Jon straightened himself out, as his father and mother approached. He knew what was happening, and why he was heading off to Oldstones. He'd been prepared for this very moment from the time he was old enough to walk. Lessons on each and every one of the regions within the Kingdom, the fact that there was just one kingdom not seven, and that he, as crown prince would one day rule over it all. His father and mother stopped before him. "You are comfortable?" His father asked. Robert Baratheon was dressed in the gold and black of their house, his crown atop his head.
"Yes, Your Majesty." Jon responded. His father nodded with approval.
Mother looked at him, as he mounted his horse, she tucked something into his pocket and said. "Be careful when you are there, and remember to write to us."
"Yes, Mother." Jon responded. His mother kissed his brow, and then moved back. His father simply nodded to him. The gates opened and they made their way down the hill, and through the city, where people were flocked to the streets to watch them go. His uncle Jaime was just behind him, whilst several dozen members of the household guard rode with him as well at the fort and behind to make sure that nothing suspicious happened. People cheered as he rode passed, and he nodded to them, there was a bit of nerves floating around his system, after all he would be meeting a lot of people that he would have to rule over many years later.
From King's Landing they entered the crownlands proper. Even here people came out to see him, and that was reassuring especially given the events that had happened when he'd been a child. The people came out and cheered and gave him gifts. From the crownlands, they stopped at Brindlewood, where they were greeted with sweet meat and other such delicacies. From there, they moved onward, as they got closer to Oldstones, things were getting more and more tense within him. Uncle Jaime remained silent throughout and Jon wondered whether there was something wrong with him. After all, Jon had heard whispers from people about his visits to the lady streets, where Mother had always told him never to venture.
They were at Harrenhal for three days, where Lady Whent regaled him with tales of the Tourney, and of other adventures her brothers had engaged on. Uncle Jaime had remained tense throughout their stay there, but Jon loved it, seeing the biggest castle within Westeros and getting to enjoy the sights and the sounds. They left Harrenhal and then arrived at Oldstones two weeks later. Jon's nerves were high as he rode through the gates. Seeing the towers of Oldstones, the sentries posted on the walls, the men wearing the livery of House Baratheon, with the royal standard flying from high. They were greeted by Ser Brynden Tully, the Blackfish. The man was gruff. "Welcome Your Royal Highness. We shall give you some time to get your things sorted, and then we shall start with introductions." Jon thanked the legendary knight, and had his things led to his rooms, which were large, spacious and filled with tapestries depicting scenes from histories and lore. Once he was freshened up, he walked down to the main hall, which was again decorated with scenes from histories. Ser Brynden was stood in red and blue of House Tully. "Welcome one and all to Oldstones. You shall be here for the next six years, where you shall learn how to fight, the histories of Westeros, and of course interacting with one another in order to develop relationships that will be able to help shape things for years later."
A toast was given and then Jon took his seat. A boy with auburn leaned over. "Hi, my name is Robb, my father is Eddard Stark."
Jon smiled and shook his hand. "My name is Jon; my father is Robert Baratheon."
Robb's face widened. "Oh…. Your Royal Highness!" Robb went to bow, but Jon grabbed his shoulders.
"There's no need for that, I'm just Jon here." Jon replied laughingly.
"Well, then, how are you finding Oldstones so far?" Robb asked.
Jon looked at Robb and said. "Well it certainly is quite big, and spacious. Yourself?"
"Oh it's here and there you know. Something or the other." Robb replied. Jon grinned, and then for the next few moments, as food was served, they talked about one another about King's Landing, and Winterfell, about their journeys. "Well, you know there was this thing, this story I'd heard about a wood's witch, I'm not sure whether it's true or not, but apparently she was there when Summerhall happened."
Jon looked at Robb and smirked. "Do you really believe that?" Robb shrugged, and went to reply but then someone else spoke.
"Are you talking about the wood's witch?" Jon raised an eyebrow, and the boy with raven black hair blushed. "Sorry, my name's Brynden Blackwood."
