Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or Game of Thrones. They belong to their respective copyright owners. This story is written without profit in mind. I make no money from it.
AN: Betaed by vyor on the Space Battles forums. Thank you very much!
A Song of Sith and Thrones
Prologue: A new prince in the Red Keep
I stared at my "mother" and siblings, who were waiting me for breakfast. Or to break our fast as they said over here. From all the stunts my "favorite" ROB had pulled lately, this has to take the cake. She even did this for my own good you see. I needed vacation she told me.
So I awoke in King's Landing today. In the Royal suites of the Red Keep no less. Without the Force, any magic or cybernetic enhancements. Just a man, a growing teenager really.
I'll give her that, this new body is in incredible shape when you consider the more or less medieval setting, but still... I was one man stuck in the mad house that was Game of Thrones.
It could be worse I guess. At least I have a bit of time, no matter how borrowed it is. You see, now I am a golden haired prince. Supposedly the second born of King Robert. A year younger than the crowned ponce, who is seventeen by the way. And complete sadistic piece of shit.
That's him, right there! The bastard glaring daggers at me is my loving big brother Joff. It's been less than ten seconds since seeing him for the first time and I'm already planning his murder... After all, I have the memories of the teenager I possess, and those are more than enough to make up my mind.
Does that reflect poorly on myself or was it a consequence of the mad house I was dumped in, I may never know...
I shook my head and walked in, forcing something resembling a genuine smile. I gave a respectful nod to my mother and went for the free seat on her left. Naturally, Joff was sitting to her right. The place of most respect, though the little mad man deserved none. I just raised an eyebrow at my fuming big brother, being glad that my past self in this world hadn't spent too much time with him. As the second son, the prince in whose body I now resided, had spent nearly half the year at Storm's end, the Baratheon's ancestral seat of power, being groomed as the next lord of the Stromlands.
Let me tell you, that was a long shot. Not with my looks and questionable parentage. At least Prince Durran Baratheon had been somewhat competent and reasonably nice kid (for a Westeros noble) and didn't piss off the locals. However that was unlikely to matter too much. Not with his, now my obvious Lannister's looks.
On the other hand... Well I was back into somewhat decent snake pit. Thanks to my recent past as a Sith, it felt almost like home... Besides there were few bright spots in my new life. With a lot of strings attached. As one might expect... Unless I fucked up, I could rely on the support of the most powerful man in the realm after my "father" Robert. Yep. It's great, isn't it? Tywin Lannister being the one of the few people on this continent that I could reasonably trust... The fact that he and my father were constantly arguing, mainly by raven post about making me the heir of Casterly Rock and the Westerlands, and leaving my little brother Tommen to deal with the Stormlands worked to my advantage there. Too bad that my grandfather was in a dire need of a competent military commander if my memories of this world were correct.
That's another thing. Ever since awakening here, I was scrambling to remember as much from the show and the books as I could. I needed those memories to give me some advantage, though first I had to find out how close to the fiction back on Earth this world actually was. Acting on false information could get me killed. Or much worse. While I didn't believe that the local hacks were even close to Sith standards where torture was concerned, recovering after a session with the butchers in this world would be hard, probably impossible.
However all that was something to consider at a later time. First I had to survive breakfast with my oh so loving family...
I sat down and looked to my left, where Tommen was too busy devouring something that looked like a passable cake, to pay me much attention. In my opinion the kid had his priorities straight. Focusing on the food while mother and Joff were around was probably the safest proposition for him.
My eyes drifted over my little brother and a looked at Myrcella, who was grinning at me. The sight of my little sister, the only one of my siblings who Durran apparently loved ( he outright loathed Joff and barely tolerated Tommen, believing him to be a troublesome brat), brought a smile on my face. She was a cute kid. Innocent too, which was some kind of miracle considering our family.
"Cella..." I whispered my sister's name.
Oh, yeah. I obviously got the full package from merging with Durran. I loved my sister. There was that need to protect her. From nearly everything considering the world on which she had the misfortune to be born on. Princess or not.
Which immediately made my life much more difficult.
I glanced to my right. Cersei had a thoughtful expression on her face, while Joff was glaring at us with disdain. I was reasonably sure that he would shed no tears if all his siblings dropped dead right there and then. According to the memories of my "dear" brother, he would throw a party to celebrate our passing. He hated Durran with a passion, something obvious to anyone, except our loving mother.
Yeah. He needed to go. Soon.
"Mother, to what do we own the honor?" I asked.
Ever since Durran had turned fourteen, such family breakfasts were no longer an almost daily ritual. Cersei had been too busy doting on Joffrey, making him even bigger spoiled brat, while the prince I possessed, started spending a lot of time around Rently or Ser Barristan Selmy, who was his trainer. I had to suppress a frown. I should start thinking of Durran's past as my own before I slipped up. The last thing I needed was for someone to believe that I was bewitched or something.
Cersei interrupted my musings.
"The hand of the King had gotten sick all of a sudden," she informed us in a sweet tone.
Oh, shit. I thought I had more time to plot.
"That is tragic," I supplied in a neutral tone, while taking a warm loaf of bread and looked over the table for some butter.
"What's the big deal?" scoffed Joff.
I rolled my eyes at him and even mother gave him a look that might have held the tiniest hint of disapproval.
"Who could become the next Hand of the King if the worst happens, the Seven forbid. That is the issue," I said, giving him something to think about and winning a nod of approval from Cersei.
