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Northern Bronze is considered to not be inferior in any way to Valyrian Steel. The process of forging the metal remains a complete mystery. It was rumoured that not only the king's sword, 'Black Brother', but also his armour was entirely made from the metal, making him invincible on the battlefield.

Unlike the lost ways to make the magick metal of the Freehold, the sorcerer King Jon Stark III was very much alive and could craft weapons made from Northern Bronze. Even the master smiths of Qohor were said to struggle to reshape the Northern Metal. No matter the price offered, the Northern Dragon refused to forge weapons for gold, making the metal even more valuable than Valyrian Steel. However, a few ornaments crafted from Northern Bronze did manage to make their way south of the Neck. However, aside from 'Black Brother', there were fourteen more weapons forged of Northern Bronze in the North. According to the tale, they were given as a reward for leal service to House Stark.

Brienne of Tarth, the shieldmaiden of Princess Sansa Stark, was rewarded with the longsword she later named Oathkeeper.

Lyra Mormont received an ax, a warhammer, and a longsword. The new Lady of Bear Isle gifted the longsword to her sister, Lyanna Mormont, the Lady of the newly dubbed Bearfort. Some northern lords objected, but the King pointed out that not only those three weapons had less metal than what Edwyle Umber received, but that the Mormonts still let him keep Longclaw in his possession.

Lord Edwyle Umber received a monstrous greatsword with a blade only an inch shorter than Ice.

House Wull, Magnar, and Crowl received a greataxe each.

House Stane, Flint of the Mountains, and Liddle received longswords.

The Norrey and Burleys received a deadly bearded axe each, and the new clan Shieldbreaker was awarded...

Excerpt from 'On Spell-Forging' by Maester Ulthior

308 AC, Braavos

Sealord Tormo Fregar

"The Sunset Kingdoms still refuse to pay their debt to the Iron Bank!" Noho Dimittis slammed his fist on the ebony table.

"Don't act like a barbarian, Noho," the First Sword warned with a steely voice, and the irritated man grudgingly sat down with the other keyholders. Gods, half a dozen, young and old, wise and foolish, sat at his table.

How bothersome. Couldn't the damned bankers solve their problems without coming to him?! Alas, Tormo Fregar was a keyholder now that his uncle had died this spring, and as the Sealord, he could not ignore the problems of the Iron Bank. On days like these, he regretted ever putting his name forward for the Sealord Chair.

"Why come to me now? It's been some years since this has been a problem," Tormo Fregar asked as he gently tapped the table with his finger and shuffled into a more comfortable position on his tapered goldenheart chair. For all of its luxury velvet tapering and expensive wood from the Summer Isles, it felt oddly uncomfortable at times.

"We've exhausted all avenues of negotiation," Dimittis admitted with a cough. "All our attempts are now ignored by the Masters of Coin or the Hands."

"Very well, how large is the debt?" Tormo decided to humour them before lifting his silver cup and sipping from the red wine.

He scarcely hid his grimace as it felt too bitter on his tongue; those Dornish were indeed poor winemakers. He much preferred the wines of the Reach and Lys himself.

Tycho Nestoris took out a scroll, and his dark eyes glided over its contents.

"2,568,531 golden dragons, Sealord," he spoke up after a few moments.

"And what reasons do they cite in their refusal to pay?" Tormo asked with a sigh.

"That the Iron Throne made the debt, and we should seek our due from the king sitting on that very throne," Dimittis explained with his irritating drawl.

"So why can't we get our due from the Iron Throne?" Entorio Zalyne spoke up.

"Because, young Zalyne, the Iron Throne is amid a cursed ruin, and no living soul has stepped in the jade ruins for half a decade!" Luco Prestayn explained with a sardonic smile. "Which you would have known if you didn't spend all your time between the legs of that courtesan of yours."

Entorio's face reddened, and his hand reached for the bravo's hilt on his belt.

