Disclaimer: I own nothing in this.


A/N: Credit to DylanTheDemon who is serving as co-author on this story (along with working in the backroom for ANP).

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or
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(At the higher tiers you'll be able to see early drafts of future scripts, and on Discord, see into the backroom channels where the final drafts are sent for betaing and view the notes about the stories and future plans are stored.)

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Prologue 1


NOTE:
"[…]" = speech translated by the trait, Comprehension.

"…" = speech in Cregan's first language. (Currently, English since he hasn't learnt the Common Tongue)

'...' = thoughts by Cregan that are voiced as sentences. Usually when he's complaining about something.


As the clouds of sleepiness left my mind, I instinctively stretched to gain feeling in my arms, only to stop and curse as I was greeted by the sight of my short, puggy arms that were connected to my fucking baby body.

You'd think after over three months of waking as a mother-fucking babe I'd expect it, but no! Every time I woke, there was always a moment where I forgot until I caught sight of a limb or my belly and was reminded of the sheer fucking insanity of my new existence.

Though at least this time I was able to control my anger and not descend into another mental round of cursing out who or whatever had decided this fate for me. Though I still swore at how fucking useless a babe's body was when you had the mind of an adult.

I remembered clearly every minute of my twelve years of military service – first with the Royal Marines then the SBS – and all the time I'd spent training or fighting. Yet all that knowledge, all that experience was useless with me stuck in this pathetic, stupid arsed baby-shite body.

Just when I was… not quite born, I could easily remember everything from my past life. In this case, it was a few classes in secondary school – ones I thought I'd spent flirting with a girl named Becky – that dealt with babes and the stages of early life development. Those memories told me that the average babe was unable to do basically sweet-fuck-all for the first few years. Oh, they could learn to crawl, shite and sort of play, but most couldn't walk or talk until they were two.

Though, I'd resolved to be walking and talking before my second birthday because the longer I was treated like a fucking toy, and had to deal with my mother (and others) making stupid fucking baby sounds in my face whenever they came close, the closer I got to trying to find a way to kill myself. Which for a babe that couldn't even crawl was nigh on fucking impossible.

Fuck this new life and the horse it rode in on.

There were two things – beyond trying vainly to learn to crawl, walk and talk at three months – that kept me from going completely off the deep end. Those were, firstly, learning about where I was now, which was the castle of Starfall in Dorne at the mouth of the Torrentine river, and the lands around us. Though I wasn't told much as such things often devolved into baby-talk/kissy-face bullshit. And secondly, trying to catch any snippet of conversation about Robert's Rebellion.

Provided that my existence hadn't caused any major changes to the timeline, then the war should just about be kicking into gear. I didn't know the exact time that events took place, but I knew that Ned and Robert had been in the Vale when things had started, so it would take them several months to get back to their respective kingdoms and raise their banners.

Though what did have me confused was that my grandfather, Lord Beric Dayne, hadn't left with a retinue until a week or so ago.

Nothing from my memories – I'd essentially re-read the two books in the series that I'd gone through in my previous life and rewatched the TV show (though it was a chore to review the later seasons) – gave much detail about the exact timeline, so I was having to make assumptions based on the tech level and the few passing snippets of information I'd heard.

When my grandfather had left, he'd gone with my two uncles, Alebert (the heir) and Aldric to meet a Dornish host – the local name for an army – to fight for the king. Yet, the few whispers I'd caught suggested that Doran Martell wasn't overly hurried about raising this host.

Regarding my family, my aunt (Lady Roslyn) was pregnant with Alebert's child while my eldest uncle, Arthur – the one who sent the letter that had been revealed when I was born – had gone silent along with Rhaegar; the man who all but started the war by running away (if Arthur's letter was telling the truth) with Lyanna Stark.

And this was where things got very fucking confusing for me personally.

Lyanna Stark was the sister to my father, Brandon. Sadly, my father and grandfather on that side of the family (Lord Rickard Stark) had been killed by the King, Aerys. The King had then demanded the head of my uncle Eddard and Robert Baratheon. Since Robert was betrothed to Lyanna, and both were wards of Jon Arryn, but neither was willing to die nor Jon to kill them. Hence war; well, the war that was only now just getting started really.

