• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

EmpireofOne

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Hey guys, Steven here, or EmpireofOne if you're familiar with my other AARs. I was inspired to do this AAR after a certain person made a cameo on the season premiere of Game of Thrones. This AAR is written in good fun and I do not intend for any disrespect to the person in question.
The Songs of Sheeran - A CKII AGOT Narrative AAR

As there are a lot of chapters, I personally recommend you use the table of contents to progress through the story if you are new as we were well beyond chapter 100 before the threadmarks were introduced.

Table of Contents

Prologue
Chapter 1: Options

Chapter 2: Arrivals
Chapter 3: Lion's Roar
Chapter 4: War
Chapter 5: The Hunt For The Stag
Chapter 6: Strangling the Maiden

Chapter 7: Coming Home
Chapter 8: The Evil Within
Chapter 9: The Gathering Flame
Chapter 10: Dragon's Flight
Chapter 11: Poor Fellows
Chapter 12: Changing of the Guard
Chapter 13: End of an Era
Chapter 14: Drink to Peace
Chapter 15: Every Man For Himself

Chapter 16: Beginning of the End
Chapter 17: A Cloud of Ravens
Chapter 18: Brent Brook
Chapter 19: Fortune Favours the Bold
Chapter 20: Turmoil
Chapter 21: Brent Brook II
Chapter 22: Strength
Chapter 23: The Future
Chapter 24: Enemies All Around
Chapter 25: Union
Chapter 26: A Woman of Riverspring
Chapter 27: Bad Blood
Chapter 28: Duty
Chapter 29: Stags, Lions, and Dragons

Chapter 30: The Green Wedding
Chapter 31: Farewell
Chapter 32: A Hollowed Place
Chapter 33: One Last Strike
Chapter 34: The Warrior
Chapter 35: A Dance of Siblings
Chapter 36: Plots and Power
Chapter 37: The Old Guard
Chapter 38: A Great Stain
Chapter 39: An Unexpected Turn
Chapter 40: Moving Forward
Chapter 41: No Turning Back
Chapter 42: Lord Payne
Chapter 43: Power to the People
Chapter 44: The Daughters

Chapter 45: The Dominion of Dragons
Chapter 46: A Mother's Mercy
Chapter 47: Grand Ambitions
Chapter 48: Sorrowful Reunions
Chapter 49: The Next Generation
Chapter 50: Lord Payne II
Chapter 51: Matters of Faith
Chapter 52: Hearts and Dragons
Chapter 53: The Wolf Among Us
Chapter 54: End of an Era II
Chapter 55: The Young Dragons
Chapter 56: The Cost of Pride

Chapter 57: A Call to Arms
Chapter 58: Silverbrook
Chapter 59: Hear Me Roar

Chapter 60: Hand in Hand
Chapter 61: Unchained
Chapter 62: The Time to Strike
Chapter 63: Wrath of the Dragon
Chapter 64: The Justice of Men

Chapter 65: Family Loyalty
Chapter 66: The Choice
Chapter 67: The Things We Do For Love

Chapter 68: The Sword
Chapter 69: The Sword II
Chapter 70: The Sword III
Chapter 71: The Sword IV
Chapter 72: Passing the Sword
Chapter 73: The Lord of Casterly Rock
Chapter 74: Jade
Chapter 75: The Champion

Chapter 76: A Lion's Squire
Chapter 77: The West Heads East
Chapter 78: Red Walls
Chapter 79: The Dragon Strikes Back
Chapter 80: Rings
Chapter 81: Bittersweet
Chapter 82: Blood of my Blood
Chapter 83: The Race
Chapter 84; The Old Order
Chapter 85: Decisive
Chapter 86: Mercy
Chapter 87: Paid Debts
Chapter 88: The Troubled Crown
Chapter 89: To Cross the Sea
Chapter 90: A Most Dangerous Hunt
Chapter 91: A Learned Lesson
Chapter 92: For the Good of the Realm

Chapter 93: The Horrors of War
Chapter 94: Desperation
Chapter 95: Snakes
Chapter 96: Arrivals II
Chapter 97: Justice
Chapter 98: In the Sight of the Gods
Chapter 99: What is Best
Chapter 100: Peace
Chapter 101: New Worlds
Chapter 102: The Old and the New
Chapter 103: Legacy
Chapter 104: A Sudden Change
Chapter 105: Approaching Battle
Chapter 106: A Violent Reunion
Chapter 107: Under the White Heart
Chapter 108: Looking Ahead
Chapter 109: The Monster
Chapter 110: The Monsters

Chapter 111: Burning
Chapter 112: Troubled Minds
Chapter 113: A Fitting End
Chapter 114: Farewell II
Chapter 115: Looking Forward
Chapter 116: A New Era
Chapter 117: A Change in Management
Chapter 118: Alliances
Chapter 119: Linked Together
Chapter 120: Change
Chapter 121: Together Again
Chapter 122: Against the Horde
Chapter 123: A Twisted Fate
Chapter 124: Mercy II
Chapter 125: The Cost
Chapter 126: A New Age
Chapter 127: The Balance of Power
Chapter 128: Desperation II
Chapter 129: The Will
Chapter 130: Wise Counsel
Chapter 131: An Important Impression
Chapter 132: The Questions of Death

Chapter 133: Conspiracies
Chapter 134: Machinations
Chapter 135: Flesh and Blood
Chapter 136: Service
Chapter 137: Stress and Joy
Chapter 138: Nature
Chapter 139: Machinations II
Chapter 140: Light in the Darkness
Chapter 141: A New Problem
Chapter 142: Prophecies
Chapter 143: Marriages
Chapter 144: For the Good of the Realm II
Chapter 145: Preparations

Chapter 146: Careful Manoeuvres
Chapter 147: A Preemptive Strike
Chapter 148: Mistrust
Chapter 149: Kindled
Chapter 150: Bloodshed
Chapter 151: Friends
Chapter 152: Justice II

Chapter 153: Beaten
Chapter 154: The Dragon Strikes Back
Chapter 155: The Battle of Deadwater
Chapter 156: Right and Wrong
Chapter 157: Discipline
Chapter 158: The Black
Chapter 159: Violet
Chapter 160: The Children

Chapter 161: To Protect Those Held Dear
Chapter 162: Bloom
Chapter 163: Betrayals
Chapter 164: Hell
Chapter 165: To Fight
Chapter 166: To Protect
Chapter 167: Lost
Chapter 168: The Fate of The Realm
Chapter 169: The New Rulers
Chapter 170: Returns
Chapter 171: Preparations II
Chapter 172: Leadership
Chapter 173: Making History
Chapter 174: Cutting The Stem
Chapter 175: Hope
Chapter 176: The Confrontation
Chapter 177: The Red River
Chapter 178: Fulfilment
Chapter 179: A Hundred and Fifty Years in the Making
Chapter 180: Flesh and Blood II
Chapter 181: Hearts and Minds
Chapter 182: Breaching Walls
Chapter 183: Siblings
Chapter 184: Men of Action

Chapter 185: Breakdown
Chapter 186: To Fail the Realm
Chapter 187: To Deliver Justice
Chapter 188: Striking Necks
Chapter 189: Brothers

Chapter 190: A Dance of Siblings II
Chapter 191: The King

Chapter 192: Necessary
Chapter 193: Gone

Chapter 194: The Seeds of the Future
Chapter 195: Friends
Epilogue: The Songs of Sheeran
Reflections
 
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EmpireofOne

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Prologue




With the loss of one head, the Seven Kingdoms followed. Ned Stark's execution had caused outrage among the North and their Riverlander allies. The brothers Baratheon fight for control of the Stormlands with Stannis Baratheon emerging the victor after the murder of Renly. The Reach and Westerlands march to the side of the Iron Throne, the former for revenge, and the latter to support Joffrey, grandson of Tywin Lannister. Meanwhile, Dorne and the Vale bide their time as neither have officially declared their allegiances to any king as they wait for their opportunity; whether this opportunity is for glory and riches or certainty of the victor is unknown. And finally, the last known Targaryen, Daenerys Stormborn still lives, escaping the attempts on her life and challenges in her path. The petty and minor lords of Westeros have waited for their chance and already much blood has been spilled and names have been made.


Riverspring, seat of House Sheeran

"On the fork of the river, the Lion roars aloud. Behind walls so high, the trout can barely shout," Ed sang.


"Already singin' songs about your father winnin', eh?" Preston, Ed's friend joked.
"He's under Jaime Lannister's command, I should be singing about marching Robb Stark's head down the steps of the Sept of Baelor," Ed responded.
"I guess we needn't worry about our lord, the Tullys didn't stand a chance without their walls. I also heard Lord Tywin's already beaten a Northern army at the Green Fork."
"I'm having trouble thinking of the next lyric. Preston, if only you were as good a singer as me," Ed joked.
"That voice of yours will bring you trouble, I know it," Preston warned.

