Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and Game of Thrones
Hello again, sorry for the delay but the chapter along with Ordo's update took longer to write than I thought.
One key point to make is that Lanna is seventeen years old at this point, the same age as Sansa. Daenerys will also be taking a break for a while however she will return in the future.
Review Responses from the Last Chapter…
ytrf, DracoKing30, Bigreddog68, Mari Wollsch, EP, Drakena, frankieu, KEZZ 1, E3roa - Thank you!
Joe02 - Sorry for the delay, I was writing Ordo at the same time and it was a monster this chapter. There will be a meeting between those two characters again. Skargosi with the Boltons dead and the Ryswells on good terms with the Starks were to my mind the best option. Sorry but she will as she has a lot of work to do. There are others to guide Robb's son including his mother. As for the next ruler, it might come as a surprise. Indeed, Doran has been waiting for just such an opportunity. And the Martells will get their revenge. The pairing? Maybe. The system was pointed out to me by someone else and it seemed like a good idea. Thanks for the support, it means a lot to me so thank you again.
Bob - I know, Cersei never learns from her mistakes, she has an enormous ego and not enough sense to balance it and think things through. Tywin and Tyrion will make that painfully clear to her in this chapter.
Spidey-phd - Not sure, good suggestions I will think about them. Tywin has a bit of a pattern and it is certainly the sort of thing he would do. Cersei won't be so proud of herself soon as she is punished for what she did, Tywin will see to that. Indeed, the Tyrells wanted to trap the Lannisters and have a more controllable king so they went and got one. The Reach will have new problems soon and the Stormlands are kind of in turmoil as you say. Rhaenys could but doesn't want the throne. Minisa is I think fourth in line, behind her half brothers and Catelyn. I know but given the enemy they will be facing one day it will be needed. Robb's dragon, bonds to someone else I am afraid
Blaze1992 - The weather can change in an instant and so can the game of thrones.
Estelle Uzumaki - Sorry to keep you waiting.
Fantasymaker76 - Indeed, the game of thrones never stops even for a moment and they will have to face the consequences of those actions. Indeed, he won't as you see in this chapter. Randyll is a tricky one but he will soon have new problems to think about. Loras and Brienne were being held at Dragonstone due to their importance and will appear in this chapter.
Asharzal - I know, the reason he is so lax with her is revealed in this chapter, Tywin has realised that. The Tyrells are the wild card and one that is overreaching badly. I think Aegon put them in charge because they were controllable and he had dragons to back him up. Thanks, I know not everyone likes it but I wanted to do a different big bad than the white walkers this time. Meera will punish them I can assure you of that.
Jebest4781 - Glad to hear you liked it!
JustAnotherFan217 - I know, Cersei had already contacted the Skagosi long before Varys left Kings Landing, he knew a plot was in the offing but didn't know just who it was till he sent the message.
More Review Responses at the end of the chapter…
Warning - Suicidal Thoughts
Chapter 32 - Revenge Part 1
Winterfell, the North…
The atmosphere inside Winterfell after the unexpected betrayal by the Skargosi was unsettled, the sheer death and destruction they caused had completely unnerved the North and the Starks most of all. The attack had been delivered in the heart of Winterfell, the very heart of the North itself and the cost had been some of its leaders, including the Young Wolf Robb Stark himself. Their finest general and leader killed in a cowardly and unprovoked attack.
Given the history of the Skagosi the betrayal might have been evident but they had been silent for over a century, ever since the Blackfyre Rebellion they had been subjects of Winterfell and during the war they had fought alongside their countrymen against the Iron Born, had even been rewarded for it.
And yet they had betrayed them.
The Stark Family was in turmoil, completely shaken from top to bottom. Jon and Benjen had taken control of the castle and had done their utmost to hold the North together in the face of this chaos. Nearly all the noble families had taken losses in the attack. Many lords or their heirs or other family members were dead and so their houses were in just as much turmoil of House Stark.
Wylla, now a widow cuddled her twins close to her as she cried her eyes out, her husband was dead and she would have to raise them by herself. She knew her family and the Starks would rally around her and they would ensure that the North was stable until young Eddard was ready to become Lord of Winterfell.
Lord of Winterfell? At two years old! She thought with dismay, how could this have happened? Why did it happen? When things were finally stable that the Skagosi had chosen to betray them? Wylla had no idea and if it had been any other family, she would have been worried about the rest of the family trying to usurp Winterfell from her son but thankfully she knew how close the Starks were and that they would fight tooth and nail for her son to inherit his rightful seat.
But that was of small comfort to Wylla who honestly felt like her heart had been ripped from her chest, Robb her man was gone and she would never see him again. Feel his warmth, know his touch. All of it was gone.
Bran and Rickon sat with their Aunt Lorra who was doing her best to console them, they had lost their big brother. Robb had always seemed so unassailable, like he could never be killed or beaten and now he was gone.
Sansa was hardly any better, her wedding would forever be carved in her memory for all the wrong reasons now. It was the day that the Starks had been betrayed in their own home and her brother had been murdered, leaving behind a family and in particular two small children in mourning for their father. Harrion did his best to comfort her but their wedding however beautiful the first part of it had been would always be tainted by the rest.
Arya meanwhile had returned to her room and was lying in bed, dreaming up all the ways she would take her revenge on those that killed her brother!
Even the Direwolves were mourning, they howled late into the night in sad cries that chilled many that heard them. Robb's dragon Northfyre and Robb's Direwolf Greywind were the most despondent of all, all crying and curling themselves protectively close to Eddard and Eve. The other dragons and direwolves tried to comfort them but the great pain stabbed too deep to be healed so quickly.
Meera however was silent.
She had gone to her room and just lay there on her bed staring into nothing, she had to be coaxed to drink anything and had eaten nothing since the wedding. While outwardly she was as still as a statue, inside she was a raging mess of emotion.
Meera was such a cauldron of feelings that it swirled like a whirlpool, self-loathing, fear, hatred and despair all coiling around her so tightly it might choke the air from her lungs. Meera honestly was hoping in the moment that it might just do that because honestly, she wanted to die.
She just couldn't cope anymore with all the misery and pain that was eating her up inside, not after she had failed to protect her family from more of this accursed world! She should have seen this coming! She thought with loathing at her own ineptitude but then again what else could you expect from someone was only here because of a mistake!
All this time she had thought or rather hoped that she had been sent to this world for some purpose, gained those memories and all that knowledge as Harry because they had made something of themselves and could bring Earth's science and learning to this world.
But instead, it had all been down to a mistake!
A dumb assistant that screwed up Hermione's experiment and they had only been involved because she needed a last-minute replacement and they hadn't been able to say no to her.
A stupid…ridiculous mistake! Meera thought with own hubris at thinking there must be a bigger reason for her being here now making her feel like the most arrogant and stupid person in the world. Just like when they had gotten Sirius killed at the Department of Mysteries, or sharing the cup with Cedric which had only resulted in him dying for no good reason.
As Harry or as Meera, she was only a fool that people followed to their own demise.
Maybe it was better for her to go, she considered honestly thinking that the Starks would be better off without her. She even raised her mental walls as high as they could go so Romulus and Rema, not to mention Aurora couldn't sense what she was thinking.
But before she could reach for the hunting knife that was lying on the bedside table only a short distance away, Jon entered the room and looked at her with deep concern.
"Meera, you have to get up. They will lay Robb to rest soon and you can't stay in here forever. The North needs you. We need you." Jon told her and Meera let out a bitter laugh which stunned him a little before she told him.
"They've got you. They've got Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon. They've even got Benjen and Lorra. Real Starks with real achievements. Me…I'm nothing but fraud." She told him without even moving from where she was lying.
Jon was confused at what she was saying, wondering if she had gone mad with her grief before she told him.
About the world she had come from, that she'd been Harry there, the accident that had brought her here and the real source of her knowledge and power. She left no secret out, this time she admitted everything.
"So, you see." Meera told him with bitterness. "I'm not a Stark. Not a Northerner, not a genius and no real warrior. What I am is an arrogant fool who gets themselves in over their heads and drags others down with them. So now you know." Meera told him, fully prepared for him to express his disgust at her and just have her thrown out of Winterfell. It honestly wouldn't surprise her if he just killed her right here and now.
Jon however did none of those things, instead after thinking long and hard on what she said and then much to her surprise literally picked her up! She was shocked but he dragged her over to the bedside table and sat her down in front of the mirror. Meera was faced with her pale and almost ghastly appearance while Jon told with such authority that she was powerless to listen as he forced her to look at herself.
"I don't see this 'Harry Potter' when I look at you." Jon told her sternly as she made her look at herself. "I see my sister, Meera Stark who did her best to shield me from an awful septa, who brought the means for the North to feed itself and advanced us years. Who cares for her family who love her just as much back. Whatever life you might have had before you came here, this is who you are now. You brought that science here and used it to help people. How is that being a fraud?" He asked her before turned her to look him in the eyes.