"What do you know about the wood's witch?" Jon asked intrigued.
Brynden smirked. "Only that she spends a lot of her time at High Heart, and makes thing seem so very mysterious."
"Has she ever come here?" Jon asked.
Brynden shrugged. "I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised."
They stopped talking as desert was served, and then the meal ended and Ser Brynden got up and spoke. "Tomorrow will be the first day of your training, sleep well tonight, and be prepared to rise first thing tomorrow morning."
They all got up and made their way to their own rooms. As Jon was getting changed his uncle Jaime ventured forward with an opinion for the first time. "I do not think you should venture into High Heart Your Royal Highness, I think that doing such a thing would be dangerous. Especially with the rumours surrounding the bandits roaming the area as well. I do not think you would wish to cause such trouble."
Jon nodded. "Right you are." Though deep down he knew at some point he'd go and see the Ghost.
Jon grabbed his sword, and circled around the training field. Everyone's eyes were on him. Whilst he appreciated that they wanted to see how good the crown prince could fight after a year at Oldstones and whilst he loved the attention, there were some things that really should be done in privacy and for him sword practice was one of them. He continued circling the field, Robb was his opponent today, and Jon was determined to beat him. They were fighting with wooden swords, but Robb had won their previous bout and Jon was determined to right that wrong.
The Blackfish was watching them, and at his signal, they moved into the middle to meet in a clash of wood on wood. Jon blocked Robb's first blow, holding his rhythm knowing that his friend would move to the side, to cause a feint. Almost as he predicted it, it happened. Robb broke contact and then moved to the right, Jon saw it, and danced back, leading Robb forward after him. Robb swung his sword, Jon ducked and then hit Robb on the side. One point to him. Robb grimaced, Jon danced back again. Let Robb come to him.
Robb followed him, but did not engage, perhaps he would not strike this time, Jon was willing to wait. They danced around one another, the ground was firm beneath his feet, the courtyard was solid and firm. Eventually, Robb's patience wore out and he swung his sword. Jon had expected this, he danced back, and again, before initiating a counter attack, he swung his sword pushing Robb back, until the other boy was on the defensive. Jon continued his advance, keeping an eye on the line behind Robb, if he pushed hard enough, Robb would be out of the circle, and therefore he'd have lost the bout. It seemed that Robb was aware of this for he stopped retreating and instead turned his focus toward attacking.
Their swords thunked against one another. Robb was strong for their age, and Jon had to remain quick on his feet to avoid being short changed. He danced one side, then another, leading Robb, hoping to confuse him and ensure that he couldn't get a firm grip on any single movement of his. Robb followed as expected, and then stopped, he feinted and Jon nearly tripped, at the last moment he stabilised and felt Robb's sword hit him on the shoulder. He grimaced then straightened, and went on the attack once more. This time he didn't hold back.
Jon swung left, Robb moved right, Robb swung right, Jon blocked. Jon swung right, Robb moved left, Robb swung left, Jon ducked and hit Robb's chest. This continued for some time, both boys attempting to gain the upper hand on the other, they moved closer to the boundary of the battle circuit on multiple occasions but never strayed out of it. They both knew how to ensure that the fighting didn't stop. The others were watching silent as anything. Jon saw that Robb was tiring and pushed his advantage. Within three swings he had his sword against Robb's throat.
The Blackfish came forward then, and Jon moved back as Robb stood up. "Jon has won. A clear victory there." There was a pause as the Blackfish looked at his great nephew. "Robb, you left yourself open to that move by favouring your right side. What have I said about that?"
As if on memory, Robb recited a lesson the Blackfish was fond of giving. "That to do something such as that is to risk complete loss of life and that one must be focused on ensuring protection even if it means not getting complete control of the situation."
