Daegon Rivers fought.
Terror had spread across Westeros for many years. When King Maegor took the throne a terrible shadow was cast across the realm. The cruelty of Maegor's reign would likely be told for many centuries to come. An awful man, but awful men often provided opportunities. Opportunities that Daegon was determined to capitalise on.
Daegon was born the son of Gargon the Guest. An infamous man, known well as 'The Guest' due to his penchant for abusing the right of the first night. House Qoherys had ruled at Harrenhal since the Conquest. The Guest's bastards were prevalent across those lands. Daegon had never been officially recognised by Gargon but his parentage was well known. His purple eyes and silver hair were all the proof he needed.
When Rogar Baratheon declared for Prince Jaehaerys, now King Jaehaerys I. Daegon left his home by Harrenhal to join the war effort. He had always desired to elevate himself from his unclaimed bastard status. Not only was he an unclaimed bastard, but one of many spawned by the reviled Gargon the Guest. A knighthood seemed a fine place to start.
His thoughts drifted to his son. A queer boy of ten-and-three years, fond of swordplay and words and sayings that seemed almost foreign to him. Daegon thought this a symptom of his mother's death by fever some years ago, a coping mechanism developed by the young lad. Saying goodbye to Aelon had been a difficult thing, but sacrifices must be made on the path to greatness. He would return to his boy as a knight and give him the life that had been denied to him.
Daegon Rivers served.
Dark clouds were gathered about the field near Rosby that was destined to be the location of the battle. Thousands of men lined up to throw themselves against each other in a deadly and macabre frenzy of blood and steel to decide who sat upon the iron throne. It had been a moon's turn since Daegon first joined the host and they had marched far and wide. Daegon was lucky enough to not be located in the front line of infantrymen, fodder as they were for charging knights of the Cruel. He was a few lines deep, reasonably close to the guard of Lord Baratheon.
The men on the side of Jaehaerys were constantly looking overhead, terrified at the mere thought of the Black Dread and its fiery wrath. All had heard the story of the Field of Fire. Though it appeared that thus far the dreaded Balerion was absent from the battle. A fact all were thankful for, numbers meant little in the face of Dragonfire.
The Cruel had only been able to muster an army of some four thousand men drawn primarily from the crownlands and they did not do much to stand in the way of the army of Jaehaerys.
It was an exceptional chance of fate that would see Daegon seize his opportunity for greatness. The famous Darkrobin, a legendary but aging knight of the Kingsguard. The only surviving member of the Conqueror's original guard, of particular renown for his martial ability and zealous loyalty, had managed to stab his sword into the thigh of Lord Rogar Baratheon. Daegon burst forward with a speed he did not know he possessed as he parried with his shield the Knights' blow that would have pierced the Storm Lord's neck.
Despite his fear, he smiled as he traded blows with the ferocious Darklyn knight. Saving the life of the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and cousin to the King would see him rewarded beyond his wildest dreams. The downed Baratheon, despite his injury, in a display of the fury and grit his House was renowned for, pulled free a dirk and lodged it firmly into the Darkrobin's calf. Daegon pressed forward and the tired, injured knight fell to his sword.
Until the blade of an unseen opponent emerged from his throat. Bloodstained the cold steel. The light in his indigo eyes faded as his lifeblood fed the grass. As darkness filled his vision, his last thoughts turned to his son and he prayed to the Seven that his son would succeed where he had failed.
Daegon Rivers breathed his last.
A guard wearing the livery of House Baratheon rode across the vast plains of the Riverlands. As his eyes roamed over the bountiful fields and multitude of rivers cutting across lush green plains, he could not help but feel that it was perhaps the most beautiful of the realm's Kingdoms.
With the blue sky above him accompanied by soft sounds of water trickling through the many rivers and streams, it was easy to forget that war had only ended a few short weeks ago. Though to call such a minor conflict a true war would be a fallacy. The kingship of Westeros had been decided with a single bloody battle. The cruel king had not even made a showing, having stayed in King's Landing to slit his wrists on the many barbs of his throne.
A fitting end for a bastard of a man hated by all and loved by none.
The guard was working his way towards a small village near Harrenhal castle. His orders were simple, having been given to him by the Hand of the King in person.
Find and deliver a missive and accompanying documents to a boy named Aelon, son of Daegon and escort him back to Storm's End.
The man sighed as he steered his horse away from the stream. He hoped he would get to the village soon, a hot dinner along with a mug of ale would be much appreciated.
Sitting atop his horse once more, he continued his trek across the beating heart of Westeros. On the tenth day of his travels, he rode into the unnamed settlement in search of a bed and a meal. He would find the silver-haired lad in the morning.