While Joff was trying to make his two brain cells rub together, I speared a piece of yellow cheese with my fork and started chewing carefully. It was surprisingly good, though that was deceptive. As the part of the Royal family I was getting the best food there was in the Realm. What most people in Westeros had to eat, well better not think about that... Such a train of thoughts would have killed my appetite if thanks to my time as a Sith I hadn't become a mostly selfish bastard. Besides, soon enough the small folk would have much bigger problems...
"Grandfather of course!" exclaimed Joff.
I almost snickered. As if. I was well aware, as everyone who paid attention, that Robert wasn't too thrilled with the Lannisters having as much influence within King's Landing as things stood. Making Twin Lannister the Hand of the King, well that was going to happen when the seven hells froze over. Even if I didn't have some knowledge about a possible future, the logical choice at least in "father's" mind would be Eddard Stark.
The honorable north man. That poor sod would have no idea in what he would be getting himself in if he accepted the position. It was more likely than not that I would be one of the people plotting against him. If he was truly as honorable as the show and the common knowledge my Durran had about the man, he would be an enemy if, when the secret went out. After all, I wanted my head to remain on my shoulders. Preferably with a crown on it.
Crazy big brother notwithstanding, I had it too good to risk loosing all the power and security my position could give me even while Robert was still alive. Which reminded me. I needed to have a hear to heart conversation with mother. About regicide. I had no illusions how the King would react if the truth ever got out while he was still drawing breath. In such a case, my best bet would be either to flee to Essos or taking the Black. If I was really lucky that is.
I took a sip of water to clear my throat. No coffee or something like it. Damn...
"Unlikely, brother. If Jon Arryn doesn't recover, father's choice for his next Hand lies north," I stated with conviction.
My mother nodded absentmindedly. It was obviously that she was plotting something, though that was nothing new. She was always doing so.
"Eddard Stark!" she almost spat the name. "He would be troublesome!"
How interesting. One would think that she wouldn't be too pissed off with such a choice. Grandfather was clearly out for now as a contender for the position and speak whatever you will about Stark, but there were much worse choices for a Hand of the King. At least speaking from the point of view of our family.
"Perhaps," I agreed. "On the other hand, there are other people who we would like even less as the Hand of the King."
"There is something else..." Cersei trailed off. "Ever since you left for Storm's End last year, your father has been making noises about finding you and Joffrey wives."
"Ah. How interesting!" I exclaimed, adding just the right amount of false cheer in my voice.
It really didn't fool anyone, but Joff, who was pouting. Cella giggled at me while struggling with a piece of lemon cake and my mother even allowed herself a small, amused smile.
"Any idea who are the lucky ladies?" I asked. Though whoever had to marry Joff would be very unlucky gal if he lived long enough for such an occasion. Needless to say, that wasn't something I was willing to allow. Giving my brother chance to spawn wasn't good idea on so many levels...
"The Tyrell girl and one of the Starks..."
"Well, well... That's actually not too bad an idea," I thought aloud.
Cersei frowned at me, even though the reasoning should be obvious. The Lannisters and the Starks weren't best of friends, especially after Tywin's stunt with the previous royal family. Which reminded me. The Mountain needed to die in order to patch up relations with Dorne.
"I can see why father wants a marriage with the north. It's no secret the bad blood existing between the Lannisters and Starks. Then there is the Tyrell's ambitions to think about. Binding them to us would have many benefits."
Mace Tyrell, no to mention his mother, the Queen of the Roses. They wanted close ties with the ruling house. Preferably Margery to be the next Queen. That would give us a great access to the Reach. With its food, money and equally importantly armies... Besides, that would placate the Tyrells, making them less likely to try fucking up with us too much...
"So, how has it been around here? Anything too interesting you didn't write about?" I asked.
I wasn't up to speed with the more current events in King's Landing. I got dumped in Dorran's head last night, just after he came back from Storm's End.
Which was another can of worms. While, Rently liked me, he was far from thrilled that soon enough I was supposed to be replacing him as the Lord of the Stormlands. Technically it was about time, with both myself and Joff being of age for the past couple of years.
"Not really. I wrote you about everything of importance," Mother informed me.
That she did, sending me ravens at least weekly while I was away from the snake pit.
After the rest of breakfast, which was rather unpleasant, with Joff whining about the chance of marrying a northern gal, I had to promise Cella that we would play later. However, first I needed to speak with Cersei. Privately.
Eventually Joff went to torture something or someone, leaving me to have that personal conversation with mother. We retreated to her private chambers, which were rather well furnished, when you take into account the general tech level of Westeros. Though the luxury of even the Royal quarters within the Red Keep couldn't make up for the lost high tech comforts someone from a world like twenty first century Earth, not to mention the SW galaxy, would take for granted.
We went deep within Cersei's sanctuary after she chased out her serving girls. Once we were reasonably sure of our privacy, I turned towards my mother and frowned. This was going to be one unpleasant conversation.
Before broaching the subject of murder and treason, I walked around, making looking for eavesdroppers and hidden passages where someone could be hiding. Cersei noticed my actions and looked confused for a moment, before figuring out what I was doing and pointing me in the right direction. There was no one skulking around in either of the three secret passages leading out of the Queen's chambers.
"What is so important that you take such precautions, my son? While I'm glad you are taking the Game seriously enough, I can't help, but wonder what have you go to such lengths to secure a private conversation."
"Oh, I'm sure you know well enough, mother," I almost sneered at her, though I was able to barely keep my expression and voice neutral. "I know," I declared.
My only answer was a raised eyebrow.
"Who is my real father. And my siblings'..."
Those words got me a reaction. Oh, they did.
