20 Votes in Poll
Ice and Fire. The two elements meant to dance together in harmonious symphony... only to bastardize each other in a childish endgame. The gifted child and harbinger of the intended union, Jon Snow, Jon Sand, Jon Stark... Aegon Targaryen... whatever name is his proper mercy... is north of the fractured Wall, in the Lands of Always Winter; never heard from since his departure.
That was twenty years ago.
In the Kingdom of the North, Queen Sansa rules as the last Stark, as far as everyone is concerned. She is a solitary, virgin monarch, never to produce an heir. The Stark bloodline ends here.
West of Westeros, Arya is on her epic adventure, searching for land beyond what is known. But she, like Jon, hasn’t been heard from since her departure.
The Crownlands, having recovered from two long, strenuous wars of conquest and succession, flourish in the new Westeros. But King’s Landing itself is dark. Nobody has heard from it in ages, despite almost all major Houses sending ravens there. Ravens that have never returned.
This story starts in Winterfell, with Queen Sansa Stark writing a letter to Bran. It is as follows:
”My beloved brother, Bran the Broken, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, I humbly request your response. For twelve years now, The Realm has laid in yearning anticipation. Our family has already been spent. Jon and Arya are away, perhaps never to return, and neither of us are to produce an heir. With nobody hearing from you, I fear that history will laugh at our very name. Please... I beg of you, as no ruler ever should. Address my calling. Let me know you are alive and well. Sincerely, the Queen in the North.”
After the letter’s ink has dried, the Grand Maester fits it onto the foot of a raven, and sets it loose for King’s Landing.
The raven soars over the dark green grass of the North, through its crisp and cool air. Hours in, it is above the glistening blue waters of the Riverlands. Another couple hours, it dodges the foggy, rocky cliffs and peaks of the Vale. More hours pass before it is finally beneath the radiant sunlight of the Crownlands.
King’s Landing is within view of the noble corvid. But it isn’t the same. It is shrouded in a foreboding mist. The walls are still fallen, with only a few—unmanned—wooden ramparts filling in the gaps. As the raven gets closer, it sees groves of white-barked, red-leafed Weirwood Trees, strewn across the streets and buildings. But these trees are not right... they do not have faces, as their relatives do. They are less magnificent and more... eerie.
Not only are there groves of hundreds of Weirwoods, but there are also massive roots all across the city. They vary in size from six feet thick to thirty. All lead to the Red Keep... which couldn’t fit its name even better. From all openings; windows, doorways, gateways, patios and even crenellations, Weirwood branches that also vary in size—but reach to over seventy feet in thickness—protrude from the keep, with absolutely massive red leaves. One leaf from one of the bigger branches could cover ten houses of it could. However, it seemed that none had ever fallen.
At the peak of the Red Keep was the canopy, mostly shrouded by the mist. But with the raven’s view, it is clear to see that the unnaturally massive tree extended to one-hundred seventy-eight feet above the highest point of the Keep. With it filling virtually all openings, the raven seeks an alternate way in. In doing so, it roams the terraformed streets.
Surprisingly, there are still people in King’s Landing. But like the derelict city itself, the people appear....dormant... as if stuck in a perpetual drag in time’s slow current. They are like statues... until they turn their heads up, looking at the bird with milky white eyes, as blank and murky as their faces.
Fortunately for the raven, there is a crevice between the titan Wieirwood’s boughs leading to the Red Keep’s main entrance. It has to squeeze through, and it caws in pain and panic when it gets stuck for a second, but it is ultimately fine.
It flaps through the trunk-ridden halls, passing by other ravens. The first few are regular. But as the messenger raven goes further into the Keep, it passes by other ravens with grey eyes instead of black. Others with the same murky, milky eyes as the people outside.
Even further in, where the rest of the ravens all have those murky eyes, there are those with dark grey feathers. Further, the ravens have mild, normal grey feathers. Further than that, they have light grey feathers. And finally, in the final section, where the melted solid puddle of the former Iron Throne used to be, there is a crevice in the tree. In it, there are both branches and roots. The ravens around it are polar opposites of the messenger, and the rest of its kind.