The Blackfish nodded approvingly. "Exactly." He then turned to look at Jon. "Jon, you fought well, and deserve the victory, but do not let it go to your head. There were times when your movements were lax and you went on the backfoot one too many times. You need to be more positive in your fighting and not rely on some boundary to do the work for you. In a real fight, there will be no such boundary." Jon bowed his head in acceptance. The Blackfish seemingly content with that, said. "Right, that's the practise done for today, retire to your own activities for now." Jon and Robb put their swords back in the armoury, and then joined Brynden, Quentyn and Lancel as they made their way toward the godswood, where there was some semblance of privacy. Ser Jaime followed, a silent white shadow.
They sat down near the base of a tree. "Did you get it?" Jon asked his cousin.
Lancel nodded. "It took some time, but I managed to get what you wanted, Your Royal Highness." Jon grimaced, his cousin was such an arse kisser, it was quite annoying really. "The finest bark from the oldest tree in the Westerlands, it will make a fine bow and arrow."
"Did you get the book on how to do it?" Robb asked.
Lancel looked at Robb as he often did, as if he considered the heir to Winterfell beneath him. "Of course I did." Lancel pulled out a page and placed it before them. "This is exactly what we need. Now we just need to follow through with it."
Quentyn spoke then. "Are you sure we will be able to pull this off? Robert is a good archer, he might well know where this has come from."
Robert Arryn, the heir to the Vale, a smart and charming young man, but a bit of an arse all the same, filled with some sort of idea that because the Blackfish was nice to him that he was better than them all. Jon waved away Quentyn's concern. "I'm sure of it. Arryn might be good with arrows, but he's terrible with names." It was true the boy couldn't name different houses let arrow types. "Let's get to it."
These were the lessons that often felt the hardest. He knew they were necessary and that as heir to the throne he needed to know everything that was happening and why it was happening. But there were times, like right now where he wanted to simply be out on the practice yard, sword in hand, preparing for a fight with one of his friends. Maester Gormon, however, had been insistent and so all the boys were here, all thirty of them. The Maester spoke slowly and clearly. "Now, we are to discuss the relationship within the Targaryen dynasty at the time of the first Blackfyre rebellion. Would anyone like to start?"
Samwell Tarly, a fat piggish looking boy, the heir to Horn Hill, stuck his hand up. Jon hid a snigger behind his hand, of course Ser Piggy would want to do this. Maester Gormon smiled and gestured for Samwell to speak. "The conflict known as the First Blackfyre rebellion would have the seeds sown when King Aegon the Fourth, otherwise known as the Unworthy recognised his cousin Daena's son Daemon as his own son, and not only knighted him, he gave him the sword Blackfyre, the sword of kings. This action caused many to murmur, and indeed, Ser Gormon Peake, at the time heir to Starpike, was behind many of those rumours, that this was a sign that the King had chosen his successor." Samwell took a breath, and Jon found himself interested in what was being said now. "In the years that followed this, Daemon Blackfyre was given land, he was married to Rohanne of Tyrosh, and was given money. He created his own house and settled into a life of happiness and bliss, but throughout this, it is said by Yandel, King Aegon continued to stir the very pot he had brought to life. He spread rumours about his own firstborn son, claiming that his brother the Dragonknight had died, not to defend him, but to prevent Simon Toyne and his brothers to give voice to the crime he had committed. He had his wife Naerys locked away in the Maidenvault, and elevated Daena to his chief lady. Though he had other mistresses, she remained his chief one throughout much of his reign. In 184, he died, and legitimised his illegitimate children, giving them preference after his trueborn children."
Samwell took another breath then continued. "From there Daemon was summoned to court, by his brother, Daeron the Good, the two had never gotten along before, and now things were worsened. Daemon's allowance from the privy purse was reduced, and Daeron urged him to have more prudent financial management. Yet Daemon threw parties, and celebrations, when his daughter Calla was born, he immediately agreed to a betrothal between her and his half-brother Aegor. Something that infuriated Daeron, but something he could not retract without offending the Brackens. As time went on, the more martial of King Aegon's courtiers spent more time at Blackfyre Hall, where Daemon kept a martial court and it is believed regularly broke the peace his brother had signed with the Dornish and raided their lands. The growing presence of Dornishmen and women and court was a sign of great alienation for many and indeed, they felt Daemon would restore true balance to the realm and remove what they saw as Dornish corruption." Jon looked at Quentyn, his friend was a Martell through and through and hearing such things now, still some years later, must still be hard.
