I do not own Game of Thrones
After the ancestor Brandon had left, Lyanna had remained frozen in place. Eventually though, the shock was replaced with anger. The wolfsblood had always been the most active in her. Regardless if her ancestor's ghost was right or wrong, she hated the idea of listening to anyone else. She could not be wrong and a prince who could sing so well definitely could not be wrong. She was ready to unleash her temper on the next ghost but it was surprisingly a handsome Targaryen looking guy instead of a Stark.
"Hello, my lady. My name is Brynden Rivers. A bastard of Targaryen and Blackwood line. I am ghost of the present but, well, I am still alive in a way."
Thankfully Lyanna was not a follower of seven and so did not hate bastards, only ones who sired them.
"I suppose you've come to show me my great folly as well? That Robert is in the right and I am in the wrong? Is it only because I am a girl? Why would you betray your own family's Rheagar?"
"I have no such intention. I will only show you the present events. At the very least I will refrain from commenting if its not obvious. As for betrayal, I was the most loyal. As a bastard, I faced lots of hate and mistrust. So I decided to be pure like the river-water and be loyal to those who are good to me. Targaryen's were good to me so I betrayed Blackfyres, even broke guest rights and became a monster. Now I owe my loyalty to children of the forest so I no longer care about humanity. Targaryens, Starks, they can all be wiped out for all I care. I am just doing a favor for someone."
That strength of resolve scared her. This thing in front of her was no longer human. He or it had dabbled too much into magic. Brynden took her flying but the trip was surprisingly short and in Riverlands itself.
Their first target was Brandon Stark the wild wolf along with Eddard. Her happiness to see her brothers evaporated when she saw Bran crying. Eddard was looking at him coldly.
"I don't want to marry the fish. I want to marry Barbrey. She is the only one for me, my one true love."
"You are the successor. You will do your duty. And you don't get to speak about true love after your philandering."
"That was before Barbrey. I haven't seduced anyone lately and I don't sleep with whores unless its too long on the road. Even that is only when she permits me by letter. Do you think I would have missed the chance with that dazzling beautiful Dornish lass and supported you instead if it was me from before?"
Ned's expression turned colder though he was also slightly red which was cute to Lyanna.
"Her name is Ashara Dayne and you will call her with respect. I intend to ask father for marriage with her so she will be your sister-in-law. As for complaining about beauty, Lady Catelyn does not lose out by too much even when compared to her."
Lyanna was shocked by the confession and instantly came to dislike Ashara. She had loved Ned and was possessive of him more than anyone else and now that spoiled pretty girl would dare to take him from her. In fact the thing that had attracted her most to Rheagar was his brooding identical to her middle brother, except the prince wasn't family related by blood.
"Aye, she's a pretty goldfish, or more like a dead statue of the maiden. I tried to kill her childhood friend in a duel in front of her to see if she would love me more or hate me for it. She asked me to spare his life with perfect curtsy without panic while her love-struck expression remained the same. Even her younger sister was more interesting."
"Not the word I would use." Ned muttered. He was disturbed by the look on Lysa Tully's face later on. She had been almost as pretty as her sister but the expression on it had started to twist her into something grotesque.
Brynden turned towards Lyanna and asked her.
"So you were talking about suffering for being a girl? Brandon seems to be in the same situation. I haven't seen more gender equality in our entire history."
"That's different. He is the heir. I am not inheriting anything except a big muscly brute."
"Who do you thing would truly rule Stormlands? No, I should not make baseless speculation. I don't know how Robert would turn out with this."
"Ummm, why are we talking so quietly?"
"Those two might be able to sense us due to Stark bloodline magic so be careful."
And so they continued listening.
"Why don't you become the Heir Ned? I will gladly give up my position."
"I haven't been trained for it. Just by having a name does not give us the necessary skills to rule. Jon hasn't taught me how to be an heir. I will not take a troublesome job like that. Its bad enough with Lya's blood going wild."
"Aren't you at fault for that? Didn't you bring the marriage proposal of your best friend?"
