It had taken a lot of convincing, but I managed to get the city guards to let me in, claiming to be a traveler from the East who had been knocked unconscious while running away from some bandits.
Luckily, these people spoke English, or I would have been royally screwed.
It was also fortunate that my speech was different than theirs. Strangely enough, they spoke in northern English accents, though their terminology was old, something I would have expected from someone in the Middle Age. It reminded me of some books in the Hogwarts Library which were written in this manner.
A little difficult to understand, but not impossible; something which led credence to my story, considering foreigners who hadn’t mastered the language took a few moments, carefully choosing their words so as not to sound like idiots.
Of course, with my modern vernacular, some words I used were completely lost on them. I adapted fairly quickly, I thought an hour later as I voraciously tore into a plate of steak and potatoes. The owner of the establishment in the city grounds— a man who looked to be well in his fifties, with balding grey hair and a large, fuzzy beard— had given me a strange look at the request, but complied at the sight of the small stack of Knuts I had placed on the counter.
After a few questions, and my assurances that the coin I had was authentic copper, the owner took only two, handing me the rest as he went to work, preparing the food.
An honest man; I was half expecting him to take it without question. It was a refreshing thing to see; people with integrity, I meant.
I took a short break from the food, thinking about how I got here as I idly chewed on one of the potatoes— it wasn’t quite cooked, but I didn’t really give it much thought, more concerned of the method with which I got there.
The guards at the gate had told me I was someplace called Torrhen’s Square. I pretended I understood and gave a few fake smiles of relief, and they ended up letting me in out of general pity and amusement at the situation.
As to I how I arrived here…
Mundus and I were in-between Realms, and the Demon Emperor had trapped me there, thinking that, while he may have lost the battle, he still ensured his eventual victory.
My hand trembled slightly as I realized I might have starved to death. Or, did the laws of physics even apply to me in there? Perhaps I would have lived forever, in between the realms, unable to contact anyone I knew.
There was no way to tell, I thought as I shook my head.
I had torn a rift with Erebus; the Dark Rift, a way to enter a realm that was closely intertwined with my own. The one I used to be in, I meant.
Could I do it again, here?
“No.” Erebus’ voice was heard, and I quickly looked around, making sure no one was listening.
“I am speaking in your mind.” Erebus answered with amusement. “The Dark Rift will not gain us entry to our home world.”
So it is impossible, I thought.
“I do not know.” Erebus replied. “At the very least, we should take stock of our situation and attempt to find the higher powers of this world.”
How were we supposed to do that?
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind me. I turned to see a few unsavoury looking men, eying me hungrily— more specifically, the pocket I had pulled my coins out of. They must have heard the heavy jingling of coin.
Hah, thieves, here? Not that they could open my pocket to begin with, seeing as it was enchanted to open only to me.
It would take a wizard of some skill, as the general dispels like “Finite Incantatem” did not work— assuming there were other wizards here, at all.
“Can I help you with something?” I asked lightly, still munching on the potato as if there were no cares to be had in the world.
The man scratched his head, looked at his friends, turned to the owner who gave him a stern, almost angry look, before shaking his head and backing off.
“The stupidest thief on the planet.” I half-smiled, despite my own feelings of despair at my situation. “In plain day, trying to steal.”
“I would not judge him so harshly, er…” The owner gave me a quizzical look, not knowing my name.
“Harry Potter.” I answered, seeing no need to go by any other name.
“I can’t say I have heard of House Potter.” The owner said, scratching his chin. “Are you from the Westerlands?”
I had no idea what he was talking about, but I shook my head. “Ah, no. I come from a land far in the East, to learn of the cultures of this continent.”
The owner of the inn nodded, satisfied with the information. “Then, later you will feast on a dish of my choosing—a personal favorite of mine. I trust you’ll be spending the night?”
I nodded. “Of course. How much is it?”
I had nowhere else to go, anyway.
“I don’t rightly know.” The inn keeper said. “I’m afraid that the coin you have is quite different to the coin we use. In our coinage, it is twenty five coppers a night.”
