Jon weaved his swords around him in quick strokes and swipes using his wrist to twist and turn the two Valyrian Steel swords. He had found that he was not very good with using dual swords for his previous aggressive style. But when he delegated one sword for defence while the other for attack his moves flowed smoothly like water.
Even with that small breakthrough in the new style, he was developing he knew the best way to wielding dual swords was by switching the roles of his sword hands alternatively in a fight. It was the best way to keep the opponent guessing and unlike the usual styles the Westerosi knights use, speed and precision was the key for dual-wielding. He was barely scratching the surface at this point but taking up a new hobby somewhat helped to keep his mind engaged not to mention he was preparing for the wars to come. While he did have the same instincts and muscle memory before his death he felt that a change in style was more than welcome especially considering the wars that are yet to come.
Speaking of wars he has been communicating with Rhaegal now and then. Now that he knew what the dragon was capable of he could shield his mind properly from Rhaegal's influence by controlling his own memories. He had found that pushing music into their psychic bond was the best way to distract the dragon. Rhaegal was very fond of songs and that kept the green dragon happy enough to follow the chart he was setting up for the dragon.
Right now Rhaegal was out of Slaver's Bay and taking rest at the edge of the Painted Mountains. The plan was for Rhaegal to fly through the Dothraki Sea straight for Andalos. From there the dragon could reach the Braavosi coastlands and then Rhaegal will have to cross the Narrow sea to the mountain of Vale. Then Rhaegal will have to fly over to the Fingers and finally, he will arrive at Ramsgate. This was the rough travel plan Jon had come up with and he knew that speaking of it was simple but accomplishing what amounted to an intercontinental flight was going to be really tough and slow.
Using Rhaegal against the Boltons was his plan B and plan A relied on something much more complicated. He was training himself for that plan as he was not going to let Ramsay Snow kill Rickon. The North truly needs a Stark to rally around and Jon has ambitions in the South rather than be pinned down in Winterfell.
Jon continued to train for a few more minutes before he decided to call it a day. He then decided to train with his warging powers a bit. While he was doing very much a good job in taking partial control of Rhaegal by Brynden's admission the possibilities of his warging powers were endless.
According to Brynden the fact that Jon could warg partially with Rhaegal even with the aid of Weirwood trees was a sign of his warging powers. Brynden attributed the increase in power to the way that Jon was resurrected from death and the exposure his blood had to such a phenomenon. Whatever the cause maybe he was not going to complain about the power boost he received.
Jon sat down on the ground and took a deep breath and pushed out his consciousness from his body. Without the Weirwood trees to amplify and focus his power he felt like he was floating in a strong wind but thankfully he managed to latch on to a raven not far from his position. His vision slowly cleared and now he could see through the raven's eyes.
Fly, Jon commanded and the raven flew from the branch of a tree. He directed the raven further south and it was then that he encountered another raven. Just as Brynden instructed he tried to split his consciousness that was already embedded in the first raven and latched into the second raven. The raven wobbled for a time and almost crashed into a tree but before that happened Jon managed to gain full control and the raven joined the other one in the air. Similarly, he tried this with more birds until his concentration broke at five.
"Five is not a bad number but I can do better." Jon said to himself before he once again warged.
After some time he grew tired of warging and stopped it altogether. Brynden had warned him that repeatedly warging may cause serious harm to one's mental fortitude. That was the last thing Jon needed so he took some much-needed break. That doesn't mean that he was going to stay idle. Rather than waste his time he went straight to find Ser Davos. He found the man watching the brothers of the Night's Watch train in the courtyard of Castle Black.
As Jon approached the former Hand of King Stannis he noted that Melisandre was observing them both from the opposite end of the courtyard.
"I thought you would be travelling South, Jon?" Ser Davos asked as he leaned on the railing.
"Aye, but only with an army which is why I have come to you." said Jon as he joined Davos to observe his former brothers train.
"Well, you have come to the wrong person lad. As you can see I have no army and the only one that I marched with was broken by the Boltons." Davos shrugged but looked at Jon askance.
"You may not have an army Ser Davos but you do have ships docked on Eastwatch. They are still docked on the bay and if they follow you I would like to use them." said Jon and waited for Davos to answer.