"You are my sister, whatever you might have been before coming to his world, that's who you are now! Besides from what you said you saved people in whatever world you're in. We still need you! Our family is in crisis and we need you! One thing in that world or this is that you don't give up…you said that you faced odds that were terrible before but you kept going. You triumphed and we need that part of you now! Would rather wallow in self-pity, or do what's right for your family?! No-one could have seen this coming!" Jon told her forcefully to make sure she was paying attention.
Meera was forced to look at her own reflection and saw the broken creature staring back at her, she didn't honestly recognise herself and let out a scream of anger as her magic reacted, blasting everything in the room and shattering the mirror in front of her. Jon was untouched although he let go of her and took a step back as he looked at her uncertain about what was going to happen.
Meera finally stood up and looked at her distorted reflection in the mirror, for a moment she saw in different shards not only herself as she was now but Harry and her normal self all staring back at her with the same look of confusion on all three faces.
Jon was right she realised to her own shame, she was letting herself get caught up in her own grief and confusion, whoever she had been before that didn't matter. What mattered now was making sure that the rest of her family and the North itself was safe from their enemy.
She pointed her ring at the mirror, almost whispering the word.
The shards of mirror all on her command flew back into position much to Jon's amazement who had not progressed that far in their magical training yet due to everything that had happened.
The cracks repaired themselves until the mirror looked untouched, like it had never shattered. Meera was left staring at her own full reflection, feeling more herself as her anger forced her out of her despair.
"Have we managed to get the Skagosi to talk?" She asked Jon without even looking up. Jon shook his head.
"I can make them talk. You're right, I need to pull myself together." Meera said turning to Jon with a new look of determination on her face. "I will find out who did this and why, but I will do it alone. There are some powers that I won't share with you and the others. Not for my own power but because I want you to keep your hands clean. Don't push me on that." Meera said and walked out of the room leaving a worried and confused Jon behind.
Most people who saw her stepped out of her way as they saw the stormy look in her eyes, she didn't stop till she arrived at the cells where the guards looked at her and she told them coldly.
The guards didn't hesitate and obeyed her orders without objection, the Skagosi leader the so-called Lord of Kingshouse and House Magnar came up to the cage and smirked at her, taunting her.
"A fucking whore! Been blessed, are we? Last fuck?!" He said with scorn which was echoed by his men but Meera's disgust only increased her resolve to find the truth. She turned to the Magnar and held up her ring.
"Imperio." She said slowly and his eyes immediately glazed over as her will suppressed his own and she asked him. "Who commanded this attack, who planned it and why did they do it?"
The men instantly were confused as the Magnar answered.
"Tywin Lannister arranged the plan but we were not supposed to do it till he said so, but his daughter promised us free reign over the North and her father was behind us she said."
Cersei Lannister, Meera thought as she ended the spell after asking some more questions, her anger and disgust growing at the horrible bitch and her revolting family. She continued questioning and thankfully the stupid and vile Lannister bitch had given them far more details than she should have which unravelled the whole plan.
This she wasn't going to let slide she thought as she released the spell on Magnar and then told them.
"Thank you that was most helpful. But now, my spear is hungry." Meera said as she pulled it from her back and stabbed the Magnar right through the face with it before stabbing the rest of the prisoners to death. She felt her spear charging which was good she thought as it was going to need it.
- x -
An hour later Meera had eaten something, washed and changed. She now was looking much more composed as she stood with the rest of her family in the catacombs under the castle as Robb was laid to rest.
"Robb, who was lord too briefly was a true Stark. He was stolen from us all before his time as were many others." Meera said as she stood before the tomb that belonged to Robb, looking to Jeor and Maege nearby who were in mourning for Dacey. Meera herself grieved for the loss of her friend even if they hadn't seen much of each other recently.
"But even though he led us for a few short years he did a great deal in those years. He led with the ferocity and determination of a True Stark and our family will never be the same again. We will watch over his son and daughter, ensure his legacy is safe and that one day his son will sit on the throne of Winterfell. We will pursue the ones that betrayed you and killed not only you but the other sons and daughters of the North that we lost that night." Meera said almost like she was speaking to her brother, her eyes going around the room to all the lords and ladies in the room; Umber, Mormont, Ryswell and others. They all shared the same look in their eyes that she knew Meera had in her own.
The want…the need for revenge.
As they closed the tomb and left Robb to his rest, all but Jon went to go and eat something while Meera gathered the lords and ladies present to make her announcement.
"The Skagosi cracked under questioning." She told them coldly which made all of them sit up and take notice, eager to know why they had done this. "The Lannisters put them up to this."
"THE FUCKING LANNISTERS!" The GreatJon said with venom, spit flying out with his anger at his son's death. The fact he would now have to raise his small grandson to take his seat rather than handing to his son when the time came made him rage like an erupting volcano.
"Why the fuck would the Lannisters want us dead?" Lord Karstark spat out, not sure why the supposed royals would want them dead for.
"No reason, they just don't want us to become a threat or imagine we are already one." Meera told them with disgust. "And we are not the only ones they targeted. Although the news hasn't reached us yet I have learned from them that a number of Riverlords were planning a similar ambush against House Tully just to prevent them too from becoming a threat. How successful they were I cannot say but we will know soon." Meera told them, wondering of the fate of her relatives down there. Her Great Uncle Brynden in particular who had been so kind and respectful to them, ruling The Twins for Rickon even if he didn't want it. She didn't like her Uncle Edmure but despite his arrogance, she hoped he had survived this.
Her own mother and her half-sister, Minisa…they occurred to her too. She honestly didn't have anything good to say about her mother, old hurt that died hard still clung on even if she had apparently changed for the better since her banishment. But even then, she didn't wish her dead despite all she had done and Meera certainly didn't want any horror to befall her youngest sister even if she did have a different father and was the product of an affair.
"Prepare our armies for a march south." Meera told them before turning to her cousin/brother. "Jon please ensure we are properly provisioned and that we don't leave our homes undefended. That will take time, I however will take a smaller force to Skagos to deal with them." Meera said coldly and Jon who knew just what 'deal with them' meant was about to argue but the GreatJon, Lord Karstark, the new Lord Ryswell, Maege and Jeor all nodded eagerly, wanting to join her to see justice or merely just seek their own vengeance.
"Leave your heirs at home, safe and protected. I see no reason for us to risk the future of our families or those we love any more than we have too." Meera told them and they nodded, all agreeing that they had to safeguard the rest of their families rather than risk them by fighting.
But as they prepared to travel east before heading south, they all were all of one mind as were most of the Northern lords, not wanting to risk those that they loved when a very gruesome fight was coming. Meera turned to Jon though as there was something she needed to discuss with him.
"Lanna is of House Lannister, this war will make her a target. I know Ygritte isn't interested in marriage, so marry Lanna Jon. She'll need that protection besides…she may be the last of the Lannisters by the time this war is over." Meera told him calmly which unnerved Jon a little given what she was suggesting but he frowned and told her.
"I'll think about it."
Riverrun, the Riverlands…
The number of guards around the surviving nobles that had stayed loyal to House Tully and especially around its three surviving members was intense to deter any more thought of completing just what had been started at the feast only days ago.
Like in the North, another Lord was being laid to rest before his time, only this time it was Edmure Tully who unlike his nephew in the North had left no heir behind.
Brynden Tully stood on the dock with Catelyn and little Minisa who was wrapped up warmly and standing at her mother's side, dressed in black like her mother as her uncle was laid to rest.
"Why is he put in a boat mother?" Minisa asked, confused at what was going on and mindful of what they were doing Catelyn who herself was dealing with her own grief explained quietly.
"It is the tradition in the Riverlands to return our dead to the water. Now sweetling we must be quiet." Catelyn told her and Minisa being a good girl who did as her mother told her and quieted down while Brynden raised his bow and arrow and fired. The flaming arrow sailed through the air and landed on the boat carrying Edmure's body, packed with straw it quickly caught fire and started burning.
They all stayed for a time as it burned but as it sank into the water Brynden came up to Catelyn and put a protective arm around her and she pulled Minisa closer to her before the three of them returned to the castle.
Brynden honestly was still unnerved by the coup however much he tried to hide it, his own nephew however much of a little bitch Edmure had been had been was murdered in their home and if that wasn't bad enough, he was faced with civil war in the Riverlands and unfortunately word had just reached him that the North had suffered a similar attack. He gritted his teeth at all this treason, most of his family had come through alright but Robb unfortunately had not.
That left the North in near chaos, or would have done if his great niece Meera Stark had taken over and established a regency for her nephew, while she protected the North young Eddard Stark would be watched over by his mother, Sansa and Sansa's husband and all four would take care of things until he was ready to take up the reins of Winterfell for himself.
Catelyn herself was doing her best not to break down, her beloved eldest boy was dead! Dead long before his time, her tears held back only by the greatest will she could muster. The idea of him so young and strong cut down before he had seen his own children grow…it broke her heart Catelyn thought as she cuddled with Minisa, her youngest girl hugging her mother back knowing of her need for comfort.
Catelyn hadn't really known how to explain to Minisa that she would never see her biggest brother again, just like her uncle. Edmure had never had much to do with Minisa but still his absence was noted.
