`AN: Before I take this fan fiction series any feather I need to run a choice by all the people who read this chapter. That choice relates to the next phase of Arya and Gendry's romance which will be heating up in the chapters to come. Originally my intention was for them to become a couple of shorts during their captivity at Harrenhal, at least share a kiss near the end of that arc. Then for them to gradually in cress the intimacy of their relationship as I aged Arya up enough in this stories setting to the point I wouldn't be morally opposed to impuissant sexual actions. As I am currently am as Arya is presently fourteen.

However I realise that is a long time for the fans and Followers of this story to wait for them to share more intermit/explicit moments, considering how long it takes me to make these chapters. So I'm willing to put my own morality aside at least somewhat.

So the choice I lay at the feet of my readers is this, do you want Arya and Gendry to just kiss at the end of the Harrenhal arc and for me to gradually in cress their intimacy or do you want a more passionate intimate encounter?

Those that just want them to have a gradually romance simply post the word "KISS" into the review box at the bottom of this chapter.

Those that want a more Passionate end to the Harrenhal arc (which I plan to be three chapters at the very least) and that to continue into the future of this story, need only post the word "Passion" into the review box.

The choice is in your hands my friends, most votes win. However for me to consider including more exposit content involving Arya while she's at a dubious age there needs to be at the bare minimum six "Passion" comment's/ reviews, any less and I will continue with my original out line.

I do not own Game of Thrones I get no money for weighting this fan fiction or any other. I own nothing save my own delusions.

The Road to Harrenhal

"Abandon all hope ye who enter here"

English translation of the inscription written upon the gates of hell, the inferno, the divine comedy, Dante Alighieri

XXXX

Blood spurted from the wound left behind by Needles keen edge, Arya's swift strike had opened up a red ribbon of flesh across the Lannister soldiers face or rather what was left of it. She had cut the man whom had accosted her from just below his left eye to the lower half of the left side of his face. The scream the man let out as he fell backwards clutching at the wound was one of the worse sounds she'd ever heard and the sight was not much better.

She hadn't intended to put as much straight into her swing as she had but now that it was done she had to live with the consequence of her miscalculation, she watched horrified as several tendons and muscle groups which had being nicked or cut though entirely snapped and tore away revealing teeth and bone as they did so, the man fell to the ground screaming and gurgling, blood pouring from the wound.

Arya had to fight down the urge to be sick, had she not seen animals being gutted and prepared in the kitchens of Winter Fell since she was old enough to walk, much to her mother's ever present dismay and saw her father's grisly fate every night in her dreams, she may well have being sick then and there. She swallowed the lump of bile that lodged itself in her throat as the image of the man's spilt face burned into her mind like a brand.

The farthest soldiers from her a young man whom looked around Gendry's age, give or take a year. Dropped his make shift spear and proceeded to vomit in the thorny brushes that grew in between the weathered trees that filled the wood.

The remaining Lannister conscript, a man armed with a short bow and quiver. Was clearly unnerved by what she had done to the leader of their small group. However he managed to keep his last meal down, though he tan sun kissed skin had whitened considerable. "You'll pay for that!" the man hissed, as he pulled an arrow from the quiver on his back and took aim at the boy.

Arya throw herself to the left. The archers shot went wide and imbedding itself in a tree a hundred meters behind her. "I have to get close" she hissed under her breath panting heavily. She spotted a lump of rotten wood about the size of a large apple laying among the damp leaf litter and picked it up, quickly aimed and threw it at the archers head where it impacted, creating a nasty gash above his left eye.

"You little!" the man bellowed reeling as blood tricked into his eye.

She spirited forward like a mad man, her legs and arms pumping she closed the distance between herself and the archer in a manner of moments. Her heart was in her throat and her stomach felt like someone had dropped a lead weight in it, she was at once both excited and terrified beyond belief. She had never fought like this before, never with the intention to kill, yes she had killed before but that had being mere reflex. The face of that stable boy whom had accosted her, intending to sell her to Queen Cersei still haunted her.

One moment he was grapping her by the arm and the next Needle had skewered the poor boy through the heart. What might purposely, taking a life might do to her? How would that haunt her?

Arya's expression hardened, she had always thought Sansa at best to be Nave or at worst wilfully blind. Believing whole heartily in the courtly romances she read about in books, stories filled with dashing and heroic knights and wilting maidens rather than trusting in her minds sharp edge. Now though in the space between moments as she lunged forward with Needle in hand its sliver gleam catching the rays of the rising sun, Arya had to consider they had both being nave in their own ways.

Her strike would have being prefect, ending the archer's life quickly and cleanly. Punching though his ratty leather armour dyed Lannister red and into his heart ending him but the man reacted a second faster than she expected. He managed to catch the blade with his free left hand but that had only stopped her for stabbing into his heart, his hand and outer wrist served as substitute.

The archer screamed in pain as Needle pierced though skin and mussel of his palm until its sharp point came through to the other side, blood gushing from the wound.

Gritting his teeth against the pain the archer lashed out with quick but savage kick which impacted the Arya's lower torso. She gasped and take a step back only just managing to keep a hold on Needle as she reeling backwards.

Again the archer bellowed but his sensors hadn't being complete clouded with pain yet, his dull watery brown eyes burning with hate as he focused sourly on the boy whom had just wounded him. The archer swung the bow which he still held in his right hand like a club intending to smash the boys skull in.

Arya stepped out of the way with the swiftness of a cat, steeping to his side as he bent to far forward. Seeing an opening she thrust forward into the man's leather clad shoulder drawing another strangled cry of pain from the man, it was far from a deep wound but it was enough to fuel the archers ire not that his rage needed much coxing at this point but she had to keep him angry.

'An angry opponent makes mistakes.' As Syrio Forel had told her many times when her own angry and frustration to hit the water dance master over came her.

The man roared so loudly Arya thought her ear drums might burst as he swung at her again and again, seeming to think his bow had turned into a sword as he swung it at her head with the clear intent to try and librate it from her shoulders. She managed to doge his poorly, aimed attacks with compendious ease as her lighter keeping her one step ahead of the raging archer but she realised he wasn't as far gone as she may have hoped as she had to dart around a low hanging branch that sported from a gnarled old tree.

