§So, the Queen is having some night time adventures.§ Balthazar joked with a drawling hiss. §I don’t what the big deal is; you had that one night with Ginny. You know, the one in which I stuck my tail up her—§
§—YES, I know. Shut up about it, will you?§ I harshly cut the viper off; that particular horrific memory didn’t need to be unearthed once more. I focused my attention back to the golden strands of hair on the ground.
I needed to think this through, calmly and logically.
Thoroughness was investigation’s best friend.
§The issue isn’t that the Queen is getting the dick.§ I hissed out thoughtfully. §Bran found the two people— at least, I’ll assume it was two people doing it. He must have heard the noise or…§ My gaze turned to a nearby table.
I brushed my hand along the table’s surface, and nodded in confirmation to myself.
“Candle wax.” I said to myself, in English. “Bran must have either seen the candle light in the abandoned tower, or heard the noises, before taking it upon himself to investigate the place.”
“An astute observation.” Erebus noted.
“You disagree?” I challenged, taking his statement as a challenge.
“No.” Erebus denied. “It seems to be the most likely case, actually.”
Oh. Maybe I jumped the gun a bit.
§Why would she push him out of a window, in the first place? It’s not like the King would care if he found out.§ Balthazar argued.
And he was right; with the King constantly getting with every other whore this stronghold had— and probably everywhere else— I doubted he would care that his wife was doing the same.
§Unless she was doing it with someone that made the whole thing a little more… controversial.§ I argued back. §But who?§
Balthazar was quiet for a moment.
§In the weeks that I’ve been here, you know I’ve been reading up on the many texts you have acquired.§ Balthazar began slowly. §I’ve learned a lot about Westerosi culture, which is a mix of Andal, Rhoyne, and First Men. And, from my readings, I’ve deduced there are three things that cause the person doing them to be reviled.§
§The first is the violation of guest right.§ Balthazar listed. §Guest right is an ancient and sacred tradition in Westeros. When a guest, whether he is common or noble, eats the food and drinks the drink off a host’s table beneath the host’s roof, the guest right is invoked.
§Once invoked, neither the guest can harm the host, or the host harm the guest for the duration of the guest’s stay. Violating this, of course, is sacrilege, and vilified in all of the main religions on Westeros.§
§The second is kin slaying, the act of killing a family member. That one is more self explanatory, really. If you kill your own family, why would anyone else trust you? It’s said to be an act that has you cursed forever in the sight of gods and men.§ Balthazar continued.
§I don’t see what that has to do with—§ I started but was cut off by Balthazar.
§I’m getting to it, you idiot.§ Balthazar insulted me, before listing the third item on his list. §The third is incest.§
That’s when it clicked.
§Unlike in our world, incest is the act of having sex with direct family members.§ Balthazar explained. §Meaning your first cousins are fair game. Still, any children born from it are considered abominations, and the two who committed the acts are reviled everywhere they go.§
§What are you saying, she fucked her brother?§ I hissed.
§Or her son.§ Balthazar added.
“Maybe, but I doubt that. We’re possibly looking at this situation wrong.” I denied, switching to English. “She’s definitely having sex with someone, and it could be one of her family members. But this might be bigger than that. She’s the Queen, meaning whatever she manages to fart out of her vagina becomes the leader of this entire continent of peasants and lords.”
§All the more reason to hide an incestuous relationship with her brother by throwing the boy, Bran, out of the window.§ Balthazar insisted stubbornly.
§It can’t be Jaime.§ I denied with a scoff. §His brother Tyrion invited the both of us to have a drinking contest last night. You were there… Is your mind that addled, already, Balthazar? The Kingslayer had to be hauled off to a nearby room. I doubt anyone could wake up from a alcohol induced coma, walk all the way up to that tower just for some nightly fun. The hangover wouldn’t permit it.§
§So, she did it with someone else?§ Balthazar questioned.
I nodded. §Probably, I don’t know if we can figure out who it is, but I should definitely bring this to Lord— Ned. He deserves to know why his son suffered that needless pain.§
With that said, I made to leave the tower.
