26.8.11

Mountain - Part 3 - Past

She hurried after the girl who slowed her pace a little to let Melicent catch up. “Thank you for showing me the way” she said, a little breathlessly. “This place is so big, I can’t imagine I’d ever learn my way round.”

“Yes m'Lady.” the girl said quietly.

“What is your name?

“Weasel, m'Lady.” the girl said.

“Weasel? But that’s not a name for a little girl!” Poor thing, she thought. ”Don’t you have another name?”

The girl looked at her for a long time as if considering her. And then, as though Melicent had somehow had met her approval, she said “Arry.”

Melicent  smiled “You know, somehow Arry, you remind me of my sister, Nella.”

“You…you remind me of my sister too… Lady Melicent.”

“Oh? What is your sister’s name?”

Arry looked down at her feet. “It doesn't matter. She’s gone now.”



“I’m so sorry. I lost a brother when I was younger. I miss him dreadfully.” Melicent thought of her younger brother Godric who had been killed in a fall from a horse when he was 8 years old.

Arry seemed to wake out of a dream. She snapped around and continued down the passage. “This way m'Lady,” and it was all Melicent could do to keep pace with her. Upstairs, through passages, down stairs, lefts, rights, she thanked the gods that she had Arry to show her the way. By the time they emerged into an overgrown garden, she was almost dizzy. They followed a path through the garden which led to the entrance to the Godswood.

“Would you like to come in and sit with me while I pray?” She asked Arry, but Arry shook her head. “Alright. Will you stay here in the garden until I return?”

“Yes, m'Lady. I’ll be here to see you back. May I sleep while you’re gone? I've not slept yet tonight.”

She smiled at the child. “Thank you Arry, of course you may. It’s a warm night. Will you be comfortable?”

“Yes, m'Lady”.

“Good. You rest. I’ll wake you when I return.” And she turned and walked into the trees.

Her mother being from the South, she had grown up with the New Gods as well as the Old, but it was to the Old that she found she felt a stronger connection. With the exception of the Mother, she didn’t feel as drawn to the seven. In a Godswood, she felt at home and at peace. She wandered through the wood until she came to the Heart Tree. When she did, she gasped and drew back in surprise. The face of the Heart Tree was a face of anger. Its mouth was twisted and it eyes flashed with fire. It hates. How could this be a Heart Tree? She shivered.

What to do? She was here now. There was nothing else to do but pray. She would try. She knelt before the tree in the moonlight. There weren’t special words that she needed to say. She just needed to think…and to…ask.

The fall of Karhold. Their desperate flight South. The terrible hard journey they had to make in order to escape being taken by Bolton forces. They way her cousins cried as they left them behind at the twins. Her Mother crying. Her Father’s face when he found out that Winterfell had been taken. He was a strong, proud man, but his options were running out. He must ask for help in order to save his lands, his people. There was Lord Manderly, who he knew would ultimately do nothing. And there was the Lord of Harrenhal. She saw the ravens take flight to White Harbour and to Harrenhal. She saw only one come back. Lord of Harrenhal's response. She and Nella crept behind her parents’ tent when the Maester brought them the reply.

Her father read the message. “What? What is it? Her voice got more insistent “Tell me what it says!”

Tomard sighed. “He will help us. He says to come to Harrenhal and we will be welcome.”

“But that is good news! Why do you look so sad?” she asked him.

“I was afraid of this. Everyone has their price, my dear. He wants our oldest daughter, Sylva. I’m sorry. He wants Melicent.”

There was a crash inside the tent. “No! No, NO! He can’t! He can’t have her! He can’t have either of them!!” She started to cry. “You knew him! He’s a monster! A rapist! He murders children! A kinslayer! He killed his father, his sister... his first two wives! I will not let you! I will not allow it!!” She began to sob. 

"Nothing is free, my love. It is as much as I'd expected. Why else should he help me? A boyhood friend, we've no other ties, he owes me nothing. The Lord of Harrenhal is not a stupid man. To help me recover my lands will be a huge investment in money, men, arms, horses... Karhold may be in ruins, but we are one of the Old Houses. Joined we would be a powerful force indeed. Asking only a marriage to our eldest daughter is generous, as he knows I can offer no dowry at present. We’ve nowhere else to turn, Sylva, nowhere to go. Our people…the smallfolk…” He sighed again. “I will think of something. We must go. I will talk with him, I will think of some way... to keep her safe.”

Nella touched her arm & she started. When she turned, Nella’s eyes were wide. They started back toward their tent in silence. Once they were safely inside, Nella poured them both a cup of Arbor Gold and came and sat by Melicent. “You mustn’t worry, Father will think of something. You won’t have to marry… him. Marriage to that man would be a death sentence.  Father won’t let anyone hurt you.”

Melicent turned to look at her sister. “What if there is no other way? What solution could Father possibly think of? What kind of compromise could he reach with a man like him?”

“I don’t know” Nella said and Melicent could see the sadness in her eyes.

As she knelt beneath the Heart Tree, she knew there was no way in which her Father could reason with the Lord of Harrenhal. Filled with despair, she began to cry. Not for what I have lost, but for what I have yet to lose. And she prayed for a sign to tell her what she must do…even though she already knew.

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2 comments:

  1. Is there a reason why Tomard can't just ask the King or his wife's Redwyne relatives for help?

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    1. Yes there are reasons behind those things absolutely. If I had the time I'd write a lot more back story. As a Northern Lord, at this point in time, Tomard would not get help from the Lannisters, as he'd been a Stark ally up until the sack of Karhold. In this version of Westeros (the non canon version in my head), Robert is dead, Joff is dead, the Red Wedding has already taken place, The Starks have fallen and there is no longer a united North, it's every Lord for himself. So we're looking at Tommen on the throne and Cersei trying to hold the reins, while Tywin Lannister tries to clean up Joff's leftovers. The Lannisters would not agree to give help to the Karstarks, they'd rather House Karstark fall, weakening the North further. However, in marrying his eldest daughter to Gregor Clegane, Tywin's most loyal Lord, this puts House Karstark allied to House Lannister. Tomard may or may not have to bend the knee to the king [read: House Lannister], however, he is now basically connected to them by marriage. So at this time, it is the safest alliance for Tomard to make. I'm sure he'd prefer to align with his wife's Redwyne relatives, but remember that House Redwyne is sword to Tyrell, who is aligned with House Lannister at the time this is taking place. Paxter Redwyne is a Small Council member after Joff's death, and will be, at least for the foreseeable future, so even if they want to help, it's doubtful that they can. Also, to get to the Arbor, located on a tiny island off the south-west coast of the Reach, Tomard would need to lead all of his people through either King's Landing or Casterly Rock. That in and of itself would be impossible, and then you have to take into consideration that the children and the elderly, all his remaining people, barely made it as far as Harrenhal. And he needs a safe place to house his people until he can win back his lands. OK, now that I just laid that all out, maybe I need to go back and just weave this into the story. I never meant it to be more than a few chapters of fanfic, so I think you can tell in the early chapters, I may not dig as deeply as I might later on.

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