? Will you leave them alone?”

“My child will be stillborn. I know, for I have seen it. There is nothing that will change any of this uncle. Accept it and take the horn.” His nephew replies. “You already have one, now take the second have done with it. I have guarded it just as you have guarded me all these years. It is time we were both relieved of our burdens.”

Ned sighs. “Very well. I shall take the horn, but I do not do so willingly.”

His nephew smiles then and takes the horn from somewhere secret and walks down the steps and gives the horn to Ned. It is heavy, but he knows it can be taken in secret. Ned looks at his nephew one last time and says. “It does not have to be this way Aegon. We can find another way to find peace.”

His nephew smiles sadly and says. “It cannot be any other way. If there was I would pursue it. I love you uncle.”

Ned nods his head once before turning and walking out of the throne room. The horn heavy in his hand and his heart heavy, the winter will come now, he knows it will.

Chapter Text

9th Month of 299 A.C. Winterfell

Queen Catelyn Stark

Summer was waning, that much was clear from the way the trees bowed and the wind blew harshly across one’s face. The cold was coming back, and yet surprisingly she did not feel the cold, not as much as she had done when she had first come to Winterfell. It seemed the north had finally accepted her, and there was little to no southern blood left in her. Sansa was just like her, she would be far more beautiful than she had ever been that much Catelyn knew. Her daughter was also much stronger than she had ever been. Sansa had taken the truth that Catelyn had told her with remarkable calm and poise, Catelyn had seen echoes of Ned in the way she had calmly dealt with the news of her birth and the prophecy surrounding it. Catelyn knows had it been her in her daughter’s place she would have screamed and ranted about the injustice of it all, and yet her daughter merely accepted it and asked if there were anything she could do to help. That surprised Cat, but also made her feel very proud.

Catelyn was also very relieved to have her boys back safe and sound. Ned and Jon had returned around a week ago, bringing with them the northern army, and there had been much feasting and celebrating. The Lannisters were defeated the Ironborn broken there would be no attack on them for some time to come. Her boys were different though changed in ways both obvious and not so obvious. It seemed to her that Ned had had a load lifted from his shoulders, Lyanna’s child sat the throne, and the lie was no longer needed or at least for not too much longer. Ned was still haunted by the dreams of their girl, their little girl who they had lost so long ago, and so was she and yet together they had worked through it all. They were alive and the Lannisters had not, they had made the lions suffer for what they had done. Robb, Robb was the son who had experienced the greatest outward change, he no longer believed in honour so it seemed but the old way. The way of his ancestors the harsh way, the true way. Theon Greyjoy was a testament to that as was Ramsay Snow, the bastard of the Dreadfort had been stripped and quartered for his troubles. Her son seemed to accept his role as a Prince of Winter with much acceptance. It was Jon who worried her the most, her second son was quiet and very rarely spoke there was some trouble inside him, what it was she knew not.

And it seemed her husband did not know either. They were sat together in his solar discussing the events of the day, when she had asked him the question unable to keep it from her mind any longer. Ned looked ponderous for a moment before he replied. “I do not know what is wrong with Jon or if indeed there is anything wrong with him. We have been at war for a year my love. It takes time to get used to not having to constantly fight all the time. I am sure it will pass.”

“Does he know?” she asks then.

Her husband shakes his head. “No. I thought it better to wait until we were all back at Winterfell before I told the children. Jon and Sansa especially will need to know and now that we are all here, they can know.”

“When will you tell them?” she asks.

“I am not sure, once we have had enough time to get to know one another once more I shall tell them.” Ned replies.

“You are worried aren’t you my love?” she asks. “About how Sansa will take it. She already knows the truth Ned.”

She would laugh at the expression on Ned’s face now, if it weren’t such a serious thing they were discussing. “She knows? How does she know? Did you tell her?” her husband asks.

“Yes.” Catelyn replies.

“Why? Why did you tell her?” Ned asks sounding almost angry.

“Because she needed to know. She thought you left her in King’s Landing to die because you did not love her Ned. You didn’t even tell her anything did you when you were all in King’s Landing? Even after she lost her direwolf? You still told her nothing?” Catelyn says anger colouring her own voice.

“I did not know what to say or how to begin!” her husband protests. “I thought she hated me after I killed Lady. She never spoke to me either you know.”

“That is because she thought you were disappointed in her. She did not understand why you did what you did Ned. She was just a little girl. She had all these questions and hurts and there was no one she could go to.” Catelyn responds. At the look on her husband’s face she says. “I do not mean to be cruel to you. But it is the truth, you are not exactly the most approachable of people most of the time my love. Can you blame Sansa for seeking comfort in those things that seemed most comfortable to her?”

Her husband bows his head ashen faced. “I failed her. Just as I failed Lya, and Lyarra. I can never be good for them. I am surprised Arya even managed to do so well.”

“You did not fail them. You were trying to protect them. And yet they did not know that because you did not speak to them. You did not explain why you did as you did. How could she come to you, when you made it seem that you were not approachable.” She asks then.