My entrance into this world had been the thing of nightmares. Passing through the Aether, I could recall little except the turning, twisting and spinning in a seemingly endless void. Those were the only feelings available to my absent mind as I flew through clouds and sinking blackness. I could recall little of how I left my previous life, the memories foggy and cloudy. Their absence perhaps indicated I would not want to remember them.
I had awoken in the body of a boy shortly after his eighth birthday. Disoriented and scared I had been reclusive for most of the years following. It had taken me an embarrassingly long time to work out where exactly I was and the implications of such.
Turning my attention back to the situation at hand, a bead of sweat slowly rolled down my brow as I worked the forge, hammering metal into the shape of a knife. I frowned in concentration. I had taken an apprenticeship with the local blacksmith a year ago. In this unforgiving world, every man needs a trade. As I lifted the hammer to bend the steel once more, I was startled by a shout.
"Aelon!" I heard.
I half turned around just as the hammer came down, unfortunately ruining my thumb in the process. I let out a high pitched shout and dropped the hammer, feeling curses fly freely as I pulled the damaged appendage to my chest.
"A heavy hammer for one so young." A deep voice announced, bringing back my attention to the intruder.
I turn around ready to lay into the unwanted guest, only to have my words die on my lips. A rather plain-faced man wearing a helm and a shirt of mail with the stag of Baratheon emblazoned proudly upon a leather brigandine. He stood with a raised brow and a wry smile on his lips. A treacherous thought acknowledges that he cuts a rather intimidating sight. Living in such a backwater village does not expose one to many soldiers. There were guards of course but none that I had ever spoken to.
I frowned at the man, "I wield it well enough."
The man looked tired and in desperate need of a bath as most people were in this infernal world. I grimaced in pain as my poor finger throbbed.
He chuckled, "That I can see. Might you be Aelon? I was told I might find him at the forge."
I frowned. Who would know my name and more importantly, why would a man of the Baratheons' be interested in me?
Nervously I replied, "That would be me."
The man grunted his acknowledgement as he pulled a roll of paper out of his pack. He looked up as he passed it to me.
"Hope you can read, boy." I held the scroll lightly in my hand, dribbling blood from my throbbing finger across it. Turning it round I see the stag of House Baratheon pressed into the red wax seal.
Slowly nodding in affirmation at his question. Learning the Westerosi common tongue had not been the challenge I had expected, it shared many commonalities with English. It was more like an older dialect than a completely different language.
I popped the seal and started to scour its contents, eyebrows slowly rising.
To Aelon, son of Daegon Rivers,
I inform you with regret that your father has passed fighting bravely against the forces of the treacherous King Maegor. Daegon saved my life during the battle, and for that, I owe him a debt. A debt that cannot be paid to him. As his only son, it is to you his reward now falls to.
I have decided that the only payment I could give for my life is a lordship in the Stormlands. Once you have received this letter make your way to Storm's End, my castellan will have you directed to your lands. Take care of this letter as it is proof of your identity. Adrian who delivered this message will escort you.
Lord Rogar Baratheon,
Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and Hand of the King.
My father was dead, a bastard son of the well-known rapist that was Gargon the Guest. I couldn't claim he was an excellent father figure, but I had grown fond of him during my time in this world. The conditions most lived in here hardly created kind men, and I had forgiven him for his short temper. He could hardly be any worse than others in Westeros. Though his death has indeed brought glad tidings.
I was now a Lord, what an incredible stroke of luck that is. I had resigned myself to a life of poverty just the same as any other smallfolk. The only way I had even considered elevating myself was becoming a merchant with the silver I make at the forge, a half baked plan at best.
I walked into the forge and wiped the sweat off my brow with a wet cloth before looking into the bucket. My appearance still shocks me even after three years. As the grandson of the infamous Gargon Qoherys, Lord of Harrenhal. I bore the purple eyes and silver hair of Old Valyria. I was not one prone to vanity but I am a strikingly handsome boy and rather tall for my age as well.
I remember the soldier who was waiting to escort me.
"Well then, guess you have to call me Lord Aelon now eh? I'll pack my things to get ready for our journey." I smirked as he furrowed his brow.
"Nice try boy. I serve Lord Baratheon." Effectively wiping the smirk off my face. The soldier walked in the direction of the Inn.
"Can I at least get the name of the man I will be travelling with?" I called after him.
"Adrian!" He grumbled over his shoulder.
I have a long way to travel.
Travelling by horseback is exhausting, boring and time-consuming. A shame there are no other options in Westeros. Each kingdom was the size of a large country back on Earth. Reading the books doesn't give you any real idea about the fucking size of Westeros. After two weeks of travelling with my ever stern guard, whom I now knew was named Adrian, we could finally see Storm's End standing proud on the horizon.
It was a truly gargantuan structure, especially considering the primitive building techniques present in Westeros. Such things just shouldn't have been possible. Durran's construction was still impressive even after living next to the monstrosity that was Harrenhal for the past three years.