Cersei blanched and looked wildly around us. The shocked look on her face, the way she became deathly pale. But in the end, it was her eyes which told me the truth. Yeah... I got the confirmation I needed in order to proceed planning murder.
"We need to have a looong conversation, mother..." I smiled at her.
If the way her eyes widened was anything to go by, she wasn't reassured by my expression.
"The morning Jon Arryn died, the Game of Thrones changed. A new player was added, shattering all expectations for the future. Only two things were sure as far as I was concerned. Westeros would drown in rivers of blood. And my Prince would sit on the Iron Throne!"
- Ser Marrek Storm, Sworn Shield of Prince Durran Baratheon
"It's a small thing. Really. I didn't think that Jon Arryn knew the truth. Even if he did, it died with him. I truly believed that. Yet, in the end, it simply didn't matter. Some of us thought that he died of sickness. Others, that he was poisoned. The truth, well it was irrelevant. He was dead. The King needed a new Hand... We were to prepare for a journey to the North.
Winterfell... That's where everything changed..."
- Ser Jamie Lannister, Kingsguard
Chapter 1: Wicked tidings in the North
"They will be here tomorrow. In few days at the latest," he drew comfort from the familiar voice of his wife.
Ned looked up from the sheet of parchment he was reading and smiled at Catelyn. One she didn't return. He frowned seeing the worry etched on her face, which even after all those years was still stunning.
"You still haven't given me an answer, Ned."
The Warden of the North looked sadly at his wife. This time, no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't give her what she wanted. Oh, when the King arrives, he would make the effort to persuade his old friend to change his mind, yet he wasn't hopeful.
"Robert needs my help..." Ned trailed off.
Car scowled at him.
"What about us? The children? The North?" she shook her head in exasperation.
Ned's expression cracked into a small smile. He was fond of the moments when his wife didn't play the role of the proper Southern Lady.
"I'll speak with Robert when he get's here. I'll do my best to persuade him to seek a Hand elsewhere. However we both know if he is set up on me as his choice, there isn't much we could do about it. One can't really decline such a 'honor'..." as if anyone knows the meaning of the word in King's Landing was left unsaid.
"There is something else, isn't it?" asked Car.
Ned nodded. His eyes came back to a small piece of parchment he had received few days ago. Apparently Robert had a swell idea while on the route. It was certainly something to think about.
He took up the parchment, stood up and brought it to his wife for examination. Cat looked at him with demure expression before reading the contents.
"Well, this is unexpected..." she muttered quietly.
"Robert does have two sons who need marrying off," Ned deadpanned.
"Everyone in the realm who has a suitable daughter would be after the Princes," stated Cat.
"What do you thing about the proposal?" asked Ned. When Southern politics were concerned, Cat's advice was priceless.
"On the face of it, it's great. Sansa is going to be either Queen or the Lady of Storm's End. Such a marriage should do something about the bad blood between and the Lannisters..."
"My daughter and a grandson of Twin Lannister!" grumbled Ned. He knew that such a match would do wonders for his House and the North, politically speaking. Despite that, he couldn't help it but to feel conflicted.
Joffrey and Durran Baratheon. The Crowned Prince and the future Lord of Storm's End. If there was any truth to the rumors, one was a decent sort. For a southern noble kid. The other, well there wasn't much told about Joffrey beyond what one would expect. If Ned was a different, less honorable man, that in itself would have been an alarm bell. In the end, playing the Game and seeing multiple meanings to everything men said and did, it simply wasn't in his nature. For better or worse, Eddard Stark was a honorable man. Probably the most honorable in the all Seven Kingdoms.
It was too bad, that Honor alone wasn't good enough to protect one and his family in Westeros...
The knight patted his horse's neck in sympathy. The poor beast was a bit disgruntled at having to cart his heavy bulk across the realm and wasn't particularly shy about showing its displeasure. Being moving at the ponderous speed dictated by the Queen's house on wheels wasn't making it much better either. By now everyone's tempers were fraying.
The only saving grace of the whole mess, was that they were almost at their destination.
Marrik looked right, where the man to whom he had sworn both his life and future rode a midnight black warhorse. Durran was somewhat different ever since Jon Arryn's passing. The boy, nay, young man, had gotten out of his shell. Where before the prince had been content with his lot in life, which granted, didn't get much better in this world, now he looked ready to play the Great Game. Something had stroked the flames of ambition in his Lord's belly, and whoever or whatever it was, Marrik would be forever grateful for the change.
Because, he himself was an ambitious man. As a bastard born to one of the minor Stormlords, he used to see a pretty bleak future for himself. Once upon a time, to be a somewhat decent Man-at-Arms appeared to be a great ambition. It was unlikely for a bastard like himself to achieve much better in life.
Nevertheless, three years ago, everything changed. He had been a common soldier, one amongst many, who were chosen to accompany the young prince while he had went out bandit hunting. There was a particularly nasty band of brigands, all of whom appeared to be former soldiers who had fallen out of favor and turned to what they knew best to make a living.
That didn't stand well with either Lord Renly, the King's brother, or the boy he was training as the next Lord of Storm's End.
They had tracked the bandits to a secluded valley, where the cutthroats were slaughtered to a man after a short but vicious battle. On that day, the young prince saw something in Marrik, who had distinguished himself during the fight. He was knighted by Durran on the blood soaked battlefield. On that day he was allowed to dream again.
That was only the beginning for Marrik. An year later, he took part in a tournament at Storm's End, which had one purpose. To select a personal Knight for the prince. It was on Durran's nameday, when Marrik fought with an ambition fueled vigor, emerging victorious after clashing with the cream of the Stormlands Knights. On that day he had become the Sworn Shield of Prince Durran Baratheon.