The great hall of Riverspring was quiet except for Ed's singing along with the playing of his harp. The lord's chair remained empty as Lord Hugh Sheeran was out on campaign in the Riverlands. Although Ed was in charge until his father's return, he dared not sit in his father's seat without his permission. While a few smallfolk came and went with their petitions, there was plenty of time for Ed to compose the rest of his song in honour of the Lannister's eventual victory at the siege of Riverrun. The doors to the great hall abruptly opened as if smashed open by a battering ram, a man rushed in carrying a parchment that was only tied together rather than sealed with wax.

"Lord Sheeran! Lord Sheeran!" the man yelled.
"Lord Sheeran's out on campaign, but as his son, can I receive his message in his stead?" Ed asked.
"I was to deliver this message to you anyways Lord Sheeran."
"I'm not Lord Sheeran yet," Ed joked as he undid the knot and unrolled the parchment.

It was a message from his friend Lester, a common man who accompanied Lord Hugh Sheeran and the rest of the Sheeran army.

"Suggestions for lyrics?" Preston joked with a smile, although he soon grew concerned when his banter was met with silence.
"Seven hells! The Green Fork was a distraction! The main Stark host came down upon the besiegers at Riverrun!" Ed yelled.
"If Lester is writing, Lord Sheeran's had to have made it out, right?" Preston reassured.
"Lester says he got separated from my father in the retreat, he last saw him at Jaime Lannister's side. He's taking a few lads to scour the battlefield."
"What happens if Lester can't find him?" Preston asked.
"Summon the council!" Ed ordered.

Riverspring Council Chamber

Ed wasted no time making his way to the council chamber. He was humming a new tune, a slower more solemn tone that would fit a eulogy. Preston was not a member of the council but Ed let him in as his father was away. The first of the council to arrive was the Castellan, Symeon Crakehall who Lord Sheeran considered his right hand.

"Ed," Symeon nodded.
"Castellan Crakehall," Ed greeted.

Two councillors arrived at the same time. The Master-at-Arms Cadwyn and Spymaster Willard were brothers that proved their use to Lord Sheeran at the tourney of Peckledon. Willard poisoned the contestants while Cadwyn easily bested his opponents as they were too busy shitting themselves.

"Where's Lord Sheeran?" Cadwyn asked.
"Still at Riverrun you twit," Willard answered, "Ed's definitely got a raven from Lord Sheeran himself telling us of the Lannister victory."
"Please sit down you two," Ed ordered.

Maester Normund was the last to arrive. He looked displeased to be there.

"I was in the middle of reading important texts, this better be important."
"It will be Maestor Normund. Is that everyone? What about Treasurer Quenton, Justiciar Tywold, and Septon Elmer?" Ed asked.
"Treasurer Quenton is overseeing this month's tax collection while Septon Elmer is travelling village to village in order to stop that fire cult that's gaining ground in the area. Tywold's still on his mission for your father to gain favour in Lord Taubert's court," Castellan Crakehall answered.



"Thank you Castellan, then that is everyone. I've called you here because I have received a message from my friend Lester."
"Bah! We've no time for messages from your friends. If that's all, we'll be leaving," Master-at-Arms Cadwyn said.
"Lord Sheeran is dead!" Preston yelled as Cadwyn was getting out of his seat.
"This is no time for jokes," Castellan Crakehall warned.
"What's he even doing here?" Spymaster Willard asked.
"The Stark army distracted Lord Tywin's army while the Young Wolf fell upon Jaime Lannister's troops. According to Lester, my father was last seen by Jaime's side."
"Is he certain? A common boy like Lester isn't the most trustworthy of sources," Maester Normund said.
"Father would've written to me, and there's no word of Jaime Lannister's whereabouts either," Ed explained.
"Until Lord Sheeran's fate is figured out, we should consider Ed our new lord and begin the transition now so that we will be settled down by the time the Northern army arrives," Castellan Crakehall suggested.
"Lord Sheeran could still be alive," Spymaster Willard warned.
"And we'll revert back to serving him when he returns, but for now, we must have someone to serve if Riverspring is to continue helping the Lannisters in their war," Castellan Crakehall said.
"Then it's settled then? Ed is the lord of Riverspring now?" Preston asked, his arms crossed.
"Know your place, young one," Maester Normund said, "although he is right, Ed is our lord's only son."

The men all nodded in agreement. Some were uncertain, but Castellan Crakehall's words were more than enough to bring everyone over. The council was at least willing to give Ed a chance.

Ed tried to not shed a tear the entire time. As much as he wanted to believe his father survived the battle, he knew that was not the case. He seemed to be one of the only one in the entire holdfast that tolerated his antics and singing. After the last of the councillors were dismissed and even Preston had left, Ed closed his eyes shut and squeezed out the tears. He began humming that same sad tune from earlier, and started composing new lyrics in his head.
 
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stnylan

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This is a rather good look at how a relatively well-known event caused chaos in many smaller families.

The first of many such.
 

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Chapter 1: Options

Riverspring, Great Hall

The Lord's chair was no longer empty. Ed occupied the seat while Castellan Symeon Crakehall stood to his right. The great hall was empty except for the household guards. Ed hummed a tune, he was still trying to compose a song to honour his father who had been lost at the Siege of Riverrun. He had been working on it for days but only a few lyrics had been written. Before he could start singing the lyric to inspire the next, Spymaster Willard entered the great hall and presented himself before Ed.

"My lord, the reports have confirmed that Jaime Lannister has been captured by the Starks."
"And my father?" Ed asked.
"We've heard nothing so far, it seems we will have to rely on another raven or messenger from Lester," the Spymaster answered.
"Jaime was the only one that was reported captured, your father most likely fell defending him to the last man," Symeon said.
"What about Lord Tywin? Where has he taken his army after the Green Fork?" Ed asked Willard.
"He's taken his troops to Harrenhal with Robb Stark not far behind. Although reports indicate he is heading in the direction of King's Landing to draw out Lord Tywin. His numbers reach almost forty-thousand."


"Anything else you have to report to me?" Ed asked.
"Stannis Baratheon is also making his way to King's Landing."


"Stannis?" the Castellan asked. "I thought he was busy holding off the Reachmen's attack."
"Robb and Stannis have yet to declare themselves as allies. With Lord Tywin held up in Harrenhal, King's Landing will not be able to gather a garrison strong enough to resist either army. Robb and Stannis both know the first army to reach the city will be able to take it, strengthening their position."
"You talk as if you can enter the heads of both men," Symeon praised.
"Who do you think will reach the city first?" Ed asked.
"Stannis, but he has the smaller army, Robb could easily crush Stannis' smaller force. However, I am unsure if the two will fight or not."
"Thank you for your report Willard, if that is all, you may go," Ed thanked.

The Spymaster bowed and turned around to leave. Symeon stood silent while Ed thought about the information. He was worried, just the sound of Willard reporting the size of Robb Stark's army brought a chill to his body. He stared at one of the pillars of the hall, a habit of his whenever he had to think.

"If either of the two take King's Landing, it could be the end for the Lannisters and all their bannermen," Ed said in a worried tone.
"The world is not going to end if they take King's Landing, we will resist all the way until Casterly Rock."
"I've already lost my father, I'm n-not going to lose everything my family's built up," Ed vowed, he hoped his subtle fumbling of the words was not noticed.
"I live to serve House Sheeran," Symeon declared.
"What are my options Castellan? What can I do to strengthen our position?"
"Marriage, you're not married and it could bring us a strong ally for now and the future," Symeon suggested.
"Do you have anyone in mind?" Ed joked.
"I do actually, Lord Damon Marbrand of Ashemark's youngest daughter is in need of a husband."
"Is she good looking?" Ed asked.
"I've not heard much about her, but you should be glad she does not have a stained reputation," Symeon answered.


Ed thought about it. While he had his duties as lord, he still had to consider whether he would be happy with the match.

"Send the raven then, I will do what I must for the house as my father's only son."
"You have matured unexpectedly, the other councillors were doubting you," Symeon said.
"My father was a good man and a good lord. Any other man would've beaten my singing voice out of me, but he encouraged me and even bought me my harp. I may not have realized it, but I owe him everything, and I will do what I can for the house," Ed explained.
"I'll be honest with you my lord, I thought of you as a fool who sat around and sang songs all day, I am proud to be wrong about that."
"Preston's already expressed his displeasure with me stepping up," Ed joked.


Maester Normund entered the hall and presented himself before Ed. His chain links rattling as he lowered and raised his head.

"My lord, raven from Lord Taubert. Remnants of Jaime's army and reserve forces are gathering all across the Westerlands to march to Lord Tywin's side," the Maester reported.
"We will call what banners we can and march to Payne Hall," Ed said.
"Lord Taubert would also like to hold a small feast to honour the fallen, he's heard about your singing and wants you to perform a song for your father."