These ravens are completely white. White feathers, white eyes, white scales on their feet, white talons, every feature is white. But it isn’t the beautiful shade of snow. This shade is dull and sickly, almost like ash. It is pale... like a corpse.
The messenger raven goes into the crevice. There, it finds the person it was looking for: Bran Stark, with four white ravens perched on his shoulders, their eyes closed. Like the Three-Eyed Raven before him, Bran is part of the Weirwood, its roots and branches tangled into his flesh. Two of them curve up from inside his eye sockets, twirling around his head to form a white wooden crown. It is no wonder Bran hasn’t read any of the letters sent to him. The branch going through his right eye and the root going through his left are each thicker than his eye sockets.
Even though Bran cannot see, he can still sense the newcomer, and he beckons the bird over by raising an arm. The raven, nervous, reluctantly perches on the Greenseer’s wrist. Slowly, Bran moves it up to his face. There is a bruise, shaped like a lightning bolt, on each of Bran’s temple. They are blue, like a star in the night. Though the raven was initially nervous, it begins to calm down.
Its faith is misplaced. With his other hand, Bran snatches the neck of the bird. It caws and flaps its wings in a panic, but is in no position to escape.
With the fingers from his perching hand, Bran presses on the eyebrows of the raven. It caws and flaps much less frequently, and much more weakly, as both cold and heat grip its mind and core. Its vision begins fading out, before the four white ravens—two on each of Bran’s shoulders—open their eyes. They are blue. Vibrant. Like sapphire night stars.
The messenger raven’s feathers coil with chills, and its vision goes icy blue and blurry, getting darker and darker. Then it fades out slowly, until there is nothing more than the embrace of the cold.
188 Votes in Poll
A raven arrived from King's Landing and a servant named Jorran handed it to Queen Sansa.
"It's from King's Landing, your grace." He said.
"Interesting, you may leave now."
"Yes your grace."
Sansa was Queen barely a year but still managed to grow North's economy thanks to loyal vassals like House Manderly, House Greenfinger, and House Wynch. Manderlys had money to rebuild northern castles and fund farming. House Greenfinger fed whole North with large crops due to long summer which would last many years. House Wynch's duty was to rebuild Dreadfort, give wildlings some land and arm them.
Sansa read the message happily and thought what Arya might have found from her journey. Perhaps gold or jewelry. She headed to the throne room where she met her Small Council.
"Good day, your grace." Hand of the Queen, Lord Wyman Manderly greeted.
"Likewise, my lord. How are your children and grandchildren?" Sansa asked.
"Thanks for asking, your grace. They are fine. My eldest son sent a raven and told me how trading between White Harbor and Essos is increased. They buy furs, ale, and arms. We get fruits, wine, and silks."
"Excellent. Lord Greenfinger, you are Master of Coin. Do we have enough money for the feast? My sister arrives here in two weeks. We also need to set a camp for soldiers. Maester Wolkan, send a raven to White Harbor, so they know whose ships are coming."
"I'll do it immediately, your grace," Wolkan said.
"We have a stable economy, your grace. Due to the long summer, there is enough food for everyone. There is no need to buy grain from the South."
"Good, let's keep it that way."
Sansa left to the dining hall where she ate breakfast and saw ser Hayard, Lord Commander of Queensguard. He was a tall, black-haired, seriously looking man in his mid-twenties. Hayard was actually from the Vale, but he rather pledged his sword to Sansa than Robin Arryn. He and a couple of thousands of soldiers decided to stay in the North to serve the Starks. Many of them had found a wife and fathered a child or two. Sansa also won their trust ordering the execution of Lord Baelish who schemed Jon Arryn's assassination.
"Your grace, as Lord Commander it's my duty to protect you from any danger. I propose Queensguard will stay closer than usual when Princess Arya arrives. Those are foreign soldiers, I don't trust them even if they are under your sister's command." He said.
