Of Kings & Crowns - Chapter One, Hell No!

Robb Stark, First of His Name (3/04 283 - 6/01 358AC), widely known in the south by his moniker 'the Young Wolf', was King in the North, of the Trident, and of the Rivers & the Hills from 299 to 358 and is credited as the founder of the independent Kingdom of the North & the Trident. He led the North to military supremacy during the War of the Eight Kings and in the subsequent chaos that followed, provided critical leadership during the dark days of the Winter War and helped to determine both the political and economical balance of power in Westeros. He was formally and posthumously given the name Robbert the Great by the Royal Moot in 359AC.

He is often regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, with his use of innovative, often revolutionary and sometimes controversial tactics. His most notable military victory was the Battle of Karhold (301AC). With a superb military machine, daring tactics, bold leadership and an excellent intelligence corps, backed by an efficient government that could respond swiftly to major crisis', Robb Stark was able to change the course of Westerosi history forever. He died just under four months before his seventy sixth name day, however, shortly after the Battle of Summerhall (358AC).

During his reign, his kingdom rose from the status of a provincial backwater (within the Seven Kingdoms) to one of the great powers of Westeros (alongside the Kingdom of the Reach, the Kingdom of the Hightower and the Greater Storm Kingdom) and a model of early modern era government. Some have called him the "father of modern warfare". Under his tutelage, the North and the Riverlands developed a number of excellent commanders, such as Ser Elmar Frey, who would go on to defeat and sack Lorath in the Great Eastern Wars and expand the boundaries and the power of the greater Northern Kingdom long after Robb Starks death in battle. Spoils of 'the Young Wolf's' enemies meant he became a successful book raider in Westeros, Winterfell's library rivaling that of the Oldtown Citadel by the time of his death.

Called "The Young Wolf" and "The King in the North", he made the North one of the great powers of Westeros in part by reforming the administrative structure of his kingdom. For example, he began regional registration of the population, so that the central government could more efficiently tax and conscript the people. Historian Jorgen Wulfdan argues that his achievements in the field of economic reform, trade, modernization, and the creation of the modern bureaucratic autocracy was as great as his exploits on the battlefields. His domestic reforms, which transformed a backward, underdeveloped economy and society, were in fact not only the foundations for his later victories in the Stormlands and Dorne, but also absolutely crucial in cementing the power, prestige and longevity of the Greater Northern Kingdom.

The Winds of Change,

by Chronicler Wilhelm Rivers


"All warfare is based on deception", Robb Stark 300AC, Battle of Karhold 301AC

299AC - An abandoned holdfast a short ways from Riverrun...

People often try to romanticize the past. For what god awful reason, I know not. Often I suspect, because they feel nostalgic for a time and place that they themselves feel was simpler than the times they currently lived in. I was not one of those people. Nope. Not even slightly. As far as I was concerned, the past was dirty, it smelt something horrible and at that particular moment, it was loud, and growing noisier by the minute.

"The proper course is clear!" Lord Bracken declared, his thick arm slamming down on the arm of his chair with a meaty thud. "We should pledge our loyalties to King Renly and move south – to join our forces with his!"

Tytos Blackwood, seated three chairs down from his most hated of neighbours, and bedecked in the obnoxiously bright yellow armour of his house, with its raven-feathered cloak and all, bristled indignantly. As was to be expected of a Blackwood really. The history of the Riverlands, I suspect, is probably filled with lots of little moments where the Blackwoods would puff up in outrage whenever a Bracken dared to made a suggestion they disagreed with within earshot, or vice versa really. Theirs was an old feud after all, and a deep one.

"Like seven hells we will!"

"Oho, you'd like that wouldn't you Bracken, bet you-"

"I say-"

Tiredly, and with a grim sort of resignation, I tuned them all out. I'd had enough. They'd been at it for nigh on an hour already, and my head hurt, my arms ached, my bruises were developing bruises all of their own, and I was really, really starting to need a drink.

A proper drink, not the shit I was currently lumbered with. The fact that said drink looked like something someone might have sneezed out of their nostrils at some point in time, that it smelt worse than it looked, and that it tasted almost as bad as it smelt, simply proved my point. Honestly, it was at times like these that I wished the bus that had cut short my previous life so suddenly had just killed me. Life would've been infinitely easier in heaven, I was almost certain of it, probably even in hell come to think about it.

Fuck me though, I thought sourly, gagging as the bitter taste of the ale touched my tongue, a bitter mood descending rapidly upon my admittedly already rather shitty mindset, of all the literary characters in all the fucking stories ever written...

Robb Stark. Robb fucking Stark. It was a joke. One giant, cruel, cosmic fucking joke. Robb Stark. That was the name of the body, or rather, the name of the previous person who dwelt within the body I'd found myself so impossibly, forcefully, shoved in.

I'd be tempted to claim almost anyone else would have made a better host than the Young Wolf, but, well… I was in Westeros.

At least, I remember consoling myself at the time, at least Robb Stark never got flayed and castrated, or pumped full of crossbow bolts while sitting ignobly on the loo, or got to wear a molten crown of gold, or… you get the point.

Still, my recent existential crisis aside, there was but one question that still consumed my whole, that I yearned to fully unravel, let alone solve even as I soldiered on.

Was I Robb Stark?

It was true, after all, that I had inherited all of his memories. Everything he had once known was now mine, including his body, his Direwolf, even his family, such as it was.

Did all of that make me Robb Stark? Or am I still who I was before?

Does a body go hand in hand with a name?

They were all questions I'd asked myself many times, and as before, I still had no answer, no matter how much I thought on it.

"I'll not take that cheek from a Blackwood!" the Lord of Stone Hedge suddenly thundered, breaking me out my depressing musings, as he pointed an accusing finger at the lord in question.

Blackwood, as expected, snarled in response, his close cropped salt and pepper beard quivering in rage as he stood up threateningly in challenge.

Riverlords, both I, and the assembled Northerners seemed to think as one, the lot of us collectively rolling our eyes at each other. Them more than me true, still...

The bemusement was as clear as day on my bannerman's faces as their riverlander counterparts began shouting at each other, each man an army unto himself as the battle lines among their ranks solidified and the argument escalated.

That was the problem with the Riverlands really, I thought philosophically, taking another horrible sip from my drinking horn as I watched the escalating chaos unfolding around me. There's just too many people far too close together.

It was a rather uncharitable opinion, to lump the entire region into a single pot like that, I know. But after reading the books and watching the televised series, it was rather hard not to form such an opinion. The Riverlands of G.R.R Martin's literary works after all, reminded me eerily of Germany before its unification; at the heart of everything, always taking the brunt of the shit, and full of petty, bickering arseholes, none of whom it must be said, liked each other, and who couldn't collectively gather their wits together if they were handed both a bucket and spade.