"I've had trouble writing a song, but I should be able to have one ready by then," Ed said.
"Is that all Maester?" Symeon asked.
"A raven arrived from Lester, he says he is currently passing through Stoney Sept with what's left of the Sheeran army."
"Lester? Did he find my father?" Ed asked.
"He didn't say, my lord."
"Thank you, Maester. You may go."

The Maester returned to his study instead of leaving the great hall. Ed knew Lester left out the news of his father on purpose, to keep what hope Ed had left before he finally returned home. And with that, it was no longer a thought, it was a fact that Ed's father was dead. Symeon's loyalty and counsel was what all of Riverspring needed. After a few more hours of sitting in the lord's chair, he retreated to his chambers and resumed writing the song for his father's eulogy.
 
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stnylan

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I rather like this portrayal of operating still largely in an information vacuum, and how is slowly reveals itself.
 

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Chapter 2: Arrivals

Riverspring, Holdfast Boundary

Ed along with Castellan Symeon waited with a small group of household guards at the outskirts of Riverspring. The main road saw little traffic as the war had halted almost all business and travel. Occasional farmers heading into town to trade and patrols moving to their routes passed by and paid respects to their lord, but Ed was waiting for something else. He was waiting for two things actually, the arrival of his betrothed Enora Marbrand and also for Lester along with the remnants Sheeran army.

Ed settled himself under a large tree to shelter himself from the summer's gaze. His guards formed a perimeter while Symeon stood by Ed who was plucking at his harp. He had a few more days to prepare his song for Lord Taubert's feast and was still working diligently to meet his deadline.

"A river run red, the walls lined dead," Ed sang quietly.
"My lord, I see banners in the distance. White heart over a sea of green, it's the Sheeran army," Symeon reported.
"Lester," Ed said.

Ed stood up and adjusted his eyes and tried to get a better look at the column. There were a few riders at the front, some of the horses were dragging wagons. The army was not much of a force, Ed imagined that Tywin Lannister's household guard outnumbered what remained of his army. He spotted Lester among the riders and a few familiar faces. At the front of the group was a man Ed had never seen before, his armour did not even have any markings of House Sheeran. Lester spotted Ed and urged his horse forward to the tree.

"Ed!" Lester cried.
"Lester! You've made it home!" Ed cheered.
"I guess I 'ave to start calling you m'lord now?" Lester asked.
"We're still friends, Lester. Just call me that in the presence of others."
"Where's Preston?"
"Tending to his father's farm. Did his father and brother make it?" Ed asked.
"Aye, Preston'll be happy to see em' I'll bet."
"Have you found Lord Sheeran?" Symeon asked.
"He's over there," Lester meekly responded.


For a second there was hope. It took barely a second before Ed and Symeon both realized Lester was pointing at one of the wagons, a corpse cart.

"Are all those wagons corpse carts?" Ed asked.
"We 'ave a few carrying food, the rest are of what dead we could find."
"Who is that one at the front? I've never seen him before and the white heart is nowhere to be seen on him," Symeon asked.
"Some Silent Sisters found him when we were scourin' the battlefield. He speaks like a man who fights for the Lannisters. Must've taken a hit to the 'ead because he doesn't remember who he serves so we took him."
"Why give him a horse?" Ed asked.
"Never would've made it out of there without him, he took charge after an ambush and lead us to victory. He remembered his name was Flement after the fighting."


"I want to see my father," Ed demanded.
"It's the fourth wagon," Lester said.

Lester offered his horse to Ed who mounted it to catch up to the wagons. He urged the horse forward and galloped to the wagons followed closely by his household guard who had to move on foot. While many of the peasants and soldiers had never seen Ed before, they figured out who he was quickly. Some of the men looked away while others looked at Ed right in his eyes, their expressions telling of regret and sadness.

Ed slowed the horse and approached the wagon from its side. The wagon was reserved for his father's body. He was laid on his back while the family sword rested on his torso, held down by his hands holding the grip. Lord Sheeran's eyes were shut, his face was covered in a variety of things, Ed could barely tell the difference between dried blood and dirt. The parts that were not covered in dirt and other messes was pale and flies hovered around the corpse.

"Father..." Ed whispered.

The closer Ed got, the more prevalent the stench was. The siege of Riverrun was almost a month ago, it was a miracle his father's corpse was not falling apart. Ed dared not touch the body, out of fear he would damage the corpse in any way. He was willing to wait for the Maester and Septon to handle it.

Smallfolk came out of their houses and bowed their heads to the passing army. Children stopped playing on the road to watch the soldiers, most ignorant of what was happening. The smallfolk that were close enough to the wagons turned away or covered their noses, not even the pig farmers were used to horrible smells.

Past the town and outside the palisade to the great hall was a carriage. Its design and construction was humble, not of an important lord or lady, but still worthy of a petty noble. Ed rode ahead to see who it belonged to while the household guards did their best to stay close. He trotted around the carriage and saw a few guards accompanying a woman. Using the context, he deduced the woman was Enora Marbrand, the woman he would be marrying.

She was not bad looking. Her face seemed to rest at a displeased expression, as if nothing about Riverspring was impressive to her. Ed had braced himself for worse, his low expectations had actually made him excited to meet her.

"Lady Enora Marbrand?" Ed asked.
"You must be Lord Ed," Enora said.

She looked up and down at Ed, as if she were appraising him like an antique.

"I welcome you to Riverspring, Lady Enora. May I show you around?" Ed asked, hoping to fill in the silence of her staring.
"Polite and not bad looking, I'm very glad I'm not my sister, her husband is dreadful," Enora said, laughing.
"I'd hoped you come at a better time, the army has returned with my father."
"I had heard," Enora said. "I, I'm sorry."
"Thank you, please, come in. Settle yourself down, the Septon will be back in a three days."

The lady looked up at the keep. It was a small stone structure which was surrounded by a wooden palisade with small structures that lined the walls.

"It's no Ashemark, but it'll do," Enora said.
"I will get someone to help you with your baggage," Ed said.
 
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stnylan

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A grim business, and a stark reminder this is no fairytale.
 

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Chapter 3: Lion's Roar

Payne Hall

Ed and Enora sat at a table with several retainers of Lord Taubert. Along with the men at the table, a few women were present too. Ed had left Castellan Symeon Crakehall in charge of affairs in Riverspring until he returned, there was a peace in his mind that he had not felt for some time as he was sure the Castellan would manage.


Some of the attendees were discussing war stories while others were drinking to their fallen. The food smelled delicious and the cups were bottomless as the drinks kept coming, but the atmosphere contradicted the fresh dishes.

"I'll kill all those damn Starks," Lord Lymond Vikary declared after gulping down an entire cup of beer.
"We'll have our vengeance, once we arrive at Harrenhal, Lord Tywin will lead us to victory," Martyn Payne, Lord Taubert's heir said.
"While you fools fight, I'll ride right into the enemy camp and free Jaime Lannister from his captors. Lord Tywin will make me a rich man once I rescue his son," Lord Halman Drox said.
"You'll get your face eaten off by that Direwolf Robb rides around," Ed joked.

The men at the table chuckled shortly and went back to drinking.

"You're the lord of House Sheeran now, how's Riverspring doing?" Martyn asked.
"I thank you for your concern of the people of my holdfast," Ed thanked.
"I don't care about that, I care about your ability to help us against the Starks."
"We've gathered what troops we can, we will prove our worth in the battles to come, I swear it," Ed promised.
"We'll see about that," Martyn said before chugging down his cup of beer.

Enora was silent, taking small bites from a small chicken leg. Lord Taubert was making rounds around the room, greeting guests and making short conversation. After some sitting around, Lord Taubert arrived at Ed's table.

"Lord Sheeran, Lord Drox, Lord Vikary, I thank you for coming," Lord Taubert greeted.
"Thank you for having us," Ed said.
"Lady Marbrand, I hope you've been happy with Lord Sheeran so far."
"I never got the opportunity to settle down in Riverspring, and now my husband goes to war, I can only hope peace comes so that we may be truly man and wife," Enora replied.
"Well said, Lord Marbrand raises his children well. Speaking of which, what news of your father?" Lord Taubert asked.
"He left with his army shortly after I departed, my brother Addam is leading the vanguard of Ser Tyrek's army," Enora answered.
"Well, I must go greet the rest of my guests, I thank you for coming. Oh, and I look forward to your song, Lord Sheeran."

Lord Taubert left and approached the table of a few other retainers. Ed ate an entire chicken leg and washed it down with sweet beer. He continued observing his surroundings, the feast seemed more like a dinner at a barracks rather than a gathering of lords.

There was a commotion outside. Doors were being opened abruptly and there was some yelling. Ed's table was near the door, so he tried to listen carefully at what the yelling was about. At one point he heard someone mention the Lannisters. Lord Taubert retreated to his seat and remained standing while some of the guards drew their swords.

