A/N: I'm not going to lie the last chapter's response was a bit disheartening. When you have over 1800 followers but only 14 drop a review, it leaves me as the author rather discouraged.
To those who did take the time to review, you have my utmost thanks and appreciation. So thank you to: S058, Miakmi, The Three Stoogies, RHatch89, Nipplegunz, El Chacal, WeylandCorp 4, Brooklynhills (2), 'Guest,' 'Xbolt51,' 'guest,' Brian.H.H, and Quelthias.
Our Blades Are Sharp
"Father," Domeric greeted him with a low bow.
They were standing in the shadow of the Children's Tower. One of only three remaining towers of Moat Cailin that remained standing. And the one he had claimed for House Bolton when he and Sansa and their forces had arrived to the fortress. The red flayed man of the Bolton standard could be seen above them, the banner swaying in the breeze. As if the flayed man itself was beckoning the northern forces to the ancient stronghold.
His father dismounted from his horse. Silence was his only response. His pale eyes taking in the appearance of the tower they would reside in. It stood tall and slender, its stone covered in moss while half of the crenellations of the tower his eyes found the Bolton standard hanging atop the tower, his lips quirked upwards.
"My son," he finally brought his attention towards him.
Domeric remained quiet, and tried his best to keep still, feeling his father's eyes scrutinize him.
"Or should I call you the Dread Knight?" He asked with a lilt of amusement in his voice.
He instinctively flinched at his father repeating the name that had been given to him during his time at the capital. "No, Father," he replied, wanting to deflect any unwarranted criticism his father might have of it. "I had no choice in the name."
Father shrugged, "Its creation doesn't interest me, only the effect it's had."
Domeric said nothing. It was often the safest and wisest approach when speaking to him. Listen first, let him speak, and only reply when you had something valuable to say. Father didn't like his time being wasted, or those who wrongly tried to impress him.
"This name they've bestowed upon you has shown the south the might of our family," he said softly. "You have done well, my son."
"Father," the word nearly choked in Domeric's mouth, tone thick with emotion as he found himself caught off guard by the rare praise of his father that he always longed to hear. He ducked his head, suddenly feeling embarrassed at his poor showing of gratitude towards his father's words. "I live to serve our family, and the Lord the Dreadfort."
He felt a hand on his shoulder, Domeric glanced up to see his father. Hiding behind those pale eyes was a flickering look of pride. "That is why you will make a fine Lord of the Dreadfort one day." He squeezed his shoulder, before letting go and turning away to address some of the servants who stood silently waiting for further instructions.
Domeric was thankful for the reprieve, finding himself a bit overwhelmed at the sudden showing of pride and praise that came from his father. He knew to cherish this since his father's display of such feelings were fleeting.
"I am pleased at seeing the standard our family atop one of the three towers," his father's observation broke Domeric out of his thoughts.
He blinked to see Father was admiring the Bolton banner that hung proudly above them from its place on the Children's Tower.
"Let all the northern forces see where our family stands and our place in the north," his father's eyes returned to Domeric, "And now we have Lords Umber and Karstark squabbling over Drunkard's Tower like two dogs over a bone," he chuckled, pale eyes glittering in amusement at the conjured image.
"I'm glad you approve, Father."
"And the Gatehouse Tower?" Father ignored his previous reply, "Was that your idea for the Starks or Lady Sansa's?"
"Mine, Father," Domeric answered, unable to decipher the tone in his father's voice. He had insisted Sansa take the Gatehouse Tower when they arrived. It was the only one of the three which still stood straight. He believed the best tower belonged to the Starks, his liege lord
His father nodded whether in approval or because he had heard, he made no indication, "And where is the Lady Sansa?"
"With her brother at the Gatehouse Tower."
"Pity, I would've liked to have seen her," he waved a hand, "Well there will be time for that."
That left Domeric to briefly mull over why his father wanted to see Sansa with him upon his arrival.
"There is someone you must be reacquainted with, Domeric," He looked over his shoulder, "Come forward, my lady."