It was then Arya realised her mistake, she hadn't being paying attention to her surroundings. The Archer had used his mad swings and imposing bulk to push her back feather into the woods, where the trees, brushes and other natural impediments where far thicker and were she would have now are near to room needed to keep her distance from the man, her speed and agility would count for nothing in that tangled mess.

"You're running out of room boy" the archer hissed as he lounged again almost managing to grab hold of his thread bear over shirt before the boy skirted away. While keeping his bulk between the boy and any easy means of escape as the trees pressed in around them. "Why don't you just give up and make it easy on ya self?" he leered, as the boys expression turned from confident certainty to worry as he cast about for a way that he might slip past.

"Not a chance in all the hells" Arya yelled defiantly hoping to keep the fear that bubbled up within her as trees pressed in around her and her feet kept getting tripped up on the creeping thorny bushes that seemed almost to claw at her. From showing on her face or in her voice but it was a fool's hope as for the first time in her life she felt claustrophobic as the archer pressed his advantage

Sensing an opportunity the archer dropped his bow and gapped a hold of the boys thread bear over shirt. He licking his lips a dark predatory gleam filled his eyes. "Not a chance in all the hells?" he mocked a cruel laugh braking free from his lips as he lifted the boy off his feet while knocking the thin sword he favoured from the boys grip with his still wounded hand as he tried to slash him with it. "Because that's where you're going..." he trailed of as one of the, lose ratty threads that kept the boys dark over shirt held together suddenly snapped, it was followed by another and another.

Before either Arya or the archer knew what was happing gravity took its toll and the whole front of her abused thread bear shirt ripped away from the rest and she fell to earth. Her knees impacted the ground with a sicking crutch. Pain laced up her legs, though her thighs and into her guts which were still sensitive from her recent moon blood, making her gasp.

The man stared dumbly at the scarp of ratty cloth he held in his hand. "Wha..." he spluttered uncomprehendingly. Arya never gave the man the chance to gather his wits as she griped the spare knife she kept at her belt and sprain forward like a striking viper burying the knife up to the hilt in mans lower gut. He smacked her across the face, with the back of his wounded hand sending her momentarily to the forest floor as he wheeled backwards, clutching at the knife still buried and clumsily removed it and threw it away into the forest. "That's..." he muttered as he staggered about at a loss, blood and other less pleasant liquids leaking out form the wound in his gut.

Arya rose slowly to her feet and cast around for Needle and saw it snagged in the grasping braches of a nearly by thorny brush, glinting as the early morning rays reflected from its well polished shaft. She busied herself momentarily as she retrieved it from its spindly prison. She had only just yanked Needle free when she heard a heavy thud come from somewhere behind her.

She spun around to see the archer keel over and the tall boy around Gendry's age standing behind him, the tip of his make shift spear covered in blood a expression of dark satisfied look filling his brushed face though that faded quickly as it dawned on him he just took a man's life making him pail. "Well that's a turn" Arya Commented dryly as she stepped slowly out of the cluster of trees the archer had cornered her in, measuring the young man carefully.

He looked up somewhat startled "Not really... these two" he indicated the dead archer at his feet and the other one still mewling like a dyeing cat as he clutched his ruined face, blood staining his hands and neck. "Had this and more coming...They...are...were not good men...they hurt people...they like hurting people." The lad explained shakily his face draining of colour as he realised he had just taken another man's life.

"I see" Arya sated nodding her undersetting as she kept her eyes locked on the young man examining him with cautious curiosity. He might have once being considered handsome.

The kind of lad Sansa would have swooned over no doubt, if it wasn't for his obviously low station. He had short dirty blond hair which rustled gently in the early Moring breeze. He had a round genital face with light brown eyes, though his right eye was closed due to the massive angry burse that covered much of the right side of his face and his thin lips were split in the middle by a recent scar about the length of her pinkie finger. Even from a distance she could tell the lad was taller than her though that didn't say much most people were much to her eternal annoyance. He was no were near as well muscled as Gendry but he certainly wasn't unfit, undoubtable a life time of whatever his previous profession was had seen to that.

He held the mark shift spear in his left hand and seemed to favour that side leading her to the conclusion that he was left handed. "I take it you weren't a willing recruit?" Arya asked as she scanned immediate area for any sign of the man whose face she had cut in half while keeping half an eye on the lad that had finished off the archer. The former had recovered enough to start to craw away. The fight was clearly taken out of him as he held what remained of his face, blood seeping between his fingers.

"No I'm not, neither were those two at least at first" the lad explained his voice quite as he indicated the bloody man who was quietly crawling away and the dead man at his feet. "The Lannister's have being raiding nearly every town and hamlet from Harrenhal to the trident since the war started...taking who ever and whatever they please" he trailed off as the younger boy whom slowly closed in on the wounded man with clear intention to finish what he started.

'War' a chill raced down her spine.

"Against...who?" Arya asked coldly dreading the answer as she cut of the wounded mans feeble escape, Needle's pointed tip aimed squarely at his throat. He held his hands up in surrender.

Butterflies swarmed in her stomach, it was one thing to kill out of self defiance or in the heat of the moment it was another thing to kill a defensiveness opponent. She took a breath, trying her hardest to ignore the man's pitiful mewling but the longer the moment dragged the more her hesitation grew. The man seemed to sense her feelings and managed to gargle out a word that sounded like 'please'.

Steadied her shaking hands and summoning up all her straight, she plundered Needle into and through the man's right eye.

It was quick over in less than a heartbeat. Arya watched as her victim's reaming eye went wide, his pupil dilating. Fear, anger and realisation flashed across his face. Then there was nothing. His expansion went slack, the light behind his reaming eye simply winked out and his whole body went slack. With some effort she pulled the blade from the man's skull and like a puppet without a string he fell to the earth with a soft thud.

Arya bent over to close the man's reaming eye, her stern expression and determination the last thing he'd ever see. She retrieved a cleaning cloth from the man's belt as well as two small cloth pooches. One was filled with an assortment of dirty coins the others filled with small pieces of dried fruit and nuts. She turned to face her unlikely ally, whom looked at her with quite understand and abreaction, a weight she hadn't noticed before seemed to lift from the young man's shoulders and settle on her. "I asked you a Question!"