Maester Gormon nodded, and said. "Good, that will do for now, Samwell." The maester looked around and then asked. "Now, who can tell me why some of the more martial lords would've felt discomforted by the idea of so many Dornish at the court of their King?"
Jon stuck his hand up that question had a very obvious answer. Maester Gormon nodded, and so Jon spoke. "The martial lords were used to fighting the Dornish, they knew that that was a guaranteed way of getting money and expending some of those vassals who might've caused them trouble otherwise. With the peace that King Daeron had agreed to and brought Dorne into the realm with, they had lost that valuable source of revenue, and so they were aggrieved. And with Daemon supposedly more martial than his brother, they would've flocked to him, believing that he would've reversed what they saw as a corrosion of their identity."
"And do you think they would've been able to do such a thing then, had Daemon succeeded?" Gormon asked.
"No." Quentyn answered immediately, his voice balanced, though his hand shook. "They were fools to think so, the other Westerosi lords had grown used to the peace that had been brought, trade was flourishing and the removal of a legitimate King with a bastard would have caused the Lord Paramounts all sorts of problems."
"Yet, there were many who sided with Daemon Blackfyre during his first rebellion and then again during the third and fourth rebellions fought by his sons. How do you explain that then?" Edgar Rowan, heir to Goldengrove asked.
Quentyn looked as if he was about to snap at Rowan, so Jon spoke then. "Yes, but the first rebellion was a raising of local Westerosi lords against their King. The next rebellions were nothing more than invasions by a sellsword company which brought some local elements to it." He turned to Gormon and said. "In answer to your question, Maester, I do not think they would have been able to overturn the peace. As Quentyn says the Westerosi lords were too used to peace by that point to be willing to give up their ways for a minor skirmish here and there, that would otherwise cost them a fortune in money and men. The Blackfyres benefitted from a sense of being better than what was on offer. But if you read Yandel, Marwyn, Corbett and Gloss, they all say that Blackfyre was nothing more than a pompous vain oaf who had no good qualities. Not someone you would want as a King."
Jon was dressed in yellow and black, the colours of his house, he straightened his small crown slightly and stood to attention. His father was coming to visit, on his way from putting down a rebellion in the southern Riverlands, it seemed that some of those fools still supported the Targaryens, the dragons who were now beggars. Jon had heard about the death of Hoster Tully and the ascension of Edmure Tully to the Lordship of Riverrun, he'd offered his condolences to Robb who'd nodded, though whether Robb really knew what was happening there he didn't know. The gates opened and the herald announced. "His Majesty, Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros." The new title was reflective of his father's belief in there being one Kingdom, not seven. His father rode in dressed in furs and leathers, looking like some sort of god. He dismounted and Jon with the others bent the knee before him.
His father walked right up to him, and looked at him, he winked and then gestured for Jon to ride. He did so. His father picked him up and hugged him tightly. "Ah, but it is good to see you again lad, you have grown." His father let go of him and then gripped him in an arm lock. "And you've gotten stronger as well." His father smiled. "Brynden, you're feeding my boy well alright!" Ser Brynden nodded. His father laughed and then said. "Right the rest of you can bugger off, son show me around." Jon smiled, and did as he was bid. The first person he introduced him to was of course Robb.
"This is my friend Robb, he's Lord Eddard's son." Jon said.
His father looked Robb up and down and said. "So, you're Ned's boy eh? You look a lot like your mother."
Robb blushed. Jon's father guffawed then. "But that is all Ned." His father leaned in then and whispered. "So, tell me, what's it like here?"