With nothing to do beyond keeping my ears open for any snippet of information about what was going on, I'd spent my time in my new… body, trying to push my new body to complete my two goals; be walking and talking before I was two.

Though it was hard to walk when my body still struggled to crawl more than a few metres before I was picked up by someone. Usually, that was my mother, grandmother or one of the minders assigned to me (Myra and Wylla who served as my child-minders and… nursemaids.) though my eldest aunt (Adrya) kept pestering my mother and grandmother to be allowed to hold me.

What was driving me mad was that, just like my memories of my past life, I could remember every single thing that'd happened to me since my… rebirth with crystal-clear clarity. And while those new memories seemed to generate lower emotional responses than I'd expect (which was different from memories from my past life – those generated no emotional response) 'reviewing' them generated new responses. I knew these people were either my family, or just doing their job, but I fucking hated having to be treated as a babe.

Even if I understood that in my current 'state', with me having over a decade serving in the military, and as a Tier-One operator, it was beyond fucking embarrassing to be treated like this.

I heard the door creak open and turned my head to see who had come in. That, however, was hard to do as the crib I was in had high sides to stop me from falling out once I was able to stand under my own power. Which made sense if I was a normal babe that would try to explore everywhere as they grew, but to me, who knew that leaving the crib was dangerous, it felt like a prison cell.

"[Good morning young one, how are we feeling today?]" asked Myra as her large head came over the edge of the crib.

I glared (or tried to anyway) as she reached in and slowly lifted me. Once she had me resting against her rather ample chest, she moved one hand around to tap my nose.

I attempted to swat it away. However, my body was slow to respond and, judging by the smile that grew on her face at my actions, she mistook my move for me trying to playing with her.

"[Ah, awake and alert as normal. You are a smart one.]" She said as she turned and gently bounced me in her arms.

'Fucking stop treating me like this!' I tried to say, though all that came out was nothing more than gargles and other stupid sounds, which as usual, made her smile grow even more.

"[Hmm. Are you hungry little one?]" She asked as she sat on a chair in my room.

As she carefully balanced me on her knee with one hand, the other moved to unfasten her dress. As her breast came into view, I closed my eyes and began to recite a now-familiar mantra.

'You're doing this to survive. You're doing this to survive.'

… …


… …

'Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty.' I said to myself as I slowly moved my legs along the floor and took one cautious step after another.

Based on the odd times I was taken for night-time walks, I suspected it had been about six moons (the local word for months) since my 'birth' and while I'd gotten almost nowhere with my goal of talking – anything that came out of my mouth was unintelligible to everyone – I was getting closer to my goal of being able to walk at least fifty steps unaided.

Whenever I could, I tried to walk (though until today I'd never gotten beyond twenty steps) though it had taken a few weeks before my mother or one of my minders realised what I was trying to do. They'd kept picking me up or offering a hand to help me, though I'd swatted (or tried to) away their help until mother had realised what I was trying to do and left me to my own devices. Though there was always someone watching (today that was Myra) since I was still a babe.

As I took my thirty-third step, I lost my balance – or my leg gave out as it wasn't developed enough for this much walking – and I fell arse-first to the ground.

"[Oh, are you ok?]" Myra asked as she covered the short distance between the rug I was walking on and the chair she'd been using to reach me. She scooped me up off the soft rug and pulled me close.

No, you stupid bitch. I still need you to carry me around!' Though as usual, I kept my response internalised as I was sick of listening to myself talk like a babe. Instead, I glared up at her, which had the usual effect of making her smile.

Now, was my response harsh? Yes, but after getting the same general question every single fucking time I failed and fell on my arse, I was fed up with being civil in my metal responses.

"[You're very much not one to sit still, are you little pup?]" she stated as she bounced me in her arms. As she turned, I caught sight of my cot and prayed she wasn't going to put me back inside, as I was sick of spending time in there. Yes, it was a good place to develop plans for how to go about altering events to suit my goals (not that my goals were much beyond learning to walk and talk at the moment) but staring up at the stone ceiling was beyond fucking boring.

Just as she reached the cot – making me think my prayer had gone unanswered – the door to the room opened and she turned, then lowered her head. "[My lady.]"

