“What’s he doing here?” Robb said the moment Jon, Tyrion and I entered the main tent.
Robb was leaning over the main table, staring at us expectantly. He was flanked by the Greatjon, as well as one of the Maesters— I didn’t remember his name. The Lady Catelyn was also present.
I was under the impression that this was urgent.
“Tyrion’s my ally, now. He’s going to help us in the war against his family.” I said simply, getting some strange looks at the response.
“I never said anything of the sort!” Tyrion protested.
“Details.” I waved him off, before turning to Robb. “What’s the matter?”
Robb gave Tyrion another uncertain look, before sighing tiredly.
“The Lord Frey will let us cross his bridge.” Robb said uneasily.
“I’m sensing a ‘but’ coming.” I pointed out dryly.
Robb nodded, pinching the bridge of his nose as if the mere thought of it pained him. “Apparently, in order to acquire Lord Walder’s aid, I must take in two of his children as wards at Winterfell.”
“That doesn’t sound too ba—”
“I must also promise Arya’s hand in marriage to a member of his family.” I winced at that, but Robb kept going. “As well as myself.”
Jon was right, if only about Robb’s bit of needing to get married; it was a good thing I didn’t take that bet. Not that I couldn’t afford to pay, of course, but who liked losing at anything?
Tyrion made a move towards the wine, pouring himself a cup as the guards stationed around us placed their hands on their swords threateningly.
“Stand down.” Robb said sternly, and they complied.
“Lord Frey’s tolls were always exorbitant, my Lord Stark.” Tyrion commented as he took a sip of his wine. “That’s how his House got to be one of the richest in the Riverlands, after all.”
“Aye, the Imp’s right.” Lord Umber agreed. “But if we take the long way through the Kingsroad, Riverrun will have gone to shit— begging your pardon my Lady— by the time we get there.”
“So, there is no choice.” Robb said.
“The hell there isn’t!” Jon and I interrupted at the same time.
We shared a look, before Jon let me talk.
“He wants you to marry someone, have Arya marry someone, and then babysit two of his kids for years just so you can cross the bridge? What garantee do you have that he’ll even do as you say?” I asked pointedly.
“He’s given his word.” Robb said with a shake of his head.
“His word means nothing.” I retorted easily, waving it off. “If it did, he wouldn’t have made this deal with you, in the first place. He would be rushing to save his liege lord, as is his duty.”
“Aye.” Robb agreed, sagging. He looked at me. “But it’s either this, or…”
“Leave us.” Robb told everyone. “Jon, Harry, Lannister. You may stay.”
A few hesitated to obey, eying the diminutive Lannister with suspicion.
“Go.” Robb insisted, and they all complied, leaving the four of us alone in the large tent.
“Do you really believe Lannister, here—”
“Call him Tyrion.” I cut him off.
“Tyrion.” Robb acknowledged, before looking at the man in question. “Do you truly plan on allying yourself with the North?”
A long moment passed.
“I do not know.” Tyrion finally replied. This, apparently wasn’t the right answer, as Robb’s face contorted in an angry grimace. “But what I do know is that my family has not even sent a raven to discuss terms for my release. As far as I know, they’ve left me to spend the rest of my days as your prisoner.”
I nodded in agreement. “They’re more snakes than lions, the lot of them. They don’t know what it is to live a simple life without creating conflicts meant to increase their own House’s power, at the expense of many innocent smallfolk. I want to end it.”
Tyrion eyed me. “Do you truly believe you can change a system that’s been around for thousands of years? The Great Houses of Westeros are very powerful, and they will most certainly oppose you. You can’t even cross a bridge because of House Frey alone, and it is certainly no Great House. How do you think you can beat House Lannister? Or Tyrell? Or the Baratheons?”
Something about what he said amused me.
I smiled. “I’m not even going to answer that. Instead, how about you find a good, safe spot, to watch the Twins’ occupants get slaughtered?”
“Of course, Robb.” I said immediately. “Marriage just to cross a bridge? Especially when he’s only forcing you to do it to further his own ambitions and greed, instead of end the war that’s sure to ravage the Riverlands? You heard what the scouts reported on those villages as well as I did. Little girls raped. Little girls.”
