Life as a wandering crow wasn't terrible. Sure, it was lonely at times and your only company was the murderers and rapists that volunteer or are sentenced to the Wall, but at least there was always fresh wine from some Lord's table and the weather wasn't as cold. Yoren however couldn't wait to be back at Castle Black this time. The Stark girl he had found wandering the Crownlands alone was more trouble than she was worth, but as the niece of his brother, he knew he had to help her.
The recruits settled into a barn owned by the landlord of the Ivy Inn on the border of the Riverlands, and while most of them were sleeping, Yoren noticed that the girl was still awake, polishing her tiny blade.
"You should be asleep." He told Arya Stark.
"I can't." She replied stubbornly.
He offered her his wineskin, but she refused. "Drink, it helps." He insisted. Arya looked at him strangely, before taking the skin and having a small sip. "Drink." He told her again, and she took a bigger gulp, grimacing at the taste. "Your uncle Benjen is the same." He said quietly. "Hates the taste of wine. Me on the other hand, I'm used to it."
"You know my uncle?" She asked.
Yoren nodded. "Aye, he's my brother. We're all brothers in the Night's Watch, but Benjen… he's a good man. A good friend."
Arya looked at her feet in thought. "Are you taking me to him?"
Yoren nodded. "It's not safe for you in Winterfell now that Bolton has the North. I owe it to Benjen to take you to safety, and you'll be safe at the Wall with him for a time."
Arya nodded, understanding the implication and remembering the song about Brave Danny Flint. "Jon would look after me." She said, mainly to herself. "He'd help train me to fight back."
Yoren smirked at her defiance, but the sound of heavy hooves from by the inn peaked his interest. "Stay down." He warned, as he peered out the window. Arya nodded, settling down against the wall, out of sight. "Shit." Yoren cursed. "It's the fucking Kingslayer."
Arya's eyes widened in fear, before they narrowed again in cold fury. "He kidnapped me." She whispered. "I'll kill him."
"Not when he's surrounded by a dozen Lannister soldiers you won't." Yoren warned. "Fuck… they're looking over here. Stay put girl, I'm out of ale anyway. If they come towards the barn, head out the back door over there." The Night's Watch man pointed past the cage at the back of the barn and Arya saw the door in question. When she nodded, Yoren got up and gave Arya a quick glance before leaving the barn. Arya moved herself, so her belly was on the floor and began to peer through a small hole in the wooden wall, watching the conversation take place.
It took every bit of self-restraint not to go and poke the Lannister full of holes with Needle, but she managed it. She noticed Tyland Lannister looking towards the barn and knew she had to leave.
Gathering her things, she crawled over to Gendry. Shoving him twice before he woke, she dodged his swat. "We have to go." She urged.
"Why?" He moaned, not happy at having been woken.
"Tyland Lannister is here and Joffrey wants you." She reminded him. "He won't listen to Yoren, he won't listen to anyone. We have to go!"
Gendry nodded, and grabbed his things quickly as well as a sword. Arya grabbed his hand and dragged him to the back of the barn. Opening the door, she took a quick look around at the Night's Watch recruits, before shaking her head and running into the line of trees behind the barn and into the night.
Tyland and his small party were in the process of paying for a couple of rooms at the Ivy Inn for him and Daven when a door opened behind them and the Lannister heir noticed a man of the Night's Watch walking towards them, mug in hand. "Best keep walking." Daven said, his hand heading to his sword.
"Woah friend." The man said politely. "I'm just wanting some ale before my sleep and I'll be out of your way."
Tyland remembered the words of the humiliated Gold Cloak who had ridden northwards and met the Lannister party just before they had split from the main army talk about the Night's Watch recruits and the bastard of Robert's that Joffrey had ordered killed. Tyland had taken the decision for a small group to ride faster towards King's Landing to deal with that. He looked towards the barn, and figured it was big enough to fit thirty or so people in. "You're a long way from home." Tyland said.
Yoren nodded, sniffing. "Aye, Lord Commander Mormont sent me to get some poor sods to take back to the Wall with me, it's a long walk but we'll manage it. Someone has to."
Tyland nodded, before turning his attention back to the barn. "I'm sure the men will serve the wall honourably."
Yoren snorted a laugh. "Honourably? Likely not, they'll go hungry and cold and wish for death more often than not, but someone has to do it. Better the Wall than whatever death waits for them in the South."
"Including one ordered by the King?" Tyland asked. He saw Yoren's jovial manner falter, as his face became cold.
"These men belong to the Watch now." He said firmly.
