Kill the Boy 29

- Whitewoods -

Theon Greyjoy's eyes traced through the growing northern settlement with interest. Whitewoods had been a living city for less than a year and yet it already dwarfed Wintertown. He supposed it made sense, most of the folk were wildlings after all.

He could see them in the distance, their tent city just on the edge of the town. They would have the experience fighting off the cold of winter better than the southerners that had claimed the wooden buildings, though if Jon was right about the onset of the undead, he didn't think they'd appreciate their tents then.

Leading his men, a small party of twenty, through the town was an experience. Nowhere else had he seen such a collection of people from different parts of the Kingdoms. He could even see some Dornish skin under layers of skins. Poor bastards were probably freezing their balls off.

"Theon!" Turning, the Greyjoy smiles at the sight of Robb, standing at the entrance of the keep with Jon and two women. He recognized Daenerys Targaryen, but not the red headed woman.

Hopping off his horse, he marches over to his friends and gives a brief bow, "my Lords, I am here to escort Lord Robb to Winterfell."

"Welcome, Lord Greyjoy," Jon says, and Theon can't help smiling at being called that, "Please come in and we can partake in bread and salt."

Theon nods and steps into the keep's hall after the rest. There's a table at the end of the room with he food and Jon is quick to pass it to him. After quickly eating it and gaining guest's rights, Theon takes Robb into a big manly hug.

Robb returns the gesture, then pushes him back with his good hand, "It's good to see you, Theon."

"Aye, it's good to see you too," is the reply, followed by a smack on the shoulders, "The hell were you thinking, trying to fight the Mountain?"

"Not trying, succeeding!" Robb refutes, "I'd say I came out the better for our engagement."

"Aye, but you didn't win, did you?"

"No, but I think staying alive is reward enough, don't you?"

"True," Theon nods, then looks down at the bandaged stump of Robb's left arm, "Still…"

"A small price paid," Robb tells him resolutely, drawing his friend's eyes back to him, "I'd give my hand a hundred times to fell a man like the mountain."

"Let's hope you don't need to," Dany interjects, inserting the rest of them into the conversation.

"I agree, my Lady," Robb smiles at her.

"Alright, enough o' this cock-wavin'" The redhead intergects, then steps up next to Theon, "'M Ygritte, and according to Jon you know yer way around a bow."

Theon takes a step away from her, then smirks and tells her, "You're looking at the best archer in the north, girl."

"Girl, am I?" Ygritte bares her teeth, "I'm all woman."

"Are you?" Theon snorts.

"Too much o' one for you," She tells him.

"Oh, and who isn't?"

"Why m'lovin southern husband, here," Ygritte grabs Jon and drags him forward, "Ain't he just so pretty?"

Theon snorts again, this time from genuine amusement, "The prettiest."

Jon just rolls his eyes.

- Winterfell -

Bran sat at the head of the table. It was a place he was unaccustomed to, didn't feel like he fit at. This was Robb's place, or their father's. It wasn't his. His place was in the Godswood, with the trees. There he felt more at home or had begun to feel more at home since he had started receiving his visitor.

The Raven had been a great help in dealing with the trials of being a lord. He could pay attention when Bran couldn't. He could offer advice that had an extra tinge of knowledge to it.

The Raven was him, only older and colder. Bran didn't want what happened to the raven to happen to him, something the Raven knew but didn't comment on. There was something otherworldly about the elder Bran, something that made him other than human.

He'd first shown himself when Bran was climbing the broken tower a few days after Jon had left for the Wall. Bran had made it all the way to the top, to the little room up there where he could climb in and go back down the stairs. He'd climbed in, then frozen at the sight of himself staring at the floor.

Their interaction had been brief, but it left Bran feeling different. He knew he hadn't had profound thoughts about the nature of reality and the madness that is time before he'd met himself. Not it seemed that every hour he'd find himself dragged into his own head by his warring thoughts. Knowledge he shouldn't have possessed passing back and forth in his mind like roiling waves on a stormy sea.

It was maddening, frightening, and made him wish he could ask somebody for help. The only one he could ask for help was the Raven, though. He could only ask the source of his sickness why he was suffering.

The answers given were always different and never satisfying.

- North of the Wall -

Benjen Stark felt like a hero of old, a feeling he hated. Astride an elk, it's horns wider than he was tall and carrying a blade of Valyrian steel into battle against the undead. There were legends told of men like himself.

There was a reason they were legendary: it was because if anyone thought of doing it in reality they would be laughed out of the tavern and thrown to the pigs.

Unfortunately for Benjen, the age of legends was returning to wreck its bloody vengeance upon them for forgetting why they were started to begin with. Namely, he now faces a White Walker, perched upon a damnable ice spider.

The horrid creature didn't make a sound as it regarded him with hateful blue eyes. The terrifying creature beneath it stomped at the ground with various legs. The undead behind it remained silent, waiting for the order.

Benjen could try to fight them, face them, and he'd most likely die again. That was why he did the very sensible thing and ordered his elk to drop its head and charge. The massive beast grunted, ducked its horns, and charged at the horde of undead beside their silent master.

The Valyrian blade Dark Sister sings in the darkness towards the White Walker as Benjen is swept past, the ice warrior blocking the blade with its own weapon, a frozen spear. The contact is brief, but the sharp edge of the steel slices a furrow through the spear, though the White Walker is unharmed thanks to its defense.

And then Benjen is past it, his elk either destroying the undead or smashing them aside as it charges recklessly through their midst. After he passes the Walker, Benjen's morning star flies, smashing through the heads of wights that sought to take his steed from behind or the sides.

