Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire universes. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are exclusive property of Joanne K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin respectively. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgements: This chapter was edited by Void Uzumaki and Ashestodust. I also want to thank my beta-reader nicknm for helping me bounce ideas around.
The clanging of swords echoed amidst the otherwise peaceful godswood. Ayra was rather quick and moved with a savage sort of grace but she lacked strength. With a final slash, Needle flew out of Arya's hand and fell onto the tree and the blunt tip of Jon's tourney sword was pointed at his sister's neck.
"I yield," she muttered unhappily and went to pick up her sword.
"Interesting fighting style, though almost fully ineffective against opponents with armour. They would only have to skewer you once and you'd be done for," he explained quietly. "And if someone is faster than you, you'd be done for anyway."
"Wouldn't armour slow them down?" Arya asked curiously.
"Many train in armour since childhood and are used to the weight. And properly fitted armour barely restricts your movements."
"I was only taught by Syrio Florel for a few months in King's Landing. My father never allowed me to train under Ser Rodrick like you!" she grouched.
He looked at his sister carefully. Arya had been looking rather bored the last few weeks since she had arrived. With nobody to make her attend lessons with a Septa or the Maester and did not know what to do with her free time other than walk around Winterfell aimlessly. Jon had a feeling that she might do something drastic or stupid out of idleness soon. But maybe it was time to change that.
"Well, I'm the Lord of Winterfell now, so you have my permission to train with Ser Brynden in the mornings," he said carefully. "Though only if you attend your lessons with Maester Wolkan."
Her eyes widened in surprise for a moment and a wide smile bloomed on her face.
"Really? You'll let me train?" Arya asked with a voice full of hope. Jon smiled with amusement at his sister. Though it seemed that his condition flew past her ears.
"Aye, though you should not shirk your lessons with the Maester," he said. Arya was nine when she last received lessons from Maester Luwin. He would not force her to go with a Septa or a Governess, but completing her education under a maester was essential.
He almost asked her to become his squire or a cupbearer, but he quickly reconsidered as that would have been a poor decision. Arya was not his heir, nor someone who would be in a leadership position in the future.
He already had an eye on a possible squire for himself- Torrhen Flint, the eldest grandson of Torghen Flint. The Old Flint died for him in the Battle of Winterfell. It would be a good way to honour and reward the loyalty shown by the Flints of the mountain. It did help that the boy was as strong as an ox for his tender age of three and ten, and rather smart too.
"Yes, I'll attend my lessons with Wolkan, as long as I get to train!" Arya vigorously nodded, making him raise his eyebrow. "I can be very diligent, you know. I was a great cupbearer once."
"Oh, and when have you been a cupbearer?"
"When I was in Harrenhal, Tywin Lannister made me his cupbearer," she replied with a wan smile. "He even praised my skills and diligence."
He snorted inwardly. Only Arya could be under the nose of Tywin Lannister and even get his respect, while everyone was looking for her in King's Landing.
"Good, make sure you get enough sleep. Your granduncle starts training at dawn," he said with a small smile on his lips.
"Will you allow me to ride on Winter with you sometimes?" she asked hesitantly.
He paused for a moment to think. "The dragon saddle will not be ready for another two days, and it's quite dangerous to ride without it. And Winter is barely strong enough to carry me alone, let alone an extra passenger," he explained and Arya's expression wilted. "Though once my dragon has grown further, I will take you for a ride."
He cursed himself at his inability to deny Arya things. His sister cheered up again and rushed towards the Great Keep making him shake his head. At least soon enough she would not have much energy to spare.
The Flints of Flint's Fingers and Widow's Watch had arrived yesterday, but it seemed that his plans would have to wait a day or two more - word was sent by his scouts that the Lords of Skagos had stirred from their island and were almost here. The banners of Houses Crowl, Magnar, and Stane were seen barely a day's ride north of Winterfell. He had not expected the Skagosi to come and swear fealty, as they traditionally preferred to stay away from the politics of the North and keep to themselves. They did not even have a maester, so he had not sent any ravens to Skagos. It was a complete mystery how they had found out about his crowning, or if they were even coming for something else entirely.
