Author's Note: I just want to remind all you beautiful readers that I am not exactly knowledgeable of Game of Thrones so don't be afraid to PM me if something is wrong, either it be a certain aspect of Game of Thrones or even the way the people speak. If you have anything to say, PM me because I don't read reviews. Too much negativity :p
( Narrow Sea - Dragon Slayer )
Once the Lannister galleys have been destroyed and confirming that there are no other ships chasing after them, Jon leads his father and Jory into his private quarters with Serana walking beside him to offer her support.
Jon pushes the door to his quarters open and allows the Northmen to enter first with Serana before he follows after them. Once they're all inside, Jon closes and locks the door before he walks over to his cupboard. "Would you care for a drink, Lord Stark? Our discussion may take a while."
As much as Eddard wants the answers to his questions, he admits that a drink might help clam his nerves. After all, today has been very emotional and stressful for him. "I would like that very much, thank you."
Jon nods and takes out a bottle of Black-Briar Reserve before he uncorks it and pours the mead into two goblets for himself and Lord Stark. Jon doesn't offer Serana any, since he knows that she prefers the taste of blood over mead, but he will have to wait till they're alone to offer the Vampire some of his blood. Jon takes the goblets and offers one of them to his father. "Please, take a seat" he offered, pulling the two chairs from the table and places them in front of each other in the middle of the room.
Eddard sits down on one of the offered chairs and gives his thanks for the goblet of alcohol. Jory moves to stand behind his Lord while keeping an eye on both Jon and Serana. The Lord of Winterfell takes a sniff of the contents in the goblet, not to look for any poison, but to try and guess what kind of beverage he is about to drink. "What is this?" asked Eddard, enjoying the honey aroma he can detect from the alcoholic beverage.
"Black-Briar Mead. I may not like the family, but I'll admit that their meadery makes the best mead in all of Skyrim" answered Jon who sits down on the remaining chair. "The mead we are about to enjoy is especially lovely, as the price would tell you."
"Is it that expensive?" asked Eddard, curiously. True, the smell of honey is lovely, but mead surely can't be that expensive.
"In Westerosi currency, the amount you hold in your goblet would be worth one gold dragon" told Jon, surprising the Lord of Winterfell. Jory himself widens his eyes in surprise over how expensive the drink is.
"The amount that fills my goblet is truly worth one dragon?" thought Eddard Stark, looking down at the expensive mead in his goblet in disbelief. "If that's true, I can only imagine how much the entire bottle must cost."
While Eddard comes to grips with how expensive the mead he's about to drink is, Jon pulls down his Nightingale Hood, freeing his curly raven hair. Once the hood is down, the mask that covers his face begins to disperse into smoke, revealing his face to his father for the first time in ten years.
Eddard Stark opens his mouth to ask about Skyrim, having never heard of search a place before, but he stops once he gets a good look of the face of the man who saved him and his daughters. It may have been ten years, but Eddard quickly recognizes the face of the boy who he had failed all those years ago.
Hiding his inner turmoil, Jon offers a slight nod to Eddard Stark with no emotion being displayed. "Father."
A tense silence fills the room as Ned Stark comprehends the fact that the masked man who had saved him twice is none other than his long lost ne-son, Jon. Uncaring about the goblet of mead he drops to the floor, Ned surprises everyone in the room by suddenly pulling Jon into a hug.
Many times, Jon had thought about how his reunion with his father might play out and each time, he always pictures his father getting angry, shouting and maybe even getting violent. Not once did he expect his father to pull him into a hug, but he welcomes it nonetheless. Slowly, Jon wraps his arms around his father and returns the hug while ignoring the tears leaking from his eyes.
Serana watches the reunion between father and son with a tearful smile of her own, feeling overjoyed for Jon, while also feeling a little bit jealous. The immortal Vampire can't remember the last time she had gotten any sort of physical affection from either of her parents so seeing Lord Stark easily pull Jon into a hug after ten years apart further shows her how broken her own family is.
Eddard never wants to let go of Jon ever again, but unfortunately, he has to if he wants to get answers to his questions. Very reluctantly, Ned pulls away from Jon and looks him up and down, feeling proud over how much Jon has grown from the shy and broody boy he use to be.
However, when he looks into Jon's eyes, Eddard sees a wisdom and strength that doesn't belong in the eyes of someone so young. There's also something else he can see in Jon's dark grey eyes, a hardness that tells a story of someone who has gone through a lot in their life. "What did Jon go through to have such eyes?"
"Jon, I can't tell you how happy I am to see you after so long" said Ned with the widest grin that Jory has ever seen on him. "I have so many questions."
"And I will answer them all the best I can" replied Jon, although he doesn't plan to reveal his role as Dragonborn, nor the return of Dragons or that he has one nearby.
( King's Landing - Red Keep )
Cersei Lannister paces in front of the door of her son's room, having been waiting for news about the condition of Joffrey for the past two hours. She hates the thought of her son being treated by Maesters she don't know or trusts. She curses Pycelle for getting himself killed, since she could have trusted Joffrey's recovery with him if he was still alive. The Citadel has yet to send someone to take up the mantle as Grand Maester so until they do, Cersei will have to make do with the available Maesters in the Red Keep. Even with four Lannister men in the room to make sure the Maesters don't attempt anything that might threaten the life of their injured King, Cersei can't help but be nervous. So much of Joffrey's blood had been spilled by that disgusting cutthroat.
The defeat of the Starks should have been a quick and simple affair, yet the unexpected arrival of Stark loyalists had caught them all off guard. Due to the chaos caused by the traitorous Starks, they had lost several soldiers and knights, including Ser Meryn Trant and worst off all, the King of the Seven Kingdoms had been injured. There's also the outrageous rumors made up by some of the City Watchmen who say that the Stark loyalists used magic of all things.
Cersei made sure those who spoke such lies were beheaded and their heads plastered on a pike by Traitor's Walk, alongside those of the Stark household. After filling the sixth pike, no more lies were spilled from the lips of any of the men.
Before Cersei can further curse the Starks for their treachery, the door to her son's room opens, revealing the sweaty and tired face of a Maester. The blood splattered along the Master's robes doesn't put the Queen at ease.