...and I'm stuck in the sodding middle of them.

The Northerners, it seemed, didn't care a whit for the chaos unfolding all around us. Instead, my fellow northerners indulged themselves with a chorus of whoops, cheers and encouragements as House Vance of Wayfarer's rest entered the fray on Stone Hedge's side. A bold declaration that was swiftly followed on by the Freys.

The Pipers and Mallisters however, declared for Blackwood. Not out of any real love for the Riverlands resident heathen family, of that I was sure, but rather, I suspected, as an opportunity to settle a few old rivalries of their own.

Swords were unsheathed, threats were issued… and I found myself sighing.


I'd been sighing a lot recently, I noted idly, watching as Black Walder smashed the pommel of his sword into young Patrek Mallister's face with a fierce lunge that took the Heir of Seagard totally by surprise.

Another old feud that one, perhaps not as old as the legendary Blackwood/Bracken one, but the Cape of Eagles had long since been contested in its entirety between the Freys of the Crossing, and the Mallisters of Seagard, and now looked to be as good a time as any to settle old scores so it seemed.

It was, I sighed, no great wonder that the Lannisters had smashed Edmure Tully's host at the Golden Tooth, not with this lot. They had all on getting along with each other, let alone fighting alongside each other. Uncharitable I know, but true.

Another sigh loosed from my lips and I contemplated another drink. Then I thought better of it, sighed again, and cast an appraising eye out across the battlefield, spotting a little Crannogman who had taken to the shadows behind a gloating Black Walder - who was no doubt keen to settle a debt of his own.

That there was yet another rivalry worth noting. A rivalry that might very well win joint place, if not a solid silver second, alongside the timeless Bracken/Blackwood affair. Only this one involved neither of the aforementioned parties and instead focused itself once more upon the only family almost universally hated by all of the Riverlords… the Freys. Truly it must be said, the Freys really did make friends wherever they went, and i'd agreed to marry into them...

Though that was a trail of thought best left for later, once I'd drank a bit more.

Nonetheless, as the 'war council' descended deeper and deeper into a free for all brawl between its varied, colourful participants, I found some small token of solace in the knowledge that I'd at least managed to accomplish the first small step towards seeing 'Operation: Stay Alive' through to its thorough conclusion.

There would be no King in the North nonsense this time. Nope. None.

Allowing himself to be crowned that, combined with an unbending sense of honour and a very poor understanding of politics had killed poor Robb Stark before he could even get going, not that he'd got very far to begin with.

I, however, had no such scruples, and I was in no way interested in rehashing old ground, not even slightly. I was staying as far away from crowns and thrones as I possibly could. Hell, I'd have tried to skip Westeros entirely if I thought I could get away with it. Essos maybe, or better yet maybe even Sothoryos, anywhere was bound to be better than Westeros at the current moment, and things were only going to get worse.

Sadly however, those dreams of a hasty escape, a quiet boat ride and a peaceful retirement in a nice equatorial region in the east, had been dashed before they could begin. It was no easy feat after all, to escape into anonymity after waking up in a tent at the head of a camped army marching to war. I'd not even tried. Few things were frowned upon even half so much as a craven, especially in a medieval culture.

Still, despite my resigned acceptance of the situation at hand, however grudgingly it was, I can safely say that there is no sensation stranger than to awaken in a world you neither know nor recognise. The memories, I remembered, had flitted in and out of my mind those first few hours once I'd awoken. At first they had assaulted me, a great surge of newfound knowledge and images, like a great dam bursting at its base and the vast body of water contained behind it surging forth with all the intensity of a raging hurricane. I'd like to say that I handled it well, but truthfully, I didn't, the unfortunate evidence had been in my trousers. I don't really recall much of how it started, to be honest. It was painful, that I remembered, my body spasmed something fierce the first few hours, and the burning, I remember an all consuming burning spreading throughout my body as the memories poured in.

At first, the memories were mine, or, at least what I'd originally considered to be mine. Memories of long draughty nights spent studying for my mechanical degree in a dingy, overpriced block of student accommodation, a can of Red Bull my only company. Others, were of a lonely childhood on my father's farm, my spare time spent hidden in books, my overworked parents and disinterested siblings playing only a minor role in an otherwise solitary existence. I suppose I can say, looking back on these memories now, that life up until my last "modern" memory had been something of a disappointment. For all the academics I had achieved, for all the hard work and studying I had poured myself in to, to better escape a life of agriculture and mediocrity like my siblings before me, I had lived a boring and nondescript life. Ordinary.

All of that changed with the new memories...

These memories were colder, not in an actual physical sense, but rather, an emotional one. As if the feelings that should be attached to them were missing somehow. These were memories of a childhood filled with sword training and archery, of reading scrolls and parchment-bound books filled with heraldry and coats of arms. A flood of flashes and brief glimpses, a thousand pictures flickering across the spectrum of my minds eye, leaving behind an incomprehensible understanding of things previously unknown. It was an experience that's hard to describe, and though near a week and two days had passed since it- although the spasms and headaches had long since receded, I was still not sure that I could.

Thus, upon awakening, and after a hasty change of breeches, I had set about trying to recognise the world I had awoken in. I shan't bore you with the horror i felt upon realising it was Westeros, nor shall I go into the crying, weeping and wrathful despair I engaged in thereafter.

No, such descriptions are both unneeded and unproductive. Instead, after my caterwauling had subsided, I found myself deciding upon two things of equal importance. Number one; I was going to follow the Young Wolf's initial campaign strategy with but a few alterations of my own, and secondly, I was not ever, ever, ever, ever going to accept a crown. Not on my bloody life.


Which left me personally in a bit of a bind. I was tempted to declare myself a Stannis man, despite all of my personal reservations regarding said Baratheon, or his brother. Or any Baratheon really. They were all cunts if you thought about it unbiasedly.


"Ha! Take that you Weasel-faced-"

"Look at the bog-devil there, Umber!"

"Good sho-"

Children. I sighed, again, before taking a quick gulp from my horn- it's dirty insides still half-full of the swill that somehow passed as 'ale' in this wretched world, i'm surrounded by bloody children.

While the Greatjon crowed over the little crannogman-that-could's victory over the Frey-who-was-now-unconscious, I could feel myself growing even more irritable. The piss-poor ale in my hand wasn't helping matters any either.

It just wasn't the same, I thought miserably, staring down at the swill I held in my hand. What I wouldn't give for a real pint, a Guinness maybe, I thought wistfully, or perhaps even a Boddingtons. Anything would be better than this... witch-piss!

Downing another gulp, and grimacing as I did so, I glanced around the clearing both myself and the assembled northern-riverlander nobles were (kind of) seated in, half-heartedly ignoring the half a dozen different brawls that had broken out during my melancholy moment.

