xxxxxxxxx Chapter 11: The Prince has left the building.




"What do Lannisters always do?" I asked.

The three, eh, lets charitably call them men instead of 'ruffians', grinned black toothed smiles at that. "They pay their debts, Prince."

"Yes. They fucking do." I indicated the carpet bound corpse of my second favorite uncle, which was currently laying against the wall. Rusty, my dog, who we'd picked up from the kennel just outside the keep, sat beside it looking somber. He'd known and liked Jamie. "And if you can pack this body in salt and deliver it to Lord Tywin Lannister, he's going to owe you a debt. And I'm going to owe you a debt. And how much money does the Lord that shits gold and the Prince that makes gold have?"

"Fucking lots of it, Prince Eddard," came the low, excited reply.

"Yes, we fucking do." I tossed a small pouch of gold at the leader. "Get the biggest motherfucker you can find. Someone who could pass for the Hound. And get others that look like the rest of us. A pretty woman, a pretty girlchild, and a young man. A dog, if you can," I said, indicating Rusty. "And I mean people you can trust not to fuck up, don't just snatch someone. There'll be plenty of gold to go around." I paused. "And be gentle with them, like you're protecting the Queen and Princess."

They gave me knowing nods. These were men one of my contacts in King's Landing had given me. Hard, but competent. Varys was the one to originally set me up with the contact, but it's not like I had a lot of options he wouldn't know about. It's an acceptable risk, especially since Varys didn't seem to be my enemy.

"I know a whore, Prince. Got a girl about that age. She'll do it."

I nodded. "It may not be the easiest gold you ever made, but by the Seven it'll be the biggest pile you've ever seen."

We finished up. Cayla wrote out a brief letter explaining the situation, and I signed it and sealed it with some wax and my signet ring. She'd been writing as fast as she could getting letters out to various Lords which were to be sent out to various Maesters and a few to be transported by hand. We were going to have to rely on people supplied here, which gave a single point of failure, but didn't have time for anything else.

Three separate copies were sent to Tywin through different routes. Two copies were sent to Kevan and Tommen. Others were sent to the Lords Paramount. The last was to be left here, to be delivered to Tyrion when he got back from overseas. We didn't have time for any more, even that was pushing it. I'm sure some Lords would feel slighted, but frankly, I didn't trust the Tyrells not to ambush us on the way to the Westerlands.

My relationship with them might have been fine until now, but that didn't mean a damned thing now that I was having some trouble.

Once Jamie's body was dealt with, and we had the letters ready, we had to finish sneaking out of the city. Cayla needed to go by her house, if possible, to get her stuff, but that was in one of the nicer areas of the city. I was pretty mad that I hadn't insisted on getting her a room in the Keep, but it hadn't seemed like a big deal at the time.

Not having her pack was hardly a deal breaker, but like Sandor's and my own, it had the best travel supplies I could get, and all three of them had been packed with the idea we would travel together. I tried to avoid single point of failure situations, but there were things I had put in hers that we didn't have.

Mostly feminine specific medical supplies, really. Given it would probably take a month to get to Casterly Rock, I wanted those available for Mom. The extra money and her camping supplies would also help.

We snuck around through back alleys until we got to a multi-story building that, from the roof, could watch the road Cayla's house was on. It had an outside stair case that went up to the top floor, but was also tucked between two buildings. Sandor stopped at the top landing with the girls and Rusty, but boosted me up to the roof.

From that lofty height, I had a good view of King's Landing, and it didn't look great. There was no evidence of wildfire or mass fighting in the streets, but that didn't mean there was NO fire, or no fighting. At least three separate fires burned in areas that I remembered had guard houses and barracks, and there was the occasional shout of pain or anger mixed in with this kind of eerie susurrus of fear and discontent. Made my hair stand on end.

Definitely not the kind of shit you want to hear in a city you're currently stuck in. Seriously, that combination of smoke and yelling woke up some sort of 'fear the mob' part of my monkey brain. This was gonna stick with me, I could tell.

Cayla would have to cross a major road that had armsmen on it, and we couldn't risk everyone being seen, so she'd have to do it alone. Cayla by herself, though, had a pretty good chance of making it I thought. She's just one girl. Plus, I had my crossbow and its magnifying scope, to provide overwatch.

Apparently, I thought wrong.