"My Queen, his grace is asleep, but well."
Cersei pushes pass the Maester and ignoring the Lannister men standing by the four corners of the room, Cersei walks over to the bed where she sees her son asleep and no longer wearing his fine clothes. Said clothes are now lying in a pile beside the bed, covered in blood. Ignoring the other Maester who is finishing up wrapping the bandages around Joffrey's face, she sits down by her son's beside and brushes a hand through his golden hair. "So strong and brave. Just like his father" she sighed in relief over the sight of her son being alive.
The Maester she shoved pass nods his head in agreement. "Indeed. King Joffrey has the strong Baratheon blood of King Robert flowing through his veins."
Ignoring what he said, Cersei looks away from her sleeping son and glares at the Maester. "What of his injuries?"
"My Queen, his grace has suffered a deep cut across his right cheek. We have cleaned and stitched the wound, but I am afraid that it will leave a scar" answered the Maester in complete honesty.
"We've given his grace some Milk of the Poppy so to help with the pain and allow him to sleep" said the second Maester who finishes wrapping the bandages around Joffrey's cheek.
"Get out, all of you. I want to be alone with my son" ordered the Queen. None dare ignore an order from the Queen so both Maesters and the four Lannister soldiers step out of the King's quarters, leaving Cersei alone with her eldest child.
Cersei brushes her hand along the bandages that cover the right side of her son's face, hiding the scar that deforms what was once flawless skin. The realization that her perfect child will forever be scarred, because of that treacherous Stark loyalist lights a flame inside her chest.
"Those Starks will pay for harming you, my little cub. I will make sure of that and a Lannister always pays their debts."
( Narrow Sea - Dragon Slayer )
For the next hour, Jon spends his time answering all of his father's question while sharing the bottle of Black-Briar Reserve.
Eddard's questioning leads Jon to telling him about some of his life in Tamriel, although he does avoid sensitive topics, such as the return of Alduin, his battle with Alduin and Jon being the champion to several Daedric Princes.
"So you actually studied how to use magic in a college?" asked Eddard while taking a careful sip of the Black-Briar mead to savour its taste. Now that he has tasted the mead, he can see why Jon enjoys it.
"The College of Winterhold. It's a fine institution where men and women can go to study the practice of magic, although most don't care for how cold it is there" answered Jon, knowing that the reason he thrived in the unforgiving colds of Skyrim is because they remind him of the unforgiving colds of the North.
A small chuckle escapes Ned's lips. "If I hadn't seen you and your friends use magic with my very own eyes, I would call you a mad man" he said, still finding it hard to believe that magic isn't as dead as the Maesters believe it to be. In fact, magic seems to play a big role in Tamriel. "Can anyone learn magic?"
"Anyone can, although some tend to be more talented than others. If you end up spending any time with J'zargo, I'm sure he will tell you all about how talented he is in using magic" remarked Jon.
"Is he the one who wears the mask?" asked Ned, recalling how the masked man had used magic to conjure a wall of flames and shoot lightning from his hands. "He was of great help during our escape."
"Don't let him hear that. He won't be able to shut up about it if he does" groaned Serana, having had enough of J'zargo's arrogant talk in the past few weeks. If she wanted to hear people praise themselves over every little thing they do, she would have just stayed in Castle Volkihar.
Eddard turns to the pale-skinned woman who stands behind Jon, as if she's his guard and inwardly scolds himself for not introducing himself to the woman who played a role in saving him from Jaime Lannister and then saving him from Cersei Lannister. "Apologies, my Lady. I never did introduce myself" he apologized and moves to stand up, but Serana waves off his apology.
"No need for that, Lord Stark. Jon has told me so much about you and his siblings that I feel like I've known you all my life" laughed Serana who doesn't notice Ned sending Jon a playful grin.
"Is that so?" chuckled Ned, enjoying how Jon glares at him with pink dusting his cheeks. "I never did get your name, Lady...?"
"Serana Volkihar. It's a pleasure, Lord Stark" introduced Serana who curtsies for the first time in over four thousand years. Even after such a long time, the curtsy is done perfectly, something which isn't missed by Eddard Stark.
"She must come from a noble House, but I've never heard of the Volkihar House. It must be some sort of House in Tamriel" thought Ned, knowing nothing of the land to the west of Westeros. "The pleasure is all mine, Lady Serana. Please accept my gratitude for helping myself and my daughters escape King's Landing."
"No thanks is needed, Lord Stark" told Serana, but Eddard shakes his head.
"But you have it, nonetheless" answered the Lord of Winterfell who looks at the Dragonborn and Vampire, oddly. There has been something he has been meaning to ask them. "By the way, how is it that you two managed to get behind Joffrey and Cersei without anyone in the throne room seeing you?" he asked, finding it weird that nobody spotted two people get behind the Lannisters, especially with how well protected they were.
Serana decides to answer by raising a hand which is glowing a darkish purple which Eddard guesses to be some form of magic. Eddard raises a hand to stop Jory from drawing his sword, trusting Jon and Serana with his life. The Lord of Winterfell nearly jumps out of his seat when the magic in Serana's hand suddenly washes over her entire body before she vanishes from sight.
"Where did she go?" asked Jory, looking around the quarters for the woman while keeping his guard up.
"I am still here" answered the invisible Serana who is enjoying the shocked looks from Jon's father and the Stark soldier.
"Incredible" muttered Ned is awe, staring at where Serana is standing. While she may be invisible, she isn't entirely as he can see certain spots in the air that ripple like water, showing off a very vague outline of Serana Volkihar. Still, it would require a pair of sharp eyes to notice her while invisible. "No wonder nobody noticed either of them get behind Cersei and Joffrey. With everyone so distracted in the throne room, nobody would have seen Jon or Serana move through the throne room while invisible."
"Magic is incredible, isn't it?" asked a smiling Jon who is enjoying the time he is spending with his father. Even before he ran off from Winterfell, they didn't get much time to bond like this, due to Ned Stark's duties as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Catelyn Stark didn't help matters either.