We'd found it not a few hours before the Battle of the Camps, nestled within a sparse sprinkling of woodland within eyesight of Riverrun.

Elston's Tower, if I recalled my- Robb's, memories correctly. Lady Catelyn had told her children of it once. Of how King Humfrey Teague- the reigning King of the Trident at the time, had smashed the rebellious lord of Riverrun here, slaying him alongside his host before burning down the keep.

Only for the Teague's to be cut down by the Durrandon's later on.

The keep was a ruin now of course, withered away over time and through the pillaging of stones by the smallfolk. Thieving little buggers that they are.

It was impressive enough though, I'd grant it that at least. I'd seen a few castles in my time, it was hard not to really when one grew up on a continent as steeped in history as Europe, but ruined as it was, the Keep was still very impressive.

Even in its decrepit state its imposing stature still managed to cast its environs in shadow, and for that I was thankful. People watching was so much easier to indulge in after all, when one cannot pinpoint who is looking at who.

Take everybody's favourite Frey for example...

Black Walder was unconscious, his weasel faced features planted firmly in the mud, while one of his brothers, Edwyn -I thought his name was, and some wart-covered, pimply faced son of Ser Ryman (who was also a Frey), attempted to wrestle the rather vindictive little Crannogman who was attempting (and surprisingly enough succeeding) to throttle his downed opponent. Attempting been the key word there. The Frey's I imagined, were probably one of those few families who subscribed to the age old maxim that quantity was a quality all of its own. Even if it wasn't proving particularly true for those three.

To their left, the young Mallister heir had apparently recovered his wits from the face full of sword he'd received earlier and was now shouting obscenities at a small band of Frey's, who amongst their number stood Ser Stevron -who it must be said looked rather apologetic, even whilst he was having a steel dagger brandished in his face. The other Frey's were-

"Come here and say that to my face you liver lilied cur," Bracken suddenly roared, tearing my focus away from the squabbles my future in-laws were engaged in as I watched the bear-like man try and throw himself across the clearing despite the hands, elbows, and the Blackfish's legs currently restraining him.

The Lord of Raventree Hall faired little better than his principal rival as, despite his bloodied nose, and rather inarticulate screams of, well… whatever he was actually trying to shout, the man was trapped under a mountain of Piper and Vance guardsmen, the former of which were attempting to restrain him, and the latter of which were attempting to restrain the former.

It was all a bit of a mess really, much like a train wreck I suppose. It was awful, bloody, horrifying, and despite my best attempts, I found myself unable to look away, even as I began weighing my options.

The first option was of course to interfere, to try and impose some sort of order upon the increasingly hostile environment we were assembled in, but that carried risks. Big ones. Where Robb had denounced Renly's claim in canon, once Lord Bracken had suggested it, I had done nothing -mostly I'll admit, because I knew where exactly where that particular conversation led to. Operation Stay Alive, remember? Involving myself now, installing order among the quarrelling ranks of the riverlords and bringing proceedings back to their true purpose might very end up taramount to proposing myself as king, cos let's face facts, there really was no genuinely better candidate, not really. And that was putting aside the entire thorny issue of the North's (as a mostly whole), utter disillusionment with the South, with the Iron Throne and with the pomped up Andal fucks who continually kept seating the ugly thing.

The second option available to me was little better. I could simply stay silent, let the embarrassing outbursts continue and do nothing. The risk of potential backlash on that path was minimal after all, for me at least, two utter victories to my name and with no notable losses had eased the doubts and dissenting voices within my own bannermen rather swiftly.

Besides, technically speaking, the riverlords were not my bannermen per say, they were my -Robb's, grandfathers, and as the only representative of House Tully present was currently been dragged along the muddy, moss-ridden ground, arms and legs wound firmly around an enraged Jonos Bracken, well, who was I to interfere in what was so obviously an internal affair of House Tully?

Anyway, the point was rather a moot one given the looming circumstances and I had much bigger worries to mull over, such as who the fuck were we going to declare for?

Joffrey was a no-go straight off the bat, which left two other options aside from the other alternative, which were both, well… not very inspiring to say the least.

Still, as long as the squabbling continued I had a little time to think, not much admittedly, but enough. Fleetingly, I wondered if should just draw up a pro and cons list for both of the brothers Baratheon? Or maybe just flip a coin. Either option would work well enough. Then they'd just be the consequences to deal with.

"-i'll pluck those damn feathers from yer cloak and tell yer where yer can shove 'em you poxy little Raven!" That, as you might have predicted, was Lord Bracken, who still hadn't managed to shake off his hanger-ons even as he continued frothing at the mouth, his thick riverlander accent becoming more noticeable with every word he shouted.

...and then I noticed Lord Karstark stumbling closer, a wide grin on his withered, wind battered face, and what little solace I'd taken in the fact that at least my bannermen were behaving, plummeted.

Of course they were going to get involved, I sighed miserably, resigning myself to plan one even as I continued to hope that plan two might yet survive this latest impending disaster. Drunk Northerners pumped up full of testosterone with a nearby brawl to watch….

The whole thing practically wrote itself.

The sunburst Lord of Karhold thought little of my troubles however, swaying jubilantly as he shuffled forwards, a warhorn full of mead tilted full to his mouth while his sons Torrhen and Eddard struggled to support him. The three of them had been cheering the melee on for quite some time, through which side they were rooting for the Gods only knew.

Eddard was a tall lad, a mop of deep chestnut hair atop his head with a handful of braids trailing down the left side of his face courtesy of his younger sister Alys, the sentimental bastard. Torrhen was much the same as his brother, only taller, stockier and much more grim, as if the gods themselves had taken one look at Eddard and decided we can do better.

I had grown rather fond of the pair of them since we split our forces at the Twins, though mounting horror was rapidly replacing that fondness the closer they got to Lord Blackwood's impromptu jenga pile, and I winced as I saw one of the Vance men at arms spot their approach.


It was, I thought with a distinct sense of panicked humour, times like these that really, really made one want a drink. Subconsciously I glanced down at the one third full warhorn and frowned. The murky brown substance looked back. Just… not this drink.

Out of my viewing field -my own eyes still engaged in my rather depressing one sided staring contest, I heard Torrhen mutter something and Eddard laugh. Their lordly father chortled in agreement with the pair of them.

It was then, at that point, that I realised I missed Harrion. The eldest Karstark brother, Harrion, had accompanied us far as the Twins before joining the northern foot under the command of Lord Robett Glover. If he were here, well, I couldn't quite state with absolute certainty that he would have behaved better than his kinsmen, but it was a nice thought nonetheless.