I winced. “Do you know anyone who can exchange what currency I have for your local coins?”
“Ah.” The old man said, scratching his bearded face slightly. “It is near the center of the town, in the Market Square; simply make a right as you exit the inn and walk straight forward. It is no local shop, but rather, a travelling tradesman with a cart. He calls himself ‘the collector’.”
I hid a grimace. The guy would probably swindle the crap out of me, knowing that the currency I was using would not be accepted anywhere.
“Just get some of these coins so I can understand their shape, size and make, and I’ll convert your own, for you.” Erebus interrupted my thoughts with his own.
I perked up at the information, before giving the inn keeper a nod, dismissing him so I could finish the last few bits of my meal. I patted my stomach in satisfaction, before sneaking a look at the cupful of alochol I had gotten. Mead, I thought, as I took a sip.
Tasted a little like honey, and it wasn’t really refreshing— but I drank the thing anyway, not really feeling the alcohol take hold of my senses, even as I found myself asking for another. Another thing I was immune to, I imagined?
I finished the second cup, before thanking the inn keeper and telling him I would be back. The trip to this tradesman took some time, as the town was quite large, all things considered.
I passed by the local men, women and children of the city, giving them all nods, and trying to keep as friendly of a demeanor as I could; but they gave me strange looks, regardless.
Why was that?
“Could be because you’re cleaner than the soap they use.” Erebus pointed out, and that’s when I understood. The people looked dirty, like they hadn’t bathed in days, possibly weeks, while my own scouring charm did the work to clean me up.
They must have thought I was someone of importance, or something.
I sighed, figuring that it was too late to magic up some dirt to cover me at this point. Questions would be asked, and questions lead to trouble— something I was hoping to avoid for the time being.
The square castle ahead looked even larger when I went closer to the town’s center.
The sound of shuffling feet, and general silence of the alleyway gave way to the shouts of merchants and customers alike, haggling over the various products being sold.
I noticed a few shop names as I walked around for a while, listening in to other people’s conversations. Tomreth’s Tuns, a wine shop. Master Roff’s Bronzeworks, a jeweler’s shop. A large building with a seven pointed star symbol on its entrance.
I kept on listening.
So the currencies were gold dragons, silver stags and copper stars. Or was it copper pennies and silver moons? It was a little confusing. I decided I would ask this collector.
After a few more minutes of being confused and lost, I approached a random stall and asked one of the many merchants where the collector was. The merchant in question, a fat man with very chubby cheeks, gave me a glare before pointing to a medium sized cart, with a bored looking, middle aged man behind it.
He didn’t shout, he didn’t try to get any attention from the masses which were browsing.
How strange, I thought as I approached the man.
Perhaps my estimation of middle-age was a bit erroneous. Closer up, he looked a lot younger than I originally though; twenty five, maybe? What I had thought to be the beginnings of white bleeding into the man’s black hair was actually a small strip of cloth that had been stuck to his hair without him noticing.
His face was shaved, though it looks like he got cut many times in the process, judging by the many scabs on his neck.
He laid his eyes on me for a few moments, before straightening ever so slightly.
“May I help you, my friend?” He said with a fake smile.
I stifled an eye-roll and spoke. “I was told by one of the inn keepers that you are a collector of sorts.”
“This is true.” The man said, leaning forward, not looking as bored as he did a moment past. “I assume you have some rare item?”
I smiled for a short moment, before digging into my featherweight pouch and pulling out a handful of golden galleons, placing them in front of the man.
“My…” He said, grabbing one of the coins and examining it, before taking a quick bite, and then nodding in confirmation to himself. “Where did you get this from?”
“Found it all in an abandoned temple to the East.” I said, the words coming to me easily. “What do you think it is?”
“I am not sure.” He said as he looked at the engraved image of a dragon. “Perhaps relics of the great empire of Old Valyria.”
I didn’t know what the great empire of Old Valyria was, but it sure sounded impressive. I decided I would go with it.
“Could very well be.” I shrugged. “I just want to sell them, to be honest. Are you interested?”