"[Is he behaving himself?]" Mother asked and moments later she came close enough that I could see her smile down at me. Even if she was my mother, there was no denying how beautiful she was. Though I was glad that because I was young (read a pre-teen) I didn't have to worry about being aroused by her presence.

"[He is determined to walk, my lady.]" Myra replied as she passed me to my mother. "[Every time he is awake, it is the first thing he tries. He's up to thirty and three steps.]"

Mother turned her head and smiled down at me. "[I see my young wolf is keen to leave his lair.]" She said as she ruffled the whisps of hair on my head. While I hadn't seen myself in a mirror, I knew from comments that it was black like my mother's, though many people commented on the fact it was darker. Myra had even said it was as dark as the void between stars, which made me really curious to see it for myself.

While I was curious about seeing my new hair for the first time, what I really wanted to see were my eyes. According to everyone, I'd inherited the purple eyes that my mother, oldest aunt and grandfather had. Though here again, my eyes were not an exact match for my mothers.

While hers had a haunting quality to them, from what others said mine had specks of grey near my pupils. Mother seemed happy about this as she said it reminded her of my father, Brandon Stark, as she'd once claimed that his eyes had been like grey mists you could get lost in.

"[Would you like to go for a walk?]" Mother asked and I managed to nod, and as my body slowly responded, I once more cursed my stupidly weak and pathetic new body. I knew that eventually, this would pass (as was proved by the fact I was finally starting to move to semi-solid foods, consigning the terror of breast-feeding to memories I planned to never, ever think about again) but until it did, and I was able to train this body for the battles I knew were coming, I'd keep cursing at being stuck as something so weak and pathetic.

While mother had said we were going for a walk, I knew this meant her carrying me around as I simply couldn't walk well enough to manage such a thing; even with a helping hand. And while being carried everywhere was demeaning, getting out of my room was helpful as it let me map out a general layout of the Dayne ancestral home of Starfall.

So far, I'd learnt that Starfall was situated on an island in the mouth of the Torrentine river, and not on the banks as I'd thought. I hadn't left the castle yet, but I'd been able to determine that the castle was large, on par or bigger than Edinburgh castle from my old life. The walls around the castle weren't that high, but from the few times I'd been taken to the ramparts, I'd realised that they didn't need to be as the island was high enough that attacking and scaling the walls from most sides would be nigh-on impossible for the technology of Westeros.

The walls were dominated by six towers, though outside of the two which were connected to the main keep, I didn't know anything about them save that the northern and southern towers were much, much higher than the others.

The courtyard was massive, easily able to hold a thousand people, if not two, with room to spare, and each time I'd seen it, it'd been buzzing with activity, though the only place I'd been to outside of the main keep and few short walks along the ramparts was the Sept of the Seven.

Mother had taken me there a few times (the first time had been for my blessing by the Septa) but generally, she avoided the place. While I didn't know why, from what I'd observed, mother's actions were causing friction with grandmother (who was a very devout woman).

Every guard or servant that we passed paused (if they weren't doing something) and lowered their head as mother walked past. Mother seemed to know most of their names and greeted them as we walked, stopping to talk to one every so often.

None seemed concerned or upset that she was carrying around a bastard, and while that might just be because mother was a lady of the house, I suspected it was because we were in Dorne; which if Oberyn had been telling the truth in the show, was more tolerant and accepting of bastards.

Sadly however, this relaxed attitude didn't extend fully to my grandmother. While she was gentle and kind, it was easy for me to tell that she was less than thrilled by me. Now, that could just be because the Starks were on the opposite side of the war from the Daynes, but I felt there was more to it. Almost as if she felt I was some kind of threat to the family. Which, given that uncle Alebert's wife died in childbirth (and the babe was stillborn), was understandable. There was every chance that my grandfather and all three uncles could die in the war (if the show was correct then at least Arthur would die) making my mother the heir to the house and placing me in a position to attempt to claim the title. Not that I would do so unless both my aunts died as well.

Eventually, my mother took me to a balcony that had a wonderful view of the sea. I could see several vessels out in the water, and while most looked like simply fishing boats, two were larger ships with one heading east to west while the other was heading away from Starfall.

"[My Lady, Lady Helenys has requested your presence in Lord Beric's solar.]"

