AN: Well life couldn't be more different than the last time I updated can it? When last I was on in February I foresaw lots of free time to write my chapters and make up for my massive hiatus. Then with all this horseshit that got dumped on us all because of my profession 90% of my free time went down the toilet and so did my energy to use what little time I had for writing. I'm not gonna use that to excuse my update schedule, mostly because I don't provide one but this fic certainly feels cursed for getting updates with exploding computers and pandemics. I'm almost putting GRR Martin to shame.
Oh and as I said in the first chapter there is gonna be smut later on when Harry is of age and considering I don't want this story taken down on this site that kind of content will only be being shown on my AO3 account which you will find under the same profile name on that site. When this chapter goes out I'll start uploading on there with the first chapter on that site today with chapter two and then chapter three a few days later with the intention that by the time chapter four comes out the FF and AO3 stories will be at the same stage.
With that, please enjoy.
Winter is almost upon us, boy. And winter is death. I would sooner my men die fighting for the Ned's little girl than alone and hungry in the snow, weeping tears that freeze upon their cheeks. No one sings songs of men who die like that.
- Hugo Wull, Clan Chief of the Wulls
A week later the group finally made it home to Three Peaks, seat of House Sealgair. The fortress was nothing special, not by the standards of the great castles of Westeros such as Winterfell, the Eyrie or Storm's End, but it was most certainly an eye opener. Nestled at the end of a Valley which lay sheltered by three towering mountains, hence the name, the seat of House Sealgair was situated half way up the central peak and arranged into three levels. The closet level to the valley floor was the Trade Quarter, the lowest part of Three Peaks, access to the quarter provided only by a sturdy stone bridge and protected by a stout gatehouse. The people of the Clans came from across the mountains to trade and barter in this level and the bustling market at its heart was the only place in the spare region one could access quality wares such as advanced metal work and exotic goods imported from Essos. Separated by a steep ascending ramp to the next plateau lay the Residential Quarter, home of the castles residents and the entrance to the mine that delved into the mountain for the precious silver that lay at its heart. Finally above that and closest to the summit was the Old Keep, ancestral home of House Sealgair.
And of course, the home of Harry and Asher for the last three years.
There was no rest for the two wards with their return and they were soon thrown back into their back breaking schedule after only a nights rest. Turned out of bed at first light and given a cold breakfast to eat, they were handed chores to complete, the two running from up and down the mountain on tasks designated by Hewelin. The jobs were the typical fare of what a southern page might be assigned, fetching books, cleaning armour and weapons, delivering messages and completing pretty much any task given to them. The chores however also served as an extensive exercise regime by design. Spending most of the morning every day for three years running up and down a mountain did wonders to strip off baby fat and build up muscles and stamina in the two boys and both were almost unrecognisable from their old selves.
After their chores, it was time for dinner, then several hours with Maester Stefan. A stuffy and ancient old man with an uncontrollable drool, Harry had decided early on that he didn't like him. He was nothing like Maester Luwin back in Winterfell. Where Luwin made the lessons engaging and seems to have a knack for teaching children, Stefan taught like he was teaching court fools and was counting down the seconds till he was done. Questions were not tolerated, misbehavior was punished severely and curiosity was a waste of time.
Still, the decrepit old man demanded results from his students and Harry delivered, if only to get out of the tower the man called home all the sooner. Continuing his lessons where he had left off with Luwin, he continued to learn about history, noble houses, strategy, maths, geography and basic economics, as well as becoming more proficient in reading, writing and speaking Valyrian, a skill practiced across Westeros where it was seen as a language of culture and still used in parts of Essos. Unfortunately it was also Harry's weakest subject and certainly wasn't one Harry would be proficient in any time soon if Stefan's frustration over his pronunciation and struggle with the written form was any indication.
His learning was also helped somewhat from his visions. The world he visited in his dreams possessed a form of childhood education of its own however incredibly it was open to every child no matter their station. Harry's mind boggled at how much such an endeavour would cost but even he could see the benefits of every subject having the training of a middling Maester and the benefits it must bring. He was certainly most appreciative of the results, especially those that he had learned in the 'science' classes. On many occasions he knew much of the content of the class before he was taught and often eclipsed it, even correcting Maester Stefon once or twice such when he had already known some subjects before they were brought up. The harsh clips over the head he had received from old man had quickly persuaded the young Stark to keep his mouth shut on his otherworldly knowledge.
Still it was not all a benefit. Suddenly being given intimate understanding of disease and how it was spread made him suddenly squeamish of the appalling sanitation of his world, a mindset he had taken a while to overcome, helped greatly by Asher's ribbing for his newly founded desire for a daily bath. In the unlikely that he became Lord of Winterfell he would ensure that sewers would be spread across the North and disposing of waste out the window be made an offence punishable by automatic one way trips to the Wall.
Once out of the stuffy tower and the presence of the overbearing Maester the rest of the day was far more enjoyable, an hours free time, the evening meal hosted in the great keep and personal lessons with Hewelin himself up in his solar, lessons far more interesting than those with Stefon to say the least as they branched into topics important to them and their heritage as descendants of the First Men.
At the feet of the Master of the Northern Mountains they learned of the ancient lore of the Children of the Forest and the pact sworn between them and the First Men, the history of the Great Houses of the North and how the several millennia long rule of House Stark had arisen. They even studied the Greenseers, Wargs and a multitude of other topics that anyone south of Moat Cailin would consider nothing but children's stories and Maesters would dismiss as fables at best despite evidence to the contrary. Their most recent lessons was the language of the Old Tongue now only spoken by the Wildlings beyond the Wall and the Flint Clan, a harsh and guttural language that Harry non the less enjoyed learning and found far easier to memorise than Valyrian.
But before any of that they would be engaging in Ashers favourite activity.
"Keep your shield up or he'll ring your head like a bell!"
Harry did as the Master-at-arms instructed, keeping the shield in up even as the Sealgair warrior hammered away at it, each blow sending a bone rattling judder up his arm. Just as he felt like his arm was about to give way he spotted movement to his left, quickly dodging backward as the guard who was trying to flank him lunged from the side. The man stepped in front of Harry as he pulled up from his running slash, only for Harry to shield bash him into his comrade behind, both stumbling back. Separating themselves, they were about to rush forward once more but were interrupted in their charge by a voice.
"Halys, Arnolf, step out! Forrester! Stark! You two against the other, you don't finish until one of you is out cold or yields!"
Breathing hard, Harry turned to look at Asher. The boy had managed to hold off his own opponents as well though he seemed to have taken a knock over the head, a large dent in his helm as evidence. Being outnumbered in a practice fight was new for them and had seemed unfair at first but Freya claimed it was how real fights went and they had to get used to it.