The doors to the hall slammed open and a man in full Westerlander armour with a retinue of his own guards stormed in. There were murmurs all around the room, some guests stood up while others remained seated.

"How dare you storm into my keep unannounced, who in the seven hells do you think you are?" Lord Taubert demanded.
"Hold your tongue! I am Ser Reginald Lannister of Lannisport!" the man declared.
"What business do you have here? I pledge allegiance to Lord Tywin Lannister, not Lord Tyran," Lord Taubert asked.
"Lord Tywin demands you and your bannermen set out immediately. The day is still young and you can make good progress," Ser Reginald reported.
"I thought Lord Tywin agreed to allow me and my men to have a feast to celebrate our dead."
"Things have changed. Jaime Lannister's head was delivered to the gates of Harrenhal."


There was a sudden uproar. The news of Jaime Lannister's execution was completely unexpected, as it was believed he would be ransomed or held as a hostage. With Jaime Lannister dead, nothing would keep the North safe in the event of an invasion. Ed thought of the execution as foolish bravado. With nothing but victory for the Northern forces, Ed believed Robb executed Jaime out of confidence and even his own bannermen were disapproving of the decision.

But it did not matter what Ed believed, Jaime Lannister was dead.

"Is Lord Tywin in any danger? Where is Robb's army?" Lord Taubert asked.
"He leaves a trail of ruins and fire on his way to King's Landing," Reginald answered.


"My lords, I am sorry, but we must leave the memory of our dead for another day, please instruct your men to break camp and begin marching to Harrenhal immediately," Lord Taubert apologized.

Half the room had left in seconds while others were still confused or finishing what food they could. Ed watched as Lord Taubert ordered his servants to clean up and quickly left for his chambers, most likely to fetch his armour. Ed looked over at Enora, she ripped off a few grapes and ate them one at a time.

"I had hoped we would get to stay longer. I will arrange for an escort back to Riverspring," Ed said.
"I spent barely a fortnight in Riverspring before we had to leave for here. Now that we've come here, I must go home while you leave for war," Enora complained.
"I know, but I can't bring you to the battlefield."
"Why not?" Enora asked.
"There is nothing but danger," Ed explained.
"There is nothing but danger for you too. I was told I'd become the wife of a lord, with all this movement I am unsure whether I am your wife or your horse."
"Has anyone told you how stubborn you are?" Ed asked.
"I'm going, we might even run into my brother Addam out there."
"Fine," Ed resigned, "but you must stay at the camp the entire time."
"Then let's go, husband."
 
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Well now, that was brutally efficient of the King of the North. And what an uproar so caused.
 

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Chapter 4: War

Langward Hall, Sheeran Encampment

The Lannister's second army made a lightening march to Harrenhal to join with Tywin Lannister's troops held up in the ruined fortress. Midway through the march, new orders arrived from Tywin to head south and follow the Blackwater to King's Landing. The reason being that the Tyrells had managed to cut off Stannis Baratheon from the Stormlands by marching through his territory and positioning themselves south of King's Landing.


Lord Tywin made it clear that wiping out the Baratheons was the most primary concern so the combined forces of the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Crownlands could focus on destroying the Tullys and Starks. By the time the Lannisters arrived at King's Landing, Stannis had been defeated at Attadale and scattered his forces to safely retreat.

It had been months since that feast in Payne Hall. Months of marching and manoeuvring had lead to this day where the Sheeran army had been tasked with chasing what remnants they could find.

"Our scouts found an enemy column encamped south of Langward Hall," reported Tommen, the commander of the Sheeran cavalry.


"How many are there?" Ed asked.
"Seven-hundred, the Sheeran army has almost double their number. Whether we raid the camp or face them in open battle, we'll crush them," Flement answered.
"I'm glad your mind for war hasn't been lost," Ed praised.
"There are many things I can't remember, but the battlefield is like kin to me."

The tent flap opened and Enora entered and took a seat in one of the chairs in the tent.

"What are you doing?" Ed asked her.
"I got bored of waiting in our tent."
"I can't spend time with you because I have to plan our next move," Ed explained.
"Oh, no, I wasn't planning on taking part in your council, I just hate being alone."
"Are you two finished?" Flement asked.
"Pay me no mind, I'll just watch," Enora reassured.


Ed watched her for a moment. She was true to her word, she spoke no words and simply stared. All attention returned to the map.

"I'd prefer to raid their camp than fight them in the open," Ed said.
"I wanted to raid the camp as well, the Stormlanders are good fighers and I'd rather not leave it to chance," Flement agreed.
"Where should we raid them from? The enemy is camped along a river so we would have to march around them to hit them from the south," Ed said.
"Even if our army was at half strength, we would still have equal numbers to this band. We can afford to split our forces to attack from different directions," Tommen said.
"How should we split our troops?" Ed asked.
"I can lead eight-hundred in a raid from the south," Flement began. "Tommen can lead his fifty riders from the west. And you, Lord Ed, can lead the rest of the men in an attack from the north by crossing the river."
"Take nine-hundred men, I want as many men to survive this battle," Ed ordered.
"I thank you for your concern, my lord, I will repay your trust with victory."
"I will go ready my riders," Tommen said.

Tommen left the tent. Followed closely by Flement.

"My, you've got a mind for war as well?" Enora asked, with a smirk on her face.
"I was simply saying what they were saying, my true test will come tonight," Ed said.
"Have you ever held a sword?"
"Master Cadwyn taught me, I didn't like fighting, but in order to make a name for House Sheeran, I must fight."
"Are you scared?" Enora asked.
"I'm terrified, as if I was staring at Balerion the Black Dread itself."
"Fight with courage, I need you to come home alive. I'm with child," Enora said in an almost monotone voice.


Ed knelt down in front of the sitting Enora and placed one of her hands between his.
"We've been blessed by the Mother, and now I must ask the Warrior for the same. I will return, for the sake of my house and unborn child," Ed declared.
"Promise me, Ed," Enora pleaded.
"I swear it," Ed promised.

Langward Hall, Baratheon Encampment

Ed could barely see in the darkness. The only thing that was visible was the enemy encampment across the river which was lit by torches and campfires. Ed had four-hundred and fifty men at his command, quite a few of the troops were veterans of the Siege of Riverrun and some may have even seen Ed's father fight. The signal for Ed to cross the river was for Flement to blow his horn and wait for the enemy to be drawn south so that Ed and Tommen's groups could enter from the north and west unopposed.

Ed was assured by his scouts that the river would be shallow enough for the men to cross, there was no turning back now so he could only hope their reports were true. He was worried, the camp was too quiet, as if they were being expected. The Baratheon scouts were dispatched of in all directions but the quiet made Ed feel one somehow escaped.

"Flement's group should be attacking soon, archers to the riverbank," Ed ordered quietly.

The men relayed the order throughout the mass of men and the archers slowly made their way to riverbank, they readied arrows and waited for the order to loose them. There were a few trees to hide behind, but the rest of the men could only rely on the darkness.

A horn was sounded across the river and yelling followed in short order. There was clanging steel and screaming, the signal for the other units of the Sheeran army to attack. Ed stood up and raised the sword of his father with both hands.

"Attack! Cross the river!" Ed yelled as he ran into the water and began trudging through.

His men lit torches and rushed into the water and moved across. As many of the men were wearing leather or cloth armour, they were able to cross more easily than Ed and his personal guards. The first of the men were able to cross, they waited for more men to finish making it across before moving forward. Ed and his guards forded the river and urged everyone into the camp.

Ed looked right and saw horsemen wearing the red armour of the Lannisters charge into the camp with torches in one hand and swords in the other. The fears of the enemy being prepared were for nothing; the enemy was taken by complete surprise.

"Search the tents!" Tommen's voice in the distance yelled.

Ed made his way to the centre of the camp where he believed the enemy commander's tent would be. One of the tents was burning from a knocked over brazier. Men fought each other with swords and spears all around, there was no battleline, only a chaotic melee where death could come from any direction. A rider rode by Ed's face and he recoiled into the arms of his guards, the horseman charged and slashed at an unsuspecting Baratheon soldier.

"Rally to me!" a voice yelled.

Ed looked over to the direction of the voice. It was a Baratheon, he did not seem to be the commander but Ed could not allow anyone to rally. He ordered his guard to follow him in attacking the rallying group. His men clashed with the disorganized group and the fighting was in favour of the Sheerans.

Ed witnessed one of his guards hit an enemy with his shield and stab his sword in his opponent's gut while he was recovering. Another of Ed's guard fought with the rallying Baratheon so Ed focused on a free enemy holding a spear.