It was a high post, giving him thew boldness to dream even higher. All because a boy saw something within him. And now, his liege Lord appeared to be aiming even higher. Marrik grinned under his helmet. If he was not mistaken, Durran aimed at the crown. Something he couldn't help but approve. He shuddered to think what would happened if Joffrey actually got the Crown. No one wanted another mad King cooling his ass on the Iron Throne.
Marrik gave a small nod to Durran who returned it.
The Knight rather liked this new face his master was unveiling as of late. While he had been more than content to serve the Lord of Storm's End and the Warden of the Stormlands, Marrik simply couldn't help it. It was in his nature to be ambitious, and while he wouldn't betray the man to whom he owed everything, he was glad that Durran was aiming at the highest prize there was in Westeros. With him at his side.
His Prince would sit on the Iron Throne. No matter how much blood must be spilled before that could be achieved.
Jon stood behind his father and siblings, with Theon Greyjoy, while they were waiting for the Kings procession. He had to suppress a bout of laughter, when little Arya made herself present. With a helmet on her head. The little spitfire barely made it too, appearing moments before the King's men. Nevertheless, their father had just enough time to get the helmet away from Arya and shoo her to her place, which she took moments before the first riders entered the courtyard.
The procession was led by the Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy, followed by the two elder princes of the realm. Right beyond the royals rode two men, clad head to toe with armor. One wore jet black mail, adorned with a helmet shaped like the head of a snarling dog. The other, who was a bit shorter but broader, was clad in plate covered by tabard in the Baratheon colors.
The princes themselves couldn't be more different either. While the one who rode in first, who must have been Joffrey, looked like a lad of no more than fifteen, looked like a typical Southern noble – re-splendid in his red leather clothes and crimson cloak. His younger brother on the other hand, came in clad in armor, which was similar to that worn by the Kingsguard, though dark gray in color. He had a cloak too, made by darker than black furs and leather.
It was clear who of the two princes cut the more memorable and menacing figure.
Besides, it wasn't the younger prince the one who was smirking at his sister Sansa, who was undoubtedly making doe eyes at the ponce in Lannister crimson. He loved that girl, but she had her head in the clouds, living in some kind of make believe world. The reality was far different than what the stories told them. Even a bastard as himself knew that.
He only hoped that Sansa would learn before it was too late.
After the first riders, a great carriage was brought in by a bunch of poor beasties, who looked grateful that the journey from King's Landing was over for the moment. Then they all had to kneel for the King's arrival.
Soon enough it would be time for him to make himself scarce in order to avoid Lady Catelyn's ire.
King Robert was big. There were no two ways around it. When he came up to his father, Jon feared and accident for few moments, before those two started laughing like maniacs and hugged each other.
In the end, there was an accident. It just wasn't between Eddard and the King. It was between Robert and his Queen. The King wanted to visit the crypts, where the woman he loved and started a war over, was laid to rest. Which understandably didn't make the Queen particularly happy...
Jon winced at that display. Suddenly going to the wall sounded better in his mind. It was nothing in comparison to dealing with such stuff for a living.
Of course, Arya couldn't keep herself out of trouble. She just had to get herself into a mess. Just after Eddard led the King to the crypts, she had to open her mouth.
"Where is the Imp?" she asked just loud enough for the Queen to hear. And her younger son, who had dismounted and came to her side, while everyone had their attention on the King.
The Queen frowned and looked around, before her son whispered something. She shrugged her shoulders, smiled and returned her attention to the Starks. The prince made his way to his brother told him something and went to talk with one of the Kingsguard, who had an uncanny resemblance with the Queen herself.
Jon stared at the man. So that was the infamous Jamie Lannister, the Kingslayer.
That might be a new record for my uncle. We just arrived at Winterfell, and before we could even greet our hosts, Tyrion had already made himself scarce. His absence almost caused a nice, juicy scene, which would have been a god send for the paparazzi if their kind was invented in this world. Who knew, there were a few benefits to being stuck in a hellhole, which was the poster child for everything that was wrong during the Dark Ages and then some.
Nevertheless, few minutes after arriving, I already had to do some damage control. A few "wise" words to Cersei and she put a fake smile on her face, before turning towards our hosts and greeting them properly. Meanwhile I had to quietly growl to Joff to stop being a royal prick and act like the Crown Prince he was supposed to be. At least that went well. After more than a month of mother working on his attitude, the sadistic little bastard actually listened to my advice, smirked and went to greet the locals.
I knew that if he ever ascended to the Throne I would be paying for the way I was doing my best to keep him muzzled in public, though that wasn't particularly big concern for me. Unless everything went straight to the Seven hells, my dear, undeparted brother wouldn't be sitting his royal posterior on any Thrones.
However now wasn't the time for such a pleasant thoughts. I had a bunch of Starks to greet before heading with my "uncle" Jamie to retrieve Tyrion from the local brothel.
Ah, the Starks. Eddard Stark sure looked like a carbon copy of a rather famous actor. If said actor was half-giant or something similar. He was nearly two meters tall and looked quite impressive in his Lordly get up. I would be greeting him some time later. The reason for that was made obvious to anyone watching. Before anyone but Robert or my mother could greet him, the King had Lord Stark showing him the way towards the Crypts.
As you can imagine, this stunt pulled by our beloved King was nothing less than a public snub at the Queen, even if it wasn't planned as such. Lady Stark had a painted expression on her face after seeing how a simple meet and greet almost became complete train wreck in the span of moments. However, that didn't stop her from smiling and greeting us properly. The good news was that, despite Robert's faux pass, with both Cersei and Joff behaving, any further embarrassments were avoided. At least until we see what my uncle was up to...