Robb smiled. "It is good, Your Majesty, I am enjoying it." Robert nodded. And then walked off, he spent a bit of time speaking with every one of the boys, though he spent extra-long speaking with Robert Arryn, something that made Jon want to claw his eyes out. The boy was so frustrating. Then, his father met Quentyn Martell, there was no greeting, but a mere exchange of eyes and then he was off. His father spent a bit of time getting ready for the meal, and then there they were eating and feasting, with the King holding court with tales of the war he had just fought. "So, you see boys, there's something you have to remember, when a foe is coming at you with five thousand men, you need archers, and you need pikemen. For these fools often charge without thinking beforehand. And then there was this one fellow, he was a big fellow, almost as big as the Mountain, he carried himself just the same as well, he waved his sword around like a beast. But he had no direction. He gave a good fight though." Jon and his friends watched his father with wide eyes, someone asked about what would happen to those who had rebelled. "They rebelled and they refused a pardon, therefore they were executed. There is no place for treason." Jon's father's eyes were on Quentyn as he said that and Jon saw his friend's face cloud over at that. The meal continued, for some time, then the King decided he wished to spend some time alone with Jon. They were in his rooms, his father looking through his things. "So, tell me how are you finding it here?"
Jon thought over the question, then answered. "I'm enjoying it here, Father, truly. Everyone is quite nice, and there is a lot of fun being had. We're still trying to find the Wood's Witch."
"A wood's which eh? I tell you they're more trouble than they're worth. And what of the training, is Ser Brynden providing you with adequate practice?" his father asked.
"Yes, we practice every day for four hours, and that's no matter what the weather is like. And afterwards he makes us clean our weapons. Even though they are wood." Jon said.
"Good, good. And what else do you do when you're not fighting or in lessons?" his father asked.
"We explore the fortress, it's so big, there are a lot of things that were here during the time of the Mudds that we've found. A skeleton, a chest of draws that doesn't open, and even a sword. Of course, the sword we had to give to Ser Brynden." Jon said.
His father turned around and looked at him properly then. "And the chest of draws?"
Jon smiled, and moved away some of his clothes. "Here." His father came to examine it. The chest of draws was marked with a skull, with a black eye, and flaming dragon next to it. His father murmured something, what it was, Jon didn't know but then his father asked.
"And you didn't find a key?"
Jon shook his head. "We've looked everywhere, but we couldn't find any."
His father nodded and then said. "I will watch you spar tomorrow. I want to make sure you are actually learning something here and not just telling me that you are."
Jon laughed. The next day though he was nervous, he worried that he might not be good enough, that there might be some flaw in his technique. That he was going up against Hugh Beesbury who was a fantastic swordsman was not something he appreciated either. The fight went by in a flash of wood and ducking, dodging and leading. He avoided the boundary and kept on the attack as he'd been told to two years ago, by Ser Brynden and eventually, when he knocked Hugh down, he smiled. His father applauded and said. "You are a good fighter lad, as good as your grandfather was."
The hour was late, but the castle was dead, the other boys were asleep, as were the attendants, apart from the ones Jon had paid to remain awake. He snuck out of his room, though Ser Jaime accompanied him as he always did, recently his uncle had developed more of a smile and some sarcastic wit, which had been lacking in the four years that had gone before. They travelled through the corridors, through an open door and out into the courtyard, where Robb, Quentyn, Brynden, Lancel, Hugh and Waymar were there waiting. He nodded at his friends, and they mounted their horses, the gates were opened and they rode out.
As they rode, Jon felt his excitement grow, after four years of being at Oldstones and making preparations for this, it was finally happening. The Wood's Witch who they'd all heard so much about was close by. Indeed, it appeared that she was staying in a forest a league away from the castle. They rode under the cover of darkness, preparing themselves for whatever they might find. The bandits that had been a problem when he'd first come here were gone, removed, or dead, the other issues were done for. He kept his more anxious thoughts to himself, and focused on the road ahead.
