It was around a week later, during Jon and I’s morning sparring, that King Robert finally arrived.
In the past week, aside from increasing my speed during my spars with Jon at his urging— which seemed to drive him to reach new levels of skill and speed, I had retreated into the Wolfswood to understand the limitations on my power.
I could still manipulate it, just as freely as I did before, and shape it to whatever form I wished— I did this by first forming a few balls of Lightning, then some triangles, squares, my Edge, and swords.
I even tested out my Lightning Dragon’s Roar on a boulder, obliterating it and a few dozen trees behind it.
Even as I stared at the sheer destructive nature of my power, I still frowned in consternation; it hadn’t done as much damage as I was expecting. But then again, this world had different magic, different rules.
“You should be glad you still have magic, at all.” Erebus noted. “Your body would not have lived if the magic had been torn from it.”
I had nodded and agreed. I could still crush anyone who wished to fight against me, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I would have been worried, had there been other battle mages in this land— quick hint, they didn’t exist, at least not to my knowledge.
The most I read about was that these sorcerers and warlocks used rituals instead of what I liked to call In-Your-Face-magic. I chided myself, of course; reading about them was one thing, and actually fighting them was another.
But, that was a problem for another time.
Speaking of training, Jon had already gotten so fast and strong that he was besting some of his Lord father’s most experienced guards in spars— an insane leap in skill and power in such little time. Even Robb, who didn’t train with us every single day, could tell that my training regime got results done.
Something I noticed these people didn’t do was basic body exercises.
Sure, they trained with heavy swords and lugged armor around and the like, but they didn’t do any specific training. No pushups, crunches, squats, or anything of the like. Forcing Jon to adhere to a strict daily routine had done wonders for him.
Of course, I convinced him to keep it a secret from the others— annoying questions, and whatnot.
I sidestepped Jon’s lunge, putting my foot out to trip him, but he had come to expect this move from me, and stopped just in time, tackling me instead. I let out a loud “oomph” and lost my footing, almost falling on my ass in the process.
Jon’s eyes gave away his intention. I forced myself to fall and rolled to minimize damage, also allowing me to avoid Jon’s follow up strike, a simple cleaving motion at my neck that would have sealed the end of the spar.
I got back up. “Not bad, Snow. Maybe I might have to take this a little seriously.”
“Just wait, Potter.” He allowed a smirk to graze his features. “I’m going to get you to use your real speed.”
“Heh.” I smirked right back. “You’re centuries away from ever doing that.”
We shared a laugh, before schooling our features and getting into position to continue the spar.
“BRANDON!” Catelyn’s almost frantic shout stopped our fight, as we turned to see the woman in question, as well as Maester Luwin, looking up at one of the high walls. Following her line of sight, we saw the boy in question, climbing down with the ease of a monkey.
“I saw the King!” Brandon said excitedly as he jumped down to the straw roof. “He’s got hundreds of people!”
“How many times have I told you?!” She scolded loudly as he looked at her for a few seconds. “No! Climbing!”
“But he’s coming right now!” Bran was still excited as he climbed down a wooden pole. Catelyn ran to him in concern as he landed without injury, and began to chastise him as all mothers did.
Jon rolled his eyes at the display, before turning to me.
“I think I’ll spare you the humiliation of a defeat today, Potter.” Jon grinned as he stowed away his practice sword, with me following suit.
“I’m sure.” I shot back as word spread within the stronghold of the King’s arrival like wildfire. Everyone hurried into their positions— guards, servants, stable boys, smiths and Lords alike.
“Go.” I waved Jon off. “Stand with your family. I’ll find somewhere to occupy space.”
The boy in question nodded gratefully, before joining the flurry of people walking around. I stood and took it all in, for a few moments.
“Harry?” I heard a voice call from my right. It was Lord Eddard, decked out in his Lord Stark regalia as opposed to his every day wear. “What are you doing?”
“Oh.” I said, a little embarrassed, gesturing at all the people getting into position. “I’m not exactly sure where I should be standing.”