"I thought with Stannis dead the fleet would have sailed back to Dragonstone?" Davos asked in surprise.
"But how will they know about King Stannis when they are isolated in Eastwatch? So far, no ravens have flown from Castle Black since Maester Aemon has passed. In the absence of King Stannis will they follow your command?" Jon asked and Davos was silent for some time as the smuggler turned Knight pondered in silence.
"I might be able to convince some of them but I am telling ya it won't be much. I really hate to say this but most of those men in the fleet are fanatics and they would listen more to the red woman than me." said Davos as he glared at Melisandre who was slowly making her way over to them by climbing the steps.
"My lady." Jon nodded in her direction seeing as he knew that she will be very useful in the coming campaign as well as what was about to follow.
"You have changed Jon Snow. Previously, I could barely feel your presence but now it is almost as if looking at a bright lone star in the night sky. The Lord has given his blessings to you once you returned from the other side." said Melisandre as she walked around Jon in a circle observing him to the ire of Davos who was grinding his teeth quite hardly. Jon had the distinct impression that Ser Davos picked that habit from Stannis.
"I do not know about any gods my lady. There was nothing at the other end when I died. There were no Old Gods, the Drowned God, the Seven Gods or even the Red God. I do not claim to be well versed in divine matters but I think the gods would not care what we mortals do in the world. If we have to do something then it has to be done with our own two hands rather than depend on any gods." said Jon who still remained a sceptic even after what happened.
As far as he was concerned he would believe in any god when said God was standing right in front of him. Till that day he would not believe in them. Even when he was before the Weirwood trees he knew there were no gods watching over anyone but the trees do give off some level of comfort and they enhanced his power which was a win-win.
"Even when you do not believe the Lord watches over us, Jon Snow. Why do you think the Lord brought you back? You have a part to play in the Great War that is coming, Jon Snow. You are the Prince that was Promised." Said Melisandre and Jon could see that Davos was about to come up with a clever retort.
Before that happened Jon talked over Davos. "Aye, we all need to work together if we are to fight the Walkers. I do not know about the gods but I know we need more men than the Night's Watch or the Free Folk can field. We need more than the North to even have a chance against the Night King. He has a hundred thousand dead men marching in his army. Probably more if we consider all the dead beasts North of the Wall. We need the armies of the Seven Kingdoms to stand a chance but first, we need the North. So long as the Boltons rule from Winterfell the Northern Lords will never unite under their banners. I am sure they are already planning to wipe out the Free Folk settled in the Gift. Before the Boltons can muster their strength I want to attack them and take Winterfell. The only way I can do that is with the Wildlings as well as the support from other Northern Houses. Marching through winter all the way from the Wall is suicide but with the fleet in Eastwatch that won't be necessary. I was hoping you and Ser Davos might be able to convince the captains of the ship to transport the army to White Harbour when the time comes."
Melisandre exchanged a hesitant look with Davos but in the end, she nodded which made Jon let out a silent sigh of relief.
"If we are going to do this we need to ride today itself." said Davos starting at Melisandre meaningfully.
"I will be ready Ser Davos." Melisandre nodded carefully.
"I know you don't have to do this but thank you Ser Davos." Jon quickly added before Davos walked away.
"It is as you said. No one can hide out from this war and if I can play my part in some small way then I will." said Davos and with a nod, he was on his way to prepare for the journey.
"I suspect you have something to ask of me, Jon Snow. Do ask what you desire and if it is within my power then I shall help in any way I can." said Melisandre who was now facing Jon completely and he was giving her undivided attention.
"I have a plan to deal with the Night King and I need your help to strike the killing blow so to speak. I shall explain my plan and you only need to agree if you are comfortable with my plan. What do you say?" Jon asked and he was not surprised by Melisandre's enthusiastic nod. So Jon began to explain his plan in detail.
It only took less than one hour for Ser Davos to arrange the horses and the necessary provisions. It was going to take at least two days for them to ride to Eastwatch and that was all the time he needed to convince the Free Folk. Jon had to make sure that he had the support of the Free Folk before Sansa arrives which was going to be sooner rather than later as he had observed Sansa and her two companions via the Weirwood trees. They were closing in on Castle Black and that made Jon accelerate his own plans. Jon took a horse and rode out of Castle Black for the Gift to speak with the leaders of the Free Folk.
