Been some time eh?
Some of you probably know that I am still active and updating my other stories. For those that don't, no I am not dead. I am just having some fun with my other ideas. I don't have any plans to abandon this story, but I might take breaks now and then. For now, I am just trying to keep up with the one update per month.
I know that it is not much, but I never have the desire to write another chapter after releasing the previous one. I just prefer to take a breather and update my other stories a few times. After that, it is easier for me to write this.
Unfortunately with the new semester of my studies beginning again, I will have less time to write than I had previously. Of course, it doesn't mean that I will disappear suddenly. No, I am trying to avoid doing that and I will always update my profile with new information about chapter updates.
I will try to release as much as I can but remember I have my own life and sometimes I just lack the mood to write.
That would be it for this small AN and I think that I answered all of your questions through PMs. Check them.
Chapter 15. Secrets of the world
"Give me one good reason why would you want to go beyond the wall. Only snow and wildlings await you there. Besides you always told me that Westeros wasn't a place you wanted to visit anytime soon," Maran stated as he tried to understand why his definitely not normal friend would want to go to a land where nothing special awaited him.
"It is a bit... complicated," Harry replied with a heavy sigh.
"I have time," Maran retorted with a raised eyebrow.
Harry groaned loudly so Ralnor decided to save his companion from explaining, "We are not really sure what it's all about. But something is trying to communicate with us from beyond the wall."
"How?" the old man asked, "From what I know there is nothing ther that could possibly accomplish such a feat. Not that I am some kind of professional historian of Westeros, but still. The only thing that comes to my mind is the children of the forest, but none of the legends say about an ability to communicate with random people between large distances."
"Whatever or whoever it is, they possess the ability to invade dreams even when we were in Yi Ti. And they always show Harry one thing. A large weirwood tree in the land of snow," Ralnor informed his new ally, "Normally we would ignore it and continue with our travels, but those dreams got stronger and stronger with time."
"There was no day when I could rest peacefully," Harry continued after a moment, "Always when I go to sleep I dream about this bloody tree. It got frustrating. very fast. Besides I really want to know who the hell has enough power to do such a thing. That, and kick their ass for annoying me."
Maran chuckled loudly, "Of course. Why did I expect anything else from you? So you need someone who would take you behind the wall or just close to it?"
Harry reached into his bag and took out a large roll of paper. With a few quick gestures, the map of Westeros and some parts of Essos unrolled and took most of the space on the table.
"While I would love to get transport beyond the Wall, I know that no one is mad enough to sail there without a good reason," Harry said after pointing at the area of The Haunted Forest, "But I would be happy with transport to the Bay of Seals. The closer to the Eastwatch, the better. I want to get there as fast as I can and while my animagus form could help. It is still quite taxing on my magic if I use it for too long."
Maran hummed lightly as he looked at the map, "You are right that no one would take you beyond the Wall, but if you give me a few days then I might get you a boat to the Eastwatch or at least close to it. I just hope you have enough gold to pay the crew, the Bay of Seals isn't the safest place."
Harry waved him off, "Money is the latest of my problems. I gathered enough during my travels and never really bought anything expensive. I am pretty sure that I can pay for one trip."
Maran shrugged in return, "It is your money... Now, how do you like Braavos?"
"Since our departure from Yin, we definitely didn't see anything as grand. Even then, Braavos is definitely unique. I am just worried that one day the city will drown like some parts of it already did," Ralnor responded when he saw that Harry was occupied with putting the map away.
"I don't think that people really care about it. They probably know that there are small chances of it happening in their lifetime so there is no real reason to worry. Not that they can do anything about it. This problem is beyond human capabilities," Maran said.
Both Harry and Ralnor nodded as this was quite true. No one had the power to stop those natural occurrences. It was just the way of the world.
"Oh well, you are welcome to stay here until I find your transport. There is a free room on the second floor. Just please, don't destroy anything. I saw what happened in Qarth and I really don't need more excitement in my life," Malnor stated after a moment of silence before walking out of the room to open the shop again.