"Don't bicker in my palace," Tormo lowered his voice threateningly. "If you want to fight, do it outside, no blood shall be spilt in the palace."

The younger man's hand slackened, but his expression remained stormy.

"We've identified two possible heirs to the Iron Throne, Tommen Baratheon and Shireen Baratheon," Noho Dimittis continued with a cough. "But both refuse to pay it off."

"Did not Tommen officially dissolve Westeros into the previous Seven Kingdoms?" Prestayn added as he stroked his goatee.

"He indeed did and has crowned himself King of the Rock. Shireen Baratheon married the Northern Sorcerer-King," Bessaro Reyaan confirmed as he took a swig of his flask. The old keyholder loved his Tyroshi pear juice and drank from nothing else but his own flask lest he got poisoned like his brother.

"So, you have no plans to recoup the losses?" Tormo asked, suspicious.

"They have no… opponents. Jon Stark executed all that opposed his House, and Tommen is very cautious and rules undisputed in the Westerlands. The other important sunset lords outside of Harry Strickland refuse our assistance against the Lion King," Noho Dimittis recounted with a scowl. "We have no leverage over them, aside from threats of the Faceless Men. But employing the House of Black and White would only make us lose more and more money for a dubious return."

"And let's not forget that should we push Tommen, he has enough gold to start his own bank and lend from the Wall to Sunspear," Prestayan added.

"I told you we shouldn't have lent to the Westerosi king without collateral," Antoryo Florel muttered, but everyone in the room heard him.

"Didn't the Iron Bank support Shireen Baratheon's father's bid for the throne?"

"Yes, we did," Tycho Nestoris confirmed with a twitch of his lips. "But Shireen's husband paid off her father's debt of seventy-eight thousand golden dragons, and the Night's Watch managed to clear their own debt last year. And King Jon Stark wants nothing to do with the other kingdoms."

"So why come to me, the Sealord? I can no more make the Iron Throne pay the gold back than you can."

"We cannot let such a debt remain unpaid! The Iron Bank must have its due," Dimittis insisted with his grating voice. "We want to restrict Braavosi trade with the North and the Westerlands and bar all lending to the sunset nobles until one of them- "

"I cannot do that. It will hurt Braavos far more than it would hurt the Westerosi," Tormo interrupted. "Let's put aside how little their kings care about merchants. Braavos gets more than a third of its wood from the North, and I have no desire to provoke the monster that sits on the Winter Throne."

"Bah, just hearsay, everyone knows that dragons grow slow, and magic is weak," Noho Dimittis tried to wave it off.

"Good thing that I have visited Winterfell in person, and I can confirm that neither is Jon Stark's magic weak, nor are his dragons small," Tycho countered with a smug smile as his rival scowled. "The Northern King is fair and just but has no patience for threats, as the Targaryens found out."

"Even if that were true, it doesn't matter. All the magic in the world didn't save the Freehold when they angered the gods. Even the Northern King must eat and sleep, and he can't push us lest he and his whole line end at the hands of the House of Black and White," Dimittis countered viciously.

"What if the faceless men fail, you fool?!"

"They never fail-"

"So they say! Have you even checked the price of the Many-Faced-God?"

"If all the keyholders and the magisters united, no price would be a hurdle-"

"CEASE THIS FOOLISH BICKERING!" Everyone stilled at Tormo's outburst. "There's no need to search for enemies when there are none, especially with the Pentoshi finally raising their heads again after a century. As a senior keyholder, I advise the bank to stop lending large sums without proper collateral and cut our losses here. We better write the debt of the Iron Throne off instead of sinking more and more gold without seeing a single coin in return. As a Sealord, I can mayhaps exchange the forgiveness of the debt for lower customs and tolls for our merchants in the North and the Westerlands for a decade or two."