The spearman charged Ed and he sidestepped the attack. His opponent stopped and Ed took the opportunity to make an overhead swing on the spear, hoping it would break. Contrary to what he had heard in legends and bard's songs, the spear did not break. The man was reorienting himself when Ed took his sword and tried to push it into the man's gut.

The man fell backward slightly and it took a second for Ed's strength to catch up. Although his hands were on the grip, he could somehow feel the blade going through the man's skin, it almost seemed effortless, it felt like there already was a hole to slide his weapon in. The man did not scream, he simply sucked in air, a noise Ed never heard anyone talk about. Ed fell to his knees and the man landed on his back, blood slowly poured out from the wound his sword had made.

He had just taken a life. He was panting and almost wanted to cry.

"Ride them down!" a rider screamed.

Ed stood up and pulled his sword out of the body, somehow pulling the sword out required more effort than pushing it through. He looked around, the number of Baratheons still standing was dwindling and some were even trying to flee. Tommen's cavalry ensured none made it far before receiving a sword to their backs. Nobody was taking prisoners, it was a massacre.

"Tommen! Flement!" Ed yelled over the sounds of what little fighting there was left.
"My lord!" Flement's voice yelled back.

Flement was not covered in blood, he was drenched in it. His sword was varying shades of red and a section of his plate armour near an exposed area of chainmail was dented.

"It's good to see you're still alive, my lord! And you've bloodied your sword too!" Flement praised.


"Let's just finish here, I want to go back to camp," Ed said, still trying to regain his breath.

A conversation was possible as the clanging and screaming had stopped, replaced by crying and begging. All Ed could smell was the burning tent nearby. He could only taste his sweat supplemented by the iron taste of blood. Ed felt no worry about tearing up in front of his men, he acted as if it was his sweat.

"Send a raven to the Lannister army at Attadale, tell them we've dealt with seven-hundred Baratheons at Langward Hall."

A rider in plain clothes arrived at the scene of the battle and made his way to Ed, he dismounted and pulled something from his bag.

"Lord Sheeran, message from Ser Addam Marbrand," the rider reported.
"Give it to me," Ed demanded.

Ser Addam Marbrand was Ed's brother-in-law and commander of the Lannister vanguard. His message requested the Sheeran army to march south to assist him in dealing with a new Baratheon army that had formed up in the south.


The Lannister army had managed to intercept the enemy at Greenward. Despite the Lannisters having the advantage, Ser Addam Marbrand was worried that the enemy's ability to reform so quickly meant there were other Baratheon armies nearby. With his brother-in-law needing assistance, Ed made haste to prepare to march to his side.
 
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S u b s c r i b e r g a i n e d
 

stnylan

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A very good strike, but there is no rest in war it seems :)
 

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Chapter 5: The Hunt For The Stag

Felwood, Lannister Encampment

Tents as far as the eye could see was the sight that greeted Ed and the Sheeran army. Ed was unable to arrive to help at the battle of Greenward but the Lannister forces still prevailed without any reinforcements. A greater prize however had presented itself at Greenward and now Felwood, Stannis Baratheon.

Stannis was sighted leading the centre at Greenward and inflicted a great amount of damage considering the massive disadvantage he was in. Despite his efforts, Baratheon commanders could not follow through on Stannis' initiative and the battle was lost. Several thousand were reported to have been killed or taken prisoner by the Lannisters, the troops with Stannis were all he had had left, at least that was what the reports said.

At the head of the Sheeran column approaching the camp was Ed in his red Westerlander armour. Behind him was Flement, Enora, and Lester. Tommen stayed at the rear to manage the rearguard. Lester wielded the banner of House Sheeran and ensured it was high enough for all of the camp to see. The Sheeran soldiers stopped following and began setting up their tents while Ed, Flement, Enora, Lester, and Ed's personal guards continued on.

There were a few cheers and light greetings from the men walking around the camp. It did not take long for Ser Addam Marbrand and his retinue to greet Ed. Everyone dismounted their horses and handed the reins to stableboys that Ser Addam ordered to take the horses to the Sheeran camp.


"Enora? What in seven hells are you doing here?" Addam asked.
"Ed brought me," Enora answered.
"Ed, if you've endangered my sister in anyway," Addam threatened, pointing one of his fingers at Ed.
"Stand down, soldier," Enora ordered sarcastically. "I came of my own accord."
"Apologies, Ed. I should've remembered my sister was the stubborn type."
"I've brought Fourteen-hundred men to assist you in the coming battle," Ed reported.
"And I bring you a niece or nephew," Enora said with a grin.
"You're with child?" Addam asked as his eyes widened.
"Calm yourself, brother, I've only ever stepped on a battlefield when it was nothing but corpses and scavengers."
"If father heard about this," Addam said.
"Where do you need my men?" Ed asked quickly, changing the subject.
"You've missed the war council, but our right wing is lacking men. I'll be honest, I expected you to bring fewer men."
"Where are the Baratheon forces?" Flement asked, inviting himself into the conversation.
"Not too far, you'd be able to see the smoke of their campfires if it weren't for these damned trees."

Ed stood on his toes and tried to see if he could see the smoke. Addam was right, the trees obstructed his view.

"What does their encampment look like?" Ed asked.
"Stannis has dug himself in well, he is encamped atop a small hill across the Wendwater. Our massive cavalry advantage will do us nothing until we cross the river, and even then, that hill."
"Then why not cross somewhere else and surround him?" Flement asked.
"Stannis knows the Stormlands well, the next closest shallows are leagues from here. Our only option is to cross here and quickly surround him on all sides," Addam said in an annoyed tone.
"We'd have to surround him quickly, Stannis could escape before we encircle him," Ed warned.
"No, I know Stannis, he wouldn't abandon his men. I respect that about him," Addam answered with a quiet voice, as if he was regretful.

Stannis was an enemy but even Ed had to admit Stannis' refusal to abandon his men was a very commendable aspect of his. He hoped for a day where he could call Stannis an ally in their war against Robb Stark.

"You've been briefed, get your men a good rest and fill their stomachs as tomorrow is when we will attack," Addam ordered.
"As you wish," Ed acknowledged.

Ed bowed his head down as Addam turned around and left so he could attend to other matters. The Sheeran camp was a short walk away and Ed ordered his retinue to head there to help the others with their tents.

Felwood, The Wendwater

A force of nineteen-thousand Lannister bannermen arrayed themselves against a force that was barely eight-thousand strong. The hill the enemy held was not large enough for all the tents, but it was just enough for every last soldier to form up in a circular formation. Tents were left abandoned and some were torn down to make crude defences and walls. With the rough campground surrounding the hill, a cavalry charge was not an option and an infantry advance would be messy with hundreds of obstacles in the way.

A sudden war council was called by Addam. Ed attended and saw many lords who he never met personally, but knew their sigils by heart from his lessons as a boy. He was seated next to Lord Melwyn Sarsfield and Lord Roland Crakehall.

"I didn't account for him to just leave his tents, we won't be able to march in formation," Addam said.
"We still have the numbers, it'll only just be messy," Lord Gawen Westerling said.
"I'd rather keep my head where it is, unless, Lord Gawen, you're willing to tell Tywin Lannister why he lost thousands of men to an army less than half our size?"
"Our biggest threat is Robb Stark, we have no time to play games with Stannis," Lord Gawen argued.
"Don't be a fool, we have half of the Westerland's army here, we need it intact if we are to fight the North," Lord Melwyn berated.
"We'd be in range of their arrows the moment we make it across, we'll have the infantry cross first and secure the other side of the riverbank," Addam briefed.
"If we had the cavalry cross first, we'd be able to surround the camp quicker," Lord Roland suggested.
"Where is the enemy cavalry?" Lord Leo Lefford asked.
"Scouts say the enemy is keeping their horses in the stables they built on the hill, it seems they are prepared for a siege," Addam answered.
"Without the risk of a cavalry attack, we can afford to have the infantry cross first, then our archers and crossbows. The cavalry can come last," Lord Leo said.
"A sound proposal, I'll put it to a vote, all in favour of having the cavalry cross?" Addam asked.
"What are we, the fucking Free Cities? Lord Gawen complained."
"Raise your hand if you believe the cavalry should cross first."

Lord Roland, Lord Gawen, and a few minor commanders raised their hands.

"All in favour of the infantry crossing first?"

Ed, Lord Melwyn, Lord Leo, and anyone that did not previously raise their hands voted in favour of the infantry crossing.

"Looks like we're the majority," Ed said.
"I agree with the majority, the cavalry would take heavy losses from enemy archers and crossbowmen, we open the battle with an infantry crossing," Addam said.
"Aye!" the men that voted for the infantry crossing cheered.
"Return to your armies, send your infantry across and stay in your assigned wing," Addam ordered.

Ed departed the council with the rest of the lords and made his way back to the right wing. Along with his banner, he could also see the banners of the Sarsfields and their bannermen. A horn blew from the centre of the army, the note soon passed from hornblower to hornblower until it reached the edges of the formation. Before the note could dissipate, the Lannister infantry began marching into the shallow and crossing the Wendwater.