"The Starks and the Baratheon's...Everyone has lost their god given minds since the old king was betrayed by...Lord Sta..." He trailed off stammering as the younger boy's steal grey eyes focusing on him, measuring him. He saw something dark and almost predatory within the boys' steady gaze. "You didn't know?" he quizzed.

"We're not exactly well informed." Arya stated her voice chill "Who's winning..." She trailed of as she heard a fresh scream of pain rang out from somewhere beyond the forests edge. "The others" dread clawed up her spine once more as she cursed under her breath as distant clangs of metal on metal rang through the air though it was clear the sounds of battle were fading.

She had to find Gendry and any others she could and get away before it was too late. There was no way a band of travel warier orphans, outcasts, petty criminals most of whom had never so much as swung a sword before. Could match trained and equipped soldiers innless they outnumbered their foe a dozen to one. Crewing her lip and hoping that her friends were still alive Arya turned to regard her unlikely ally. "Look we're are both going to be in the shit if your former fellows find us chatting like scullery maids over the bodies of these two" She indicated the two dead man. "So I think it's best if we go our separate ways, go home if you can or find somewhere away from the war..." Arya suggested.

"I can't leave the Lannister's service...they have my sister. If I don't join back up with them there will no one to protect her" the lad explained apprehensive and resentful.

She nodded understanding "Then go back but I'm not going to let you take me to your band..." she stated matter of fact her hand resting on the pummel of Needle. "You've seen what I can do to those that have tried." Arya stated turned to face the lad again her eyes cold and as sharp as flint making him take a step back. The death of the Lannister conscript at her hand had changed something within her. Like iron ore was shaped, forged into necessary tools and weapons of war she too was being forged though the process was not yet complete.

"Yes I have" the lad agreed solemnly. "I won't try my luck...I have to get back to my sister...I have to try and find away to get us both out of that hell... Harrenhal" he explained clutching at a small pendent that hung from his neck with depicted the star of the seven. "If we ever met again, best you know my name, its Tannis."

Arya nodded and then spited away.

XXXX

Heat hit her as soon as she snuck out of the forest edge and into the out skirts of the hamlet, almost like it was a physical force. Smoke filled the air making it difficult to breath. Her gaze found the source of the heat, as she peered around the corner of a small wooden hut, the old wind mill at the centre of the hamlet had being set alight.

Bright yellow flames roared and cracked as they licked, up its frame. The windmills curved walls unable to continue the flames hunger, wood burned and stone crashed to the earth as the structure started to warp. It wouldn't be long before the whole thing came thumbing down, thick black smoke poured off the structure occurring large swathes of sky.

It wasn't the only building in the hamlet that had caught light. Many of the larger homesteads and other indistinct buildings that clustered nearer to the windmill like anxious ducklings around their protective mother had not being spared. Though yesterdays down pore hadn't made the fires job ease as some of the more study buildings merely smouldered as bright yellow embers drifted lazily down and nestled on thatched roofs and among the sickly unkempt gardens, weeds and small farms.

Here and there small grass fires littered the hamlet, like their larger parents some consumed all that surrounded them with reckless abandon racing across the weeds and sickly crops like darting snakes while others petered out.

Arya coughed as she dragged in a lung full of sooty air which made her lungs burn, thinking quickly she surged off what remained of her tatted over shirt and doused it in water from the her skin before wrapping it around face making a make shift mask. She took another breath and found it little easier to bear.

Refocusing her addition on the hamlet, she peered through the smoke for any sign of her friends or failing that anyone she might recognises. She saw signs alright just not any she liked, here and there bodies laid eerily peaceful as ash floated down floating down to cover the bodies in gray blankets. If she was a naive fool she might have thought they merely sleeping but the blood that pooled from the nearest body, to her hiding spot disabused her of any notion that these boys and men would ever stir again.

She pushed down the swell of grief and loss she felt as she could just about make out the face of the body closest to her, it was young Rom the boy whom had found lead them to hamlet. He looked oddly peaceful despite the massive gash wound that split his chest.

Arya tried snuck out of the shadow of the outlining hut and continued the search, keeping as close to the ground and to the shadows as she could. She came across more bodies some she reconsidered despite their wounds, a few she even knew the names of which only added to the sorrow already in her heart. Others she didn't recognises these latter corpses wore the same cheep leather dyed red and branded with the golden Lion of house Lannister as the three conscripts that she had come across in the forest. Her spirit sunk as the ratio between the fallen was depressingly one sided, for every fallen Lannister conscript, three or four dead night watch recruits littered the ground.

Still the flickers of hope had not yet dead in her breast as she no sign of Gendry, Hot Pie or Lommy among the fallen, though she found one body that left her numb.

Yoren lay in the mud, his broad chest had being punctured by five arrows and his neck had being slit. Despite these wounds he had clearly gone down fighting as he had taken five conscripts down with him, their bodies abandoned by their fellows. Yorens dark brown eyes were still open, his face still filled with fury and resolve even after the Stanger had taken him.

Arya bent down and picked up a small short sword that lay in the mud not far from Yoren and laid it on his chest and then proceeded to cross his arms over his chest forming an X. She closed his eyes and gently pressed her lips to his forehead and ignored the revoting taste of sweat, ash, dirt and blood that filled her mouth. "You have being the watcher in the night, the protector of the realms of men. You have taken no wife's and fathered no children. Your watch is now ended and though no one else would, I thank you...rest Yoren." With that she stood and wished she could honour him with fire as was all brothers of the nights watch were, when their duty came to its end but she had no time and hoped were ever Yoren was now he'd forgive her.

"Lovely boy, Lovely boy over here" A sickly sweat voice called from somewhere feather into the hamlet, drawing Arya's gaze away from Yoren's fallen body. "Please save us lovely boy" the soothing honeyed voice of Jaqen H'ghar cooed as the wind shifted and blew away enough of the conceding smoke to offered Arya a better view of her surroundings. She saw the strange forager peering at her from inside the iron cage as if he had knew she was there even through the thick smoke two criminal's whom shared his change clawed at the iron bars of their prison as fire crept closer.