"It is, although I've got to ask, can others learn the magic you used to destroy the Lannister ships?" Ned Stark can't hide the slight worry over the thought of someone else knowing such powerful and destructive magic. The Lord of Winterfell sighs in relief once he sees Jon shake his head.
"Technically, no. The magic is known as Thu'um or simply as the Voice and while it can be taught, it requires years of training just to learn a single Word for a Shout. The Shout I used to destroy the Lannister ships required three Words" explained Jon who frowns while recalling how Ulfric Stormcloak managed to learn Unrelenting Shout through the teachings from the Greybeards. Ulfric not only dishonored himself by using a Shout to kill the High King of Skyrim during a duel, but he also dishonored the teachings of the Greybeards.
While relieved that there will be no others who can use the destructive Thu'um magic that his son can use, Eddard notes how Jon says that it takes years to learn a single Word for a Shout, yet he admitted that the Shout he used to destroy the Lannister ships had three Words. "If it takes years to learn one Word, why is it that you can use a Shout that uses three Words?" he asked, understanding how crazy the Voice magic sounds to him when he says it out loud.
Cursing himself for his stupidity, Jon shares a glance with Serana who looks down at him with a frown. She knows he doesn't want to tell anyone about his role as Dragonborn and so, she tries to think of a way to change the topic of conversation.
Luckily, someone else manages to do that for them.
Shouts and curses from outside has everyone turn to the door. "What is that?" asked Jory, wondering who is causing such a ruckus on the ship.
Seeing his chance to avoid his father's question, Jon stands up from his seat and places his goblet on the nearby table. "Let us go and find out."
Eddard narrows his eyes at Jon who walks to the door and while suspicious, he decides to let it go for now and places his own goblet on the table before following his son outside to see who is causing all that noise.
Once they're all standing on the deck, they are quick to find the person responsible for all the shouting and curses.
"You fucking bitch! It's all your fault! You got everyone killed! You killed my father!" cried a frantic Jeyne Poole who waves her arms threateningly at Sansa Stark who is shaking and sobbing. The only reason Jeyne isn't physically hurting Sansa is because two Stark guardsmen are holding her back to prevent her from doing any harm to their Lord's daughter. Since she can't physically harm Sansa, Jeyne goes for the next best thing and spits insults at her instead.
While surprised to see the daughter of his deceased steward and friend curse at Sansa, Ned storms his way through the crowd of viewing guardsmen and ship crew to get answers. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded, his voice firm and unyielding.
Jeyne points an accusing finger at Sansa. "Tell him! Tell him what you told me!"
"Tell me what?" asked Ned, looking between Jeyne and Sansa who he notices is refusing to look him in the eye. That alone makes him suspicious of his eldest daughter. "Sansa, what did you do?" When Sansa refuses to look at him, Eddard's voice get's firmer. "Sansa Stark."
Flinching at the tone, Sansa reluctantly looks up from the floor, showing Eddard her red and puffy eyes. The sight of his daughter crying breaks Eddard's heart, but he needs to know what is going on. The Lord of Winterfell casts a look at the men crowding around them and once they see him staring at them, they all get the hidden message and disperse to either continue their duties on the ship or to keep watch for any enemy ships. This leaves Eddard Stark, Sansa Stark, Jeyne Poole, Jon Snow and Serana. The two Stark guardsmen holding Jeyne had also left, having been given the signal by their Lord to leave which they do so, knowing that Jeyne isn't foolish enough to do anything violent while in the presence of Lord Stark. Arya would have stayed to see what is going on, but Syrio guides her away, much to her protest.
Once he's sure that nobody else is prying, Eddard turns back to his crying daughter. "Sansa, what does Jeyne mean?"
"W-When you told me that you were sending Arya and myself back home, I had believed it was because you and the Queen were fighting with each other. So, I had gone over to speak with the Queen to ask her for help in smoothing over whatever disagreement you two were having" admitted a sniffling Sansa.
Ned looks at his daughter in realization. "And you told her how I was sending you and your sister away."
Sansa looks back down at the floor and nods, guiltily.
"You told that bitch and now my father is dead because of you" exclaimed Jeyne, glaring daggers at Sansa. Since her father isn't on the ship with them, then that means he was killed by the Queen's men in the Red Keep.
Jon chooses this moment to step in. "Excuse me for interrupting, but I do not believe all the blame should be placed on Lady Sansa's shoulders.
Ned, Jeyne and even a red-eyed Sansa look over at Jon. "Who are you?" asked the emotional Jeyne Poole.
Jon offers the grieving daughter a gentle smile to try and ease her worries. "I'm known by a lot of names, but you can just call me Jon Snow, son of Lord Stark."
Neither Sansa or Jeyne can hide their surprise once Jon reveals his identity to them. The same can be said to the nearby Stark guardsmen who are standing close enough to overhear, due to the ship being slightly crowded, because of the caches of Wildfire, Stark household and the Dragon Slayer's crew. Even with Ned Stark asking for space, there is only so far the Stark guardsmen can move without getting in the way of the ship's crew so some end up standing close enough to overhear certain snippets of talk, specifically the identity of Jon Snow.
"Lord Stark's Bastard."
"I thought he was dead."
"Look at the armour he's wearing!"
"Isn't that the same armour the hooded man wore? Doesn't that mean..."
"Y-You're my brother?" asked Sansa, slightly recognizing Jon from their time as children. She remembers Jon being her half-brother, but she never did hang around with him like Robb did, specifically because mother never allowed her to. From her teachings about the Faith of the Seven with her mother and Septa Mordane, Jon being a Bastard makes him sinful and hideous. Looking over his handsome smiling face, she can't see any of the hideousness that they spoke of.
"That I am, little sister. Unfortunately, we will have to wait till later to catch up" told Jon before turning to Ned and Jeyne. "My Lady, you have my condolences. No one should suffer the loss of a parent."
Sniffling, Jeyne nods her head in thanks. "Thank you, but can I ask what you mean that not all the blame should be put on Sansa?" Jeyne glares at Sansa as she speaks, making the eldest Stark daughter flinch.