“Well, come on, then.” Eddard gestured for me to follow, and I obeyed. “You can stand behind next to Maester Luwin.”
“Ah—” I said eloquently. “Wouldn’t that send some kind of message? I know I’m Jon’s friend, but…”
“Nonsense.” Eddard waved my concerns off. “From what I hear, you might be his employer, soon enough, and that makes you close to this family whether you like it or not.”
“…Right.” I said uncomfortably. “All right. I’ll do it.”
“We will have words on that subject later, lad.” Eddard said, before realizing how intimidating that sounded.
“I expected nothing less.” I smiled, knowing the man was just looking out for his son, and stood next to Maester Luwin, who gave me a quick greeting, and Jon. Lady Catelyn glanced at me shortly, before grimacing at the state of my hair.
I shrugged and half-smiled. She looked away.
A few minutes passed as excitement turned into boredom, before turning back into excitement as the sound of hooves hitting the dirt reached our ears, signaling the arrival of the King and his court.
The first to come in sight was a golden-blonde haired boy with green eyes, flanked on each side by men wearing gold armor with white enameling, and long, white cloaks— the Kingsguard, I realized.
Meaning this was a prince.
Another intriguing sight was a third rider from behind the boy, a very large man in heavy, black armor, with a helmet in the shape of a snarling hound’s head, hiding his face within.
I followed the prince’s line of sight, and noticed Sansa making googly eyes and smiling at him.
Maybe this would get her to stop crushing on me. The past week had been a little frightening. Everywhere I went, she would pop out of the woodwork, asking me to go on walks and the like. I always had an excuse, and it usually centered on me having to teach Jon something about fighting.
She ate it all up, and left me alone, her mind filling itself with images of wondrous knights coming to fulfill every dream she had.
In retrospect, telling her that might have made her even more interested.
I shook off these thoughts, as a large carriage, followed by more Kingsguard came in, with a fat man in the middle, wearing the same dark red leathers as the prince. I kneeled as everyone else did, not wanting to stand out as I watched a few servants drag a mobile wooden staircase for him to dismount onto.
I watched him as he struggled for a moment to get off the horse.
This is the King of Westeros? A fat fuck? I thought to myself incredulously as I watched him walk straight to the still kneeling Eddard. He stared down at the man for a few moments, before gesturing for him to stand up.
He did, and everyone else stood up as well.
The King was quiet, merely staring at Eddard.
“Your Grace.” Lord Eddard bowed his head shortly.
A moment passed as the King gave Eddard a once-over.
“You’ve gotten fat.”
I almost lost it, right there. Almost. It took every bit of self-control I possessed to not lose my shit. I saw Lord Stark tilt his head down, right in the direction of the King’s gigantic gut, and the man narrowed his eyes before laughing and embracing Lord Stark.
The tension seemed to drop as he also embraced Catelyn, exchanging a short greeting.
“Nine years.” King Robert said. “Why haven’t I seen you? Where the hell have you been?”
“Guarding the North for you, Your Grace.” Eddard said. “Winterfell is yours.”
The carriage door opened, and out came a beautiful, blonde woman, a little disheveled but still making it look good, somehow. She stared at her surroundings in distaste, as if simply being here was a horrific experience to her.
“Where’s the Imp?” Arya asked her sister, looking around.
“Will you shut up?” Sansa shot back, harshly.
“What have we here?” King Robert moved to the children, shaking hands with Robb. “You must be Robb.”
He passed by Sansa, complimenting her on her looks, before leaning forward to Arya with a strange look on his face. “And your name is?”
“Arya.” She answered immediately, looking him right in the eye. One brave kid, to be sure. Either that, or she had no survival instinct whatsoever. If anything, her boldness seemed to please the King.
My attention turned to one of the Kingsguard who had taken off his helmet, revealing the same golden blonde hair as the women walking towards Lord Stark— the Queen, I assumed.
“That’s Jaime Lannister!” Arya said excitedly. “The Queen’s twin brother!”
