The Mountain Part 19 - Execution

There was a chill in the air when Nella awoke. She'd slept late, after a wakeful night, and for a blissful moment, she thought she was home in her bed at Karhold. When she opened her eyes, she realized that she was alone in the huge room she'd shared with her sister at Harrenhal. A heaviness settled over her as she lay remembering the wedding the night before, remembered watching the Mountain carry her sister from the Hall of the Hundred Hearths. The bedding, she knew, would have  been brutal. Melicent thought she could learn to love her Lord Husband. Nella wondered how much he would need to hurt her before she'd see the evil he carried within him.

Rising, she bathed and dressed, descending to the Hall to look for her younger sisters. Upon her arrival, she found the cavernous hall to be nearly empty. Other than the flowers, all traces of the wedding feast had been removed. She saw her father and Maester Alaric talking at one of the long tables and went to greet them.

"Nella, good morning, child." The Maester smiled warmly and she couldn't help but smile back. He was a kind man who'd been in her family's service since before she was born, and she knew he loved the Karstark children, dearly.

"Ah, good morning, my girl." Lord Tomard too, greeted her with a smile, but his eyes were weary and her heart ached for him. He had lost nearly everything, his home, his lands... now he'd been forced to sell his eldest daughter to a monster in order to protect what little he had left. She'd been hard on him these past few days and for that she was sorry. There truly was no other way, she knew.

She sat beside her father and chose an apple from one of the baskets, while the Maester cut her a thick slice of fresh brown bread. A servant approached with a pot of tea and a heavy mug. "Would you care for something hot, my Lady?" the woman asked in a low voice. She'd noticed the servants at Harrenhal all seemed to be quiet, moving softly, appearing and disappearing like ghosts.
"Tea will do just fine, thank you." Nella answered, taking up a crock of soft cheese and spreading it on her slice of bread. The woman retreated into the shadows of the Hall and Nella sliced off a piece of apple before asking, "Have you seen her yet this morning? Is...she alright?"

Her father shook his head, understanding she referred to her sister. "The Lord and Lady have not yet emerged." He said, and took a swig of dark ale. "However, her maid has attended to her and says she does not seem unhappy, and that the bedding was... successful." He lifts his mug to drink again, draining the cup, then wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I'm not sure I with to know exactly what that means... but your sister yet lives, girl." Lord Tomard set his mug down on the table a bit too hard and Nella thought he might still be slightly drunk. Her father always enjoyed his ale and she'd noticed him drinking heavily at the wedding feast.

The Maester nodded. "For that we must be truly grateful. I was not called upon this morning, and so I'm sure that Lady Melicent is quite well." He smiled at her again, and she wondered if he truly believed this, or if he was trying to give Lord Tomard some comfort. She thought again of her sister's scream and a chill ran down her spine. "Little Mynne says that the Lord and Lady will breakfast in their chambers and that all are to gather in the Middle Ward for the... erm... execution... at noon, today."

Her stomach turned. She had forgotten about Arys Dayne! Gods be good, she didn't know how one could forget something like that, but she'd been so upset about the wedding... Nella shuddered. "It's nearly half eleven, now." she said, softly.  

Tomard looked started, but the Maester nodded and rose from the table. "Yes, I believe we ought to make our way, my Lord." he said, and her father rose slowly.

Nella did not stand. "Come, girl. I'm sorry you have to see this. Truly, I am." Lord Tomard put a hand on her shoulder."I'm afraid we must attend, all but the younger girls... and your Mother, of course. The Septa will look to her."

"Oh, no! Mother could never stand to see such a thing!" She agreed, rising and taking her father's offered arm. "Is she well, this morning?" Her mother was such a fragile woman, never suited for the harder life of the North. She was a beautiful woman, sweet and kind, however she possessed such delicate sensibilities, that Nella worried about her often.

Her father did not answer right away, and when he did he spoke slowly and carefully. "Your mother is not well, no. I believe the attacks, the journey south, this marriage... they have affected her badly. I do not want to worry you, but I feel I must be frank," he paused for a moment, then continued, "Her spells are so frequent now, I feel in my heart, that she will not survive the winter. I hope I am wrong in this."