Still, there were things to do – namely his exploration of Winterfell, which was almost complete. And testing out a new wand. He had already ordered a carpenter to craft more than a hundred different sticks of various kinds of wood into wands of varying lengths between eight and fourteen inches. The order would be ready in four days.
He had spent the free time in his last three days venturing into every small nook and cranny of Winterfell but he scarcely found anything special. Aside from the godswood, only the half-collapsed ruin of the First Keep had a peculiar, yet faded magical echo, indicating the presence of magic in the past. The only place left unexplored were the crypts. He had not visited them at all, aside from Rickon's funeral and the meeting with his sisters.
He was just going to venture into the resting place of the Starks when Arya intercepted him, asking for a spar. Now, after the bout with his sister, Arya returned to the Great Keep and Jon headed towards the crypts. Soon, he was face to face with the familiar old ironwood door. A few moments later he was slowly going down the spiral staircase, descending into the unfamiliar levels. Purple flames circled him and banished the surrounding darkness as he passed by the first level where his recent ancestors were buried. As he kept descending, he noticed that something changed.
As he passed the fifth level, he felt it clearly – magic was heavy and thick here, more so than the stale air. He curiously entered and looked around the nameless statues of the ancient Kings of Winter. The millennia had weathered away some of the finer details but the faces were still recognisable. Almost all of them had a grim or stern expression. The traditional iron longswords had been corroded to nothing by time, as the only thing remaining was a rusty line across their laps. After a couple of minutes, he realised that he would not find anything other than the statues and returned to the staircase, descending further down.
The air grew warmer and the magic became even thicker as he went lower until he finally reached the deepest level, which if Jon's calculations were correct was at least seventy yards below the ground. The ninth level was the lowest and partially collapsed. Ten yards inside, the stone arches forming the vaulted ceiling had collapsed, spilling rocks and dirt in the middle of the vault.
Nobody bothered fixing this because the amount of work and time it would take was enormous. The Starks buried here were forgotten in history ages ago. Thankfully, none of the levels were directly above each other, so no other part of the crypts was visibly affected.
The scene brought a frown to his face, as he could feel magic thrum with power behind the obstacle. This would not have stopped him if he had his full magic, but alas, Jon was quite restricted in his options right now.
He took off his runic bracers and cautiously started moving some of the bigger pieces of rocks to the side. Those that could not be lifted were split apart with his blade. After all, he could easily lift more than half a ton with his current strength. After about twenty minutes of hard work, he created a large enough gap on the top left. He carefully applied pressure on one of the supporting rocks and they did not budge one bit. The last thing he wanted was for the collapse to widen and to be buried under tons of rocks and dirt.
Truthfully, what he was about to do was quite foolish, but his curiosity was gnawing at him too hard to turn around. He gingerly slipped in the gap and after crawling for three metres, he was on the other side. The surroundings didn't look any different, other than the weather-worn statues that had lost almost all of their features to time and the only details that one could make out were whether they had a beard or not. The direwolves at their feet had long lost their shagginess and looked as smooth as seals.
He ignored the ancient statues and followed the practically vibrating ambient magic until he ended up at an ancient stone wall at the end of the vaulted pathway.
The smooth granite wall seemed inconspicuous to the eyes but his senses were screaming with the amount of magic coming from the wall itself. He tried feeling beyond it but was blocked by something. Jon curiously tapped a few places on the wall, but it was solid and unmovable. He unsheathed his bronze sword again and curiously stabbed the grey granite but the tip of the blade slid sideways, making sparks dance in the air. He hummed inwardly and sheathed back his sword. The wall was charmed to be unbreakable and couldn't be bypassed by ordinary means.
He furrowed his brows, deep in thought, recalling different ways through which magical entries could be opened. Runic puzzles were out as the wall was so smooth that it seemed like it was polished yesterday. Voice commands were a possibility.