As Asher moved quickly towards him with a grin, Harry planned. His friend dual wielded an axe and short sword, Harry, an arming sword and shield. Both of them were fairly equal, Harry was taller and stronger but Asher was faster and very agile, which he had to be with no defence to speak of. Harry knew Asher would be all attack which meant he would weather the storm and wait for him to tire or for the boy to make a mistake he could exploit. Not much different from his earlier strategy with the two heavier adults really though unlike the two Asher would be giving it his all.
Before he could continue with the thought the two of them came together with a crash, Asher striking against his shield but lacking the strength of the two burly warriors they had been facing meant Harry easily weathered the blows. Changing tac, he tried to strike at Harry's legs, a moderately more successful move as it made the Stark unbalanced as he rapidly shifted his feet to dodge, but he quickly began jabbing and slashing with his blade any time he saw his Asher lean down which forced the Forrester to dodge back.
The two were momentarily at a standstill as they regained their breath, both of them visibly tired. The two had been fighting for half an hour and it was beginning to show on the young teenagers. Giving his arms a shake with a growl, Asher once again attacked, rapidly moving to the side as he tried to get around Harry's shield, Harry himself shifting to keep him in his sights. He moved his sword to keep it hidden behind his shield, ready to strike after a block. Asher suddenly made a swing at Harry's shield with his axe, trying to hook it over the edge to tear it out of Harry's hands, or at least unbalance him. Harry saw the move coming however and jumped back out of range, long experienced with Asher's favourite technique to strip him of his defence. He replied with a quick thrust hoping to catch the Forrester while he was open. Asher dodged however and seeing his chance smashed both his weapons into the extended sword, throwing it out of opponent's hand. A triumphant grin appeared on his face.
"Ha! I wi-" He was interrupted as the edge of Harry's shield smashed in to his heavy practice helm, stunning him and sending him reeling backwards.
'Don't get cocky Asher, you might like your flashy style but you forget my shield is also a weapon'
Harry pressed his attack and kicked his friend on to his back. Before Asher could get back up, Harry drew the knife that was strapped to the interior of his shield and leaped to the downed form of his friend, holding the knife to his throat. Asher froze.
Clapping was heard from the edge of the ring as Freyja entered, blonde hair streaming behind the fierce woman as she vaulted the fence. Harry sheathed his dagger and reached down to help Asher up.
"Well done! Well done, you've both improved immensely." She turned to Harry "Good work remembering your shield is more than something to hide behind, but you've got to learn to stop overextending on your thrusts and stay more mobile. You dodge and weave, but otherwise you stay as still as a stubborn Weirwood. Remember to move and use that to manoeuver your opponent into a position that you want him in."
She turned to Asher "And you..." She trailed off and glared at the boy who just glared definitely back, though Harry noticed that he was starting to fidget a bit under her gaze, a sight that almost made the Stark grin. The two had had it out for each other since day one.
Still, he paid careful attention not to let his amusement show. Better the genuinely scary woman's ire was focused on his friend than him.
"Despite everything you've done well with your fighting style. I had my doubts when you decided on something as inane dual wielding but you've made it your own." Harry and Asher glanced at each other, astonished.
'Is she actually...complimenting him?'
"But your brash, cocky and overconfident and you put so much in your attack you have no defence. Attack is the best form of defence but if you want to last longer than a few minutes in a fight you need something to fall back on."
'Ah, there it is, all is right with the world.'
"Now, Harry, after you've finished your business with Bjorn, you have your usual lessons with Lord Sealgair. Asher, you will run the Gauntlet and then report to Lord Sealgair as well."
"What! Why am I the only one running it!?" Asher objected.
"Is that back chat I'm hearing from you Forrester?" Freyja questioned with a raised eyebrow. "I thought I warned you enough about the consequences for that." She turned to Brynhildr, her apprentice, who was sitting on the ramparts above, sharpening her short sword.
"Bryn, Forrester just volunteered for target practice. I think he could do with some working on his dodging." The girl smirked evilly and quickly ran off to get her equipment. Asher's eyes widened in panic.
"No! It's fine! It's fine! I'm happy to do it! See? Look, I'm going." He called frantically as he ran towards the gate that lead to Freyja's personal assault course, the affectionately named Gauntlet.
Shaking his head Harry put his equipment back on the rack, wiping his sweaty face with a linen cloth after removing his practice helm and other equipment. Picking up his pack, he made his way though the tunnel that led out into the Fortress proper, running into the excited Brynhildr on her way back, several wickedly sharp looking throwing axes cradled in her arms like a newborn baby.
"Sorry Bryn, he's already gone. Maybe next time." He said lightly as they passed. The girl pouted.
"Aww, I'm never going to get a chance to use these..."
"You know your supposed to get the practice ones right?" Harry pointed out as she turned around and continued to the training area.
When Brynhildr didn't turn around to correct her 'mistake' Harry rolled his eyes and continued on his own way. Freyja pushed them hard and wasn't a light touch, especially with the unruly Forrester, but she wasn't the kind of person to actually harm someone without good reason, especially when actually going through with her threat would see her ripped limb from limb by House Forrester with said limbs then nailed to their Ironwood trees. In fact despite their apparent animosity Harry would say she was rather fond of Asher, though he surely wouldn't say that to the woman's face.
Bryn...well her Harry wasn't so sure on. Harry was fully convinced the girl was genuinely insane. Her Clan certainly was. There was a reason they produced the most berserkers out of any other Clan in the Mountains.
Emerging from the darkness of the tunnel, Harry began to walk down to the craftsman's quarter, greeting several people as he passed them. Cooks, guards, servants and Clansmen of every denomination who were in Three Peaks for business. All smiled and gladly returned his greetings. It had been momentous news when it had emerged that a Stark would be staying with their Lord. House Stark was loved in the Northern mountains, revered even. They called Eddard Stark, The Ned. A comical title to some but one of honour to the Mountain peoples who used the clan name as a title of the chief, or in Eddard Starks case his shortened first name as a title.
Harry truly come to consider this place a second home and it's inhabitants his friends, just like in Winterfell. They were a strong and selfless people who understood how the world worked. Brutal and crude sometimes mayhap, even by Northern standards with many a strange tradition. But they lived with a code of honour and knew when to set it aside to deal with those who would not respect such things, people like the Ironborn and Wildlings who regularly raided the Mountains. Raided, it should be noted increasingly without success since his Father had become Lord of Winterfell and ships flying the Stark colours began patrolling the shore, an achievement that had strengthened the Clans already ironclad loyalty to House Stark.