Which seemed to have being abandoned and forgotten in the chaos of whatever she had missed. One of the two Mules that had being harnessed to wagon on which the cage sat had taken an arrow to the eye and had clearly died the other whined and spat as it tried to free itself.

"Where are Gendry, Hot pie and the others...what happened?" Arya quizzed steeped closer, picking up a chipped axe that had being abandoned on the ground.

"Men with the mark of lion Lord came with the men with cloaks of gold that were here before. They look for the boy with a bull's helmet. Brave man of the noble nights watch, refused again to give up his charge and fell many before he was overcome." Jaqen H'ghar explained.

Arya's brow narrowed seeing though his charade of sincerity.

The corners of Jaqen, lips pulled upwards slightly. It was gesture so small that no one whom didn't have a measure of talent and perhaps drawn the many faced gods eye would have missed. His smile broadened as the girl's free hand drifted to the pollen of the blade she kept, before relenting "Quickly lovely boy free us" He requested keeping fear from his voice despite the proximity of the flames that even now drew closer and closer to his cage, making his two cell mates start to wail in despair.

"You're a killer" Arya stated emphatically as she freed the mule from its harness and tack, the beast sprinted away from the fire as fast at its four legs could carry it, whinnying all the while. "Their killers and likely worse" she pointed to the two other men in the cage "Why should I?" she asked firmly. "The world could use fewer killers in it"

"Lives spared, are lives owed, lovely boy" Jaqen H'ghar explained with a voice like gold embroidered silk, offering no more than the implication, which lingered in the boiling air.

Grapping a spare light green tunic, that sat on the wagon and put it on. A distant scream drew her gaze away from the strange man and in that split second, time seemed to stench out lengthen. In that moment between hearts beats Arya thought she saw something other than Jaqen H'ghas familiar visage staring back at her. She blinked and Jaqen returned. She handed him the axe and spirited off into the ticking smoke disappearing from sight.

Jaqan H'ghar passed the axe to one of his fellows as he watched the young girl go, he opened up his thick tunic and proceeded to rip a small section of cloth away and retrieved three items hidden within the garment. A small thin knife, a long sturdy lock pickers wire and a small silver coin with a chipped bust of a man's head pressed into one side that had a distant deep gash that ran diagonally along its diameter, he pressed it to his thin lips. "Valar dohaeris" he whispered smiling with all the countenance of a shark.

XXXX

Arya paused for a moment to lean against a low stone wall that encircled the out skits of the hamlet which had seen better days, as a cough fir gripped her. She discarded her make self face mask as she took in great lung full's of pleasantly warm late summer air.

Her racking cough eased a little allowed her mind to drift, the adrenalin of the last hour and half starting to ebb. She felt drained both physically and emotionally.

She vaguely recalled her father telling her that some folk burnt special plants or oils and inhaled the smoke that these concoctions would produce. According to him some could induce waking dreams, while others could make someone as mad as rutting bull.

He had warned her to stay away from those that peddled such goods and to ignore their claims. That certain smokes and burning oils would allow someone to talk with long dead relatives or even the gods themselves.

After another bout coughing and feeling like she was about to hack up a lung she came to the conclusion that all people whom chose to breath in smoke or burning incense were quite, quite mad.

If her father were here, no doubt he would agree with the sentiment but offer up sympathy for people so lost that they'd rather spend their lives huddling in darkness their minds dulled by sweat scented smoke, rather than confronting life.

She regretted not heeding her father's every kind thought or solemn wisdom until she was without his guidance, she regretted not spending every moment of her young life with him. His quite unassuming nature hid his deep wells of resolve, kindness, compassion and patience. He was a good man and a great father. She would do anything to have him back in her life again, just for moment. She would bear any scorn or make any bargain to feel his presence again.

Arya shook the cloud of melancholy from her thoughts banishing it as a strong enough wind might send unwelcome storms feather a field. There would be a time to grieve and that was not now, later when she and her friends were safe. When she returned to Winter Fell and reunited with Robb, her mother and saved Sansa. When the North and all she cared about were safe, then she could greave. A part of her looked forward to that distant time but her addition had to be in the here and now.

Her moment of rest bite was disturbed when she heard a distinctive snap of a twig and heavy foot fall's coming towards her.

Realising how exposed she was, Arya quickly sampled up the wall, doing a good job of scraping her knees and hands and dropped to the other side, keeping it between her and whoever was approaching.

"I swear I heard someone coughing" a deep baritone, foreign voice explained to his companion.

Arya peeked through a small hole in the wall.

The man was massive, nearly head and shoulders taller than Yoren had being in life and nearly twice as broad. His skin was the colour of dark weather beaten leather, his face was a mess of cruel scars. His eyes were so dark they seemed to swallow all light. His scalp was bold save for a small pony tail, he had a small neatly timed bread. The dark foreign man carried a large spiked mace that was stained with drying blood and a small round shield. While his armour for the most part looked to be made out of leather, it was clearly of a far higher quality, than the conscripts she had already faced. He also had an iron chest plate along with leg and arm graves. The Lannister lion worked into the metal of his chest plate.

His companion a far shorter thin faced man, with short reddish hair and creamy white skin was far less well equipped. A short sword that had seen better days and ratty leathers were the extent of his armament. "So what if you did Narrgaffy?" The small thin faced man asked, his voice high pitched and whiney. "We got more than enough to satisfy the beast the mountain for a while with that sorry lot" he thumped nebulous behind himself in the direction they pair had come.

Arya swallowed and brought her knees up to her chest at the mention of the Mountain, she validly recalled ever horrible thing she had heard about that monster of a man. How he burned his own bothers face when the two were children. She'd heard rumours of him having a hand in his parent's suspicious death, torturing his house hold staff and visiting other horrors on the common folk of his houses holdings. She dreaded to think what that kind of man might do with an army at his command.

"Perhaps Garth but I do wish to leave anything to chance..." Narrgaffy agreed solemnly his scared lib curling in disgust "It is better that his pantry is a full as we can make it"

Garth nodded as the two fell silent and searched the immediate area.