She had thrown on a commoner's dress back at the first house so that she didn't stand out as a person of interest. All she did was cross the road and walk down the street! Why the fuuuuck did they stop her?

Four common guardsmen had caught up to her right before she made it to the door of her house, and had surrounded her.

"Regular people should be hiding in their houses, Prince," Sandor said from below me. "She shouldn't be walking around."

I hadn't realized I had said that last bit out loud.

"Shit! Why did we send her over, then? Shouldn't you have stopped me when I told her to go?" I asked, kind of peeved.

Sandor just shrugged.

"Fuck. FUCK." I cursed really emphatically when a commander was summoned. I watched through the scope of the crossbow to get better details, and though I couldn't hear what they were saying, it definitely looked like she had been recognized.

Because she's very pretty and she's been my secretary for years so she's been all over the place speaking in my name and or being my shadow. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK.

The commander had her by the arm and was shaking her. She made some sort of denial motions.

He backhanded her and she stumbled back against the wall of her house. Then he turned to his men, and started making fairly excited gestures.

Lots of badness here. Cayla's been caught, and while Sandor and I would have a pretty decent chance of taking on that squad of guardsmen if it was just them, it's never just one set of guardsmen.

And in addition to torture being a perfectly acceptable thing here, they had a magic user of some sort. And Cayla knew our plans.

I groaned in brief indecision, then started lining up the shot. Guessing at the distance, based on the size of the men in the scope, I figured it was somewhere around 430 yards or so. At that distance, I would need to use the second to last tick in the scope. Wind was light, not much of a factor between buildings but it had to cross a street and I was on a roof…

The bolt slammed into the wall less than six inches from Cayla's torso, because while I am nowhere near as good of a shot as I wish I was, and that was not where I had aimed, I am at least owed some luck today.

Cayla's shriek of fear carried pretty far. Also, the men scattered commendably fast. I'm pretty sure even I would have stared in shock for a few seconds. Nice reflexes.

Cayla had just managed to disappear into the door to her own house when I dropped the crossbow onto the roof and slid off into Sandor's hands. I left the crossbow because, one, it's kinda big and bulky, and two, they were going to be looking for someone with a crossbow. I hope whoever finds it realizes I'd pay a large fortune to get it back.

"We gotta go," I said breathlessly. "They don't have Cayla for the moment but they know we're out here somewhere."

"West gate? Or north?"

"Fucking guards everywhere, I don't fucking know. North," I said, picking arbitrarily. "They'll expect us to go for the west gate, because Glasstown is that way." I'm ashamed to admit, this was justifying a snap decision, not real reasoning.

North also paralleled the road Cayla had crossed and been noticed on. West was the direction the bolt had come from, so it wasn't entirely a shitty idea.

It worked, which meant it was a great idea. I mean, there were some really tense moments where I used the catspaw dagger to slice through the lock of a building and we went inside, but things looked up when they opened the wall gate just up the road to let a shitload of Baratheon men in headed back into the city center.

They closed the gate behind them, but they only left a single squad of what actually appeared to be goldcloaks guarding the gate.

Goldcloaks that, in general, got paid in my name, and certainly enjoyed a number of things like better equipment and healthcare since I had made it a project.

He who dares and all that. I scribbled four quick letters with a charcoal stick and got ready.

We exited the building and got closer, and again, Sandor guarded the girls while I strode boldly forward, Rusty at my side looking fairly intimidating in his leather and mail dog barding.

"Men!" I said, walking forward.

They straightened at my approach, looking at each other warily.

"It's good to see such honest, loyal goldcloaks doing their duty in this time of troubles," I waxed poetically. "Such diligence should be rewarded!"

"My prince?" one said warily. "I've heard some rumors that people are looking for you."

"Bah, you shouldn't pay attention to rumors. Or say anything about who you're about to open the gate for." I grinned at them, slightly maniacally, and produced the four letters, one for each of them. "You soon to be wealthy men should each take one of these letters. Then you should open the gates for a small group of people who are definitely not important enough to be mentioned to anyone. Then you should hang around for a few days, keeping your mouths shut. But when you get the chance, quit your jobs and head north to Winterfell, then present these letters as proof. And then, when you've been given more money than you know what to do with, do whatever the fuck you want."

Two of them nodded. One said, "Huh?"

"Let me by, say nothing, take this letter to Winterfell, and I'll give you a shitload of gold."

"Uh, we might get money if we capture him, though?" the impassive guard said. "And Winterfell is a long fucking way away."