"While I agree that Sansa should not have done what she did, the blame mostly resides with Queen Cersei Lannister, Lord Petyr Baelish and Lord Stark himself" told Jon, getting a gasp from the two girls, a glare from Jory and a knowing frown from Ned.
"You dare claim Lord Stark was at fault for what had happened?" asked Jory with his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. The Captain of the Guard doesn't notice Teldryn who slowly walks behind him after spotting him touch the hilt of his sword. The Dunmer prepares, just in case the Northerner tries something stupid like trying to attack Jon.
However, Ned Stark raises a hand to stop Jory from attempting anything. "Stand down, Jory. What my son speaks of is the truth."
The group stares at Lord Stark in disbelief, especially Jeyne who can't believe what she's hearing. "L-Lord Stark. Who do you mean?"
Ned looks down at the daughter of his steward and inwardly hates himself for seeing her crushed expression. "The reason your father died is because I had discovered a shocking secret of the Queen's and in my foolishness to protect her children, I had told the Queen that I knew, hoping that she would take them and flee for Casterly Rock. Obviously, she didn't do so."
"Trusting Littlefinger and telling him of your plan was also quite foolish" told Jon in brutal honesty. "I believe that he was the one to tell the Queen of your plan to forcefully remove Joffrey from the Iron Throne."
Ned nods, accepting that he has made mistakes and he clenches his fists as he recalls how Littlefinger betrayed him so easily. "I was a fool to trust him. Baelish best pray that we never meet again, because if we do, I'll see that his head rolls" he thought, enjoying the thought of himself using Ice to cut Baelish's head off.
Ned then looks back at the hurt Jeyne Poole and to the surprise of everyone, he bows his heads to her. "My foolish mistakes have cost the lives of my fellow Northerners, including your father who was a good friend of mine. I understand if you cannot forgive me, Lady Poole for I can never forgive myself."
Jeyne looks to be struggling with what to do or say and Jon honestly can't blame her. She is still emotional over losing her father to the Lannisters and Lord Stark bowing his head to her while admitting his mistakes is only baffling her even further.
Thankfully, she manages to harden herself. "As you say, Lord Stark, I cannot in good graces forgive you. However, I can understand why you did what you did" stated Jeyne before offering a small bow. "If you'll excuse me, my Lord." Without waiting for Ned to answer, Jeyne walks off, likely to come to grips with everything she has been told.
Jon watches Jeyne Poole walk below deck and is impressed with her maturity. Not many women would react as calmly as she did after finding out that her Lord is the reason for her father's death.
Once Jeyne Poole walks down below deck, Ned turns to Sansa who flinches, making him sigh. "It would be hypocritical of me if I were to punish you, Sansa, but later, we will need to speak. Go rest, you must be tired after the events of today." Sansa nods and with her head down in shame, she walks down below deck to find where the women are sharing their quarters.
Once Sansa is gone below deck, Ned turns to his Bastard son and looks at him with a suspicious stare. "How is it that you know what I said to Cersei and Baelish?" While Jon didn't outright say it, Ned didn't miss how he claimed that both Cersei and Baelish is at fault, meaning that Jon knew that Littlefinger was suppose to bribe the City Watch to the Stark side, not stab them in the back.
Jon answers with an annoying knowing grin. "Don't think that Vary's and Littlerfinger are the only ones with ears to your doors, Lord Stark."
That annoys him, but before Ned can speak, he is interrupted.
"Papa!" cried two young girls who run to Jon and wrap their arms around his stomach. Ned is surprised, but none more so when Jon bends down and pulls them both into a hug.
"Hello, girls. Did you miss me?" Jon asked with a smile that's not shared with his daughters.
"Auntie Aela says you were in a fight" told Lucia with an accusing glare that makes the powerful Dragonborn feel small.
"With a lot of bad guys" continued Sofie while patting down Jon to search for any injuries she might not be able to see.
"Auntie Aela should keep her big fat mouth shut" thought Jon while making a note to have a talk with Aela. Last thing he wants is for his girls to worry about him. Hiding his annoyance with a smile, Jon kisses both Lucia and Sofie on the forehead to ease their worries. "Yes, I had fought some baddies, but they weren't a challenge for me" he exclaimed, raising his head proudly.
Sofie throws her hands up over her head. "Papa is too strong!"
"That's right" agreed Jon with a laugh. Throughout his laugh, he notices Ned looking at him with a mixture of feelings. Deciding that now is no better time to introduce the three, Jon turns Lucia and Sofie to look at Ned. "Girls, there is someone I want to introduce you to. This here is my father, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, Eddard Stark." Once he finishes introducing his father, he then introduces his daughter. "Father, this is Lucia and Sofie, my daughters."
"Daughters?" repeated Ned Stark in shock before he looks down at the two girls who look up at him, curiously. "Surely they cannot be. They look to be around the same age as Arya!" Ned also notices how the girls don't look like they are related. The girl in the green dress has tanned skin, short light blonde hair and emerald eyes. If Eddard doesn't know any better, he would almost think her to be a Lannister. The girl in the red dress has pale skin and both her long hair and eyes are a dark brown. By her appearance, she looks like she belongs in the North.
"Adopted" told Jon, having found the shocked and confused expression on Ned Stark's and Jory Cassel's faces to be humorous.
"That makes a lot more sense" remarked Ned with a slight chuckle, having found it unbelievable that Jon would have children that are of the same age as Arya. To do so, he would have had them soon after he left Winterfell. The reminder of how Jon fled Winterfell at a young age causes Ned Stark to frown, but the curious stares from Lucia and Sofie draws his attention before he can brood.
Lucia and Sophie look up at Ned Stark who is suppose to be the father of their papa and they're quick to notice the similarities between their appearance. Just like their papa, Ned's eyes are grey, although his isn't as dark as Jon's. They both have dark hair as well, but where's Ned Stark's hair is smooth, Jon's is curly. However, the biggest similarity they see is when Ned's face turns broody for a moment, reminding them of how their father looks whenever he's thinking about something.
With a lack of decorum, Lucia and Sophie run over and hug Ned Stark, much to his surprise.
"Grandpapa!" exclaimed Sophie in excitement.
"I never had a grandpapa before!" told a giddy Lucia.