Not to mention Catelyn was also thinking deeply about her other children, Meera, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon, not to mention her little grandchildren Eddard and Eve. How they must all be suffering she thought with despair and she wasn't able to be there for them.
The fact Meera had taken over didn't surprise her she thought with sadness, she was strong and determined and if anyone would lead House Stark through this time it would be Meera Catelyn thought with irony.
Despite all the problems between them she really wished this burden didn't fall on her shoulders, she should be married herself by now maybe with a babe of her own Catelyn thought sadly as she knew she was so busy solving other problems that she neglected her own wellbeing and future.
She was dutiful Catelyn thought with sadness, like her father.
Bringing herself back to the now though she and Brynden were greeted by one of his friends, an older man named Saul who was wiping his hands with a cloth.
"Just finished with the prisoners we took Blackfish." Saul said, a fellow veteran of many worlds they had been friends for longer than Catelyn had been alive. "The Lannisters promised the rebels the Riverlands if they did as they said, even promised each of them the same castles. It was planned by Tywin Lannister but Cersei Lannister gave the order." Saul told them.
Brynden and Catelyn wondered why they weren't more surprised at this; they had been feeding the capital for a long time at this point and that loyal service should had seen them rewarded but somehow deep down they knew this had always been coming.
Brynden was furious and so was Catelyn who spat out her next words.
"No more food to the capital. No gold or anything else." Catelyn said with so much hatred her words could barely be understood. "Before we destroy them!" She said wanting vengeance for her boy! For what the Lannisters had done to her family but Brynden although eager himself told her.
"It's going to be hard enough to put down the rebel houses on our own without worrying about attacks from either the Westerlands or Kings Landing. With the North in chaos even if it does rally, we can't do it alone." Brynden said with frustration, slamming down his hands on the desk in anger at their inability to wage war on so many fronts. The fact remained it was going to be hard for him to put down the rebel houses such as things were let alone fight the Lannisters on his own.
"We need help." Catelyn said, for once in her life actually thinking before she acted. Brynden nodded.
"Since we have no idea how long it might take for the North to rally, I will try and reach out to the Vale for help." Brynden told her, hoping that he could convince the Knights of the Vale to join them. Lord Royce was a good man but there was no guarantee that he would support them.
Either way this wasn't going to be easy Brynden thought with worry at how overstretched they might become.
Dragonstone, The Narrow Sea…
News of what happened at Storm's End had arrived with a raven from one of the few men who had escaped the ambush and managed to return to his own castle to send a raven.
Davos read the news with horror and disgust at the underhanded tactics used by the Lannisters and their puppets, as unsettled at some of the decisions made by his late king, he had been the best choice for the Iron Throne and now he had been killed in a cowardly ambush. Not only had they killed Stannis though, but his pregnant wife and Prince Steffon which broke Davos's heart at the little lad especially who hadn't had a chance to grow up.
Davos was enraged at that but couldn't afford to show it, not in the face of the great danger they were now in.
Princess Shireen had been the first informed and had been so stoic despite the pain she must be feeling it had almost broken his heart. He saw that she was trying to be brave and had been tending her garden while she thought of a strategy to survive now.
Davos wondered just what to do, right now they were effectively in the same position Rhaella Targaryen had been in at the end of the Rebellion. She had no allies left on the mainland and was surrounded by enemies; the only good thing was that since the Lannisters had few ships on this side of Westeros that for now at least they couldn't come to Dragonstone. Davos for his own state of mind had brought his wife and seven sons to stay here where they were safe for the moment.
He watched as the princess, no queen Davos reminded himself as she was now the true heir to the Iron Throne with her brother and father dead.
He watched with Maester Cressan as Shireen tended to her flowers which she liked to do when she was deep in thought. Eventually she cleaned her hands and turned to them both before saying.
"Bring Ser Loras Tyrell and Brienne of Tarth to the throne room. They should hear what has become of Renly." She said calmly. Davos and Cressan nodded and they all returned to the Throne Room and waited for the pair of prisoners to arrive.
They appeared dishevelled from their confinement but otherwise in good health. Shireen sat on the stone throne and told them.
"Ser Loras, Lady Brienne. I thought you should be aware of what has happened to Renly." She told them and both prisoners looked up in concern before she explained the situation to them. How both Renly and Stannis had been betrayed and killed, even her own little brother and the Stormlands were now occupied by the traitors.
The pair listened with horror as they discovered just what had happened to Renly, that he had been betrayed and slaughtered by one of his own men was heart breaking and worse they couldn't even bury him as apparently the traitors had fed him and Stannis plus his family to the hounds.
Loras was hurt the most, the idea that the man he loved more than life itself, his beloved, handsome, intelligent and witty Renly was dead and his body desecrated…he fell to his knees and sobbed like a child, his cries loud as his heart shattered into irreparable pieces.
Brienne was hardly any better, she had loved Renly too but knowing of the relationship between him and Loras, Brienne knew how much this must be hurting him. She put her own pain aside and knelt down on the floor to wrap him in her arms in an attempt to comfort him.
It was difficult to watch Loras as he grieved for his lost love, no-one spoke even if they hated Renly to give him this moment. But unfortunately, a new arrival broke it and put all of them on edge.
"A lover broken. How poetic." A cold voice said, they all looked up in anxiety but Davos and Shireen both knew that voice.
"Master Kilburn. I see you escaped the ambush." Shireen said with suspicion in her voice. She had reason to doubt anyone right now and Master Kilburn stood in the doorway looking as unconcerned as ever.
"I was not present, instead I was returning for trying to recruit some more sellswords for your father's army and only arrived at Storm's End after the slaughter had taken place." Kilburn said without any emotion. His stillness and lack of emotion about anything was unnerving and not a single person in the room trusted him at all. "When I learned of what happened I came with my new men to reinforce you here, Princess."
None of them believed that for a moment, Kilburn had never given them any reason to doubt his loyalty and he was probably more responsible for Stannis holding out as long as he did than anyone else but still none of them had a single clue what he wanted and that made them unwilling to trust him.
"We need to think of what to do now that my father is gone. It won't take long for the Lannisters to turn their attention to us." Shireen said doing her best to be calm however nervous she was underneath. She had never expected this, she thought with despair that her father would die with his son and leave her the last true member of House Baratheon. She didn't even want the Iron Throne but now she would be expected to try for it or be killed Shireen thought knowing that Tywin Lannister would never let her live with the potential threat she posed.
"Perhaps an ally is what you need." Kilburn suggested calmly which Davos scoffed at.
"And who would risk their necks to help us now?" Davos said with scorn, as much as he wanted to see her on the Iron Throne as to his mind, she would be the greatest and most gracious queen Davos understood that they were far too few to try and fight the Lannisters now he thought with anger. He personally believed that they would be better off heading to Braavos and seeking safety there. They had a full treasury thanks to Kilburn ironically so they would be fine for a long while.
"The North and Riverlands would." Kilburn said with a cold detachment. "We weren't the only ones targeted by the Lannisters, they were ambushed too although they weathered the attack better and took far less damage. From what I understand they both are declaring war on the Lannisters and might be willing to help. I am not sure they would fight to put her on the throne but they might protect Princess Shireen and aid her in this fight."
The North and Riverlands? Shireen thought with a considering look in her eyes, they hadn't joined the war as they had been busy fighting the Iron Born and both together were very powerful. Powerful enough to turn the entire situation around and perhaps if the Vale joined them even more so. She wasn't so foolish to just trust Kilburn at his word but if it was true and she intended to check then it might be the answer to their problems.
She had ships she could offer, Shireen considered as most of her father's fleet was moored here and they had about eight thousand men. A good-sized fighting force which might attract their interest and get them the help they needed, Shireen didn't want to be queen, not now not ever but maybe it was a way to reclaim her family's lands she thought with care and be Lady of the Stormlands.
It was a lot to ask of them but it might be their only hope, to destroy the Lannisters before they got them first.
She would leave a good number of men under the command of someone she trusted to hold Dragonstone while she sailed North to meet with the Starks and Tullys, Ser Rolland Storm she thought with certainty. He was smart and strong not to mention loyal so she could trust him to hold her castle for her.
"We sail for the North and Riverlands once we have confirmed if Master Kilburn's information is accurate. The Starks might be only ones we can turn to now. It is time to restore the old alliance." Shireen said with hope as the combination of Stark, Baratheon, Tully and Arryn had once brought a terrible and mad king…she could only hope it would again.
The Red Keep, Kings Landing…
The state of shock at Kings Landing with recent events had everyone extremely nervous. The news that Stannis and Renly had been killed would normally be celebrated regardless of how it had been achieved as it meant an end to the war.
But that news had been delivered the same moment that the king himself had been assassinated in the Red Keep by one of his own Kingsguard!
Combined with this though was the terrifying news that the Starks and Tullys had been attacked on the orders of the Lannisters but that the attack had failed to destroy both houses who were now coming for revenge. With the vicious and cruel Meera Stark at the head of their army which some said was full of vicious beasts and others said she was a demon witch.
But others said she was a loving sister who was avenging her brother who was a victim of a horrible betrayal and protecting the rest of her family.