"Sandor is back there in the alley with my bow. You'll die before you can draw steel."

He nodded, like he'd just solved the equation. "Probably get more this way," he admitted.

I handed the letters over. "Lots. LOTS. Of gold. But if we get caught, you don't get shit."

"Didn't see nothin'," one of the nodding guards said.

"Good. Keep it that way." I motioned back to the others, and we slipped out the crack as soon as the gate was ajar.


Sandor negotiated for more horses from the four men manning the stable, while Rusty, my dog, skulked out of sight behind them. The two of them seemed to have it under control, so I took a chance to look back over my shoulder.

Smoke was rising over King's Landing, the early evening sun lighting it up with a baleful glow. We had maybe four, five hours before dark, and for all we knew, men were already chasing us.

Cersei had stopped crying, and was currently just standing behind me, her arms around my armored middle. Myrcella held onto her leg. I had my bow in my left hand with an arrow knocked but not drawn, and four more dangling from between the fingers of my right hand, just in case.

My shield was hung over Cersei's back, a cloak draped over it to hide its fairly distinctive crest and colors, and my hammer and sword hung at my side. Sandor and I had set our packs down on the ground to free up our arms.

A good thing, too. I heard a sharp cry of pain from one of the men, then the sounds of multiple swords clearing sheathes ahead of me. I turned back in time to see Sandor's valerian steel edged backsword split a man from shoulder to opposite hip, and Rusty dragging a screaming flailing man along the ground by his calf.

I instantly drew, sighted, and fired on one of the men. Maybe the power of my dragonbone compound bow and razor edged mechanical broadhead would have failed against Ser Barristan's skill or his plate armor.

This guy wasn't Ser Barristan, and was just wearing a light leather jerkin. The arrow went all the way through him and slammed into one of the walls of a barn behind him.

Fortunately, that was all I had to do as Sandor quickly clashed with the other man, who was armed with little more than a whacking stick, laying his neck open with a gurgle before sending him sprawling with a mighty shove. From there it was little more than a simple reverse and stab to kill the man on the ground, making it Sandor 3 to my 1, which I was perfectly happy with. Rusty, being well trained, immediately backed off and looked around for more fun, panting happily.

"What the fuck, Sandor?" I asked. "You were armed with a bag full of gold and the promises of the richest man in Westeros."

"Two of 'em had Stormlander accents. Couldn't risk it," he replied, giving mercy to the choking man he'd laid out, then wiping blood off his blade.

"Ah." I paused. Would I have made that call? Probably not. But that's what Sandor is for. I didn't contest it. "Good call." With everyone in the immediate vicinity, I didn't need to be on immediate guard, and we needed to gather supplies. "Let's get some horses."

Cersei kept Myrcella close as we busied ourselves looting the place. It was a modest pasture and corral, holding about twenty horses, with an associated barn, used to supply the armsmen who patrolled the surroundings of King's Landing. We picked it because it would have everything a small group of riders would need for a long distance trip, and almost all of the men had apparently been summoned to King's Landing.

Armsmens' gear wasn't as good as what we usually used, but at least we had our personal travel packs. Mainly, we were picking up consumables. Tins of dried food, tubes of eggs packed in wool, bags of somewhat fresh corn tortillas, plus the traditional westerosi trail foods like jerky, cheese, and sausage. Bedrolls plus spares, oilcloth tarps, plenty of waterskins and some water barrels for the horses. Bags of oats and grain, and even a few hay bales because why not. The horses were going to be the big limiting factor of our journey. I also added a couple of crossbows, since I was missing mine, and quivers of bolts and arrows. Lastly, I packed on what I remembered as standard adventuring gear. Rope. Shitloads of rope. Torch makings. Candles. Spare flint and steel, with packets of charcloth tinder. And finally, two carboys of lantern fuel, which we packed on the very last horses in our pack train, because they're made of amber blown glass from my glassworks. Although protected by sturdy wicker woven tightly around the bottle, they still get broken sometimes and no one wants to ride a burning horse no matter how cool Ghost Rider was.

Although annoying that we couldn't have the stablemen do it, Sandor and I were probably just about as fast. I briefly wondered if I should feel bad about killing the men, but frankly I was already hyped up on adrenaline and as such it barely affected me.