"If my sister wanted to assassinate someone, half of our guards would be dead and you wouldn't have a head on your shoulders. Looks like we are fine." Sansa smiled.
"Of course, your grace. As you wish." He stated and left.
A week later Arya and her soldiers arrived ten miles away from Winterfell. Weather was warmer than usual and there was no need for fur. Over four thousand troops marched in a perfect row. Valyrians were every commander's dream: they marched in formation, took orders and were disciplined. Every armor was silver steel, but members of Queenguard had valyrian steel armors. Arya's army had heavy infantry with heavy cavalry who was capable to crush an army twice as large as themselves.
"I'll ride ahead by myself, I want to see my sister," Arya said and rode away.
When Arya reached her destination, she decided to leave her horse a half-mile away from the gates and disguise as a beggar.
"You girl! Turn around, we need no beggars here!" Guard said. "Please give me bread, I'm starving!" Arya acted. "Fuck off now girl or I'll punch you!" The other guard yelled. Arya stood silently for a while, when a guard tried to punch her, she smoothly dodged it and hit him right to the throat. When the guard was knocked out, Arya took Needle and challenged the other one. The foolish guard thought he could win this match, but no. It was over in ten seconds when Arya disarmed him. "Please, have mercy whoever you are." Guard cried. "I am Arya Stark and I have no time for this nonsense. Take me to your Queen, now." The poor guard almost shit on himself and could scarcely rise to lead Arya to Queen.
"My Queen, princess Arya would like to see you. Shall I let her in? Guard stated with dignity.
"Of course let her in."
"Your sword, and the knives, young princess" Hayard commanded.
"Come and get it." Arya smiled. "I won't give any single blade to you."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm Lord Commander of Queensguard and this is my duty."
"Go on, do your duty."
"It's alright, she is my sister and I already told you. Ser Hayard, let her through."
A knight stepped aside and murmured something.
"Long journey, I assume. Where is the rest of the host?"
"Splendid. Now excuse I have plenty of duties to do. Come to my room tonight, I must tell you something."
Everybody was gathered at the feast. Small Council, Kingsguard, Bran, Arya, and her Queensguard, Syrio, Aelor and Baelar all feasted together.
"I'd like to raise a cup for Arya of House Stark, Hero of Winterfell, Sister of King of Six Kingdoms and Queen in the North. Eh, fuck the titles, let's drink." Tyrion announced and took a long sip of dornish wine.
There was so much food at the table that Arya couldn't name all of them. So many exotic fruits, ale, wine, meat, and bread."
"Eat and drink for your lives. All of this costed many golden dragons. How much it was, Master of Coin?" Tyrion asked.
"I didn't count," Bronn replied while eating. "Probably nothing, besides who cares? This is a feast and we are celebrating. You shouldn't worry that much, we have money thanks to my brothels. The finest girls from Lys, easy money to the crown."
"No no, that's not how Master of Coin keeps a record of crown's money! We must know where the money goes and where it comes from."
"It comes from my brothels and the Reach. The wine sells fine and gold mines remove our worries. So drink, eat and whore, because I will after this feast. Our guests are warmly welcome to share those pleasures."
"You should get a proper wife. Redwynes and Hightowers are willing to offer their daughters for you, Davos criticized. House Blacksteel* ends before it even started without heirs."
"I have learned that a wife can be like a spike in the arse and damn children want your lands and lofty titles." Bronn sighed.
"That's true only if you have a family like me where children are inbred and everybody hates each other. Trust me, I know a thing or two about it. For example, my sister and King Robert never loved each other." Tyrion spoke sense to Bronn.
"Fine, I'll take a wife. Are you happy now? No more whores. Damn it, I must be a fool when I believe you two."
People ate, drank and had fun. Arya told about her stories and everybody listened interested. Even Brienne had fun, she discussed fighting and swords with the valyrians who were quite excited about her Oathkeeper.