As he rode into the camp the Free Folk had managed to raise together he was greeted with some respectful nods and in the extreme case with a disinterested frown. As far as first impressions go Jon thought he was doing fine. When he saw Tormund he stopped his horse and dismounted quickly.
"I was about to visit ya myself." said Tormund as a way of greeting.
"For what?" Jon asked curiously
"Some of the men saw the Southerners scouting out our camp at nights. Know anything about that?" Tormund asked and that news made Jon perk up. He had not known there were scouts this far north but he should have guessed.
"Most probably from House Umber and that's the reason I am here as well. I need to speak with all your leaders." said Jon to a surprised Tormund but the giant of a man agreed without any protest.
A few minutes later Jon was standing with a group of Free Folk around a vastly lit fire even as the snow fell around them.
"The scouts that your people encountered were from House Umber. They have a lot of grievances against the Free Folk and that makes them a dangerous enemy. Already, they have joined forces with Boltons and Karstarks and they are planning to march here to slaughter every last one of us." said Jon and the various leaders of the clans let out a strung of curses. Jon decided to plough on ahead before the situation gets out of hand.
"I had hoped that Stannis would be able to defeat the Boltons and unite the Northern Lords. If that had happened then Stannis would have ensured that we would be safe here as he believed that the threat to the North is real. With the Boltons in power that is not the case. They will attack and slaughter all of us unless..." Jon trailed off as he exchanged a worried glance with Tormund.
"Unless we destroy the Boltons first. He wants us to fight the Boltons in the south." said Tormund with a hard stare and Jon was for a moment filled with doubt but he speared on regardless of the consequences.
"I know this is not the deal that we made. I shouldn't be asking you to fight but if we don't strike now we will never again have the chance. Other Northern houses will not declare for the Boltons for now but if we wait too long they will force other reluctant houses to march on the Wall. If that happens we will be dead or worse, well before the Others get past the Wall." said Jon and the Free Folk leaders murmured amongst themselves.
"There were more than a hundred thousand Free Folk when we followed Mance and look at us now. If we fight this battle what will become to the rest of us?" Dalba sceptically asked and Jon really did understand their concerns.
His eyes found Wun-Wun, the only surviving giant among the Free Folk. It was a pity that the giants will die out with Wun-Wun unless nature stepped in and restored the balance. The same was true for the Free Folk who would be risking everything to fight for him in Winterfell. At least, that was their thought and he was not going to divulge his plans despite making them think they were going to die because he knew at the end of the day fortune will favour him and it did in the form of Tormund.
The giant of a man pointed straight ant a Jon and said, "He spoke for us when nobody else would in Castle Black. He died for us and if we are not ready to do the same for him then we are cowards. If this battle is our last one then so be it. Better to die than be a coward." Tormund growled fiercely and that left the Free Folk in awkward silence. But that was broken when Wun-Wun stood up.
"Snow." Wun-Wun nodded and that was the final nail so to speak. Jon now possessed the army that he needed but had one more thing to do.
"I need some thirty good men to be ready by tomorrow evening." Jon requested
"What do you need them for?" Tormund asked curiously.
"I am going to take a castle." Jon responded briefly but refused to explain further and at that exact moment Sansa, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne slowly trotted into the camp upon their horses.
Upon seeing Jon, Sansa jumped down from her horse and ran into his arms hiding her fiery head in his wide chest. Jon could feel the relieved sobs let out by his cousin and he vowed that Ramsey would suffer and all the Northern lords that stood back and watched from the side-lines will be put in their place for good. If there was one thing he hated more in this world and the previous world then that was a rapist and all those silent accomplices.
Sansa Stark stared into the cackling fire reminiscing about her life in Winterfell before she stupidly went south. She was really a stupid little girl back then and she was cruel as well to her siblings especially Arya and Jon. Looking back at her life all she had was regret. She had a beautiful and loving family but her selfishness and stupidity destroyed her entire family. If only she had not tattled off to the Queen about her father's plan then she would still have had her family.