Tyland let out a quick chuckle. "They're still criminals until they swear their oaths as I recall. Have they?" The silence gave Tyland his answer. "Go and search the barn for Robert's bastard." He commanded his men.
"We don't have who those fuckers were looking for." Yoren growled. He continued at Tyland's disbelieving look. "Why would I lie to you when we rely on your family to survive at the Wall?"
It was a fair point, but Tyland nodded his head to Daven anyway. The Night's Watchman began to draw his blade, but an arrow quickly nocked by a Lannister man stopped that motion. Daven took five men towards the barn and quickly kicked the door in, waking all the recruits up. Tyland slowly made his way towards the barn, walking in to see the recruits all being lined up. They varied in age and size, but none of them matched the description of the boy that Joffrey had ordered dead.
He ignored the three in the cage, and walked down the line, inspecting all of them. As he got to the end he saw an extremely fat boy, and a small, thin blonde. Knowingly, he turned back to the doorway where Yoren had been dragged, his sword confiscated. "Where is he?"
"There's nobody else." Yoren claimed, annoyed. "This is all of them."
Not believing him, he turned back to the two on the end, glaring down at them. The fat one began shaking, and so Tyland stood inches away from him. "Who's missing?" The fat boy just shook his head. He tried to speak but it just came out as gargled nonsense, so Tyland moved to the blonde and asked the same question. When the blonde just looked up at him terrified, Tyland tried a new approach. "Have you ever seen Valyrian Steel before?" He asked the boy. Again, a shake of the head came. Tyland unsheathed Red Rain and held it out so the boy could see. "It's a blade that never needs sharpening as it always holds its edge, did you know that?"
"No." The blonde mustered the courage to say.
Tyland expected that and held the blade up to the blonde boy's face. Gently, he pressed the edge into Lommy's cheek, causing blood to trickle down. "Tell me who is missing."
"He's just a boy!" Yoren cried out angrily.
Lommy began to tear up, and he cried out. "Gendry and Arry! Gendry and Arry ran off out the back! Please milord, don't hurt me."
Smiling, Tyland moved his sword away and sheathed it again. "Thank you." He said, turning to Daven. "Find them." The Lannister nodded his head, before taking the same five men and walking out towards the back entrance, soon disappearing from sight. Tyland turned back to Yoren and the men holding him. "Tie him up and keep this rabble in the barn until Ser Daven returns, when the boy is found, we shall deal with them."
In the Red Keep, Myrcella gracefully made her way up the Tower of the Hand after a surprising summon by her Grandfather. As Ser Arys announced her arrival, she noticed her Mother sat at the table as well.
"Princess. Have a seat." Tywin Lannister said, pointing to the seat on his right before scribbling something down on parchment. Myrcella sat in the seat she had been directed into.
"What is this?" Cersei asked, looking concerned for her daughter.
Tywin ignored Cersei. "Princess, I presume you know the situation we find ourselves in." He tested her.
Myrcella nodded. "Uncle Stannis and Uncle Renly are both rebelling against Joffrey." She spoke softly. "Soon they will come to King's Landing and we will need to fight them."
"Very good." Tywin acknowledged. "We have managed to defeat the North and the Riverlands, but the Reach and the Stormlands can field a much greater number of men, we will be outnumbered."
Myrcella was quick, and she could see where this was going. "Which means that where possible, we will need new allies. We can't just rely on what we already have against such a force."
Tywin was even more impressed and actually looked up from his work to meet her eyes. "Quite. Go on…" He was testing her.
"The best way to form an alliance is through marriage…" Myrcella began, to which Cersei snapped to attention.
"No." She demanded.
"Silence." Tywin snapped back at her.
"I will not have my only daughter shipped off to…"
"I said silence!" Tywin shouted, startling the two females. "You are here because you are the girl's Mother, that is all. You can leave if you are going to persist in this whining."
"Father…" Cersei began to plead, but Tywin's glare stopped her.
Myrcella cleared her throat softly as Tywin beckoned her to continue. "The best way to form alliances are by marriage. The Stark's and Tyrell's are traitors and the Tully's are all gone, so you wouldn't entertain any of them."
"Never. Not a Princess." Tywin nodded.
"Which means there are three Houses you would marry me too." Myrcella surmised.
"And they are?" Tywin almost had a hint of a smile as he asked.
"House Frey are the new rulers of the Riverlands, so a Princess would go a long way to showing the rest of the Houses that they are in charge." Myrcella almost shivered at the thought.
"We have already made arrangements for House Frey." Tywin allayed her fears.
"Then either House Arryn or House Martell." Myrcella guessed. "Both have enough men to make a difference, and both have boys near my age."