'Dame it all I have to get to Gendry before that bull headed idiot gets himself killed.' Arya fumed from her hiding spot as she kept along the small wall hoping to make a brake for the woods without being seen and use them as cover when the two soldiers lost interest and went back to their fellows. She could then track them and rescuer her friends. "Ok not my best plan" she whispered "but it buys me time to think and come up with something bett

She cursed under her breath and laid herself flat as the long thick reed like grass that grew along the edges of the muddy road that led from the hamlet. Closest to her rustled as something large, pushed through it with all the grace of a drunk sailor after half a year at sea.

"I told you, we missed one?" The big man Narrgaffy exclaimed proudly, pleased at being proven correct about his suspension.

"Gods" Arya hissed making herself as small as possible in the vain hope that whoever was emerging from tall grass might not see her. She breathed as slowly and quietly through her nose as she could so as to not aggravate her scorched throat and course another coughing fit. She watched the long grass give way and a familiar shape broke through the living barrier of greenery.

It was the lad Tannis, she had met perhaps no more than an hour or two ago. She couldn't help it she smiled. Luck hadn't abandoned her just yet. Surely he would let her slip away again, he seemed a good short and had no love lost for his masters. Then as her eyes met his and saw a fresh bruise marking his otherwise handsome features and her heart sank as another, taller finger emerged from the tall grass just a step behind him.

The seconde figure was tall and thin as a rake; his pale skin wasn't just pale, it skin seemed to lack any kind of skin pigment at all. His eyes were red and he was completely bold. he a small pointed beared at the base of his long pointed chin what was just as without pigment as his Perl like skin.

He carried a short curved sword and a long whip. Like his fellows he wore the Lannister lion boldly on his armoured chest plate.

For a fretful moment she dared not to breathe or make so much as a sound in the vain hope that she could her evade detection and capture.

The thin man eyes lowered and met her steel grey eyes, amusement flicked behind his red eyes before it vanished like morning mist as his thin bloodless lips split into a sinister smile.

"Well, well, well what do we have here?" the thin man asked with mocking sincerity, his eyes gleamed with predatory delight, his voice was like knifes scraping against each other. "Another rebel and I thought you said you'd being this way Tannis and saw no one around?" the thin man tutted fanning hurt "If you lied about that..." he lean close to the boys ear while licking his lips "I wonder what else you lied about?"

"I swear to you it's the truth, this one...this one must have being hiding..." Tannis spluttered.

XXX

Not waiting another moment Arya sprang to her feet like a jack rabbit drawing, the thin mans attention away from her unlikely ally. With the effortless grace of a cat, she vaulted over the low crumbing wall, displacing loss bricks, creeping ivy and moss as she went and preceded to sprint like her life depended on it, which it likely did.

"After him you dolts!" the thin albino man bellowed.

Arya cringed slightly as she heard the thin man voice crack like thunder from behind her, she spared a seconded long glance over her shoulder and saw that the thin man, the dark skinned foreigner and his smaller weedy comrade casing after her like all the demons' of all the seven hells were at their backs. Tannis too joined his fellows though his own pace was lacking, whether or not this was due to his pronounced limb which seemed to pain him r he wanted to repay the favour, she couldn't tell. Not that it mattered for much.

The thin man was unnaturally fast and had in a span of heart beats managed to close much of the distance her lead had opened up and was gaining every second. His blood red eyes gleamed with a feral and savage intent relishing the hunt.

Pumping her legs and arms as fast as she could Arya was able to keep a step or two ahead of her pursuers.

She dared not risk losing valuable speed in navigating the thick tangle of long grass and bramble that acted as a barrier between the borders of the road.

Her lungs burned as she dragged in more and more air making her wheeze and cough her muscles ached and cried out for a moments rest. Weeks of unending monotonous walking, sleepless cold, damp nights spent on these muddy back roads and her lacking diet had all taken their toll. Little by little her stamina had being leeched from her.

The muscles in her legs pulled painfully, her stomach clenched like someone had reached into her guts and squeezed, a single miss judged foot fall had her nearly slip and fall, though she had corrected herself just in time to stop herself form sub coming to gravity. Her near fall had cost her much of her lead and the pail freak was nearly with in arms reach.

"Come along boy why run?" The albino sneered "You're just going to make it harder on yourself" The man threatened leering at the prospect.

Arya grimaced as she stumbled again, tears streaking down her cheeks as her right foot impacted a root, tripping her up. She came crashing to the wet muddy ground with a solid thud, knocking the wind out of her. She tried to get up but felt a weight press into her back pushing her face into the mud and grime of the road. "Argh" Arya groaned as the bold man stood on her lower back. She tried to rise again but he pressed down harder

"Spirited hum? I like em spirited all the more fun to brake" The bold man proclaimed as he kicked the small brown haired boy in the side of his torso. He kicked the boy again and again until he flipped onto his back. "Now would you look at that? This one's petty lads, you'd almost think he's a girl!" He stated as he called his fellows over interacting, indicating Arya's lean wolfish features, steel grey eyes that were filled with hate and her short dark brown hair and athletic frame. "Some men like that" he licked his lips.

Arya stared up at the bold freak her brow furrowed with impendent rage "I wager you do like little boy's, since no real women to sleep with a freak like you!" she hissed and the other three men. The dark skinned foreigner, his short thin faced friend and Tannis all snicked.

The albino whipped around and glared at each man his blood red eyes burning as his unnaturally pail cheeks flushed pink with embarrassment. "You think that's funny do you...we'll see how funny you think it is when I put you in the cells with the rest of this rebel scum!" He barked.

"Careful...Tickler" Narrgaffy warned his naturally deep voice far more threatening than his fellows. "You do not have that much power and you're not indispensible. The mountain has many fiend's, you won't be missed!" The dark skinned man stated running a finger along his spiked mace.

Arya noticed the other two men whom stood side to side with the foreigner griped their weapons a little tighter. It was clear they only needed an excuse to put this albino freak down like the rabid dog he was and a flimsy one at that. She slowly snaked her hand towards the hilt of Needle. However before she could do anything with her trusty blade, the albino stomped down on her grasping hand making her recoil with a pained cry.