Privately, I wondered just how Harrion was doing after everything that had happened, that I'd asked him to do. It was no easy feat after all, to be asked to use yourself as bait while separated from your father and brothers.

Mothe- Lady Catelyn, I reminded myself firmly, had argued in favor of Roose Bolton. 'He was cold, calculating and ruthless', she'd said, 'exactly the kind of man you'd want in charge of an army marching to almost certain defeat against a better armed, better trained force with a lot of heavy horse'. I'd disagreed. Cannon results aside, wasting five thousand men on a diversionary battle was just plain stupid when you didn't need to fight a battle at all.

Which was the point. I didn't need to fight the Battle of the Green Fork, nobody did, all we really needed was to keep Tywin Lannister's eyes focused on the army he could see, and not on the one he couldn't.

The plan had been simple, so very, very simple. Tywin Lannister had never met Robb Stark, he'd never needed to and quite frankly I really, really doubted he'd ever want to. Only his deformed Dwarf of a son ever had- a son the man thought so little of, that he'd put him in charge of Casterly Rock's sewers in order to get him out of sight.

It was child's play really. Harrion Karstark, beguiled in his very own armour, sat atop the finest horse we could find, holding the banner of the Direwolf high and proud, had rode south. He had 17,000 men, 16,500 of which were the hastily assembled foot of the North. He had only 600 horse.

17,000 Northerners versus the 20,000 man host commanded by the mighty Tywin Lannister himself, 7,500 of which was cavalry. Battles had been fought with far worse odds. I knew it, Tywin probably knew it, anyone who'd ever picked up a history book would've know it. A fresh-faced green boy seeking glory and vengeance would have obliged. I didn't.

After all, the goal was to avoid a pitched battle. To that end, as 'Harrion's' army lumbered south down the Kings Road, maintaining a believable pace as it did so, pits had been dug here and there, then they'd been covered, marked and moved on from. Traps had been set, earth had been displaced and all of it had been carefully marked and factored into the army's eventual 'retreat'. All of it had been done under the blanketing cover of darkness, all of it by a forward command group always at least a day ahead of the main army. All of it in preparation for a battle that wasn't going to be fought.

From what few words we'd received from Lord Glover, once word had arrived by courier, it seemed the plan had worked spectacularly. Better than I had ever hoped it to do so, in fact. Concrete numbers and details were yet to be fully verified, but our own losses were estimated to number merely in the odd hundreds, instead of 'canon's' thousands, courtesy of a few glancing skirmishes as the Lannister horse had pursued our army's tactical withdrawal once the Old Lion had attempted to meet us on the field of battle. Operation: Major Time Waste had been a tremendous success.

The Lannister's on the other hand…

Well, I'd like to say we crushed them utterly, smashed, routed and pursued them right out of the Riverlands, or into the Greenfork, but I'd be lying. Tywin was far too cunning for such an eventuality to occur. The-Mountain-who-rides however, was a different beast entirely. As I said, details were rather lacking of the exact nature of the battle save for Lord Glovers rather curt missive:

'Withheld battle from Lord Tywin's host. Ser Gregor wounded. Lannister retreats south along Kingsroad. Returning to the Twins. Minimal casualties.'

It was short, sweet and very much to the point, just like the man who wrote it. The fact that the missive in question was so short on details hadn't dimmed the jubilation and elation of the already twice-over victorious army when news of their third 'victory' over the Lions of Lannister had reached them. No, instead, the men (and women) had broken out into song. Gleeful renditions of The Wolf That Prowls The Night, mocking chants of The Rains of Castamere, revelry had filled the air.

Jaime Lannister captured, Riverrun liberated, Tywin Lannister retreating, the Lords (and Ladies of House Mormont, it never really went well when one omitted them from the roll-calls) had all but abandoned trying to reign in the exuberance of the men once the news had spread.

Which had brought the assembled gathering here -sat amidst one of the last surviving monuments of the long extinct House Teagues victories, where it was quiet and we could supposedly further plan the campaign ahead of us. Supposedly.

The army for the most part had been left encamped outside of Riverrun, salvaging what war materials and supplies could be saved from the burning carcass of the Lannister camp. Rodrik Forrester had taken charge of those efforts, alongside dispersing what food and supplies we could spare to the hundreds of smallfolk that had sought refuge within its walls.

The real star of the show however (and currently missing from war council), at least in my own humble opinion, was the one and only Ser Edmure Tully, my 'uncle'.

What did mine own Nuncle do to deserve such an honour, you might ask?

He was missing, well... not really missing per se, but I imagine only the gods would truly know where he was. My Great-Uncle, Ser Brynden the Blackfish Tully, had last reported him having his shackles broken by one of the army's smiths, before been pulled aside by a rather young flaxen haired shieldmaiden with a particularly generous set of lumps above her chest. It did not, a genius take, to figure out what he was up to. The lucky bastard.

Not that I could blame the poor chap really. One can only imagine just how fucking awful it must have been to sit a prisoner of Jamie fucking Lannister while the blonde haired shit of a knight (and his equally shitty Lordly father) laid waste to all his family knew and owned.

No, I didn't begrudge the man an opportunity to blow off a little steam after the ordeal he'd probably been through. Besides, moth-Lady Catelyn hadn't stopped frowning since the Blackfish had made his excuses on his nephews behalf, I figured Edmure would have enough problems from his own immediate family without some uppity nephew of his causing him grief too. Even if I was positively green with envy that while I sat here, drinking shitty witch-piss ale listening to my lords bicker, he was getting his tail-end away. As I said before, the lucky, lucky bastard!

Truth be told, I was practically on the cusp of using the uproarious chaos around me to slink away and indulge in a little post-battle recreation myself when i caught sight of a small stone sailing wistfully towards my head. A quick jerk to the left avoided the first of the propelling projectiles but drove me straight into the path of the second, heavier stone.


Frowning as I did so, I reached down to inspect the tiny little stone that had chinked my left pauldron with a fair bit of precision before a third stone came flying my way (this time aimed at my head!).

Another artful dodge -if I do say so myself, and I avoided the latest of the rocks thrown in my general direction, and I found my frown morphing inself into a glare. Here I was, minding my own fucking business, taking every bloody precaution to try and not get caught up in the revelry around me, and someone was throwing bloody rocks at me!

Tully blue eyes, -and wasn't that hard to get used to seeing, having formerly had the same dull chestnut brown eyes of my mother all my life before, looked up, following the direction the blasted things had flown from.

To be fair, the truth should not, in any way, shape or form, have surprised me, not once I met the concentrated exasperation pooling in the deep forest green irises staring insolently back at me. Narrowed, almond-shaped eyes that looked distinctly disapproving. Of me, the cursing Lord Karstark, the surrounding chaos playing out in the clearing around us, or everything in general, I knew not.