While Braavos was slow to cut its losses with the Iron Throne, the Tyroshi cartels did not dally. With the blessing of the Archon of Tyrosh, they took control of the Gullet and the Bay of Crabs and started burning, looting, plundering, and enslaving everything along the coast. Houses Velaryon and Celtigar were extinguished, with their women and daughters sold as prized bed-slaves in Lys. The Crownlands Houses had nobody to unite behind and were severely weakened after losing their finest with Aegon.

But that did not end Tyrosh's ambition. Instead of the traditional squabbling for the Disputed Lands, it turns its gaze Northward. The Archon left Myr and Tyrosh into their bloody dispute and struck the Braavosi fleet from behind while they were sieging Pentos. The new, unexpected alliance-

Excerpt from 'The Decade of Blood' by Archmaester Perestan

Near the Gates of the Moon.


Shagga, son of Dolf, knew that he was not the smartest man. He was not the prettiest man either. But pretty men like Conn, son of Coratt, died easily. Shagga was not smart, and he was not pretty, but he was strong. And Shagga knew how to watch and learn. The time spent with Tyrion, the cunning son of Tywin, was invaluable, not only because they could arm and clad themselves in and with steel now, but because he saw how the lowlanders fight and how they think.

It had taken him some time, but he learned a lot. It did help that he had managed to steal away a couple of smiths to work for him from around the city of whores. The promise of safety, women, and a position of honour in his tribe was enough to convince them.

The winter was harsh and took many weaker men and women with it, but the strong endured. It had taken him nearly the whole spring and then some to beat the other clans and bring them under his rule. No longer would they gather in foolish and slow councils; now only the strongest voice would be heard. The voice of Shagga, son of Dolf, the King of the Mountain!

With the lowlander steel and the strength of the clans unified, they finally had a chance!

Timett, son of Timett, walked to the rock where Shagga was resting. Shagga might not be very smart, but he was at least not stupid enough to burn out his eye, like Timett. Having two eyes was always better than one in a fight!

"They have gathered," his right-hand man declared.

Shagga stood up, grabbed his shiny black axes, and walked down towards the clearing where the warchiefs were gathered.

Everyone quieted down as soon as he stepped in, bringing a small smile to his face. Good, if he knew they would listen so easily, he would have beaten them long ago!

"Brothers and sisters!" He bellowed, and they raised their weapons and cheered. "Long ago, the lowlanders chased us away from our homes! But the time to take back what is ours has finally come. Today we take back the Vale!"

The clearing was filled with fervent cries, but he could see a few hesitate.

"We don't have the numbers to beat all the lowlanders," Hogal, son of Hogen, chieftain of the Sons of the Tree, spoke up, and the other leaders grew silent. "And their stone castles are too hard to take!"

Shagga heavily considered beating him up for questioning his decision so openly but decided otherwise, as he could see the doubt in the older men around.

The chieftain was right to doubt, but they didn't see what he saw or know what he knew.

"Aye, we don't have the numbers," Shagga agreed, much to the surprise of the chieftains. "But we're less and less with every winter, while the lowlanders are as numerous as always. In a few winters, only a handful of us will be left! Their young falcon king and his soft lordlings have gathered to feast and drink in one place now; should we cut them all down, the rest would not be able to rally together and fight us!"

"And how would you know of this, Shagga, son of Dolf?" Rolo, son of Ralo, warchief of the Redsmiths, asked suspiciously.

"I sent one of me boys in the lowlands to study our foe and spy on them," Shagga reluctantly admitted, and he finally got angry and waved his axes as a warning. "Enough of this foolish chatter; you'll all follow my lead lest you want a taste of my axe."


Faldan, son of Faldor's head rolled off, and the corpse collapsed like a sack of rocks, spraying blood everywhere. That should teach those fools to finally shut up and listen!

The doubt was mostly gone from their faces now, replaced with interest, anger, and some fear. Faladar, the other son of Faldor, charged at Shagga, but Shagga buried his left ax in his gut, cutting him open. As the second Milk Snake warchief died, he looked at the rest of them, but they looked cowed enough for now. Shagga could work with that.