I left the room just as I had found it, before making my way back to Bran’s room, both to check up on the boy, and to speak with his parents. I noticed the Kingsguard standing outside, and so, was immediately on guard.
It looked like they were barring entry. A few muttered spells had them release the contents of their stomachs abruptly, the foul liquid/solid mix spreading all over their armor and white cloak, staining them both.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I heard a shout before the Cunt Queen Cersei, herself, stepped out of the room and grimaced at what had occurred.
She leveled her gaze at me.
“Explain. Now.” She demanded of me, sending me a baleful glare.
I guessed she was still pissed I royally humiliated her brother Jaime.
“They just bent over and lost their lunches, I guess.” I said, checking over one of them. “You two hit the drink this early in the day?”
It was a subtle suggestion, and Cersei seemed to eat it up, promising punishment to the two fools besmirching the honor of the Kingsguard by drinking alcohol while on duty. She stormed off, the two Kingsguard staggering behind her, disoriented and still dizzy from the after effects of the spell I hit them with.
It was one I learned from Sirius. He used it back in his school days to make Snape’s life hell— at least until Snape created his own counter-curse for it, something which Sirius grudgingly respected, even back then.
The spell simply caused a feeling of disorientation to quickly overtake a person, which in turn forces them to expel whatever is in their stomachs.
Quite the devious spell, if I do say so, myself.
I waited a few moments, before Vanishing the vomit with a wave of my wand, and entering the room. Lady Catelyn, along with Lord Ned were still seated next to their brother, along with Bran’s direwolf, who turned his head, acknowledging my presence with a low whine from under Bran’s bed.
I calmly closed the door, and greeted the two.
“Harry.” Eddard said with a small smile. “Come to check on Bran?”
“Yes, Lord and Lady Stark.” I confirmed, and added. “And, there’s something else, too.”
I closed the windows as Lord Stark spoke.
“Something else?” He said curiously.
“I’ll tell you after I check up on him; see if his system has truly recovered. Enough time has passed that I’m confident I’ll get a definitive reading.” I promised, before waving my wand over Bran’s body.
A few moments of information absorption later, and I nodded in satisfaction.
“Perfectly fine. Even more than fine.” I noted. Perhaps my Lightning had the same effect on him that it did on me— namely, it fixed most of the flaws it had detected in my system, which included my eyesight, among other things.
Well, all the better for him, really.
“All that’s left, is for him to wake up.” I said, noticing something odd about his eyes. “Lord Stark?”
“Yes, Harry?” The man said.
“How long have his eyes been moving like that?” I asked curiously.
“I— I believe the moment since he came here.” Ned replied, a bit uneasily. “I hadn’t noticed.”
Vivid dreams for hours? That certainly wasn’t normal.
I placed my hand on his head, and linked my energy with his own once more— images of a three eyed raven flying around in an empty Winterfell. An image of a huge heart tree surrounded by heavy snow, and legions of undead with their bright, blue eyes.
They searched for me. Said eyes focused on me. I felt my heartbeat speed up. They saw me and narrowed dangerously.
I cut off the link and staggered back in complete shock, eyes wide and frantic as I looked around.
Such power… That single word had all but slammed into my being with the force of a freight train; I could still feel the aftershock even as I took a deep breath and clenched my trembling hands to make it stop.
“Harry?!” Lord Stark got to his feet. “Are you all right?”
The boy, Bran. He had some kind of magical power within him. A form of divination? Whatever that was he saw, it was beyond the Wall. And those eyes, again…
They saw me, just through my link with Bran. How? Was it even possible? What were the limits to their power—
“Father?” I spun to see Bran, wide awake and looking a bit disoriented.
Before any more of us could speak, the Lady Catelyn let out a loud cry of joy and all but jumped on her son. Ned soon followed, what had just happened completely forgotten in favor of tending to his son.
Bran’s eyes focused, and he looked right at me for a few moments, engulfed by his parents, before nodding ever so slightly, as if to tell me that we would talk later.
I nodded in assent. No sense in springing this on the parents.