They came to a stop near the entrance to the forest. They dismounted, and tied their horses to the nearby trees, Jon noticed that the horses seemed strangely disquieted. He looked at his uncle who shrugged. Jon nodded, turned back to focus on his friends who were all looking at him for guidance. He felt a slight irritation at that. "Well, let's get going then. We don't want to miss her." He strode into the forest, the darkness making it hard to see, perhaps they should've brought candles with them, but then that would have made things too obvious.
The trees shivered in the wind, making shapes appear on the ground, first a crow, then a snake, then a wolf, then a deer, and finally a lion. It made no sense to him how that could be happening as the moon was barely visible here. A few times he heard a twig snapped and turned around, only to realise that it was one of his friends. Somewhere along the way, Lancel whispered. "Do you think we're going the right way?"
"We'll know if we are when we find the tracks she leaves behind." Brynden Blackwood said. Jon nodded in agreement with Blackwood and they continued in silence for the rest of the trip. He held up a hand when he saw the fire burning brightly, right there near a cave.
He looked at Waymar and asked. "Is there supposed to be a cave here?" His friend had studied the map most studiously.
"No. It's not marked here." Waymar responded.
"Perhaps it would be best if we turned back?" Ser Jaime suggested.
Jon shook his head. "No, we've come this far, let's see what is further on." He carried onward, though his heart thumped, he kept going wondering what they'd find. The fire grew brighter the closer they got, until it was almost blinding, he had to stop to get a proper look at what was before him. A cave was to his right, there were more trees to the left, but right in the middle was a fire, and a woman, or a dwarf, short, squat, and white of hair.
"Who are you? Who have come before me, to talk with what has happened?" the woman asked, her voice low, lower than he had expected.
Jon walked forward and stood before her. The dwarf merely looked at his feet. "I am Jon Baratheon, son of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister, Crown Prince of Westeros."
The woman looked up at him then and grinned. "I have been expecting you."
Jon stepped back slightly. "You have?" He asked.
"Yes." The woman said. She then looked around at the others. "And your friends. Come, come into the light, let me see you." The others did as they were bid, and uncle Jaime stood between him and the witch. She cackled. "Ah, Ser Jaime, you have come, I knew you would. Your mother did not believe me when I said you would come. Nor did your father. But here you are standing before me as clear as day." She looked up and grinned. "Or rather as night."
Jon was freaked out by this, he wanted to know what the hell was going on and why this woman seemed so calm and collected. "My lady…" he began.
The woman interrupted. "I am no lady. Never have been. No I am something much more powerful. I am the Ghost of High Heart, though of course this is not High Heart. No this is my forest, the forest I lived in when the world had turned dark the first time, and they came from the winter lands to claim our lives."
"They?" Jon asked.
"The children, the white walkers, they are one and the same. They were banished, they became stories to frighten children, but they were very much real. And they are rising again. The darkness is coming and with it the false messiah will come, preaching his way and his methods. He has gone mad, the man who once would have raised Westeros into the light he has now turned to the darkness. And the false one who sides with him has grown more powerful since his last defeat. The lion of the night shall rise and engulf us all within his shadow. There will be nothing any of us can do, until she comes. She of the unburnt of the fire, of the bringer of life. She will come and she will rule over us all." The woman looked at him then, straight at him and said. "And you, you shall be the one who brings her here. Your friends will die to see her crowned." The woman's cackling followed them as they turned and rode back to Oldstones. None of them said anything, and didn't speak of it again, but Jon remembered, and at night it haunted him.
Jon looked at everything that was before him, his things were folded neatly into the trunks that he would be taking back with him. He couldn't believe that it was finally here, the day he had once thought of so longingly in the early days was now here. Six years had gone in a flash, he didn't truly know what to think. He shut his trunks and watched as the servants carried them out. It would take some getting used to. He looked around the room, the room he had called home for six years. He had turned four and ten some three days ago, and so his time here was coming to an end, just as it was for countless others, Quentyn had ventured back to Dorne the year before, and was now serving as an ambassador to Norvos where his mother lived. Hugh had been knighted, and was now on the path to becoming a Kingsguard. Jon laughed as he thought on that. Things were moving very quickly.
