"Archers, loose!"

A hail of arrows took to the air and rained down on the Frey lines. Brynden watched coldly as Frey soldiers fall victim to his archers. In the distance, he could see a small contingent of Freys breaking out of their formation. The Frey soldiers who were attempting to circumvent his formations were in for a surprise.

"Sound the horn thrice." he ordered.

"Vooom! Voooooom! Voooooom!"

To the north of the Freys, Brynden had left a contingent of men under Lord Richard Roote. Lord Roote commanded a total of twenty horses and some forty foot. The men bearing the two-headed horse of House Roote rode out from their spot to engage the Freys trying to break off. At the same time, Brynden pulled his men back forcing the Freys to move from their position if they want to engage them again.

"It looks like the plan is working in our favour Ser." said Lord Goodbrook after positioning the army far away from the main Frey host.

"About time, I say. I've been getting tired of engaging and disengaging the enemy repeatedly. I'm sure the men feel the same way." commented Ser Willem Lynchester.

"Our plan has been to make the Freys tired of facing recurring incursions. It seems we have finally managed to break their discipline." said Ser Arthur Smallwood, an approving smile on his boyish face.

Brynden eyed the Smallwood knight. While the Smallwoods remained poor compared to knightly houses like Haighs, they counteracted by producing some of the bravest knights. He had sent Ser Arthur with some fifty men to test the defences, and if possible, goad the Freys to give chase. Not only did the knight accomplish this task, Ser Arthur only lost three men while taking twenty lives from the enemy. Not a bad accomplishment for a young knight.

In fact, the Smallwood knight impressed him so much he was going to give the lad this next task.

"Ser Arthur. Reinforce Lord Roote with all our horses." he gave the order startling many.

"But Ser. You will be vulnerable."

"That's what I want the Freys to see." Brynden commented before giving the Smallwood knight a meaningful stare prompting the knight to follow his orders.

Brynden then turned to his infantry barking out orders to keep the Tully banners easily visible for the Freys. Essentially, he was weakening himself by sending out all his cavalry and offering himself as the bait. A bait that he bet the Freys will be hard-pressed to ignore. Ever since the Red Wedding, the Freys have been expending a significant amount of resources to capture or kill him.

But, the situation has now changed for the worse for those traitorous Freys. With King Daeron decimating the Frey army in Riverrun the woes started for the traitors. The Lannisters slinking away with their tail between their legs has left Freys with no allies. The only nominal ally the Freys could depend on was the Brackens and Mallisters. The Brackens were properly dealt with seeing as House Bracken's lands are attained by House Blackwood. House Mallister on the other hand should have been a problem for him.

But, Brynden foresaw the problem before he rode out to siege the Twins. He was aware Black Walder was holding Jason and Patrek Mallister prisoners in their own castle. So, he did not send a raven to Seagard asking for support. Instead, he sent lords Piper and Vance to ensure his western flank remain protected.

So far, his plan has worked well. No ravens have come from Seagard and any raven going out of the Twins were shot down by his archers. His supply lines with Lords Vance and Piper remained strong and last but not least, the Brotherhood without Banners were also giving them a hand in Seagard. Brynden hoped the Mallisters would be freed in due time. After all, sieging the Twins is no easy task. They'd need all the help they could get.

The Twins is built across the Green Fork with two identical castles on either side of the river. Just like Riverrun, the castles are protected by a moat using channels dug out from the Green Fork. Not to mention the high curtain walls, barbican and portcullis in each of the castles afforded the Freys a slew of defences that cannot be easily breached.

Of course, all those defences are not going to hold up against an assault from a dragon. But, he was hoping it would not come to that. While using the dragon to break the Twins will be quite easy, it also most certainly would destroy the Crossing.

Using Dragonfire on the Crossing will cause many problems. Primarily, they will lose the only bridge connecting western parts of the Riverlands to the east. This means, if the Lannister army rides out from Golden Tooth then Riverrun, Stone Hedge, Raventree Hall and Seagard would have to contend with the Lannister army alone cut-off from any land support. It'll take decades to rebuild the Crossing or even a new bridge.

So, he fervently hoped the Freys surrender once they see their situation is hopeless. He was counting on a civil war within House Frey to expedite the surrender. After all, Walder Frey will be too proud and scared to surrender. The old cunt should've known by now that his days are numbered.

"Ser Brynden, look!"

From his vantage point, Brynden observed the Freys taking the bait as they sent forth more of their infantry to tackle Lord Roote. Just as he hoped he managed to split the Freys by sending his cavalry to reinforce Lord Roote. It didn't take long for the Freys to notice that he was bereft of any horses. Naturally, they smelled blood and sent forth a considerable number of horses in his direction.

"Fall back and form defensive lines." he shouted out his order.