"Anyone else?" he challenged with a wide grin as he hefted his bloodied axes around. He grabbed a pointy stick nearby and drew some crude lines on the ground, trying to depict the Gates of the Moon and the surroundings. "Now, Timett will take three hundred men and cut off their retreat, and Rolo will take the Redsmiths and the Milksnakes to-"

The Crimson Feast heralded the end of House Arryn. With Harrold Arryn slain along with most of his guests, the Gates of the Moon fell. It is said that the savages surged like a raging river from the mountain paths, taking the celebrating Vale Nobility unaware. They even managed to take down the Gates of the Moon as most of the guards were celebrating with wine and ale themselves. The harvest feast for the birth of the daughter of the Last Falcon turned into the ugliest of butcheries, second only to the Red Wedding and the Stranger's Feast. Only the highborn women and the female servants were spared, if only to be spoiled at the hands of the savages, passed like common whores from man to man. A handful of craftsmen managed to keep their heads as well. The clansmen didn't succeed unscathed, however, and were said to have lost hundreds of men.

The clansmen returned to the lowlands victorious for the first time since the Battle of the Seven Stars but at a great cost. For a long time, Knights of the Vale had slowly whittled off the savages that had fled into the mountain, and they had not been a true threat for centuries. Shagga, self-proclaimed King of the Mountain, had scarcely enough men to hold the Gates of the Moon, and he lost a third of them taking over the Bloody Gate.

The butchery angered the Vale Lords greatly, as there was not a single one that had not lost kin or kith at the Crimson Feast. Yet, the problem remained, the only one left with Arryn blood and the name was a girl of two name days in Gulltown, the last of the Gulltown Arryns. Few would rally behind a babe, even fewer behind one that could not even talk, and even less behind one with a merchant mother.

The newly ascended Lord Gyles Grafton married the babe, trying to claim the title of King of the Mountain and Vale, but few answered his call. With the death of his brother and nephew, the previously spurned Lyn Corbray was now the Lord of Heart's Home and also declared himself king -

Excerpt from 'The Vale Divided' by Maester Yandel.

Shireen Stark

She shuffled and hugged her warm pillow harder. The previous night of lovemaking had left her pleasantly exhausted, and mayhaps another babe was on the way. Shireen scoffed at her apprehension borne out of her unlamented mother's explanation about the bedding. Laying with her husband was nothing like the painful duty she coldly described but a pleasurable experience instead. Jon was a skilled lover, and Shireen had only praise for him. And she was a mother now, and with the gods' blessing, her firstborn had proven to be healthy.

Jon looked still, but she was mesmerized by his muscled chest's faint rising and falling. He looked so peaceful and calm in his sleep, unlike the imposing facade he put up during the day. Yet, there was still a faint sense of power and danger from his sleeping figure. She sighed with pity at his now short hair. An unruly mop of dark hair replaced his long, silky curls, but he still looked dashing.

Her husband's body was firm as if made of steel, but he always felt just the right warmth, and she found herself latching onto him every night. Her chambers were almost always empty; she preferred spending her nights here instead. Shireen ran a finger through his firm muscles and began tracing the myriad scars, big and small, marring his skin. He shuffled, and she looked up to see a familiar pair of amethysts gazing at her.

"Good morning," Jon muttered, and before Shireen could respond, she found herself pulled up into a searing kiss.

It took her a few moments for her muddled mind to start moving again, and she gave him the brightest smile she could.

Shireen fought off her desire to straddle her husband and continue where they left off the previous night and reluctantly got up and began dressing. She was still feeling pleasantly sore, and she knew Jon was inexhaustible and could go on for hours without tiring. Should she start anything now, there would be no stopping. And today was the last and most important day of the tourney, and they had to be there to open it, so she reluctantly got up from the bed.