Turning down a small alley just past the gate that separated the Old Keep from the Craftsman Quarter, Harry quickly walked through the heavy iron bound door of the workshop of the Three Peaks blacksmith, a huge cavernous space dominated by a pair of large bellows and a squat wide furnace. Bjorn's smithy had changed drastically since Harry had arrived three years ago. Once upon a time it had been nothing special. Capable of forging basic weapons and armour, chain mail, swords, spears and the like, usually out of Iron. Now it had been expanded and these days churned out steel blades and even plate armour, commodities that the more martial Clans snapped up eagerly.
The man himself was working on a steel gorget, a collar that protected the neck in a suit of armour. Bjorn was a large man, six foot tall and ripped with muscle, shaggy black hair covering much of his body. Harry took the time to admire the man's work. He had once seen the man throw a heavy iron ball twenty metres, yet here he was delicately adding a simple engraving with a tiny chisel. The man was talented, no doubt.
"Forget to knock again boy?" The man asked, his voice deep voice rumbling.
"If I knock you don't answer Bjorn. I'd be standing outside until the Long Night came again if you had your way." Harry quipped. The man snorted.
"True enough. What is it then?" The man questioned gruffly. "Neither of us have the time to stand around gossiping like washer women."
Harry ignored the man's tone. That kind of talk to a noble from a commoner wouldn't have been tolerated in the south or even large parts of the North but things worked differently in the Northern Mountains, if you weren't a chief or a Lord of the chiefs like Harry's Father then you were talked too the same as everyone else. Second born Sons, even a Son of their liege, were expected to be treated no differently even if in practice many made an effort not to be rude regardless.
They were brusque people but not stupid enough to be disrespectful to a boy who by fates chance might one day be their Lord.
"Have you given any more thought to my plans?" Harry questioned. The man sighed and set down his work.
"Kid, I admit, the knife was a good idea" He confessed, giving a nod at the blade, now tied to Harry's waist. "But one good design doesn't make you an inventor."
Looking down at his dagger strapped to his belt Harry smiled. The blade was something of a pet project for Harry. When being taught about the peoples and nations of the known world by Maester Luwin, he had learned of a small tribe east of the Dothraki sea who had once used swords that curved inwards. Though the Maester had only mentioned them in passing, to exemplify the diversity of the continent, the thought had stuck with the boy who had long had a love of blades of all kinds. It was so different from the straight sword used nearly universally in Westeros, unique even from the weapons in Essos that often curved upwards.
And so collaborating with Roderick, a man who lifetime experience with blades made him invaluable, they had put together a decent design of what it should have looked like though Harry got the impression that the Master at arms was only humouring him. Hearing of her nine year olds work with blades however his mother had put her foot down, subsequently not even Mikken the castle blacksmith in Winterfell would touch the idea with a ten foot pole lest they drew the Lady Stark's ire.
When he had arrived at Three Peaks and was beyond the hawk like gaze of his Mother he had tried to convince Bjorn to forge him one but the man had rebuffed him. Desperate times called for desperate measures and he had resorted to bringing his the new friend Asher in on the plan who joined simply for the fun of annoying someone. Working together over the course of several weeks the two had slowly whittled down the man's patience until he had agreed just to get the two boys out of his forge. The resulting knife had worked better than he hoped, the blade held far more cutting power than a regular knife and became a reliable and powerful fall back weapon. He had named the blade a Kukri, in honour of the tribe of people that had once wielded it's kind.
The success had galvanized him to pursue other ideas, some mild successes, other abject failures. This was the reason for which he was here. He was, after all, a thirteen year old boy. Like with Roderick, he needed a professional to look over what he had thought up.
Harry knew that simply pestering the man to help him again would not work a second time. He simply hoped that one of the rough schematics he had drawn up would catch the man's eye. But he had to get Bjorn to look at them first.
"You just admitted that it was a good idea and now you won't at the very least give my plans a quick look? Is there any harm in just giving them a glance?" Harry pleaded. The Blacksmith paused, growled, then put out his hands for the papers. Harry handed them over eagerly.
The Blacksmith looked at the plans for a while, scratching at his beard in thought. He actually looked to be giving them some thought as he hemmed and hawed, setting each paper down with. He sighed and looked down at the boy.
"Why so insistent kid? All these strange weapons and ideas, your the son of a powerful lord, you could just get a fine suit of armour and a sword if you want to."
"That's the thing though, every knight in Westeros is the same. Some plate armour, a sword or mace and maybe a lance. Doing something different and strange might give me an edge." He admitted.
"Well at least you're trying to think outside the box. As long as none of this involves lighting your sword on fire like that mad Red priest I've been hearing about." The man muttered.
The blacksmith looked down at the sheets in his hand again. He started to go through them, examining each with a hum and a haw.
"The blade is too thin and the cross guard is too flimsy, Your hand would be gone if the blade didn't snap first." He threw the first sheet down to the table.
"A handheld crossbow. And load it with what? Toothpicks? There's a reason they're the size they are. I'm not sure a bolt this small would even go through a Gambeson much less plate. And that's just the most obvious problem" He threw that down to the table as well.
"This is just a sword breaker. Interesting idea, doesn't work well in actual practice." That too joined the growing pile.
Paper after paper fell to the wooden table as Bjorn discounted one idea after another. Harry's shoulders slumped further with each quiet whisper of falling sheets and scathing remark. He wasn't upset. This was why he was here, to get an honest answer. He would be lying if he said that the disappointment wasn't crushing however.
Finally only one piece of paper were left in this man's hands. He was looking at it thoughtfully, hope blossomed in Harry, maybe some at least were not complete rejects.
"Now this is something interesting. Where did you get the idea for it kid?" he questioned, intrigued. Excitement grew in Harry, he had an idea of which one the man was interested in, it was one of his best ideas. Well, not so much his idea.
"Well, we were hunting around Red Maw pass, you know, where they are building the huge wall across the mouth of the valley? We stopped to watch the men pull the stone up to the upper levels and one of the engineers explained how they use pulleys to make it possible and easier for them. And on the way back Asher complained about pulling the bowstring back a lot became tiring. So I put two and two together, why not put miniature pulleys on a bow to make it easier to pull and hold for longer?"
The burley blacksmith looked up from his stuffy of the paper to look at Harry with a raised eyebrow.
"So simply seeing a pulley and hearing the Forrester brat whine gave you inspiration to design a whole new weapon?" Bjorn asked a distinct note of amusement in his voice.