At least, not yet. It would need to be done in different circumstances. Right now, they would most likely be figuring out a way to deal with the current situation. Namely, how to punish whoever had thrown him off the tower.
“—to thank you, Harry?” I was drawn back to reality.
Lord Stark was talking to me.
“I’m sorry.” I apologized, feeling a little stupid for not paying attention to the man’s words. “I’m still somewhat disoriented from that. What did you say?”
“I said.” Ned spoke again, giving an understanding look. “How can we thank you?”
“No need.” I replied, before turning to Bran. “Can you move your legs, then?”
He answered by lifting both his feet, moving them around wildly.
“Good.” I said as his parents sighed in relief.
Then, I sprung the question. “Do you know who pushed you off of that tower, Bran?”
“Pushed? What do you—” Ned repeated, a hint of alarm in his voice as his eyes went wide. “You mean to say he was pushed?”
“Who could—” Catelyn stopped herself.
I nodded. “Robb and the others had told me that Bran has always been sure-footed— and, they’re right. I’ve seen him climb those same towers with ridiculous ease. So, I investigated the spot he was found and searched the tower he fell from. In it, I found traces of wax on a table, and a few long, blonde hairs.”
I left that statement to hang in the air.
“The Queen?” Lady Catelyn said, looking a little ill as she shared a look with her husband. “She was just here.”
“I know.” I said calmly. “That’s why I made her Kingsguard vomit outside.”
“That’s what the commotion was about?” Lord Stark looked almost amused as Bran suffered the not so gentle affections of his direwolf.
“Yes.” I said. “I don’t know who was in that room with her, but there’s at least enough evidence that proves she was there.”
“But, that is not enough to prove she pushed Bran off of the tower.” Ned argued logically, loathe as he was to say it.
“I know.” I looked at Bran, who was trying to avoid our gaze.
“Bran?” Catelyn coaxed, hugging him tighter to herself.
“It’s all right, my son.” Ned said. “No one will hurt you here.”
“I’ll make sure of it.” I said, pulling my sleeve back to show my scaled arm. “Anyone coming for you will have to go through me.”
A moment passed.
“Were you pushed?” Ned asked gently.
“What happened?” Ned continued.
Bran clutched at his mother tighter, and sunk deeper into his covers.
He was afraid.
And, why wouldn’t he be?
A few more minutes of soothing and coaxing, and Bran told the tale. Apparently, he had found the Queen and the King’s Squire, Lancel Lannister, having sex— though he didn’t understand what he saw, believing Lancel was hurting the Queen somehow.
Then, he shakily described how the Queen ordered Lancel to push him out of the window, not seeing how his parents’ faces darkened considerably, Catelyn holding her boy even tighter at the admission.
“And, she was just here…” Lord Stark was trembling in rage as he levelled his gaze to me. “With her insincere platitudes and her arrogant air!”
Ned stood up abruptly.
“This will not go unanswered.” He moved to the door.
“Ned!” Catelyn pleaded, and he stopped to listen. “We cannot! It’s Bran’s word against the Queen’s..”
“No.” Ned said before turning once more to leave. “It matters not whose word it is. The Queen must answer for her crime.”
“Lord Stark’s right.” I said in agreement, joining him. “This is a deliberate attack on your family. To simply answer it with inaction invites them to attack you once more— maybe next time, someone will actually die. Best nip this issue in the bud before it ever arises, especially with Lord Stark moving to their territory in King’s Landing, outnumbered and surrounded by Lannister men.”
Eddard nodded in agreement.
“Well spoken.” He said, relaxing slightly at my words. He took a deep breath to center himself. “The time to act is now, in my place of power. Harry—”
“I think I’ll stay here, Lord Stark.” I cut him off. “In case the Queen Cersei sends someone to, um… ‘take care’ of witnesses.”
“She wouldn’t dare.” He shot back, almost snarling and losing his cool once more.
“She dared to throw him out of a window.” I argued logically, uncompromisingly. “What’s to stop her from hiring an assassin to finish the job before Bran can give witness account? Granted, the chances are low, but there’s got to be someone here.”