"Let's go break our fast with Sansa and Arya," the Queen urged after she finished dressing and sat on one of the tapered chairs where she had a full view of her husband stretching.

"Alright, but let's visit our son first," he agreed, quickly throwing on a black silken doublet trimmed with silver.

It had taken some effort from her and her good-sister to fill his drawer with garments worthy of a king, much to Jon's chagrin. Now, no matter what he grabbed, it would denote his status as royalty.

Without much dallying, they quickly left the room and headed towards the royal nursery, shadowed by Jyanna. Two of the burliest guards in Winterfell, Jeor and Big Tom, stood outside the door, but that was far from Rickon's only protection. An ancient runic script covered the ironwood door from top to bottom. According to Jon, the door was now unbreakable, and none could enter with ill intent.

The room itself was also enchanted heavily in various ways, but her husband's explanation had gone over her head. Inside, the wetnurse Astrid was gently cooing at Rickon, who seemed to be babbling incomprehensively while crawling on the floor around his minder. The woman was from a nearby village, her brothers and husband had died fighting for House Stark, and she was left to fend for herself with two young children. Shireen had taken her in as a wetnurse and minder; her son became a stable boy, and her daughter- a scullery maid. The Northern Queen originally wanted to nurse her son herself, but her duties as a queen oft got in the way.

"Has he been behaving?" Shireen asked as she gently picked up her son from the floor and gazed at him lovingly. One eye was the colour of steel, and the other was amethyst, just like his father. She initially worried that something was wrong with him, but Wolkan had assured them he was more than healthy.

Rickon beamed a wide, toothy smile at her and gurgled happily, and Shireen could swear his eyes shone. He had inherited her pitch-black hair, and the Northern Queen had little doubt that once her son grew up, he would steal the heart of many a maiden.

"Aye, yer Grace," Astrid nodded with a wide smile. "But the lil' prince has a mighty set o' lungs and is not afraid to show 'em when he's displeased or alone."

Jon laughed boisterously as Shireen cooed at their son. At that moment, something white stirred, and she saw Ghost stretching lazily near the hearth, where he now slept. As soon as her son was born, the direwolf scarcely let him out of his sight. Ghost quietly paddled over and nudged her shoulder with his snout.

Shireen carefully showed Rickon to the direwolf, and her son reached out with his tiny hands towards Ghost's head, which was as large as the babe itself. The direwolf carefully leaned over and let her son play with his fur, and a smile settled on her lips at the endearing sight.

"He's going to be a heartthrob when he grows up," Jon declared as Rickon began to squirm in her grasp.

She let him down on the soft Myrish rug, and he returned to energetically crawling around the floor. As soon as Rickon started to crawl, he couldn't sit still in one place for more than a minute or two. Her son was very curious and would probably easily hide or get lost somewhere if Ghost was not always trailing after him.

Jon played with their son for a couple of minutes before Rickon started getting drowsy and was returned to his crib. They headed towards the private royal dining chamber with a smile on their faces. Her kingly husband had decided they needed one for when the family got tired of the bustle in the Great Hall and wanted to eat in private without having to leave the Great Keep.

The chamber itself was spacious; the floor was lined with varnished pine planks, and a solid oaken table stood at the centre; a few servants were quickly bringing in platters with food and jugs of wine and ale. A grand tapestry depicting the Battle of Winterfell covered one of the walls almost fully, and Sansa was now working on one for the Battle near Westwatch. The red-haired princess in question was sitting on one of the tapered chairs, and a small bundle of reddish fur and green eyes sat still in her arms.

"So Nymeria finally gave birth, eh?" Jon asked as they quickly joined her good-sister at the table.

Jon generously filled three mugs with their favourite autumn ale.

"Yes, she did, early before daybreak," Sansa chortled in delight; this was the first time Shireen saw her so joyous. "Arya remained awake up to the hour of the bat to assist Wolkan with the birth."