Harry blushed. It wasn't a total lie. One of his visions had been Harry watching something called the 'Olympics' through a crack in he living room door whilst the odious Dursleys sat inside and watched. The bow with the strange amalgamation of pulleys and strings he had seen being used by competitors of some sort of archery sport had intrigued and confused him but it had only been the conversation with the engineer that had given him the eureka moment and combined with a few of his other worldly lessons in mechanical advantage in Harry's schools workshop, he had eventually come to understand somewhat how it worked.
"Well it's not all mine" He admitted sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "I mentioned it too Ethan and he was interested, so he managed to rope that engineer in to designing some miniature pulleys and the cables. They're the ones who designed most of it, I just came up with the inspiration."
"Well I take back what I said earlier kid. One good idea may not make you an inventor but two defiantly makes you someone to watch." Bjorn nodded looking down at the sheet. It was indeed a lot more professionally drawn than the others, clearly drawn by an experienced hand.
The blacksmith studied the design for a while longer, humming and hawing as he studied the papers.
"Still, I'm no Bowyer kid, but I'm beginning to see a problem. If I'm reading this right the tension put on the limbs of the bow by the pulleys and cables to make it easier for someone to draw back the string will be a lot higher than any bow I've heard of. Any regular wood would be too stressed after anything more than a limited amount of use. In fact I don't think there would be material strong enough except perhaps Goldenheart from the Summer Isles or Dragonbone."
Harry's disappointment at the failure of this design was overwhelming, even worse than all the other let downs combined. He had been truly convinced that it would be a success. And a success it would never be a seeing as he was a second born son with no money to speak of beyond what was needed to pay for his upkeep. Even if he was the richest man in the world it would still be a challenge to get a hold of Goldenheart, jealously guarded by the Summer Islanders. And Dragonbone was so laughably rare it wasn't even worth considering.
"Cheer up kid. You never know where you path will take you. If you told me even half a decade ago I would be working in a forge this impressive and molding steel instead of iron I would have laughed you out the ratty hut I used to call a forge."
"Yeah, I'm sure I'll just run across a dragon skeleton or beached Summer Islander ship on my next hunting trip." Harry grumbled, mood sour.
"Tell you what young Stark." Bjorn said as he gathered the papers and handed them back to Harry. "Next time you have a novel idea, consider my door open. Least I can give you is a willing ear and hand if you continue to come up with stuff like this. Until then you should get, your lessons with Lord Hewelin start soon if I remember correctly."
Answering with only a simple nod Harry tucked his papers under his arm and exited the forge, the sound of metal striking metal resuming before he had even closed the door. Burying his disappointment Harry walked off with a frustrated sigh.
'Where the hell would I get goldenheart or dragonbone? Maybe it would be better to sell the designs? At least that would get coi-'
The Stark turned around to to see Asher running up to catch up with him. The boy was covered in sweat and was sporting a cut or two. Harry had no doubt that he would also be waking up with some bruises in the morning as well. The Gauntlet had that effect on people.
"Have fun?" Harry teased.
"I swear that woman gets off on seeing me in pain" Asher grumbled, rubbing his neck. Harry laughed, previous disappointment almost forgotten.
"You'd probably have an easier time if you weren't always such a cheeky shit."
"Hey! You're just as bad as me sometimes." The boy objected.
"What can I say? People can't deny that Stark charm" Harry shrugged, ignoring Asher's snort.
They sidestepped an old clansman leading a horse drawn cart, who gave a smile and a dip of the head to the two boys.
"Might help not calling your teacher a bitch on the first day as well." Harry added with a grin, thinking back to the day as his friend shook his head, cheeks red.
The two boys had arrived in the mountains to begin their tenure as wards of House Sealgair where they were met by Freyja who was to escort them to Three Peak. It came as something of a shock to the two to learn that their education in the martial arts would be continued by a woman. Harry had quickly gotten over the surprise and whilst he was certainly doubtful of the ability of the blonde lady who was dwarfed by the muscle bound Clanmen she led, he trusted his Uncle wouldn't have given them an incompetent teacher. He was interested if nothing else, mind turning to his little sister Arya who was ever obsessed with Old Nan's tales of warrior women of the world.
The young Asher however seemed to take issue with having Freyja as his mentor and had shown his displeasure with some colourful language. She invited him to an impromptu spar, an offer he foolishly accepted where is was given a thorough demonstration on how whilst she could might not be able to match a man's strength that didn't mean she was weaker by any means.
Some of the clansmen say the salt from his tears would stop anything growing in the valley for a hundred years...
"Yeah, well, I learnt my lesson" Asher said, shamefaced. Harry rolled his eyes.
"If the lesson is to know when to speak and when to keep your mouth shut, I'd say you haven't!"
Asher replied by slugging his friend in the shoulder which earned him one in kind, the two only separating from their impromptu mobile scuffle when they arrived at the elevator that would take them to the top of the mountain far quicker than taking the bridges that connected the various quarters.
Just managing to get onto the packed platform before it began to ascend, the two wards were separated by the press of bodies, the crowd of people and animals unable to make way for the Noble wards as they would normally. Asher managed to squeeze through the press of bodies to the back whilst Harry was stuck between two wagons loaded with goods destined for the keep at the top. A group of four drivers, clansmen of different origins Harry could tell from their accents and clothes were chatting, each holding a small tankard that had been filled from an open cask as they waited for the elevator to reach the top.
Given nothing better to do the Stark decided to listen in.
"Comin up from Widows Walk, Gods above you should see the amount of traffic there, not seen anything like it in all my years. Wagons comin and goin in every direction. Terrible it is." The oldest one grumbled, silver and white strands beginning to show on his thick beard. He wore no identifying mark but his accent was unmistakably the hard lilt of the Burleys
"Terrible? Why you moaning old man? Trades good! Never seen people so happy, food stories are bursting nearly and there's even talk of their being a surplus this year." His companion responded. He was far younger but still old enough to have a full beard himself. Harry recognised him as a Liddle from the white sheepskin sash he wore, the traditional symbol of that clan.
"Yeah I guess. Just liked the solitude I guess. The quiet. Now it seems like everywhere you go they're building something, outposts, towers, even dammed walls across whole valleys." The old Norrey said before shrugging his shoulders. "Not all bad I guess though. Can't complain about the new roads. First time I've ever completed a trip without throwing a wheel. Or the granaries the Ned built on our land. Chief told us Lord Stark said as long as we protect and maintain them we'd be allowed to take a small portion each year to supplement our own food stores."
This got hums and sounds of approval from the gathered Clansmen. Food was everything in the frigid Northern Mountain and the generous offer would have been well received.