Her reputation from the way she fought the Iron Born and ended their rebellion, not to mention her inventions which had been all the rage in Westeros some of which had been major help to the people made a good many sympathise with her. And while many feared her, they thought it might be better to appease her than fight against her.
In the meeting of the Small Council Tywin Lannister scowled viciously. Under normal circumstances he would be enjoying some sense of victory at ending the war and removing the threat of Stannis and Renly for good…if that many things hadn't gone wrong.
The fact Stannis' daughter Shireen was still out there was not too much of a concern or Joffrey having been murdered, not an unexpected thing given all the enemies he had made with his sadism, it was inevitable that someone would try to kill him sooner or later. Tommen at least would be a better and more stable king Tywin thought calmly.
However, his own daughter had created a worse situation Tywin thought with his rage boiling as he realised that he had made the same mistake as Orys the 1st and ignored a threat he had been too gullible to recognise.
Whatever had possessed her to use the plans he had drawn up to try and destroy House Stark and House Tully? He raged silently in his head and she had executed them so poorly that they had failed to destroy their targets. Both houses still ruled and he had no doubt in his mind that once both houses had suppressed the uprising his useless and stupid daughter had started, they would turn their attention south for revenge. Something that had not escaped Tyrion either it seemed as he looked at the still mourning Cersei with disgust.
"Do you have any idea of the dangerous situation you have made?" Tyrion asked her with the greatest scorn. "Of the enemy you have created for us now!?"
"My son is dead! Show some respect." Cersei said with her voice shaking with her grief but Tyrion wasn't in the mood to cater to her any more than Tywin was.
"And now we all might be dead with him! You stabbed a sleeping wolf in the eye and failed to kill it!" Tyrion told her with anger at the danger she had put not only Lanna and himself in but his niece and nephew in too.
"The Starks can't be that dangerous." Cersei said with scoff but all of them looked at her like she had said the sea itself could be controlled or time itself.
"They were a sleeping giant." Tyrion told her coldly. "With an army that now numbers nearly eighty thousand and power that has been growing for years not to mention a righteous cause to unify them. Perhaps I should say formerly sleeping giant until you woke them up! They weren't our enemy but they are now and they will come. We have enough food stored to last winter but if joined with the Riverlands and the Vale they are far too powerful for us to defeat."
Tywin who himself had been aware of the vastness of the Northern Army was reluctant to admit Tyrion was right and his description of the North as a sleeping giant was strangely apt. They had been fighting defensively against the Iron Born and given how bad the Iron Born were a land battles they had not suffered half as many losses as other kingdoms. It had allowed them to train their army, they also had the highly fast and experienced Northern Rangers and a number of other advantages.
Not to mention Meera Stark at their head, unlike her brother she was not known as a battle commander even if she had brought the Iron Islands to heel but if she was able to turn her genius to war then she would be very dangerous with an enormous army at her back and now thanks to Cersei he had no one to use against her on the inside.
"Then we had best, discuss our formal alliance, had we not?" Olenna Tyrell said with a cool look in her eyes. "Both our armies will be needed to fight the Starks now."
Her words made him realise just who had manipulated Cersei into making such a great blunder and it infuriated him to realise she was right. She had played the situation well and Cersei's stupidity to get what she wanted which he was sure was Margaery on the throne wed to Tommen who she would be able to manipulate with ease.
Tywin's anger at realising Olenna had outplayed him and used his stupid daughter to start a new war that would only put him in more debt to the Iron Bank in Braavos. The North had large reserves of gold and ironically so did the Riverlands thanks to them selling food to the capital. They had armies that were fresh and had the money to back them, he on the other hand did not.
Tywin would need to end this quickly he thought but his plans to deal with a situation like this had been taken and used by his daughter instead. Worse she had made so many false promises, often saying she would let them have the same castle that she had promised to another with no thought as to how to get out of this situation after it was done, so now the rebel houses were squabbling among themselves rather than unite.
And for putting him in this position, he thought with anger she would be punished.
And as for the Tyrells, he thought with disgust as Olenna all but sneered at him he would use them and their army for now but only as long as he needed them, then they would learn just what the Rains of Castamere meant he thought with old rage boiling up inside him.
The guards at his command grabbed Cersei and dragged her out of the room much to the surprise of everyone and he followed without a word. They soon arrived in the throne room where Cersei, screaming and kicking was tied with rope between two of the pillars and the back of her dress torn away and Tywin nodded towards Ser Ilyn Payne who brandished a whip with many leather tails. The tongueless man went forward and without hesitation, used the leather strap.
Cersei screamed out in pain as she was hit again and again, Tywin stood watching while the whole court witnessed her punishment and knew full well that worse would likely be in store for them if they should do something similar. Tywin meanwhile watched without emotion, if she did not look so much like his beloved wife, he would have sent Cersei to the Silent Sisters after cutting her tongue out himself with a blunt and cold knife. She was his only daughter even if she had none of his wife's gentle and good nature or her intelligence and reasoning mind Tywin thought with dismay that his daughter could be nothing like her mother on the inside.
She was pure spite Tywin thought with disgust.
- x -
Jaime cared nothing for his sister's pain and misery as he sat in his room, drinking heavily to cope with his pain and fear.
Joffrey had been his son; his son and he had been killed by one of those that were meant to guard him on his watch. What kind of father was he that he had allowed his son to die and he was still here Jaime asked himself bitterly.
Regardless of the monster Joffrey had become he had still been his boy and now he was in the ground long before his time. And worse the rest of his children were now in danger due to their stupid whore of a mother he thought with anger making him spit on the floor at the mere mention of his sister. How he had ever thought her an intelligent woman and even the most beautiful woman in the land he had no idea now as she had been so stupid to start a new war against an opponent that far outnumbered them.
Jaime knew that the Starks were a close family, far closer than his own he mused with disgust and they wouldn't stop until they had their revenge for what Cersei had tried to do. That meant they would certainly be coming south to seek it and that put Tommen and Myrcella at risk. The thought of his two beautiful children being harmed due to their mother's actions scared him more than anything else in the world. He wasn't sure just what the Starks would do to them if they got hold of them, they were innocent of their mother's crimes and the North wasn't known to punish whole families for the actions of one or even a few of its members but Meera Stark was leading them now and she had a bloody reputation.
He had hardly interacted with her but she had seemed like a reasoning and careful young woman but that had been years ago. War can change people and she had been fighting ever since she left this place and that had been after her father's death.
There was no telling now what she would do to Myrcella and Tommen.
He would fight his hardest to protect them he said but he would need to try and get Tyrion to find some way for them to be safe should the worst happen.
- x -
Unknown to Jaime, Tyrion was actually considering just that.
Myrcella and Tommen meant the world to him, apart from his own daughter they were the only people he would risk his own life for. He was considering his options and getting them to the apparent safety of Braavos was the first thing he had thought of but with Varys having disappeared he wasn't sure how difficult that might be especially with Dragonstone still in Baratheon hands. He could guess where Varys had gone and he hoped to have a friend in the North soon, if he was able to convince the Starks to accept him.
He wished he could say he was surprised by these events but deep down he had known that Cersei would do something exceptionally stupid but this admittedly was beyond anything he had imagined.
Starting a war with the North? He thought with dismay, he had thought she would attack the Tyrells but instead she had made them a new and dangerous enemy.
He would have been terrified for Lanna if she had not already written to him, in quite an accusing way, demanding to know if he had known just what Cersei had been planning. Tyrion had already written back and sent the best messengers and ravens to get it to the North as quickly as possible to reassure her he had not, another thing to curse Cersei he thought with anger she might have cost him the very delicate relationship he was building with his daughter.
The end of Stannis and Renly was unexpected but had all the marks of Tywin's work Tyrion thought with disgust as he turned his thoughts to his own plans in regards to his father.
He had hoped to use Stannis to destroy his father but that clearly had failed but the North if he was able to use them the same way might be an even bigger weapon and prove to his daughter Tyrion thought with a pained look in his eyes that he was on her side and deserved her trust.
Tyrion would use the Starks as a distraction and when the right moment came, he would strike.
- x -
Tommen was sitting on his bed crying as he considered the weight that was about to fall on his shoulders hugging his cat Ser Pounce for comfort, Myrcella held him in her arms and did her best to help him calm down and while he was no longer sobbing, he still had tears running down his face.
"I don't want to be king Myrcella!" Tommen said with a rough voice as his throat was raw from his earlier cries. Myrcella kissed him on the head, doing her best to reassure him.
"I know. But at least Joffrey won't be here to hurt you anymore." She said trying to make him see a good thing in all this but that wasn't as effective as she had hoped. Tommen just huddled closed to her and she held him tightly, understanding his fear as she like her uncles and grandfather understood just how much danger their mother had put them in, she thought with anger towards her mother not least for putting their entire family in mortal peril. She had no idea what would have happened to Lanna after all this as no letter had the chance to get there and return if it did. Myrcella knew Lanna had been raised with the Starks and been the girlhood companion to Lady Sansa Stark so hopefully she would have some favour with them that would spare her punishment for the actions of the Queen Mother. Although Myrcella still feared deeply for her cousin as she had no idea as to her fate.