“Would you please shut up?” Sansa said again, growing more and more irritated.
“So he’s the one.” I murmured to myself. Jon had stirred when he heard these words, and looked at the Kingslayer as well.
“My Queen.” I heard Eddard say as he kissed the Queen’s hand, followed by Catelyn bowing.
“Take me to your crypt.” King Robert cut in. “I want to pay my respects.”
“We’ve been riding for over a month, my love.” Queen Cersei Lannister said, a hint of disapproval in her tone. “Surely, the dead can wait.”
“Ned.” King Robert nodded to Lord Stark, and walked away, as if he didn’t hear her say anything. With a little hesitation, Eddard went with the man, leaving us all alone in the courtyard.
Everything turned into a flurry of activity as Lady Catelyn took charge, and showed the Royal family where they would be sleeping while all of the people of Winterfell began giving accommodations to their guest in preparation for the feast.
“You want to go back to our training?” I asked Jon, who was still standing next to me. “We could probably squeeze in another hour of training, or so, before I have to get ready for the feast.”
Jon nodded gratefully, glad to be doing something. I knew the guy wasn’t allowed to go because of his bastard status, something which pissed me off to no end. Still, I had told Lord Stark I would attend it, and I intended to keep my word.
And so we trained.
Hours rolled by and I left the man to his devices, promising to get him some food from the feast. Jon shook his head, and said he’d get some from the kitchens on his own.
Less work for me, heh.
I went to my room in the Smoking Log, and filled the large stone basin I had conjured days before with conjured water, which I heated up with Incendio before divesting myself of my clothes and sitting in the makeshift tub.
I took my time of it, scrubbing every little bit of grime and dirt from my body, the hot water soothing my sore muscles. Balthazar also let out a hiss of pleasure in my mind— the viper had been merged with me almost constantly for the past week, only coming out to read the many books I had.
Amazingly enough, Balthazar had already learned High Valyrian— in writing, at least. That would help a lot, when I went overseas to the East.
I sighed and lay my head back, letting my mind drift off.
“The King was a sorry excuse for a man.” Erebus rattled from his sheath near the tub. “More fat than anything.”
“Yeah…” I agreed slowly, before grabbing my wand off the side and throwing a Silencer on the door. You couldn’t be too careful, even in a world like this. Anyone could be overhearing conversations. “I agree. This is supposed to be the great man who conquered the Seven Kingdoms? The Rebel stag who destroyed armies with his war hammer?”
Still, Lord Eddard seemed to like him, enough; and if it’s something I’ve learned about Jon’s father, it’s that it took a whole lot to get him to trust someone— or even like them. He still treated me with politeness, though that was slowly changing every time I talked to him.
And, why wouldn’t the man who conquered the Kingdoms and brought forth peace and stability be allowed to relax and enjoy his accomplishment?
It was a weak reason, of course, but a reason nonetheless.
There seemed to be no visible dissent among the ranks, at least from what I’ve seen in the short few minutes I had watched these people’s interactions. Sure, the King was fat, but he was good natured and spoke directly.
The Queen, Cersei, was the typical upper class bitch in the way she spoke and addressed everyone around her.
The Prince, Joffrey I later learned his name was, was also another brat whose only function was to stand there and try to look as majestic as he could while leering at Sansa, who seemed to get giddy every time he looked her way.
At least I could thank him for getting her attention off of me.
But, no wonder the King turned to food and drink, with a wife and son like that.
I got out of the makeshift tub and dried myself off with a quick charm, before donning my new outfit, which I made, myself, from fine silk I acquired from here.
It was a dark blue, long-sleeved Chinese-style shirt, which went over my black cargo pants— which I refused to part with. Besides, it looked inconspicuous enough that no one had questioned its origin in the weeks I had been here.
With my magic, I managed to imprint the image of a small dragon spewing bluish white lightning, though it took all of my concentration to do something so precise and intricate. It was a spell the Twins had taught me, changing the color of fabric— they spent a week using Ron as a test subject.