The men rushed to obey his order and just as he predicted the Freys blinded by their superior numbers, frustration and his perceived weakness rushed their horses to catch him off-guard. They were most likely hoping to rout his army in this single charge.

"You are going to be disappointed you fuckin' traitors." Brynden muttered as he gave the order for horns.

This time the horns blew four times while he arranged his archers far back so they may have the higher ground. Archers began releasing their arrows forcing the enemy cavalry to spread out. Under the constant barrage of arrows, the Frey horses smashed into their lines just as Brynden wanted. The shield wall that his men made was breached in some areas while in some cases the enemy horses went down with a spear in their necks.

Those horses that managed to breach their defences didn't fare that well either all thanks to King Daeron's weapon.

Halberd, the King named it.

Due to some practical difficulties, he outfitted his men with a much-reduced axe-blade at the spearhead. Not that the reduced size of the axe-blade affected the effectiveness of the Halberd. The hook at the end of the axe was the most important part and his men utilized the weapon to its best.

All around Brynden, horses were losing their riders. He had trained his men day and night for this battle and they were certainly not letting him down. His men were pulling down knights from their horses by the hook of the Halberd. Some fell to their deaths or got knocked out. A lucky few managed to be on their feet but even they were quickly dispatched. The Freys who had foolishly charged into his lines must be thinking why the rest of their army was not attacking. Unfortunately for those traitors, Brynden did not make plans solely depending on a weapon. The horn he blew as he formed the lines of his defences was a signal for Lord Tytos Blackwood to attack from the south thereby trapping a large portion of the Frey army between the two of them.

It didn't take long for Lord Blackwood to join him by cutting a bloody swathe through the Frey army. While Brynden and his men posed as the anvil, Lord Tytos became the hammer.

Between the two of them, the Frey army broke.

Brynden rarely had to bloody his sword by the time the Freys surrendered. Lord Roote also enjoyed victory although it was not a complete rout. A small portion of the Frey army managed to escape the encirclement. Nonetheless, he sounded the retreat.

"But, Ser. We have them on the run." said Alvin Goodbrooke.

"The Twins have high walls and the wind is blowing from the east. Their archers will have better range. We will be riding to certain death if we give chase. We won a great victory today. Let's not squander it."

His young squire nodded properly chastised.

Brynden had no plans to take a squire but circumstances forced him to reconsider. The Goodbrookes were loyal and harried the Lannister supply lines to great success. They ought to be rewarded in some ways.

"Do you hear that Ser?" asked Alvin.

Brynden looked at the brown-haired boy with an arched eyebrow. Then, Brynden also picked up on the sound which sounded like whistling and shearing of cloth.

Then all of a sudden, startling not just Brynden but everyone in his army, the King's dragon swooped in from the sky spitting out red hot flames on the fleeing Freys. The Freys didn't even get the time to scream before they turned to ashes.

The dragon flapped its gigantic wings unleashing gales of wind blowing away the remains of the enemy. The green dragon took to the skies without pause leaving everyone on the ground struck with fear and awe.

Brynden was the first to break out of the spell out of necessity. He can't afford to be distracted when he is in charge of the army.

"It'd seem King Daeron has arrived on the eastern banks of the Green Fork. Find me a barge. I'd have a word with the King."

XXXXXXXX

Daeron observed the castle from a distance beside Rhaegal. It was indeed a unique castle in Westeros. There are huge castles like Winterfell, the Rock, Harrenhall littered across the Seven Kingdoms. However, none so than the Twins. While not large as other famed castles the Twins remained a unique castle simply because it incorporated a bridge into its structure. Not to mention, both castles on either side of the Green Fork were identical in design. Large curtain walls afforded the Freys some protection as well as the moat surrounding the two castles turning the Twins into an island of sorts.

However, no matter how many defences the Freys could mount their fate was sealed.

Daeron patted Rhaegal near the dragon's chin earning a soft purr of approval from the green dragon. With Rhaegal by his side, he could burn both castles down if the Freys refuse to surrender. It would be a last resort if those ratty buggers decide to hole up inside the castle. But, he was confident it would not come to that. He was more than willing to give the Freys a false sense of security and assurances if that's what it takes for the Freys to open their castle.

Caressing Rhaegal one last time, Daeron retired to his hastily constructed tent followed by several lords, knights and even some of the Thenns. There were plans to be made and strategies to be discussed. Daeron sat at the far end of the tent on a comfortable chair with a small table holding a pitcher of wine and a plate full of lemon cakes. It was not exactly his preferred choice of food or drinks but compared to some poorly cooked pork chops this was rather healthy. The last thing he needed right now is to house an unhealthy number of tapeworms in his body. But, he was looking forward to some fresh fish captured from the Green Fork.