Mother turned, ending my view of the sea, and I saw a young boy, perhaps twelve, had entered the room with the balcony. His skin was a darker tone than that of my mother or her family and had brown hair, but nothing about him stood out and I couldn't remember seeing him before.

"[Thank you, Hurdon.]" Mother replied. At that, the boy turned and left with mother following him out of the room.

I was concerned that mother would return me to my room, but thankfully she turned in the direction that headed away from my room. I'd never been to the lord's solar (nor even knew the castle had one, though in retrospect I should've expected there to be one) so learning where it was would help expand my mental map of the castle. Plus, I was curious why mother had been summoned to the solar.

It took mother about five minutes to reach the solar, with us skirting around the great hall of the main keep (which made sense since those were two locations where the Lord of a castle would spend most of their time). There were two guards outside, and unlike the other guards, these two made no move to acknowledge mother's presence. Instead, the one on the left (a shorter man that was almost as broad as he was tall) turned the handle on the large wooden door that was between them.

"[Ashara, good.]" Grandmother began as we stepped into the solar, which was pretty much what I'd expected a medieval office to look like. Bookcases dominated the two walls to the side, while grandmother sat behind a large, black wooden desk.

However, my attention was on the large lit fireplace behind, or more importantly, the three metal prongs that were fastened to the wall. That had to be a holding place for an ancestral sword, and I wondered if House Dayne had a Valyrian blade like House Stark's Ice.

Above those prongs was an old, beaten shield that bore the sigil of House Dayne; a white sword and falling star crossed over a purple background.

"[I have received ravens from your father and brother.]" Grandmother continued from behind the large desk as mother sat down across from her. Grandmothers' eyes shifted to me, and for a moment they narrowed. "[How is young Cregan today?]" She asked, her nose wrinkling at my name.

While it was close to my name from my former life, something about the way my grandmother and others said it felt off. As if it wasn't a normal name for House Dayne or Dorne to use. Which made me suspect it was a name used by the Starks, though I'd never heard it before in the show or the two books I'd read.

"[Still trying to walk. Thirty and three steps according to Myra.]" Mother answered as grandmother slid a small note across the table.

Mother shifted me to one leg before reaching out and picking up the note as grandmother replied. "[Impressive. Neither you nor your siblings were walking so well at such a young age. I just wished you'd picked a less… Northern name.]"

Huh.

That confirmed why Cregan didn't sound right. Obviously, there had been a famous Cregan Stark at some point in the past, which was why (when combined with what my old name was and whatever resulted in my rebirth here) it had been chosen for my name.

Mother gasped and my focus shifted from my grandmother to the note mother was reading. Sadly, as had happened a few times before, my strange trait of Comprehension didn't cover written languages. Thus, the paper looked like it was covered in nothing but scribbles to my eyes.

"[Married?! And she's with child?! Has the whole world gone mad?]" Mother asked as the note was passed back to my grandmother. Instantly, I had a suspicion as to who the note was talking about, but without confirmation, a suspicion was all it was.

"[It is possible. Arthur did mention before that the princess Elia was aware of all this. And Targaryens have taken multiple brides in the past.]" Grandmother explained as she picked up the note and then tossed it carefully into the fireplace behind her.

My mind swirled as I got my confirmation. Lyanna had married Rhaegar and was with child. One who would be found and named Jon by Ned later this year.

Part of me wanted to scream to the heavens about what was going to happen. However, I knew that if I tried to do so, then I'd just end up crying (fucking stupid baby body) and thus end the meeting before I could learn any more. Therefore, I kept my mouth closed and tried to not appear too curious about what was being discussed.

"[B-but, if this is the case, then the war…]" Mother's words trailed off as she came to the conclusion that I'd reached moments before.

"[Indeed.]" Grandmother commented before she sighed loudly, and slummed into the chair. It was as if she had aged a decade in that second as gone was the strong (and slightly scary) older woman and in her place was one weary of the life. "[A bloody mummer's farce, all of it.]"

Grandmother shook her head before then looking down at me once more. "[If only your father had been less… hot-blooded, and the King less insane."] She paused and shifted her attention back to mother. "[You would be married to the Heir of the North, with Cregan next in line to be Lord Stark after Brandon, and we'd have alliances with two of the Lord Paramounts, as well as the crown.]"