Domeric followed his father's glance to spot a woman who had been standing off to the side, surrounded by Bolton men-at-arms. He took in her familiar appearance, but frowned when no name was forthcoming. She was plump with brown hair and a homely face, but her eyes looked kind. She wore a wool dress, with the fur trimming around the collar reversed, the colors were dark with pink trimming.
She was dressed in the colors of his house, he felt surprise loosen his jaw. In looking down past her collar did he spot the pink flayed man brooch. His head snapped up, waiting for an explanation just as his father made the needed introductions.
"Meet my wife, the Lady Jonelle Bolton, formerly of House Cerwyn," He said casually, "The new Lady of the Dreadfort."
What? Those were the first words that he wanted to say, but he stopped himself. He wiped away the surprised look that he was certain flickered across his face however briefly due to his complete disbelief at his father's unexpected announcement.
"Pleasure to see you again, Lady Jonelle," he smiled at her, noticing the look of uncertainty behind her eyes. He took her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it, "It is an honor to welcome you into the family."
"Thank you, Domeric,"Her voice tremored. She was clearly not sure how he was going to react to the news and it seemed she feared he'd react poorly to it.
He kept his smile firmly in place, despite the difficulty of it. He sent her a reassuring nod before he turned to his father who watched the display between his newly married wife and his son behind a mask of indifference.
"See my lady," he took his wife's hand, "Nothing to worry about." He patted it with his pale hand.
Lady Jonelle shrunk at his words, face flushed in embarrassment that Lord Bolton would speak those words out loud. Before Domeric could interject himself back into the conversation to try to rally Jonelle's mood, his father spoke once more.
"Do not be ashamed, wife," he told her, "Your fears were natural." He turned back to Domeric, "Just as the fears my son is currently feeling."
Domeric frowned. "Father, that isn't-" He stopped at the cold look his father sent him, his protests dying on his tongue. His pale eyes were as sharp as swords.
"Do not lie to me," he clicked his tongue in disapproval. "My wife will bequeath the title of Lady of the Dreadfort to the Lady Sansa once you inherit the Dreadfort." His voice was as soft as a whisper. "You had worried about that didn't you, son? Or of your children's place in the line of succession."
"The thought crossed my mind," Domeric admitted, "But it was fleeting."
"As it should be," his father looked satisfied at his confession. "You are my heir, Domeric, and nothing can change that." He turned back to Jonelle, "This marriage was just prudent."
Why now, was the question he wanted to ask, but it was not his place to question or demand answers from his father. He was the Lord of the Dreadfort, not Domeric. His place was to serve.
Domeric and his father turned to the voice of the messenger. He wore the Stark direwolf on his chest. "Lord Robb Stark requests your presence, Lord Domeric.".
"Very well," Domeric replied, "Tell him I am on my way." He watched the messenger bow his head before going off to relay the message back to Robb. When he was out of sight he turned towards his father, "Forgive me, father," he ducked his head.
"Think nothing of it, Domeric," his father said mildly, "It would be unwise to ignore a summons from our acting Lord of Winterfell." His father's lips curved upwards slightly as he added, "I'm just pleased that he holds your counsel in such high regards. Our standard flies high, higher then it has in some time." He noted softly, "it is where it belongs." The Bolton standard snapped in the breeze above them, "Go Domeric, go to Lord Stark, lest he forgets our loyalty or our importance."
A new wife, a new Lady of the Dreadfort, Domeric's mind was spinning. He hadn't thought his father would remarry after all these years, he knew other offers had been made and some had been inquired about but his father had always seemed disinterested in a third marriage.
Why now? What changed? These questions gnawed at him as Domeric searched for an answer to this unexpected decision from his father.
Domeric had been so distracted that he hadn't realized he had arrived at his destination. He put aside his thoughts on his father's sudden marriage to focus on the present. He was standing on the precipice of a ruined hall, a chill was in the air as the ancient structure could no longer shield itself from the draft. He looked to see a fire was burning bright in a few braziers that were lined across the hall. He moved inside the room, seeing a vacant and large stone table where maps and papers were spread out, but they looked discarded or forgotten.