I took a breath to calm myself, before continuing.
“You know the plan.” I said, receiving nods from Robb and Jon. “I go in, and force them out of their castle. I’ll make sure they can’t retreat to the second castle. Their only choice would be to exit through this side— and you can just slaughter them.”
“Go. Jon and Lann—Tyrion, will watch over Hestia.” Robb gave a nod, and I turned to leave. “And, Harry?”
“Yeah?” I turned for a second.
“What are friends for?” I smirked and left the tent. My smile faded as my eyes landed on the Twins. I felt a little conflicted about killing all those people simply following their Lord’s word— no, by getting in my way, they were endangering the lives of my allies, as well as the many blameless people who had already suffered.
End the lives of the few to save the lives of the many.
While I had a certain disdain for the cultures of this world, I knew it wasn’t their fault. I would have likely felt the same if I were thrown in the past, in my own world.
Might meant right, here.
And that just didn’t sit well with me.
“Ever the champion of humanity, aren’t you?” Erebus whispered mockingly as I began moving towards the Twins, placing myself under a Disillusionment Charm. “You’ve saved your home world from the Demon Emperor Mundus, and you’ve been stranded here as recompense for your efforts. Why should you care for these people? They’re not even yours.“
“They don’t have to be.” I thought back. “People are people, no matter what plane of existence they’re in. They have hopes and dreams, just like I do. I can’t stand by and let this happen. I won’t.“
“Sentimental rubbish.” Erebus retorted. “You must distance yourself from them, and become—”
“Like you? Is that your endgame?” I cut him off, perhaps a little too harshly. “You forget your place, Devil Arm. I will never be like you.”
The sword went quiet for a few moments.
“Of course, master.” Erebus finally replied. I felt some resentment coming from the blade, but I pushed the thought to the back of my head. There would be another time for this.
None of the watchers on the walls of the castle saw my Disillusioned form as I began to scale the wall by digging my Lightning coated fingers into the gaps between the stone, creating the perfect leverage to climb up as quickly as possible.
I had to stop at one point, when one of the guards peered over the wall suspiciously, only for his gaze to pass right through me, quickly losing interest afterwards.
With a final weak grunt, I reached the top of the wall, and was faced with two archers. They were lazing about, sharing stories of girls they’d fucked, with each one trying to outdo the other.
If they’d been paying attention, they would noticed the distortion in the air as I pulled my wand out and adjusted my position slightly so that the three of us formed a line.
“Diffindo!” I incanted, pointing at the archers’ necks. The Cutting Curse came out as a green ribbon of energy which cleanly sliced through both archers’ necks, ending their lives instantly as blood sprayed outwards, the flow lessening as the dead bodies slumped and fell to the floor, two large pools of blood forming and quickly increasing in size.
§The blood almost looks like strawberry jam.§ Balthazar hissed. The observation was so out of place I blinked in surprise.
§Right.§ I hissed back dryly.
I eyed the two corpses for a few moments, before shaking my head, Vanishing them, and moving on. I wandered along the walls of the castle, killing the guard patrols, as well as the archers. A small group of four had presented a small obstacle, as I hadn’t wanted to draw any attention to what I was doing.
A few wordless casts of the Silencing Charm, and no one would hear the guard’s cries for help as I liberally applied the Cutting Curse as many times as I could. Honestly, who needed variety when the basics worked?
I supposed I could gone for a huge entrance by tearing through the main gates and slaughtering everyone head on with my Lightning Dragonslayer Magic, but that was honestly stupid. Who, in their right mind, would do something like that?
It was foolish, reckless and would most likely have lead to my death, as I had no idea what the layout of the castle was. I could be ambushed from any angle.
“Concentrate.” Erebus said as I Vanished the bodies, removing any sign of they being there in the first place. “Most likely, the men on duty have begun to realize something is amiss.”
“True. Eventually they’ll start asking questions or raise an alarm.” I agreed. “Time for phase two.”
Phase two was driving them out of the castle into the waiting arms of Robb’s ‘friendly’ army, who had likely gathered itself up and was now just waiting.
I moved through the corridors and hallways, noting what was where— I would need the information, for when I wanted to set everything on fire.