Shuddering with rage the Tickler regarded the sword, greed and oppressive want glinted in his blood red eyes. "That's a fine blade, nice and sharp...castle forged steel right?" he stated knowingly as he leaned down to grab Needle before Arya could use it again. "Looks like a tooth pick tough" he mused "Might use it to pick my teeth!" he sneered as he waved it about a bit, the long blade whistling as it cut air. "Get him up will take him to the others"

Tannis stepped forward and wrenched Arya to her feet. "If you want to live tell them anything they want to know and if you don't know it lie, keep this on you!" he hissed in her ear as he hid a small sheaved knife in the waist band of her pants as he made a show of taking the other two knives she had in her position. "I'll help you when I can"

XXXX

Arya let out a relived breath as she was brought to what remained the band of Night watch recruits. She couldn't help but let out a small pray of thanks to whatever gods may have being watched over them as she lay eyes on Gendry who radiated defiance despite the burses that marred his handsome face. Hot Pie cowered behind him while the rest of what remained of the band hung their heads, already resigned to whatever fate waited them. Out of the thirty or so lads whom left Kings Landing with her a little over three weeks ago perhaps half that number remained.

The muddy ground was littered with bodies of the dead. A familiar voice called out to her as she was pushed towards the group.

"Arry! Help me!" Lommy called out as he lay on his back, his scalp cut and bleeding heavily, an cross bow blot piercing his knee. "Please tell them they got to help...it hurts so much" Lommy begged as he clutched at his ruined knee, blood leaking from the wound.

"I'll try" Arya told her him trying to be as reassuring as she could, given their current predicament, though inwardly she knew she'd never be able to fulfil her friend's request. She absently noticed that Lommy clutched at Gendry's bull helm.

"Keep moving" Tannis ordered as he made a show of pushing her into the crowd, shotting the boy a somewhat apologetic look as he rejoined lose gathering of Lannister soldiers.

"That last of this lot?" A man in full plate armour in blazoned with far richer details than any of his fellows, asked one of the two kings guard that had come looking for Gendry a week or so ago, as he mounted a large hardy chestnut coloured horse.

"Including the dead ones, I'd say so" The king's guardsman answered as he and his fellow emerged from amongst the Lannister soldiers to examine the band of former night watch recruits.

"Arry what happened?" Gendry asked as the young noble girl set beside him and Hot Pie. Deffly moving through the frighten mass of boys."You weren't around when I woke up...and when this lot attacked..." He shot the Lannister's a dark glare "I thought..."

She gently took his callused hands in hers and squeezed while keeping her face claim and impassive. "I'm alright." She told him trying to be as reassuringly as she could. "I just went to make my morning water when I was ambushed as I left the woods"

Gendry deep blue eyes filled with concern as he looked her over, his gaze settling on her crutch "Did they..."

"No!" She told him unconsciously crossing her legs "I got ambushed on my way back. But I managed to kill one to them..."

"You shouldn't have done that..." Gendry told her not liking how casually she seemed to regard the fact she had apparently killed a man. Arya had already Lost her father to this dammed pissing matches between the high borne houses and she may yet loss her sister and gods knew who else before it was done! Would she also lose her soul to it as well, her humanity...He was determined to not let that happen but at the same time he was powerless to stop it.

"And I suppose I should have just surrendered, that I shouldn't fight and even kill if I have to?" She hissed keeping her voice low so as to not draw any unwanted attention their way. "Is that what you did?" Arya's steel eyes blazed.

"Dame it you know that isn't what I meant" He hissed

"Quite down!" one of the Lannister soldiers yelled throwing a rock that caught hit Gendry on the left side of his scalp, opening up a long but sallow cut.

Gendry pressed a small relatively clean rag to his for head as Arya growled and balled her fists, she almost stood to challenge the solider but reacting quickly he grape the hem of her new over shirt and pulled forced her to the ground. "Gods, be good Arry stop it, you'll get yourself killed!" She struggled for a moment but ultimately relented. A sudden pained cry spilt the air and Arya whipped around to see the tall albino man standing over Lommy, his eyes a gleam with cruel intent. She started to rise again but Gendry tugged her to the earth, more forcefully this time.

"Can you work boy?" The Ticker asked smiling sinisterly as he noticed the small brown haired boy that had defied him on the road struggle against a larger black haired young man, the latter keeping the former from doing anything stupid. He smiled.

"Whaa?" Lommy asked dumbly

"Do you have a trade?" the Tickler added as if the boy hadn't spoken, proceeding to step lightly on Lommys wounded knee.

"AGGG It hurts...no ser...no trade but I can work...I'll work...do anything please. ARRG" Lommy cried as he thrashed in pain.

"Maybe you will, maybe you won't" The tickler surged "Can you walk, stand?" He asked pressing down even harder on the arrow bolt that ran though the boys knee.

"No...ser...you'll have to help me up and carry me" Lommy wined as the tall thin pail man stood off the arrow.

"Oh I'll help you boy" the Tickler told the small weedy boy as he leaned down and offered his hand. The boy not being the sharpest knife in the kitchen as he took his offer at face value making what he did next far too easy. He winked at the small pretty brown haired boy as he used the boys own blade to run the little wounded lad, through.

"No" Hot pie gasped quietly a tear running down his fat check as the albino Lannister solider plunged Arry's sword through Lommys neck. His friend gasped and thrashed about like a fish wrestled from the water, clutching at his throat blood spiriting through his fingers.

"Arry...Arry stop there is nothing you can do" Gendry hissed as he struggled to wrestle the Arya to the ground. Despite being such a small thing she had a surprising amount of strength to her. "There's nothing you can do" he told her firmly as their friend thrashed and gasped, gradually Lommy grew stiffer and stiffer until he was completely still, life leaving his body in a final west rasp.

"I have to help him, carry him he says" the Tickler exclaimed beaming ear to ear as his fellows burst out in laughter.

"All right all right you had your fun" The Lannister knight who had addressed the two kings guard early said. "Get back in line!"

"As you order ser" The Tickler muttered darkly as he wondered back to the group.