Maester Alaric placed a hand on Lord Tomard's shoulder in comfort, but he did not disagree. She felt her eyes fill with tears as they walked. Her vision blurred, and she blinked several times. "I see. Thank you for being honest with me, Father. Is there nothing we can do?" she asked, turning to the Maester.

"I don't believe it is her body that suffers, my dear, but her mind, and her heart. If I had a potion to heal a broken heart, I would be a rich Maester, indeed."

"We must remember, we are The Sun of Winter. These are dark times, my girl, but our light will prevail." Lord Tomard said, as they emerged into the Flowstone Yard. The day was fair, but Nella felt chilled, as they crossed the yard, mounting the platform that had been hastily erected for the Lord of Harrenhal and his guests. Clegane banners, flew above their heads, the argent sun of House Karstark was also represented, and something else... Nella peered at the white banner, splashed with deep red, that hung at the center of the yard. The Maester saw her looking and answered her unspoken question.

"Ehem... the wedding sheet, my Lady..." he whispered. Nella's stomach turned. She knew it was customary to produce proof of a successful bedding, but when she thought of what Melicent must have been through, she shivered. She didn't like to think of the assembled men looking at that sheet and imagining her sister being bedded. She herself, did not want to imagine it. It made her angry that even a Lady of the Realm should have to prove herself in such a way. She did not speak of it, as knew her father would only say, "Why must you question everything, girl? That is the way it is done." Her father rarely concerned himself with the why of things. Tradition was important to him, as it was to her sister.

Nella glanced at the empty seats at the center of the platform, seats for Lord Gregor and his new bride. She knew Melicent would not be half as bothered by the sheet as she was. She would smile, blush prettily, and continue to act the proper lady; but Nella knew that her sister was nothing more than a chess piece, a bargaining chip, and she wondered bitterly how long it would be before it was her turn to be traded for troops, land, or safe passage. In a way, she was sorry for the man who would be her future husband, as she would not go quietly, as her sister had.

It was not long before a hush came over the yard, and turning slightly in her seat, she could see Lord Gregor approaching the platform. Her sister walked beside her new husband, her hand on his arm, looking very small and rather pale, but Nella was relieved to see that she was, truly, all in one piece. The crowd parted for them as they crossed the yard, and she could see that they were closely followed by an armed guard, which was headed by Reglas and Cregan, the newly knighted armsmen who had stopped the Dornishman from assaulting her sister. When they reached the platform, Ser Reglas and Ser Cregan ascended the steps behind their Lord and Lady, flanking them as they took their seats. The remaining men of the guard moved to take positions at intervals around the base of the platform. Only Reglas separated them, and Melicent reached past him to squeeze her hand, smiling. Nella smiled back, truly glad to see her sister. 

It seemed that Lord Gregor would be holding court here this afternoon, rather than in the Hall of the Hundred Hearths, as was his custom. Prior to the execution, several men were allowed to come before their Lord to settle disputes, or ask for his favor in some small matter. Nella didn't pay very much attention to the proceedings. Instead she took the time to study the newly wedded couple.

Again Nella noticed that her sister looked pale, absent was the pretty pink flush from her cheeks, and she could see dark smudges under her eyes. There was no sign of any new injury to her face, although she still could see the faded bruises that had been left by Ser Arys. She knew that lack of sleep and too much wine could certainly cause her sister to look tired, and an execution was a terrible thing. The pending events could surely account for Melicent's lack of color. Perhaps Nella herself, appeared pale and drawn. She thought that the girl sat stiffly, and she could see new bruising on her sister's throat, as well as peeking out of the neckline of her gown. This, she thought, was surely caused by the Mountain, and she wondered what further injury might be covered by her sister's clothing.