That was the basic plan, really.
Start fires all over the castle, which would fill it up with smoke and heat, forcing the residents to leave. And, since the only exit they’ll have is the one leading to Robb…
You could see where this was going.
After a few minutes of searching, I finally found the gate which led to the bridge. It was guarded by two disgruntled men, who looked like they fit better in modern America, in which everyone was a fat whale, rather than in Westeros, where only the rich were able to become fat.
I killed them, as well, before melting the gate’s locking mechanism by placing my hand against it and channeling a fair amount of Lightning into it, turning the lock into a half molten mess.
A wave of my wand made sure that I wouldn’t suffocate from the smoke which I was about to create. Sometimes, I loved knowing the Bubble-Head Charm.
And then, the massacre began.
“Incendio!” I went from room to room, floor to floor, setting everything I could see on fire. Beds, sheets, supplies, furniture of any kind. If rooms were empty, I would cast “Bombarda” to seal their entrances.
Smoke began to fill the air in the castle as its residents slowly began to realize fires were breaking out throughout the entirety of the structure.
“Fire! There’s a fire!” Some guards shouted over and over as they tried to put the fires out with heavy rags or even taking their own clothes off and using them— only to realize their efforts to bat the fires out only gave them more fuel, as I had overpowered the spells so that only a massive amount of water would quench them.
As I passed by the rooms, I heard the hacks and coughs of the Frey men as they futilely attempted to stop my fires from spreading by moving some of the furniture away.
“That won’t do.” I murmured, pointing my wand at the furniture. “Incendio.“
The table caught flame immediately, forcing the men who were carrying it to drop it with a yelp of fright. The table hit the ground, collapsing into pieces which fell on a nearby carpet, setting it on fire, as well.
“We have to leave!” One of them said. “Any more and we’ll die of the smoke!”
“He’s right!” Another said. “Let’s go!”
The ground shook as hundreds upon hundreds of men rushed to the gate leading to the bridge. The hallways were overcrowded, each man almost stepping over the other.
“What’s taking so long!”
“Open the gate!” The men were starting to get riled up.
“It won’t open! The key doesn’t work!” The man trying to work the lock despaired, twisting with all his might.
The key broke, and the man fell backwards, knocking over half a dozen guards in the process.
I squeezed my way through the crowded hallways to the end of the line, before waving my wand at gate and incanting “Incendio!” one more time.
The crowd reacted as expected. Quickly, almost as one, they turned around and stampeded to the other side of the castle, where, hopefully, that gate would lead them to safety.
They didn’t consider the fact that they might be slaughtered by Robb’s men. If they were in their right mind, they never would have tried it.
But, right now?
Half suffocated to death, scared out of their minds?
The likely thought going through their collective minds was “anywhere but here.”
As the stone floor shook from the men stampeding their way outside, I noted with some bemusement that only a fraction of them had any weapons of any use.
I heard the sound of the portcullis being opened, and felt the drastic change in the air pressure; the flames around me grew stronger from the added oxygen, but it didn’t affect me one bit.
The side effects of having a blade with control over the cold was that I really couldn’t be affected by most fires when I stood near them. It would take something of significant magical power, like Jon’s blue flames or the flames of a dragon— possibly this wildfire I’ve heard so much about— to cause me damage.
As it was, I simply walked leisurely outside watching the mass of three thousand Frey men— A “Homenum Revelio” had given me that answer; three thousand, one hundred and seven, to be precise— running every which way out of the death trap they called a castle, into the waiting arms of Robb’s army comprised of twenty thousand men.
Even if each Frey man had a weapon— which they didn’t— they were already burned, suffocating, and panicking. The battle was swift, and bloody. I watched as the Frey men fell to arrows, swords, spears, axes and maces.
The battle began to die down as Robb’s men were finishing off the rest of the Frey men on the field. I nodded to myself. The plan had gone off without a hitch, but I still had to cancel all of my spells. To that end, I went from room, to room, using “Finite” and using Erebus to kill off any remaining, non magical flames.
Tedious work, extremely boring, but it was either that, or have Robb’s army burn, and suffocate to death when they attempted to cross through the castle. I waved my wand a few more times in the main hallways, sending out gusts of wind to have the air circulate and purify itself of the taint of the smoke.