Ron’s shirt would go from green, to blue to neon pink, to orange. He yelled at them at first, but then gave up, knowing that they would just make it worse if he kept complaining. Eventually, they got bored and left him alone.
This particular change was on a smaller scale, and permanent. I finished the job by adding an Unbreakable Charm to the shirt, itself, before examining my handiwork, making sure to fix it up as best as I could.
“Acceptable.” I murmured to myself as I stared down at myself. “What do you think, Erebus?”
“It’s fine. I presume you’ll be leaving me here for the night?” Erebus replied.
I nodded. “Yes, I don’t think bringing a sword to a feast is wise.”
I waved my wand, and bandages wrapped themselves around my right arm, hiding the scales from view, before exiting the inn and making my way to the feast. The guards at Winterfell stepped aside, already familiar with me at this point.
I heard the noise of the feast long before I actually got there; a cacophony of music, raucous laughter and squeals every now and again. I entered the Great Hall, and went into the main dining chamber.
It was packed to full, with people eating, drinking, laughing, and talking, as a bard played a tune I didn’t recognize, even after weeks of me being here.
“Harry!” I heard Robb call me over. “I saved you a spot.”
I nodded with a smile, making my way over to the boy in question. He was sitting alone, looking relieved to have someone to talk to at last. My eyes strayed to the side of the room, where Theon was sweet talking a servant girl, and I rolled them before taking a seat next to Robb.
“Greyjoy abandoned you, eh?” I smirked.
“Aye.” Robb answered, looking at what I was wearing. “Interesting choice of clothes.”
“I finally got around to having it fixed.” I lied, and piled a few legs of chicken onto my plate.
“Why the dragon?” Robb asked curiously. “And, is it spewing out lightning?”
“Yes, it is.” I confirmed, taking a quick bite out of my food. “A sigil of my own making, the Lightning Dragon. It will be my House’s sigil.”
Robb had no words for a few moments. “Have you thought what your words are going to be?”
The Words; a set of words that each family seemed to constantly say. The Lannisters said: “Hear Me Roar”; the Starks said: “Winter Is Coming”. It was a little strange, but I assumed it had its uses. Most likely, it would bring a sense of pride in the family name.
“I haven’t.” I admitted. “It’s still a long way off. Honestly, the sigil is probably way too soon, as well.”
I knew, back in my world, the Words of the Black family were “Toujours Pur”, which was French for “Always Pure”. I had no idea if the Potter family had any Words of their own.
I never asked.
“The Words would have to sound powerful.” I said as I wiped my hand with a napkin. “I can’t really think of anything. Maybe…”
§The Lightning Strikes.§ Balthazar hissed in my mind.
I smiled, and repeated Balthazar’s suggestion.
“Fitting.” Robb said, remembering all of the spars I had with Jon, and him, sometimes. “You truly move like the lightning, quick and fierce.”
I smirked. If only he knew my true speed…
My gaze turned to the Prince, who was ogling Robb’s sister, Sansa. The girl in question kept sneaking looks at him, before talking to the girl beside her in excited, but hushed tones.
“At least she’s not going to bother me anymore.” I murmured to myself.
“Did you say something?” Robb said from my right.
“It’s nothing. Just thinking out loud.” I assured, and we went back to eating.
Some time later, Robb broached another subject.
“So, when are you going to challenge the Kingslayer to a duel?” Robb asked lightly, directing the gaze at the man in question, who was making his way around the room.
I gave Robb a look, and got up. “Right now.”
The boy in question sputtered as I sauntered over to the man, who had bumped into Lord Stark.
“—Would be good to have you on the field.” Jaime Lannister said as I approached. “The competition has become a bit stale.”
“I don’t fight in tournaments.” Eddard said simply.
Then, the Kingslayer leaned forward to the man, saying something to him, probably some taunt about his age or skill, I figured.
“I don’t fight in tournaments.” Eddard repeated. “Because when I fight a man for real, I don’t want him to know what I can do.”