"I will be here with you." Myrcella promised him as she held her younger brother. "Uncle Tyrion and Uncle Jaime too. We will help you I promise." She told him and Tommen looked up at her with bloodshot eyes but they were bright with hope, almost desperate.
"You promise?" Tommen asked her almost pleadingly and Myrcella stroked his hair before telling him firmly.
"I promise. I will speak with Uncle Tyrion, if anyone can get us out of this situation he can." Myrcella told him and Tommen brightened up at that, knowing if anyone could solve this situation it was Uncle Tyrion.
Myrcella herself was not as convinced of that as Tommen was but she hoped he might come up with some sort of plan otherwise they were unlikely to survive.
Just then the door creaked open and they both looked over to see the slim and well-dressed form of Margaery Tyrell enter the room.
"How did you get passed the Kingsguard?" Tommen demanded feeling uncomfortable in her presence. Myrcella felt for the dagger her Uncle had given her to conceal on her person.
"Kingsguard?" Margaery asked with a teasing look in her eyes which instantly unsettled Myrcella as she realised just what Margaery was doing.
"I'm not a visitor Your Graces. I merely came to offer my condolences on your late brother's passing and to see if we might get to know each other as word has it…I am to be your bride." She said with a seductive look in her eyes which instantly had Tommen smitten. Myrcella who was already angry at her presumption told her sternly.
"That has yet to be decided Lady Tyrell. After all, our brother has only just been laid to rest and here you are trying to seduce the boy who is to succeed him when you were already a widow and spurred wife, and Joffrey our late king didn't like you very much." Myrcella said bitterly, hating the fact that the arrogant and vain Lady Margaery would dare try and seduce someone as young as Tommen so soon after Joffrey was dead. He would no doubt be more malleable to her which Myrcella wasn't going to allow to happen. Unfortunately, the smug Tyrell Lady had news for Myrcella.
"I feel then I must inform you Princess that your Lord Grandfather and my own grandmother have recently agreed that I am to be the King's new bride. With the great threat from the brutal North, it is important that we stand as one against our enemies." Margaery told them with a fake cheerful smile that conveyed how smug she was about this.
Myrcella felt her stomach drop as she knew that was exactly the kind of thing her grandfather would do; goodness only knows just who she would be wed to now Edmure was dead she thought with dread.
"Do you know, in most arranged marriages…most people don't ever meet until their wedding day?" Margaery said as she sat just in front of Tommen so she could look him straight in the eyes. A calculated move especially as it brought her cleavage as slight as it might be to his eyes. As a boy who had only just started realising girls might be interesting this would be impossible for Tommen to ignore and leave him open to whatever Margaery said.
Myrcella groaned inside, knowing she would now have another problem to contend with, preventing the Tyrells from getting their claws into Tommen.
Horn Hill, the Reach…
Randyll Tarly was in an incredibly dark mood as he sat in his ancestral home, his wife and daughter didn't dare approach him nor any of the servants as he was faced with the thing he had feared most.
His son, his real true son was dead.
He had dreaded this might happen from the moment that Dickon was captured, but he had trusted that Olenna Tyrell would ensure his release or at least his protection and yet she had allowed him to be killed. Randyll already despised the Tyrells for the arrogance and selfishness but now it was close to boiling point as it cost him his heir.
That left him with a daughter who was to marry a Fossoway for his castle, an old man with rotten teeth and the sight of his naked daughter would probably kill him. His other son, the one who he wouldn't even care to name was still alive but he was a pathetic failure, unworthy of being Lord of Horn Hill and who knows how the legacy of House Tarly would be destroyed under him. He had heard nothing from him for years but occasionally the fat boy wrote to his sister who despite Randyll forbidding it would also write back.
He at least had the sense to stay in the North where he couldn't get in the way but that still left him with only his daughter as an heir. He didn't want the Fossoways to have his lands so he would need to find another option for Talla he thought with complete confidence he was right. Preferably a second son he could convince to take the Tarly name and preserve it rather than make his house change their name. Randyll with that decision made went to work looking through his options till he could find one that was acceptable.
Unlike most of Westeros, the Martells were celebrating this unusual turn of events as it opened up a door that they had feared was closed.
"Cersei Lannister, the most stupid and short-sighted member House Lannister has ever had." Doran said, proposing a toast to his family members as they considered the opportunity the daughter of the man that they hated the most had created. "The Lannisters now have new problems they brought upon themselves."
"Indeed father! The chance for us to finally get justice is here!" Arianne said with excitement which was echoed by her brothers, uncle and cousins. They had sat out the last war and they would never support a Baratheon on principle especially with the things Stannis had done earlier in the war.
Now however they had a far better opportunity to take their vengeance.
"I will make the trip north to meet with the Starks and discuss an alliance, Meera Stark knows me. We can talk freely." Rhaenys offered, having decided in private at least not to bother with her false name.
That didn't go down well with the rest of her family.
"Rhaenys, I cannot let you take that risk." Doran said and Trystane said bravely.
"Myself and my daughters will go!" Oberyn said not willing to risk his niece on such a mission. However, they all looked at him with an incredulous stare.
"After what happened last time, I think that is not the best idea." Arianne said before saying.
"I will go, with Quentyn still down with that Summer Cold I have the best chance of talking to her." Arianne said and Doran, not pleased about his daughter going reluctantly nodded in agreement since he couldn't go himself and Quentyn was too ill. Trystane was not much of a diplomat and for obvious reasons Oberyn couldn't go.
"Be safe, the best guards will go with you." Doran said with sternness and she nodded with a smile, more of a subtle smirk really as she knew exactly the kind of people she was taking and Rhaenys was smirking with her. Ser Barristan looked at them with a sigh as he could tell his princess was going to do something extremely unwise.
"But maybe it's time we gave the Tyrells a headache too." Oberyn said with vicious look in his eyes. "They have so many of their men in the Crownlands and the Stormlands the Reach itself is largely defenceless. You would have thought they would have learned after the last time, and not left a situation just begging to be exploited."
"Begin making plans while I call the banners. It will certainly provide us with some new opportunities." Doran said with a nod, wondering just how they could get the most out of this situation.
Winterfell, the North…One Month Later…
Samwell was reading the latest letter from his sister, frantic to know if he was alright after the attempted coup. He was already writing a letter back to let her letting her know he was okay but the news she had shared with him from the south had shaken him to the core.
Dickon, his younger brother was dead.
Since he had never joined the Nights Watch, that made him the heir to Horn Hill again and Samwell was unsure if he wanted it.
It would be good to take it so he could make sure that his mother and sister would be safe and provided for, hells he could even make sure he could provide for Gilly too Samwell thought as he looked at his wildling woman who was helping Maester Aemon and Maester Luwin measure materials for their experiments.
But did he want it? Samwell thought for himself with a feeling of terror running through him at the idea of facing his father, after all he had been through, he knew he shouldn't be afraid of facing a mortal man when he had seen the White Walkers first hand and aided in the fight against them. He had been beyond the Wall and endured the bitter cold and danger which his father had never done. Maybe it was an old feeling that came from when he was being brutally beaten by his father, Samwell didn't know but either way he was still afraid of him deep down.
He saw Gilly coming over and her bright and warm smile made him weak at the knees but she as someone who truly loved you would saw the tenseness around his eyes. She looked at him with worry before he told her what had happened and his own thoughts it.
Gilly listened patiently and frowned before asking him one question.
"What do you want?"
The question was so ladened with meaning it stunned Samwell as to be honest he had no real idea, so he tried to explain the reasons why they should do it.
"It's some rich lands, I can take care of you, my sister and my mother. You can live comfortably." He said but Gilly looked at him with a shake of the head.
"Are you trying to convince me, or yourself to do it?" She asked him. "It sounds that you don't want it but are trying to convince yourself you do. Let me ask something else, are you happy here?"
"Yes." Samwell said without hesitation. "With our work, with you." Samwell said taking her soft and delicate hands which brought a blush to both their cheeks.
"And I with you." Gilly said with her cheeks burning. "That is all we need, you and me. The rest, we can deal with. Go south to place where everyone would judge us and face a man that hurt you so bad. I might be tempted to show people what a wildling is really like." She said half joking as to be honest if she met the man that had hurt Sam so badly, she didn't know if she would be able to restrain herself from hurting him back.
Samwell was struck by what she said and felt his eyes water, so glad he had met Gilly, she filled a place in his life that he had never known was empty and she was right. He was happy here, felt more in control of his life than he ever had at Horn Hill.
What did he need that miserable place for? He thought with a strangely satisfying moment to realise this. It was like an enormous weight was lifted from his shoulders and he smiled before kissing Gilly and knowing he had made the right choice.
- x -
"Never thought my wedding would be quite like this." Lanna said with a sad smile as Sansa and Ygritte helped her prepare for her wedding. Given how short notice it was Sansa had generously donated her own wedding gown and her friends had worked intensely to make a Cassel cloak as Lanna refused to wear a Lannister one after what had happened.
"We can't choose our circumstances, only what we make of them." Sansa told her sadly; her own wedding would always be tainted by the memory of the ambush that had happened and the death of her brother.