Harry winced at the remark.
"He got you there," Ralnor said with a chuckle after he disappeared from the real world, "So what now? The House of Black and White?"
"The House of Black and White," Harry confirmed and left the room.
Any ideas on how should we do this? Harry asked his companion after they arrived before the mysterious building.
To be honest they both didn't know much about The House of Black and White. Yes, Harry could feel Death's presence clinging to the building, giving it a very uncomfortable aura. They also knew that it was the base of the infamous assassins that apparently could change faces. There were other rumors they heard of the House, but those were only that, rumors.
They only hoped that due to Harry's connection to Death, the assassins wouldn't try to kill them instantly.
"I think that a slow approach with our senses extended should be enough. Maran told us that people could visit this place without any danger," Ralnor finally said as Harry slowly approached the white and black doors.
If the tales about them are to be believed, then they might know about my magic. Who knows how they will react to someone like us. Harry pointed out as he ran a hand over the white part of the doors. If he was right then it was created out of weirwood. Magic clung tightly to the wood and Harry smiled lightly as one of his theories was just confirmed.
Ralnor sent his companion a mental nod, "True. Just be careful and prepare to run at any moment. And remember you are not alone."
Harry took a deep breath and carefully opened one side of the doors, just enough to be able to slip inside. After slowly closing the door, Harry turned around to take a look at the interior of the building.
Currently, Harry was in a very large hallway, which roof was so high, that due to the lack of light he couldn't see. That was another problem, the darkness all around him. While Harry didn't have any problems with moving through the night, it was completely different when he was in a building that expelled the aura of Death.
Still, it wasn't enough to make Harry turn around and the wizard began to walk forward, following the light of the candles. At least it wasn't completely dark...
After about a minute of walking, Harry finally arrived at a large room that was probably the main part of the building.
If Harry had to give the room a name, it would be Sanctuary. It was huge enough to be one, it had multiple large stones statues that from what Harry saw resembled deities from almost every religion around the world. Specifically, they were gods that represent death and the unknown. The Stranger from the Faith of the Seven, The Black Goat of Qohor, and even the Lion of Night that Harry encountered in Yi Ti.
It was definitely a magnificent place with the statues surrounding a large pool of water that was said to give a quick and painless death to those who sought release from this world.
The thing that slightly surprised Harry was the presence of a few people in the room.
Most of them wore black robes that covered their entire bodies, Harry assumed that those were the few priests that lived inside the house. Apart from them, the wizard also noticed a couple of civilians that were praying before the statues for their respective gods.
"Interesting place, isn't it?" Ralnor spoke after as Harry stopped before the statue of the Lion of the Night.
That it is, Harry responded softly, Do you feel it?
"The change of the aura?" at Harry's confirmation he continued, "I do. Any remains of the deathly aura disappeared as soon as we stepped into this room. Now everything is so..."
Peaceful, Harry finished after a moment.
After this short conversation, both companions remained silent, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Meanwhile, Harry slowly inspected every part of the large sanctuary and it was the moment he stopped before the pool when Harry heard a voice behind him.
"A man never thought that he would encounter someone like you," the male voice stopped for a moment, giving enough time for Harry to turn around and face the new speaker.
It was another of those people garbed in robes, but this time Harry could see the man's face. It was old, marred by wrinkles and a few scars. Besides that, it was completely plain.
"You were touched by the Many-Faced God and yet, you still walk amongst the living. Normally a man would give you the gift of death, but he can see that it would be going against the will of our God," the old man finished his monologue and stared at Harry intently.
"Thank you, whoever you are. I think?" Harry replied hesitantly. So it was one of Faceless Men or at least Harry thought so. Somehow the old man could feel Death's presence on him, that was quite alarming. It could cause problems in the future.
At least he doesn't want to kill me...
"A man has no name," he said almost robotically like the phrase was so deeply installed in his mind that it was an automatic response. It freaked the wizard more than he was willing to admit.