Most of the commanders stayed behind to observe the battlefield. Ed decided to join the rest of the lords in this and took position along the riverbank to watch the right wing advance. The men kept their shields high to brace themselves from incoming arrows. Flement, Lester, and Tommen were all involved in the crossing, Ed silently prayed to the warrior to watch over his friend and two loyal commanders.

"Lions cross the water, the stags falter," Ed whispered to himself.
"I thought you were a singer, not a poet," Enora said.

She rode a horse right next to Ed. Ed looked behind him and saw the two guards he had assigned to keep an eye on her join the rest of his men.

"I've been losing my voice ever since this damned war started. Get back to the camp, your brother would have a fit if he saw you this close to the battlefield."
"I wanted to watch, look at all this, so magnificent," Enora said, enamoured with the formations and banners.
"It won't be so magnificent when the armies clash, I've killed a man and I can tell you it'll look nothing like this until the next battle."
"Then let us enjoy it while we can," Enora said.

The first of the Lannister troops reached the other side of the Wendwater. It almost seemed too easy, ranging by scouts reported that anyone making it to the other side would be in range of enemy ranged attacks.

"Now that I look at it, it doesn't look like seven-thousand troops are on that hill," Ed said.

The Lannister archers and crossbowmen were beginning to cross while the cavalry still waited. Ed eyed the banners of the right wing that had made it across, the Sarsfields took the lead with the Sheerans right behind them.

Ed looked behind him and saw one of Lord Melwyn's guards ride by quickly in the direction of Addam's position. He deduced the guard was a messenger, he decided to speak with Lord Melwyn personally about the message. Enora and Ed's guards followed him. Lord Melwyn was watching from very far to the right so he could watch the flanks.

"Lord Melwyn!" Ed called.
"What do you want Lord Sheeran?" he asked, still watching the front instead of Ed.
"I saw you sent a messenger to Ser Addam. If the contents are not private, would you mind sharing with me?"
"Look at that hill, doesn't look like seven-thousand men, do you agree?" Lord Melwyn asked.
"I had the same conclusion, most likely all the other lords have figured it out too," Ed said.
"I don't know where the rest of them are, but Ser Addam should know what's happening."
"Then Stannis has run?"
"No, there's enough tents for his whole army, the rest of the troops are hiding somewhere."

The Baratheons finally launched a hail of arrows and bolts at the Lannister army. The Lannisters formed up and held their shields high.

"Where would they hide? It's just open ground and the hill," Ed wondered.
"Son of a bitch, it can't be that easy," Lord Melwyn said.

With the Lannister troops holding in place to resist the arrows and bolts, the Baratheon cavalry revealed itself from behind the hill and split up to engage every wing at the exact same time.

"The Baratheon cavalry!" Ed yelled and pointed.
"We haven't heard from some of our forward scouts for a few hours now, this must be why," Lord Melwyn said.

Horns were blowing all over. The Baratheons timed their attack perfectly. With the Lannister infantry holding in place, they could not move easily without taking even more damage from the ranged attacks. The archers were in the shallows and could therefore not see over the infantry while the crossbowmen would be unable to reload without placing their crossbows in the water. And finally, with troops blocking the shallows, the cavalry could not cross to harass or counter the cavalry charge.

While many of the levy infantry carried spears, their ability to resist the charge depended on their ability to hold the line. Horns were still blowing constantly. Ed had no vision of the centre or left wing, but he could see the right were trying to form a spearwall despite exposing themselves to arrows. The troops were formed up, but the enemy cavalry appeared to be slowing down.

"What are they doing? They wouldn't break through the first row of men at that speed," Ed said.
"Hmm," Lord Melwyn grunted.

The cavalry eventually stopped almost right in front of the Lannister army. They slowly turned their horses around.

"I have never seen this before," Ed said.
"I'm no master commander, but it would seem they are harassing us to stall our advance. Stannis is either trying to weaken us as much as he can or stall for a retreat. I'll bet you fifty gold dragons he's stalling us to cause damage."
"This isn't the time to be betting!" Ed complained.


Distant horns were blowing.The Baratheon banners were being taken down and the enemy was disappearing behind the hill.

"Well damn, Stannis continues to surprise me."
"About my fifty gold dragons," Ed said.
"You never agreed to the bet," Lord Melwyn dismissed.

Lannister horns played a different tune, a signal to charge. The infantry charged forward, giving room for the archers and crossbowmen to make it onto dry land. The cavalry headed into the water in order to close the distance with the retreating Baratheons. The enemy cavalry retreated but then slowly turned back so it would head straight for the Lannister infantry.

The horns continued to urge the troops forward but they halted to receive the charge. With the archers on land, they loosed their arrows overhead into the enemy cavalry and killed a few of them. Lord Melwyn and his guards joined the cavalry in crossing the Wendwater. Ed decided to stay with Enora on the Lannister's side of the Wendwater. The Baratheon cavalry crashed into the infantry formation but the casualties were minimal as the Lannister infantry held their ground with their spears out.

It did not take long for the Baratheon cavalry to be repulsed and the infantry continued advancing. The Baratheon cavalry retreat to the perimeter of the camp and consolidated before following the Baratheon army. Ed watched as the Lannister cavalry hastily gathered and pursued the Baratheon army.


"I expected more of a fight," Ed said.
"They won't get far, look at all of our horses," Enora said,
"We won't be able to see anymore fighting from here, come, let's join your brother."

The Battle of Felwood was a decisive victory that resulted in very minimal losses for the Lannisters compared to the Baratheons. It did not matter how many troops could be mustered by the Stormlands now, for the Lannisters had something worth more than soldiers, Stannis Baratheon. Credit to his capture belonged to cavalrymen under House Foote, bannermen of Lord Leo Lefford of The Golden Tooth.

With the battlefield so close to King's Landing, Stannis was quickly put into one of the black cells. Despite being his nephew, Joffrey showed no mercy to his uncle Stannis and ensured he suffered the most horrific amount of pain.


Ed heard rumours that Stannis was yelling about the Iron Throne belonging to him by right all the way to the gallows, it was Ilyn Payne that finally silenced him. With Stannis Baratheon dead and his armies crushed, many lords of the Stormlands bent the knee and begged for mercy.


Another king had fallen. Tywin Lannister was quick to order his troops to invade the Riverlands and bring the war north. At last, the Sheeran army would march against what they considered the true enemy, the North who had killed Lord Hugh Sheeran at Riverrun. There was confidence among the Lannister armies, their crushing of the Baratheons would surely become the subject of songs and legends for generations to come.
 

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Joffrey living up to his reputation.
 

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Chapter 6: Strangling The Maiden

Harroway's Town

Half a month had passed since the defeat of the Baratheons at the Battle of Felwood. The Lannisters, Tyrells, and the Crownlanders surrounded the Riverlands, putting pressure on Robb Stark from all directions. The Sheeran army continued to follow the army under the command of Ser Addam Marbrand. Tywin Lannister waged a bloody campaign on his path to Riverrun, a public declaration that one does not execute a Lannister without consequences.

The Riverlords saw the way the wind was blowing. Many surrendered and declared themselves for Joffrey, taking up arms against their Lord Paramount. Two particular rebels were the Lords of Darry and Chiltern which opened up a prime opportunity for Addam. On his own intiative, Addam directed his forces to Harroway's Town, the last possible supply route to Maidenpool and even Saltpans.


Ed was watching the men batter at the gates from the safety of an inn that was made a forward base for the besieging forces. The bannermen of House Sarsfield, House Marbrand, and House Sheeran were participating in the assault while the other armies of Ser Addam's army were pacifying the area around the town. Harroway's Town was a simple fortress, a stone roundtower surrounded by houses. Despite the lack of walls guarding the village, soldiers of house Roote and a few others held the town viciously before retreating inside the keep.

The Sheerans were held in reserve during the sack of the village. Ed was never involved in a siege, his whole image of war was that it was a man's profession but that image was shattered when he entered the town. There were many dead women and children, Ed could have only imagined what happened to the women with torn clothes or the children laying in pools of blood. Several fires were being put out throughout the village, the smoke could be seen from the second storey window of the inn he was in. Ed moved away from the window and sat down at the table Addam and Lord Melwyn Sarsfield were seated at.

"Once that damn gate breaks, it'll be over and we can starve Maidenpool out," Addam said.
"Aye, the Mootons let Robb Stark use Maidenpool as a base to attack the Crownlands, they will pay," Lord Melwyn declared.
"I've heard Robb Stark's army is on the move," Ed said, not hiding his worry from the others.
"He'll be isolated from the North if he stays here any longer, I've heard the Mallisters have also joined us," Lord Melwyn said.
"I've on good authority that the Iron Fleet is sailing north," Addam said.
"The Ironborn? What business do they have north?" Ed asked.
"Isn't it obvious? Robb Stark is down south with his army, who will defend the North from an entire Ironborn fleet?" Lord Melwyn answered.