"You think you're lucky? Our clan grounds are right at the pass where the trade enters the mountains so we get first pick before they reach Three Peaks." The Wull spoke up, his origins immediately obvious by his spiky hair, wet and slick with pine resin as was their custom. "Managed to save up enough to buy my woman one of those fancy little...what they call them, mirrors? Gods above never had my cock sucked that hard as she did that night, like she was trying to suck my soul out through my nuts!"
This drew round of laughter from the clansmen.
"If the Ned keeps things keep on the up like this one day our children might not need to walk the frost league at all. Can you imagine? Old Gods bless the Ned." one observed, the accent that of a native of Three Peaks. The others murmured in agreement.
Harry shivered at the phrase the man used. Winters in the North were harsh already but nowhere was it worse than in the Northern Mountain where food was scarce and the cold vicious. It was the grim tradition that the old announce they would be 'going out to hunt' only to never be seen again as they walked the 'frost league', so named as the furthest most got before they succumbed to the brutal Winter storms. All so that there would be more food for their families. The south had no idea how good they had it.
"Well I think we've found our toast brothers, Old Gods bless the Ned and to many more years of prosperity to come."
"Aye, we can drink to that. Gods bless the Ned."
"Gods bless him!" the group cheered with a clack of mugs.
Harry turned away from the group as they downed their ale and climbed back into their wagons. He was too young to remember what the North or the Northern Mountains had been like that long ago but from every source he had heard unprecedented levels of prosperity was being enjoyed across the whole Kingdom since his Father had become Lord of Winterfell. The first fleet since Brandon the Burner put to water, roads paved and new ones built across the Kingdom, wealth flowing in such quantities even the common people benefited as jobs and work became plentiful and goods cheaper. In the weeks before his departure Harry had overheard some of the servants of Winterfell whispering that it was the beginnings of a new Northern golden age though when a proud Harrion had told this to his Father, the man had only become grim faced to the boys confusion and replied with a lesson on their House and its words. Winter is coming. And a prosperous summer means an even harsher winter.
The duo finally stood in front of the study as the sun was beginning to set over the mountains. Harry knocked on the heavy oak door.
"Come in" Hewelin's voice called from behind it. The two boys entered.
Like most of the rest of the Castle the room was modest, several bookshelves, a desk and chairs and a map but little else. Every inch of furniture in the room was crammed with books and stacks of paper but beyond that it was bare to the point of asture, no item of luxury that wasn't conductive to his work or duties as a Lord was in sight. His uncle was sitting behind the desk now, writing in a large tome in his usual elegant script. Harry stood at ease and waited for a greeting. Hewelin considered patience a virtue and liked to see it in others. One of the many little tests that his Uncle regularly subjected his wards to. There was always another lesson, always another a trial that would see them judged, weighed and measured as he pushed for Harry and Asher to be the best they could be.
But despite how much the man poked and prodded Harrion Stark to unearth everything there was to know about him, Harrion Stark still knew so little of the man he called Uncle.
He was studious and learned in a region where any activity that weren't directly dedicated to the direct survival of the Clans was frowned on. He had taken no wife, had no family and didn't even a bastard as far as Harry was aware. Harry knew, having delivered them personally when they arrived, that for every message that came into the Mountains for the various Clans Hewelin received ten, an unheard of amount of correspondence rivalling even Harry's own Father who was master of half a continent.
Hewelin Sealgair was an enigma, a man who had grown to become to become a Lord totally contrary to his environment and even after three years being his ward Harry frustratingly knew him little better than anyone else. Frankly the only things holding back Harry's curiosity to investigate further was being kept busy perpetually from dawn till dusk as well as his respect for the man who had given him such fair treatment and taught him so much.
But it still nagged at him nonetheless
The object of Harry's thoughts finally looked up and smiled slightly, the only sign Harry ever saw that they had passed one of his unspoken tests.
"Harry, Asher, good evening. How did your lessons go with Freyja?" Hewelin inquired. Harry informed his uncle of progress and victory which received only a nod from his Uncle before he turned back to his writing.
"I'm afraid boys we'll have to keep our lessons short today. Important and urgent matters require my attention."
Asher and Harry glanced at each other, the thought on both their minds.
"Uncle" Harry began hesitantly "Are these urgent matters about the Ironborn?"
Hewelin's quill froze above the page and he looked at his two wards. There was neither admonishment or any other emotion on the man's face. It was as always impeccably neutral and utterly unreadable.
"Let me guess." the man said, laying down his quill and leaning back in his great chair. "You've heard rumours around the castle?" At the dual nod of the two boys he snorted and shook his head. "The Mountains used to be such a sleepy world. Now word travels faster and faster by the day. No matter, I was going to bring this up anyhow."
Standing the man walked to a large map of the Seven Kingdoms that hung on the wall. Sigils and strips of paper bearing icons Harry didn't recognise hung next to major cities of Westeros, Old Town, Kings Landing, Lannisport, White Harbour and a multitude of others.
"It is indeed about the Ironborn. A few days ago we received word. They've attacked and sacked Lannisport and burnt the Lannister Fleet at anchor." The Sealgair Lord acknowledged, pointing to icon of Lannisport. "The Seven Kingdoms are in uproar and the fleets of the Iron Islands have free reign over most of the western coast of Westeros."
The two boys sat in shock. Their worse fears had been realised.
"You'd needn't fear lads. The Greyjoys have thrown themselves into a war they can't win. Every Kingdom hates the Ironborn with a passion, even those like the Vale and Stormlands who have never really suffered from their attacks. They'll all gladly throw themselves in when the King calls the banners, all except Dorne that is of course. I'm expecting the Raven from Winterfell any moment now."
Reading a piece of parchment he moved several enameled metal pins around the board, their meaning lost on Harry.
"As terrible as the events are perhaps we can make some use of it tonight as something of a study. It will also serve as a valuable introduction to the politics of the Seven Kingdoms as well."
Harry perked up. Politics had been a forbidden word in Winterfell for the children of Eddard Stark. Their good Mother kept them away from it and their Father accepted her wishes with the exception of his Heir Robb. Even after Harry left his Mothers shadow however he never heard much of the world outside the North, isolated as he was in the Mountains. Still they heard rumours. Skirmishes in the Dornish Marches between the Stormland Marcher Lords and Dornish 'brigands', increased Pirate and Wildling raids, whispers of a new war between the Free cities of Essos brewing and more besides.
"P-politics?" Asher asked, as if he had just been told he would be joining the ladies for embroidery classes. "Harry and I...we're just second sons. And I'm not even from a big House. House Whitehill bad. House Forrester good. That's enough politics for me."
"Of course." Hewelin answered with a small chuckle. "But as you said you are both secondborns and should your brothers perish you would then become heirs. On top of that Harry is the second son of a Great House and there would be no greater disaster for the North than an unprepared Lord of Winterfell. So, I expect you to listen and participate anyway."
