Author's Note: I do not own any aspect of Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire, these belong to HBO and George R.R. Martin respectively.
A Naked Man Has Few Secrets
I was driving down the road, rain pelting the windshield of my car. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, an eighteen-wheeler comes into view, driving in the wrong lane. I experienced a brief moment of panic before it struck and I knew no more. I lived in warm darkness for some time, feeling almost suffocated. Finally, pain and light. I could suddenly see, but everything looked strange…out of proportion, as though I was a man in a world of giants. A pair of hands grasped my body and lifted me up as I gave a wordless cry of shock. A voice spoke, shrill and biting, causing me to let loose another cry.
"A healthy son, Lord Bolton. Domeric, the heir of the Dreadfort!" she spoke. My last thought before succumbing to the sweet embrace of sleep was 'Oh fuck'.
My early childhood was tough, but not overwhelming. My new father, the future traitor to Robb Stark, was distant, leaving my care to a wet-nurse and my mother. I grew up in the great keep of the Dreadfort, home of unspeakable cruelties. My toys were knives and the tales I was told were those of the ancient Red Kings, our ancestors from before the invasion of the Andals, who flayed their enemies whilst still living.
I entertained myself with books, coming to learn the land that I now called home more intimately than I could by either reading the books or watching the television show. I knew that I was somehow in Westeros, a terrifying enough prospect on its own, but also the son of Lord Roose Bolton…a son who died while still young, likely murdered by my bastard (both literally and figuratively) brother Ramsay Snow. Dealing with Ramsay was obviously my first order of business. I gained a reputation as a quiet, intelligent child and soon my father started taking a more active hand in my education, teaching me about the politics of the house and the realm. Knowing what I did about Lord Bolton, I made sure to make my answers to his questions as ruthlessly pragmatic as I could, hoping to earn his approval, which would make my future plans much easier. My mother died, illness taking her swiftly, but I made sure that I did not cry, especially in front of my father. He would despise such an overt show of weakness.
The castle's master-at-arms tutored me in martial combat from a young age. I was told that my skills with a sword were adequate, but that my lance work was incredible, and that I would likely make a fine tourney knight when I came of age. Dissatisfied, I continued to work at my swordplay, knowing that I would likely see far more battles than I would tournaments. I learned how to wield daggers and knives, since I knew that those skills might one day save my life. I kept one on my person at all times, never knowing when I might have need of it.
I began to take an active role in the management of the castle and the surrounding lands. Techniques like crop rotation were unknown to the people of Westeros and soon our fields were nearly overflowing with food that we proceeded to sell to other northern houses at a steep rate. My father was immensely satisfied with my work, especially as House Bolton's wealth and reputation increased. I began to implement military techniques such as the phalanx among my father's men, seeking to make them more disciplined and better able to serve me.
Finally, at age sixteen, I knew I needed to broach the subject of Ramsay. I entered my father's solar, a dark, foreboding place filled with jars of leeches.
"Lord Bolton." I addressed him formally, as was my habit.
"Domeric, why have you come to see me?"
"It concerns a matter which you may well be unaware of. A bastard of yours, named Ramsay and born to a miller's wife, has gained a reputation for torture, rape, and murder along the Weeping Water. He also has been made aware of his parentage and has been heard plotting my death in order to make himself your only heir. He must be dealt with." Roose grit his teeth at the topic.
"And how have you come to know of this?" questioned Roose, skeptical of my information.
"Lord Father, surely you know how such things are learned? The right amount of coin in the right hands, the right ear to the right keyhole, I have developed quite the number of 'little birds' as I have heard that the King's Master of Whispers likes to call them. His presence disturbs your 'peaceful lands' and causes your 'quiet people' to whisper." A minor lie. None of my spies had actually reported that Ramsay plotted to kill me, but they did bring word of his depravities. He and the first Reek had taken to killing and raping anyone they could get their hands on in the woods along the Weeping Water. Roose sighed heavily and answered. He did seem to be impressed at my ability to establish an intelligence network.
"Very well, I will send a contingent of soldiers to kill him. He may be my blood, but if he plots to usurp the Dreadfort, he must die. The curse of kinslaying does not apply to the administration of the King's justice."
"Aye, Lord Father. Also, he is accompanied by another savage who answers to the name of Reek. He is a servant of the bastard and equally guilty."
"Give the men the order yourself. You've made me proud, Domeric. You realize that honor is useless to those who lie in the ground, eaten by maggots. Sometimes, hard choices must be made to ensure the survival of the House."
"Aye, my lord." With a bow of my head, I left my room and inspected the men-at-arms training in the Dreadfort's walls. They stopped as I approached, turning to face me and falling silent. I had gained a reputation as fair but cruel to those who were disobedient.
"Ser Whitehill, I order you to take thirty men-at-arms, fully geared and mounted, and ride down the Weeping Water. Find a bastard of the North named Ramsay Snow, approximately my age, as well as his servant Reek, a vile savage, and bring me their heads for their crimes of rape, torture, and murder in the name of King Robert Baratheon, First of His Name, in the name of Lord Eddard Stark, Warden of the North, and in the name of Lord Roose Bolton, Lord of the Dreadfort. If they have any hostages, see them safe and unharmed back to their homes."
"Aye, my lord. We will leave at once. MEN! You heard him! We ride to administer the King's justice!" It had taken some time to break the Dreadfort men-at-arms of the habits that they had picked up over the course of their lifetimes, but my fearsome reputation had to come from somewhere. They fought as a cohesive unit, pooling their strength together to accomplish what each individual alone could not. I saw them off, relieved that I would soon be rid of the most immediate threat to my life. I returned to my chambers and read for some time, until I heard the sound of the cavalry returning. Of the thirty that had rode out, only twenty-two returned.
"My lord, the bastard was incredibly skilled despite his age and quite insane. Between him, his dogs, and the savage, I lost six good men. Two more remained behind to escort a young girl back to her home. It looked as though she had only just been abducted, so her wounds are minor. Here, my lord, their heads." said the Master-At-Arms, Ser Whitehill, the younger brother of the current Lord Whitehill. Two heads were in the bags he presented and I recognized one immediately. I breathed a sigh of relief as Ramsay Snow's dead eyes stared back at me.
"See them flayed and mounted on spikes in the town with a sign reading 'Rapists'. That ought to help keep the peace." I said with a dark chuckle. Flaying the living was outlawed, but I could do as I pleased with the dead.