Ned takes a deep breath then and says. “I do not know. Gods Cat, I have made such a mess of it all. This promise nearly cost me everything. It nearly cost me you and the children. It cost me Lyarra, I kept seeing her during the battles I fought you know. She looked just like Sansa.”

Catelyn takes her husband’s hand then and squeezes it. “Did she say anything to you?”

Ned looks at her a moment as if he does not understand what she is asking and then he responds. “No. But there was a point where I thought she was actually there with me. I got so scared. So very scared. I thought I was going to lose her for a second time.”

She squeezes his hand then and replies. “She got the justice she deserves Ned. The Lannisters are done for, a puppet sits in the Rock. She has gotten the revenge Robert denied her.”

“I know, and yet it changes nothing. I have been a terrible father to Sansa and Arya for so very long. I….I do not know how to make it up to them.” Ned replies his voice shaking with emotion.

“You start by telling them the truth. All of the truth. No half-truths Ned. They are not children anymore they deserve the truth now. Robb and Jon do as well, they were too young to remember when it happened but, they all deserve the truth now. We cannot hide it from them any longer.” She replies.

“I am scared my love.” Ned replies. “I am scared that they will hate me for everything. This war, this war is my doing. I….I did this to us. All of it, Lyarra’s death, that is my fault and my fault alone.”

“The Lannisters killed Lyarra my love,” Catelyn insists fiercely. “It was not your doing. It was their doing. It was all their doing. And the Spider’s. Please tell me you killed him before you left?”

Ned sighs. “No. But I know Aegon will take care of it. He owes me that much.”

Catelyn nods and then asks. “And can we trust him? I know he is your nephew but we do not know much about him. Can we truly trust him to keep his word?”

Ned looks very tired then. His voice is heavy with emotion when he replies. “Aye. I believe we can. He gave me the horn after all. Without the horn he is more vulnerable than he was before. His uncle Viserys will try to do something. And I cannot do anything to stop it, for that is what is needed.”

“Truth be told I am not that bothered. I know he is your nephew Ned, but he is nothing to do with us. You have done your duty by him, it is time you looked toward your own family. Let us be whole again and put the scars of the past behind us.” Catelyn says then.

Her husband sighs deeply then. “How did Sansa take the truth?”

There is something akin to fear in his eyes and she squeezes his hand briefly before saying. “Well, surprisingly well considering. I think she always suspected something was always amiss. And she despises the Lannisters now more than ever. Of course the knowledge that she was born for something other than pure luck means that she is scared. Truly scared, she will say she is not, but I know she is.”

“I will not let him have her Cat. I cannot do this again. I lost one daughter already, I cannot lose another. Not to him not to anyone. I will kill him myself if I have to.” Ned replies.

“How can you kill something that is already dead Ned?” Catelyn asks fearfully hating how her voice shakes.

“By becoming it.” Her husband replies.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“I have both the horns now. For the first time in years my family has both the horns once more. Aegon knows what his role is to be in this. My men know what is to come. Winter is coming, he will come down from his mountain soon enough, looking to claim his bride. I will not give him that choice. Robb is marrying Wynafryd Manderly, we have our children and the alliance of the north behind us. He will not stand a chance.” Ned replies.

“What about Jojen Reed? He has been trying to get Bran to go north beyond the wall. I do not know why completely, but I think it has something to do with him.” Catelyn asks.

“Howland will be taking his son home. He knows what needs to be done to stop him. Jojen will not be here for much longer, and Bran will not remember him after a time. It will be okay Cat, our son will not go north beyond the wall.” Her husband says.

“How can you be so sure? Bran seems to be adamant that he must do as Jojen says. And you know what Bran is like when he puts his mind to something. I am scared he will go north with or without our leave.” Catelyn says, giving voice to her fear.

Her husband sighs. “Because Bran cannot leave without assistance and Hodor will only do as I tell him to. The Reed girl does not want Bran to go north of the wall, she herself does not want to go north of the wall. Jon was able to gather that much from merely looking at her. Robb was very clever in betrothing her to Bran that means she has even more reason to stay here. Her brother will go sooner or later. And that is all that matters.”

“But what if he does not? He seems to be the type who will stick around even when he is told to go. If for no other reason than to get Bran beyond the wall. He seems convinced that this is what is needed. Do you think Jojen is working for him?” Catelyn asks.

Ned shakes his head then. “No. He is not. I would know if Jojen Reed was working for him.”

“How can you be so sure?” she asks hating the doubt in her voice.

Her husband shows her the two horns on the desk before them and says. “Because we have these my love. One is for you, and the other is for me.”

“What are we to do?” Catelyn asks though she suspects she already knows the answer.

“Blow them.” Ned replies picking up the black horn that his nephew gave him.

Catelyn picks up the second smaller horn that she has always known about. She holds it to her mouth and looks at Ned. “You are sure this will work?”

“I am my love.” Ned replies.

Catelyn takes a deep breath and then puts her lips to the horn, and just as Ned does she blows out. The horns sound out, a deep and primal sound, a mournful sound that makes the hairs on Cat’s arms stand up. She swears she can hear the roar of dragons and giants, as she looks at her husband’s face and sees that his eyes have gone pale blue.