Seeming satisfied with his casual show of authority, the knight turned his gaze toward the small gathering of boys. "All right you worthless gutter trash, were looking for a lad named Gendry, he's death being ordered by good king Joffrey Baratheon..." he trailed off as a number of his soldiers snickered. He shot them a poisons glare and they quite down "Well know him by a bull Hemet, give him up or I start taking eye balls" He explained and waiting expectantly.

Besides her Gendry handsome face filled with rage at the casual brutality of these men that served a pompous spoiled brat of a king.

"No one? Shame" the knight sighed as he pointed to a small boy in the front row "That one, bring him here"

Gendry couldn't stand it anymore, he started to rise his own life meant little if he couldn't sell it to save all the others.

"Wait" Arya cried out standing up drawing all eyes to her. "You want Gendry?" she asked her face completely devoid of emotion her eyes as hard as they had ever being.

Concern flickered across Gendry's face as for a moment, for less than a single heart beat he thought Arya had betrayed him. He hated himself for even considering that she would to something so infamous but it was there, like a cold lump of iron in his stomach, doubt.

"You got him already" Aray stated pointing at Lommy's corpse. She had no idea how the young boy had gotten a hold of Gendry's bull helm but it didn't matter for much in death he would save not only Gendry's life but everyone else's. "He loved that dammed bull helm of his!" Arya stated, pushing aside grief for the moment and allowing the grief she felt to fill her face.

'Gendry's right, my anger will only get everyone killed.' She mentally conceded 'I won't squander Yoren, Lommy or any of the others deaths like that'. Arya thought forcing the rage down until it cooled became a harden ball of Ice in her heart..

The knight stared at the small boy for a long moment measuring and shifting through his words but he could sense no lie. "Well there you have it" The knight said turning to regard the two king's guard that had accompanied his troop. "Take the little fucks helm as proof and give the king my regards"

"Your service will be noted" One of the two stated with a sullen scowl as he walked over to the dead boy and retrieved the helm and fixed it to his belt, his companion readied their houses. Mounting up the two shot one last heated glance towards the group of batted young boys and men that clustered together like frighten rabbits and nodded towards their allies. "Let's get out of this wet shit hole" and with that as their word of parting the two kings guard road off.

"Good riddance!" The knight exclaimed, spiting his contempt. "All right you worthless shits, you have the honour of being drafted into the Lannister's war effort! I'm sure Lord Tywin will note your service!" The knight let out a bitter laugh as he turned to regard his troops "Boys get this lot moving were marching to Harrenhal! Kill any that fall behind."

XXXXX

For six days they matched though the perpetually wet river lands as swarms of biting insects descended upon them, taking their blood and leaving inching, red kisses behind.

The boys whom had once complained endlessly about Yoren's harsh discipline, ill humour or ration control that could genuinely be called stingy. Found that they inexplicably missed the bellicose night watch recruiter when confronted with far harsher masters. Whom were far quicker to dull out arbitrary punishments and were given no food and scant water while being forced to take up every choir the Lannister soilders could think of.

Nights were no reprieve they were, cold, damp and their ever present hunger made sleep nearly imposable.

The seventh day dawned like all those that preceded it.

Arya stared blackly at the remaining boys from those that had left Kings landing with her seemingly a lift time ago. There were twelve left including Herself, Gendry and Hot Pie. The latter of their trio had being inconsolable for two days after Lommy's death making her wonder at the nature of their relationship. Their small band had lost three more of their number since they had being captured, one was so desperate to quell his hunger had eaten a poisonous mushroom before anyone could stop him, the other two have come down with some kind of fervour left behind be the innumerable bug bights.

She looked away from the sullen faces of her two friends, they eyes ringed with black bands, exhaustion hallowed out their features leaving them gaunt. Of the three of them Hot Pie had fared the best through that wasn't saying much. His generous layer of fat had kept the worst of the trails at bay.

Arya opened up the small pouch of trail mix she had taken from the solider she had slain and wondered how long she could make it last. There was barely any left after three days of trying to share out the mix of nuts, dried mushrooms, scapes of jerky and fruit pieces, between herself and her two friends. "Here, take three and pass three to Hot Pie" she nudging Gendry gently in the side as she opened her palm and presented her bounty.

"There's only six?" Gendry more observed than asked "Have you already eaten your share?' he asked, his brow rose doubtfully.

"I have already eaten my share..." Arya stated hoping that Gendry wouldn't catch her lie. However her traitorous stomach rumbled, ruining any chance of the handsome black haired boy believing her. She blushed sightly as his deep blue eyes softened in concern.

"Arry, you need to eat." Gendry stated gently "Your given both of us, more than you given yourself these past few days" he jested to himself and Hot Pie in turn before gently clasping her smaller dainty hand in his and rolling her fingers back unto they formed a fist around her merger offerings. "Please Arry, just for today take the lions share"

She shook her head as she shrink into her over sized clothes "I can't Gen" Arya trailed of crushing herself for the slip. She sighed as she opened up the small pouch revealing its contents. There were perhaps four nuts, two small raisins and a single strip of jerky left, no bigger than her pinkie nail. "We got to make this last, because this..." she indicated the still sleeping soldiers and the horizon. The gray towers of Harrenhal poked out above the tree tops. "Is only going to get worse and I can go with out for a day"

Gendry thought on what she said and ignoring his own hunger pains he nodded in agreement. "Your right it's only going to get worse but if you can refuse to eat for a day so can I" He told her, unconsciously rubbing his thump over the knuckles of her closed hand as he pushed the limb back to her chest leaning for word as he did so. "You know if more Nobles were like you, the world might be a better place" he mused as he continued to rub his thump over her knuckles. He wanted to desperately to hold her and tell her it would all work out but he couldn't.

Her heat beat like the wings of sparrow, her ears felt like they were on fire and her empty stomach did summersaults. She had to stop herself from leaning forward into his pressing body as some primal instinct thundered though her veins. "You're an idiot" Arya told him sharply hoping to cover for the pink flush that coloured her cheeks.

"Hay don't I get a say here?" Hot Pie asked quietly having saliently observed the pair. They sprain apart, both as red as sin.

"No!" Gendry and Arya sated in unison.