"Besides, you can be the lady of the castle. I can't do it." Ygritte said with a smirk, she had no clue just how to run a castle or anything like that. She was hunter and an archer; she was an expert at those things but little else. Lanna was a proper lady, she knew all that and more. She could run things while Ygritte did her thing.
"Jon…he's alright with this?" Lanna asked, daring to hope.
"He's uncomfortable but given how the North is feeling about Lannisters right now it's the best way to keep you safe." Sansa reassured her and Lanna nodded, wishing it was under better circumstances that she finally got married but when had the world ever been perfect? She asked herself bitterly.
If the world had any real mercy, then her mother would have been here with her, she thought hardly able to remember her now. She remembered her voice when she had sung to her at night and the smell of her and feel of the hugs that she had given her but it was growing harder to recall just what she had looked like. She looked again at the small likeness of her mother that Jory had made for her and smiled at it, her smile so beautiful and warm…she had never allowed the world to snuff out her warmth despite all that had happened to her Lanna thought with reverence for her mother who had been so strong. Many could have broken with what she had been forced to endure but Tysha had persevered for her sake.
Jory who came in with a watery smile at the sight of his darling girl now all grown up and in a wedding dress, he was choked for words as she was so beautiful. He didn't want to give her away but at the same time he was so proud to be her father.
Lanna seemed to be torn as well and got up and hugged him like she had when she was a little girl. She knew he needed and so did she so he hugged her right back.
"I am proud, for you to be my father." Lanna said with a smile, trying not to cry so she wouldn't ruin the decoration applied to her face and he managed to choke out.
"And I'm so proud to call you daughter." He said with his eyes watering.
They both stayed like that before reluctantly it was time to go to the Godswood. They arrived and saw Mira, Jeyne and all their friends there with Jon and Samwell standing there. Rickon stood with his nervous looking older 'brother' and it was only a shame Lord Bran couldn't be here but he had returned south to ensure Moat Cailin was ready in case of invasion.
Jon looked unsettled as he watched her approach, Benjen Stark had agreed to officiate over the wedding while Lorra Snow nodded supportively nearby.
The ceremony was fairly quick and they didn't really have a feast which was understandable after what had happened the last time. Soon it was time for the wedding night and so Jon and Lanna retired to their now shared room with Ygritte.
The air in the room was very tense as the door closed and Ygritte for once showing tact stayed quiet so Jon and Lanna could get used to it. Jon more nervous than he had been when he had first gotten together with Ygritte, perhaps but knew what she wanted. Lanna, he had known since she was a little girl. She had been like a little sister to him and it was hard to see her as anything else despite the fact she had turned into a stunning beauty, even he had noticed Jon thought although he scolded himself for it.
"Lanna." He said trying to reassure her and himself at the same time. Lanna sighed before telling him exasperated.
"Jon, I know you love Ygritte and you think I am a child. But if I am going to get married and to share my bed with someone…I want it to be with someone that I respect and someone I know won't hurt me. I want it to be with you." She told him with a nervous smile.
Jon was stunned that she thought of him so highly but Lanna proved when she shed her dress that she was no child anymore, showing him how 'grown up' she had become.
Jon was stunned, Lanna was likely Sansa's only real rival for the position of the most beautiful woman in the North perhaps all of Westeros.
"Snow." Ygritte said, impressed at the girl's boldness given how nervous she must be inside. "The poor girl has chosen you and I for one wouldn't mind sharing a bed with her. Now come on!" She told him with a slap on the back of the head.
Jon honestly was mystified at how he had ended up in this situation, he already had one woman that he truly loved in his bed and who loved him the same way, but now he had a second beautiful woman in his bed and who his first love approved of.
What a mad world Jon thought as he removed his clothes and offered Lanna a glass of wine to settle her nerves while he took one himself.
He started gently with her, doing his utmost to make sure she wasn't any more uncomfortable than she had to be and took things very slow at first so she could adjust to it. When that first bout was over though Ygritte removed her own clothes and climbed in with them, declaring if they were going to share him, they should all make the most of it.
Ironrath, the North…
Unlike most houses House Forrester had been lucky enough not to lose anyone in the ambush at Winterfell, Mira was the only one there and she had been lucky.
But as Asher and Rodrik prepared both the men they would be taking and themselves to join the fighting in the south when the time to march came, they finally had a chance meet their illegitimate siblings for the first time.
Josera and Elsera sat opposite Rodrik and Asher, staring at each other. None of those present knew just what to do in this situation before Asher finally decided to make an offer in hopes of breaking the ice.
"Do you like scotch or vodka?" He asked, eager to say something to ease the air.
The question seemed to catch everyone even Asher himself off guard but thankfully it did the trick and they managed to start talking.
"I prefer the vodka myself, the way it warms you can mean the matter of life and death beyond the wall." Josera admitted and Rodrik nodded in agreement.
"I know, when we send our men out on long patrols, we give them a small flask of it to help them stave off the cold." Rodrik told them which got an approving nod from the twins.
"Maybe that is something we can trade for in the future." Elsera said as she was now pulled into the conversation.
They only talked about light topics, allowing them all to get the feel for what each other thought and felt about things. Reassuringly they actually all were more pragmatic than they had all thought and so found themselves in agreement about most things which would bode well for the future before they went south once the suppression of the Skagosi was complete.
Skagos, the North…
The small island of Skagos was a foreboding place, they were said to attract sailors there so they could be robbed and eaten alive, whether that was true or not they couldn't say but what was true was that they had betrayed the whole of the North by siding with the Lannisters.
That was something that couldn't be forgiven, especially not the way they had done it.
Meera Stark had taken it upon herself to exact vengeance for the North and she was not alone in this, while a larger army was being assembled to march south. Lord Karstark, Lady Mormont, Lord Umber and the new Lord Ryswell were with her while they brought the veterans of the Iron Islands Campaign against the Skagosi.
These people had learnt to be brutal and harsh, trained to do what needed to be done, just what they needed now.
The Skagosi were also one of the few places that had not benefitted from their many advances, cutting themselves off as they did, they also didn't have the stone castles the mainland Northern houses did so it took very little effort to break them.
The sounds of battle and screams filled the air as the North men and women went to every single one of the rough dwellings the Skagosi had and burnt them all down while the Skagosi fought them with brittle dragonglass weapons or rough stone, iron and wood.
The steel brought by the Northern army meant they were no match for them or their better training.
Meera was as usual in the thick of the fighting, seeming to dance through the chaotic struggle. Her spear spinning around as it slashed and stabbed at people as she moved through the battlefield, her two direwolves at her heels and her battle companions at her side as they delivered a long overdue lesson to the Skagosi, pride comes before a fall.
And they were facing a great fall here, Meera thought bitterly. Only a handful of them would be left alive, largely due to their own insistence on fighting on. But it was clear that they would never be a threat to them again, not for a very long time.
Watching Kingshouse burn, the entire wooden castle in flames along with most of the village that surrounded it was a heady feeling, sending a chill down the spine. It was a sight they had seen at all over the island of Skagos and Skane too. Clearing out the cannibals and all the most revolting of practices and wondering why the North had allowed them to get away with it for so long.
After a hard day's fighting they returned to the camp and their tents, Meera with her direwolves came over to the small bowl of water and she began cleaning herself up while her direwolves tucked into a meal of meat they'd gathered. Her dragon was sleeping in her basket not far away and would need a new one soon given how large she was growing.
She already could breathe small blasts of fire and was keen to move around which would help her grow quicker, that Meera allowed her dragon so she could mature properly. It would be a long while before she could ride her through the skies but it was a thrilling experience to watch her dragon grow, not to mention Aurora was far better behaved than her brief experience with Norbert or whatever they had called her Meera thought with a small smile.
"My Lady, you have a visitor." Gendry said from the entrance to her tent and with her weapons close to hand not to mention her direwolves told him.
"Does he give his name?" She asked wondering just who she was dealing with when a voice spoke that answered her questions.
"My name is Varys Lady Stark but of course, you know that already." The smooth and exotic accent of Varys said from the outside of the tent, even after years Meera still recognised it and came out of the tent with her direwolves at her heels to see him face to face. He was alone which did surprise her, if he had been here on official business then surely, he would travel with someone or have some guards but he hadn't done that in the capital before the war she thought trying to find his purpose so she decided to go for the direct approach.
"Why are you here Master Varys?" She asked knowing he didn't have or want a title. "If it is to sue for peace with the Iron Throne then I am telling you here and now that you have had a wasted journey."
"Lady Stark, I am here in no other capacity then for myself and the realm. I cannot condone what has occurred due to the madness and jealousy of Cersei Lannister." Varys told her and Meera scoffed.
"The realm? What realm? The miserable existence of fighting endlessly in these games for power? People suffering for the whims of power-hungry fools and monsters? The realm is rotten with the houses endlessly vying for power. I intend to protect my family and my homeland from any more of this! What possibly could you want with me? Get to the point quickly Master Varys, I have little patience these days." She warned him and he was not surprised at her attitude given what had happened and he only wished his warning had arrived earlier to prevent the ambush.
