Robert's Rebellion was the first major conflict in Westeros since Jasper was born. In the past, there had been the occasional skirmish between disgruntled lords, but nothing had ever escalated to war. When the fighting started, it sparked a civil war in the Vale that lasted for nearly a month. Lord Grafton, a Targaryen loyalist, had immediately blockaded Gulltown and several other ports throughout the kingdom. Apparently, the Targaryen's had hoped to isolate the fighting to individual regions and crush the rebellion in its infancy.

Their plan unraveled quickly though, as rebels had already taken over most of the Stormlands, blocking any reinforcements from reaching the Vale. With much of the Targaryen host stuck further south, the Loyalists were soon left without support. Lord Grafton made several attempts to break through Jon's lines in either Ironoaks or Wickenden, but all ended in disaster. Ultimately, Grafton over-extended himself in order to maintain his blockade along the coast. This mistake allowed Jon to launch several attacks on Grafton's flagship, before he was finally able to kill the lord himself and end the blockade altogether.

When the last of Loyalists were pushed out of Vale, Jon led his bannermen into the Riverlands to link up with the other rebels there. But this left much of Western Vale defenseless, and the mountain clans were quick to take advantage of it. They started raiding villages daily, and in larger numbers than any other time in living memory. They had been an ongoing danger to the Vale since the Kingdom's founding, but they normally only led a raid once every few months. Now, with the war engulfing all of Westeros, they had started getting bolder, and far more aggressive. What few knights and levies that remained in the Vale were busy protecting the various castles and holdfasts spread out across the entire kingdom. No one was able to send any aide for fear of leaving themselves defenseless. There was still a very real risk that Loyalists or wildlings would attack them the moment they were unprotected.

Jasper knew he couldn't allow this situation to continue. Every raid was a major blow to the people and a huge loss of material, something that wasn't easily replaced with the war on. Trade across much of Westeros had already ground to a halt, and any loss they suffered now could have major repercussions should the war continue to drag out. Not only that, but he couldn't just stand idly by while his people were being terrorized and attacked. He may be stuck behind his castle walls, but that didn't mean he was powerless. He summoned his Captain of the Guard, Ser Daemon Lynderly, and ordered him to prepare half his men and a month's worth of provisions. They were going to track down and deal the wildlings plaguing the Vale. While he knew the knights would be significantly outnumbered, the clans were poorly armed, disorganized, and had little to no armor. Between the knight's superior training, supplies, and their inclusion of cavalry, he was fairly confident they could handle the clans with minimal casualties.

"I don't want to be known as the butcher of Vale. Many have families with them, should they give an oath of fealty they will be spared the sword. They can even keep practicing their strange traditions, as long as it doesn't break Vale law. I don't care if a girl wields a blade or they follow a council rather than a lord, but rape and kidnapping is unacceptable."

Jasper handed him a roll of parchment, the wax seal of House Arryn holding it together. "While I don't trust their word alone, I have a way of forcing their compliance. This is enchanted parchment from Essos, and I have written an oath of fealty to House Arryn. Have them sign it and the magic will enforce the contract. Even if they can't write, all they have to do is make a mark and the contract will be in effect."

It was obvious the knight thought he'd been scammed but was too loyal to say it aloud. Jasper stared hard into his eyes, trying to stress his seriousness. "Ensure they sign it if any are to return, Ser Lynderly. The parchment will grow in size to allow for as many names as necessary."

"As you command my Lord." The knight slipped the parchment into his saddlebag and started organizing his troops for a long ride.

Jasper couldn't help but grimace. If only he wasn't stuck in the body of a child, then he could do this himself. It felt wrong not to go with them, to fight with them, but he knew there were limits to what his father would tolerate. Throw magic into the mix and he felt like he was just asking for something to go wrong. He was sure the contract would work, he had triple checked the runic array. But he couldn't be there to make sure they signed it. He just hoped his knights had enough honor to follow an order they thought was pointless.

o-O-o

A month and a half later a raven arrived from Blackwood, a holdfast only twelve miles West from the Bloody Gate. Ser Lynderly had finally tracked down the last clan, the Stone Crows, and convinced them to surrender. Around six hundred clansmen had died in the campaign, nearly a quarter of their combined peoples. The captain was leading the twenty-six hundred that had surrendered back to the Gates of the Moon. He was bringing many of their victims too, having rescued about sixty or so of the ladies that were kidnapped on the recent raids. Unfortunately, close to a hundred were still missing, likely lost or dead. Even worse, most of the girls that had been taken years ago refused to leave their kidnappers. Many had children and family amongst the clans now, several even held positions of power. To leave would be just as heart-wrenching as it was when they were kidnapped, and many knew they weren't likely to be accepted amongst their blood.

Ser Lynderly ultimately decided to treat them all the same, whether that was clan by birth or marriage, he would be cautious of both. When he first captured a tribe and had them swear fealty, one of the spearwives stole a blade and tried to attack a guard. Magic claimed her life in payment, and she died before she could even raise her arm with it. The death had shocked knights and clansmen alike, and several people burst into prayer hoping to appease the Old Gods.

It didn't take long for Ser Lynderly to realize what happened, and that magic actually enforced the contract. Every clansman they captured he had sign it, regardless of age or gender. Most of them couldn't read or write and only made a squiggle, but magic took it all the same. With the parchment constantly growing and the clansmen dying whenever they resisted, many took it as the will of the Gods.