A shiver came to her right hand at the thought that she was responsible for her father's death. It was as if she had swung the sword instead of Ilyn Payne outside the Sept of Baelor. From there on out she was beaten, humiliated, sold off like a broodmare, abused, tormented and raped. It was then that she truly understood her father's lessons. When winter comes the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.
The true meaning has always been to depend on and trust only her own family but she never held her family in high regard and that was why she felt nothing when she sold out her father to Cersei Lannister. When she betrayed her father she betrayed the entire pack and now look at the state of House Stark. Robb and her mother murdered by sworn bannermen of House Stark, Bran and Rickon are nowhere to be found but she hoped they are here at the Wall.
But seeing as she had neither seen nor heard about them from Jon so far reignited her fears once more. Arya was nowhere to be found but according to Lady Brianne, her little sister was travelling with the Hound. The only sibling that she could turn to for protection was sitting right beside her rubbing soothing circles on her back like her father used to do when she was upset or angry.
She leaned into Jon and almost felt like a little girl all over again feeling home. She couldn't control the tears that slipped past her eyes at the thought of home. She didn't deserve a home, she didn't deserve Jon, a brother that she hardly knew because of her own stupid prejudices.
Sansa had grown up learning about how bastards were sinful creatures but Septa Mordane was wrong. Her mother was wrong, the seven gods were wrong. All of them were wrong because when she looked at Jon all she could see was someone who would do anything to protect her. He was her brother and she was his sister. Now she knew the value of family and that bonds that would last through the ages relied on family. No one else could be trusted and she could have avoided all that happened if only she was like Arya. She hiccupped lightly at the thought of wanting to be more like her younger sister Arya.
"What's the matter, Sansa?" Jon asked and his smooth voice pulled her out of the depressing hole that she was digging herself into.
"Nothing - I was just thinking about how I would have preferred to be like Arya." Sansa laughed awkwardly as she discretely rubbed her eyes so that Jon won't see her tears.
"So what! You want to hound me to teach you how to fight with a sword, fire arrows and fight in epic battles?" Jon asked with a laugh and Sansa couldn't help but join. There were few things she could laugh about in her life and all of that was about her family. It was a testament to how much she suffered when she lost her family.
"Well I wouldn't know how to fight but I would settle for being a decent sister for one. I should have been like Arya and treated you better but I was horrible to you and her." Sansa pulled into herself once again as the memories of her childhood surfaced.
"You were a child Sansa. I have never felt that you treated me or Arya horribly." said Jon and Sansa threw him an incredulous look.
"Well maybe you could have been a little kinder to Arya but you never treated me horribly. The fondest memories I have are from Winterfell with you, Arya, Bran, Rickon and Robb. No matter what, I wouldn't change anything from our childhood." said Jon with a happy smile and Sansa wondered how her brother could possibly be happy with their shared childhood. She could still remember the subtle ways she and her mother snubbed Jon. She could still hear the sharp insults Septa Mordane would unleash on Jon even when he was present.
"Don't look so surprised sister. The last few years on the Wall has taught me to appreciate how blessed I was compared to other less fortunate people. At the very least I had full bellies even in the harshest of winters. Many of my sworn brothers never had seen a decent meal in their entire life. Compared to that my woes are minuscule and inane." said Jon and Sansa marvelled at how changed her brother has become in the years after he left for the Wall.
"If I had the chance I would have changed so much. For one I would have been a better sister to you and don't lie to make me comfortable Jon. I was horrible to you and Arya. I belittled everything about the North and never truly grasped our father's lessons about the pack. I betrayed-" Sansa clamped her mouth shut instantly as she almost spilt her biggest secret. She bit the inside of her lips and she could feel the coppery taste of her own blood. She was broken out of her stupor when Jon wrapped his hands around her and hugged her closely.
"You don't have to say anything Sansa. I know what you speak of and you shouldn't blame yourself. Even if you hadn't told Cersei Lannister about father's plans she would have known one way or another. He was already being watched by three sets of spies and at that time Cersei was not his biggest enemy." said Jon and she stiffened in fright. 'How? How could Jon know about that? She had never told anyone about this ever!' Sansa was now afraid and she felt as if a block of ice was forming in her stomach.