"Right..." Harry murmured and turned around to look at the pool again. A moment later the old man joined him.
"What a man released by Death seek in The House of Black and White. Is it a request for the Faceless Men to deliver a gift, maybe the need to find the embrace of Death again or the want to join and become the true follower of the Many-Faced God?" The man spoke slowly but his voice carried no emotion. It unnerved Harry and Ralnor even more.
"No," the young wizard replied, "I wanted to visit the temple of the one God, I know to exist. That and to see if the rumors about your order are true."
"Rumors?" a male voice spoke again, but it was a bit different than earlier. This simple change made Harry turn his head to meet the new, but old speaker.
Instead of the older man that stood there just a second ago, a young man took his place. His face possessed traits that one could spot in nobility and not even one imperfection graced his skin.
Harry took a step back in shock, before quickly calming himself.
"Yes, those rumors," Harry said with his heart still beating a bit faster. He didn't expect a demonstration of someone changing faces just like that. No one could blame him for such a reaction, even Ralnor was completely quiet.
"A man sees that you finally understand," the Faceless Man turned around and spoke for the last time before walking away, "As long as Death's touch hangs around you, Faceless Men won't accept any requests for your person. But remember, Valar Morghulis."
Harry watched the man walk away, a small smile stretching on his face, "'All men must die' eh? Interesting saying, haven't heard it in a long time."
And with that Harry also began walking in the direction of the exit. He found what he wanted and received confirmation that the Faceless Men weren't a threat to him.
There was nothing left for him in the House of Black and White.
"All in all, I think we are going to be the best of friends," Harry said with a grin after he finished recounting their trip to the Hous of Black and White to Maran. Of course, it would be too good if refrained from one last sarcastic comment.
Ralnor deadpanned at his companion and murmured, "Friends my ass..."
"Interesting..." Maran said more to himself than to anyone else, "I have never heard of such occurrence. Faceless Men will assassinate anybody if you can pay the price. For them to say that they won't accept any requests for your head... You said something about 'touched by Death', maybe the man referred to your connection with Ralnor or your near-death in Mossovy?"
Both Harry and Ralnor sighed as Maran began to create his theories. The youngest wizard in the room never told his first friend of his resurrection in this world and he didn't plan to. The fewer people knew, the better. If Ralnor never saw his memories then no one would ever know. Unfortunately, the choice was taken out of his hands after their... surprising bonding.
"Maybe," Harry shrugged, "We will never be sure, but at least I don't need to worry about assassins who can change their faces. That's a scary ability. At least I can feel the magic if an illusionist tried something like that, but those Faceless Men do this without even releasing an ounce of magic. I will need to find some way to identify them. I might be safe, but they can always target people that I know."
The other two occupants of the room nodded in agreement. Faceless Men were too dangerous to just ignore them completely.
"I would love to help you, but I have zero experience with things like that," Maran said after a moment.
Harry waved him off, "That's fine. I doubt that we will come up with an idea without a few more encounters with them. Also some information on how their ability works would be nice, but it could wait. For now, tell me, did you find anybody who could get us to Westeros?"
Maran nodded, "I did. A small crew is willing to take you near the Eastwatch, but their price is very high. It will cost you a big chunk of the gold you have told me about. Are you sure you don't want to take a normal ship to White Harbor and just go from there? It will be cheaper and a lot safer."
Harry shook his head, "As I said, money is not a problem. I can always earn more later. I want to be done with this as fast as I can. When can we depart?"
The older man sighed heavily, "If that's what you want, I will bring you to them in three days. Just remember to keep your glamour on your hair. A few of the crew members are from Westeros and you know how some of them are about anybody with Valyrian features."
The younger wizard snorted, "No need to worry, at this point keeping my cover is a second nature. Sometimes I wonder why I even do that," he said standing up while Ralnor disappeared from the room, "I am going to get some rest. We will talk later."
Three days later Maran led Harry to the docs where the crew was waiting for the latter arrival.
"Are you coming back to Braavos after your short visit or do you have any other plans?" Maran asked as they neared the port.