After all the death and treachery, Ned has been feeling low with the only upside being the reunion with his long lost son, but seeing the two young girls look up at him with such interest and adoration warms his heart. With a small smile, Ned bends down low and wraps his arms around both girls and brings them both into a hug, much to their enjoyment. "Really? Well then, I should tell you both that I've never had any grandchildren before" he said with a light tone that makes the girls gasp, dramatically.
Jon is his son so that makes Lucia and Sofie his granddaughters, no matter if their adopted.
The sight of his daughters hugging and smiling with his father brings a smile to Jon's own face. Jon is delighted to know that the meeting between his daughters and father turned out to be a happy occasion, since he knows that not everyone would have reacted as well as Lord Stark has, especially nobles. Adopted children tend to be looked down on nearly as badly as Bastard children in Westeros. Thankfully, Jon doesn't have to worry about his father not liking his daughters. He still needs to introduce himself and his daughters to Arya and Sansa, but he decides to do it for a later date, since they are both recovering from today's events.
After giving the girls a moment to speak with their new grandpapa, Jon interrupts them. "Girls, you can speak with grandpapa later. I'm sure he wants to rest and speak with your aunties."
Lucia and Sofie turn back to their father with excitement in their eyes. "We've got aunties?"
"Two of them and two uncles" answered Jon, smiling over his daughters excitement. For the two who have lost all their family, finding out that they have much more obviously excites them.
"Three uncles actually" told Ned, surprising Jon. "After you left, we had another son who we call Rickon. He's a wild one, just like Arya."
The revelation that he has another brother warms Jon's heart. "That's good to hear. I would like to visit him whenever I can get a chance."
"I'm sure he'd like that" nodded Ned before he sighs. "I should go and speak with Arya and Sansa. Maybe get some rest while I'm at it."
"You should" agreed Jon, dropping his smile to look at his father with a serious expression. "Later, we can speak about our next move."
Ned nods in understanding, knowing that he should enjoy the peace and quiet of the sea while he can, because once they land in White Harbour, they will be heading out for war.
"Winter is coming for the Lannisters. I'll make sure of that."
After speaking with his daughters and resting for a few hours, Ned returns to Jon's quarters where he sees the table now situated in the middle of the room while Jon and his cohorts stand around it. On the table, Ned sees that there's a detailed map of Westeros on it.
"Did you enjoy your rest, father?" asked Jon from the other side of the table.
Ned nods as he walks up to the table. "That I did."
"What of Arya and Sansa? How are they coping after everything?" asked Jon, sounding worried for his sisters.
"Arya is a bit shaken up, but she's tough. She's now focusing all her attention on continuing her training in Water Dancing with Syrio. Sansa, on the other hand is still struck with grief and guilt" answered Eddard who is gutted to know that his daughters had witnessed so much death in King's Landing.
"I can understand why. Sansa probably blames herself for trusting the Queen so readily" said Jon, knowing that Sansa is young and naive.
Ned sighs and shakes his head. "Honestly, I do not know what to say to cheer her up."
"Lord Stark, if you do not mind a separate opinion, I believe you should leave her be for now" told Serana who is standing to Jon's left.
Ned looks over to the pale-skinned woman with a frown. "And how does that help my daughter, Lady Serana?"
Teldryn snorts in amusement. "Serana, a Lady? Is that a jest?" chuckled the Dunmer who forgets that he is standing to Serana's left. Not finding Teldryn's comment funny, Serana slaps the back of the Dark Elf's helmeted head and smiles when she hears Teldryn curse in pain.
As everyone else either laughs or roll their eyes over Teldryn's antics, Serana answers Eddard Stark's question. "Your daughter knows that she made a mistake by speaking with the Queen behind your back. Due to her naivety, she didn't notice the Lions surrounding her until it was too late. If she's given time to understand her mistakes and their repercussions, I believe she will grow and learn from them."
As much as Eddard wants to comfort Sansa and tell her that she did nothing wrong, he can't help but agree with Serana's explanation. Catelyn has always babied Sansa, putting ideas in her head that knights are all honourable and brave, when in reality, most are not. Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch being perfect examples. "Lady Serana is right. Sansa needs to learn that her actions can lead to repercussions." Coming to an understanding, Ned looks towards Serana. "I fear that you are correct, Lady Serana. Sansa must learn to think before she acts."
Serana smiles at the Lord of Winterfell. "You are welcome and please, call me Serana."
An impatient Farkas interrupts before Eddard Stark can reply. "Can we get on with the meeting?"
Jon deadpans at the impatient Farkas. "Fine, let's start with introductions. Father, I'm sure you already know of Farkas, Aela and Teldryn?" asked Jon while gesturing towards the two Companions and the sellsword.
Ned nods, having been very impressed with the fighting prowess of Teldryn and Farkas who had defeated skilled fighters like Sandor Clegane and Yohn Royce in the melee of the Hand's Tourney. Aela had also gotten a lot of attention after becoming victorious in the archery competition. "I do. I was very impressed with all your skills during the Hand's Tourney."
Jon then waves a hand to the masked Khajiit. "This here is our magic expert, J'zargo."
"Greetings, Lord Stark" said J'zargo, offering an uncharacteristic bow. Having fought beside the Lord of Winterfell, Ned Stark has earned J'zargo's respect, since he can actually fight for himself, unlike most Lords in Tamriel.
Ned looks over the masked man and offers a grateful nod. "You have my thanks, J'zargo. If not for your use of magic, we would likely have suffered more losses than what we already have" he said, believing that J'zargo summoning a wall of fire and shooting lightning had helped soften the City Watch enough for the Northmen to fight back.
Farkas groans and rubs his forehead to ease to upcoming headache. "He has done it now."
"Ah~, J'zargo sees now that Lord Stark knows what true talent looks like" laughed J'zargo with his hands on his hips. "If only others weren't so blind to not see the genius that is J'zargo!"
Ned Stark stares at the masked man in utter bemusement.
"He's humble, isn't he?" joked Aela with a chuckle.
"To be fair, he nearly has a right to do so" said Ned, although he doesn't much care for braggarts.