"Lady Stark," I smiled at our hostess, giving her a proper bow and kissing her hand.
"My Prince," she curtsied.
It went that way with the rest of the family. All very proper and boring. The only thing I really learned was that Sansa Stark was an airhead who was apparently in love with the false image of Joff and the possibility of being a Queen. It was amusing to see that Westeros had discovered the concept of fan-girls...
I shook my head, clearing it from the thoughts of our reception by our hosts and returned to the present. I was walking through the town surrounding Winterfell with Jamie and Marrek, in search of Tyrion. To our surprise he wasn't in the first brothel we hit. Which was amusing by itself. I had been left with the strange impression that there had been only one whore house in the whole Winterfell, but that was apparently wrong. Who knew, the northmen knew how to party!
Jaime glanced at me with a frown which was almost a pout.
"It's like you don't trust me, to take care of your uncle Tyrion..." he muttered aloud.
"What gave you that idea, uncle Jamie?" I asked. Of course I didn't trust him or my mother. Or almost anyone on the damn continent for that matter. Marrek was one of the few possible exceptions. He was competent, appeared to be one of my men, though he was ambitious. Which in turn, while useful was a warning light in my head.
"Oh, I don't know. All the shenanigans you've been up to lately..."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. I'm just little old unassuming me!" I deadpanned.
Marrek snorted at that comment. He knew better. After all, my sworn knight was the go to man for part of my schemes within King's Landing...
"Well, this appears to be the correct place," Jamie snorted.
Moans and grunts could be clearly heard coming from a row of single floor stone buildings.
"I just hope that we are at the right brothel this time," I grumbled.
"Oh, I don't know..." Marrek smirked. "You liked what you saw at the last one."
"Can you blame me? I haven't been laid ever since leaving Storm's End," I shrugged. When consider my time spent in the last dimension, the period becomes much longer...
"He's your brother, uncle. By all means find him!" I theatrically waved for Jaime to proceed. He rolled his eyes and started going from door to door looking for Tyrion. In the process he caused some grumbling, the odd shout of protest and had to deftly dodge few thrown apples and even an empty metal bow.
The show continued for couple of minutes, until Jaime opened another door and instead of just glancing inside he walked in. Jackpot. Or a northern whore who had uncanny resemblance to Cersei...
"Don't get up," we heard Jaime say.
"Milord..." a husky female voice answered him.
I shook my head and went inside, leaving Marrek to make some arrangements. I glanced within the room, which was rather large and well furnished. Tyrion was laying on a rather big bet next to the far wall. A naked whore with nice assets which were hidden by her long hair was on the bed next to him.
"Nephew! This is unexpected..." he glared at us. "Do I have to explain to either of you what a closed whorehouse door means?"
"I'm sure you've forgotten more on this subject that both of us ever knew..." I snorted at my younger uncle.
"Our sister requires your attention."
"She has strange tastes..." Tyrion trailed off.
I rolled my eyes at their antics.
"Your absence was noticed uncle," I stated coldly. "I don't appreciate doing damage control because you couldn't keep it in your pants for half hour longer!" I glared at Tyrion.
He just shrugged and looked at the woman spawned on the bed next to him.
"Who could resist this?" he asked pointing at her.
"You will be on the feast the Starks are throwing in the King's honor tonight," I almost growled at my uncle.
Jaime shook his head and went to nearby table where he got himself a mug of ale.
"Tyrion, please don't leave me alone with those people!" he tried another angle of attack.
"Which ones? The locals or the imbeciles we brought all the way from King' Landing?" I quipped.
Tyrion hugged the girl with one hand and smirked at us.
"I've already started feasting!"
"We thought that this might be your answer," I snorted at Tyrion. "Marrek, bring the ladies in. As for you, I want you reasonably sober for tonight's torture, I mean feast..."
My knight brought four more girls inside, who piled on the bed with Tyrion.
"Durran! You know how to make your point!" shouted my uncle under a pile of soft flesh.
After we were outside I locked eyes with Marrek.
"Why me, damn it all to hell?!" I asked no one in particular.
Ever since I was dumped here, a huge part of my time had been taken by cleaning my family's messes. With every passing day, killing most of them was becoming more and more appealing.
I shouldn't be surprised. Not at all. Our little chat with Tyrion was for naught, so soon after the Feast started I excused myself for a moment and went out searching for the little menace, with Marrek trailing after me like a shadow.
To my surprise, I found my uncle in the courtyard. Speaking with Jon Snow of all people. I grinned and headed their way.
"I'm preparing for a night with your family!" Tyrion said and took a long swing from a wineskin filled with the Gods know what.
"That's good to know!" I exclaimed cheerfully.
"Durran, you wound me my boy. Do you have so little faith in me? I told you I'll be there!"
"Uh huh," I deadpanned. I turned my attention to the teen with whom my uncle was chatting. "You must be Jon. Why didn't we see you at the feast?" I asked though I already knew the answer.
"Lady Stark decided that the Royal family might be offended if they saw a bastard at the feast," he grunted. Not a happy puppy.
I snorted. There were a lot of bastards on the feast, though no one could know about four of us for the time being. I nodded my head towards my Sworn Shield.
"So is he, but I can assure you no one is making any waves about it. In the end it's mostly irrelevant. A man makes his own way in life. Being a bastard, it only makes your path a bit harder in some respects. Easier in others."
Snow glared at us.
