Mirror Notes: This story can be found at https colon slash slash forums dot spacebattles dot com threads/asoiaf-greyjoy-alla-breve-si.352019/ written by AndrewJTalon
At the forum, it has non-canon omakes that have not been included in this story. Volume 1 is almost complete as of 2016-07-11 (Australian Western Standard Time).
Further Mirror Notes: You will find sections in this story listed as Omakes. They are actually part of the story, however, they were not written by AndrewJTalon, they were written by other writers, sometimes at Andrews behest, sometimes just inspired by the story, and Andrew kept them, listing them as part of the story, as they were well written, didn't interfere with the story, and had elements he'd later go on to add into the main storyline. Several of the Omakes, such as "Keep it simple, stupid", and "Meanwhile, in Slaver's Bay", have had sequels written as chapters. Don't get it twisted, if it's here, it's part of the story.
I: Reflections on War, Part 1
Most stories about people ending up in a fantasy world and saving it have happy endings. And while my story hadn't ended, yet, there was a hell of a lot of bad things that still happened no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. From the day I ended up in Theon Greyjoy's body, an eight year old hostage/foster son at Winterfell, I had struggled to change the future and make the world a better place. In that respect, I'm not too different from anyone else I suppose. And I had had many successes, make no mistake.
It had taken time for Ned Stark and Maester Luwin and dozens of other men to recognize my plans as more than child's fancies, but when they did pay off I was given more and more. I had industrialized the North-Ned Stark had built watermill powered sawmills, textile plants, meat processing factories, and other industries powered by rivers to make the North prosper. I had used my name as a Greyjoy to welcome dissidents from the Iron Isles, and given Ned Stark the impetus to form a Fleet of the North. Maester Luwin was known far and wide for "inventing" canned foods, anti-biotics, vaccines to a few plagues, and other wonders from my fertile mind. Gunpowder had led to primitive dynamite, muskets, cannons, flintlock weapons and other marvels of technology that made the North fearsome indeed.
And people stayed people, stubborn and foolish. No one more than I.
The Night's Watch had cannons, muskets, scatter guns, grenades, land mines, flamethrowers... And they were still barely three thousand men. The Wildlings were still coming, and I couldn't very well tell them the White Walkers were returning. I'd look like a mad man... But now Wildlings were being killed, their bodies torn apart by Bolton shotguns for sport.
The Winterfell Granary threshing machines, that had ensured no one would starve in Winter ever again, had broken and I was sent out to look at it... The same day Bran Stark was shoved out a window. I couldn't save him, save the boy I had found a little brother in. One I shared views of the stars with through a telescope, and talked about the planets with. A boy who had such dreams, and I... I had failed to change his destiny.
Ned Stark had gone South to become Hand of the King. I had tried to come with him, but he had insisted I was indispensable to the North and had to stay. I had convinced him and his men to take pistols, gas grenades, and a few other precautions just in case... And Ned Stark still lost his head, though Arya had at least escaped. Sansa was still a prisoner to a monster king.
And now the War of the Five Kings was underway. I had at least managed to convince Robb Stark to cut off all lumber and other trade with the Iron Isles a few months beforehand, citing "secret issues". That would keep my father's conflicts limited, especially given the North's naval power. And we had managed to avoid dealing with Walder Frey entirely-The Fleet of the North allowed Robb Stark's armies to move about the Riverlands at will, and kept supplies flowing. Logistics was the key to any war, and expanding the North's trading fleet let us do that.
I had made a few changes, small, minor ones... And yet, here we still were: Ned Stark dead, Joffrey holding Sansa, Renly and Stannis fighting in the South, and Daenerys Targaryan in Essos, building her army. Three victories to the Young Wolf's name, Jaime Lannister our prisoner, but no closer to victory.
Maybe the North was better fed, better armed, and better prepared for the dark days to come... But the people in it had not changed. We had to end this war. We had to stop it, as quickly as possible, and turn our attention to the Wall. I had tried so hard to avert this conflict, this useless and destructive war... And I had failed.
All I could do then, was see just how much more I could get away with. Before the gods decided I'd pushed my luck too far.
Robb Stark, my brother and my king, was studying a map intently with the rest of his head bannermen in his tent. "He's been fighting a defensive war from Harrenhal," Robb said, pointing to that ancient ruin on the map. "Using the Mountain to raid and burn the Riverlands. He's content to keep that up, exhaust us..."
"We need to draw him out," I said bluntly. Brynden Tully looked over at Theon, and smiled.