"I call this council to order. We are here to discuss possible strategies to take the Crossing. If you have any suggestions you may have the floor, my lords."

Saying this, Daeron sat back taking a small sip from his wineglass waiting to see who'd pitch the first suggestion.

Lord Horton Redfort was the first to take the floor.

Daeron was hardly surprised by Lord Redfort's promptness. Since Daeron had Lord Royce lead half of the Vale army to Winterfell Lord Redfort has taken up the reins as the de facto leader of the Vale army.

"Your grace, if the Freys refuse to surrender then I say we make a breach in the curtain walls surrounding the castle and send our men through barges."

Daeron merely nodded but refused to say anything out loud. Chiefly because the plan would essentially cost him a lot of men. Transporting an army using barges is not a good plan especially considering the difficulties involved in crossing a moat that's connected to the natural flow of a river like the Green Fork.

"It'll be a costly attempt your grace. How exactly are we supposed to make a breach on the curtain wall? The siege engines that can make such damage will take weeks to build and then we need to find large stones capable of damaging the curtain walls." said Lord Elbert Melcolm, the lord of Old Anchor.

From there onwards, the discussion went spiralling out of control with many suggestions and expert opinions being launched off the floor. Some wanted to starve out the Freys while others thought it prudent that he use Rhaegal to burn down one castle without harming the bridge.

Burning down one castle without harming the bridge suddenly became a widely popular plan in the council. It was a suggestion put forth by Harlan Hunter, the younger brother of Lord Gilwood Hunter.

The Hunters were an old house with claims to First Men lineage. However, the present generation seems to be at each other's throats. Just because Harlan Hunter suggested burning one castle down Gilwood Hunter switched to the Redfort camp supporting the idea of a long siege.

Daeron could easily see a succession crisis in House Hunter. There were rumours that the previous lord of House Hunter was killed by one of his children. The Hunters were also related to the Freys. But that point was moot, seeing as he put an end to that bloodline connection when he burned the combined Lannister-Frey army outside Riverrun. He has it on good authority that Edwyn Frey died a fiery death while Ryman was hanged by the Brotherhood.

As the Vale lords debated on the merits of different strategies to take the castle the Northern lords were of the opinion to decimate both castles with Dragonfire. A sentiment, he was sure, would be fervently opposed by the Riverlords if there were any in this council. Ser Edric Mallister should have been present in the council but the Riverlander knight was nowhere to be seen. He had specifically asked for the Mallister knight to be present precisely to present his opinions as a Riverlander. Perhaps, after the meeting came to a close he could summon the knight and have a heart to heart talk. Although, Ser Edric's absence also should be a point of inquiry.

As the debate continued Daeron noticed the tent flaps being parted. Ser Edric stepped in and waited by the tent's entrance looking straight at Daeron as if asking for an audience.

"My Lords!"

Daeron's voice cut through sharp and clean over the ongoing debate.

"Ser Mallister has obviously something to share with us. Please, let him be heard."

Ser Edric suddenly became the focal point of the council's attention.

"Your grace, my lords. I'm sorry to barge in like this."

"A trivial matter although your absence has been noted Ser." Daeron commented blandly.

While not a huge issue, he could not afford to let the Mallister knight's tardiness go without even a reprimand. Otherwise, others would take his casual dismissal as an opportunity to exploit his perceived weakness. Frankly, handling these lords is turning out to be a harder job than overseeing a bunch of stoned teenagers.

"Apologies your grace. I was overseeing the arrival of a few guests that our scouts found near our camp."

Daeron was now curious. He knew the Mallister knight was not one to shirk his duty. After all, the young knight followed Robb's will even after Robb was slain at the Red Wedding.

"I'm curious Ser. Who are these guests?" Daeron asked, leaning forward in his seat.

"I believe your grace will appreciate these guests." said Ser Mallister before stepping to the side making space for the entrance to be seen.

At first, an old man walked in which confused Daeron. Frankly, he could not ever remember knowing anyone remotely similar to this man. But, the tent flaps moved again and this time Daeron was pleasantly surprised to note that it was Samwell Tarly.

Daeron took to his feet and moved closer to the man who found the crucial information to prepare for the Long Night promptly.

"Never did I think I'd see you here of all places, Sam. But, I'm glad I did." said Daeron before shaking hands with Sam.

"There is someone else with us that you might be more happy to see after all these years." said Sam before looking at the entrance.

Lo and behold Arya walks in and Daeron struggled with exactly what emotion he should express. On one hand, the part that was Jon Snow got immensely happy but the other part of him began thinking of ways to use Arya's skills as a Faceless Man in his campaign. It was an interesting dynamic that he was experiencing when it came to his friends and family. The part that is Jon Snow will always surge with warm fuzzy emotions while his other half always remained cold and pragmatic. However, the struggle only lasted a second as the part that is Jon Snow always overwhelmed his pragmatic side when it came to his family.