"My nephew is correct. Don't forget who you are. Wear it as a badge of honor so no one could use it against you," Tyrion added his two cents.
"If you want to make something of yourself Jon Snow, you can come with us back to King's Landing. I could always use another sword. Besides, no one fucks up with my people."
"Not for long!" supplied Marrek.
"Think about it, Jon. Now, you two come one. They are missing us at the feast!"
"But Lady Stark..."
"Enough! Fall in line and march straight to the great hall! Both of you!" my voice snapped like a whip, with the tone I've used on countless battlefields across a whole galaxy.
Jon blanched and hurried towards the great hall. Tyrion on the other hand, gave me a long contemplative look before nodding thoughtfully and wadding towards the sounds of the feast.
Marrek was giving me an inquiring look too. He knew the tone I used very well. It was one of an experienced battlefield commander. Which despite his clashes with bandits and other assorted scum, Durran wasn't.
"It's a long story my friend. This is neither the time or place for it," I said and walked towards the great hall, while mentally kicking myself for the slip up.
How the hell I was going to explain that? Neither Marrek or Tyrion were fools.
Two days after the welcoming feast, Ned was preparing to join his old friend on a hunt. He was absentmindedly stroking the neck of his warhorse while thinking over everything that happened since the King arrived. 'Perhaps the hunt will do me some good,' he thought. Eddard needed something to get his mind of the problems that lay ahead. Because, despite his better judgment and the advice of his wife, he had agreed to become the hand of the King. Robert was his friend and needed his help.
In the end two things influenced his decision. Robert needed someone who he could trust in King's Landing and a letter he had received from Cat's sister, Lysa, who was Jon Arryn's widow. According to her the man who was a second father to both Robert and Ned had been murdered. Likely by the Lannisters, who already had too much power in the capital.
He had to get to the bottom of this mystery and help his friend. Ned's honor demanded nothing less. Yet, he couldn't help it but feel ill at ease with his decision...
"Lord Stark! I hear that congratulations are in order!" exclaimed Prince Durran, who had sneaked next to him while Ned was pondering on his decision.
Eddard pat his horse's neck and turned around. Robert's second son was walking towards Ned, his sworn knight was trailing him. Lord Stark examined the young man carefully. He was unsure what to make of Durran. The Prince appeared to be a stabilizing influence on his family, which wasn't a bad thing. The few rumors about him, which had reached Winterfell said that Durran wasn't interested in playing the Game, which was something that Eddard could respect... If he could trust what people whisper in the dark that is.
The truth was that Eddard hadn't made up his mind about this Prince. What he had seen so far suggested that Durran was reasonably competent and not particularly ambitious. Though there were few things that... felt off about the youngster. It wasn't anything he could point at. Not really. Just a sense he had. Like what was happening now. Ned couldn't really say that the Prince was trying to be anything but polite. It was expected that Durran, as a part of the Royal family and soon to be a Lord in his own right, would be one of the first to hear about Eddard accepting the Kings "offer". So, the Prince coming to offer his congratulations, well that was just what was done. Right?
Yet, for a moment Durran's cheerful expression was disappeared. Ned was taken aback by the look of pity that the Prince gave him. It was a fleeting thing, gone before Eddard could be sure what he saw. Just like that, Robert's son was beaming at him and asking about what game they could expect to hunt. As if that was the reason why the Royal came to see him in the first place.
The Lord of Winterfell frowned, wondering how much over his head he would be in King's Landing... He shook himself and nodded.
"Thank you, my Prince."
"So what about the game in this part of the Realm? What are we going to hunt? Boars, deer?"
Bran watched how his father, brothers, the lucky bastards and the Kings men headed to their hunt. He wanted to join them, but was apparently too young. He hated being treated like a child! He was ten years old already!
He looked dejectedly at the leaving horsemen and smiled when he met his father's eyes.
His Direwolf pup came bouncing as if it had sensed his mood being rather down. Bran grinned at his furry friend.
"Come boy!" he shouted and ran further in the courtyard with the pup yipping after him.
Bran played a bit with his Direwolf Summer, until the host had left and there was no one in sight to scream at him during his favorite past time. Ned's son snuck a glance right and left. He saw that no one was looking at him and grinned. Bran started climbing the wall so he could make his way to one of the abandoned towers. He knew from experience that it was unlikely that there would be anyone to interrupt his fun. And he was right! Few minutes later, Bran was climbing an abandoned tower, all the while Summer was whining below him.
There was only one tiny problem. Once he was near the top of the tower, Bran heard noises. Moaning. He frowned. His first thought was to scurry down and make himself scarce, before he was caught. It wasn't fun when his mother was angry with him.
He looked up, towards the top, then glanced down, where Summer was getting more and more restless. Bran was torn, wondering what to do.
But not for long. He soon reached a decision.
Bran was just a kid, after all. In a short battle between his common sense and curiosity, the later won. As one might expect. So Bran continued his ascent, climbing towards the sounds. It took him no longer than a moment to reach his target. Or at least he felt that no time passed since he decided to continue and reaching his destination.
Once he was near the top, it was easy to move sideways until he found a large window. The sounds were coming from inside. It was a bit too far to reach, but he was lucky once again! There was some plant growing up the whole height of the tower, which had a thin, but hard stem. It was just like green, leaf covered rope, and it was conveniently placed so he could reach the window and peek inside. Actually passing the last meter or two to his destination was the hardest part of his climb, yet he made it. Bran clutched the plant and looked into the tower. He frowned, that was certainly not what the boy was expecting!
He saw the Queen, who was on her knees, leaning her back on a man who looked just like her! That was the Kingslayer, her brother! But what were they doing up here?! Alone at that...