"Aye, that we do Lord Greyjoy, but Tywin Lannister's not going to just come out for us," he said. "If he won't commit all his forces to a strike fer his son, what would he?"
I grimaced. "I don't know," I admitted, "but the longer the war goes on, the harder it gets. We can't afford any major sieges, Winter is coming."
"House Stark's words, but meaningless for us," Roose Bolton stated. I managed to look him in the eyes, no matter how much he made me want to look away and shudder. "And with your... Esteemed father raising havoc in the North-"
"He hasn't made landfall with any great host," I said earnestly. "And unless he can load up more timber on those longboats of his, he can't replace the ships we sink. And we are sinking a lot of them," I reminded Robb. My king nodded, and Bolton conceded the point with a shrug.
"Balon Greyjoy is a limp old man trying to relive his glory days," I said fiercely, "and it's only the War of Five Kings as a courtesy to that withered old cunt."
"Well said, yet you keep the name," Greatjon Umber said. I shrugged and smiled at Robb.
"Well, I'd like to take Stark, but I'll leave the timing on that to my King," I said. Robb smiled back. "Besides, I don't have a wolf."
"You don't have a kraken, either," Bolton noted. I scowled.
"That's because they'd be too much of a hassle to cart around on land," I emphasized. "Can you imagine having to tow that with me everywhere?"
"We'd laugh at you no less than whores do now," Lord Karstark jested, as everyone (including myself) laughed. Robb got his laughter under control and shook his head.
"Fact of the matter is though, Theon's right," Robb said. "We do need to end this conflict, and fast." He studied the map. "We could make raids into the Westerlands, draw him into a trap there-An assault on Casterly Rock would sting his pride fiercely. He sends the Mountain after us, we trap him around the Stone Mill and crush him."
I recalled the marriage Robb made with that Westerling girl, and while he was not beholden to Walder Frey, I was still reluctant to put my friend into such a position. Besides, I had sent a few of my people along with Catelyn Stark down to the Stormlands-Who would "innocently" suggest a marriage between Robb and Maergery Tyrell just in case something terrible happened to Renly. No, of course I wasn't expecting anything to happen but it would be a good thing to keep in mind, just in case, and by the way since Petyr Baelish was there why not bring up the idea with him and how happy it would make Catelyn...?
"We could," I agreed carefully, "but we'll have to make sure everyone's coordinated-One screw up and we're all fucked."
"Yer firesticks have been a great help on that front," Greatjon Umber said with a grin. "Why not let loose with 'em, right in the open field?"
I sucked in a deep breath. "Because while your knights and cavalry are well trained, disciplined soldiers, my Lord," I said, "the majority of the army armed with my firesticks are farmers, millers, iron workers, spinners and the like. The most shooting they've done before this war was of geese or deer, or the occasional shooting contest."
Ned Stark had sponsored many of those himself to promote the ownership of firearms. Many of the noble lords had objected, at first, but Ned Stark's commitment to being kind to the small folk had at least assuaged most of them that a rebellion was not inevitable. And those same houses had purchased many weapons of their own, just in case they didn't believe the Starks.
"They tore through the Lannister flank at Whispering Wood," Greatjon emphasized. I nodded.
"That we did," I said, "but that's because we were able to shoot from cover. Even with bayonets, without men at arms to protect them most of our musketeers will flee in the face of a charge."
"That is why I've focused on hit and run tactics with them," Robb said with a nod.
"We can use guns and hold our ground just fine!" Lord Karstark huffed.
"Yes, but the sheer majority of the army are smallfolk," I said. "And our tactics have to take that into account." I studied the map, and rubbed my chin. "Striking Casterly Rock is something Tywin Lannister would expect," I said. "He's betting on us doing that... But I'm thinking we need to try something more galling."
"And what would that be?" Bolton asked, tilting his head curiously. I smiled.
"We need to bring down the Mountain... We need to lure him into a trap. But it needs to be one of our own making-One that will decisively crush the Lannister army. We need a place that will let us bring all the fire down on them... And use our mines to the best advantage. We need to take the Golden Tooth, or circumvent it. We need to take Sarsfield. And we need to hit Oxcross, or even Lannisport itself to draw the Lannister forces into the mountains." I looked around at them. "A good avalanche launched by dynamite, and our troubles are over."
"Or you could bury our army just as easily as the Lannister army," Lord Karstark pointed out sourly. I grimaced.