"I'm going to bed, we must continue our journey tomorrow and ships must be ready. Baelar, you watch that everything goes right." Arya ordered.
"Yes, my Queen. Anything else?" He asked.
Arya went to the bedroom which was luxurious, but less than a one in New Valyria. She woke up early in the morning and ate a couple of fruits and saw from the window how soldiers stowed the ships.
"Morning, you are awake," Tyrion said.
"I have to leave early if I want to see my sister."
"Will you stop at Storm's End? He loves you, gave his men to you.
"I can't after what happened, I broke his heart." She sighed.
"Yes, you did, but Gendry hasn't met any women after you left. I have to admit that he's quite a man, no whores and he drinks less than Robert. Oh, but he loves fighting, Gendry trains every day and knows how to use a hammer. To be honest, Lord of Storm's End is the most desirable man in Westeros. Every house in Westeros and Essos offer their daughters to him and every one has failed. Redwynes, Hightowers, dornish, noblemen from Pentos, Volantis and Braavos, all of them. Pentosi nobleman offered million golden dragons, but Gendry rejected the offer. His daughter was Blackfyre descendant, imagine that beauty: silver hair and purple eyes. Every man would kill to see her."
"I don't know if he is stupid or in love with me."
"Aren't those the same thing? You know that some men of House Baratheon can't think clearly when they are in love."
"Sure, that's why Robert started his rebellion. Because Rhaegar loved my aunt and he couldn't live with it."
"I'm afraid that Gendry's fate might be the same, his army is the strongest and vassals support him. If someone kidnapped you, he would crush him to death.
"The things we do for love."
"Yes, and it's sad. You remind me of someone. She had nothing and then she had an army. I still wonder how you ended up commanding 50 ships with 4500 men."
"It's not much, but it's a good start."
A couple of hours later ships were ready to sail. Arya walked into the harbor where everybody waited for her.
"Good morning, your grace. We are ready and men cannot wait." Baelar said.
"Yes, we are leaving. I want to thank King of Six Kingdoms for his hospitality. It was nice to meet you brother. Farewell if we don't see again." Arya hugged Bran and shed a tear.
"You never know, maybe we'll meet. When stones are together, blood is dry and the wolf has eaten an elephant." Bran stated mysteriously
*House Blacksteel is Bronn's new Great House, since he hadn't surname he created it. Blacksteel mirrors Bronn's history as sellsword and an fighter. Sigil of House Blacksteel is flaming arrow. Bronn's personal sigil is two black swords crossed and an bloody skull. Their words are: We follow no one
Why are you leaving? I'm coming with you!" Seban shouted.
"I think not, you have a future here! Look at yourself! A peasant who owes a big fookin mansion on a paradise island. You have so beautiful girlfriend that half of the westerosi lords would kill to fuck her. In Essos such girl would earn huge amounts of gold for her owner." Arya stated.
"Where are you going? Somewhere to kill people?"
"Essos. There is so much to see and experience. Yes, maybe I'll kill those who hurt innocents. Killing things clears my head. I'm not into politics, it killed almost my entire family. I will rather be an executioner than Queen. I care about you and I don't want to lose you. Too many times I've witnessed the death of my family and friends."
"But, if there was a way to save innocents with politics. Would you rule?
"Then I would, for the greater good, but not forever. Leading takes time maybe I would move on and let someone else rule."
"I wish you luck, you will be a fair king. Can you trust anyone of those soldiers?" Seban asked.
"No one." Arya smiled.
She walked to the port and saw her fleet. Enormous sails fluttered with the wind, soldiers with shiny armors waited on the beach.
"Good, you are here. What do you like? Professional soldiers, loyal and they will fight for death." Daemor said proudly.
"Who is the commander?"
"I am. A tall silver-haired man said
"And your name is?"
"Baelar, my captain."
"Well, I'm Arya Stark. How well you know your men?"