Then the Queen looked straight at him!
"Stop!" she said in breathless voice.
Bran winced. He got caught... Again! He just knew that he should have done something else today... Perhaps if he got away really fast...
But it was not to be. Before Bran could try running, Jaime darted towards the window and picked him up by the front of his tunic.
"He saw us!" exclaimed the Queen.
The Kingslayer glared at Bran, scaring him.
"Are you mad boy?" exclaimed the Kingsguard.
"Damn it, Durran was right! This will be the death of us!" muttered the Queen.
"I heard you the first time, sister."
The Kingslayer looked at Bran with a sad smile on his face.
"You are quite the little climber, aren't you? Why couldn't just stay back at the keep!?"
"My son will know..." whispered Cersei.
"Perhaps," said Jaime and glanced at his sister who was giving him a pointed look. "All right... your son is much brighter and more dangerous than anyone thought him to be. He'll suspect at the very least. But, what can he do? What would he do even if he knew? It's his head too if this secret is out!" The Kingslayer gave a small smile to his sister, before returning his attention to Bran, who was becoming real scared by now.
It was obvious to him that he had poked his head at something he had no business knowing. But now it was too late.
"How old are you boy?" asked the Kingslayer.
Bran looked at the man with huge eyes before gathering the courage to answer.
"Ten!" the boy hoped that his voice really didn't sound as scared as he thought it to be.
"Ten?" repeated Jaime. "What a pity."
The Kingsguard turned his head towards his sister.
"The things I do for love. For you and my children..."
Those were the last words Bran heard. Jaime's hand moved faster than he could follow. Suddenly the air was forcefully expelled from Bran's lungs. Then he was flying. And falling...
A Direwolf howled in the distance.
Bran's fall abruptly stopped. He heard something breaking; then there was only darkness...
Royal Hunting Party
Forests near Winterfell
The Crown Prince reloaded his crossbow, grinning madly. The only thing that could make his day better was if his shot had struck one of his irritating siblings instead of the wild geese, which he killed. Well, you can't win them all at once. When he was king, he would deal with his detractors, especially that ignorant fool Durran. That imbecile, who did he think himself to be?! Joffrey was the eldest! He would be King! He loathed being kept on a leash by his younger brother!
He took a deep breath and scanned the forest for another target. Joffrey needed to kill something to calm down. The way his younger brother and mother were trying to tell him what to do... It was making him mad! Didn't they know who he was?! He will be their ruler soon enough!
The Prince saw something moving in the branches of a tall tree. His arms snapped up, bringing his weapon to bear. He hastily took aim and let a bolt loose.
"DAMN it!" Joffrey fumed.
His shot flew through the greenery hitting nothing of importance. His target, a brown feathered bird squeaked in fright and flew away in terror.
Joffrey growled at his escaping prey. He would kill the next one for sure!
The Heir to the Throne reloaded again and made his horse walk deeper in the forest at a brisk pace, his useless retainers followed suit.
When he didn't find another convenient target to vent off his displeasure, Joffrey let his loaded weapon hung by a strap of crimson fabric. His throat was becoming a bit dry so he turned his attention to his retainers and shouted "I'm thirsty! Bring me something to drink!"
A young Lannister page ran towards him, bringing a small wineskin which was adorned with jewels.
"Here, Mylord. It's Dornish!" exclaimed the lad, aiming to please.
Joffrey grabbed the wineskin, glaring at the servant for not being prompt enough. Perhaps beating the little idiot would make him act faster next time. Though he doubted it. He had instructed a few guards to do so back in King's Landing, but it didn't have the desired effect. However, that might be because Durran stumbled upon the scene and stopped the guards from disciplining the lout... Hmm...
He tried the wine and smirked. It was the good stuff, as befitting a Prince. It was sweet and spiced, going down real slick.
Joffrey finished the wine and threw the now empty wineskin behind, without a care in the world. He never stopped to think that his drink might have been a little too sweet. It was Dornish after all. Their wines were some of the sweetest in all the Seven Kingdoms.
Neither the Crown Prince or his other retainers paid any more attention to the page who scurried after the expensive wineskin. They didn't see the small, thin smile that stretched his face. As far as almost anyone was concerned, it was business as usual. Just another hunt with the King and his bratty eldest son, though in Northern setting this time.
Tyrion and Sandor Cleagne, who was better known as the Hound, were drinking ale in the courtyard. The whole of Winterfell was subdued around them. As if it wasn't enough that the Stark's youngest had fallen while climbing, though Jamie's little brother had some suspicions about that, but his nephew had fallen ill. It was uncanny. Soon after messengers interrupted the hunt with news of the tragedy befallen Lord Stark's family and everyone made their way back to Winterfell, Joffrey started feeling light headed. A nasty coughing followed few hours later.
"Now this..." muttered Tyrion.
Cleagne shrugged and took a swing from his cup.
"Shit happens," grunted the Hound.
Tywin's youngest shook his head. He wasn't an idiot. Two boys of noble families, one the Crowned Prince no less, and the other the kid of the Warden of the North, suffering misfortune on the same day?! Even if the gods themselves came down and swore that it all was a damn incident, he wouldn't believe it.
By the station to which he was born, Tyrion had been forced to learn how to play the game. Oh, he hated it and preferred to spend his time whoring and drinking, not necessary in that order, but he was better than most. He had to be, with his father being arguably the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms. The fact that Tywin hated his guts and would love to see him dead, helped motivate him even further.
After all, Tyrion wanted to die when old. Preferably by being fucked to death by a bunch of spirited whores.