"Er, yes Uncle, I understand." Asher replied quickly. Hewelin once more turned to Harry.
"Harry, tell me, how do you think King Robert will go about bringing the Ironborn to heel."
"I...I'm not sure. I don't know where the Ironborn are or what the King plans." Harry admitted, mind racing.
"And do you think that in war everything is so certain? That you will be handed a list with a perfect summary of the enemies forces and their whereabouts? War is a patchwork of guesswork and estimates and a commander has to make to make a decision based on the information he has. So...make an educated guess." Hewelin said with a motion to the board.
Standing up, Harry walked across the room and examined the map. As maps went it no painted table but was obviously quality example of its kind. Not just the major settlements of the continent were displayed but most of the many minor ones as well, roads of every denomination stretching across the land between the exquisitely hand drawn mountains and richly detailed rivers. Even the eastern coast of Essos was displayed with its myriad of Free Cities, trade routes and geography. His eyes roamed to southern Westeros where most of the major harbours of the Seven Kingdoms resided.
"There are five fleets in Westeros. Or rather there was five fleets." Harry began. "The Royal Fleet at Dragonstone, the Redwyne Fleet at the Arbor and the Stark Fleet at White Harbour. The Iron Fleet is now an enemy, the Lannister Fleet is burnt and sinking and the Stark fleet is too far away to help in time. If I was the King I would combine the Redwyne and Royal Fleets and push up the coast until the Iron Fleet was forced to fight. Once they were destroyed it would be simple to take the Islands."
"A simple plan." Hewelin observed with a nod of his head and Harry flushed. "That is not criticism Harry. Simple plans are often the best kind. Too much is lost in communication that only can only travel as fast as a horse can ride and the more complicated a plan the greater chance there is for it to fail. However you missed one crucial element, House Greyjoy's response. What are their plans? What would you do in their situation? War is not static and the Ironborn are not fools despite their decision to launch this idiotic war. Some amongst them will have a brain. You must anticipate the enemies response as much as you decide your own."
Harry found himself strangely exhilarated by the questions posed to him. Young as he was the strategy of war had long been an interest of his, ever since he had listened to stories by his Fathers knee of how Hewelin had devised plans and strategies to run circles around the Royal Army during the rebellion. A glance to Asher showed that devising an answer would be up to him alone. The Forrester paid attention as was expected in one of Sealgairs lessons but the boy was obviously hoping the Lord wouldn't expect him to try to answer the question. Harry turned back to the map and his mind raced. His plan was simple so surely the Ironborn would have predicted it as well? What would he do when faced against such odds?
"The Redwyne Fleet is the biggest in Westeros and Royal Fleet is the equal of the Iron Fleet. If I was the Greyjoys I'd...I'd either avoid a fight altogether until I was in an advantageous position or attack the Redwynes who are closer before they can join the Royal Fleet. Defeat them in detail."
"Good." Hewelin praised, looking impressed, a rare sight to say the least. "There is no shame in retreat against overwhelming odds Harry, never forget that. Even if some of our more...direct Northern brothers would say otherwise. Where did you learn defeat in detail?"
"Father told my brothers and I about you during the war, some of the strategies you used. I just remembered you used it against a superior Royal force and read further about it in Maester Yarics Stratagems of War." Harry explained.
The Sealgair hummed and nodded, a strangely melancholic smile on his face.
"Of course." He said simply before turning back to the map.
"That is indeed what I would predict they would do. They have already committed to this strategy by attacking the Lannister Fleet whilst it is at port and they were able to outnumber it."
Hewelin began to pace and Harry noted the man was more animated than he had ever seen him. This was his element, predicting and planning the actions of others.
"However choosing the most obvious tactic is not the only method of predicting your opponents strategy. You can also foresee their actions by knowing their personality. Are they brash or cautious? Do they care for the lives of their men or will they throw them away for a strategic advantage? What are their aims and what do they value most? All these and more can help a commander to create a strategy most suitable against his opponent.
"I've never met Lord Greyjoy Uncle." Harry pointed out. "I've not heard much of him in fact."
"No of course not. The Ironborn are the most isolationist of the Seven Kingdoms. No one wants to go there and that includes those living on the Islands which explains their propensity to raid and pirate the rest of Westeros. Anything to get away from their miserable barren rocks."
It was obvious from his Uncles tone how little he thought of the residents of the Iron Islands. Understandable if even half the rumour's Harry had heard were true.
"Balon Greyjoy is a bitter man who looks down on anyone not of the Ironborn. His Father was the opposite I heard, interested in reforming his people and integrating them with the rest of Westeros, inviting Maesters and Septons to live in the castles and educate the nobility. Balon, and the rest of his brothers hated this and clung to the old ways which goes a long way to explaining their current actions."
"You've asked for my thoughts...so what do you think the Ironborn will do Uncle." Harry asked as he turned back to the map. The Iron Islands were so very small and their population was tiny. Even drawing the ire of two Kingdoms would be calamitous to them.
"I believe there are two elements to Greyjoys plan. One, he believes that the Seven Kingdoms are fractured after the rebellion and that we would never unite to defeat him, a grave error which is a product of how little the man had interacted with the rest of Westeros and how little he knows his fellow Lords. A mistake that shall prove fatal to his cause no matter his early victories. And second how much stock he puts in the Iron Fleet. It is indeed a fearsome foe but it is primarily a raiding force, its ships built for quick attacks on an unsuspecting and then to flee before serious opposition can be gathered. Against true warships that match them in numbers they shall meet their match."
"Harry." Hewelin began. "We have discussed the likely actions of Kind Robert and the Greyjoys but what will our Warden of the North decide on? How will the clans be affected?"
"If Greyjoy has put so much stock in his fleet as you said then...then I don't believe my Father will call the Mountain Clans. It would take too long for them to assemble and travel to Winterfell or wherever Lord Stark chooses to rally. He doesn't need numbers to deal with the Ironborn. They can barely muster a fraction of what the other Kingdoms can and a lot of that is likely concentrated in their crewing their ships. Once the fleet is defeated it would only take a ten thousand men at most to subdue the Islands."
"Anything to add to that Asher?" The Lord of Three Peaks asked, turning to the Forrester who had surprisingly been paying attention. The Forrester bit hip lip as he thought hard for a moment, the boy visibly thinking hard.
"Harry summed it up really. Though I'd add a large army wouldn't just be not needed it'd be pretty impossible. I doubt a large army would be able to survive long on a place like the Iron Islands. Doubt there is much to forage or eat there. There'd be no point calling the Clans."