"Which is why I have sought you out. You see as I do that the innocents suffer in the wars of men and women for power. I want there to be change, maybe not to end the struggles for power as I think we are both aware that will never happen but for these petty wars and loss of life to stop. The Lannisters have become a dangerous force that has destroyed the balance of this country. I am willing to offer my assistance in ending this war. You know my vocation; I have allies of my own many who think the same. Surely you can appreciate the usefulness of this." He said to her, Meera was immediately suspicious of his apparent willingness to work with her. The man had served every king that sat on that throne from before she was born, the good, the bad and the mad. She honestly did not trust him in the slightest which was the smartest thing she thought but knew he was a dedicated spymaster, something she lacked and in war that could make all the difference between victory and defeat.
She and him stayed quiet for a while as they stared at each other, as if assessing what the other was thinking but they were interrupted by another new arrival. This one to was familiar to Meera at least in part as one of the men there was familiar to her.
"The Baratheon Party my lady." Thoros told her with a frown as he looked at them. It was a much bigger surprise for a Baratheon party to be here especially when they were only one now, Meera thought with a fair bit of sympathy for the sole remaining Baratheon Shireen. Meera still had most of her family while Shireen had no one and stood alone against the Lannisters.
The single man in the formation she recognised was Ser Davos Seaworth, remembering him from the brief meeting at the Twins years ago. The old sailor had changed little since with the exception for some more lines on his face and a heavy walk, probably given the weight that now rested on his shoulders.
The other three members of the party and their guards were unfamiliar to her at least at first, she realised that the broken looking man with brown hair was none other than Loras Tyrell. She scowled briefly but said nothing as he had defied his family due to his love for Renly so she would not hold his family's name against him.
The other two of note in the group were female but as different from each other as night and day. The most easily noticed was a large woman, armed and wearing armour, proper steel armour too. That was distinctive Meera thought as few women who did fight wore full plate since it restricted movement, she herself wore the Valyrian steel armour which was specially designed for her and it had taken some getting used too.
The final one was easily the youngest and the fact she wore a yellow and black stag medallion around her neck, not to mention she had the same dark hair and blue eyes that all the Baratheons famously had made identifying her easy. Meera was actually impressed that the girl who was no older than Arya and had been much more sheltered than her own sister had been had come all this way in person.
"Lady Stark." Shireen said with politeness and a stubborn look in her eyes. "Thank you for allowing us to meet with you."
"I wasn't aware I had a choice." Meera said drily given they had forced this meeting but aside from that gave them nothing more than a raised eyebrow. "Since there is a lot to be done can we just get to the point of why you are here?"
Ser Davos, Loras and the mystery woman all looked at her shocked at the directness of the question but Shireen took it in her stride.
"I need help to retake Storm's End and to do that the Lannisters must be removed." Shireen said, actually glad not to have to do double talk or waste time with pointless posturing. "I have men and control of Dragonstone not to mention a good-sized fleet. To put it bluntly I want an alliance with you to achieve this. Is that honest enough?" Shireen asked her challengingly and Meera actually found herself liking her. She had much more charm and emotion than her father, that was for sure Meera thought with amusement.
"I cannot speak for others but when we do manage to meet with our allies in the south then you will have a chance to present your case. You can accompany us south until then." Meera offered and Shireen nodded gratefully.
"I thank you Lady Stark, I appreciate your understanding. I have already dispatched some of my sellswords to assist your great uncle in the Riverlands." Shireen said and Meera nodded, liking the young girl while Varys considered this strange turn of events and how it affected his plans.
"Indeed, I am sure he will be grateful, tents will be set up for all of you tonight as we head back to the main land in the morning." Meera said before returning to her tent to get things organised.
- x -
Varys was given a tent that was reasonable, the meeting had actually gone better than he had expected. Meera Stark had allowed him to stay and was much to his relief still on the surface the good and responsible woman he remembered. Whether he could convince her to go after the Iron Throne or not was another matter entirely but he felt it was getting off to a good start.
He then was surprised and worried when he felt a sharp point in his back.
"My sister might have allowed you to stay but I will be watching you like a hawk." A young female voice, Varys turned around and saw that the younger sister of Lady Meera, Lady Arya was standing there. She had grown but was still recognisable and her bloodthirsty grin was unnerving on such a young face.
"Lady Arya, I have no intention of betraying your sister. Quite the opposite, I wish her aid in ending the war that House Lannister has started. I am a spymaster; I serve to provide information nothing more." Varys assured her.
Arya smirked as she held her weapon to him.
"So, you want to use her." Arya said, not meant as a question.
"To some degree yes, I will be honest about it as I think you would run me through if you think I have lied but I believe your sister is the only one that can truly bring peace back to this realm. For that, I will give her my services. I have grown sick of war." Varys explained to her.
"And what exactly does a spymaster do?" Arya asked, partly to see if she could guess his intentions but also out of her own curiosity.
"A spymaster Lady Arya is a person that deals in information, who has a network of people that they can draw on to not only find information but also get whatever needs to be done accomplished." Varys explained before going into more detail, Arya listened so she could understand more about what he could do and satisfy her own curiosity.
- x -
Later that night Meera was staring at a large steel bar that had been brought to her, staring at it and biting her lip as she was about to try something she had never tried before.
There was no set spell for this and she had needed to do some careful testing with other metals first but she was fairly confident she could make this into something she would need for this campaign.
Since she had no had the time with everything to find a useable cannon design, she was going to have to cheat and make one with magic.
She raised her ring and gave it her full concentration and a deep breath channelled her magic into her ring which lit up with a red hue.
Meera concentrated hard on the shape in her mind and what she needed, the metal was unknown to her reshaping before her into a long and smooth metal barrel with the shape resembling artillery guns used in the seventeenth century since that was thankfully part of the knowledge Hermione had collected. Probably to show up the purebloods who knew nothing of normal human weaponry.
When she was finished, she opened her eyes she looked and saw the long and heavy barrel she had wanted, eagerly she inspected it to make sure it was exactly as she hoped and it was, eagerly smiling as she carved some runes into it to make sure it didn't break or rust so easily not to mention prevent it transforming back into a big bar of steel. She hadn't quite managed to properly teach her siblings about runes and their uses in magic yet.
But now, she thought with pride, she had a cannon.
Everything else she needed to use it were already obtained and prepared, she had a team of men ready to learn to use it and a good supply of gunpowder and lead cannon balls had been prepared.
This would shake the world Meera thought with a smile and with it their war would be a great deal easier.
Castle Darry, the Riverlands…
The Darrys were one of the oldest houses in the area, they had been of the First Men and fought hard against the Andals and then the Iron Born centuries later.
After the Targaryen Conquest they had only grown in power, Maegor giving them large tracts of land from his enemies after they were slain and although they had suffered a few mishaps over the years, the biggest of which was the time when Aemond Targaryen had burned their castle and the then lord with his dragon during the Dance of the Dragons, they had managed to maintain their wealth and status.
That however had changed when they had sided with the Targaryens against their own liege lords in Robert's Rebellion, not only had they lost many sons in that war but they had been punished severely for siding against House Tully. Most of their wealth and power had been stripped away from them and over half of their land.
Lord Rymun Darry had been promised for his original lands to be restored to him along with more given by the Lannisters specifically Cersei who he didn't like any more than the rest of her family but the chance of restoring their fortunes and gaining more was too good to ignore…not to mention he had no love for House Tully.
He was dead now, along with his son but Castle Darry had yet to surrender and was being held by Lord Darry's last surviving sister, Lady Jeyne Darry who had been married to a Frey who had been killed by the Starks when they took The Twins.
Brynden Tully had brought it under siege, intending to bring justice and punishment to all the rebels, Darry was an old castle and had not been maintained well the last few years probably due to a lack of funds which would explain the desperate allying themselves with the Lannisters at least.
He however was not prepared to waste time starving them out, so he was barging down their door with a ram, the wooden door was strong but it caved after an enough bashing although some were killed or injured by arrow fire from the wall or boiling oil poured from the battlements above. Allowing his men to enter the castle and Brynden watched as they soon took control, Jeyne Darry was carried out by two men, kicking and screaming. Brynden was unmoved as she had been a willing partner in the ambush at Riverrun. Brynden allowed the new young Lord of Stone Hedge and House Bracken Hendry Bracken, nephew of the last lord and sole remaining man of the family to execute her.
"Another falls, but the former Frey vassals will be harder to crack." Ser Nestor Royce said from his side. The man had been sent to help with some Knights of the Vale since Lord Royce himself was busy teaching young Robert Arryn to be a lord. The fact his great nephew would rule the Vale when he came of age was a mark of pride for Brynden but the family tie had given him the men that he needed to break most of the rebel houses.
Mostly, he thought with a frown. Sellswords from the Essosi sellsword company the Wolf's Pack, formed from Northmen that had left the North after the Dance of the Dragons had landed by surprise in Maidenpool and seized the city, taking it apparently for Shireen Baratheon which was distraction he didn't need right now Brynden thought furious at the issues he was forced to deal with. The Wolf's Pack was a smaller unit of no more than a thousand men but a mix of riders and foot soldiers, skilled ones given they had managed to take the small city so quickly.