Sansa was sitting on a bench near one of the hearths, her focus on Robb who was pacing in front of her. Lady was curled by Sansa's feet. It was the direwolf that noticed Domeric first. Her head perked up, and she was quick to get to her feet, padding over to him, rousing her had caught the others interest as his betrothed and friend turned in his direction. The former offering him a smile while the latter looked agitated.
His time fostering in Winterfell gave him the insight to know he was walking into an argument between the siblings. The distance between them, the chilliness that clung in the air, the looks, especially from Sansa he knew his betrothed too well to be fooled. He was able to see the annoyance lurking behind her radiant smile. While Robb never really could hide his feelings particularly when he was upset. It allowed Domeric to read his friend's moods as easily as if they were ink on a page.
He was certain he knew the cause of it, but he wanted to be sure so he stayed silent for the moment. He crouched down to pet Lady, feeling the eyes of both Sansa and Robb upon him, but he let the silence be drawn out, waiting for them to fill it, to explain the reason behind their squabbling.
It was Robb who spoke first. His composure crumbling. "My sister is being stubborn and foolish," he complained, "She won't listen to me."
Sansa was unphased by his agitated tone. "He means to say that I will not follow his demands meekly."
Robb dispelled a breath in frustration. "The news from the south is worse than we could've thought."
"What have you heard?" Domeric detected the concern in his friend's tone.
Robb gestured to large stone table, where the maps of the Riverlands were spread out. Domeric followed his friend with Sansa at his side, he felt her hand entwined with his, causing him to look her way, her reply was a simple smile that made his heartbeat quicken.
"A battle was fought here below the Golden Tooth," Robb pointed to the western portion of the Riverlands whose border they share with the Westerlands. "Uncle Edmure sent Lords Vance and Piper in an attempt to hold the pass," Robb's mouth twisted bitterly, "However, the Kingslayer descended on them and put them to flight." His finger tapping the spot on the map where Golden Tooth was. "Lord Vance is dead, and Lord Piper fell back to join Uncle Edmure back at Riverrun," his finger tracing the path from Golden Tooth to Riverrun before stopping at the ancestral seat of House Tully, Robb and Sansa's mother's house.
"And the others?" Domeric asked.
"Scattered, besieged, or defeated," Robb shook his head, "But we have worse news. Lord Tywin brought a second Lannister army into the Riverlands from the south. It is believed to be larger than the Kingslayer's."
"Shit," Domeric didn't try to mince his words. This was dire news to hear. The Lannisters' foothold in the Riverlands was secure and growing. They were threatening to take the Tully seat, the Lords Paramount of the Trident. If they were successful it would be a severe blow that could very well render the Riverlands all but under Lannister control with the rest most likely retreating or surrendering if such a demoralizing loss could be delivered by Lord Tywin and his Westerland forces.
"Yes," Robb sighed, "Lord Tywin has closed off the King's Road, marching north towards Harrenhal, burning as he goes." He turned towards Sansa. "Can't you see, sister? This is no place for you." His expression softened, "I was worried enough with you accompanying us with just the marching, but this," he paused, eyes shining, "This will involve fighting. Lots of it," he cleared his throat, "And I cannot risk it."
"She can travel with my Aunt, Lady Dustin is making the trip with her forces as are my uncles from my mother's side and My father's new wife," Domeric suggested, "Sansa will be protected under the banners of Dustin, Ryswell, and Bolton, as well as your own."
Domeric loved Robb as a brother, but he couldn't ignore his obligation to his family and house. As much as it pained him to think about Sansa being anywhere near the battles to come. He knew if she was sent back to Winterfell, his father would not be pleased. It would alienate his family's support and if they had any chance of getting Lord Stark back and defeating the Lannisters, Robb would need the strength of Bolton, Ryswell, and Dustin to do it.
Robb's expression hardened in an instant. He understood what it was Domeric was implying. "She is my sister, and I am the acting Lord of Winterfell," he growled.
"Robb, he's right," She was trying to pull his attention away from Domeric and to smother the obvious anger that he was feeling at what had been said. "I need to come with you. I'll be well protected with guards from what, four houses?" She laughed lightly at the number, "Not to mention with Lady."
"You're my sister, Sansa." He wrapped his fingers around hers, "But I won't ask as your brother."