So, Daeron rushed in and pulled Arya into a hug despite his pragmatic side screaming at him for foolishly hugging a professional assassin. Arya, for a moment, stiffened in his arms before she relaxed slowly.

"So, what should I call you now Jon or Daeron?" asked Arya, while hiding her face on the crook of his neck.

Daeron chuckled instead of answering mostly cause he was not in a good state of mind to answer that question honestly.

A few minutes later Daeron was alone in his tent with Arya as his sole company. He poured a glass of Northern Ale and offered it to Arya who took the glass but paused before she took a sip.

"Don't you think I'm not old enough to drink?" Arya asked, her grey eyes boring into his.

"Old enough to kill, too young to drink?" Daeron raised an eyebrow.

"How do you know I killed someone?" Arya asked, all of a sudden becoming a bit closed off and cold.

"You are not the only one with dreams."

Arya shrugged before draining the whole glass in one go. The pinched expression on her face once she drained the whole thing was quite comical.

"Northern ale. It will taste good once you are surrounded by blood-freezing cold." said Daeron, before draining his glass.

For a moment, the two sat there not entirely sure how to move the conversation forward. Daeron was thinking that it was not a bright idea to bring up his apparent knowledge of her killing spree.

"I heard tell that Sansa is safe in Winterfell."

"She is, as is Rickon."

"You found Rickon?" Arya asked in surprise.

"The Umbers had given him sanctuary in Last Hearth. Although, they handed him over to the Boltons to spite me. A mistake they paid for dearly with their lives."

"What about Bran?"

"You won't like where he is right now. He is beyond the Wall with Meera Reed, Hodor and the Children of the Forest."

Arya just sat there staring at him utterly gobsmacked.

"How did that happen?"

Daeron was amused to see the way Arya's eyebrows disappeared into her hairline.

"It's a long story."

"How did Jon Snow become Daeron Targaryen?" asked Arya after shaking her head.

"That's a very long story."

A comfortable silence came between them as they sat staring out into the darkening skies.

"I was here when the Red Wedding happened you know. The Freys butchered the Northerners under the cover of the night. I saw them parading Robb's body with Grey Wind's head sewn into Robb's body. No matter what decision you or your council makes, know that not a single child of House Frey shall live to see this year through."

Daeron sneaked a peek at Arya who was staring dead ahead coldly with no hint of emotion. It was frankly not a look that anyone would wish to see on a fifteen-year-old girl's face. However, the pragmatic side of Daeron was quite happy with how things were coming along his way and to his advantage. In this instance, he was easily able to overcome the concern and attachment that Jon Snow feel for his sister.

"Tell you what Arya. I don't like the Freys to get a silver of mercy. But, come morning the Freys will most likely send someone to negotiate a surrender. However, if you can open the gates of the castle tonight the Northern army will be at your disposal to do as you please. If it is vengeance you seek, you have till sunrise to do it your way and you'll have all the resources at my disposal." Daeron offered before pouring another glass of ale and offering it to Arya.

"So, what do you need to make this happen?" asked Daeron, hoping that Arya has a plan.

Of course, Daeron also had a plan but it involved him giving a false amnesty to select Freys to gain access to the castles and then turning on those Freys at the opportune moment. It'd be ruthless but it'd also be a political suicide especially with Daenerys Targaryen getting closer to the Iron Throne. He saw her marching through the Crownlands to take King's Landing. If he is not careful from now on, many of the southern kingdoms may flock to her side seeing a better alternative ruler.

This is why politics is such a nasty business. The landscape always shifts when it is least expected. He had hoped Daenerys would make the same mistakes she made in the shows but that was not happening. Instead, she's going straight for the jugular of Cersei and that means Daenerys will take the Iron Throne far early than anyone imagined.

Facing such a scenario, he is forced to rein in the extreme edges of his actions. The Blackfyre pretender in the Stromlands is also another concern. If Daenerys thinks the Blackfyre boy is more reasonable then it'd be the Dance all over again. That's the last thing he wants especially considering Daenerys rides the largest dragon and she has an extra one in Viserion. Her dragons combined with her Unsullied army makes her a dangerous foe.

This means he could not afford to look unreasonable and at the same time, he cannot look weak.

"I need several high-quality Crossbows and men with sharp aim."

Arya made her first demand startling Daeron out of the tangent his mind made him go.

"That's it?" Daeron inquired, a bit concerned.

"No. I'll explain the rest after you find me what I asked for. I need to know whether the crossbows need some adjustments."

Daeron sighed before leaving the tent to find what Arya asked of him. He just hoped whatever Arya was planning would work out as she hoped.