"Well... Only if we weren't careful-"
"No avalanches," Robb said sternly. I sighed.
"You never let me have any fun..."
II: Our Knives are Sharp
296 AC, Hornwood, The North
The fluttering of wings filled the air, released birds flapping frantically from the boxes they had been held in. Two shots rang out, and two birds fell as the crowd applauded.
Standing on a wooden platform in the middle of an assemblage of tents and stands, Lord Ned Stark lowered his musket. He smiled out at the crowd of smallfolk and nobles alike. "Fire and steel form the bedrock of the New North," he spoke loudly. "And to that end, we bring our weapons in to learn, to trade, and to grow stronger together! Let the festival begin!"
Cheers greeted him, as the Warden of the North turned and stepped down the steps to the ground. I waited for him, Maester Luwin at my side, and Dan Greenstone at my other. Ned nodded to me with a smile.
"It still pulls to the left, even with two barrels," he said, handing the weapon to me. I sighed and shook my head, rubbing my bearded chin.
"Three years I've been trying to get this damn thing balanced," I muttered. Ned chuckled, and patted my shoulder.
"You've had a lot of other things on your mind," he said. "Mayhaps too much, Theon?"
I shrugged non-noncommittally as we walked through the crowd, smallfolk, merchants and nobles nodding and greeting us politely. "I feel like a shark," I said. "I can't stop or I will die."
"This is the third such Festival of Fire and Steel this year," Ned said, shaking his head. "I'm sure you can spare some time to relax...?"
"Gun ownership has surpassed five thousand souls, I think I should tend to that," I said.
"After visiting the Wall and putting cannons on the battlements yourself?" Maester Luwin asked, amused. I rolled my eyes.
All of this effort had been to get me to the Wall. To get cannons on top, and muskets in the hands of the Brothers, and flamethrowers at each castle. Primitive but functional. To get them there though, I had to sell them as an official means of clearing snow from the tunnels through the Wall and emergency heat supply.
Unofficially of course... Winter Was Coming. Ice Zombies would be upon us. And I'd handed an arsenal that would allow the Watch to conquer a small nation to a bunch of cuthroats, thieves, rapists and old men who were expected to be the first line of defense against the Others.
No wonder I couldn't relax.
A few ladies passed by, tittering and giggling at me. I shrugged, eyes still on the rifle... Until Lord Stark pulled it away. "Hey!"
"Go out, have some fun," Ned ordered. "Find Robb and Jon and go try to win Arya and Sansa prizes."
I gave him a wry smile. "They'll be winning all the prizes," I said honestly. Still, to argue with Ned Stark was... Well, I could do it when it came to almost anything else. When he put his best 'I'm concerned for your wellbeing' look on... Yeah, there was no defense against that.
Unlike the canon Theon, the prospect of getting a million different painful STDs had largely kept me celibate. No whoring away for this Theon Greyjoy, no. It was invention after invention, sawmill after sawmill, meeting after meeting. Fate of the world was at stake, it was hard to have fun.
It was hard... To let go.
So I turned and tried to make my way to the nearby tents where my foster brothers and sisters would be waiting...
"My Lord Stark, and my Lord Greyjoy," intoned an unpleasant voice. I froze and turned, to see Lord Stark eyeing Roose Bolton with polite caution. The lord of the Dreadfort stood there alone, a bit of candy flax in his hand. It was a baffling thing to see.
"Lord Bolton, I am pleased you made the trip," Lord Stark said, inclining his head slightly.
"The Festival is a recent tradition, but one I approve of," Bolton said, his expression not changing at all. "Such power demands strong leadership to keep it from being... Abused."
"Agreed," Ned said. "Would you join me for some wine, Lord Bolton?"
"I will join you for food and water, if you please my Lord," Bolton said with a nod, "I never drink. However," and here he turned to gaze at me. In the crowd, I felt utterly alone under those cold eyes. "I would beg for some time from Lord Greyjoy."
"Well, uh, certainly," I said politely, walking back to face him. "I'm always happy to help loyal members of the North!"
Bolton nodded. "A member of my household has made some... Breakthroughs in the thundersteel arts. So he claims, and so my maester agrees. However, the one who first invented them would be the best judge of the quality of his advances."
I shrugged modestly. "I only came up with some of the ideas, and got the manufacturing bit down," I said. "Maester Luwin did most of the hard work-"
"You are too modest, Theon," Luwin said with a gentle smile. "Take some credit! There's plenty to spare."