“I will have a force of guards here.” Lord Stark said after a few moments. “Jon will be among them, I’ve seen you two practice, so he and the guard will be capable of handling anything that shows its face in my halls.”
Lady Catelyn was about to say something, but quieted at the look of her husband. She glared instead.
I rolled my eyes at her attitude towards Jon— he’d never done her any wrong and she seemed to heap all of her hate on him, and for what? Cause of his father’s mistake?
“All right, Lord Stark.” I said, before smiling at Bran. “It’s good to know you’re awake, Bran. We’ll talk later.”
He smiled weakly back; this back and forth between all of us must have bewildered the kid. Who could blame him? He was, what, seven years old? When I was seven, the most excitement I got was being let out of the house once every blue moon when I wasn’t going to school, while Bran, here, was getting magical visions after almost being killed by the Queen.
I followed Lord Stark through the stronghold until he reached Ser Rodrik, the master-at-arms of Winterfell, standing in the Courtyard watching Jon go through some sword forms.
“My Lord.” Ser Rodrik greeted with a short bow.
“Father.” Jon stopped his practice to say hello.
“Send a force of guards to Bran’s chambers, along with Jon. Have him stand guard inside.” Ned ordered immediately. “Then, gather the rest of the men.”
Jon looked at his father, then at me, before understanding dawned on him. He must have thought I found something out— which I did.
“My Lord?” Rodrik asked in confusion, looking at our grim faces. “What has happened?”
Lord Stark leaned forward and whispered a few words to the man. His face shifted from happiness, to shock, then finally, anger and grim determination.
“I will gather them, at once.” He said seriously and moved like a possessed man, leaving the both of us alone in the Courtyard. Jon followed him immediately.
“Now, what?” I asked after a few seconds. “We just confront the King?”
“Indeed.” Lord Eddard confirmed. “Robert surely will not attack us, but there are many Lannister men among his own.”
I nodded. “Can’t be too careful. That why you asked me to come with you Lord Ned?”
“Yes.” Eddard said, the side of his mouth quirking slightly at the way he was addressed. “You’ve shown that you are far, far stronger than one of their most prized fighters.”
I nodded, trying not to let the praise get to me as Lord Stark’s men began to muster. A few questions later, and we learned that the King was enjoying a meal at the Great Hall. We waited a few more minutes until enough men had gathered, before Lord Stark went to action.
He gave orders left and right, sending guards to the rest of his children, to man the defenses of the stronghold as well as stand guard anywhere of importance. He ordered the city on lock down, and then, led over fifty men to the Great Hall.
The King’s men outside of the hall numbered a paltry five. Security must have grown lax, as they were in friendly territory.
Their own mistake, I figured as I stepped forward.
“I’ll take care of them.” I said and added as Lord Stark opened his mouth. “Without killing them, of course.”
A close of the mouth, and a nod was my answer from the Lord of Winterfell.
It wasn’t even a fight. I rushed the guards and chopped one in the back of the neck, injecting some of my Lightning into his body. He twitched and fell bodily to the floor, a boneless heap. The one next to him, to my left, frantically tried to pull his sword out. He didn’t see the palm strike that smashed against his chin and knocked him out cold.
I turned to the other three guards, their swords already drawn and waiting for me to make a move.
I grinned toothily, Lightning answering my call, energizing my body beyond its limitations, before punching the right side one in the face, sending him reeling. The one in the middle shouted as he swung his great sword downward in an attempt to cleave me in two.
“Too slow…” I taunted and sidestepped the clumsy swing, the man’s sword slamming into the cobblestone, before uppercutting him with my elbow. His fellow guardsman watched as he fell to the floor, weakly moving to get up, before losing the battle for consciousness, his disorientation too much.
I turned to the last standing guard.
“You want to join them?” I asked simply. “Or do you want to stand aside?”
“I would give my life for the K—” That was as far as he got before I smashed my fist into his chin, as well, sending him to join his buddies in the realm of unconsciousness.
Silence greeted me as I turned to Lord Stark and his men.
“Did you see that?” One whispered.
“He took on those men… unarmed!” Another said.
“He did not even look like he broke a sweat!” A third added.