"I most likely will. I plan on going to Myr when I come back, but I will pay you a visit before beginning my trip. I heard of some changes that were happening ther and I wanted to see what was going on for myself," Harry answered casually.
"That's right, I heard something about a new magister that apparently gained a lot of control in the city. Unfortunately, I don't know anything else," Maran stated after a moment of thought.
Their conversation was cut short as the duo finally arrived before a quite small ship. Maran led his friend to a middle-aged man that was waiting near the boat and after a quick introduction and goodbyes, Harry was again leaving on another of his adventures.
The first three weeks of the trip were quiet and Harry spent most of those days in his private cabin. He didn't have anything against the crew, but their characters weren't what Harry would call friendly.
That was fine as long as the crew did their job and got Harry where he wanted. Besides Harry needed some privacy to inscribe the warming runes to his cloak. While his armor was good, it didn't really provide him with protection against cold. A small mistake that Harry would need to fix after he came back. It would take too much time to do it now.
Unfortunately, their peaceful journey ended when the ship finally sailed into the Bay of Seals.
The Capitan warned Harry that it was usual for the tribes of Skagos to try to attack some ships that passed through the bay. Harry really hoped that just once luck would be on his side, but like always it was not meant to be.
As their ship was easy prey, the Skagosi launched an attack during one of the nights.
Unfortunately due to the slow speed of Harry's boat and the darkness all around them, the crew noticed the enemy ship too late. The Skagosi used this to perform a quick boarding and Harry for the second time in his life was a participant in a pirate attack.
Thankfully the crew was more skilled than Harry thought.
After a long and tiring flight, most of the Skagosi were killed while a few others decided in a moment of wisdom to jump into the water.
That didn't end well for them.
The crew only lost one member and after they got rid of the bodies and took care of the Skagosi ship, they resumed their travel. Harry wasn't really surprised that the rest of the crew didn't really care about the death of one of their own.
From the time he spent with them, Harry managed to gather that, while they worked together, it was only business.
The rest of the journey went without a hitch and a few days later Harry was standing on the snowy ground of Westeros. Even though he was still quite far from the Wall, he still could see it in the distance.
With only one look at it, Harry knew that there was no way this thing was created without the use of magic. Humans in this world might have created some magnificent things, but this? This was beyond their capabilities.
Oh well, let's see what you really are.
And with that Harry transformed into his animagus form.
"I didn't expect this," Ralnor said as he materialized next to Harry after the younger wizard landed on the Wall.
It wasn't an easy flight with the weather and the height of this thing, but after spending most of his magical power Harry finally managed to reach the top. Thankfully Harry chose a place where the Night Watch wouldn't come so at least he could rest for a bit.
"Me too," Harry answered, still breathing hard, "I knew that the Wall was supposed to protect the South from wildlings or creature of legends if some of the stories are to be believed. But a magical barrier? What the hell is in those lands to require something so powerful?"
Ralnor shook his head, "I have no clue. The question is, what happened to the threat if they needed to create a barrier."
"I don't want to jinx it so let's just get down and ignore this depressing thought for a moment. I need to get some rest before we go searching for the tree," Harry said and again transformed.
The flight down was much faster and soon Harry landed at the beginning of the Haunted forest. Unfortunately, when he tried to feel the magic around him and maybe locate the direction of the tree, Harry noticed something very wrong with his magic.
Ralnor, Harry thought to get the attention of his companion, We've got a problem. I almost can't feel the connection to my ice magic anymore.
For the first time in many months, Harry didn't dream about the giant weirwood tree. There was no snow, only the warm rays of the sun that were coming through the window of a small room.
It took Harry a moment to recognize this place, but when he did, he was even more confused. Why was he seeing the room that he awoke to when he was transported to this world.
"It was there that everything changed Harry Blackfyre," spoke an older voice behind him.
Harry quickly turned around and came face to face with a very old man. His face was more wrinkled than Harry thought was possible and the man had last bits of grey hair on his head. His black clothes definitely saw better days.