"How big is the litter?" Shireen curiously asked as she filled her plate with bacon, venison pie, and boiled eggs; she was feeling quite famished.

"Four. Arya and Nymeria will bring the other three in a few minutes," Sansa explained as she cooed at the docile red pup in her arms.

"Well, they better hurry, or we'll have to start without them," Jon snorted while eyeing the juicy mallard in front of him. Her husband did have a point; the Tourney was supposed to start in around an hour. "Have you named her yet?"

"Yes, her name is Princess," her good-sister declared, and Shireen almost choked on her ale.

"Why am I not surprised," she heard Jon murmur.

"Ghost and Nymeria are ten years old, yet they look young and spry still," Shireen noted with amazement. "How long can direwolves live?"

"There are some old records about some living up to half a hundred years," Jon offered with a smile. "And ours can possibly live longer."


"Magic," her husband replied with that infuriating crooked smile of his, and he refused to give any further explanation.

At that moment, the door opened, and a drowsy Arya marched in, followed by a tired-looking Nymeria.

"Good mornin'," she greeted and deposited a pitch-black pup with golden eyes into Jon's hands. "This one's for Rickon, the other two are female."

The grey direwolf lay on the ground, and, from her bundle, another black and a white pup were placed on the floor, and they began to hobble towards their mother weakly.

"My son is a bit too young to take care of a direwolf," the Queen voiced her worry before attacking the tasty-looking bacon.

"It won't be a problem. I will help train him," Arya promised.

"Fine," Shireen relented, looking at the black ball squirming in Jon's hands. "He'll need a name."

"Shadow," Jon decided, placed the pup near where Nymeria was lying, and started devouring the roasted mallard; Sansa reluctantly returned Princess to her mother as well.

"What are we going to do with the other two pups?" She found herself asking, looking at the four furballs greedily suckling at their mother's teats.

Nobody said a word for a moment, but Jon and Sansa looked suspiciously between her and Arya, much to Shireen's confusion.

"Arya, do you got something to tell us?" Sansa's eyes settled on her sister with a predatory smile. "I heard a fascinating rumour. A certain someone asked for your hand in marriage?"

The Queen watched curiously as the younger princess mumbled something with a reddened face.

"Could you repeat that? We did not hear very well," Jon added with a twitch of his lips.

"I said that I have not lain with anyone, and I had my moonblood last week," Arya squeaked, looking as if she wanted to disappear in her chair, "and yes, I agreed to wed Torrhen!"

Jon and Sansa were struck speechless with disbelief, staring at their sister as if seeing her for the first time.

"Congratulations, Arya," Shireen beamed at her embarrassed good-sister. "But what does that have to do with the pups?"

The Queen found herself gazed at by a pair of blue, grey, and purple eyes with interest.

At that moment, Nymeria stood up, picked up the two unnamed pups by their necks, and deposited them into Shireen's lap.

While House Martell was plotting the return of House Targaryen, Lord Anders Yronwood was making internal alliances. His wife, Yrelle, was the sister of Lord Qorgoyle, and his children and cousins made ties with Houses Dayne, Allyrion, and Blackmont. After the second field of fire, House Martell's forces were the most devastated. The following winter saw the Dornish strength weaken further. Not only did Arianne marry an insignificant Tallhart cousin from a branch line, but she let her final brother, Trystane, marry a daughter of a Lyseni magister, spurning Lord Yronwood's youngest daughter.

In 308 AC, Anders Yronwood rebelled, declaring himself High King of Dorne…

Excerpt from 'The Blood on the Sand' by Archmaester Yandel

Author's Endnote:

The Iron Bank is still trying to get its due, but there's no Iron Throne to pay it anymore.

Shagga, son of Dolf, has learned stuff!

We see how Shireen is doing, along with a few others.

I update a chapter every Sunday! You can find me on my discord(dgj93pNeAD), where a chapter is posted two weeks in advance.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!