The merchant seemed to be struggling to hold his excitement. I stifled another grin and pretended I was bored with the whole exchange.
“I might be.”
“Then let’s do business.” I said. “What’s your offer?”
“Three hundred gold dragons.” The man said, opening one of the stall’s many drawers and pulling out a few large pouches of jingling coins. “More than generous considering the worth of the gold in the coins.”
“May I see?” I asked politely, and received one of the pouches in response. I opened it, and gazed on the coin in the inside. The man was right, the worth of the gold he offered was a lot more than the worth of the handful of galleons I showed him.
“Hm.” I nodded. “I shall take this as payment, though…”
“Yes?” The merchant said, a little warily.
“I wish for an explanation on the currencies of this land, as well.” I said slowly. “I became slightly confused when talk of silver stags, silver moons, copper pennies and copper stars reached my ears.”
“Ah.” The man smiled knowingly. “Not an altogether strange question, though, this far up north… No matter.”
And he began explaining to me how the currency system seemed to work. He said that the coinage used is all based on the gold dragon coin, which had two smaller denominations, silver stag coins and copper pennies, while the rest were just coins from older times; still being used, but slowly on their way to become obsolete.
It went as such.
1 gold dragon was worth 210 silver stags.
1 silver stag was worth 56 copper pennies.
As for stars and moons, well; a star was worth 8 pennies and a moon was worth 7 stags.
I nodded to myself, asking for a silver stag and a copper penny on top of the three hundred gold dragons, as well as a general map of the regions, if he had one.
“I don’t see why not. I keep a few spares in case I lose my own personal map.” The merchant accepted, pulling out said coins and map, handing me the rest of the bags as I gave him a respectful nod, before leaving. Immediately after, I made my way to a nearby empty alleyway, placing all of the coins in my featherweight pouch which was full of galleons, sickles and knuts.
“You think you can do it?” I asked after a few moments of silence, map still in my left hand.
I would look at it later.
“Child’s play.” The sword rattled as I felt it exercise its will upon the contents of my pouch. A few moments later, the flow of energy stopped. “It is done.“
I dug my hand into the pouch, pulling out a handful of coins. Instead of sickles, I had silver stags. Instead of galleons, I had gold dragons. I nodded in satisfaction, before pocketing the money and making to leave.
“Well, well.” A group of dirty looking men looked at me with grins of anticipation. “What have we here? An errant son of a Lord, lost in the city?”
“No.” I denied, sounding a little bored. “i’m not a noble.”
“You sure look noble enough.” The guy on the right said, looking me up and down. “You’re prettier than most girls.”
I shivered in slight disgust at his leer.
“Maybe most girls that are desperate enough to talk to you. You look like a dog shat down your face.” I retorted, and the man’s companions were taken aback for a moment, before snickering at the leader.
“Shut up!” He said, and, instead of stopping, they started laughing harder— at least until he slapped one in the face so hard he spun and fell on his hands and knees, disoriented by the blow. “Anyone else want to have some laughs?”
No one said anything.
I frowned, and looked at these men. Honestly, it looked as if they hadn’t eaten in days. The grime and dirt on them only added to it.
I took pity on them.
“Look.” I said, grabbing their attention. “You lot can go. I won’t hold it against you.”
“I’m afraid we won’t do as you say, little lordling.” The leader cut in with a vicious grin. “Now hand over your—”
That was as far as he got before I crossed the distance between us and drove my fist into his stomach, channeling a bit of Lightning to give him a light shock. He keeled over, his breath unwillingly leaving his body as he gasped for air which just wouldn’t enter his lungs.
He tried to move, but his muscles wouldn’t obey. He simply fell to his side, random parts of his body still spasming sporadically.
“As I was saying.” I glared down at the man, before staring at his men with a bit less vehemence. “You may leave.”
They stared dumbly at me.
“I said go!” I shouted, and they scurried away like rats.
I smirked at the absurdity of it. Grown men running away from a sixteen year old boy.
The sound of light scuffling reached my ears, and I looked down to see the thieves’ leader trying to crawl away from me— albeit very slowly.
I stepped on his left calf, hard.