A silence fell over the room as the two women contemplated that scenario. I, however, was glad it wouldn't come to pass.

Now, don't get me wrong, I liked the Starks (and would kill to get a direwolf as an animal companion) and it would've placed me in a location to better prepare for the dangers north of The Wall, but something told me that if I was raised as in Winterfell, I'd have less time to explore as I'd end up being trained to be the heir.

Plus, I had always been curious about Dorne. The show… well, it had ruined the storyline involving House Martell, but the few snippets I'd caught about Dorne that came from the books made them sound much more fun to be around. Plus, the weather was better.

"[C-can we get word to Lord Stark or Lord Arryn?]" Mother asked, breaking the silence and pulling me from my thoughts.

Grandmother shook her head. "[Unlikely. Apart from us being on opposite sides of the war, the King is keeping Princess Elia and her children in the Red Keep as hostages in all but name. Any act by us, a loyal vassal house of the Martells, to reach out to Lord Stark would likely result in the death of the princess and her children, along with my husband and your brothers being executed as traitors.]"

"[Gods, this…]" Mother paused and dabbed at her eyes with her free hand. "[W-what of father and my brothers?]"

"[I received a raven from him last night. He, Alebert and Aldric have met up with the Dornish host under the command of Lewyn Martell at the entrance of the Prince's pass. From there, they plan to march to King's Landing to join the host assembled by Prince Rhaegar.]"

Mother sighed. "[I… This… It can't be happening.]" Her worry was easy to see and hoping to comfort her, I reached out and grasped one of her fingers in mine. She looked down at me and smiled, seeming to take some comfort from my presence.

"[Sadly, it is.]" Grandmother stated, her eyes narrowing as she once more glanced at me. "[I have prepared a raven for Prince Doran, but I feel there is little he can do to prevent things becoming worse. While Beric and Arthur are close to each other, Arthur hints that they've take not keeping their location a secret from House Fowler. Though he has asked for a nursemaid and supplies to be dispatched directedly to their location.]" She looked down at the table and sighed. "[Beyond that, there is nought we can do but pray for everyone's safe return.]"

"[On both sides.]" Mother added. "[I do not wish Cregan to grow up without knowing his father's family.]" Mother and grandmother locked eyes at that before grandmother looked down at me once more and sighed again.

"[Indeed. Let us hope the Seven will hear our words.]" She added as she stood.

Mother followed suit, being careful of how I was balanced in her arms but paused just as grandmother reached the door to the solar.

"[I-I will head to the Godswood. P-perhaps a prayer to the Old Gods will grant protection to Lord Stark as well as our family.]"

Grandmother frowned and one eyebrow seeming to twitch before she responded. "[Hmm. Mayhaps there is reason in praying to all the Gods, New and Old. While I am not a Dayne by birth, I know the linage of this house traces back to the First Men. Even if your house converted to the Seven at the same time as mine, the child is of the First men. Mayhaps that will be enough for the Old Gods to hear your pleas.]"

Mother nodded and followed grandmother out of the room.

As they walked, I wondered what I'd find in the Godswood of Starfall. Until just now I didn't realise that the Daynes were a First Men house. From what little I knew of the history of Westeros, I thought all houses south of the Neck followed the Seven (bar the Ironborn, but they were nothing but pirates and thugs. My mind began to wonder if the Starfall Godswood would have a weirwood tree like the one in Winterfell.

Would be the same size or have a face carved into it like all weirwoods were meant to have?

Of course, my curiosity fizzled as I realised that if it did have a weirwood, then that would mean that the Three-eyed raven (who'd taught Bran in the show) would know about me.

I gulped hard at that. The idea that a man who could use magic to look into the past (and from what was implied the future) would no doubt consider a presence from another world a variable. One great enough that he might just wish to remove me from the board before anyone knew I was even playing.

And what about the Children of the Forest, or the Others (or even the Lord of Light if it was real) feel about my presence.

I gulped again as mother stepped into the courtyard and separated from grandmother.

For the first time since my rebirth, I suddenly felt very, very concerned about just what my future held, and the dangers that were hidden in this world.

… …


And that's year 1 covered. Yeah, not much going on for Cregan, but the war is happening in the background.