Dacey fucking Mormont's eyes.

I should have known, I thought blithely, I should've bloody known. Only a fucking Mormont would have the balls to throw rocks at their liege lord.

Gripping the fairly smooth stone between my forefinger and thumb, and raising it to my 'watchers' gaze, I cocked an upraised eyebrow in question and frowned. Dacey smirked back and shot me another look.

"Yer shitty 'lil River-Rats!" the Greatjon rumbled suddenly, his gargantuan form staggering drunkenly across the clearing exuberantly, clearly inebriated. "All of ye so small, so, so… petty!"

"Shut-it Northman!"

"Who the fuck you calling petty, Umber?!"

"You tell 'em Milord!" a bold Forester squire, who'd quite clearly been in the jugs instead of serving them, called out encouragingly from the sidelines, inadvertently pouring fuel on an already bad situation. Privately, deep within the recesses of my mind, I made a mental note to hang the little bastard if I ever discovered his identity.

Dacey Mormont, whose eyes had briefly broken from mine at the Lord of the Last Hearths outburst, flickered back to mine with wide eyed shock. Do something, she mouthed clearly, jerking her head towards the bristling Riverlords, whose own disagreements with each other seemed to have been put to the wayside in the face of outsider aggression.

Children, I swore to myself silently, again, their all sodding children.

Still, for better or worse, the Mormont chit was right, things were beginning to get majorly out of hand and if things continued to develop in the direction they were heading… well, come sunrise, I might not have any lords left, let alone an army for them to lead.

"You Northmen let your squires talk for you do you? Fucking heathens-"

"Now wait just a minute you littl-"

"My Lords, please…. MY LORDS!"

What to do?... What do I do?

Desperately, despite the rising maelstrom of angry, uppity, even indignant, voices across the noisy din of the clearing, I cast my mind back to the few times in the past that I'd been unfortunate enough to have had to babysit my younger siblings for any inspiration I could grasp. I found nothing, or at least, nothing that would be of any immediate help here.

Fuck it.

"Renly is not the king".

Silence descended upon the mass of bickering lords around me in an instant, and it took me a moment to realise that the loud, authoritative words had been mine. So much for not getting involved…

"Renly", I repeated firmly, standing from my seat, fingers firmly clenched menacingly around the now near empty horn of ale in my hands, "is not the King."

As my glare swept over the assembled northern bannermen, the Northern Lords (and foxy ladies of House Mormont) inclined their heads subordinately and stepped back a little. It was, I must confess, a far cry from the belligerent, demanding, disbelieving vassals that had second guessed and sneered at a 'green boy' leading them back at the war's beginning. The Greatjon in particular winced, drunkenly backstepping as he clutched at the two stumps on his right hand where Grey Wind had found an open meal for the taking not a week and a half ago.

Evidently, I had either proven myself worthy of listening to, or they were just shit scared of being eaten by a Direwolf the size of a small pony. I wasn't sure which, and at that moment I really didn't care. I'd had enough. I was angry dammit, so fucking angry. At them, at the Lannisters, at whatever the fuck was going on. Any of it, all of it.

The silence stretched on undisturbed. The Northerners were silent now, most of them stock still, their eyes fixed upon on me intently, while others -Lords Karstark, Umber and oddly enough, the stone-slingling Lady Mormont among them, gazed across at me with something indiscernible in their eyes.

Admiration, perhaps?


No, it was both more and less than admiration, and infinitely more complicated I noted with a scathing glance in their direction. No, not admiration, not really, it was some weird anglamation of possessive pride and fierce determination. Whether it for me or against what I suspected they thought I was going to suggest, I knew not.

Putting that particularly confusing thought aside, I then turned my attention back to the battered Riverlords, the sight of whom almost made me laugh out loud..

Black Walder was still on the floor, albeit awake and groggy, while his Crannogman assailant stood off to the side, held at swordpoint by Ser Raymund Frey while his kinsmen tended to their own injuries.

"You, you cannot mean to hold to Joffery, my lord", Lord Bracken protested weakly, his form hunched over as he held his left side limply, obviously in pain while he shot daggers at a muddy Ser Brynden who was attempting to right himself. "He put your father to death!"

A chorus of murmured agreements rippled out across my bannermen at that, and more than one set of northern eyes glared daringly back at me. Moth -Lady Catelyn, I corrected myself firmly, winced. Poor thing.

"That doesn't make Renly king" I retorted angrily, raising my voice a little louder to better address the rest of my assembled lords. "Renly is Robert's youngest brother. If my own brother Bran, who is younger than I can't be Lord of Winterfell before me, then by those same laws, Renly can't be king before Stannis".

"Do you mean to declare us for Stannis then?" Bracken demanded suddenly, his blotchy face and swollen eyes radiating disapproval as he glared sullenly back at me. It was an expression mirrored on at least a dozen different faces, most of them northern, and all of them looking for all the world like I'd just suggested they eat shit and smile whilst doing so.

It was no secret that m-Robb's lord father had readily bent the knee before the House of Baratheon at the Rebellions end out of friendship, out of the shared upbringing that had forged the two of them closer than brothers, closer than their own brothers truth be told. But it was equally known that Stannis was a stern man, ill-loved, stoic, and with little patience for anyone or anything that didn't meet with his own dour sense of approval. It was also whispered, the rumours said, that he had taken a red priestess from across the sea and cleaved tighty to her bosom, a woman who held his ear, a red witch who demanded the burning of all gods but her own. The fact that I knew that to be true, that I'd witnessed through my own reading and viewing of the books just how far the pair of them were willing to go for the sake of their shared delusions, only served to make me even more leery of the man. At least within my own mind.

Stannis was the rightful king, there was no disputing that, not really. Renly had more men, more charm, a better grasp of the intricate politics of the realm than his elder brother ever could, but he was useless. Worse than useless in fact. He was the man who had a one hundred thousand man army, the full might of Storms End and Highgarden at his back, who need only march up the Kings Road at a decent pace and take King's Landing, and what did he do? He threw parties and held fucking tourneys whilst he leisurely waltzed his way along at a bloody snails pace with not a care in the world.

No, despite all my difficulties with accepting Stannis as a potential king, he was still better than Renly. For even if the flowery dandy actually managed to avoid getting shadow-babied this time around, even if he actually made it to King's Landing and successfully laid claim to the Iron Throne, the man was still a fool. It would be another Robert Baratheon all over again, only without the Demon of the Tridents few redeeming qualities. It would be a short reign full of gross excesses, flamboyant tourneys and petty power plays, and when winter finally came, when the White Walkers finally marched south, well… somehow I doubted Renly Baratheon would be capable of leading anyone through that, if he didn't just outright dismiss it all as a hoax. The man was an opportunistic coward and I wanted nothing to do with him.