"Thank you, J'zargo for that lovely retelling of your many accomplishments, but keep some for later. It'll be a long ride to White Harbour and I'm sure Lord Stark will be wanting to hear more in the coming days" told Jon who winks at his father who glares back at him.
"Of course! J'zargo apologizes, Lord Stark. We shall speak some more on the morrow" told J'zargo, much to Ned's chagrin.
"You have my thanks, J'zargo" answered Eddard, although his thanks doesn't reach his eyes. If what he has heard already is any indication, he fears that much of J'zargo's stories will just be of him bragging about himself.
"Now that introductions are over with, let us discuss plans for the upcoming war with the Lannisters" started Jon, referring to the map of Westeros which has wooden figurines of wolves, trouts, lions and other symbols which signify the Great Houses of Westeros, although they look to have been hastily carved.
Farkas looks down at the map and rubs his hands together in eagerness. "Finally, we get to the good stuff."
Jon takes a wolf figurine and places on the North. "Reports from my spies say that Robb Stark has called the bannermen and is gathering an army outside Winterfell. In a day or two, he will march south with his army to help push the Lannisters out of the Riverlands. Bannermen who haven't already joined up with the army will do so throughout the march to the South." The Dragonborn looks up at his father who is looking at him in surprise. "Something to add, Lord Stark?"
Eddard looks at Jon and finds him to be someone different than he was a minute ago. The Jon before smiled and laughed with his compatriots, but now he has the appearance of a weathered war veteran. He even has the cold eyes of a man who knows he is going to be ordering men to their deaths. The fact that he has spies is also surprising, but not as much as it would have been if Ned hadn't spent time in King's Landing. "Apologies. I was just surprised to see you speak like a weathered strategist" he answered, honestly. From what little Jon has told him of his life in Tamriel, Ned knows that Jon is a member of the Companions and the College of Winterhold so he had thought that Jon would be an educated adventurer, so why does he look and sound like an experienced commander?
Teldryn snorts. "Jon obviously hasn't told you about the Stormcloak Rebellion" he chuckled.
Eddard frowns and looks between the group. "Stormcloak Rebellion?"
"Long story short, the Jarl of Windhelm, Ulfric Stormcloak attempted a rebellion which would see to the independance of Skyrim" told Aela. "After the Great War, the Empire signed the White-Gold Concordat which banned the worship of one of the Nine Divines, Talos. Most Nords didn't accept that and so many flocked to Ulfric to lead them to independence from the Empire who they believed has become a puppet to the Aldmeri Dominion." The Companion sees no reason to also point out how the Empire also allowed Thalmor Justiciars into Skyrim to enforce the ban of Talos worship.
Having been told of the Empire, Dominion and Skyrim, Ned Stark understands most of what Aela has told him. Unlike the Greyjoy Rebellion, the Nords seemed to have a good reason to rebel. If the Iron Throne attempted to ban the worship of the Old Gods, the entirety of the North would be up in arms. "I'm guessing the Rebellion ended in failure" he said, knowingly.
"It did and your son played a large part in that" answered Aela while nodding in Jon's direction. "General Tulius may have been in command of the Imperial Legion, but Jon was the one who won most of the Empire's victories in Skyrim. If not for him, I'd say the war would still be taking place as we speak with thousands more dying and suffering."
"That or it could have ended with either sides as victors" remarked Teldryn, knowing that without the Dragonborn, it would have taken a lot more time and resources for the Empire to quell the rebellion. "Stormcloaks never had a chance with Jon leading his soldiers into battle. Poor bastards" thought the Dunmer, feeling only a little sorry for the Stormcloaks who had faced off against Legate Jon Snow. The Dragonborn had earned a reputation throughout the war with the Stormcloaks.
A very ruthless reputation.
"Most of the time, I can't enter a tavern or inn without some bard singing tales about his victories" groaned Farkas, having grown sick and tired of the bards singing the same songs over and over again.
"Ignore him. Farkas is just jealous that none are singing tales about his accomplishments" said a grinning Aela, much to Farkas's ire.
"Do well in this war and that might just change" said Jon and none miss how Farkas looks at the map of Westeros with a thoughtful expression on his face.
An impressed Ned Stark looks at his son in a new light. "Jon's not even ten and nine, yet he's fought and led battles." Ned brushes a lone tear that drips from his right eye before anyone can see it. "Lyanna, if only you could see how Jon has grown."
"Enough of the past" said Jon, bringing everyone's attention back to the map of Westeros. "It's time we look towards the future and to do so, we must destroy the Lannisters." The confident, but cold tone that Jon uses when he says those words somewhat worries Eddard, but he keeps quiet for now. "Lord Stark, how many soldiers could Robb gather by the time he reaches the South?"
Ned Stark gazes over the North while making quick estimations in his head. "By the time he marches from Winterfell, he should have a force of ten thousand. I expect that number to have grown by at least five thousand once he arrives at Moat Cailin."
Serana gazes at the wolf figurine that's situated in the North before she looks at the lion figurine that is positioned in the Riverlands, alongside the trout figurine. "So the North has at least fifteen thousand marching to free the Riverlands. What about the Lannisters?" she asked Jon, wanting to know the numbers of their enemies.
The Vampire can tell the news isn't good once she sees him frown. "The Lannisters boast an army of thirty five thousand which has been split up into two hosts. One is led by Tywin Lannister who has been conquering much of the Riverlands and is now on his way to capture Harrenhal after closing off the Goldroad. The other host is led by Jaime Lannister who has recently defeated Lord Vance and Lord Piper at the Golden Tooth and is now marching onto Riverrun."
Eddard knew that the Lannisters had attacked the Riverlands, but he didn't expect the news to be so dire. "What of the Vale? Their knights could march into the Riverlands before the North does and take the Ruby Ford before Tywin blocks it off." It would also mean that if the Northern army can't cross the Twins for whatever reason, they can go around it by going through the Ruby Ford.
Jon's frown doesn't lessen as he answers his father. "House Arryn hasn't called their banners. It looks like they'll be keeping themselves out of the war."