He cringed and yelped as the pressure almost cracked the bone.
“Please, milord.” He begged. “I swear I will never do it again.”
“Is that so?” I said lightly, pressing down harder.
“Yes! Yes! Please!” He almost screamed out.
“Maybe I should turn you in to the relevant authorities, so they can make sure.” I kept on going.
“No!” He almost bellowed but quieted down when I put some more pressure on his leg. “Anything but that. They would take my hand, or force me to take the black!”
“Take the black?” I repeated. “Explain.”
And so came a rudimentary explanation of a group of fighters at a place called the Wall, a supposedly gigantic wall— over seven hundred feet, if the man were to be believed— made out of ice, far to the north. According to him, the Wall kept the kingdom safe from tribes of savages called the wildlings, and life as a “Man of the Night’s Watch” was a miserable existence: unable to father children, claim inheritances or earn glory. The sentence for desertion was death.
“Please!” He kept begging. “Mercy! Mercy.”
I rolled my eyes and lifted my foot. “Go on.”
“Thank you, milord!” He made to kiss my feet, but I kicked him away.
“Just go! You disgust me.” I said and walked away, stopping myself from swearing up a storm as I made my way back to the inn I was staying.
There was a bard, now, likely having come in the time I was away, and he was singing a song while playing what was probably the predecessor of the guitar— possibly the predecessor of the predecessor. Heh.
The inn keeper gave me a nod, as I pulled out seven silver stags, placing them in front of the man. “This should cover me for.. a few weeks, I believe?”
“Indeed.” The inn keeper confirmed, pocketing the coin. “I shall have my son take you to your room.”
“Sounds fine.” I nodded.
“Edmund!” The inn keeper called out, and waited. A cry of “coming!” was heard, before I heard the shuffling of feet against the wooden floor. A boy, looking to be about my age, emerged from a back room, moving past the dancing bard and addressing his father.
“Yes, father?” The boy asked, giving me a sidelong glance.
“Take this man to our top-most room.” The inn keeper said, and waved the boy off.
The boy, Edmund, nodded and turned to me. “Follow me.”
I did; the sound of the bard’s instrument was muffled as Edmund led me a few flights up, before we reached a single door. I heard the sound of jingling metal as he fished out a key from his pocket, before opening the door.
I followed him in.
It was nothing extravagant. There was a bed, a table and a chair, with a window overlooking the streets and a… chamber pot at the side— I had to take a shit in that? Ugh.
With that said, the room didn’t have to be overly extravagant. All I needed was the privacy and shelter this room provided.
As for the chamber pot… I figured I could just Vanish the shit. If he asked questions I would just say I like doing it in the woods out of town. Doubted he’d question it.
“Dinner shall be served in an hour’s time, if you wish to join us, milord.” Edmund said after a few moments of silence.
“I am no lord.” I denied. “Edmund, was it?”
He nodded, his expression bleeding into relief.
“You seemed a little tense, there.” I said curiously. “The lords in this land are not kind to you?”
“Ah.” Edmund said with a bit of hesitation. “The lords don’t exactly starve us or hit us or anything. They’re just… lords. You get my meaning?”
“Act like they’re better than you because of their high birth?” I tried, and the boy nodded emphatically. “I understand. No, Edmund. I am no lord. My name’s Harry.”
I held out my hand, and Edmund stared at it for a few seconds, before grinning and giving it a strong shake.
“I’ll be happy to join you all for dinner.” I said and made to sit in the chair, placing the map on the table and unfurling it, before turning back to the boy. “Right after I finish my work.”
That seemed to bring the boy back to reality.
“Oh!” He looked embarrassed. “I forgot to tie one of customer’s horses in the stable!” He ran off.
I chuckled and shook my head, before closing the door and locking it.
I sat down and looked at this map.
If there were still any doubts about the legitimacy of my situation, this map cleared it all up. Strangely enough, it was also written in English. It made sense, I supposed. The two universes couldn’t be very different— even in language.