"They are well trained, do their job, they are the best army you can get. My men won't rape or kill innocents" Baelar assured.
"We have 1500 foot soldiers, 200 horses, 300 archers, 10 assassins, 200 spearmen, 100 infiltrators, rest of the soldiers can maintain the ships and use the siege weapons." He added.
"Where we need infiltrators?"
"They can harass the enemy's supply chain and cause chaos." It's much easier to conquer a city that is in chaos than a stable one."
"We have a small army, do you think we can conquer cities?"
"Start from the small ones, unite them and rule as Nymeria did. I've read the history of Westeros, she was like you, a fierce warrior, who still was a capable ruler. Leading it's not hard when people respect and recognize your authority."
"I don't know much about leading."
"I can assure you'll gain my advice and men's support," Baelar said.
"I must think about that. Our first stop is Westeros, I'm going to visit my sister in Winterfell. We'll stop at King's Landing. Prepare the ships." Arya ordered.
"Yes, my captain."
"Before you go, you will hate this, but I'll give it anyway. It's not gold, but I hope you like it." Daemor said and gave her a silver crown with ten spikes. They looked like wolf's teeth."
"It's wonderful, I wear no gold, I prefer silver. It's cold but still so beautiful as the North. I'll wear it and conquer the world in the name of House Stark." Arya thanked and put the crown on her head.
"Farewell, Arya Stark. It was nice to meet you. Bring honor for your family."
"I will, farewell."
Arya entered the Winter Star's bridge and shouted orders. Everything went smoothly because valyrians knew what to do. She went to a cabin where she found an unexpected person.
"Well, well. You can't get rid of me, girl." The man winked an eye.
"Damn you, Syrio. Should I command my men to throw you to the ocean because you're in captain's cabin without her permission?" Arya laughed.
"How many men you want to lose? Syrio smirked.
"I don't know, maybe ten? She smiled.
"But why are you here?" Arya asked.
"I wanted to see the world, Essos is an interesting place. Besides every Queen needs Hand. Or how about the Queensguard? Name me to Lord Commander of Queensguard. I was once First Sword of Braavos, protector of Sealord.
"Do I deserve the crown? What if I fail and thousands will die?"
"Rule with peace, not violence. I know instead of ruling, you would seek new adventures. Gather a small council who advises you."
"You shall be my Hand. I, Arya of House Stark, First of Her Name, Queen of the Sea and Conqueror of Essos appoint you, Syrio Forel, First Sword of Braavos as Hand of the Queen. Your first mission is to gather the seven best soldiers for Queensguard."
"I'm honored, your grace. I'll do it."
After three weeks of sailing, the company stopped at King's Landing. It was a windy day and the sun was shining.
"Is this wise to sail here with the army? They think we'll attack." Syrio asked concerned.
"I think my brother already knows that we come in peace." Arya smiled.
"Wait, is your brother a king?
"Yes, King of Six Kingdoms, my sister is Queen in the North."
"By Seven Hells, you Starks are quite surprising. If your siblings rule the Westeros, will you rule Essos then?" Syrio smiled
"Haha, maybe. Starks rule the known world. You never know what happens next."
In King's Landing
Arya, Syrio, Baelar, maester Aelor, and Queensguard entered the throne room where they met Ser Brienne Lord Commander of Kingsguard.
"Arya, I thought we would never see again. I'm glad you are here and who are the people with you?" Brienne asked.
"It's my honor to meet a great knight like you. This is Syrio Forel, braavosi water dancer, and Hand of the Queen. This one is Baelar, commander of my army and this young man is a maester Aelor."
"I don't recognize these armors? These are well made. Are they sellswords from Essos?
"No, they aren't. I found a new land. It's a long story, I will tell more about my journey."
At the same moment, Bran the Broken, King of Six Kingdoms arrived while Ser Podrick pushed him further. Everybody knelt when they saw him.