"If you were asking as my brother, Robb, I'd forgive your ignorance, knowing you were blinded by your love and your need to protect us," She smiled at him, "But if you're asking me as the Lord of Winterfell, I'd think the choice is folly. You'd be angering three powerful northern houses," she pointed out politely, "And there would be no sound excuse the Lord of Winterfell could make to justify such a clear mistake."
Surprise flickered in his blue eyes as her words sunk in for with the disbelief spreading across his face.
Domeric bit back a smile despite the tense mood that had settled between him and Robb. He couldn't help but admire his betrothed's courage and wit. Her criticisms delivered bluntly and graciously, cutting and bludgeoning through her brother's reasoning to make him see the error in his thinking.
It was Robb who gave first, he sighed, "Very well," he said in a tone that made it clear he wasn't very happy with it.
"Thank you, Robb," she leaned in and kissed his cheek.
A slight smile broke through his annoyance, as he shook his head, "You are a formidable adversary, sister." That smile vanished when his eyes found Domeric. "Mayhaps, Domeric would escort you back to your chambers, Sansa."
He wasn't surprised by Robb's demeanor but it didn't mean it still didn't hurt him, but regardless, Domeric nodded before offering his arm up for Sansa to take. They moved silently across the drafty hall, both recognizing they were being dismissed effectively by the Lord of Winterfell.
Domeric looked over his shoulder to see Robb had busied himself with the maps before him. His hulking direwolf, Grey Wind having moved from his spot and towards the table where he took to sitting beside Robb, who sensed his presence as his hand was there to scratch the top of Grey Wind's head.
"I shall be expecting you for supper, Robb," Sansa called back to her brother in a tone that conveyed he best not disappoint her.
He looked up to show the corner of his lip curved, he nodded in her direction before lowering his head back towards the maps.
It stung him to be dismissed by his friend. Domeric could help Robb, but instead he was being sent away.
"Give him time," Sansa's voice said softly, sensing what was troubling him, as they exited the hall and made the walk towards the Gatehouse Tower. The chill in the air was quick to greet them as they left the warmth of the hall behind. "He'll understand," she squeezed his arm.
Planks had been placed upon the damp, muddy soil to form paths between the different parts of the castle that were being used during their stay. A pair of Stark guards had followed them on their path, and Domeric knew they had been sent by Robb to serve as chaperone to him and Sansa.
Another reminder of Robb's displeasure towards him.
Sansa took in their newly arrived chaperones with a quick mutter under her breath directed at her brother, but when she turned to him, her frustration melted away, where she regarded him thoughtfully. "He will not stay angry with you. I do not think he is capable of it." She cupped his cheek.
Domeric relished her soft touch, looking down at the beautiful face of his betrothed, her blue eyes shinning in understanding, "Thank you." Her presence, her words, her understanding, he was thankful for all of it. Spurred on by such strong feelings, his arms snaked around her waist, pulling her into an unexpected and intimate embrace.
Surprise flickered across Sansa's face, as she let out a startled gasp that had Domeric laughing. He moved his hands up and down her back to try to soothe her sudden distress.
His laughter broke her out of her surprise. A look of annoyance settling over her features before she rolled her eyes at him, "Dom," she warned him but there was no sternness in her tone.
"My apologies, my lady," he leaned down and pressed his lips to her forehead, "I just wanted to show my gratitude."
"You have." She smiled up at him.
Pleased, Domeric hesitantly broke their embrace. Aware of the Stark guards watching them, and the expectations of propriety between them having to be observed. He saw a flash of disappointment behind her eyes, but her smile remained towards him and they continued on their way back to her chambers.
"I have a gift for you," she remarked abruptly.
"Yes," She answered. "I got it while we were at White Harbor."
"Odd, we left the city days ago." He replied playfully, his smile growing at Sansa's reaction to his remarks.
"I know," she said, "But there was a selfish part of me that wanted to wait to give this gift to you until I knew."
"Selfish part of you?" He repeated, "I didn't know such a part existed."
"Oh Dom," she chided him in amused exasperation, "I wanted to enjoy this gift. So I wanted to make sure I was staying before I gave it to you."