"I, Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and King of the North, bid you open!" he spoke, imbuing as much magic in his voice as he could. A few moments later nothing had happened, making him feel a bit silly. Though, this was so ancient that the common tongue spoken by Andals was probably not even a thing when it was crafted. He hesitantly repeated the same in a choppy Old Tongue to no result.
Jon stood there, frowning at the wall. He directly placed a hand on the wall and channelled his magic directly into the stone. Everything around him hummed for a short moment but the barrier stood there unmoving.
Runes, magic, and voice were out. If this was not meant to be an unbreachable wall, there was only one thing left to test.
He grabbed the dagger from his belt and ran the tip over his thumb. Then he used the thumb as a brush as he smeared a bloody swath across the wall. The magic in the air sang. Everything rumbled and shook heavily and for a moment he thought that the ceiling would collapse and bury him under a million tons of rock and dirt. Then part of the wall slid down with a heavy groan, revealing a chamber thrumming with magic.
The dancing purple flames around him illuminated the insides as a rather small square room was revealed, empty aside the single statue inside. Jon's eyes were attracted to the stone face inside which was completely untouched by time and looked as if it was carved yesterday. The said face was… greatly familiar. He dived deep into his mind to dig out the memories of his past life until he found the specific image.
Sirius Black's face had almost an uncanny resemblance with the statue that stood in the middle of the room. A similar nose, wild hair or even facial proportions, although the cheeks and the brow looked different. This could not be a coincidence. Jon felt that after his godfather fell through the Veil of Death, he ended up here in Westeros and this statue was either him or his progeny.
Though why did Sirius keep his body while he did not? And did time flow differently in the two worlds? Barely three hundred years had passed on Earth, while thousands of years had flown away here. The lowest level of the Crypts was the oldest. Though the archway on this side could have been destroyed, he had no real answer about the time difference. Maybe even the original sigil of House Stark was not a direwolf but a grim? The animal curled at the feet of the statue strangely looked like one now that he thought about it. The grims were giant, savage-looking dogs with ominous eyes, not dissimilar to a direwolf.
He shook his head to chase away the errant thoughts, as chances were that he'd never know for sure. Jon finally looked around the room itself – the walls and floor were bare aside from the statue, but his eyes were attracted to the big round stone covered in runes in the lap of the statue. It was the source of the thickening magic, though it was not releasing it, but pulling it in from the surroundings. Jon would recognise the runic script anywhere – it was Elder Futhark. While the First Men's runes had some similarities, their script was quite different. The possibility of the founder of House Stark being his godfather or his descendant suddenly increased drastically.
A wardstone was the anchor of the magical defences of a big property, as protection spells could scarcely keep hold over a large swathe of land without being dispersed over time. Though it was far from the only way to make magical defences hold- Jon had thought that runic inscriptions were carved in the foundations of the Winterfell's walls instead, anchoring the magical protections differently. Or mayhaps made permanent with some sort of blood magic or sacrifice.
Wardstones were considered archaic and out of date back on Earth, as the number of different protections that could be anchored was very limited. If an enemy got to the wardstone, they could disable all of your protections quite easily. Though, to be fair, this room was nearly impossible to enter being seventy metres under the ground and behind an unbreakable wall. Once inscribed, you could not replace any of the runic matrixes on the wardstone and the only way to change your protection was to simply replace it with a new, unused one.
Jon carefully studied the runic inscriptions. Protection against evil, dark magic suppression, and something that looked like it would most probably block any corpses from being raised as an inferi or any other form of undead. All of the defences were aimed against dark magic practitioners of some sort. Considering Winterfell was a keep with almost impenetrable walls, the seat of House Stark was very well protected. That is if the wardstone was fully activated. It had gone into slumber, keeping the magical defences running at a bare minimum. He pricked his finger on the tip of his bronze dagger and brushed his bloody finger across the surface of the orb.
Magic in the air hummed happily as the orb in front of him glowed with a soft blue light. A small smile appeared on Jon's lips as he felt control of the wards link with his magic.