Which brought me back full circle to Lord Bracken… and Stannis...

You know your well and truly buggered as a society when the best choice you have left for King lies within a contest between a power-hungry usurping incompetent, and his equally power-hungry, scarily fanatical, uncompromising shit of a older brother, but that was the truth of the matter.

The truly sad thing about it all however, was not that Stannis was power-hungry, or even uncompromising. Nope, this was Westeros after all, and after reigns under such illustrious monarchs like Aegon the Unworthy, Maegor the Cruel, or even mad Aerys II, the Seven Kingdoms had developed something of a… ah, tolerance for really shitty kings. The real problem lay in the elder stags fanaticism.

The Northerners as a rule kept close counsel with the Old Gods. I myself, from Robb's own memories, could recall the stories of how the Andals had burnt and hacked down the Weirwoods of the South, robbing the Gods of their eyes and ears below the Neck. If I declared us all for Stannis without guarantees (which I couldn't guarantee Stannis would give us), my Northern lords might very well string me up alongside the Lannisters. To say nothing of how the Riverlords, a curious mix of Old and New Gods worshippers, might react. Whichever way I went, well…

I was buggered.

"Renly is not right!" shouted the limp form of Lord Tytos Blackwood from aside, two pair of arms looped roughly beneath his shoulders as lady Maege Mormont and one of her daughters... Alysane? Lyra? ...attempted to extricate him from the mountain of bodies atop him.

The crowd burst into bickering again, the same as before. Bracken was quick to retort angriliy at Blackwood, his finger waving rigidly, Black Walder, from his position on the floor, groaned miserably in agony, and I sighed, again. The arguing grew louder, loudly enough in fact that for a brief moment I feared hostilities would resume, and that actual blood might be shed.

"If we put ourselves behind Stannis-" Blackwood attempted.

"My lords!"

For God's sake. Please don't be him, please let it not...

...and there was the Greatjon, making a muck of things, as was his want. The twat.

Fearfully, and with no small amount of rising trepidation, I watched as the hulking fur-clad form of the Lord of Last Hearth tumbled out from his position on the sidelines and waltzed merrilly out into the ring of chaos around us. "My lords!"

With a brief pang of amusement, I watched as Black Walders fingers crunched under the lumbering giants wandering feet, the Frey's pained squark quickly absorbed by the noise of the ongoing bickering as said northman trampled over the prone river lord's downed form as he took centre stage and shouted. "MY LORDS!"

Silence rocketed across the clearing and my initial fears warped horribly as the giant oaf of a man said the nine words I'd have gladly traded both my tesicles to never hear, "Here is what I say to these two kings-" and then he spat, the cretin actually SPAT!

While my shock was probably a tad bit out of place amidst the smiling, cheering faces of my bannermen, I found I didn't care. I knew what was happening and suddenly I had much bigger worries than what horror-stricken expression had plastered itself so firmly across my face.

The Alarm bells, which had started at the Greatjon's arrival onscene reached a crescendo within my ears. It wasn't possible, it wasn't happening, it was *not* happenin-

Who was I fucking kidding?

It was all going wrong. It was happening!

I had to *do* something. Anythin-

...and then the shit well and truly hit the fan.

Years later, looking back on that moment I would often wonder just how differently things might have panned out had I not laughed, had the Greatjon not taken my amusement as tacit approval for his ramblings and had I actually attempted to dissuade him from his proto-nationalistic spiel.

In my defence, however, I would like to point out that I was in shock. It's one thing to know something might happen and try to avoid it, especially given all the events that followed it, it's quite another to try and follow through on said convictions once the milk has been spilt. What was it they said, 'No plan survives contact with the enemy'?

As it stood, I did not compose myself fast enough, I did not reign in my impulses and stay objective. I was riding high on a ballooning wave of anger, shock, horror and no small amount of despair, and so I laughed, and Black Walders indignant screeches howled across the din.

"You whoreson! You great big bloody arse!", the shrill Frey-son screamed, broken fingers tentatively probing his now mucus ridden mop of hair -the unknowing first casualty of The War of Northern Independence.

As his brothers, cousins, nephews -whatever familial relation they were, helped their niece-diddling kinsman back to his feet, Black Walder snarled viscously at the unrepentant Lord Umber, who frowned briefly before laughing, turning his back on the three times humiliated Frey and soldiering on… again, as was his way.

"Renly Baratheon means nothing to me!" the blundering sod went on, flashing me a cheery grin even as my laughter stopped and gave way to yet another horror stricken expression.

Blackwood, Mallister and Mormont alike all hollered in agreement alongside a dozen other Northerners as the Greatjon continued. "Nor Stannis neither!"

"Hear hear!" another arse cheered from aside, one of the Wolfswood Lords if I recalled their sigil correctly. A member of House Branch, I reckoned?

Whoever they bloody well were, I made another mental note to have them hanged for encouraging the spreading insanity among the ranks as well. Once I'd calmed things down. If I could calm things down.

"My Lord Umber-" I started pleasantly, pasting a less horrified expression on my face even as I attempted to quash down on my rather desperate urge to throttle the rat bastard. "Much as I might agree with the true sentiment of your words, we ought not to-"

"YOU SEE MY LORDS!" ...and that there was Rickard Karstark, the fucker, who had, apparently, decided that if he couldn't join the Riverlords in their attempts at murdering each other, that he was then going to join good 'ole Lord Umber in effectively declaring war on the rest of Westeros.

The little shit. I was gonna kill him! Him and Umber both.

"Even young Lord Stark agrees!"


"No, no, that's really not what I-"

"Why should they rule over me and mine, from some flowery seat in the South?" The Giant of Umber then rumbled, a meaty hand damn near the size of my own head clamping down on my shoulder companionably, even as he exchanged pleased grins with the Lord of Karhold beside me. "What do they know of the Wall, or the Wolfswood?! Even their Gods are wrong!"

Most of the Northern lords laughed at that, the lady Mormont laughing the hardest of them all. A few didn't, I noticed grimly, Houses Manderly, Forrester & Whitehill among their number, but they were few and nowhere near enough to stem the tide.

I was fucked, and it really didn't take a genius to figure out why.

Glancing around the ring of men standing circled in a crescent half moon shape around us only served to confirm it for me. The Northerners looked positively, utterly, completely fucking gleeful, so much so in fact, that I could practically taste their anticipation of the Greatjon's next words, as if they'd somehow managed to give their wanton desires physical form, cooked them to a crisp and then forced them down my throat with nary a whit of concern for my own desires.

I felt sick, or rather, I felt queasy. Sick would have been better. At the very least I could thrown up all over the two banes of my existence and put a stop to their machiavellian schemes before their grand finale.