I nodded. "I'd love to help the member of your household with his invention. Where...?"
"Lord Greyjoy," spoke another chilling voice. I felt my heart clench like a fist was squeezing around it. I looked to the right, and saw him. He'd been so silent, so stealthy, I hadn't heard him. Maybe experimenting with explosives had dulled my hearing, but my instincts... Those flared.
For the person smiling at me with cold, gray eyes was Ramsay Snow... The Bastard of Bolton...
Ramsay spoke cheerfully as we walked, trailed by Dan (my squire, assistant and put upon gofur) and Myranda, whom I recognized from the show. I kept nodding to Ramsay's speech, trying to control my fear. Sure, I wasn't in his power... I wasn't a prisoner in a Dreadfort... But I would be a fool to trust Ramsay Snow any further than I could throw him.
"... All of this is... I'm trying to say, I deeply admire your work," he said. I nodded, taking deep breaths as we stopped in a small copse of trees. The festival was going on behind us, loud and comforting.
"Oh?" I asked. Ramsay smiled again, and my skin wanted to crawl.
"Oh yes... The textiles mill set up on the Weeping Waters... To see the spinning of the wool by those devices, like shiny metal spiders... Spinning their webs..." He smiled even more broadly. "And the... Flamethrower. The piston action... How you used a flange to keep the flames from blowing back-Ingenious!"
I nodded and shrugged. "I was inspired by the corpse of a crocodile," I said. "They have a palate that swings into place to keep them from breathing in water. I thought the same principle would apply to fire..."
Ramsay's eyes gleamed. "Indeed?" He asked. "I have not had a chance to dissect a crocodile... Tough, scaly things. Hard to cut... Hard to slice."
"Yes, well... Patience often grants us rewards," I said carefully. "And exploration in the pursuit of science... It justifies all our labors."
Ramsay nodded eagerly. "Yes, yes! That is what I like to say... To discover all the limits, and push beyond them! That is the true path forward." He grinned a bit wider. "Yes... I knew I'd like you, my Lord."
"Please," I said with a somewhat forced smile, "call me Theon."
"Such familiarity, my Lord!" Ramsay chuckled. "Given to a... Natural Born son, such as myself-"
"Bah," I said, waving my hand. "Southern lords can wear their titles and lineages like prize mutts at a dog show. Here, I judge you based on what you do, not who your father was." I looked over at Dan, who had been looking in a bit of terror at Myranda. "Dan here was a miller's son. Now, he's my assistant. Keeps me on my toes, keeps things on track! Much of my success is due to him putting up with me."
Dan nodded wearily. "Indeed, my Lord."
"I see," Ramsay said. "Myranda too is my... Assistant," he said. "She shares a fascination with science, you see... A fervor I enjoy. Isn't that right, Myranda?"
"Yes it is," Myranda said with a sickly sweet smile. I immediately wished I had brought Arya along-She wasn't afraid of anyone or anything and she loved me dearly. Probably because I took her and Bran along when I tested explosives-That tends to win the loyalty of any child.
"Well! All this mutual admiration is going to go to our heads," I said, "why don't you show me what you've been working on?"
"Certainly, my Lo... Theon," Ramsay corrected himself. He turned to Myranda. "Myranda?"
Myranda stepped forward with a small crate. She set it on the ground, and opened it. Ramsay smiled, and reached into the pile of rags and cloth. I raised my eyebrow as he pulled out a standard, single-shot flintlock pistol. I'd made thousands of the things, no surprise Ramsay had one. I'd marketed them as "Thunderclouds", because... Well, everyone kept associating them with storms and fire so I'd rolled with it.
Give the people what they want and all.
"A standard pistol, my Lord," Ramsay said. "Effective at ranges of about a hundred yards, give or take. Reloading it is a laborious process."
I nodded at that. "It is," I admitted. "I've been working on more advanced models that are loaded from behind, possibly with a magazine of several shots, but the engineering is going slowly."
Ramsay nodded. "I too have toyed with similar ideas," he said. "Multiple barrels might be the way forward, but for now, I've contented myself with speeding up the reloading process." He pulled out a small tea bag from the crate, as Myranda lovingly handed him a bullet and the ramrod. "You are familiar with these?"
I nodded. "Yes, teabags. The Mollen papermill on the White Knife makes them."
It was a seemingly minor invention that I didn't think would gain a lot of popularity, but the moment they'd been traded to King's Landing, everybody wanted tea bags. The Mollens had to open up two more mills just to keep up with the demand, to say nothing of toilet paper and regular paper.