I smirked and entered the conversation. “Well said, Lord Stark!”
The two turned their attention to me.
“And, you are?” Ser Jaime gave me a once over.
Eddard gave me a questioning gaze, which turned into understanding.
“Ser Jaime Lannister.” Eddard said a little loudly, gaining some of the nearby people’s attention. “May I introduce Harry of the House Potter hailing from the Free City of Myr.”
“A pleasure, I’m sure.” He turned and shook my hand.
“How are you finding the feast, so far?” Eddard asked curiously.
“The food is exquisite, as always.” I smiled, before turning my gaze to the Lannister Kingsguard once more. “I wish to ask something of you.”
Jaime nodded for me to continue.
“A duel.” I said simply. “I’m told you’re one of the most skilled fighters on this entire continent.”
He was silent for a few seconds.
Then, a smirk.
“Why should I fight you?” He asked curiously. “You’re no knight of renown. I’ve never heard of you. I’ve seen many like you, believing they can earn glory by defeating a swordsman of my calibre. They have all lost.”
“Then you’ll have no trouble agreeing to a duel?” I grinned, and then spoke a little louder. “Unless you’re afraid, of course?”
The room went quiet, and looked at the both of us.
A few seconds passed.
“Very well, then. Tomorrow, in the morning.” Jaime gave a smirk, though his eyes showed anger. “If you wish to suffer a humiliating defeat so much, who am I to stop you?”
The people in the room laughed at his jape, but I only smiled confidently as the music came back, and everyone diverted their attention back to their food and friends.
I sat back down next to Robb and Theon— he had rejoined the fold with a red palm mark on his face— who were giving me incredulous looks.
“You went and actually did it.” Theon said, looking at me with a new respect in his eyes. “You must be mad to challenge the Kingslayer.”
“Tell me something.” I grabbed another chicken leg and took a large bite. It was getting a little cold. “How fast would word of my ability spread through the Seven Kingdoms when I beat this man in less than three blows?”
“Less than three—” Theon repeated, but shook his head, muttering about insane fools with egos the size of the island of Pyke.
Robb finally spoke. “Quite fast, I’d imagine. Defeating the Kingslayer in single combat is no small feat, and would go a long way in cementing your worth as an ally.”
The words were measured, and logical.
That was the basis of my plan. This place was a backwards society with a Feudal system in place. I had money, and I was building friendship with the Starks, who I had come to respect after the time I spent here.
The King’s arrival with this Lannister family only cemented it for me. Lady Catelyn might have been very anal about propriety and duty, but at least she didn’t act like Cersei the bitch, or the King with his brazen infidelity. or Jaime Lannister with an arrogance that comes only from living your entire life with a silver spoon in your mouth.
Back to the earlier point. I had budding allies and the funds. What question would be asked next?
What’s this man’s worth in a war, or even fights?
Tomorrow, I would prove it, and beat this Jaime Lanni— “Wait, is that a blonde dwarf having a drinking contest with five burly men?” I blurted.
“Aye.” Robb nodded. “The fabled Imp, Tyrion Lannister.”
“This I have to see.” I moved to join them.
The next morning found me back at the inn, waking up with a horrible headache. I swallowed the saliva that had been building up, noting that my breath smelled of alcohol.
“Ugh… What the hell did I do?” I muttered to myself.
§Got drunk.§ Balthazar hissed, sounding as miserable as I was. §You tried to outdrink the Imp and failed. Lord Stark had you brought to the inn, after you passed out.§
I deadened my nerves slightly to lessen the pain, make it more bearable. A loud knock was heard.
“What is it?” I rubbed at my forehead in irritation.
“Beg your pardon, milord.” I heard someone say shyly from the other side. “I was sent here to tell you that Ser Jaime is waiting for you at the Courtyard of Winterfell. He bids me to ask you to join him.”
A few moments passed as I absorbed this information.
After a few quick waves of my wand to clean my clothes, I opened the door to see a nervous looking teen. Probably a messenger boy.