"All right you sons of whore get up!" the lead Lannister knight bellowed, having already mouthed his house. His order was fallowed swiftly as the remaining night watch cohorts had learned quickly that he was not to be ignored. "You're in luck, we're only half a day from Harrenhal were you lot can start earning your kings forgiveness, for being on the wrong side of this war" He stated.

Gendry had to wonder at his captors sense of humour as the solders' broke out in raucous laughter. He pondering was cut short as he felt Arya tense beside's him as she stood up, giving the knight commander her best death glare but if the man saw her defiance he didn't care. "Let it go Arry" he told her quietly as the rest of the boys gathered themselves up and fallowed their captives, few if any offering any kind of resistance any more, their eyes dull and lifeless.

Arya sighed and strode forward, the sun's light breaking through the early mooring fog.

XXXX

The sun had only just reached its zenith when the erstwhile band stared, marched up the crumpling cobbed stone road that lead from the forest low lands mouthed and made to weight outside the hastily constructed stone wall and iron gate that encircled the macabre majesty of Harrenhal.

To say its age withered hulk was massive would be disingenuous; to say it was a ruin utterly fell short of that description. Its warped remains dwarfed even the Red keep by such a margin that it seemed almost unreal. Its grey fire blackens bulk lay awaited the band as they were passed through the Iron Gate, past board guards and ramshackle guard towers and into the outer lowest section of the ruin.

Large chucks of grey missionary and broken statures littered the lower levels making it difficult for solider and serf alike to pass though the broken terrain without issue. Even after three hundred years since dragon fire had laid the original masters of Harrenhal low and the ruin being past from family to family from then to now, much of the debris of what came before littered the place like grim reminders of a bygone age. It certainly didn't help matters that time was a harsh mistress and the few structures that remained or where built upon what came before were often left to the mercy of times lash between the periods of sparse and often brief occupation so each newer structures that had being built upon the same lands as there forbears became indistinguishable from those of an older time.

Until all save the outer shells of its largest most sturdy original structures and the secret places were all that remained. The ruins became a vase maze of crumbling stone work and newer construction. Talismans of past houses and long forgotten dramas hid in the dark forgotten places of the ruins. Paintings of long dead nobles or hung in dark dusty corridors, chests of once fine dresses had being left to rot and moulder, suits of armour rusted away. Dairies full swooning romancers and hateful venturers, ledgers of logistics and secret dealings could all be found if one knew where to look.

Every stone, nook and cranny from the highest tower to the lowest cellar hid secrets and ghosts.

Statues of long dead men and women stared at Arya as she and her friends were marched through the sea of tents and ramshackle structures that sprang up in the vast rubble strine court yard like mushrooms from a rotting tree. The all too familiar Lannister colours of deep crimson red and gold were, save the odd and sporadic growth moss or sickly weeds, the only colour amongst the sea of grey stone and mud.

Horses and mules whined as they dragged wagons and carts behind them, some of which were filled with crates others with dead bodies. Hungry carrion birds of every size and ever species Arya could name cawed endless to each other as they bought over the seemingly endless bounty.

They past bands of soldiers that went about their business, some picked at bowls of brown, some cleaned their gear or patched cloths while others spared or played with dice and bags full of coins. Here and there hallow faced waifs and far too starved scared common folk went about the business of keeping such a gathering operational. They stirred pots of food, set up tents or aided in building, ever thankless choir imaginable was taken up by these poor souls.

The stench of rotting flesh and human waste hung over the enactment seeming to get stronger to whatever destination Arya's captors had in mind for them, it was then she saw what could only be a vision of hell on earth.

Vast crude pens constructed from rusting iron and built into the outer shells of some ruined indistinguishable buildings, dozens of them. Each filled to the brim with men and women, young and old, elders and children from every walk of life hundreds of them, crammed in like fish barrows.

They were all ragged, hallow faced and clearly mistreated. Some missed all their teeth, others had eyes gorged out. Not one among them seemed to have any fight left in them each to a man and women whined, begged and pleaded with their captives for scraps of food, their long thin arms reaching out desperately. Every now and again one of the passing Lannister soldiers would throw a lump or two of mouldy bread or a hunk of meat into the mass and laugh as the crowd of common folk fought each other like starving dogs for so much as a lick.

Arya sheathed in unspeakable rage at watching such wanton cruelty, she wasn't naive enough to think war was pleasant for the common folk of the seven realms but this.

This was beyond reason. Yet for as moved as she was by the common folk's plight, a plight she had no illusion that she would soon share. It took everything she had not to fly into a blind range, draw one of the small knifes she kept on her and gut the nearest Lannister like a fish as she saw in one a cluster of cages far to the right were a grouping of men still wearing scarps of Tully, Stark and their assonated vessel houses colours. If she hazed a guess there were perhaps five hundred or so men and if anything they were in a worse state than the common folk hemmed into cages.

However unlike the common folk their eyes still shone with defiance, many of their number shouted insults at their captors and promised retribution for the poor treatment of the other prisoners.

"Arry...are those?" Gendry indicating the imprisoned soldiers, if looks could kill the venomous stare she shot the Lannister's would have done so a hundred times over.

"They are my brother and cousins men" Arya hissed

"How could anyone do this?" Hot Pie asked as he stared transfixed by the sight of a young women, ripped from her families embrace and dragged kicking and scramming into a nearby tent.

"Man is capable of anything when he is taken from his home, sees the fires of war and devastation first hand. When his gut rumbles and hate fills his breast even the foulest fiend of the seven hells that awaits us, couldn't match us" Tannis stated darkly having being one of the soldiers to escort their group though the court yard, his left hand drifting up to grasp at a star of the seven which hung from his neck. His own gaze dawn to the bloody ruined body of a boy all of nine years being frown onto a wagon full of dead bodies.

Arya shook her head and strode forward, "Your wrong, not about men but about hell...it's here...right here in Harrenhal"

XXXX
Next Chapter Welcome to Harrenhal

Please review

AN: bloody balls this took a long time to write didn't it? Sorry about that, this year has being a bit of a mess and its taken most of the year to get this in a state im marginally happy with. Once again thank you all for reading this but don't expect the next chapter any time soon I'm taking a break from Game of thrones for a spell to try my hand at a few more fandom's and also fixing a story/completing a story that's long being on the back burner for ages.