He walked out of his room and down the hallway, to the spot where he could see others preparing to leave. Many other young men had come in the years since he had arrived, they were slightly older than him, they were being trained to be soldiers for his father's army. To bolster the defences of the crownlands. It seemed tensions were growing with some of the Free cities. Jon pushed that thought down and went out of the hallway and down the steps, Ser Jaime following him. He made his way down to the courtyard, his horse was already saddled. He met Robb, Waymar, Brynden and Lancel. "Boys." He said. They all nodded. "It's been a good run, we'll see one another soon enough."
"Aye, at your bloody wedding." Waymar joked.
Jon smirked. "More likely to be yours isn't Brynden, aren't you getting married to one of Bracken's daughters?" That had been an interesting development and one that Jon still didn't know how his father and mother had pulled off.
Brynden laughed. "Yes, but not for about another moon or so. And even then I'm not sure if it will happen. My father and Lord Bracken have been fighting over the teats again." Jon laughed.
"They sure do have that obsession with the hills." Jon smirked. Brynden shrugged.
Lancel spoke then. "What then? When shall we all meet again to talk about the adventures we have had and the things we have all done since?"
Jon said. "Why not in three moons? Let us make a pact now, that we shall meet as soon as we can. And when we do meet, we shall have all sorts of stories to tell, none of this boring nonsense that others have." His uncle Jaime snorted, but Jon ignored him. He extended his hand and the others added theirs. "Before the Seven and the Old Gods, let us swear never to renege on this friendship, and let us hold true through anything that life might throw at us."
"We swear by ice and fire, by old god and new. We shall not let this bond of friendship fall." They all said. Then they removed their hands.
"Right, well, time to be off." Jon said, he'd already said goodbye to Ser Brynden, the man was training some new recruits and didn't like being disturbed. The others nodded and mounted their horses. Jon watched as they all disappeared with their retinues back to where they had come from. Then the gates opened wider for him and he rode through them, Ser Jaime and his escort making their way him. Jon turned around to get one last look at Oldstones. He had a feeling that he'd be back there again before his life ended, why he didn't know but he suspected he would be. He laughed and then turned around and kept going back home.
They rode in silence for most of the journey, occasionally Jon would ask where they were and get an answer, he knew where they were of course, he was simply testing his retainers, wanting to make sure they were paying attention. When they got to Harrenhal. He asked his uncle something he'd been dying to know. "Why did the mad King send you back to King's Landing, after having just made you a knight of the Kingsguard?"
His uncle's face contorted then. "He wanted me to remember my place. I was not there to experience glory, I was there to protect and to serve." His uncle didn't seem to want to speak about it and so Jon let it drop. Instead he listened as Lady Whent spoke about her brothers and her father Lord Walter, the man who'd brought the greatest tourney Westeros had ever seen to life. He praised her and promised to mention her difficulties with the castle to his father. Though as he rode out, his uncle said. "She should have simply moved out when offered the chance to do so."
"Who would have gotten the castle then?" Jon asked.
"It would have gone to the crown and become your father's responsibility. Lady Whent however wanted to remain here, she said that the memories were more than enough to keep her going. She has never married though; I believe her love died during the rebellion and as such she wants the family to die with her." Jaime answered. "Women are a strange breed." With that he said no more and Jon followed his example, the closer they got to home, the more his excitement grew. He could almost smell the food of King's Landing and it was making his mouth water.
The crowds were waiting for him when they entered the city, cheering and yelling and throwing flowers. He waved to them all, happy to be home. He was greeted by his uncle Renly, dressed in green and yellow, Tyrell colours, which made him frown, but then he ignored that and they rode up the hill to the Red Keep, where his family were waiting. He jumped down from his horse and said. "Father, Mother." And when he was hugged his heart soared.