As it was however, like in everything that had happened since we dispersed from Riverrun to meet here, I was disappointed once again. The much desired sickness failed to appear and the Greatjon's soliloquy continued. "Why shouldn't we rule ourselves again?"

It was obviously intended to be a rhetorical question but I could think of several reasons why we shouldn't, most of which i'd thought up over the previous days while worrying over the very eventuality that was unfolding out before me.

"It was the dragons we bowed to", Lord Umber went on, his hand -the one not gripping my shoulder in an iron grip, went to the blade at his hip. Lord Karstark to his left nodded solemnly, although the effect of that was somewhat ruined given his inability to stand up under his own weight.

"...and now the Dragons are dead!"

Irritably, I opened my mouth to refute his claim, to declare that technically there were in fact two Targaryens actually still alive in the world who did have a claim, dubious though it might have been given that their family was overthrown and all that, and then I thought better of it.

Seriously, what the hell was wrong with me? I had all on between deciding to support either Stannis or his flower diddling brother Renly and now I was suddenly contemplating Targaryens.

Buggery to that idea, I thought with wince, watching with increasing resignation as the Lord of Last Hearth pulled his ancestral sword clean from its sheath and turned to point the tip of it at my befuddled form.

The mere thought of Viserys was enough to make any sane man shudder. The lad was basically a less sadistic version of Joffrey, only more delusional and sprinkled with a pinch of madness to boot, and as for his sister?

The less one said about Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen the better. I'd never really understood the love her character received from fans of G.R.R Martin's works, not least of all because she was so utterly, horribly, terrible at actually ruling anything. Astapor? Sacked twice, re-enslaved and now part of a greater Slaver Coalition. Yunkai? She'd freed the slaves, left her enemies in charge of the city and then what? Been surprised when they decided they wanted revenge? Who the sodding hell couldn't have seen that happening? And Meereen… no, not even worth mentioning.

What all of this actually meant in realpolitik terms… was that I was screwed. Well and utterly screwed. Stannis and Renly were no go's as far as the Northern Lords and Ladies in my army went, the Riverlands were rather split on the whole issue and declaring ourselves for Joffrey, while no doubt incredibly amusing given that we were technically at war with him, was out of the question. Which left only one other option…


"This here is the only king I mean to bend my knee to-" the GreatJon then rumbled, squeezing my shoulder companionably before sinking down to one knee and thrusting his sword in my face. "The King in the North!"

Silence was the only reaction for a minute and for a brief moment my heart soared. Perhaps, I thought optimistically, a brief shining light of hope raining down upon the despair ridden recesses of my psyche, perhaps my inaction really had-

"I'll have peace on those terms!" Lord Blackwood suddenly wheezed, staggering to his feet even as the Ladies Mormont steadied him, his salt and pepper beard twitching in what I could only call a pained grimace.

"Aye, they can keep their ruddy castle too, and that iron chair!" Lord Karstark grunted, drunkenly kneeling aside his sons, wobbly as all their combined movements were.

"Hear, hear!" another voice cried out, this one sounding suspiciously like the Wolfswood lord i'd decided to execute not minutes ago. "The King in the North!"

Numb with shock, It was at this point I belatedly remembered that Theon Greyjoy would ironically make his whole "Am I your brother?" speech round about now. Not that it would be happening in this timeline. Nope.

Young Greyjoy as it turned out -not Theon, never Theon. Despite a childhoods worth of inherited memories, that little shit would always be a Greyjoy in my mind. Seriously, who the fuck kills children and mounts their heads on a wall? The cretin.

Anyway, the little squid had accompanied Lord Glovers army when our host had split at the Twins. Mostly, I'd admit, because in the first two days since i'd 'arrived', the little git had clung to my shadow like a flea around shit. Between the boasting, his drinking, his lewd jokes and his generally annoying demeanor, i'd had enough of the man. That, and i'd also had a task worthy of his talents.

The little shit liked attacking and killing children and cripples? Well, it just so happened that I knew where a certain Half-man was going to be, what direction he was going to be travelling in and just how utterly fucked Kings Landing would be without him. A nice easy target just ripe for the picking.

Yup, while I might not have wanted to be King, and I certainly wasn't Stannis' biggest supporter or ally, at the very least I could hopefully remove one of the few competent Lannisters before he became a threat. Hopefully.

Greyjoy might have been a complete and utterly reprehensible little fucker, but he was my complete and utterly reprehensible little fucker, at least for the moment, and he was a damn good archer to boot… so I put him to work. Never let it be said that I couldn't be a cold hearted ruthless son of a bitch when the situation called for it. Like it or not, I was playing the Game of Thrones. You either won or you died. It was fire and blood, steel and-

"Say something lad", a sharp, gruff voice hissed urgently below me, tearing me from my musings as my eyes widened comically.

The Greatjon was frowning up at me, an uneasy expression plastered across his face, a bead of perspiration slick across his brow. His sword remained still up in the air too, stiff as a statue and its tip still in my face. Beside him knelt the Karstarks, the three of them currently present that is, and all of them wore the exact same strange expression, a bewildering mixture of befuddled confusion and aspirant hope.

Evidently the Greyjoy cunt was still a menace even when he wasn't present. I'd missed something, something big, that much was blatantly apparent, and what it was I had no idea.

The awkward silence continued to stretch on. I stared at Lord Umber, he stared gamely back. My mouth opened, and no words came out. It was all getting rather embarrassing really, and then it came, another bloody stone.

Stock still with terror, I can in all honesty state that I heard rather than felt the chink of the rock as it hit the armour on my forearm -vambrace.

The Greatjon spluttered in shock, the three Karstarks gaped, and looking up from my staring match with the Lord of Last Hearth, I realised just why the clearing was so goddamn quiet.

Kneeling, I thought numbly, my mind racing with implications as I scanned the assembled lords and ladies of the North and the Riverlands respectively. Their all bloody kneeling.

The Riverlanders were doing it with slightly more pomp and rather more hesitation than their Northern cousins, but still, It was defin-


From my left came another strangled sort of noise, and the entire congregation of nobles present winced. Whether it was due to the sheer gall of someone actually throwing rocks at their potential new sovereign, or simply the whole unbelievably uncomfortable situation we'd all somehow managed to navigate ourselves into, I knew not.

I did know who was most likely responsible though, and with a weary, resigned sort of sigh, I chanced a glance to the side.

I'd never admit it out loud, but the moment my eyes found her, Dacey Mormont, the Heiress of Bear Island, the stone slinging all-round she-bear, the only thought I could muster was that she looked bloody amazing. Raven coloured hair had been pulled back into a crude sort of ponytail, her forrest green eyes were narrowed in concentration, and her arm was rising up into the air, her long fingers gripping yet another stone -although it was much bigger than the last few, in her hand.