“Go tell them I’m on my way.” I replied, grabbing Erebus off the side and placing the sword on my hip.
The boy nodded and ran off. I sighed, walked downstairs and asked for a cup of water to get some moisture back in my body and banish this dryness. I could have conjured it, but the real thing was almost always better.
With that done, I briskly made my way to the Courtyard, where a large group of people were waiting, with Jaime Lannister in the center, in his Kingsguard armor, smirking as he lay his eyes upon my form.
“No armor of your own, Potter?” He mocked, and the people around us laughed.
“I can certainly afford any armor, but it won’t be needed.” I said lightly, completely unconcerned with his attempts at taunting me. I saw the Stark family to the side, and gave them a nod.
Even the Royal family was here.
“So you’re this ‘Harry Potter’ Ned has been speaking so much about.” I flitted my eyes to the man in question, surprised despite myself.
“I am, Your Grace. My Queen.” I gave a short bow to the both of them.
“Challenging the Kingslayer to a duel, boy?” The King scrutinized me for a few moments. “And, without any armor on. The folly of youth… Go on, then. Show us what you can do.”
“Beg your pardon, Your Grace, but I presume you’ll be the judge?” I asked with another bow.
“Yes.” King Robert confirmed.
I turned to the Kingslayer, who looked supremely confident in his chances as he unsheathed his blade, a medium sized sword he held easily in his hand.
I would soon disabuse him of that notion.
The crowd’s whispering got louder and louder, until the King stood and all went quiet.
“The rules of this duel are simple.” King Robert spoke strongly. “You fight until you yield or lose consciousness. In the event that I consider one of you soundly defeated, I shall put an end to this fight and declare the winner, myself.”
The silence continued as tension built in the air, invigorating me as I drew Erebus, the pure black Falchion drawing eyes to it.
“Begin!” Robert bellowed.
Jaime rushed me the moment the King signaled the start of the match, deciding to finish this as quickly as he could to ensure the maximum amount of humiliation I would suffer.
But my Lightning had suffused into my nerves and muscles long before that. I watched the man run to me, his motions dull and slow, and I tried to decide how badly I wanted to beat him, before smirking.
I sidestepped his thrust, and dodged the horizontal slash that followed by leaping backwards slightly. He sent a few more attacks, each one missing me by just a little bit, not enough to make him give up, but enough to get him frustrated.
His speed increased as his next salvo of attacks came— I guess he was taking it a bit seriously, now. It was all in vain, I thought as I went in close, easily dodging whatever counter he was preparing and smacking the pommel of Erebus right on his forehead, bruising the flesh and drawing a little blood as he staggered backwards clutching the wound.
The crowd gasped in disbelief at the display.
I gave the man enough time to gather himself, before he went on the offensive, once more. His attacks were fiercer, more ferocious now.
He knows I can wound him, I thought to myself as I began parrying his sword strikes with my own, negating any momentum he tried to gain, before punishing him for it by nicking his face or smacking the blunt side of my blade against his armor hard enough to bruise him.
I didn’t want to kill the guy, after all.
Jaime stopped for a moment, lifting his blade over his head as he stood his ground, inviting me over to attack him, most likely thinking that, if my defense was good, maybe my offense was bad.
I would disabuse him of that notion as well.
I held my blade in my left hand as I ran to the Kingslayer, faking a thrust and flanking him from the right, dodging his counter thrust with ease before swinging horizontally, the sword singing through the air, which was going to chop off his head— if I didn’t stop the blade before that happened.
I heard a few exclamations of surprise, fear and anguish as I held the blade to Jaime’s neck, drawing blood slightly. The knight in question was frozen in place, a look of disbelief and frustration on his face.
“Do you yield?” I asked clearly and loudly for all to hear.
“I— I yield.” Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, one of the most skilled fighters in the land of Westeros, said heavily.
Silence met his words.
And then, King Robert, himself, cheered loudly, breaking through the shocked silence. The crowd followed him soon after.