"You don't have to be afraid, Sansa. You were a little girl taught only to sew, sing songs and dance. Courtly politics was way above your head at that age and time. Father should not have taken you to King's Landing or Arya for that matter. Besides, he wouldn't have judged you for what you think you did, Sansa. He loved us all too much, more than even his honour. After all, he confessed to all those false crimes on the steps of Sept of Baelor for your sake. He hoped that you would be kept safe and he would lose his head over and over again if it means that you or anyone of us will remain safe. So forgive yourself Sansa and be the wolf the Starks is and always has been. Kill the girl that you were and be the woman that you were always meant to be. Be a Stark of Winterfell." said Jon and she didn't know why but her fears and worries fled in his warm embrace. After many long years, she felt like she was true Stark once more. She had so many questions swimming in her mind but it meant a lot to her to have Jon's forgiveness.
For a long time, Sansa remained in her brother's embrace but after she regained a modicum of stability she slowly pulled back to stare into his grey eyes. She absently noted that his eyes have become darker.
"How do you know all of this?" Sansa asked curious to know how her brother who was at the Wall know so much about what happened in King's Landing.
"It's a long story and most of it is a sad tale." Jon smiled forlornly and for a moment Sansa could see the pain in her brother's eyes. She wondered what could make her brother experience pain like that.
"I have all the time I need to hear that tale." said Sansa placing her hands in her brother's hands.
Jon huffed out a laugh at the face she made and began to narrate the tale. Throughout the night Sansa stayed awake captured by the tale of her brother's exploits.
Tyrion Lannister paced back and forth in the council chambers of his new sworn queen Daenerys Targaryen. If someone had said that he would be serving a Targaryen Queen back when he was in King's Landing he would have scoffed and perhaps even graced them with a few choice words. But right now he was serving a Targaryen Queen in Mereen as her advisor. When Varys told him about a Queen in the east who was supposedly the last best chance for a stable ruler to sit the Iron Throne he was intrigued.
That intrigue led him through a thrilling adventure through the ruins of Valyria all the way to Meereen. He had thoughts about writing a book describing his adventure but he rather doubted anyone would read it seeing as it will be written by a kinslayer dwarf.
His failings in being an accomplished writer aside he was having a bad day. The Queen has disappeared from the city in the wake of an attack from the Sons of the Harpy. That itself has put the city of Meereen under considerable stress then the absence was not ignored by the slavers. According to Varys the slavers of Volantis, Astapor, Yunkai and other slave cities have pooled in their resources to unleash revolts against the queen's rule. Matters were not helped when the former slaves were left with no other new prospects. It seems queen Daenerys had no solution to replace the institution of slavery with something else.
While that was a serious lapse of judgement on the Dragon Queen's part Tyrion had managed to somewhat achieve some mixed success in that area. The red priests in the city have been of great help in providing the people with some much-needed direction to take in life. He had even managed to employ several former slaves in small construction projects within the pyramid. He was also slowly expanding the fleets of Mereen for eventually sailing the Queen's army to Westeros. His latest worries came not just from the Sons of the Harpy but from the dragon, Rhaegal.
It has been two days since the green dragon escaped from the prison Queen Daenerys had chained it in. Tyrion, as well as all inhabitants of the great pyramid, had shaken awake that night when Rhaegal destroyed its prison and flew away. When the queen returns Tyrion had no idea how he is going to break that news and the fact that he was the one that unchained them from their captivity was a point against him. Thankfully the other dragon Viserion seems to be of a sensible sort and was staying in Meereen. The dragon did occasionally flew out of the pyramid but so far no incidents have been reported and that was the only relief Tyrion was enjoying so far.
He stopped his pacing as the council as Missandei and Grey Worm walked into the council chambers. He decided to not waste any time and get straight to the matter at hand.
"Have there been any word about Rhaegal?" Tyrion asked hoping against hope there was some sighting of that blasted dragon. He really did deserve a punch to the face for the stunt he pulled
"A fisherman reported seeing the green dragon flying in the direction of the Painted Mountains. With the streets getting dangerous for the citizens the Unsullied have to regularly patrol the streets. I can't spare men to track the dragon and even if we do what are we supposed to do?" said Grey Worm who glared at Tyrion who wisely didn't antagonize the captain of the Unsullied.