"Astute observations, both of you. Warriors discuss tactics but true leaders discuss logistics. You can have the bravest knights and most capable leaders but if both are starving through lack of supplies, all the skill and training in the world will mean nothing. Remember that."
The boys nodded and Hewelin looked up at them to pay them his full attention as he finished clearing his desk into a locked draw.
"However this is where your education has been somewhat lacking, though through no fault of your own. This is where inter house politics come into play rather than military strategy. You see war is a most profitable enterprise and in it many Houses see the opportunity for both prestige, advancement and wealth. As such if Lord Stark picked and chose which Houses he wanted to call to arms then the ones left behind would feel slighted. In the more extreme cases some might even try to take advantage of their neighbours absence. The same applies to the Mountain Clans. If the Ned went to war without giving them so much as a word many would feel insulted."
"That seems so...forgive me for saying Uncle but it seems petty." Harry argued. "Surely they would see the logic behind my Father decision."
"Of course they would see it. But they would argue that it should be others being left behind, citing ancient service and old marriages as reason why Lord Stark should bring them. And no matter what your Father decides someone will be left feeling insulted."
Harry and Asher glanced at each other. It made sense in a way of course but it still seemed strange and an almost impossible situation for Harry's father to solve. Hewelin noted their continued confusion with a sigh.
"It seems self serving of course. But if the worst should happen and either of you should one day have to step forward to lead your House or an army in battle you will need to understand not only how to win wars and govern wisely but rule the people you lead. It is a battle, just like the kind you prepare for in the training grounds, but one of mind rather than body, a battle to keep the multitude of alliances and interests in your domains aligned with yours. And the first law of ruling is that, whilst not all, most men will always look out for themselves and their own interests first."
"But how do you rule if everyone really just looks out for themselves?" Asher asked with a frown.
"By making them believe that their interests are yours. By being generous to your allies and being ruthless to your enemies. By knowing their secrets and identifying their ambitions so you can reward or deny them when it suits you best. By knowing when to stroke egos and when to shatter them and when to be merciful and when to be merciless. In essence you must know your vassals better than they know themselves and predict their actions before they even decide to make them."
"My head hurts." Asher groaned, rubbing his head.
"Honestly I think defeating the Ironborn sounds simpler." Harry muttered in agreement.
'How is it even possible to know someone that well?'
"No truer words have been spoken." Hewelin nodded with an amused snort, the fullest expression of laughter you would ever receive from the man. "Aegon the Conquer brought Seven Kingdoms to heel but he no doubt thought that his conquest was easier than the task that faced him after he put down the sword. But it is necessary non the less and being unaware of the game being played around you can lead to your death quicker than walking into battle bare as the day you were born. Do you both understand?"
"Yes Uncle." They both responded in unison.
"Good. I think we shall leave it there for tonight." Hewelin said as he rose from his seat. The two teenagers rose with him, their session obviously truly at a close. "As I said we have to keep this short and we've branched into topics that need proper introductions. Besides, the two of you will have to be well rested for the morning. I summoned the Chiefs of the coastal Clans in preparation for Lord Starks anticipated message. Even if he won't call the Clans to war then he will almost certainly ask us to be prepared to defend the coast and move to assist anywhere the Ironborn might strike. You two will meet the Chiefs at the gate before dawn tomorrow and escort them to the Keep. They'll have some of their children with them as well to be housed in Three Peaks as is custom in war time so I'll have the steward prepare appropriate accommodations for them near your own rooms which you will take them too. Then prepare equipment and provisions with Ethan for a small hunting trip. I plan to discuss the details of our defense of the coast with the Chiefs as we hunt though I expect you two boys to put your skills to work finding us a meal as the Chiefs will no doubt be tired from their journey. Do you have any questions?"
Both of them shook their head. He dismissed them with a motion of his hand.
"Then you may go. Good night to you both."
Asher made for the door, clearly eager to climb into his comfortable bed. Harry hesitated on the threshold.
The Stark glanced back at his friend who was looking at him inquiringly. Harry waved him off.
"I don't think I'll be sleeping in my room tonight, I'll meet you at the gate tomorrow.
Comprehension dawning in Ashers eyes, he nodded and began to make his way down the stairs.
"Is something the matter Harry?"
Turning back to his uncle he found the man looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
"May I...may I rest in the Godswood tonight Uncle?" Harry asked hesitatingly
"We discussed this Harry, you don't need to ask permission for that. The Godswood is open to all. As long as you are gone before the usual morning prayers then I see no problem."
"I know. But I know some people call me strange for it and I don't want it to reflect badly on you." Harry explained, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Yes, some do say that. And others also claim your high amount of time in the Godswood is a sign that you have the favour of the Gods whilst others claim you go there to cavort with the Children of the Forest. Appearances matter Harry but the common folk are fickle, one moment they will love you, the next they will hate you. Their whispers will fade to nothing in time and they will soon turn to a new topic."
"Of course." Harry said with a smile as he turned away. "Good night Uncle."
"Oh and Harry?"
The Stark turned back to look at his foster father. The man usually stoic man was looking rather intently at him, almost looking...contemplative?
"You know if there is anything troubling you you can come talk at any time? The Old Gods need not be your only solace in anything that troubles you."
For a moment Harry's heard stopped as he wondered what his Uncle could be implying. Had he cried out when he had dreamt the other night? The episode with the Dementors had been particularly traumatic...
In the end he simply adopted his best impression of his Uncles usual stoic calm and nodded his head.
"Of course Uncle. I'll remember."
And with that he was gone.
Three Peaks may have been an interesting if somewhat ordinary castle but the Godswood it contained was anything but. Set near the top of the central peak and above the Keep, the Godswood was set in a cave only accessible by a long winding staircase that ran along the outside of the mountain, the steps rubbed raw by the footsteps of several millennia of worshippers coming too and fro. A high barrier provided the only protection from a plunging drop down into the valley far below as well as cover from the biting wind.
Reaching the summit and standing at the entrance Harry was met by a sight that would have astounded even Northerners. Amidst the harsh rock of the cavernous mountain cave laid a small grove, the leaves of two dozen Weirwood trees lit a bloody orange from the sunlight that bled through the holes laid strategically around the room so as to tell the time from the position of the sun.
Walking into the Godswood and onto grass as soft and green as any in the most paradisal meadows in the Reach, Harry breathed a sigh of relief. A sensation not unlike one would feel after walking into a toasty warm house after hours in the most viscous of snowstorms came over him, the stress of the day stripped from his limbs until he felt as light as a leaf on the breeze. The grove being small, it was only a minute before the Heart Tree was in sight, bloody face smiling at him as he came into view. Southerners would call it terrifying. Even Northerners would hesitate to call it pleasant despite their reverence.