"And if you weren't staying?" He asked, they had arrived outside of her chambers.
"You would've had to wait longer," she smiled.
He laughed, "Fair enough," still smiling when he asked, "So what is this gift?"
"It wouldn't be much of a surprise, Dom if I just told you what it was," She shook her head. Without another word, she slipped into her room to retrieve it.
He was left to quietly ponder what it was she had gotten him. He had a suspicion of what it was, but would be surprised regardless, seeing the thought and care she had put into getting him something. It made him wonder if he had need to return the gesture and to have a gift for her. He frowned at that, not knowing what he had or what he could give to his betrothed. He felt the worry bubble in his stomach at the fear he wouldn't be able to reciprocate her generosity.
He blinked out of his thoughts and worries at the sound of her voice to see she was standing before him.
"Yes?" He looked to see she was holding something, a cloth rested atop of it to shield his eyes, but the outline of the gift was unmistakable.
"For you, my love," she offered.
"Thank you," He replied, aware that she was watching him closely. He brought his hand down onto the cloth, and peeled it away to confirm guess on the gift, but even still he looked upon it with unbridled appreciation and enthusiasm. It was a weirwood harp, masterfully crafted, the pale bark of the weirwood gave it an ethereal quality.
"It's magnificent," he breathed, gingerly picking up the instrument. The head of the harp had a skillfully carved face of a weirwood tree. It's eyes were red, and its mouth was twisted upwards looking almost joyful.
"You like it?" A lilt of doubt colored her tone.
"I love it," he pulled his eyes away from the wonderful gift, and moved to embrace her to show how much he'd cherish it. "You are too kind, my lady. You spoil me with your compassion and generosity." Despite the chaperones who watched them, and the propriety that felt insufferable at times, he pressed his lips to hers to show her his appreciation.
The ardent kiss was brief since it was interrupted when one of the guards cleared their throats to signal their presence and displeasure. He broke the kiss, a heady sensation filling him while a smile remained on his lips. He looked down to see a hazy hue in his betrothed's eyes that flickered away when their eyes met, replaced with a shimmer he couldn't quite place, but the corners of her lips curved upwards to show her approval towards his action.
"I have one request," she said breathlessly.
"Could you play me something as I fall asleep tonight?" Her fingers restlessly pulling at imagined hems on her dress.
"Of course, my love," he assured her. Noticing the look of instant relief that shone through her expression at his answer. It troubled him. "Are you well?"
"I've been having troubling sleeping," she answered vaguely.
He nodded, seeing that it wasn't wise to press. "Then you shall have my company to help you," he held up the gifted harp, "And my music to soothe you," he tugged at a few strings, pleased at the sweet music that resonated from it. "As many nights as you need them."
"Thank you, Dom," she hugged him.
He had to maneuver the harp in his hand to properly return the unexpected embrace from his betrothed, but he did so without complaint. "I'm here for you, my love. Whatever you need," he whispered softly.
"I know, but you cannot stop these," Her eyes were unfocused when she looked up at him, "nightmares."
"My son what news from the wolves do you bring me?" His father lay naked atop his bed. Leeches clung to the insides of his arms and legs and dotted his pallid chest. Long translucent creatures that turned a glistening pink as they fed upon his father's blood.
"Now that their lady mother has returned to them?"
Guards and servants moved aside for Domeric to let him get closer to his father, he noticed Maester Uther was tending to his father and the leeches. Another man, younger and taller but dressed in the robes of the Citadel with the Link chain stood at Uther's elbow, a look of mild revulsion flickering over his scruffy face. He recognized him as Maester Wolkan, remembering Uther telling him of the newly arrived maester.
Between the maesters and his father's bed, Domeric spotted the new Lady of the Dreadfort, Jonelle, she looked pale and queasy as she watched the leeches atop her husband's body. Behind the maesters stood a handful of guards, armed and alert. Amongst them was Captain Rylen who gave Domeric a small nod and Steelshanks Walton, who looked dour, but bowed his head at Domeric's arrival.
The room was eerily silent even with so many within, a certain hush was required to hear his father's soft voice.
