Eddard POV

I have heard of stories about a single knight facing a small group of soldiers, a bandit camp, or leading the charge, like Duncan the Tall or Barristan the Bold. Some are just about people who lead the change of each era, like Bran the Builder and Aegon Targaryen.

However, as fantastical and inspiring those songs and stories are, I just haven't seen any of them. But this, this I know would be the start of another song.

The woman who stopped Ice with a wooden sword.

I know I have no talent for being a bard and somebody else could name it something better but the thought remains the same. Looking around the slowly dispersing crowd, I could already tell that the story would spread into Wintertown by tonight.

Brandon and Lyanna are already bouncing on their heels, their eyes glued to the blonde swordswomen. By the looks of it, they just want to talk with her. Benjen would probably just follow them no matter what.

Father talked for a few moments with a tall red-haired man before walking away with two women, a dark-haired and a caped one. As for the blonde swordswomen, she joined three other women from the same group as the red-haired man.

"For every guard who can move, carry an injured comrade over there..." The blindfolded woman pointed towards the guest house just to the side of the yard. There's a small covered area just in front of it. "They would be looked over and given first aid. Any healers that will arrive from the town would be taken there as well."

The House Stark Guards look like would fight the order but Brandon stepped forward, drawing in the attention of everyone. Something he's really good at doing. Unlike me, who's better at staying in the background.

"Just follow the Lady. It's not like it isn't a sensible thing to do." Brandon said with a smile and that's all it took for the men to follow, although I can still see some of them grumbling.

The blindfolded woman quickly returned to her group and looks to be guarding the silver-haired and purple-haired women alongside the blonde swordswoman. I don't even know how she could see with the blindfold. Maybe it's a thin fabric. Something that can be seen through.

It didn't take long before the healers started checking on the injured guards. That's also when the blonde swordswoman separated from her group giving Brandon and Lyanna an opening, Benjen quickly following behind.

I think it would be best for me to follow them, to make sure they don't overwhelm their guest with their enthusiasm. It's definitely not because I wanted to meet her myself.

"Hi!" Lyanna practically shouted as she cut off the swordswoman. Brandon, Benjen, and I, surprisingly, were just a bit slower than her.

"Greetings, Lady Stark." The swordswoman greeted back. I can see Lyanna frowning hearing the woman's reply.

"I'm not a Lady!" Lyanna yelled before doing a small pout.

"My apologies..." The woman calmly replied with a bow. "How should I address you then?"

"Lyanna. Just Lyanna..." Lyanna answered with a wide smile. "These are my brothers. Bran, Ned, and Benjie."

"Lord Starks..." She greeted us before looking back at Lyanna. "How could I help you Lyanna?"

"Well, you could tell us your name for a start." Brandon interjected before Lyanna could start.

"My apologies..." She said while her cheeks slightly reddened. "I'm Artoria Pendragon. My... Friends... and I are in negotiations with your father for him to hire us."

"Really!?" Lyanna exclaimed.

"Of course. A knight doesn't lie unless for the betterment of the many." Artoria countered.

"You're a knight? I thought women couldn't be knights." Brandon asked, basically asking the same question in my mind.

"A female knight is usually called a Dame. However, I'm a little special that's why I've been given a title of a knight." Artoria proudly explained.

Lyanna's eyes couldn't get any brighter even if she wanted to. It looks like she found her new hero.

"Can you teach me, pleaseee!?" Lyanna begged with her eyes glowing.

I could see Artoria hid a chuckle but composed herself rather quickly.

"I would be honored..." Artoria replied causing Lyanna to jump up and down on the spot. However, I could already hear the 'but' coming. "But, that would depend on your father..." Lyanna physically deflated hearing the condition. Their father barely allows her to study horsemanship or swordsmanship and all of it is mostly done in secret. "If your father agrees to hire us, we might take over teaching you of some of your studies."

That's definitely a surprise. Did it have something to do with Maester Walys missing for the past two days? Maybe we should just ask father when we see him again.

"What would you teach?" I asked before I could stop myself.

"Well, If I'm not stepping on any toes, I might teach you swordsmanship and jousting. Medusa... the one with the blindfold..." Artoria explained when she saw our questioning stare. "She could teach you horsemanship better than I and animal keeping. Shirou, the red-haired man who went with your father, can teach you unarmed combat, archery, and how to use a wide variety of weapons, including dual-wielding swords. However, I wouldn't recommend for any of you learning his style..." Huh? Why? "Sakura and Ilya, the healers over there could teach you sums, economics, and sciences..." Sciences? What's that? But it sounds important... and complicated. "Medea and Rin, the women who joined Shirou, could teach etiquette, lordship, and diplomacy."