Cersei looked horrified. "A sickly brat and a weakling from Dorne? Father you can't." Cersei argued.
Tywin ignored her again. "You are correct of course, but which one is more beneficial to House Lannister?"
"House Martell." Myrcella said immediately. "You said the North had been dealt with, and Dorne shares a border with both our enemies."
Tywin did smile at that. "Excellent." He handed Myrcella a piece of parchment, detailing an agreement between Prince Doran and the Hand of the King. "You won't leave King's Landing until after the war as it's unsafe to travel Southwards, but Prince Doran is mustering troops as we speak, so Renly will need to watch his flanks, giving us a slight advantage."
"No." Cersei muttered. "I won't have my daughter sent to be a Dornish broodmare."
"I've read about Dorne." Myrcella told Cersei. "The Water Gardens are said to be beautiful and that's where Prince Doran spends his time. Is Prince Trystane nice?"
Tywin nodded. "He favours his Father's temperament."
Myrcella smiled, although inside her mind she was screaming that she wanted to stay and not be married at all. "I had hoped that I would marry Loren, but I understand that the war has changed things. I shall do my duty, Grandfather."
Tywin nodded. "Perhaps that would have been a viable option before, but I'm glad you can see things clearly." He then turned to Cersei. "There, your Daughter is a credit to you. Learn from her." He said coldly. "You can both go."
Myrcella didn't wait around, as she curtseyed towards Tywin and rushed out of the Tower as quickly as she could, before collapsing on her bed and silently sobbing, wishing this war had never happened.
Around half a day had passed since Arya and Gendry had escaped from Tyland Lannister, and Gendry was getting grumpier by the minute. Once the initial shock of the situation had worn off, he had started to get angry at Arya for risking his life in leaving the Watch group, and that hadn't abated.
"I'm so dead. When they find me, I'll die." He was whispering to himself. "I'm a deserter now."
"Shut up." Arya hissed. "We don't want them to find us!"
"Maybe we do." He snarled back. "We'll die out here too with no food."
"He'll torture us." Arya whispered. "He's evil."
"How do you know so much about him?" Gendry asked.
Arya sighed, memories from months ago flooding back to her. "He kidnapped me and my sister, held us in a tiny cottage for days because he was angry at my Mother. He… he killed my Father too. Stabbed him in the throat."
Gendry swore under his breath. "I'm sorry."
"Me too." Arya snarled, before calming slightly. "But we have to keep running, if they find us…"
"What will we do?" A voice came from behind them. Arya jumped to her feet, whipping Needle out.
"Stay back!" She called.
A blonde-haired Lannister knight came into view from behind the trees. His long hair sitting well below his shoulders. He laughed at the sight of Arya's sword. "That looks like something I'd poke at my meat, not fight with."
Arya held firm as more Lannister men appeared. Soon enough it was six on two. Gendry held his sword out too, but with less conviction. "We're outnumbered." He whispered.
"Come quietly." Daven Lannister ordered. "You don't want to die this way." Arya waited until the Lannister men were closer before she lunged. She managed to stick Needle in between a grey-haired man's armour plates, and he howled in pain. Withdrawing Needle, she went to swivel around to face someone new, but all she ended up doing was eating the mud, as a sharp pain stung her cheek from where a gauntlet had smacked her. Weakly, she raised her head to see Gendry being knocked out by Ser Daven, and before she lost consciousness she heard him say. "Bring them to Lord Tyland."
Hundreds of miles to the west in the city of Lannisport, two identical young ladies were walking down a street with a couple of guards delivering letters that had been sent from the siege lines at Riverrun. Cerenna Lannister handed her twin a letter for a certain house and waited for her to return before they walked onwards again.
"Has Loren written to you yet?" Myrielle asked.
Cerenna's face moulded into one of worry. "Yes, he's eager for Renly and Stannis Baratheon to attack King's Landing so he can come back to the Rock. I worry that he's a little too eager."
Myrielle nodded her understanding. "I don't know how you do it." She said softly.
"How I do what?" Cerenna asked sharply.
Myrielle sighed. "Continue to love a boy who you know you'll never marry. Continue to keep your hopes high even after the news Father told you the other day…"
"I will not marry Walder Frey." Cerenna snapped, before noticing that their conversation wasn't exactly private and lowering her voice. "I don't care what Father says, I don't care what Mother says, I don't even care what Lord Tyland says, or what anybody says. That won't happen."
"Ren…" Myrielle began, but she was silenced.
"No Ella." Cerenna interrupted, using her twins nickname. "I have just under four years before I turn 18, when Loren finds out he will convince Lord Tywin to break it, I'm sure. He married Aunt Joanna for love after all!"