Not Harry. He felt the welcome from the Grove and the Heart Tree as palpable as the loving smile he would always receive from his Mother back in Winterfell. With a fond smile he drew close to the ancient tree and ran his hand across it, the bark as pure as the snow that blanketed the peak above his head.
Often he had wondered at that, thought he had been growing mad when he described it too his siblings only to get looks on confusion in turn. Now it made a strange sort of sense. If he could use magic was he somehow connected to the Old Gods? Were the whispers of the common folk true? Was he truly favoured by the Gods. Almost as soon as the thought entered his head Harry snorted in mirth. Him? Some sort of chosen one?
"As my good uncle says." Harry whispered as he placed his brow against the bark and closed his eyes as the last of his troubles were washed away by the radiating warmth coming from Heart Tree. "The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance."
Opening his eyes after a moment he looked up and began to climb. Years of doing so made the ascent effortless, not even needing to look for the branches and handholds he knew would be there. In moments he was near the top, his little hidey hole, his home away from home. A collection of branches that met at a strange angle, the branches bent and contorted in such a way that by the vagrancies of chance they had miraculously formed a sort of flat platform just big enough for a boy Harry's size to lay on.
Taking his place Harry looked upwards. Even as the setting sun lit up the branches around him in brilliant bloody light the first stars began to appear above, the picture it set both lovely and awe inspiring at the same time. He knew from experience that he would be asleep before the light left the leaves and would mercifully not dream.
Discovering the power of the grove had been pure chance, the memory as clear to him now as if it had just happened yesterday. A scared young Harry barely old enough to run sprinted through the halls of Winterfell to the Godswood where he fell to his knees before the Heart Tree and begged the Gods to take his nightmares from him and be gifted the blissful sleep others described, free from the near constant beatings and torment unleashed on his other self by the awful Dursleys.
And they had listened. When he lay in the Godswood he was free from dreams for but a night. And for a time he knew bliss. Eventually however he had had to wean himself off the practice, both at the insistence of his concerned parents at his constant absence from his room and his own eventual recognition that he couldn't hide from this strange part of himself that only visited in his sleep. But he occasionally indulged himself when he desired nothing more than a simply nights rest. And his last dream had left him much to think of before he dived once more into Potters world.
He, Harrion Stark, had magic. And presumably he would be capable of not only doing the spells that Potter had been slowly learning at Hogwarts but no longer bound by Latin or wand incantations he could mould his power to take whatever form he could imagine. If Dumbledore was correct as long as he had the will and the power nothing was beyond his ability.
With this magic he could make his dream a reality. To be somebody, to be more than the no name second son no one would remember when he was no longer needed as a spare. He wanted to see and experience everything the world had to offer. And with this power he could not only do that but achieve so much more. Maybe in a hundred years people would speak of him like they spoke of Aemon the Dragonknight.
Harrion the Mage. The Magician of the North. The Sorcerer of House Stark!
Questions plagued him however and quickly dampened his fantasies. Even if he could somehow navigate the dangerous quagmire of learning how to use his power through both his own experiments and the lessons of Harry's world, he was still left with the question of what he was going to do with it.
Would it be right to use the powerful force that apparently resided in him for his own gain? It was his to do with as he wished right? But what about his family? Talk of magic was viewed with wariness even in the North and in the South even the hint of it would you a target for the Faith of the Seven. And what resided in him was beyond any of the tales of Greenseers, Wargs and Wood Witches he had heard. Would openly using the power make a target of his family and House? Not only from the Faith but from those kind of people Hewelin talked about?
No amount of fame or power in the world was worth it if harm came to his family because of it.
Harry groaned and rubbed his face, the stresses that had plagued him slowly starting to return. Before Hewelin he would have ran with it and probably blown up half of Winterfell and himself in the process. Now three years of living under the analytical master of the North Mountains and being forced to think outside the box meant he couldn't help his mind running away with questions, theories, consequences and more questions.
He couldn't complain it was a better way of doing things but oh was it so much more complicated.
'Focus Harry. Remember what Hewelin taught you, don't complicate things by overthinking, analyse then act.'
It only took him a moment to come to the obvious conclusion. There was no point worrying about the consequences of his magic before he could even use it. And he would learn to use it, there was no doubt on that, he knew himself too well to think he would ignore a gift as incredible as this because of fears of possible consequences. But wherever he made it known to everyone or to no one, until he could actually control his power it was a pointless agonising over it.
Once more letting the power of the grove wash over him to clam his troubled mind Harry settled down and closed his eyes.
'One day at a time. Experiment with caution and learn my limits. After the Chiefs leave I'll find a nice quiet spot to make my own and practice.'
As Harry passed into the realm of dreams mercifully free of the fraught world of Harry Potter, the snow white branches of the tree curved upwards to encircle him with a woody groan until the slumbering Stark was gently cocooned in cradle of blood red leaves.
Authors note: Surprisingly the hardest part about writing this chapter was the part about the Maester. Science of the world of ASOIAF doesn't correlate to the science of the Medieval Age or even Renaissance. They have no industry to speak of but the Maesters have a greater understanding of medicine than we ever had during the Middle Ages. They have potions to cause abortions, can heal fevers and common aliments, they have can build edifices such as the Storms End and Tower of Old Town and they have a sophistication in armour that wasn't seen until the early renaissance. But their society hasn't truly progressed technologically in centuries, even millennia and in some ways they are altogether medieval in their understanding of some matters. So its really up to the author to decide where the understanding of Westeros, or rather the Maester order, lies.
Also I don't know how people will react to me including the Kukri blade but believe it or not it's actually a partof the universe, at least if you consider the TV series cannon. Bron is seen wielding it when confronted with Shagga and his hairy crew. I've not seen it in the books but that makes it semi lore friendly as far as I'm concerned. And the Compound Bow is a stretch but talking about it with a few people who know about them it would certainly be possible for it to have been created in a world with strangely advanced materials like this one. Oh, and if anyone wants an idea of what Three Peaks looks like, imagine Skyhold from Dragon Age Inquisition with a few additional levels above it further up the mountain.
On a last note whilst I'm not gonna promise a date for when the next chapter is gonna be out, I'd feel bad not saying a word after two large delays so I'm happy to say I've already got a thousand words written on the next chaper with many more to come. Though I wouldn't expect anything quite the length of chapter three which is honestly excessive at over twelve thousand words due to my desire to do Three Peaks and the Clans justice, it will be comparable to chapters one and two.
As always please be sure to leave a review, its the bread and butter of fanfic Authors.