And so the elk charged through the woods, dragging Benjen closer still to the Wall, looming on the horizon.

- Winterfell -

Sansa Stark was in heaven, or at least the closest approximation that either of her faiths presented. Willas Tyrell was the epitome of a gentleman; and while he wouldn't be winning jousts for her favor, he would be stimulating her mind and encouraging her hobbies.

The man, older than her by several years, was kind and sweet and wanted her to be happy as his wife. It was everything she'd ever wanted.

He also warned her of the duplicitous nature of the capital, where he would inevitably become the Master of Coin upon his return south. He warned her of the clever lies told to pretty ladies to get their attention, and worse deeds to keep their silence. He pointed to the actions of the Moutain, who had taken her brother's hand. Directed by Cersei Lannister, the Westerlands were in chaos, all because men like Tywin Lannister and Petyr Baelish had tried to play the kingdoms to their own tune.

The capital was a pit, he'd told her. It would be a trial to live there, but she would come out a greater person than she had been when she entered.

It was her choice if she came with him, and it was her choice where they would marry, if they did.

And she wanted to, more than anything else in the whole world; but she didn't know if that was her childhood dreams rearing their head as they had with Joffrey before the truth came out, or if this was love.

She so desperately wanted it to be love. How could it not be?

- The Neck -

How does one cross the deadliest swamp in the seven kingdoms? That was a question that plagued many southern lords over the millennia as they tried to use the Neck to advance on the North and rid them of their heathen gods.

The Starks had known the answer for centuries, befriend the guides.

"Howland," Ned embraces his small friend, the crannogman returning it with gusto.

"Ned," He mutters, his voice quiet, "It's good to see you."

"And you, my friend. I only wish it were for better reasons," Eddard backs away, laying a hand on the small mans shoulder and squeezing for a moment, "How have you been?"

"Well," Howland, never one to mince words, smiles, "Had children."

"How many?" Ned prompts. It was always like pulling teeth with the woodlander.

"Two. A boy and a girl. Jojen and Meera," He indicates two other small green covered figures among the group of crannogmen that had greeted the Northern forces. They step out and remove their hoods, showing youthful faces.

The boy, Jojen, is clearly the younger and looks like he's seen a ghost. The girl, Meera, sports a smile as she looks at him that he can't place.

"They aren't joining us, are they?" He asks.

"No," Howland shakes his head, "Was thinking… would Winterfell Welcome them?"

"Of course."

The crannogman nods, then waves a hand and the two fade into the group behind them again as they turn around, "Thank you."

Ned places a hand on his shoulder again, "My friend, after all you've done for me I'd not deny you anything."

"You denied the boy the truth."

It was the longest sentence Ned had heard his friend speak in years, and it was also the longest running argument they had. It had stared when Ned took Jon as his own and hadn't abated since. Each time they met it had been a constant back and forth with them, but always Ned refused to reveal the truth.

Sighing, he says, "It didn't matter in the end, Howland."

"No," the small man agrees, "But it should have."

- The Golden Road -

Marching armies was slow work, and Sandor Clegane was getting sick of dealing with it. The brutish man was tempted to break from the army and march on Casterly Rock himself. It'd take them a month to reach it at their current pace, even longer if they decided to wait for the North to join them.

He understood why they would. He'd need to share a drink with Robb Stark someday; they'd connect over how much of a cunt his elder brother had been. The Starks had a right to be angry at Cersei, just like he had a right to be angry at his brother.

He just wished they weren't so fucking slow.

He also wished he wasn't the man in charge. Whoever thought he should be the one leading men should have had his cock cut off and stuffed down his own throat. He suspected the Imp was behind it, just to spite him for saving his life.

Whenever some dumn cunt had a boo-boo they came crying to him to deal with it, and Sandor was fucking sick of it.

"Alright!" He roars, and the Lord that'd been trying to talk to him backs away, "I don't give a fuck where your tent is! If somebody else is where you want it, fuck off!"

"But-"

"Fuck. Off."

The lord sighed, nodded, and left. He was some stupid crownlander that thought he was better than everyone else. Didn't mean his shit didn't stink like the rest of them. He'd be glad when the finally started killing things. He looked forward to tearing his brother's men apart piece by piece.

Let them see how it felt.

He'd never had a taste for senseless cruelty. He was a killer, in the employ of killers. He did his job quickly, efficiently, and then went and had a drink. Fuck being a cunt about it, if Sandor Clegane wanted you dead, he'd just kill you.

- Casterly Rock -

An army should be regal, should be imposing. The army that had come to fight for Cersei Lannister was neither of those things. It was a pathetic mess of men; none of which wanted to be there. They knew that Cersei was keeping their lord's children hostage, and they didn't really care.

What did the games of the lords and ladies matter to them for anything other than a swift death? They were going to die because some cunt thought it'd be a good idea to declare war on the entire seven kingdoms.

The reason most didn't even try to desert was because millennia of constantly reinforced loyalty kept their feet planted to the dirt. Their lords hadn't been horrible to them, and most hadn't been cruel. They also knew that if they did try to run they'd be cut down.

They'd be lucky if the first strike killed them.

If they weren't lucky, the man named the Tickler would get to have his fun. Cersei had made sure they knew what that entailed.

So, none were brave enough to try after the first few.

Cersei gazed down at this motley assembly of levies and knights, none of whom wanted to fight for her. She smiled, gleeful at having a fighting force of her own, finally. It had taken her entire life to reach this point.

Dozens of sacrifices, the loss of sweet Jamie, the destruction of her noble House until it was only she that remained.

The sacrifices of House Lannister would not be in vain. She would see their victory snatched from defeat and reclaim her rightful place as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.