"Uncle. Starting a bit early today I see," a familiar voice interrupted his lamentation.
Tyrion finished his mug of ale and looked at the source of the sound.
Durran had sneaked up to them. The Prince was wearing a simple black tunic with the Baratheon stag embodied in silver on his chest. It was uncanny how quietly his nephew could move when not wearing armor.
"Durran. I thought that you would be with your brother."
"Of course not. We can't get the whole Royal family sick if whatever Joff got is contagious! My dear brother wouldn't want us getting his disease after all."
Tyrion snorted. It was a public secret that Robert eldest sons loathed each other with a passion. Which make him think about this mysterious sickness... Who had to gain the most? Well that person was standing right here, next to the stack of crates on which Tyrion was resting. The Lannister looked at his nephew with narrowed eyes. Before this trip, he could have sworn that Durran would have nothing to do with a... hypothetical poisoning. Now he wasn't so sure.
His favorite nephew had changed. Arguably not for the better, though considering who he had for relatives, well the changes could be beneficial for his long term survival.
Tyrion wondered what had happened during the last six months at Storm's End. Whatever it was, it had radically changed Durran. Oh, for a casual observer the young man performed well enough so a significant difference couldn't be observed. Nevertheless, he knew his nephew better than that. Durran was no longer the patient, almost gentle soul he knew. While his nephew could be a hard man when necessary, he wasn't a player in the Game of Thrones. Beyond the bare minimum needed to survive as a part of the royal family. Durran had lacked the necessary ruthlessness.
After Jon Arryn died, that changed. It was in the boy's eyes. More often than not, they were cold. Hard. Calculating. Tyrion had seen such eyes before. Always, in veteran soldiers and survivors who were experienced in the Game of Thrones. Durran,however, he simply wasn't experienced enough. Yet, he carried himself as someone who had seen, done things way beyond his years.
It was a mystery.
"This trip has a rather tragic turn," said Tyrion.
"Indeed, uncle. Let's hope that there won't be any other wicked things happening before we return to King's Landing."
Tyrion raised and eyebrow. "Such a curious choice of words, Durran."
"Is that so?" the Prince looked at him with huge, innocent eyes.
Tyrion almost bought it. He would have if there wasn't such weariness in those deep emerald pools. At that moment, Durran looked like an old man who had seen too much battlefields without taking sufficient rest. It was something that the Hound noticed too, which made him pay closer attention to the boy. How interesting...
"It would be for the best that the remainder of our visit goes without further unpleasanties, don't you think? Our arrival brought ill fortune to the North, both for the Starks and us. That's all I mean, uncle."
"Too true," he answered.
"We are leaving in two days," declared Durran.
Well, that was surprising. Though when he thought about it, Tyrion should have seen it coming. It was just like Robert. After all, the King had never been particularly taken in with his eldest, thinking him to be too soft. For which Robert usually blamed Cersei in particular and the Lannisters in general. Tyrion would give him that, the King was right about his dear sister. She was most to blame in how the young man had turned out.
Seven Hells, the loaf they had for a King might expedite their departure only to needle Cersei! It would be just like the drunken sod to do such a thing!
The youngest Lannister stared at his nephew. He was wondering if Durran had not only the guts, but the skills and contacts needed to arrange the poisoning of his brother.
If indeed true, his suspicions went way beyond family rivalry. When you are a part of the Royal family, you had to play by more complicated rules. Every one of your actions were seen in different light and the stakes for both failure and success were astronomical.
The real question was, did it really matter? Tyrion knew of some of Joffery's excesses. The Kingdom had one mad king in the last few decades. It didn't need another. Though whether Joffrey could have been steered in a more manageable direction, that was another question. 'And when did I star thinking of my eldest nephew as if he was already dead?' Tyrion wondered.
Then he looked at the blank face of Durran and then at his shadow Marrek. If either of those two were responsible for Joffrey's mysterious illness, then the Heir to the Iron Throne was a goner.
Durran gave him a curt nod. His green eyes sparkled with something dark. They didn't belong to someone so young.
For the first time in his life, Tyrion felt afraid from one of his nephews. It was then, that he decided to keep his suspicions private and much closer to his chest. He didn't have any proof anyway. Even if he liked Joffrey and he was sure of the foul play, Tyrion might have remained silent.
He was the Imp. A man often laughed and ridiculed. By most people sans Durran. Who lately was pissed off by his antics, which until the last few days was a source of amusement.
Now, not so much.
In the end, what is a dwarf to do? Except to not ever again underestimate his nephew, who might just be the most Lannister of all of them.
A woman's wail exploded over Winterfell. For a split second Durran's lips twitched upwards in a resemblance of a grim smile, before he schooled his face back into a dispassionate mask.
Tyrion cursed. Despite hating her guts, he felt a pang of sadness for his sister. He could easily recognize her voice in the pain stricken screams flying over the city.
"The Winter is coming. The motto of the Starks. In hindsight I find it oddly appropriate that it all began in the North. I wonder how many people will see the beginning of the next winter."
- Marrek Storm, Sworn Shield of Crown Prince Durran Baratheon
"What would you do if you carry a suspicion like mine? When you believe that one of you nephews poisoned another, yet, you can't really say you wouldn't do the same in his shoes? Was it for the crown? For that damn Iron Throne? Or to protect yourself from a future King who despises you? Why did you do it, Durran?
Me? It's simple really. I am going to visit the Wall. It will be much safer than a trip back to King's Landing with my sister. Then, who knows?"
- Tyrion Lannister, the Imp