I gave up on that, after a few tries with little success.
§It’ll clear itself up eventually.§ Balthazar consoled.
§True.§ I hissed back, making sure to breathe through my nose as I made my way outside. The modified Bubble-Head Charm was only applied to my nasal pathway, and not my mouth. §I was hoping it would be a little quicker than this, but no plan is perfect.§
With a wave of my wand, I disabled my Disillusionment Charm, as well as my modified Bubble-Head Charm, and walked back into the field, where the men were celebrating as they began looting the many corpses they’d created.
I stayed at the entrance as I was approached by the Lord Umber and a few of his men.
“Didn’t think you could do it, lad.” The Greatjon said as his gaze flitted from the sea of dead men to the empty castle. I followed his gaze, noticing the billowing clouds of smoke steadily being pumped out into the atmosphere, though there was less and less as the seconds passed.
Within a few minutes, the air would hopefully be safe enough to breathe— maybe not comfortably, but enough so they could walk through the castle’s corridors.
“You actually doubted me, after seeing what I was capable of?” I smiled, dusting my shoulder off.
“There were thousands of men, in there.” Lord Umber said roughly. “Any man with his wits would have doubts.”
“Too true, Lord Umber.” The voice of Robb cut in, as he approached us, wiping the blood off of his blade; Grey Wind was at his side, drenched in the blood of his enemies, its fur crimson. “But Harry isn’t any man.”
“Three thousand, one hundred and seven men, by the way.” I corrected, before Vanishing the blood off of Grey Wind, who nudged me in gratitude at my helpful gesture.
“Not all men.” Robb disagreed, pointing to a large group of women, looking bruised, burned and generally downtrodden, a fair few children huddled around them.
I winced at the realization that I might have killed children, but shook my head. Lord Frey could have avoided all of this by simply joining his power with ours, instead of extorting Robb, like that.
“Do not worry, Harry.” Robb said, misinterpreting my wince. “I have already informed the men that any unnecessary… advances, shall we say, to the women in our capture will be dealt with harshly. There is no room for rapists in my army. Any who dare to do so will have the choice of their sword arm, or the Wall.”
I nodded. At least there was that.
“Fair enough.” I said, before pointing to the castle. “You might want to wait a little before going inside. The air’s still heavy with the smoke of the fire I made.”
“It’s all right.” Robb shook his head, gesturing to the thousands of dead bodies on the field being looted and then carried away to a quickly growing pile. “There’s still plenty of time.”
“Yes.” I replied, not really knowing what else to say on the matter, before turning to Robb. “Where’s Jon?”
“He elected to stay behind and watch over Ghost and Hestia.” Robb said. “They’re at the camp.”
I nodded in reply, and began to make my way there. “If you’ll excuse me.”
“Of course.” He let me go.
The trip back was quick, and uneventful. Apparently around half of the army had remained at camp— I supposed it made sense, as the battlefield would be overcrowded— but they still looked alert as they greeted me.
I graced them with nods and waves as I made my way through camp, eventually reaching the back of the camp, where Hestia, Ghost, Jon and Tyrion were waiting.
“Tyrion. Jon.” I greeted the two as I petted Hestia’s head. The she-dragon trilled and nudged me affectionately, before going back to play with Ghost. “Still doubt my ability to win this war and take down the Great Houses which oppose me?”
“I do not.” Tyrion said, pointing at the smoking castle I’d single-handedly emptied. “It’s obvious that armies and castle walls mean nothing to your power.”
“I will give you Casterly Rock.” I promised again. “It might be a little damaged and burning, but that can easily be fixed, given time.”
Tyrion seemed to consider my words.
“And, you?” He inquired.
I blinked, not having expected that. People didn’t usually ask what I wanted. Just look at Robb, he would ask me to do things for him, and he would reward me with things he believed I wanted, like a Lordship, lands, etc.
I didn’t truly need any of those, but I took them because he could simply have given me nothing in return for my efforts.
But, having someone ask me what I wanted was new.
“What about me?”