We grabbed the best two horses for us to ride now, plus six more horses, with enough supplies we should be able to avoid people for at least two weeks, a month or more if we slow down to forage.

Cersei was too out of it to ride by herself, and Myrcella was too scared to leave her big brother, so once again I left most of my gear on another horse. Sandor was just too big to make someone ride with him as well, though I suppose Myrcella could occasionally. The fact was, the two girls and myself were still lighter than Sandor's giant ass. I also got Rusty on top of one of the pack horses as well. He slobbered dog drool and armsman blood on my face when he was up there, a big doggy grin on his face, and obediently hunkered down. This wasn't his first ride.

I spat and wiped my face as best as I could.

My other 'hound' helped me get situated with my passengers, then mounted up as well. Both of us led three horses, all saddled as well in case we had to change.

We were traveling west, into the setting sun, so both of us pulled out protective cases that contained the finest achievement my glassworks had yet produced.

Mirrored wraparound sunglasses.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to make one way mirror shades starting with medieval technology? And I had done it! Yes, they often got broke, scratched easily, and despite my best efforts, tended to be a little bit warped. They still fetched a tiny fortune apiece, with backorders for years.

Goddamn it, I was leaving it all behind. My glassworks, my steelworks, my damn laboratory, my distillery, even my god damned theater! I personally turned King's Landing into the industrial center of the seven kingdoms! I'm why we're only a million dragons in debt and most of that is to me and Tywin fucking Lannister!

And FUCKING ROBERT BARATHEON has to go all OURS IS THE FURY and try to kill everyone he fucking sees! Either because he caught Cersei fucking Jaimie or maybe because some quartheen fucking sorcerer got all up in our shit! We're just lucky Tommen is at Summerhall with Kevin Lannister and Tyrion is over in Myr chasing more glassmakers for me!

I swear to fuck, when I find out who's behind this, I'm going to SKIN THEM and pickle them in salt!


"Prince Eddard?" Sandor asked carefully, rousing me from my brief, let's be honest here, blackout impotent rage. "Are you ready?"

There was a lot of meaning packed into the way he addressed me just then. A lot of caution. Although I never called him the Hound, it was a pretty good nickname for him. He was loyal and uncomplicated, but he was also just like an abused dog, always knowing that, when things got bad, the boot could be coming.

I don't abuse dogs. I had to calm down.

I shook my head, kissed Celly on the top of her cloaked head, and put my glaive in its upright socket.

"It's 600 miles to Deep Den. We've got fresh horses, a burning city behind us, a few hours before dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."

Sandor grunted, relieved I had perked back up. Absolutely great bodyguard he was, he was terrible at banter.

Suppressing my flash of disappointment, we rode for Deep Den.





AN: This chapter has actually been written for a while. Sorry. This is not an indicator that I'm about to suddenly release a bunch more chapters of No Promises. Actually, I'm working on People Lie again. Expect a whole new, rewritten, expanded version of that.

That patronage site dot com slash Nugar

About that patronage site. I'm sick. Got some health issues post covid. (Yes I was fully vaxxed, but I was never the healthiest person.) Lost my job. (fuck) Seemingly plenty of time to write (yay), but sick enough I can't always do it. (fuckx2) Unemployment is taking forever to kick in. Discount medicare is taking forever to kick in. I am broke as fuck. And I am out of the expensive fancy insulin that works best on me. I am in a bind. Any support is appreciated, even if it's just a single month before you cancel. Hopefully the state bureaucracy will get its shit together within another month.

I have a new discord, tied into that patronage site. Supporters can tell me what to focus my efforts on, or even buy writing directly. So far, everyone wants People Lie, which is what I'm focusing on.

Other projects I have going are a Heavy Object inspired battletech AU, where a pair of ships missed The Exodus and end up mirroring the Clans/Wolfs Dragoon situation in miniature. Not yet ready to show anyone that one. Not an SI.

And an original inspired by the Magical Girl CYOA. First chapter is coming along nicely. Should be ready to send to patrons soon. PseudoSI, not really me, more like generic OC isekai except it's the same world. The story is actually about wealth disparity and the need for basic income for young women who regularly risk their lives to save humanity from the forces of evil. Also kind of a heist movie kind of story. It's fun.

I also have an original vaguely D&D style story set in a vast, freefall sky with sky islands called The Broken Lands. It's over on Royalroad, though I stopped working on it a while back. Few people were reading it, and they all requested that I go back to People Lie.