"Rise, I know who you are and why you're here. Looks like you have found something, Arya. Be my guests, it would be nice if you joined a feast tonight. Ser Brienne, we celebrate my sister's return from the west. Tonight there is no need for Kingsguard. You and the rest of the knights will feast with us." Bran stated with joy.
"But my King, we hav.." Brienne tried to say before Bran interrupted her.
"King's orders," Bran replied and smiled.
"Yes, your grace." She said and bowed.
"You must be maester Aelor. You have to meet Grand Maester Samwell, you certainly have a lot to talk about."
"Your grace." Aelor bowed and left with one of the Kingsguard's knights.
"You must be tired after the long trip, servants lead you to rest. Arya, would you stay for a while? I'd like to take you to meet my small council." Bran said.
"Sure, I have time."
After five minutes, they arrived small council's meeting room where all members except Grand Maester Samwell were.
"Well, well. If I can see right, you are princess Arya Stark, heir of Sansa. Last time when I heard about you, you left to west of Westeros. Did you find anything? Gold, silver? Perhaps good wine?" Tyrion greeted her with excitement.
"Or whores? Bronn added.
"Bronn..." Tyrion stared Master of Coin seriously, who, again didn't care about King's presence.
"I met a girl, who is worth 500 golden dragons. She could finish you with her eyes." Arya smirked.
"Money is not a problem. I am Master of Coin." Bronn laughed.
"The one, who thinks it's a good idea to not pay crown's debts to Iron Bank," Tyrion replied before old friends burst into laughter.
Ser Davos who sit silently during the conversation stood up and looked Arya:
"Grand Maester Samwell is busy right now. He asked me to tell that he is happy with your return. I'm glad you survived princess Arya. You must have many stories to share. I noticed your fleet, well built and good ships."
"Thank you, Ser Davos. I appreciate your words. Oh, I have plenty of stories to share. Give me a glass of wine and I'll tell." She grinned.
"That's what I'm talking about, good company, good wine, and good stories," Tyrion said and brought wine and gave a full glass for Arya.
Arya took a long sip of wine and looked Tyrion: "This tastes like piss. That's not the Arbor's finest."
Tyrion took Arya's glass and tasted as well.
"No no! It's rotted! It should be the wine of gods, Imp's Delight." He cried out.
"Here, this is dornish." Hand said and politely poured wine to Arya.
"Thank you, I didn't know you make wine, forgive my rudeness." Arya regretted.
"Don't apologize. Maybe grapes are rotten."
"Send me a couple of barrels of your wine. I'll stop in Winterfell and give Sansa those barrels. How much it costs?"
"Nothing for Hero of Winterfell whose sister rules North and brother rules Six Kingdoms."
"It must cost something. Gold, perhaps?"
"Tell me about your journey at the feast. I want to hear something exciting."
"So be it." Arya smiled.
"Arya, may I have a word with you," Bran asked.
Let's go to the gardens. Would you push me outside? "Of course brother."
Siblings went outside to the gardens. They were alone and Bran started to talk mysteriously:
"You are going to conquer cities in Essos. Don't act so surprised, I've known it. I have seen many things in the past, leadership and honor are in our blood. It's northern blood, the blood of ice. Don't be afraid sister, you will not repeat Daenerys' or anyone else's mistakes. Essos is ready for a wolf. It has had enough dragons."
"Thank you, brother. Still, I'm not sure."
"You have good men who will help you. Before you leave, I want to give you supplies, food, and ale for your long journey. And please, let the crown help you. I also give 20 ships and 2000 men. They are men of House Baratheon. A few days before you arrived I sent a raven to Gendry and told him about your plans. He wanted to help you and gave soldiers from one of the best armies in Westeros."
"Why? He owes me nothing." Arya was confused, but still knowing the reason why Lord of Storm's End helped her."
"He is a good man. Gendry is like his father, but not a boaster. Nevertheless, he would start a war to get you. He loves you like Robert loved Lyanna. There had always been something between Starks and Baratheons."
To be continued
Yeah, there is probably grammar mistakes in the text, forgive me.