“Torrhen’s Square… Torrhen’s Square.” I repeated the name of the place I was supposed to be at, but couldn’t find it anywhere.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Okay, Potter. Think. The inn keeper talked about Westerlands… Oh, there it is, good.” I put my finger at the westernmost part of the map the center west of the continent. “It’s literally the westerlands.”
My eyes lingered on its capital city, Lannisport near something called Casterly Rock, before I resumed my study of the map.
“Okay, the idiot who tried to steal from me said there’s a wall to the north of here…” And he was right, there was a thick, rectangular white border which completely cut the highest point north from the rest of the continent. Its name? The Wall.
Below the Wall, a few city names I heard from the market popped up. Winterfell. White Harbor. Barrowton— oh! Torrhen’s square. So this is where I was.
In “The North”.
“What kind of country name is ‘the North’, anyway?” I shook my head. “What’s all that above the wall? The More North? The North North?”
§At least we know where we are.§ Balthazar, who had been silent this whole time, hissed out.
§You’re right.§ I hissed back, before switching to English. “What do we do? What’s the plan?”
“Obviously, the ‘endgame’, as you say.” Erebus started. “Is to find a way to our home realm.”
I nodded, knowing that much.
“To that end, I would suggest seeking out a book shop in the marketplace here.” Erebus said. “I would like to have more information on this Wall of ice.”
I nodded, understanding the logic behind his statement. “Yeah, it sounds like the only thing worth checking out, so far. The thief said that the Wall held back tribes of savages further north, but I don’t think you’d need a seven hundred foot wall to stop a bunch of tribesment who probably don’t have anything more advanced than sharpened sticks and stones…”
“We are to tread carefully, Dragonslayer.” Erebus warned. “I suspect the land beyond the Wall would be very dangerous for us.”
“How do you figure?” I asked curiously, not really having formulated my thoughts on the matter. “You think these ‘wildlings’ pose any threat to us? You have to be kidding me.”
“Not the tribesmen.” Erebus denied in what sounded like a rebuking tone. “The cold Darkness with the blue eyes.”
And suddenly I understood.
“You’re right.” I breathed, not having considered that. “Where else would the perpetuator of frozen death and darkness be but the ice cap of this world, this ‘North North’, as it were?”
§Please tell me we’re not calling it that.§ Balthazar said with irritation.
§And why not? It’s short, concise. North North, which is north of The North.§ I argued the point, suppressing a grin as I felt the scales on my right arm writhe in agitation.
§It’s redundant!§ Balthazar said. §I didn’t learn seven different languages so I could communicate like an idiot. You can’t possibly—§
§It’s decided.§ I hissed out, cutting the snake’s rant. “We’re calling it North North.”
I had the impression my sword Erebus was shaking its nonexistent head. “Yes. Of course. The… er… North North is likely the place of power of these creatures of ice.”
Balthazar silently raged, but we ignored him for the moment to focus on the matter at hand— and to piss him off, of course.
“Where else, then?” I pointed to the bottom of the map, to a large desertland called Dorne. “You think this is where the red priest comes from?”
“Possible, but uncertain.” Erebus replied. “It could be that the North North and Dorne are the seats of power of those two… factions, as it were. However, it could be anywhere to the east as well. There are no shortages of desertlands in this world.”
I swore, realizing he was right. “You’re right.”
“We need more information.” Erebus insisted again. “There’s no way to get a hold of the situation without learning about the land. Who controls what? Who are the most important people? What history does this place have? Information to that effect.”
I nodded, and we spent another ten minutes discussing the third faction, those children I’d seen at the end. They didn’t seem threatening, but it was the least threatening things which ended up being the most dangerous of all.
Best example? Wormtail. The rat was so non threatening that nobody thought he could be a Death Eater. Sirius paid with over a decade in prison. My mother and father paid with their lives.
I shook off these thoughts, before rolling the map up and shrinking it with a tap of my wand, placing it in one of my pockets, and exiting the room.
There was a lot of work to be done; a lot of… research— I shivered involuntarily.
But, for now, more food and rest.
I would need it, if I were to go to the North North.
§We are not calling it the North North!§ Balthazar raged some more.