It had been a long time since he saw his father being leeched, but even after all these years, he couldn't shake the unsettling feeling in his gut at seeing those little creatures on him.
Domeric could still recall when he was younger the first time he accidentally came upon his father being leeched. He had been terrified, thinking they were eating his father, killing him, and he remembered fleeing the room, scared and upset until his mother came to collect him and corrected him of his mistake. The memory made him smile, one of the strongest he still had of her.
"Father," Domeric bowed when he reached the other side of his father's bed, across from Jonelle and the servants. "Lord Robb was most displeased with her," He said delicately, unsure of how much he should say of the private conversation he saw between the Starks.
"Indeed," Lord Bolton sounded amused, "She captured the Imp which earned the lion's wrath," He paid the leeches no mind as they suckled upon his blood, "The Riverlands burn and she returns with no hostage to ease us out of this mess." He noted, "The wolf bit its own tail," he chuckled, "or trout in this regard."
Some of the guards snickered at that, but no one dared add anything else to it.
Lady Stark had arrived less than an hour ago with the Manderly forces that they had been waiting for. He was relieved of their arrival as their time at Moat Cailin was becoming increasingly frustrated and bothersome with bickering lords and dwindling supplies. Now with the strength of White Harbor having joined them, Domeric knew their departure from the ruined castle would be swift.
"My son is quiet," His father's soft voice pulled Domeric out of his thoughts, "I did not ask for silence, Domeric. I asked for information," he chided him mildly.
"Forgive me, father," Domeric was quick to apologize. "Lord Robb intends to send his mother back to Winterfell to help his younger brother, Bran rule."
"Interesting," his father reacted as if he didn't find it that at all, "She seemed determined to stay with him when she interrupted our meeting earlier this evening."
"That was her intention," Domeric wanted to pick his words carefully, as he had nothing but respect for Lady Stark despite her recent shortcomings. "However, Lord Robb thought it was best that she return to the Stark seat. He did not take kindly to how she treated Jon when she apprehended Lord Tyrion."
"His bastard brother?" His father interrupted calmly.
"Yes, father," Domeric remembered how furious Robb had been when he and Sansa had told him of Jon being abandoned in that inn. Time had not soothed that anger and Robb had decided that distance might, when he ordered Lady Stark back to Winterfell.
"This one is done," his father announced, signaling to one of the leeches atop his chest. It had grown fat, nearly bulging, its skin a hauntingly shade of pink.
Wolkan stepped forward to remove it with the pincers. Uther quietly giving him instructions as he went forward with the removal.
"Tell me, Domeric, have you heeded your father's wisdom about the benefit of leechings?" His father asked, ignoring the maesters and the leeches.
"I have not," Domeric answered respectfully.
He watched the fat, pink leech get picked up with a squelching sound from Wolkan's pincers. It writhed and wriggled as it was pulled from its feeding, almost sounding as if it was hissing its displeasure. While it was Jonelle not the maesters who tended to the wound the leech left behind.
"That's a pity, Domeric," he replied. "Frequent leechings are the secret of a long life. A man must purge himself of bad blood," he smiled faintly, "When one does not purge the bad blood, it consumes them." He placed a pale hand atop of Jonelle's who was dabbing at the mark from the leech. "Let us hope our child will heed my wisdom."
She looked a bit startled at suddenly being spoken to, but she recovered quickly. "Our son will," She insisted, before flushing, "I mean when we have children, they will listen to their father."
Roose smiled, "Let us hope one grows inside you now, my dear wife. A healthy son to serve as a spare." He then waved his hand away as she bowed and stepped back to her spot. "You know that's what happened to your bastard brother, Domeric."
The mention of his bastard brother caught him off guard. "What do you mean?"
"Ramsay was consumed by his bad blood. It drove him into this folly that made him believe he was worthy of your spot."
Domeric frowned. "I don't understand."
"Ramsay was going to kill you," His father said plainly, "Pretend to be a brother to you just so he could get close enough to drive the dagger into your gut."
He shook his head at that. "No, he wouldn't kill me." That didn't seem possible. He and Ramsay would be close. He was going to seek him out once this trouble in the south was dealt with. He and his brother would be just like Robb and Jon. Ramsay wouldn't try to murder him. That wasn't how it was going to be.