"You are an idiot if you think that idiot would come up with the proposal. You are an even bigger idiot if you think I would decide anything about Lya's life. And you are the biggest idiot if you think father would decide that by someone else's prompting."
Lyanna was shocked that Ned was not responsible for her situation. Ned continued.
"I was asked by father about what kind of person Robert is by letter. I presented his good points objectively. As it was talking behind his back, I felt obligated to reduce his bad points a bit but definitely not enough to be considered for marriage. Why do you think father wanted to connect to Stormlands in the first place?"
"Isn't it a military alliance?"
"Then he would have chosen Jaime Lannister of Westerlands. They are closer, stronger and more monolithic. Stormlands are too far and Riverlands are too divided for a military alliance. Freys cannot be trusted, Blackwoods and Brackens keep fighting each other and so on. The ones wanting military stability and protection is the Riverlands, not us."
"I was sent to Vale while Lya would be sent to Storms End. What do they have in common?"
"You really are in full teacher mode today aren't you? Hmmm. They are on the east coast?"
"Exactly. They will both help us in trading with Essos unhindered by the Ironborn on the west coast. Thankfully Lord Quellon has them under control for now. Similarly Riverlands are needed mostly for grain, not their divided military might. Military is a secondary objective, the people of the North come first."
Brynden turned on her again.
"So do you understand now? With more grain coming from Riverlands, those people would not have to die in winter like you saw happening in the past. With stable trade to Essos and ships able to dock at Vale and Stormlands, there would be possibility of progress of the North without sacrificing values of the first men to the seven pointed star."
He loomed over her just like the previous ghost and asked, but there was no passion or interest.
"You talked about getting unfair deal compared to your brothers. You have shown decent skills in fighting and excellent in horse riding, but have you shown any interest in boring things like logistics and management? Have you ever even tried to grasp military strategies to be a commander in war? Do you have anything aside from your bloodlines value in marriage to repay the small-folk? Would you be willing to farm? Or ride out in snowstorm to deliver grain to every home? What is the worth of their faith in your family?"
Lyanna had begun to cry with each word. Unfortunately Bran and Ned sensed it and looked around in panic despite the invisibility. Brynden quickly took her hand and flew away.
"I have to marry as nobility, I understand that now. Why does it have to him though? Is my luck really that bad? Just the thought of dealing with that brute ..."
"Why not look at him as well then."
Brynden brought her to a solar where the big guy was with Jon Arryn. The first surprise was that Jon Arryn slapped him.
"You idiot! How many times have I told you to stop your womanizing with your marriage arranged."
"The one you should be apologizing to is your betrothed. Do you have any idea who she is?"
"A female Ned."
Robert confidently said. Both Jon and Lyanna had their jaw dropped open.
"Is that why you agreed to the marriage without knowing her? Cause she is 'a female Ned'"
"Why else? I hate noble women of the south. If she is Ned's sister though, she cannot be bad. I mean I hate Stannis, but Ned is Stannis with a sense of humor and without the teeth gritting. He is perfection to me. I wish one of us was a woman."
Jon slapped him again.
"She is not a female Ned! She is boisterous and blood-lustful and hero-complex and, wait, seven hells, she is a female you."
Jon looked like he just had a revelation. Lyanna was seething.
"Even better. Only thing better than perfection is my wonderful self. Now I got to marry her."
"Do you think she would love you like this? Will you keep going like this even after the marriage?"
"As long as I get a best friend wife with free spirit who can go hunting with me, I'll be fine. Who else would let a woman freely live her life? There's no way I'll do anything to betray my friend or make Ned hate me. Those two brothers would kill me for sure. At least I hope they would, death would be better than Ned ignoring me. I would probably drink myself to death."
Lyanna was confused for a bit but quickly regained her composure and asked Brynden.
"Are you saying he would have actually been loyal? Human nature does not change."
"Maybe. Maybe not. I will not try to justify Robert. He is like a coin toss that can go either way. I think that he is too stupid to specifically plot against you though so that is just your paranoia. If he had enough patience to plot to get a woman, he would have actually been a good king."
"Never you mind that last part."
Brynden left after that, leaving Lyanna lost in thought. What did he mean by king? Surely not this guy?