"You shouldn't have removed the chains from the dragons in the first place. Her grace put them in chains for a reason and now you have freed one of them to the open sky. Rhaegal could be anywhere and when the queen returns you will inform her yourself." said Missandei and Tyrion were horrified to note that Grey Worm was also nodding along.
"Please don't be like that. We are all on the same side here." said Tyrion and he tried to give a welcoming smile but it sort of fell apart into a grimace.
"On this matter, you are on your own side lord Tyrion. Her Grace sees the dragons as her children and you are the one that is responsible for her missing child. We have no part in this debacle." said Missandei and she walked out of the council chambers closely followed by Grey Worm.
"It seems you have bungled up my friend." said Varys as he walked into the council chambers startling Tyrion who was in the process of pouring himself a glass of wine. He caught himself quickly and poured one more glass of wine and handed it over to Varys.
"Tell me about it. I seem to have suddenly struck a stroke of misfortune my friend." said Tyrion as he plopped himself into a plush seat with a huff and began to drain his wineglass quickly despite the disapproving stare of Varys.
"My little birds will be listening to any whispers regarding dragons my friend. Although, I hope you have taken necessary steps to ensure the third dragon does not leave Meereen." Varys warned even as he took small sips from the wineglass.
"Even their mother can't control them. How do you expect me to suddenly be an expert kennel master for dragons?" Tyrion moaned out as he hid his face behind his palms.
"I implore you to devise some way, my friend. I worry for your pea-sized head when the queen realises that you set one of her dragons loose upon the world. I will be keeping my attention on Volantis as there are some interesting whispers coming from the daughter of Valyria." said Varys as he placed his half-finished glass of wine on the table and gave Tyrion an assessing stare before he took his leave.
Tyrion let out a disappointed huff and thought about how to force a dragon to stay. Physical force was out of the question and he was not drunk enough to attempt that folly. The only path he could see was to somehow make Viserion interested and entertained beneath the Pyramid. But the real dilemma was, what was it that dragons would find interesting enough to stay cooped up in a dark dungeon? He was sure there was some answer. Perhaps the dragon could get drunk on wine! It has worked out well for himself so he didn't see why it would not work on dragons.
"I am going to need a lot more wine than this for sure." Tyrion grumbled as he shook the small jar of wine and once again poured himself a cup.
AN: I have edited the first chapter to include Petyr Baelish's PoV. So if you guys missed that I just wanted you guys to know.
Sansa's character is obviously a bit different than what is portrayed in the shows. Hope that's not a problem.
Now, can anyone guess which castle Jon is going to strike with such a small force? Why would he risk his meagre forces to preemptively strike at a Northern House? Let's find out in the next chapter. Stay tuned!
Now to answer some reviews;
qwertypous: Glad to know you liked it. One chapter/day is a pipe dream. I usually do this in my leisure time and these days I am finding it hard to get some. Extra work seems to get dumped on me for no reason at all. I think it is some curse!
javi30: Good health to you and your family.
shadow-wild1: No Sansa/Jon pairing. For one Sansa would never see her brother in a different light all of a sudden. Considering she was raped almost daily in Winterfell I doubt she is even capable of engaging in any relationship with a man for some time. All the futuristic knowledge is not going to turn the North into a 'superpower'. That's just wishful thinking reserved for Stark wanks. The North has the harshest climate in Westeros and that leaves them terribly resource dry. The Iron Born invasion, War of Five Kings as well as the Red Wedding has cut much of the power of the North as well as the Northern lords. It is going to take decades for the North to regain its previous power. To buy the Company of Rose or the Golden Company, Jon will have to spend a good amount of gold which he does not possess. Even if he possessed it he would be rather focused on securing food stocks as well as weapons as the Great War is fast approaching.
timbarney110: Sorry, no harem.
Williams1996: Wholeheartedly agree with you pal. Aegon is a stupid name DD gave to Jon. When I saw that part of the episode I just felt the collective intelligence of the whole world drop significantly. It was as if they were lazy and was intentionally screwing everything up for shits and giggles!
Vallavarayan: I agree with you man. Jon tried everything physically possible to save as many lives as he could.
81, Charles Ceaser: Thank you for your support guys. Hope you enjoyed this chapter as well.