Ned Stark looks at Jon in shock and disbelief. With Jon Arryn dead, his son, Robin is now Lord of the Eyrie and Warden of the East, but since he is still too young to rule, his mother, Lysa Arryn-Tully has been made Lady Regent of the Vale until he comes of age. "House Arryn isn't calling their bannermen? Surely Lysa isn't just going to lay down while the Lannisters siege her home?"
"Turns out that she does not care if the Lannisters set the Riverlands aflame and butcher her family" answered Jon, having been equally surprised when he found out from Vex that Lysa Arryn doesn't intend to send a single soldier to help free her ancestral home from the Lannisters. "Word is, the Lady Regent of the Vale isn't of sound mind these days."
"I've heard of that as well, but I never expected it would be bad enough to lead to this" answered Ned, looking over at the figurine of a falcon which rests almost mockingly on the Vale. "With the Vale, we could have routed the Lannisters out of the Riverlands within months. Without them, it could take us at least a year."
"So what you are saying is that we are most horribly outnumbered, is J'zargo correct?" asked the Khajiit.
"Exciting, isn't it?" chuckled Farkas, feeling his blood pumping over the battles which are to come.
"For now, we can do nothing but plan until we make it to White Harbour" told Jon, but nobody misses how he doesn't answer J'zargo's question which only confirms the Khajiit's worries. The Dragonborn looks up at his father. "We need every advantage we can get. During your time as Hand of the King, is there anything you have learned which could be of some use to us, father?"
Eddard can see the reasoning to Jon's question. As Hand of the King, he had been told discrete knowledge on the goings on of King's Landing, but as hard as he tries, he can't think of anything that might help the North against the Lannisters. However, Ned does remember something. "I'm not sure if you are already aware, but the Iron Throne is in deep debt, although I'm not sure if that helps us in any way."
Jon on the other hand is thinking of ways to use the Iron Throne's debt to their advantage, although he is struggling to come up with anything.
"How much in debt?" asked Serana while Jon is brooding.
"Six million gold dragons in debt."
Everyone, including Jon stare at the Lord of Winterfell in bewilderment. Teldryn actually coughs, having been so caught off guard by Eddard's answer that he accidentally forgets how to properly breathe.
"Six millions dragons!?" exclaimed Teldryn once he regains control of his breathing. "How in Oblivion does someone get six millions gold dragons in debt?"
"Obviously, Robert Baratheon" deadpanned Aela, having a good idea on what the previous King spent so much gold on.
"Who are they in debt with?" asked J'zargo.
"Half of it to the Lannisters and the other to the Iron Bank" answered Ned, understanding the shock of discovering that the Iron Throne is broke. He had been in disbelief as well when he discovered how broke the Iron Throne was, thanks to Robert constantly spending it on tourneys, drinks and women.
J'zargo actually chuckles, finding what Eddard said to be funny. "And now the Lannisters sit on the Iron Throne. What are they going to do, pay themselves back the three million?" chuckled the Khajiit with Farkas, Aela and Teldryn laughing with him.
Serana notices Jon's eyes widen ever so slightly before a smirk adorns his face. Not a playful smirk, but a devious one which means he has come up with something, nefarious. The Vampire smirks as well, eager to hear what plan Jon has come up with this time. Most of the time, his plans tend to be pretty good, if not risky at times. "You come up with something, Jon?"
"I think I have, but I'll wait till we arrive in White Harbour to explain it. Lord Manderly will be required for the plan" answered Jon. The Dragonborn looks down at the map of Westeros to continue planning. "For now, we continue to plan."
"Haven't we gone through what we can? It's as you said, all we can do is plan till we arrive in White Harbour" said Farkas with a quizzical gaze.
"We've planned for what to expect from the Vale, Riverlands, Westerlands and the North. We haven't discussed the other regions, like Dorne, the Reach and the Stormlands. From what I've heard, Renly Baratheon has recently declared himself King and has called his bannermen. He is also betrothed to Maergery Tyrell, giving him the Reach as well."
Ned frowns at the memory of how Renly Baratheon left him to face Cersei and Joffrey alone, because he wouldn't declare him King. Still, Ned knows that Renly is well liked among the Lords and Ladies, but he doesn't believe Renly has what it takes to be a good King. Whenever there's a dispute, Renly tries to make both parties happy which Ned knows from experience is impossible. There's always one side who gets less than the other which will only lead to more conflict. Of course, there's also the most obvious reason as to why Ned won't accept Renly as King, but it's Serana who points that out.
"How can he proclaim himself King? Even if all of King Robert's children aren't actually his own, then the heir of the Iron Throne would be Stannis Baratheon, would it not?" asked the Vampire, having more political experience and knowledge than everyone else in the room, combined.
"Aye. It hasn't stopped most of the Stormlands from answering his call, though" said Jon. "Most of the Lords have sworn their fealty to King Renly Baratheon and with his marriage to Maergery Tyrell, he now has the support of the Reach, giving him one hundred thousand men at his disposal."
The realization that Renly now has the largest army in Westeros manages to silence the room with the occupants exchanging nervous glances, specifically those from Tamriel who recall how the Aldmeri Dominion amassed an army of one hundred thousand soldiers which they planned to use to take over the Empire. It would have been the end of the Empire, if not for a certain Dragonborn and his small army of Dragons.
"That isn't good" Aela stated the obvious with a troubled expression.
"It isn't, but for now, we focus on pushing the Lannisters out of the Riverlands and focus on the Baratheon threat later"answered Jon, wanting to focus on the main threat first. Once they've pushed back the Lannisters and combine the might of the North and Riverlands, then they can decide on what to do with Renly.
Ned looks at the stag figurine that rests in the Stormlands before noticing the other by Dragonstone. "What news of Stannis do you have?" he asked, figuring that if most of the Storm Lords have sworn themselves to Renly, then Stannis must be lacking in numbers.
"Stannis Baratheon has at most, five thousand, but he also took half of the Royal Fleet with him, damaging the Lannister's power while also making himself powerful in the sea. At the moment, he is no threat to anyone" answered Jon, waving off Stannis Baratheon. True, Stannis does have a powerful fleet which makes him dangerous out on the sea, but it won't mean anything unless he has the men to fight on land.