"Standard pistol, you load gun cotton, powder, and the ball," Ramsay said. He wrapped the ball in the teabag, and rammed it into the pistol. He withdrew it, and pointed the gun at my face. For a wild moment, I swore he was going to shoot me-But he swung around and fired it at a bush. Several birds flew out, one fluttered weakly to the ground-Bleeding from a hit. I stared in some amazement, as
Ramsay's sick girlfriend handed him another teabag to give to me.
"It struck me... The bag can be ignited, can it not? It's made of fine paper, perfect tinder. And if you pack enough powder into it, you can just use it as the igniter," he went on. He looked at me eagerly.
"What do you think, Theon?"
I nodded, studying the powderbag. "Ingenious," I said with a smile. And it was. "You cut a few seconds from reloading-"
"And it is easily applicable to every existing thunderarm," Ramsay completed. "In large scale warfare, that will allow even more volleys, even more shots... And the paper helps keep the powder dry if exposed to moisture, if given the right mixture..."
I nodded with a grin, temporarily able to forget that this was Ramsay Snow, the bloodthirsty sadistic monster of the North. "Yes! There could be a lot of applications for this, but the powder part... This is brilliant, Ramsay."
He actually brightened, smiling broadly. "You don't know how long I've wanted you to say that," he sighed... And I was immediately reminded of how creepy he was. "I knew you would understand..." He grinned, his teeth glistening in the sun. "This isn't the only thing I've created though... I know you'll love this one."
"Ah," I grunted, as Ramsay turned around. He rummaged in the crate, and produced a blunderbuss. His creepy girlfriend once again produced something... A ball of some kind that was a bit lumpy and shiny. Ramsay held it reverently, and smiled at me in a way that made me want to shit myself.
I managed to refrain from it though.
"The blunderbuss is all well and good," Ramsay said, "pellets flinging out, shot to take down birds and the like... It does wonderful damage to unarmored men."
I slowly nodded. "Yes, it would," I said. Ramsay brightened.
"Oh, so you have also tested it?" He asked brightly. I managed a nod.
"Yes... Sheep and the like," I said slowly. Ramsay looked a bit disappointed, but shrugged.
"Sheep are easier to test on, I suppose," he said. "But the pellets... They don't do enough... I-Ah!" He smiled as his other creepy girlfriend, Violet, arrived with a pig carcass over her shoulder. "Yes, hang it up there."
She diligently threw a rope over the branch, and raised the pig up. Ramsay slid the ball into the blunderbuss, grinning all the while.
"See, this ball is filled with scrap," Ramsay said, "sharpened... Easy to make, if one is running low on supplies... And best of all..." He raised the blunderbuss, and fired. The bang was loud, so loud, but it wasn't as bad as seeing chunks of the pig carcass be ripped away. Blood drained from the carcass onto the ground, and Ramsay smiled like he had the biggest boner in the world.
He probably did, and I wasn't going to check.
"It... Flays the meat," Ramsay spoke reverently. "Flays them down to the bone... Think of what it could do... To men..."
I very slowly nodded. "That's... That's great, Ramsay," I managed, keeping my lunch down. "So... What did you mix with the gunpowder? Some kind of glue?"
Ramsay looked delighted. "Yes! Animal tallow, treated with some petroleum out of the peat bogs-That is what you called it? Yes! I knew it!"
We talked for a while longer about the techniques behind it, and I agreed to write to him and have House Mollen meet with him to begin manufacturing powderbags. It would be a big commitment, but we could write out a contract so everything was fair. And with that, and a final reverent, creepy grin, Ramsay Snow bid me adieu.
"Shall we feast tonight? I would love to talk more about this..."
At least I wish he would.
"I'd love to Ramsay, really I would," I said, and it was half-true. "I'm pleasantly surprised at how easily you've grasped all this."
Ramsay beamed. I sighed and shrugged.
"But my work is never done," I said sadly. "I've got to attend to my duties and all."
Ramsay nodded. "I understand," said the boy, a bit disappointed. "But still... This has fulfilled... So many of my desires... I can wait until next we meet. It will make it all the... Sweeter," he said. Myranda giggled, Violet beamed, and the creepy trio headed off. I watched them go, as stoic as I could manage...
While Dan threw up in the bushes behind me. I sighed.
"Damnit Dan, I was going to do that," I mumbled.
"F-Find your own bush, my lord," he replied, shaking.