Three guesses where she was aiming the ruddy thing?

For a few seconds nothing at all changed. I continued staring at the Mormont girl out of the corner of my eye. In front of me, the Greatjon alternated between shooting me pleading looks and glancing worriedly at everyone else. The Karstark brothers had started to grin while their lordly fathers frown grew ever more severe, and the uneasy silence stretched on. It was a bit like a mexican standoff really.

What do i do? I found myself thinking, repeatedly, over and over again, as I stood there, alone, every single bloody eye fixed intently upon me.

And as sad as it may sound it was not the thought of imminent kingship that I was thinking about. That probably would have been a much better use of my brain power I'd admit, but no. It was the rock I was thinking about. The large, grey, painful looking rock that was probably going to be thrown at my head any minute.

Valiantly fighting down the urge to scream, I chanced another look at it and fearful Tully blue eyes met exasperated green.

Mormont's face flashed with triumph even as I caught her red handedly preparing to loose her latest, and largest projectile to date towards me.

I shot her my best glare in return and with my eyes dared her, I fucking dare you!

Then say something, she seemed to mouth at me, or, at least that's what I thought she'd mouthed. Lip reading was never really my forte truth be told. Maybe I was just projecting on her. Who knew?

"Is he going to accept father?"

"Quiet lad, that's our future King your talking about!"


I was pretty sure I wasn't, or rather, that I hadn't actually accepted a crown. Had I? The whole thing had become terribly complicated and rather confusing, and I was pretty sure we'd deviated rather heavily from the books at this point.

My thoughts were all a jumble, like a load of freshly cleaned washing, spinning, spinning, spinning, around and round in the antique tumble dryer my parents had gifted to me when i moved out. Cheapskates.

Nothing was making much sense anymore, and as I glanced at the expectant faces watching me, Lady Mormont among them, my throat went dry.

Was this how the actual Robb Stark had felt when his bannermen had hailed him as king? If so, I could sympathise with the poor lad. Fuck the dimwits on the various internet forums who constantly ragged on the poor kid for 'declaring himself King in the North', if his position had been anything like this… well, as I said, I sympathised.

Still, something needed to be done, and quickly, before this clusterfuck managed to get even bigger than it already was. Or worse, before that rock made contact with my face.

It was time to project some real leadership, to take back control of the crowd and do something clever. Something productive. Something other than standing still with my mouth open gaping like a fish.

"Your… ah, Grace?"

Tentatively, I met Lord Umbers eyes. His sword was starting to waver, just a little. His expression was… expressive to say the least, and his forehead was doused in sweat.

This was it. Show time. Make or break, and all that. With a nervous smile, which in all actuality probably looked less like a smile so much as it did a grimace, and a particularly pained one at that, or so I imagined, I wet my lips and took the plunge. The words spewing forth with little thought spared for their order, articulation or meaning.

"Yes… well, it's, ah, well… er, you see, it's like-"

That was as far as I got. Though by the time the first word had passed my lips, I had already realised my mistake, and more importantly, the enormity of it. The rest of the words continued to pour out irregardless, stammered, jumbled, altogether confused but it was far too late. The damage had been done.

The Greatjon, who'd reared to attention at the first syllables to pass my lips, leapt to his feet with glee upon my first finished word, his previously anxious mood evaporating faster than water poured out onto the dusty ground of Death Valley under a midday sun.

I was still attempting to cease my inane ramblings long enough to force my mouth into some sort of cooperative cohesion when a great warcry let loose among the men, a hundred different voices simultaneously screaming in sync, the Umber giants the loudest.


Wide eyed and at least partially deaf, I froze, stock still, smothering the urge to cry even as the Greatjon's call was picked up by others. Most of the Northmen had joined in on the initial shout, but others, mainly the Riverlord's, were slowly beginning to join in. Blackwood was the first, followed by the illustrious members of House Frey a hair's breadth later.


"The King of the Trident!"



Again and again the men shouted, the clearing around the keep ringing with the force of their demands, their misunderstanding.

I wanted to cry, and I wasn't ashamed to admit it. I was fucked. Completely and utterly buggered. Operation: Stay Alive was going to need considerable revision in order to be of any use after all this. That is, if we survived this.

As the revelry continued all around me, chants and cheers of "King in the North" and "King of the Trident" howling throughout the surrounding countryside, I found myself craving my own company.

I wasn't sulking. I wasn't. I really, really wasn't.

But as I departed the revelry, I couldn't help but sigh. Again. For what felt like the hundredth time in a row.

Glancing back at the partying men and women behind me, I found myself wondering, what the fuck had I gotten myself into?



I'm going to state it right now, this was an idea I've had for a while. It originally started out life as a concept floating around in the back of my mind last year, round about the first time I read 'Oh God Am I the Mannis?'. Since then, I've read about half a dozen variations of the whole Self Insert lands in Westeros genre. 'A Trident is Forged', 'Blackfish Out of Water' [I think?], 'Inside the Wolf', all of them brilliant, all of them a good read. But one thing I noticed about most of them, is that the whole Self Insert genre generally tents to flow along the same lines i.e. 21st century guy/gal wakes up in Westeros so many years before cannon shit hits the fan, uplifts the natives and ... You get the idea. Except the Blackfish one, that was surprisingly different and brilliant to read. So I thought, what if an average joe kinda guy woke up in Westeros when the shit had already hit the fan. How would they adapt? Survive? What would they do?

The result?


Don't know if its any good, mostly wrote it in 5-10 minute allotments here and there when I had time. Figured I'd post it and share. I have a rough timeline and idea of where the plot would go from here, and I will continue to write and post as and of when I have enough material written to form new chapters and/or snippets.

Hope you enjoyed it, or at the least, didn't dislike it too badly.

Till next time folks.

P.S. I probably don't need to state this, but just in case I do, I do *NOT* own any rights whatsoever regarding GRRM's literary works, his characters, his world or its content.

Chapter Update:

After reading multiple reviews that questioned the 'plausibility' of the original version of the 'Battle of the Green Fork' I had written [it being a rather wank-ish, unrealistic, and as it later turned out -mostly while writing Chapter Three, problematic plot-hole] in the original version of this chapter, the Battle itself has been altered to reflect events more along 'canon' lines, i.e. a non-decisive victory for neither side. Technically, the 'battle' never happens, as Lord Glover is a rather more reserved and less confrontational commander [at least as far as I'm aware] and [at least in this version], spends most of what was in 'canon' the battle playing a game of cat and mouse with Lord Tywin's army, never openly committing to pitched battle and thus still avoiding the thousands of needless casualties Lord Bolton's diversion cost Robb in 'canon'. Hopefully this works better.