"Stannis Baratheon is the rightful King. I plan to support his claim to the Iron Throne" told Eddard Stark, having decided that once he discovered Robert's children weren't his own.
Jon looks up at his father with no surprise, having suspected that he would support Stannis as it is the honourable thing to do. However, he needs to change his father's mind, since not only does Stannis Baratheon have the weakest army, but he has forsaken the New Gods and is now following an abnormal religion which won't make him popular among the other Houses in Westeros, no matter if they're from the South or of the North. "You intend to support Stannis?" Jon asked for confirmation.
"I do" nodded Ned. "As Robert's children are not of his blood, then that makes Stannis Baratheon King by right of succession."
"Then I take it that you haven't been aware of Stannis's recent change in religion, have you?" remarked Jon, knowing that if his father knew what Stannis has been doing in his new religion, he wouldn't be so quick to support him.
Ned frowns so to hide his shock over the fact that Stannis has forsaken the Faith of the Seven which won't make him popular among the Lords and Ladies of the South. Still, that doesn't shaken his support of Stannis, seeing as the North follows the Old Gods so they do not care if he no longer follows the New Gods. "Which religion has Stannis forsaken the New Gods for?"
"Stannis Baratheon now follows the Red God, R'hllor. That wouldn't be much of a problem, if not for the fact that he is now burning people alive as sacrifices to his new God" answered Jon, having found the report to be quite disturbing. To Jon, it sounds like R'hllor is more akin to a Daedric Prince than an actual God like the Nine Divines or the Old Gods. "He had even burnt Dragonstone's septa."
Everyone stares at Jon with a wide range of expressions, such as disgust, horror and indifference. Ned Stark himself cannot believe that someone like Stannis would burn people for some foreign God. It reminds the Lord of Winterfell far too much of Aerys Targaryen who had also burnt people, including Ned's own father. "If what you say is true, then I cannot place Stannis on the throne. It would just be the Mad King all over again."
Jon nods, having thought that someone as honourable as Eddard Stark wouldn't support a King who sacrifices people to the Red God. "In that case, we ignore Stannis for now and focus our attention on the Lannisters. Soon, the Lannisters will be spread too thin to deal with everyone and once that happens, a strong push from either side will break them."
Aela's sharp eyes spot the edges of Jon's lips twitch upwards once he mentions breaking the Lannisters. "He's excited about this war" she thought, remembering the various rumors she had heard about the Dragonborn while the civil war was nearing its end.
Having travelled with Jon on a few adventures across Skyrim, Aela has a good idea on what kind of person he is. Jon Snow is brave, smart, charismatic, a talented warrior and much more, but not once has she ever pegged him to be ruthless, although rumors across Skyrim say otherwise.
Usually, Aela doesn't much care for rumors, especially ones that were obviously made up by Stormcloak loyalists to make the Dragonborn look like a villainous monster in the eyes of the Nords, but some of the rumors she has heard also came from the lips of Imperial soldiers, many who had actually fought alongside Jon in the civil war. Unlike the obviously fake rumors made up by the Stormcloaks which say that Jon slaughters pregnant Nord women so he can drink the blood of their unborn children, Aela has heard from several trustworthy people, including Idolaf Battle-Born that Jon has a ruthless side to him when partaking in war.
Aela finds it hard to believe that someone as kind and honourable as Jon Snow would act ruthless. However, the Dragonborn's Wrath reminds the Companion that while Jon may be honourable, he is by no means innocent. None remain innocent for long when fighting in a war, but the lives lost during the civil war were nothing when compared to the one hundred thousand Dominion soldiers who were burnt to ash by a small army of Dragons that were led by the Dragonborn while he rode atop Odahviing.
As a proud Nord, Aela has no love for the Aldmeri Dominion and was delighted to hear that the Dragonborn's Wrath left the Dominion so weakened that they could no longer intimidate the Empire to do what they demanded, which led to the Thalmor being forced out of Skyrim and brought the return of worship to Talos. Many, including Aela herself give their thanks to Jon Snow who had saved both the Empire and the lives of thousands who would have surely died during the Second Great War.
However, while thousands celebrated the defeat of the Aldmeri Dominion and the return of Talos worship, Aela and some others couldn't ignore the amount of lives that Jon took that day.
Jon may have saved the Empire, but the blood of a hundred thousand Elves will forever taint him for the rest of his life.
With so much blood on him, Aela can't imagine the upcoming war will do anything to deter Jon Snow from keeping his family safe. If the Dragonborn is willing to take the lives of a hundred thousand men, just to keep the peace in the Empire, Aela can't even imagine what he will do to those who dare threaten the lives of the Starks.
Aela turns back to the map of Westeros and for a moment, she pictures it all aflame and staring down at the burning continent is Jon Snow, riding on the back of Odahviing. She closes her eyes to banish the image and while she does succeed in doing so, she can't ignore it. If he has to burn all of Westeros to see his family live, Aela can imagine Jon doing so without a second thought.
"The Lannisters best make peace with their Gods. They'll be seeing them soon enough."
Jon's Skill Levels:
One-Handed (100) - You know what's better than a sword?
Two-Handed (100) - An even bigger sword!
Archery (40) - Load, point and shoot a crossbow. It isn't that hard.
Block (30) - Why use a shield when you can just use another sword?
Light Armour (100) - The winner is always the one who moves the fastest.
Heavy Armour (85) - Heavy, but safe.
Smithing (100) - Eorlund Grey-Mane would be proud.
Sneak (100) - By the time you hear me, you'll already be dead.
Lockpicking (60) - Won't be opening any steel doors anytime soon.
Pickpocket (40) - Does it count if I pickpocket a corpse?
Speech (90) - Why fight when we can just talk?
Alchemy (75) - Potions and Poisons for rnay circumstance.
Enchanting (50) - Probably better to just pay for the enchantment.
Alteration (100) - Reality is my plaything.
Restoration (80) - Can heal all, but the most fatal of injuries.
Destruction (75) - BOOM!
Conjuration (35) - Does Westeros really need anymore zombies?
Illusion (60) - Want to see a magic trick?