"Oh yes," His father confirmed softly, "He wanted your place, the Dreadfort, and your pretty betrothed all for himself. He wanted it all and he'd walk over your corpse to get it."
He found himself stepping backwards until he hit the wall. His mind reeling at his father's revelations. It couldn't be true, but he saw the seriousness in his father's pale eyes. His father had warned him about Ramsay, had told him he was dangerous, had said not to approach him.
Domeric felt his stomach clench. The burning taste of bile crawled up his throat as he was confronted with just how stupid his dreams of him and Ramsay had been. He was going to kill me for the Dreadfort and Sansa…
"The bad blood made him do terrible things," his father continued as if wanting to drive the point of just how wrong Domeric had been and how right he had been, "Murdered and raped across our lands. He even flayed his victims trying to adhere to our family's practices despite his name being Snow and not Bolton."
Domeric was sick. He tried to push down the bile, but the images conjured by his mind's eye at his father's words made it a difficult task. I was going to lead Sansa to this monster, he found the nearest chamber pot and emptied his stomach of its contents. His mind continued to assault him with Ramsay hurting Sansa while he lay dead at their feet.
He heaved again, shuddering as he did. "I was a fool," he muttered as he put down the chamber pot.
"You were," His father was unsympathetic to his sickness. "You thought you knew better than me."
"Lord Domeric," Uther had approached him, offering a glass of water.
"Thank you," he drank the water greedily, wanting to banish the rancid taste of bile out of his mouth and throat.
"However, you knew better then to go against my orders," his father pointed out, "You were wise enough to listen to my counsel even when you thought it was wrong."
Domeric numbly nodded. He was still struggling to process everything his father had just revealed to him about the truth of his bastard brother.
"It has been corrected," His father said mildly, "He has been dealt with."
"He's dead?" Domeric found relief in asking for confirmation of Ramsay's supposed doomed fate. The same brother he had previously longed to know and dreamed about meeting. Those feelings had been properly purged now that he realized just how wrong and foolish he had been.
"Yes," His father answered, "Do you approve?"
He thought about Sansa when he answered, "I do."
His father smiled in approval, "Robard, step forward."
A guard came forward, looking a bit surprised at being called out by Lord Bolton. His beard was unkept and his hair was cut short. "M'lord?" He looked between Lord Bolton and then Domeric with a touch of uneasiness.
Lord Bolton ignored him, "With the Manderly forces here, we will soon be marching south."
Domeric nodded, "Yes, Robb was adamant that we leave soon."
"Clever boy," His father remarked, "That means we will be marching south to fight the Lannisters. The men of the south wear plate, the sword will be ineffective against this armor." He waved a pale hand towards the guard known as Robard, who came closer cautiously.
"That is why Domeric you will start training more with mace and axe which do better against plate," He instructed, "Robard will oversee it," he pointed a finger towards the guard, "I will not lose you because of the fault of a weapon choice."
"I understand, father, and thank you," Domeric bowed his head to him before turning to the stranger who would be training him. "Robard, well met."
"M'lord," Robard greeted him, "You may call me Bitter if you prefer."
"Bitter," Domeric smiled, "An odd name."
"It was given to me because I come from the Bite," he shrugged, "I didn't really travel with maesters or minstrels, m'lord, but the name stuck."
"Clearly," his father chuckled, "When its decided which weapon you prefer, one will be given to you, Domeric."
"Yes, Father," Domeric wouldn't let him down.
"Good," he then waved his hand, signaling Domeric was dismissed.
He left his father to his leeching. His thoughts not on his added weapon training, or the pending march south into the Riverlands, but instead it lingered on the truth of his bastard brother.
I thought my father wrong and it almost cost me everything, he realized, He had been arrogant in dismissing his father's warning and he couldn't afford to do that again.
A/N: So mace or axe or should it remain a sword? Which do you think Domeric should wield? I'm interested in your guys' take. So let me know if you decide to drop a review.
The choice regarding Lady Stark will be further discussed/explored in future chapters.
Until next time,