With the last of the clansmen having sworn fealty, Jasper now had to figure out what to do with them. The other lords would never stand for wildlings just being given land, especially after their recent string of raids. But he knew it would be even worse trying to integrate them into existing settlements, there was too much bad blood, and the cultures were too different. He needed a way for them to be absolved of their crimes, and for the smallfolk and lords to accept them, at least somewhat. Then he could give them a small holdfast, probably somewhere along the Bite, as it was lightly settled. Lord Royce, Jon's regent while he was off fighting, was letting Jasper handle this himself. It was a test for Jasper as the future Lord of the Vale.

An idea finally struck him. One of the biggest issues the rebels had faced in the Vale was the lack of roads. The kingdom was largely made up of mountains and the Army usually had to travel along small goat paths. This rough terrain often delayed the wagons, and the Army tended to outpace their supply lines by several leagues. Not to mention that it isolated the smallfolk and made travel between each hold difficult.

When they arrived, he would have them publicly reaffirm their fealty to his House. Then the children would be moved to the Gates of the Moon, officially as hostages, but it was also for their protection from the other lords. He knew they had long memories, and the clans had hurt many people. Everyone else, regardless of gender, would repair any damage done to the villages that had been raided. Then they'd build roads, proper ones that were stone-paved and cambered for drainage. Of course, they'd have to be under guard the whole time, and that would cut into Vale's defenses. Maybe between the hostages and the contracts, I could keep it down to a couple hundred knights? Once every village and town in Vale is connected, they'd be pardoned of all their past crimes and given a holdfast where they could practice their traditions in peace. With over two thousand people working on this, it shouldn't take more than a year or two… Hopefully.

With all the clans being forced to band together as one, he knew it would be strained initially. But he was confident that being able to form a council and retain their traditions would smooth things over. The Bite really was the best location, as the distance would reassure the smallfolk until they adjusted to all the changes. It was also close to the Three Sisters, which had a similar culture to the former mountain clans.

o-O-o

Things had been going well since the reconstruction started. Wherever the clans went, he made sure a weirwood would suddenly appear, a face already carved into its base. This just furthered their belief that this was the will of the Old Gods, unknowingly winning Jasper the support of the council. After suffering years of raids from the mountain men, most people saw them in chains as well-deserved justice, although to some it wasn't as much as they deserved. The guards had been forced to suppress a couple fights between disgruntled smallfolk, but thankfully nothing major had arisen yet.

Jasper stood in front of his desk, carefully going over maps and land surveys to plot the route for the next set of roads. The door swung open, and Mya burst into the room, shaking a letter and yelling at him before she jumped into his arms. "It's from father, the raven just came!"

He couldn't help but laugh at his little sister's antics. "Thanks, Mi, let me take a look." He reached down and grabbed the letter, shifting her onto his shoulders so she could see it as well.

Unfortunately, his good mood evaporated as soon as he started reading. His father had married Lysa Tully to solidify an alliance with the Riverlands. Bile rose in is throat and he struggled not to throw up, his mother had only been dead for four months. He barely noticed the praise over his handling of the mountain clans, his head was pounding too much to focus. How could his father do this?

"Jasper… What does this mean? Why did father do this?" Mya's voice was strained, and he knew she was on the verge of crying.

"I don't know Mi, but I'll keep you safe. Always."

i {o,o}
i /) ')
i -"-"-

AN: Now, I've noticed some confusion as to why Lysa is still married to Jon in this version. I will try to address that here and provide my reasoning behind it. First off, Hoster Tully has very few options for Lysa as she is considered "spoiled" for having already gotten pregnant/having sex before she was married. Secondly, from Jon's perspective, this gives him an opportunity to form a strong alliance with the Riverlands while still leaving the opportunity for Jasper to form another alliance in the future with a different house. Lastly, Jon's nephew just died meaning he has no other heir should Jasper die. In medieval times, most nobility believed in the concept of "an heir and a spare," because child mortality is so high. In Westeros, a literal civil war is occurring, and he knows that there is a chance that Jasper will be murdered by loyalists or spies. He needs a back-up plan in case this occurs. It should be noted that he isn't uncaring for Jasper, merely practical and thinking about the very real dangers his house is facing. Jasper may not see this that way though, and he likely feels betrayed and confused as a result. Altogether, this further distances Jasper from his father and damages their already fragile relationship.

Notes. For those that know one 'verse, but not the other:

[1] The Mountain Clans are the remnants of those who refused to give up their traditions and beliefs when Vale unified thousands of years ago. This means that they believe strongly in the Old Gods and they follow a council of elders rather than a lord or a king. This also means they believe that men and woman should have equal rights. You'll be hard pressed to find a woman amongst them that isn't trained with a blade, even those that were brought into their culture, and several can be found on each tribe's council. The most contentious part of their culture, however, is marriage. The men are expected to "steal" a woman from her home or clan, and the woman, in turn, is expected to put up a fight every step of the way. If the man manages to return to his clan with the woman than they are considered to be wed. It should be noted that it is considered wrong to steal the wife of another man and that to marry a member of your family is believed to offend the Gods. Such a match would result in a cursed union which would bear only weak and sickly children. For centuries, the clans have raided towns and villages throughout Vale, taking supplies and kidnapping women from practically every noble House in Vale. (It should also be noted that despite the practice being shunned, not all clansmen restricted themselves to unwedded ladies when seeking a spouse.) They are often referred to as wildlings or barbarians by the citizens of Vale.

[2] Holdfasts are small fortifications, typically surrounded by villages and towns. Several Masterly and Knightly Houses have holdfasts rather than a castle.

[3] Mi is short for Mya, obviously. Even though her name doesn't really need a nickname, to Jasper, this is something that is required to fulfill his brotherly duties.

Edited 3-13-22