"We're women." Myrielle stated bitterly, handing a guard a letter for another house. "As much as I admire you for believing, we don't get a choice. We marry who we're told to. Lord Tywin was lucky that his Father was a fool."
Cerenna laughed bitterly. "And you know how wrong that is. Believe me Ella, one day I will marry Loren and one day we will be Lord and Lady Lannister, and when that day comes I promise you, things will change."
Tyland had been waiting inside the inn for around a day for Daven to return, when he noticed his men gathering outside where the Night's Watch group had been detained. His curiosity peaked, he and his guard made their way over towards the barn. Shouts and jeers grew louder as he neared, and he recognised the blonde hair of his cousin immediately.
"Lord Tyland." Daven said, silencing the men. "We have found him and his companion."
Tyland nodded and stared at the taller of the two boys. Images of years ago, of being stood in the Red Keep as Robert Baratheon sat on the Iron Throne for the first time crossed his mind. "This is him." He said, before closing the gap between Robert's bastard and himself. "The King has taken an interest in you, boy. Do you know why?" Gendry shook his head. "Do you know your parents?"
"My mother." He said. "I never knew my Father."
Tyland wasn't surprised. "No, he was never one to return to a whore to check up." He said.
Gendry's nostrils flared in anger. "My Mother was no whore." He growled defiantly.
"She was. King Robert was very particular about where he went to fuck." Tyland replied strongly. Gendry's eyes widened in surprise. "I don't blame her for not telling you, or you may have been sought out earlier. Your father was the late King Robert Baratheon." Gendry turned to the smaller boy beside him, who was trying desperately to hide his face. Tyland wondered why for a moment, before bringing out a letter he had received from Tywin. "Luckily for you, Lord Tywin, the Hand of the King, has revoked the decree the King made to end your life, on the assurance that you make it to Castle Black and take your vows. We want no repeat of the Blackfyre Rebellion under King Joffrey's rule, do you understand?"
Gendry looked extremely confused and once again turned to the small boy next to him. Taking more of an interest, Tyland turned to him. "You, Arry is it?"
The boy refused to move or to show his face. A Lannister soldier walked up behind him and grabbed the boy by the hair, yanking his head up so Tyland could see his face. He tried to struggle. "Let go of me!"
It all clicked with Tyland then. "Let her go." He ordered. The soldier did as commanded, and Tyland could see Arya was scared. "Hello, Lady Arya. We've missed you at the capital." Arya scowled at being recognised and spat directly in Tyland's face. Flinching backwards and grimacing, Tyland wiped the saliva off of his face and roughly slapped the Stark girl around the ear. She fell to her knees, rubbing her cheek. "Take her into custody." He ordered Daven.
Gendry tried to resist but was quickly held back, as Arya began kicking and screaming. "No! No, you can't! He'll just murder me like my Father! Help!" But no help came barrelling through the wall of armed Lannister soldiers. Tyland waited for the screams and curses to die down as Arya was dragged away from the barn before he made his way over to the corner, where Yoren was tied up.
When Tyland removed the gag, Yoren flexed his jaw before laughing darkly. "Feel powerful ey? Taking little girls."
Tyland ignored the insinuation. "You told me that you had no reason to lie as you rely on my family to survive at the Wall. Now I find that not only you did lie, but that you were keeping two known fugitives hidden."
"I didn't know." Yoren told him quietly. "I thought she was still with you at the capital. He was just Arry here."
"Perhaps that's true." Tyland shrugged. "Perhaps not. What is fact is that you lied about harbouring the boy to me."
Yoren shook his head. "I am a man of the Night's Watch."
"You are." Tyland nodded. "Your past crimes have been forgiven through your oath that is true, but this crime was afterwards, and in the lands belonging to King Joffrey. You lied to a Lord, and that cannot go unpunished."
Nodding to a man in Lannister armour, He stood back as a knife was drawn. "You're no Lord yet, My Lord." Yoren sneered, unflinching. "Kill me and you'll forever be detested as a butcher. "I'm a man of the Night's Watch. I…"
His speech was halted as another Lannister soldier grabbed his jaw with both hands, holding it open against the squirming Yoren. The man with the knife grabbed the elderly Night's Watchman's tongue and severed it, and only muffled screams were heard. Tyland turned to his cousin, and quietly said. "Make sure this rabble all get to the Wall. Robert's bastard must stay there. Under no circumstances is he to leave. If he tries, kill him."
Daven nodded uncomfortably, but Tyland didn't notice, instead leaving the barn to prepare for his departure to King's Landing.