Willas Tyrell, Highgarden
He slowly limped towards the Lord's Solar, cursing his bad leg once again.
It had taken some time to get used to the thought that he was the Lord Paramount of the Reach, not his father Mace. He'd never see him again, as he was dead. Nor would he ever manage to bury his remains in the Sept of Highgarden, as King's Landing had become a cursed place none could enter and live.
His lively brother Loras had died after foolishly leading the attack of Dragonstone. The golden rose of Highgarden, his beautiful sister, perished together with their father in the fires of King's Landing. House Tyrell had all they ever wanted within their reach until it slipped through their fingers within a single day. Everything had been going downhill ever since. His mother, Alerie, refused to eat in her grief and had quickly wasted away, dying a moon after her husband. Now the only ones left were Olenna, Garlan and him, the cripple.
Even the otherwise pleasant scent of roses and flowers only reminded him of Margaery and made him feel even glummer. And the cheerful statues adorning Highgarden looked as if they were mocking him. Despite his cane, every step he took felt like a sharp dagger was stabbed into his leg. If only he wasn't crippled.
Though, the situation wouldn't be much better even if his leg had not been crushed in that dreadful tourney.
He finally reached his solar. The walls were covered with beautiful tapestries and shelves full of scrolls and books, and the desk was covered with unused parchment. His grandmother was sitting in a chair next to the roaring hearth, dressed in a black gown. She wore black ever since the destruction of King's Landing three moons ago. The death of her daughter, Mina Redwyne and the fall of her childhood home, the Arbor, into the hands of the ironborn had devastated her even further. Willas cursed Euron Greyjoy and his damned reavers in his mind. But where lesser women than her would waste away, Olenna Tyrell had instead become as hard as steel.
"Grandmother, any news?" he asked as he hobbled to the Lord's chair and sat down with a sigh of relief. He shuffled in a position where his leg rested without any pain.
"Your Grandfather has finally called all of his banners, the Oldtown is being filled to the brim with fighting men," she said evenly, staring at the crackling fire. The seat of Hightower was on a war footing even before their fleet got defeated. If the ironborn were crazy enough to attempt to raid Oldtown, they would be met only with steel and blood. Highgarden itself was garrisoned heavily, in case Greyjoy wanted to sail up the Mander and attempt to attack the High Seat of the Reach
"If only we were so lucky for Euron to attack the Hightower and break the reavers at its walls," he said glumly. In the last few moons, he had learned to anticipate the worst possible outcome from almost any situation. Garlan was still struggling to gather enough sailing vessels to ferry his forces to retake the Four Shields. Building a fleet took a lot of time. Fishing boats and trading cogs were far from enough to contend with the Ironborn in the sea.
His grandmother withdrew a small scroll from her gown, unfurled it and read on with interest.
"Jon Stark has retaken Winterfell and has been declared King in the North," she said with a chuckle. Willas wondered for a moment why his grandmother would care what happened in the North. Though he quickly berated himself, being informed about what was happening in every corner of Westeros was vital.
"I thought Winterfell was nearly impossible to take by force? And weren't the male Starks all gone?"
"Yes, but it seems that the Young Wolf had the foresight to leave one final surprise before he died in that dreadful wedding. He legitimised his bastard brother, named him his heir, and released him from the vows of the Night's Watch with one stroke. By all accounts, the boy is everything his trueborn brother was, if not even more. This Jon Stark smashed the Boltons and their allies in an open field despite being heavily outnumbered. A pity he will have to follow his ancestor's fate. His knees will have to bend to the dragons sooner or later. Daenerys Targaryen has landed on Dragonstone and she truly has three grown dragons."
Willas shuddered at the news. As a child, he had been fascinated with the tales of dragons, but as he grew up, his views changed. A single dragon with a rider could kill thousands and rout entire armies with ease. And these terrible beasts of destruction were back in Westeros once more.