I can already imagine it. If everything Artoria said is true and they're as good as her swordsmanship, our lessons are going to be five folds harder... But ten folds better.

"Ria-chan! Can you help me for a second?" The woman named Ilya called out.

"I'm sorry, Lords Starks, Lyanna. It seems duty calls." Artoria apologized while bowing before moving back to her friends.

My siblings and I just stared at the back of Artoria's retreating figure. Maybe I'm not as far off as I think. Perhaps this is a start of a new song.

We tried to meet with father and mother, but they were busy with the guests well after midnight. We have no choice but to return to our room and wait until now, the breaking of fast.

All of us were already sitting down on our respective chairs when our parents arrived. Certainly a first, as the servants usually have to wake us up to have our meal.

As our parents entered the room, I couldn't help but notice three distinct things. First, they are tired. Understandable as they continued their meeting well into the night. Secondly, they're happy. Even father has a slight but noticeable curl on his lips. Finally, and this might have something to do with their disposition, mother looks to be healthier than she has been for a very long time. Her cheeks are redder, she can stand straighter, and she's not catching her breath. Looking around, it seems I'm the only one who noticed these things as my siblings had their eyes glued on the group entering after our parents.

"Children..." Father started. "I'm sure you have some idea of who these people are. Nevertheless, these people would stay at the guest house temporarily until the Broken Tower and the First Keep is repaired and refurbished to their specifications..." That's a surprise. I thought father wanted to tear both of them down to make space for a new keep. Father and mother moved towards the head of the table and sat down. "From now on, they would handle all of your lessons except for history and houses, which your mother and I would handle. Ser Brynden would still handle your daily training. Lyanna would be joining the training and lessons with our guests..." Lyanna squealed, hearing father's announcement. I guess seeing a woman handily defeating him changed his mind. "Your first lesson would be with Master Shirou after we break our fast. Your mother and I would be watching your first few lessons."

The new group sat down at the table and ordered some soup, bread, and meat, the same as we requested. I don't know why but everyone finished their meal rather quickly—especially Lyanna, who is vibrating in excitement in her seat beside me.

Shirou made eye contact with father as soon as both of them finished.

"I'll meet you at the yard..." Shirou said before standing up and looking at the rest of his group. "Can you start cataloging the library while I'm in the Yard?"

"No problem, Baka-Shirou." The woman who should be named Rin replied in a unique phrase, but I could understand it just fine. Shirou left the hall as soon as he got the confirmation.

"Let's go. I want to see what they would do." Mother said before following Shirou and his group. Father quickly follows behind mother, which we quickly followed suit. The rest of Shirou's group remained eating.

When we arrived in the yard, I could already see Shirou walking out of the guest house with a metal bow, a quiver with large black arrows at his back, and a large bag with what looks like more bows and arrows inside. How could he use that? A man would need his whole body to overcome the draw strength. A small crowd was already forming, and I could see their skeptic glances on the bow.

"First of all, my name is Shirou Emiya. During our lessons, you could call me Master or Master Shirou. Outside of that, you can call me as you wish..." Shirou's voice carried to our position even though he was at the other side of the yard. He walked towards the center of the yard, called us over, and lined us by age in a straight line. "Brandon and Ned's lessons would be different with Lyanna and Ben's due to the age difference. Adjustments would be made base on your progress..." He opened up a bag and gave us a bow and quiver each. The bows he gave Brandon and me have multiple curves and are almost as tall as I am, while Lyanna and Ben's are significantly shorter but still with multiple curves. Alongside it were quivers with black arrows.

"As you can see, I'll teach you archery today. I'll also handle unarmed and weapon training..." Shirou stared at us dead in the eye before continuing. "Any weapon. But I digress, a year from now, I want you to be able to do something like this..." Without turning his head, he pulled an arrow from his quiver and shot it from his bow without any difficulty, straight towards the center of a target at the end of the yard, maybe a hundred paces away. I can feel my eyes bulging. I never heard anyone with that much skill with a bow. It didn't even look like it took him that much effort. "If you have the skill and the determination, you might just be able to do something like this..." This time he pulled five arrows from his quiver and shot each one in quick succession. The first one split the arrow on the target, which the following one quickly copied. My jaw promptly dropped seeing the display. That's a whole different level of just being skilled.

"So, let's start."


Still in hiatus, these are just the things I write in my free time.

Time skip next chapter.