“No wonder he beat the Kingslayer, so easily. With speed like that…”
Lord Stark got over his own personal shock, before barking out more orders, tearing through the excited muttering with his cold voice.
“Guard this place.” Eddard said simply. “I wish to have words with our King.”
“As you command, Lord Stark.” The captain of the guards, a man by the name of Jory, said, before barking out orders of his own to the men. They spread out.
“Harry.” Ned said simply, before entering the Great Hall. I followed him inside.
There weren’t many people there.
Among them, I saw Jaime and Tyrion sitting at a table, exchanging quiet conversation. The King was at another table, eating like the fat whale he had become, while another Kingsguard stood behind him— I hadn’t seen this one, before.
He was old— much older than I’d thought a Kingsguard would be. Standing over his King in his white enameled armor, wearing that white cloak, with white hair and blue eyes, he looked tall and strong, despite his age.
§Barristan Selmy.§ Balthazar supplied to my thoughts. §Said to be even more skilled than the Kingsguard, Jaime.§
When the hell did Balthazar get the time to know this kind of information?
Aside from that, there were a few guards, here and there, half-heartedly standing guard as they watched the rest of the people eat their meals in peace.
“Ned!” Fat King Robert finally noticed our approach as he drank from a goblet, some of the wine escaping and getting all over his beard. “Come, sit down!”
“I cannot, Your Grace.” Ned said stiffly as we stood in front of the table.
“You shouldn’t be so damn formal, all the time.” King Robert chided playfully, not noticing the sudden shift in the mood.
“I’m afraid there is a matter of grave importance, Your Grace.” Ned looked like he was visibly restraining himself from smacking his friend in the face.
“What is it, then?” He looked irritated at the interruption of his meal, leveling an annoyed glare at Eddard, who stared back icily.
“Well?” The King said after a few seconds. “Out with it!”
So Ned told him of how Bran’s woken up saying that Cersei had him thrown off of the tower by ordering his squire Lancel Lannister— who’d been caught fucking her— to push the poor boy.
The King didn’t answer, merely giving everyone an unreadable look.
“Preposterous.” Jaime said immediately, standing up at the accusation.
“It’s all true.” I said, getting everyone’s attention. “I went to the room, in question. I found many long, golden hairs on a spot on the floor that had been cleaned of dirt while the rest of the room was kept filthy. On the table, I found residual wax from a candle. On the floor, there were stains of a questionable nature, and the smell… Well… A room in an abandoned tower can be used for many things, including acts of a more… Intimate nature.”
There was silence for a few seconds.
“It could have been anyone!” Jaime argued, a strange look on his face. Sure, it seemed protective, but also… Betrayed?
I ignored the sick feeling welling up in my stomach, and continued to speak.
“Who among the many here, Lord Tyrion.” I addressed the diminutive man, who hadn’t said a word yet. “Has long locks of golden hair?”
Tyrion stayed quiet for a long moment, looking conflicted.
“Well?” I pushed the issue, waving my wand surreptitiously while everyone’s gaze focused on the half-man.
“My sister.” The words came out of the dwarf’s mouth.
Huh. I’d thought a man of his willpower would resist the compulsion.
“Perhaps he did not wish to resist.” Erebus whispered to me quietly. “Everyone seemed to hold him in very low regard despite his noble birth.”
It made sense, I thought as I saw Jaime look at his brother in resignation, and a bit of anger.
King Robert hadn’t said a single word, so far.
“Your Grace.” Ned urged against. “There must be a trial. Here, and now. I accuse the Queen Cersei Lannister and your squire Lancel Lannister of willfully conspiring to murdering my son, Brandon Stark.”
“Ned—” The King started, looking weary.
“No. My son was almost killed!” Ned almost roared, before visibly restraining himself once more. “Justice must be served. It will be served.”
The tension was so thick that you could cut it with a knife.
§Harry, is this what they call a Mexican standoff in Western movies?§ Balthazar thought to me.
§Shut up, Balthazar.§
“What is a Mexican?” Erebus asked curiously.
I stifled a groan.
Maybe it would have been better if I were stranded here, alone.