"Should we not swear allegiance to Daenerys then?" he asked. Willas had no desire to see a second Field of Fire vanquishing the overlords of the Reach. "We could get a good deal if we negotiate with her first and her dragons could surely help us deal with the ironborn menace."
"The problem is that the foolish girl has landed with eunuch slave soldiers and Dothraki savages, sworn to fight in her name. Even Tyrion Lannister, the king and kinslayer is part of her court," Olenna replied with a scowl, making him wince. Few if any would be willing to bow to a woman as Queen, let alone one who had slaves and savages fighting in her name, dragons or not. And the dwarf of Casterly Rock was especially hated. "Thankfully the girl is willing to negotiate with that Aegon boy to unite the claim. The Blackfyre boy is way smarter and more reasonable than Aerys' daughter. We can only swear fealty to them once they marry."
The so-called Aegon was the best possible match for Daenerys right now, especially with the Stormlands, Dorne, and the Crownlands behind his back. Neither Willas nor his grandmother truly believed he was who he claimed to be.
Olenna was adamant that the boy was a Blackfyre because of the Golden Company, despite their apparent demise forty years ago. Willas thought that the boy was from Lys and was brought up by the Spider to believe he was truly the son of Elia Martell.
But that didn't truly matter with Jon Connington and Dorne at his back. All that mattered was that House Tyrell managed to survive. Hopefully, they would thrive under the dragons once again, true or false, black or red. And if both Daenerys and Aegon proved unstable or hostile to House Tyrell, he could always hire the Faceless Men of the Temple of Black and White. The coffers of Highgarden could afford their services, even if it would make a huge dent in them.
"I think I have finally found what happened in King's Landing," Olenna said with steel in her voice, breaking him out of his thoughts.
"What?!" Willas turned sharply, knocking down the inkstand and spilling it on the desk across all the empty parchments. His left leg flared painfully, making him wince and regret his sudden movement.
"Your granduncle, Maester Gormon, managed to calculate the amount of wildfire required to burn King's Landing to cinders. At least ten thousand barrels would be necessary to set the capital on fire," she said with anger in her voice.
"But it's impossible for the Alchemist's Guild to make this amount of wildfire unnoticed without royal patronage. And even Cersei Lannister would not be stupid enough to risk setting King's Landing on fire," he said incredulously and carefully moved his chair away from the desk, which was now covered in spilt ink.
"Indeed, it would be impossible. But it seems that wildfire only gets more volatile and potent as it ages, and the royal patronage in question was Aerys Targaryen. I managed to get ahold of a former acolyte alchemist that left the guild after Robert's Rebellion. If the wildfire had twenty years to age, only fifteen hundred barrels would have been more than enough to destroy the city. And Aerys had ordered twice the amount made, before the Sack of King's Landing," Olenna explained with a dangerous glint in her eyes. "We truly underestimated how deep his madness ran. Jaime Lannister running down the Pyromancers in the Red Keep and slaying his king makes far much more sense now."
"But why wouldn't the Kingslayer say anything about it? It would have made him a hero!"
"The lions have always been arrogant. Mayhaps the fool thought that wildfire loses its potency with time? I doubt that he'd let the substance stay untouched under King's Landing if he thought it dangerous. He did live there with his sister and children," his grandmother bluntly said.
"Do we not know what set off the wildfire?" he asked and carefully shuffled in his chair, trying to avoid moving his crippled leg.
"According to one of the courtiers that survived in the Red Keep, there was fighting in the streets before the fires appeared," she spoke quietly. "The Reachmen under Randyll Tarly were fighting against the new Faith Militant."
"What could make even the stern and pious Lord of Horn Hill bear arms against the Faith?"
"I don't know, but I will find out. The death of my son and granddaughter will not go unpunished," she promised with a steely tone and threw the parchment in her hands into the fire. Then the Queen of Thorns rose up with fire in her eyes.
Aegon, somewhere in the Riverlands
It had been raining for two days straight and Aegon was already irritated since there was no dry place to sleep the previous night.