A crossbowman was shooting from the window. He reloaded his weapon and leaned slightly out of the window to fire at the keep again, but he took an arrow to the arm and retreated back inside. Several men ran to his aid and helped him away from the window.

"Looks like they know we're in here, best we stay here until the gate is breached," Addam said.
"We should've built a bigger ram," Lord Melwyn complained.
"A waste of timber to build a grand ram for a keep so small," Addam replied.
"Let us pass the time with talk, or how about we find any leftover ale in the storehouse of this inn?" Ed asked.
"You lot! When you're done with that crossbowman, find us something to drink," Lord Melwyn commanded.
"Yes m'lord!" one of them answered.
"Ed, if I'm correct, it's been about nine months since your wedding day?" Addam asked.
"Yes," Ed answered.
"Well then, you'll be a father any day now," Addam laughed.
"Do your miss your children?" Ed asked.
"I do, it's kind of funny, isn't it? I miss my children but you'll be able to spend time with yours in the middle of a war," Addam said.
"We've been gone from the camp for a few days now, for all I know, my child could already be born," Ed said.

A soldier returned with a cask, he had some difficulty carrying it which indicated how full it was to the three men. Another brought three cups from downstairs and placed them on the table for the lords. The soldier who brought the cask poured each man enough ale to fill their cup and placed the cask on the table.

"A toast then, to Lord Sheeran's new child," Lord Melwyn toasted.


Ed and Addam cheered and chugged down the entire cup of ale. It was not the best ale Ed had tasted, but for a town that been ransacked for days, it was good enough for him. As the three lords slammed their cups on the table, loud screams and yelling were heard outside. A soldier watching over the wounded crossbowman leaned out the window.

"M'lords! The gate's been broken!" he reported.
"Well, that deserves another toast," Addam said.

Addam and Lord Melwyn laughed and poured themselves another cup, all the while noises of brutality and desperation were heard from not that far away. It was hard for Ed to laugh when hundreds were being slaughtered so close, nevertheless, he drank the ale at the same time as the others.

The loyal soldiers of the Rootes fought to the last man, no mercy was shown, not even to the smallfolk. With Harroway's Town lost, there was no effective way to send supplies to Maidenpool or Saltpans, even without any Lannister soldiers being nearby, the sieges of these towns had already begun. According to reports, Robb Stark was marching to aid Harroway's Town but turned around after hearing it was lost.

Working with Tywin Lannister and the Tyrells, Addam began spreading word of the Ironborn raids in the North all across the Riverlands. Although the Iron Fleet had yet to reach their target, the rumour and speculation of the Starks abandoning the Riverlands was enough to force even more lords to rebel against Robb Stark, he was soon isolated without any friends.


Remarkably, the Young Wolf was able to evade his enemies and reached The Twins. All eyes looked to the Freys, they had the opportunity to trap Robb Stark and his entire army in the south. Everyone expected Walder Frey to betray the Starks, but Walder Frey had died a few days after the fall of Harroway's Town, the new lord, Stevron Frey surprisingly reaffirmed the Frey's alliance with the Starks. The armies of the south could only watch as the Freys allowed the Starks to cross their bridge.


Harroway's Town, Lannister Encampment

Ed returned to the Sheeran's area of the camp. He had been gone for a few days and was eager to check on his wife Enora who was carrying his child. The two guards Ed left at his tent bowed their heads as he opened the flap to the tent. He saw Enora sitting in a chair and cradling a bundle of blankets in her arms. In the tent were two other women who bowed at Ed's presence.

"Enora, who are these two women?" Ed asked.
"Camp followers, there aren't any handmaidens or wet nurses here so I had to make do. They also helped me with the labour," Enora answered.

Ed's attention turned back to the bundle of blankets.

"Is it a boy or a girl?" Ed asked.
"A girl," Enora answered.


"Let me see her."

Ed approached Enora and carefully held the child the way Enora was.

"Beautiful, isn't she? I had hoped to name her Sylvia," Enora said.
"A wonderful name. Born on campaign in an army camp, she'll definitely grow up to be a warrior," Ed joked.
"I hope that once this war ends, our child will never grow up in a world at war," Enora said sadly.
"The Young Wolf's on the run, this war will end soon," Ed reassured.
 

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This war may end soon, but this is a world in which peace, alas, stands no chance.
 

EmpireofOne

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Chapter 7: Coming Home

Stoney Sept

Tywin Lannister began shuffling his bannermen at the front. He had kept many lords in reserve and began calling them to join his armies while permitting those that had been fighting to return home and see to the affairs of their lands. The Lannisters were not worried about fighting with only a fraction of their forces as Robb Stark had retreated past Moat Cailin and the Tyrell army was taking a more active role in the war. Tywin was willing to give the Tyrells control of the Second Siege of Riverrun, Hoster Tully only had a moment of relief until he saw the banners of Golden Roses taking over for the Lions being taken down. Even more of a shock to him was the sight of banners belonging to his former bannermen.


The Sheeran army was excited to return home after a long campaign. While the men did not get their chance to face Robb Stark who was responsible for the death of Lord Hugh Sheeran, they had won every battle and siege during their time under Ed. The Westerlands were only a few days away when Ed was approached by several of his commanders who had asked if he could have the army make a stop along the way home, the Stoney Sept. Hugh Sheeran had skirmished several times with Lord Wilbert Grey and both sides lost lives in the border disputes. Wilbert Grey had perished in battle which put Ser Dennett Grey in a similar position to Ed, a young man inheriting his father's house when he perished in another man's war.

Despite the enemy's best efforts, the Sheeran army could not be fooled, the city was practically empty.


The Grey army had perished alongside Lord Wilbert Grey and had yet to return, Ser Dennett was on his own. While Ed could have easily taken the town with his forces, he dared not lose any men so close to home. The siege had been going on for a few days and Ed was eager to get back home. He decided to send a messenger to request a parley with Ser Dennett and negotiate his surrender.

It took a day for his reply to reach Ed, possibly due to arguing among what council he had left. The gates were opened and Ser Dennett left the safety of his walls with a small escort of guards, a larger group sat at the gate, to defend against any sudden charge by the enemy. Ed left his camp accompanied by his guards and approached Ser Dennett and his entourage. There was silence at first, this was the first time Ed had ever engaged with an enemy in this way.

"Ser Dennett Grey," Ed greeted.
"Lord Ed Sheeran," Ser Dennett replied.
"This siege has been going on for almost a fortnight, your food stores however will last you years."
"How would you know how long my food stores would last?" Ser Dennett asked.
"Because you have no army, unless you and your smallfolk are a band of gluttons, that food will last you for quite some time," Ed said.
"If you're trying to make a point, make it already."
"Ser Dennett, you do not have the men to hold this town against my army, I demand you surrender immediately, I swear your hold and people will be unharmed," Ed explained.
"I have more than enough men to hold against you," Ser Dennett said with confidence.

Ed was angry, he gripped the reins of his horse hard to conceal his mood.

"No you do not! Look at your battlements, they're empty so you could make this show of force at your gate, your army died along with your father," Ed berated.
"Don't speak ill of my father!" Ser Dennett yelled.
"You and I are not so different, Ser Dennett. Our fathers both died in battle and we inherited our houses at a young age. Both of our houses are on the brink of destruction, and yet, mine will survive because I fought for the right side. Yours can too if you decide to surrender right now, I give you my guarantee that everything will be spared if you bend the knee to King Joffrey," Ed explained.
"My lord, we tried our best, we can't fool them," one of Ser Dennett's entourage said.
"Whoever this man is, he speaks the truth," Ed said.
"My Master-at-Arms is mistaken, we need only hold the keep to resist."

Ed recollected his time at Harroway's Town.

"House Roote of Harroway's Town thought the same, not a single man, woman, or child survived. Many of my men have grudges with your house, do you not remember the disputes our fathers had? My men want to break down your gates, loot your houses, and turn your keep into your rubble. My men respect me, and I can prevent them from causing any damage."
"If you have nothing else to discuss, we're done here," Ser Dennett said before turning his horse around.
"Ser Dennett! You'd kill all your men and smallfolk for your pride?" Ed yelled.

Ser Dennett ignored him and slowly trotted his horse behind the line of men guarding the gate. Ser Dennett's Master-at-Arms looked back at Ed and gave him a look of sympathy before following his lord back inside the town.

Ed turned his horse around and rode quickly back to the perimeter of tents surrounding the town. Ed dismounted his horse and returned to his tent where Enora, his daughter Sylvia, and the two women Enora had picked up to care for the child were staying.

