Author's Notes: Hey everyone, I hope you all had a good Easter. As always Martin and HBO owns it.
Still shaken and unsure of what to do Sansa dressed and made her way down to the great hall. What was she to do? No matter how she racked her brain she could not come up with a solution. She decided to put the thought aside for the time being. People said that if you did not think about a problem sometimes a solution would present itself. She hoped that that would turn out to be true as she could not think of a solution and continuing to focus on it would drive her mad. Thus, she resolved to put the matter out of her mind and focus on other matters. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there was a plethora of other issues demanding her attention.
She had barely entered the great hall, Silver Fang loping at her feet and began making her way to the high seat when Maester Dontin was upon her, his arms full of parchments and a flustered look on his face. He inhaled deeply, clearly preparing to launch into a long diatribe, but Sansa held up her hand to silence him until she took her seat at the high seat, Silver Fang coiling up at her feet. Once she was seated and nursing a glass of wine a servant gave her she nodded to Maester Dontin to continue.
"We have received a number of ravens and riders, My Lady." He began shifting through the papers that he had brought with him in an effort to find the most relevant ones.
"We received a message last night from Sir Woods."
"The commander of the garrison at Moat Cailin." He said after a moment and all he received from Sansa was a blank look. She nodded, slightly embarrassed as the memory came belatedly to her.
"What does it say?"
"He reports that men Lord Reed sent to watch the edge of the Neck. There has been no efforts of the enemy to force a crossing, but they do report that Freys and others have had patrols near the Neck. They do not appear to be looking to force an entrance. Rather, they appear to be doing the same thing we are, watching us for an attack.
"Which leads to the next report." He shuffled through his papers, finally finding and producing the one that he wanted.
"Lord Manderly has had people questioning the crews of any ship which comes to White Harbor from any of the more southern ports." This caused Sansa to raise an eyebrow.
"Commerce still continues between us? Last time I looked we were at war." Dontin gave her a cynical chuckle.
"My Lady, I think that you will find that commerce rarely halts simply because a war is declared. Well, it might officially, but those determined to make money always find a way. Especially were everyone is fighting everyone else. All those who have ships have greater need for them than to chase merchants and smugglers."
"So, what do they have to say?"
"Many things, some contradictory. But there are some things upon which they do agree.
"It appears that both the Lannisters and the Targaryen queen have, for the most part, have settled down for the winter as well, though there are rumors of riders for both sides raiding the lands of the other. The rumors also indicate that the majority of the Dothraki have gone south into Dorne. It appears that the Queen believes that they have the best chance to survive the winter in the hottest part of Westeros.
"While fighting has mostly come to an end for the season, it has not ended entirely. As I just said, raiding parties on both sides cross over to raid the lands of the others, though what is left to steal or burn the gods alone know. Nor are they the only ones.
"Bands of masterless men have also been wondering the lands, doing to everyone weaker than them what the armies have already done. They have even attacked some of the weaker holdfasts. People have been streaming to the larger holdings, towns and cities. According to the captains more and more lords are closing their gates to them. I should not be surprised if some of them try to make their way here.
"Due to the efforts of the lords to deal with the brigands and your own efforts to secure food supplies and, of course, the fact that here in the North we have mostly been protected from raiding since the Boltons were dealt with we are seen as the most secure area in the Seven Kingdoms."
"What of the Ironmen?" Sansa asked.
In truth that was a matter which she had been wondering for some time. After they had raided King's Landing very little had been seen of the Ironborn. There had been the occasional raid, but nothing on a large scale. That was unusual as, with everyone's attention focused elsewhere they had for all intents and purposes a fee hand and in every previous war when they had been in this situation they had raided and pillaged until someone came to stop them. While it was a relief to have one less worry, it was worrying that there did not appear to be something to worry about. For a moment she sat there and then she realized that Dontin was still speaking. She gave him a look which was half question and half apology. He seemed to understand and repeated what he had just said.
"I asked what message I should send to Sir Woods. If there should be refugees, what are they to do?
"If I may be so bold, I should recommend that they be turned away. While it may seem cruel, I fear that it is necessary. If the winter should prove to be a long one, something which many here appear to believe that it shall be, we simply do not have the capability to feed them. We barely have the food needed to feed our own people. If the food from Essos should be cut off, taking in refugees would make the situation even worse. To invite them in would only result in the death of your own people as well as them. Additionally, there is every chance that one or more of our enemies will take the opportunity to insert spies or assassins among them. The risk is simply too great." Sansa sat in silence.
His words were logical, she could see that, yet they sounded horribly cruel. Having experienced some of the suffering that they were enduring now. The thought that she could alleviate some of that suffering and yet refuse to caused her grief and guilt. On the other hand, there was much in Dontin's words. Her first duty was to her own people and not to strangers, some of whom may have fought against her own and there was already trouble enough for her to deal with. Most pressing of which was the matter of the demands for more troops to be sent to the Wall and her visions which said that such actions were worse than useless. She still did not know what to do and she could not dither forever like Walder, the Late, Frey had done. That last thought made her pause.
Even before the Red Wedding Walder Frey had had an ill reputation. One of the contributing factors to this had been his actions during Robert's Rebellion. Walder had failed to arrive at the Battle of the Trident until after it had been concluded and this had led her grandfather, Holster Tulley, to name him the 'Late Frey." Many had mocked him for that title, but could not Sansa learn something from it? Could she not find excuses for hold off sending more men like he had done until what was to come came?
It was treachery and oath-breaking and many would hate and condemn her; but would it not be worth it? It would save the lives of many and preserve their strength to fight elsewhere, perhaps even at Winterfell itself. This would require some thought.
Author's Notes: What did you think? Sorry that it did not come sooner, I hope that it made up for its tardiness. Right now I am in a part of the country without regular access to the internet, yes such places still exist, so updates may be a bit sporadic for a while. Till next time bye and may Jesus bless you.