Adrian and I rode through the gates of Storm's End and into the outer yard. A stable boy is quick to walk up to us and we hand the reins over.
I looked around, somewhat unsure of what to do. Everywhere there was activity. The sound of a hammer on an anvil beckoned to me as I had greatly enjoyed my time in the forge before I left my village. Guards patrolled the outer walls with the proud stag emblazoned on their chests. Adrian beckons and begins walking to the inner keep and I had to jog to catch up with him.
"Ever been here before Adrian?" I asked.
"Yes, my Lord. I was born not far from here and only entered the service of House Baratheon shortly before I was sent to find you. The Lord needed more guards who had not previously served under King Maegor." His mouth twisted as he said the honorific. A pleasant man Adrian was not. Though whether that was from the stress of dealing with a precocious young lad or just because he was a cunt, I was unsure.
The gates of the inner keep were soon in my sight and the guards blocked our path.
"Who might you be?" The guard appears to be young with a rather high pitched voice.
"I am Adrian, a member of Lord Baratheon's guard. The boy has been summoned to speak with the Castellan." Announced Adrian with a deep rumble.
Adrian waved me forward and I presented my letter from Lord Baratheon. The guard, who I assumed couldn't read, just looked at the seal and nodded before handing it back to me.
The guard took a step back, "The castellan is in the highest tower, present that letter to the guards at the entrance and you will be allowed through, my Lord."
Adrian turns to me, "You will go alone from here. I wish you well." He announced before turning around and marching off before I could even say farewell. The part of me which still expected 21st Century customs was anguished at the idea of a thirteen-year-old being left alone in a strange castle. The part of me that had grown accustomed to Westeros was glad for the freedom.
I was sad to see him go, as unpleasant as he was sometimes he helped me a lot on the way here. Mustering my courage, I looked around for the tallest tower and walked towards it.
Presenting my papers to the guards at the doors, I ascended the tower and was allowed entrance into the Castellan's solar. Adrian had informed me that the Castellan was a Ser Bruce Buckler. A man from a cadet branch of the ancient house I remembered from reading the books. Small talk with the guard on the way up taught me that Buckler had been Castellan of Storm's End for over ten years and was a man in his late fifties. One of the very few men left who still remembered the Storm Kings of House Durrandon before they were struck down by the Conqueror.
I found him sitting at his desk with stacks of paperwork that would make any bureaucrat cringe. Grey hair with streaks of black was combed back in a wave as they revealed a face with enough wrinkles to make a septuagenarian jealous. In a world where most people died before the age of fifty, his age was a testament to his experience and competence. No man served as Castellan to a Lord paramount for over a decade unless he was truly competent.
The stress of the job showed though as he looked a decade older than he was, I thought.
I walked into his view. He didn't appear to notice me immediately, continuing to scribble on what appeared to be a letter. Considering the best path forward, I decided that I should wait for him to speak first. Until the papers are sorted out, I was just a second-generation Qoherys bastard.
A full minute passes and he still doesn't look up from his writing. I brought my fist to my mouth, the purple bruise still sitting proudly on my thumb flickering into view, and cleared my throat.
Ser Bruce startles and his eyes meet mine.
"Ah," he coughs, "I am quite sorry about that lad. What is it you need?"
I placed my letter on his desk in front of him and watched him read it. His eyes narrowing slightly as he looks up to scrutinise me with a piercing gaze.
"So, you are Aelon, son of Daegon?" He sounded tired, I guess sitting in an office doing paperwork all day would do that to a person. Ser Buckler looked down his nose at me. I was still a thirteen-year-old despite being tall for my age after all.
"I am, Ser," I mumbled.
Ser Buckler gave me a kind smile as he finished, a rather patronising smile but then again, I was only meant to be thirteen, not a man with a combined age of thirty-two.
"Let us get to it then. You are here to determine a few things about your new House. Firstly, do you have any idea what name you will take and what your sigil will be?"
I scrunched my eyebrows together as I thought. What is the point of having lived another life if you can't appropriate ideas? For as long as I could remember I had loved Roman history. Perhaps a golden tree? Gold on black seemed like a nice set of colours to go with.
The golden tree would make a nice sigil. Simple seemed to be the best way to go considering the sigil will have to be stitched or carved onto a lot of my possessions and banners around whichever lands I am being given.
I am unsure of what name to take though. Many houses take names from things prevalent in or around their lands, perhaps I should do the same?
I spoke in as strong a voice as I could manage. "I would like my sigil to be a gold tree on a field of black. I am unsure of the name however, might I enquire what lands I am to be given to help me make my decision?"
Buckler's eyes widened.