"Did he surrender?" Enora asked.
"He's going to get all his people killed, just for his own pride," Ed complained.
"Riverlanders, if only their blood flowed to their brains like the rivers in their lands," Enora joked.

Both Ed and Enora chuckled, but the two women did not seem to be amused.

"I suppose it'll be awhile before we reach Riverspring, it's been almost two years since we were last there," Ed said.
"Sylvia's been on campaign for so long that's she gotten used to the sounds of the camp," Enora said while rubbing Sylvia's belly.
"I hope Sylvia will be the only child that will be born during a time of war," Ed wished.
"If we're going to be here for some time, then it may displease you to know that I am having another child," Enora said meekly.


"Seven hells!" Ed said loudly.

Sylvia began to cry and Enora rocked Sylvia back to sleep.

"You and I both know you're as much to blame as I am," Enora responded.
"No, I'm happy, but with this siege, this child will also be one born in a place of war."
"If you want this child to born in Riverspring, you'd best end this siege quick, I've actually been with this child for two months now."
"That depends on how long Ser Dennett is willing to hold, I will not lose another life when home is so close," Ed said.

Six months of besieging the Stoney Sept produced no results, there was unrest in the Sheeran camp with desertions by several men who wanted to head home. Despite the desertions and anger at the lack of progress, Ed maintained the siege.

Ed was preparing to head back to his tent to sleep when a commotion was heard somewhere in the camp. Flement and Tommen both rode to Ed on their horses and dismounted quickly.

"My lord! Several fires have started in the town and there's a loud commotion!" Flement reported.
"We have no idea what's happening, but the soldiers have abandoned the battlements, this may be our chance to attack, give us the order," Tommen pleaded.
"Not yet, we'll see what happens, if it continues into the morning, we attack," Ed ordered.
"My lord, we may not get a chance like this again," Flement argued.
"I have a feeling this may benefit us more if we wait," Ed explained.
"As you wish," Tommen said.

When Ed awoke the next day, the commotion had silence and the flames were now black stacks of smoke. The gates were open and Ser Dennett was riding toward the camp with the same men he rode with before. Ed gathered his guards and prepared to meet Ser Dennett and his men.

"Ser Dennett!" Ed yelled.

Ser Dennett did not say a word. As he got closer, Ed noticed bruises on his face and dirty stares from his entourage.

"I've come to negotiate," Ser Dennett said.
"After six months? You're lucky I don't order my men to burn the town to ashes now!" Ed said angrily.
"We will surrender and bend the knee to Joffrey on the condition you spare the Stoney Sept," the Master-at-Arms said.
"It seems your pride could not overpower your people's desire to survive," Ed bragged.
"Just accept my surrender and honour your side of the agreement," Ser Dennett grumbled.
"I will accept your surrender. As the day is young, I will break camp and begin marching home immediately," Ed said with a smug grin.
"Your mercy does your house honour," the Master-at-Arms praised.
"Ser Dennett, you'd best stay in your keep and refuse any call to arms from Robb Stark or Hoster Tully or I will come back here and finish what I started," Ed warned.

Ser Dennett grunted and turned around almost immediately. The siege was over and Ed ordered runners to tell the entire camp to begin their march home. They started tearing down their tents and gathering their supplies. Ed was overseeing the stables being taken down when a rider arrived at the camp.

"Lord Sheeran! I bring word from Spymaster Willard," the messenger reported.
"Thank you, see you and your horse are fed, you can join us on the march home," Ed said.

He ripped the seal and began reading. Willard had not written for a few months now, but Castellan Symeon had assured him all was well in Riverspring. There were reports of a strange army landing at Hollard Hall, an army ten-thousand strong with cloaks and armour coloured gold. At the head of this army was a ghost, at least if the actions of Gregor Clegane were to be believed. The head of this golden horde was a young man claiming to be Aegon Targaryen, the same one Gregor had slaughtered many years ago during Robert's Rebellion.


There was a frenzy in the Crownlands, with Joffrey on campaign in the Riverlands, King's Landing was defenceless against the Golden Company who were already besieging Duskendale. And so, another king had thrown his lot into the war, threatening to destroy the advantages and victory the forces of the south had built up. With all armies fighting so far away, there was no possible way of reaching King's Landing before Aegon and his mercenaries could.
 

stnylan

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Well that throws a dragon amidst the cattle.
 

EmpireofOne

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Chapter 8: The Evil Within

Riverspring

It felt good to be home. Not much had changed in the hold since Ed had left, Castellan Symeon performed his duties well. The war had never reached the Westerlands and so the people were spared from the horrors the Riverlands were facing daily. Many of the council were out performing duties that Symeon had assigned them, only a few were present when Ed returned with the army.

Because of the delays in the siege of the Stoney Sept, Ed's wishes for his second child to be born in Riverspring never came to be, in fact, he had to stop the march when Enora gave birth to a boy, whom they both named Albin.


The future of House Sheeran looked promising with Ed's two children and his reputation as a competent commander. Ed was looking forward to contribute further to this bright future through the management of his lands rather than fighting on the battlefield. Justiciar Tywold had returned from his mission to Payne Hall, he approached Ed in the great hall to report his accomplishments.

"My Lord, Lord Taubert sings only words of praise about you. My mission to raise his opinion of you has been nothing but successful," Tywold reported.


"Excellent work, I thank you Tywold for your diligence in handling this matter," Ed praised.
"I should be thanking you my lord, your exploits throughout the war have made it easy for me to convince Lord Taubert of your good character."
"With this, we shall raise above the rest of Lord Taubert's bannermen," Symeon said.
"I also bring a proposal back from Lord Taubert, my lord. He wishes for you to serve as his Justiciar," Tywold said.


"You will have the opportunity to project much influence with this position," Symeon said.
"I was getting used to being back home, but if my liege lord wishes that I serve him as Justiciar, I will do it," Ed said.
"You aren't obligated to accept, my lord," Tywold assured.
"It would undo all of your hard work for me to decline Lord Taubert. If that is all Tywold, you may go."

Tywold bowed his head and left the great hall to return to his business. Spymaster Willard entered just as Tywold was leaving. He was clutching several parchments in his hand and bowed his head when he stood in front of Ed.

"Willard, is it time?" Symeon asked.
"Time for what?" Ed asked.
"In my hand is proof of corruption within your realm, from your own council no less," Willard said as he handed the parchments to Ed.

Ed looked over the reports, they were numbers detailing the tax collection that had been happening since Ed had left to fight.

"I'm sorry, Willard. I have no idea what any of this means, I would need Treasurer Quenton to help me with this," Ed said.
"Unfortunately, my lord, the one causing this corruption is Treasurer Quenton," Willard said.


"Are you certain?"
"We have been investigating him for quite some time now," Symeon said.
"He claimed that the war was affecting the prosperity of the realm and therefore started collecting fewer taxes from the smallfolk, a few of my spies throughout your lands report he's still been collecting the regular taxes," Willard explained.
"What has he been doing with the money?" Ed asked.
"We do not know, but now that you're settled down, we can somehow put a stop to this," Symeon answered.

Quenton had been given his position by Ed's father, to learn that he had become corrupt showed that the war being far away still had adverse effects to the lands far away from the fighting. Ed believed that Quenton's intentions were not particularly harmful to House Sheeran, but corruption could not be tolerated, especially since he was now back home.

"I do not wish to make an enemy of Quenton, but his injustices must be corrected," Ed said.
"My lord, I will have Maester Normund write a letter to Quenton demanding the money," Symeon said.
"My lord, I have my own suggestion, we can gain the gratitude of our people if we send back a portion of the money to them. Lord Hugh was smart with his money and we can afford to take in fewer taxes this month," Willard suggested.
"Make a public declaration that we will be sending back some of the taxes, if Quenton refuses, it'll be his reputation on the line," Ed ordered.
"It will be done," Symeon acknowledged.

Ed gave back the parchments back to Willard who bowed and departed to carry out his orders. Ed wondered what else could have happened in his absence, Symeon assured him all was well but apparently this investigation into Treasurer Quenton had been going on for months. He could not help but believe there was more happening that Symeon and Willard were not telling him about.

In the coming days, all of Riverspring was made aware of the generosity of Lord Ed Sheeran. Treasuer Quenton had no choice but to send the difference in his reports back to the smallfolk or face a great stain to his reputation. Along with losing the money he had been taking, he also paid a fine to Ed as recompense for his corruption


While the smallfolk were relieved and happy, the nobles and retainers of Riverspring were well aware of the motives of Ed's actions. While Quenton was safe from an angry mob forming outside his holdfast, he was not safe from the gossip and opinion of his fellow nobles.

Dealing with corruption within his council was Ed's first real task ever since he returned from the battlefield, it would not be the last. He had almost forgotten he was also the lord of Riverspring and not just its commander on the battlefield, while Ed was settled, there was still a lot to do and much to catch up on.