"I always knew about you, but I also saw what would happen to you. Death. And then one day you just woke up and your entire future was changed. Changed so much then even I can't perceive it perfectly," the man continued his monologue, "I await your arrival boy. Now defend yourself!"
With those simple words, Harry was knocked out of his dream and reality again appeared before his eyes. He was back in the small stone hut that Ralnor created for the night. It was also protected by every ward that Harry could create. He knew that the land beyond the Wall was dangerous, so it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Get up, something is coming," came the alarmed voice of Ralnor.
"I saw the person who was slipping into my dreams," Harry informed his companion as he quickly got up and gathered his gear.
"This conversation will need to wait a bit. We got company and whatever they are, they are large."
Great, Harry groaned and slowly moved to the exit of his temporary shelter.
When Ralnor lowered one of the walls Harry instantly slipped out and had to quickly perform a dodge as a projectile of frozen air flew just above his head. After Harry finally regained his composure he drew one of his shortswords while throwing the other one to Ralnor who just materialized next to him. There was no point in hiding their magic and Harry really doubted that their enemy really cared about it.
I love my life, Harry thought as he took a look at his new opponents.
To describe them shortly Harry could just say that those were spiders that attacked them. Huge and menacing spiders that could shoot a small blast of frozen air, but spiders nonetheless. Harry was pretty sure that somewhere Death had a blast watching him now.
It is Forbidden Forest all over again, he thought amused as the memories of Acromantulas flashed before his eyes. He could really live without encountering another species of giant and murderous spiders again.
Thankfully Harry only spotted two of those monsters and after a quick nod to his companion, they went to fight their respective foes. Harry quickly ignited his sword while Ralnor created a stone golem to help him in the fight.
Unlike their fight against the Alpha demon in Mossovy, the two magicians didn't waste any time in using their more powerful moves to gain an advantage in the battle.
Harry let the magic flow through his body to boost his physical capabilities while sending a large wave of fire at his ice spider. The creature was faster than Harry expected, but the flames still managed to scorch two of its legs.
The creature hissed loudly making Harry smirk, at least this time he had a large advantage.
Meanwhile, Ralnor used his golem to take the spider's attention from him, and then the older mage proceeded to bombard the spider with his ever-expanding earth attacks.
Their respective battles didn't take long and a few minutes later only mutilated and burned corpses of the spiders remained.
"That was certainly interesting," Ralnor said as he removed his sword from the spider's body, "I don't think that we read about such creatures anywhere."
Harry looked at his burned enemy and shrugged, "Doesn't really matter. I fought against something similar in my old life so it wasn't anything new. There was just a lot more of them back then..."
"Good to know," Ralnor said dryly, "Now what was that about the person who was sending you the dreams?"
Harry nodded, "I can track his presence now, let's go, it is not that far."
"This is it," Harry murmured as he stood some distance from the ancient and massive weirwood tree with a face carved on its trunk. Its roots went far in every direction, but whet interested Harry the most was the entrance to a cave that was stationed directly beneath the tree.
Like the Wall, this place was saturated in magic. It wasn't too powerful, but it was enough to let Harry know of its presence.
Slowly Harry began to approach the entrance to the cave. As soon as he got close a small humanoid creature appeared at its entrance. Harry took a quick look and thought that the creature held some resemblance to house-elves from his old life.
The disproportionately large and expressive eyes, small stature, and the color of its skin. Apart from that the rest of their appearance was closer to humans and it took a bit to recognize what it was.
Child of the Forest, so they really exist, Harry thought as he got closer and closer, but always ready to react in case the Child decided to attack him.
"Follow me," the creature spoke in a female voice, "He is waiting for you."
Harry shrugged and did as he was told. He might be going into an unknown, but he was quite sure that he wouldn't have a problem getting out if something went wrong.
Finally, they came upon a slightly bigger chamber. There Harry needed to do a double-take when he noticed something very disturbing stationed in the roots of the tree.