“What do you want?” Tyrion asked, looking genuinely confused. “The Starks clearly have nothing to offer you, that you couldn’t seize, yourself. So, what is it? Tell me.”
Jon bristled and made to speak, but I held him back.
“It’s all right, Jon.” I raised my hand to stop him from saying anything, before turning to Tyrion. “I don’t blame him for questioning me— though you’re literally the first person to ever do that. Mostly, people are just grateful I’m helping them. The Maesters always ask about my magic, about how it works. You’re the only one who’s asked me why.”
Tyrion patiently waited, staying silent as I spoke.
“Not even Jon’s asked me that— but for a simple reason.” I said, and quickly amended at Jon’s slightly hurt look. “Betrayal is not something we think is lurking at every dark corner. If your dear sister—” Here, Tyrion scoffed. “—Was anything in her childhood like she is right now, and, assuming the rest of your family is the same way, since it’s the environment which ultimately decides the person’s qualities and faults; then, I can infer that your life has been filled with deceit, betrayal and constant, shifting plans.”
“You see me doing all of this for the Starks. All the magic, extending their food supply limit, enchanting their armor and weapons so that it’s unbreakable, and many other things.” I continued with a frown. “The reason for it is simple, and twofold. One, I want to avenge the death of Lord Ned by killing your sister.”
My rage over the weeks and weeks of marching had quietened down considerably, though I still hated Cersei Lannister with a passion.
“The second reason.” I continued. “Is that we need to fight the Others and their army of the dead, and I don’t think I can do it alone.”
I remembered that, while I was capable of wresting their control over Darkness and the cold for a short period of time, I would eventually succumb and lose to them. My Lightning wouldn’t last forever.
“We all need to be ready for it.” I repeated vehemently. “That is why I’m raising Hestia. That is why I’m trying to patch the kingdom together by backing the Starks— they’re the most honorable House I’ve met in this god forsaken land of imbecilic cunts.”
“I see.” Tyrion mused, and he truly looked like he did. “And, if I simply refuse to join you, you’ll no doubt sack Casterly Rock, regardless, and install someone else there.”
“Correct.” I said simply, but my words softened. “Look, I’d prefer if it were you, since I’ve actually gotten to know you a bit, over the time you’ve been here.”
“Is that so?” Tyrion challenged. “What exactly have you learned, then?”
“You often challenge other people’s views, but try to learn from them at the same time; oftentimes, they end up learning from you. I know I have.” I said bluntly. “You’ve not lived the best life— I’d heard rumors about a lowborn girl you married who turned out to be…” At his darkening face, I stopped for a moment, before getting on with it. “The point is, it’s made your friendship and trust incredibly difficult to acquire.”
He stayed quiet.
I sighed. “Look, Tyrion. I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m doing this out of pity, or anything so petty and childish. You’re smart, your trust and friendship are hard to get— but if I do get them, I know you’ll be as loyal and honorable as the Starks, themselves. No offense, Jon.”
“None taken.” Jon replied, smiling nervously. Likely, he’d not been in these kinds of situations much in his life. Unsurprising, really; he probably used to spend ninety percent of his time alone back before I met him.
“So, am I wrong in my assessment of you?” I asked, after a few moments of silence.
“…You aren’t.” Tyrion allowed.
That was all I need.
I grinned and held my hand out.
Tyrion hesitated, but shook it, smiling slightly.
“You won’t regret this.” I said honestly. “You’ll see.”
“I’m sure I will.” Tyrion said wryly, but not unkindly, before pointing at the second castle. “But, for now, I believe you still have some work to do.”
“Yeah.” I agreed, turning to leave. “This won’t take long.”
Sneaking in was a little tougher than the first castle, now that the guards were actually watching for anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for me, the idea that the person attacking them could be invisible never crossed their minds.
And, why would it? Magic was extremely rare in this world; only a select few were capable, and most of them were second rate tricksters, from my studies on the matter— though, to be fair, I derived that conclusion from books written by people who didn’t even believe in magic.
I could be wrong.
“Focus.” Erebus interjected helpfully.
I scaled the side wall, and waited until one of the patrols passed by, before hopping to the top and quickly making my way into the castle proper.