"Well aren't you a precocious lad! I will mark down your decision of a sigil. As for your lands, the village of Eastwood north from here on the coast is to be your seat. There is a modest keep there atop a hill. The previous lord of those lands died during the Conquest nearly fifty years ago and the lands have been administered by a Castellan reporting to Storm's End directly ever since. With the news of your elevation, he has been removed and the Maester has taken over his duties."
Trying not to come across as older than I am, has always been difficult. Being a man in a child's body is bloody hard. Keeping up a child's act forever is exhausting and after I made a few mistakes I decided to discard the idea. It wasn't worth the hassle just to appear normal.
Eastwood. I guess that would be my new name then.
Looking up at him I explain, "I will take Eastwood for my House name then if that is to be my seat."
Bruce nodded and jotted it down on the parchment in front of him. "Lord Aelon Eastwood, then, as fine a choice as any. What of your House words?"
I could feel the smile slip onto my face, from the blacksmith's apprentice to a Lord. It is highly likely that no matter what words I came up with. They will still be cheesy. Well, I may as well be known as a doer.
I settled for, "Deeds, not words."
After that was dealt with he spent a few minutes explaining to me the primary details of my new lands and its various resources before he politely dismissed me and I made my way to the temporary chambers I had been assigned. All in all, I thought it had gone pretty well.
I had a lot to think about.
I sat at one of the middle tables of Storm's End that night, amongst frivolity and wealth that I hadn't seen since before entering Westeros. Plates of various exotic meats and poultry sat on the table with jugs of Arbor Gold and Dornish Red which were consumed with gusto.
I ate and enjoyed it immensely. Having been used to the culinary delicacies of the modern world, one of the most jarring changes in this new world had been the threadbare sustenance of that which passed for meals for smallfolk. Eating well prepared, sumptuous meals after so many years nearly brought tears to my eyes, though I avoided alcohol. The body of a thirteen-year-old isn't made for drinking, though I did note that none at the table would think it strange if I did decide to consume wine, a strange enough thought in itself.
I found myself seated next to a rather boring old knight who sat wordlessly with a blank stare. I figured he was either very drunk or had been dropped on his head as a baby. We ate in silence, for which I was thankful.
Ser Borys Baratheon, younger brother and heir to Lord Rogar Baratheon was noticeably missing from the feast. Upon enquiring I had surmised that the man in question, who would, if I remembered correctly, go on to instigate the Third Dornish War, was frequently missing from Storm's End and remiss in performing his duties as Heir.
Considering current events, the sudden turnaround of my new life was enough to leave my head spinning. Great plans were quickly developed and discarded as I considered my newfound fortune. An hour or two passed sitting. I turned my gaze towards the Court as various Nobles drank, danced and made merry, consuming enough liquor and food to feed the village I came from several times over, completely unaware or uncaring of the plight of the smallfolk that worked day and night and were still unable to put food on their tables. It was at this point that I decided to never forget my roots in this world. That my humble beginnings as the bastard of a bastard were not entirely left behind.
I continued watching people until one man, in particular, caught my eye. The only man at the feast who stood at the side wearing a full set of plate armour, only missing a helm. His armour was unadorned and bore no sigil that I could see. A jagged scar crested his face from jaw to brow, making him look a good decade older than he would otherwise. I continued to stare until his gaze met mine and I looked away.
It was at the end of the feast that the Castellan got my attention.
The wizened man smiled at me before clicking his fingers at a servant. "Lord Aelon, I have somewhat of a welcome gift for you."
The servant carried over a black banner, as it unfurled I saw a pretty accurate recreation of the golden tree that I had requested, underneath was stitched 'Deeds, not Words' the house motto that I had chosen.
I couldn't fight the grin that spread across my lips. "That's excellent Ser, thank you!"
The old man smiled, "I am glad you like it. I have arranged something else for you as well. Ser Morden!"
The same scarred man that had caught my eye earlier marched forward and my eyes widened.
Ser Bruce continued, "This is Ser Morden Storm, son of Walter Brownhill."
Ser Morden stepped forward, "Lord Aelon if you will have me, I would swear myself to your service."
I smiled. This was a rather obvious plot by Ser Buckler to keep an eye on me, considering my lands are rather close to Storm's End. Yet still, it couldn't be too bad. Every lord needs knights and every man has his price.
"Of course, Ser. I would be glad to accept your sword." Westeros was definitely a place valuing courtly showmanship and flowery words, I would have to work on that.
After the feat had ended and I lay half-asleep in the most comfortable bed I had experienced since my tumble through realities. This new life looked to be finally turning around.
A/N: So here we are with the first chapter of the rewrite. Successive chapters will be posted in new entries so the comments don't get too confusing.
Special thanks to my new beta/co-writer Brentwist who has been doing some amazing work with me to make this story reach its potential. Also thanks to Speedster who has been helping with editing. Hope you guys enjoy it and I will be posting once per week from now on.