But at least he had the support he hoped for, the North had managed to get itself back into order faster than he imagined and was now marching south, the Vale had joined the war so when they had finally come together, they would be able to take justice for the treachery of the Lannisters Brynden thought with a determined look in his eyes, not going to let this matter rest till they had achieved the destruction of the Lannisters and their dynasty.
- x -
The Kingsroad, The North…Same Moment…
A large column of sixty thousand men and women ready to march south stood on the Kingsroad, despite other roads now existing it was still the best one for an army heading south.
Meera Stark looked at the force that they had gathered, strong and motivated she thought with satisfaction. She saw the Northern nobles that had joined her and even her Aunt Lorra was coming along, Shireen Baratheon sat on her horse with her people looking to Meera who nodded before at the head of her army, with her council and the visitors including Varys began the march south, vowing not to return until they had removed the threat of the Lannisters forever.
The Red Keep, Kings Landing…Night…
Cersei was laying face down in her bed, sobbing over the death of her son, her beloved Golden Lion was dead so long before his time. The sheer agony and humiliation of being publicly whipped was nothing compared to that however angry it made her. She had acted to destroy their enemies when they had all been too blind to see the danger she thought with disgust at their pathetic idiocy.
She was simply not able to accept that she had been manipulated and made a grave mistake. Her arrogance, vanity and bloated sense of pride and self-importance would never allow it.
She heard the door open and saw Falyse come in with some milk of the poppy to help with her pain, she had been one of the few who actually gave her the respect she deserved. Cersei didn't hesitate to accept the milk of the poppy and it brought fast relief to her now scarred and still raw back, much faster than she would have thought but then she immediately became drowsy which was not uncommon with high enough doses of the medicine but when she passed out, she saw just as darkness swallowed her up that Falyse was smirking at her which confused Cersei for the last moments of consciousness she had left.
- x -
With the 'queen' unconscious Falyse whistled to her men outside, two Unsullied who would do as they were told and she had snuck into the Red Keep came in while the bodies of the Lannister men outside leant against the wall and another two Unsullied came in carrying a wooden box.
"Put her in, gently…we don't want to damage her." Falyse said with a look of excitement in her eyes, they had been looking for someone like Cersei for a long time. They wouldn't risk damaging her she thought as she put in the crate and it was closed up. "Follow, to the docks."
The Unsullied did as they were told, carrying the box to through the Red Keep which was very quiet at this time of night and killed any guards or witnesses that challenged them. Arriving in the yard they saw the cart waiting for them with more Unsullied guarding it. They all got on or ran behind it as they made their way down to the docks where there was a ship waiting for them.
The ship was a small black painted one, built for speed and not fighting. The crew were awake and alert, all silent though which was largely due to the captain. The man with short hair and a beard dressed in sturdy leather who had a mad glint in his one eye.
"The cargo." Falyse told him with triumph and he laughed.
"Good! I'll make sure she gets there. Its going to be so much fun!" Euron said with a look of lustful excitement in his eyes. His only real complaint was that he had been forced to use this piece of shit to get into the city since the Black Wind was too recognisable, something that he felt a surge of pride about. Still, he reassured him that he would be meeting his ship in Pentos before the long journey, just as well as he couldn't stand this piece of shit much longer, he thought with a look of disgust at the ship before doing just what he had wanted to do since he met this arrogant bitch.
He turned to Falyse and wrapped his hands around her throat and squeezed as hard as he could while grinning widely as her eyes widened in shock and grappled to make him let go but he didn't and pressed so hard her neck was almost crushed under his hands. It took only mere moments which disappointed him but was a big relief not to have that harpy on his ship, he smirked before dumping her body off the side of dock and then reboarding after the Unsullied had loaded the crate and then boarded themselves.
It was going to be a long voyage Euron thought with a frown as they cast off and he knew he would have to make sure the bitch got there intact. Oh, this was going to test his patience to the limit but given what was waiting for him if he did this, it was worth it he thought as he had the crew, all missing their tongues set the sails and bring the ship up to full speed.
There we are, hope you all enjoyed it. Please leave a review to let me know what you think.
Joe02 suggested Varys might take an interest in Arya and interest her in turn about his craft.
More Review Responses…
grizzytx - Thanks! I appreciate you saying that, having seen many great stories never be finished I intend to see this and any other stories I write through to the end.
Manuella black - Sorry!
Kahlan C - I have done other stories like that but for this one I felt it was needed. Indeed, Meera forgot about what was happening further south and that they had enemies down there, she deals with that now. Cersei? Well, what happens in this chapter will be a hint to her future. Thanks for reviewing.
Biowind- I understand, what happened with Catelyn wasn't done lightly but as she doesn't have the innate magic the Starks have and I needed someone in Winterfell to cause problems to get the story moving she was the obvious candidate but her redemption was always on the cards and she and Meera will be meeting again very soon. Drogo, I know I hated them killing him off so I decided to go a different route with him this time. Jon? I think he is too humble for three women but Lanna is going to get what she wants as will Ygritte. Arya, I think Arya has developed some emotional issues from her upbringing and then from her experiences after her father died. No red wisp from Joffrey, that's just who he was. No all the bad people in this story have red wisps in them like Baelish, some are just rotten. Tyrion like always will have a plan I assure you. Jaime? Not sure what to do about him.
MalSer - Good Name!
EatsBooks, theunseenwizard, era-romance - I didn't do it without sadness but the war needs a spark and this was the way. It is game of thrones after all.
Miyako1300 - She will face the consequences in due time.
Wolfieriddlee - Not entirely, others have plans for her. Oberyn? After he slept with her mother and all the other stuff? No chance.
Gon Freaks - She was warned but it came too late to prevent it, arriving only as the ambush started.
cameron1812 - Thanks!
Shadow Wolf 15846 - Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Rio47 - Appreciate it!
succubus . incubus - Indeed.
AnimeFan13579 - I know, this starts a new war. Olenna wanted a war to make sure that her family was too indispensable to the Lannisters to break with, not to mention a new king that is more controllable. She like her family has in the past will pull back if things are not going the way she wants, trouble is that she has misjudged her enemies this time and has no real idea of just how powerful they are now. Meera might be the one to face her we will see. Daenerys has no interest in coming west and Jon doesn't want it, someone else will take the throne. Cersei's prophesy will come true in a way. Daenerys will come to Westeros though not for the reason you are thinking.
Anonymous Wandmaker - I know, the Tyrells will face a great deal of trouble for this although not from who they are expecting. Tywin is now in a lot of trouble and he knows it. Surtr? Indeed, he is the big bad of this story and will appear. Thank you for your words, given the comments I've been getting it means a lot you saying that.
gginsc - Loki was something I wasn't sure of either but it works for the endgame.
Kristoff Umber - Indeed, there are going to be some real nasty things to get done. Really, wasn't aware of the length of Ice.
DeathToSnakes - Don't worry they will be punished.
Dominika Kowalska1 - Thank you! I am working on something like that but it has been slowed a bit as I look into what to do with it in the long run.
raw666 - It will, Olenna hasn't quite realised just how big of a mistake that she's made, she reckons that if it goes wrong she can just back out like the Tyrells have done in the past but she will learn that's not going to happen this time. Randyll isn't going over to Shireen though. Dorne, funny you mentioned them.
Adelina Bronxson - It seemed a good choice given what was going to happen.
Dark-n-Twisty - It was a decision I didn't make lightly; Meera isn't Melisandre, she doesn't have that kind of power.
Mist of Rainbows - They aren't the brightest and they thought the Lannisters would back them up. They hated being bound to Winterfell so they thought this would get them their freedom. Tommen might not get the chance as there is a large army coming for him.
Foxy-Floof - Oh Loki has his own plan and Meera is a part of it. Feeding Surtr is a temporary thing, he knows what war does but he isn't working for him.
Bearmauls - Tywin is the one that planned Stannis/Renly, the Starks and Tullys were Cersei but she was using his plans and Olenna made sure that it all happened when she wanted to make sure they had a new enemy but got rid of the old one at the same time. Tywin had already gotten the rebel houses on board before they were just waiting for his say. Joffrey was in private and they aren't with him all the time, plenty of times I saw Joffrey alone in his room. The Skagosi are from the island of Skagos, a barren island on the east coast of the North that are particularly vicious and rough, they are cannibals and lure ships to their island and Skane a smaller island nearby to rob and kill them. They have been difficult vassals of Winterfell for a long time and want to be free of them.
keiveela - She won't. Robb will be avenged I promise. Thanks!
GuardianXAngel - Different but maybe not as much as it could. Brynden Tully? He is not the sort of man to marry so he has a different plan in mind.
KingInTheNorth27 - Glad to hear you liked it. Indeed, Meera will take her revenge.
Mathias gabriel dracula - It is a pleasure to. Thank you for the compliment, I am very glad to hear you like it.
Next Chapter - The Starks come south and meet with the Tullys and the Vale, Tyrion see's an opportunity and the Tyrells find themselves with new problems.