It was a pale, skeletal man in rotted black clothing. His skin was white, aside from a red blotch on his neck and cheek. He had only small bits of grey hair that looked completely out of place. One of his eyes was missing, while the other was red. Weirwood roots surrounded the man and grew through his body, including his leg and the empty eye socket.
All in all, it was a far cry from the man Harry saw in his dream.
"I have been waiting for a long time to meet you Harry Blackfyre and Ralnor of Leng," the skeletal figure rasped out, "Your continued existence changed the game and I don't even know why."
Harry froze for a second before narrowing his eyes at the figure, "Who are you? And how do you know about us?"
"I was called many names. The three-eyed raven, the last greenseer," then man then chuckled or at least Harry thought that it was supposed to be a chuckle, "But in the past, I was named Brynden Rivers."
"The Bloodraven," Harry whispered.
"Ah yes, my lovely title. It has been a long time since I heard it," the man said quietly, "But that's not important. You asked me how I know about you. Tell me do you know what a greenseer is?"
Harry shook his head, he studied some parts of the history of Westeros, but he never went that deep.
"Not surprising," Brynden continued, "A greenseer is a person who was gifted with powerful magical ability to perceive the past, present, and future through visions and time travel with ease. There is more to the title, but unfortunately, I didn't receive the rest of the gifts."
Harry almost groaned when he heard about the ability to see the future. He had enough of this shite in his last life.
"Let us assume that I believe you," Harry said, "Why did you want to meet us, I am quite sure that there is more than to that than just satisfying your curiosity."
The pale man sighed heavily, "As I told you in your dream, you changed everything. You were meant to die when you were eight, leaving the House of Blackfyre without any alive members. Instead, you survived and traveled the world, learning things that most could only dream of. As to why I called you here? I need your help."
Harry looked at the man intently and said apologetically, "I am sorry, but even I can't help your current condition."
Brynden again began to laugh, much to Harry's confusion, "I don't need you to save me. No, I want you to save the world."
That instantly put Harry on guard. He had enough of world-saving as Harry Potter, this time no one would order him around. Still, he was curious what exactly the man was talking about, "Save from what?"
"The Others," Brynden replied ominously, "the White Walkers of legends. Creature of ice and death are awakening. And with them, the Long Night is coming."
Harry's mind instantly flashed back to his visit to the House of The Undying and the vision about a monster made of ice. It appeared that his visions really meant something more...
"And why would you need me? I am sure that there are others who could help you much better than I," Harry retorted, quite annoyed that something was trying to dictate his life again. The prophecy about Voldemort and him was enough. Death promised him a normal life here.
"You are the ice and fire boy," the skeletal figure stated like it explained everything, "You possess abilities that would make the incoming war a lot easier. Don't you want to help people? I saw your life, you are a good man, so why not help?"
"You don't know me!" Harry shouted in anger, "You know nothing about me and I won't let myself get placed in such a position again. Find yourself another hero to play with." he finished more calmly before turning around and beginning to walk out.
"I apologize for my words," Brynden spoke quickly making Harry stop for a moment, "I just hope that when the time comes you will change your mind. Many lives could be saved with your simple decision."
"Just leave me alone," Harry said for the last time before walking out of the cave.
A few minutes went by before Harry heard the voice of his companion for the first time since they arrived at the cave.
"Did you really meant that?" Ralnor asked softly referring to Harry's decision, he didn't want to annoy his friend even more.
I don't know. I don't know anymore...
This is it.
To be honest, I think that this chapter went rather well, but I had some problems with the scenes with the Faceless Man and the three-eyed raven.
Now about Harry's reaction to Brynden's request.
For now, he is confused and angry. Death promised him life without destiny and obligations and yet here we are. This conversation will affect Harry's decisions in the future and will always be in the back of his mind.
IMPORTANT: IF there is someone among my readers that read the books. I would be grateful if you could contact me via PM. I have some questions about the Golden Company that I need answered. Thank you.
I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter. Let me know what you think.
Have a good day/night.