Just like in the Battle of Harrenhal, Connington had managed to persuade him to not participate in this battle to avoid potential mishaps. He had already proved himself by leading the attack on Storm's End. If sneaking in the darkness of the night and killing men in their sleep could even be called a battle. Still, Aegon knew that the battlefield was dangerous and if he was killed their cause would collapse. And, gods forbid, if he got captured, he would meet a very grisly end. Still, his blood was almost boiling and he longed to lead the fight and cover himself in glory. But all he managed to do was get the command of the reserve. He was watching the battle from behind on a small hill. But even without counting the reserve, the Lannisters were outnumbered and Aegon doubted that he'd take part in the fighting.
He observed from his spot as the cavalry clashed with the Lannister horsemen, but the muddy field made the battle harder without a clear winner as neither side could manoeuvre or charge very well. He would have liked to avoid fighting in the rain, but if it wasn't for the downpour, they would not have even caught up to the retreating Lannister host.
Both armies were tired from the forced march through the muddy ground, but Aegon's force held the numerical advantage decisively. He couldn't help but be filled with jubilation as the left flank of the Lannister foot was encircled and overwhelmed.
Soon, the enemy centre followed the collapse and the Lannisters' foot was fleeing, or at least trying to do so in the sinking soil.
Seeing that the battle was lost, the enemy cavalry also started fleeing in every direction.
In the evening, the rain had finally stopped and everyone had gathered for a meeting at the command tent.
"What are our casualties?" Jon Connington asked.
"We lost three thousand men and we have nearly seven thousand more wounded," Dick Cole reported glumly. The sergeant had nine golden arm rings on his forearm, indicating the number of years in service of the Golden Company. Aegon idly wondered if his brother, Will Cole, had died in the battle as he had not seen him today.
"And what of the enemy?" his Hand inquired impatiently.
"The Lannisters lost nearly eight thousand and we have another five thousand men captured."
"Did we get anyone of importance?" Aegon asked curiously.
The smallfolk levies would surrender their arms and armour and would be sent back home after swearing to not bear arms against him. His army did not need another five thousand mouths to feed. He doubted that many of them had any desire to continue fighting and dying for their Lords. And the western lords probably would have no more steel ready to equip more fighting men, otherwise, the Lannisters would have fielded a much larger force.
"Lord Garrison Prester of Feastfires who commanded their foot, Lord Jonos Bracken of Stone Hedge, and a few dozen knights," Cole replied gruffly.
A pity Jaime Lannister got away. But with more than half of the Lannister force dead or captured, and the rest routed, the Riverlands was his for the taking.
"Jonos Bracken would require little persuasion to bend the knee. His seat is just a few days away after all, and most of House Bracken's forces are spent," his Hand advised.
"I will speak to both of them. Is a location finally agreed upon for the meeting with Daenerys?" he inquired. He had long wanted to meet his aunt and see her dragons. He could definitely retake the Seven Kingdoms on his own, but with her dragons, any resistance should quickly melt away.
"Yes, Selmy finally confirmed that the meeting will take place outside Harrenhal in a sennight," Connington said stiffly.
"Good, Lord Manfrey Martell will be in charge of our forces while we go to negotiate with Daenerys and her Hand," he said with barely contained excitement in his voice. "We ride to Harrenhal tomorrow at dawn!"
Arya is going to get busy once again, and Jon finally finishes his exploration of Winterfell by finding something interesting at the bottom of the Crypts. Obviously, I took a lot of creative liberty with the Crypts, as we barely get much details in the source material.
We finally get that Highgarden PoV. Willas Tyrell is not in the best place right now. Olenna lost a lot of family, and is determined to find the culprit and make him pay. Oldtown does not seem to be an easy prey for the ironborn.
Aegon finally manages to catch the Lannisters and his forces win a decisive victory with his numerical advantage. The meeting with Daenerys is finally arranged.
You can find me on my discord(dgj93pNeAD) where I will be posting chapters three days in advance(this will gradually increase to a whole week).
Please read and review.