A quick cast of “Homenum Revelio” told me that there were about a thousand humans in the castle. I supposed it made sense. Reinforce the castle which would be in direct conflict with the Stark army while having a reserve in the second castle in case the first gets breached and taken over.
Likely, Lord Walder Frey was also in here. I made my way through the halls, rooms, floors and such. No women, or children.
Had Frey seriously forced them to stay in that first castle?
§Makes sense in a sick sort of way.§ Balthazar hissed to me. §Prioritizes his defense at the expense of his more… disposable people. Women in this land aren’t taught to fight, and the children would be too weak to actually defend his life.§
And, it did make sense.
I didn’t have to like it, though.
“All the better, for us.” Erebus vibrated. “No need to worry about your precious innocents.“
I rolled my eyes, and stealthily made my way to the gates leading outside. The guards were on high alert, having seen what happened to their allies in the second castle, with most of the men posted on the north-eastern end of the castle which led to the bridge going over the Green Fork.
Five guards were posted at the gate, this time, but it was no cause for concern. Silencing charms, followed by an overpowered Banishing Charm threw the lot of the guards flying back, their bodies slamming into the heavy iron-oak gates, which didn’t budge in the slightest, even as their armor was mangled and their bones were broken without a single sound to indicate their pain.
I Vanished them, before reshaping the lock into a mangled mess with my Lightning. I repeated this process with the other side, though there were no guards posted, there. Now, the long, and tedious bit of setting everything on fire.
Modified Bubble-Head Charm on, I began casting “Incendio!” over and over, this time including the guards in my ‘things I can ignite’ list. The smell of smoke and burning flesh filled the air, but the Bubble-Head Charm held fast against the toxic fumes, converting it into safe, breathable air.
The rest of the guards, the ones I hadn’t set on fire— yet— engaged in the same pointless attempts at putting out the fires, with no luck whatsoever.
Ten minutes later, and hundreds of men were either running around on fire, or simply collapsed… and on fire.
I stood in what passed as a feasting room, watching the Lord Frey cough and wheeze uncontrollably as the remainder of the Frey guard, a measly twenty men out of the original thousand within a castle, centered around him.
“Keep your Lord safe, men!” The same knight which had eyed Robb with amusement earlier in the day said, as Lord Frey wheezed, the heat and smoke almost too much for the frail, old man.
What was the knight’s name? Stefan?
“Stevron.” Erebus corrected.
“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes, drawing the black blade and pointing it at the compact group of men standing protectively around their disgrace of a Lord, who was confined to a chair. Probably couldn’t even move.
I took in the old man’s appearance. His sweaty skin hanging loose, his bald, wrinkly head. I took in his guards, all grown men, themselves.
To think, a few hours ago, they were smugly extorting Robb for everything he had, just to cross a damn bridge. They forfeited their lives and entire House for a bridge.
“Leave nothing behind.” I thought harshly. “Dark Stream!”
The flames in the great hall were instantly doused as Darkness spewed forth from Erebus, greedily enveloping all of the men with its power and consuming them like a torrential river, their cries unheard— such was the speed of the surprise move.
That was it. The House Frey stood no more.
“Good fucking riddance.” I spat and cut the flow to the power, idly noting that Erebus burped— as he seemed to do whenever I ‘fed’ him— and felt a rush of information flood through my brain.
“Huh.” I said. “You consume the knowledge of those you eat?” I said in the frosted room— though the temperature steadily went higher and higher the fires spread around the castle.
“Indeed.” Erebus replied as I made my way through the castle, putting out all the fires I had created with Erebus and liberal use of “Finite”. I passed a nondescript wall in the basement, and ran my hand over it, feeling it out for— there it is, the indentation.
So, I gave it a strong push. Though I had already expected it due to the knowledge Erebus had shared with me from the men’s minds he had absorbed— most likely Lord Walder and his son Stevron— I was still surprised to watch the wall open up like a doorway.
Beyond it, were large piles of gold, jewelry, swords, and other trinkets.
§This must be from centuries of exacting tolls from travelers, merchants, nobles, and whoever else wanted to cross the bridge.§ Balthazar deduced.
“Heh.” I smiled cruelly. “Time to exact a toll of my own, wouldn’t you agree?”