Today Melicent wore an underdress of Clegane yellow, which Nella knew had been created for the day after the wedding, in order to show her loyalty to her Lord Husband and his House. The yellow gown was covered with a yellow and black tapestried overskirt, and the puffed sleeves, slashed with black, were gathered by black ribbon just above the elbow, before flaring out into long, loose bell cuffs. Nella could see that she was wearing the heavy Clegane jewels again, and that there were yellow and black ribbons woven into her flowing, chestnut hair. Despite her stiffness, she sat straight backed and kept her head high, never allowing her face to appear bored or weary, as Nella was sure she herself must appear.

Lord Gregor was as imposing as ever. Even sitting, he was monstrous in comparison to all the other men. He was not fully armoured, but Nella could see he wore a boiled leather brigandine and hauberk under a plate armour cuirass, with vambraces, and tasset hanging over black breeches and black leather boots. He sat back in his chair, looking very much at ease, his left hand resting possessively on his wife's thigh. She noticed that Melicent's hand rested lightly atop his, as though she was not at all uncomfortable with the man's touch.

The Mountain calmly dealt with each case that was brought before him, meting out justice with what seemed like a practiced ease. Not one man argued with his rulings, Nella noticed, and she wondered if this was always the way, or if the impending execution had cast it's shadow over the events of the afternoon. The judgements went on for several hours, but the crimes were minor. Three men were carted off to the dungeons to serve out gaol sentences, two would to serve their time through hard labour, and one man was allowed to go free. Two more men were chained to a saltire cross for lashings. Nella looked away during the lashings, thankful that they didn't last long. Several times she noticed her father nod his head, as though in agreement with Lord Clegane's judgement, and twice, the Mountain even asked Lord Tomard his thoughts on a particular case. This was a surprise to Nella, as she would have expected all who appeared before him to be executed without trial.

Nella was relieved when she found that the last case of the day was to be heard. She was tired after her nearly sleepless night. The whippings had been difficult for her to watch, but the punishments that had been given that day were not nearly as terrible as she'd expected. Although she assumed that the gaol sentences at Harrenhal were harsh and the gaolers cruel, she had certainly thought that there would be more violence than she'd had to witness there that afternoon. The last prisoner was brought forth and it seemed the young man in question had been caught stealing for the second time. The first time, he'd apparently lost a finger. This time, he was to lose a hand. This was not uncommon in the North, and she knew her father had dealt this punishment out on more than one occasion. Today, however, was the first time that she and Melicent were to see it done. Nella looked and her sister, who turned to her and gave her a small smile of encouragement.

As they looked on, the prisoner was forced to his knees before a large wooden block. He screamed and struggled while two guards restrained him, holding his right arm out flat on the block, and Lord Gregor nodded. A third armsman, Damon, she thought she'd heard him called, stepped forward and raised his sword high, bringing it down smoothly and cleaving the young man's hand from his wrist. The crowd erupted into a cacophony of screams and cheers, and Nella clapped her hand tightly over her mouth to keep from crying out. The prisoner's screams increased in volume and she wished she could cover her ears as well. When she glanced to her right, she saw that Melly's eyes were wide and she had wrapped her fingers around her husband's index finger, but otherwise, she did not display any outright sign of distress. As they continued to watch, the young man was dragged to a nearby fire pit, where his stump was cauterized with a hot iron. His screams became high pitched and then, mercifully, Nella thought, he fainted. She realized she'd been holding her breath and she exhaled long and slowly.

She watched as soldiers removed the limp body of the thief from the yard, feeling a bit sick, wishing she could leave the yard and retreat to the Godswood to be alone. One of the soldiers picked up the dismembered hand from the dirt and tossed it into the Bear Pit. Presently, the smallfolk in the yard began to turn in the direction of the castle and the din quickly increased. Turning slowly, she saw a small cart approaching the platform, drawn by a single black draft horse. In the cart was a hunched shape, which she suspected was Ser Arys Dayne. She wondered why he wasn't made to walk into the yard in chains as the other prisoners had been.

Lord Gregor and Lady Melicent stood, stepping to the front of the platform, accompanied by Lord Tomard. Ser Cregan and Ser Reglas moved with them. As the wagon came to a halt, Nella saw the crumpled form of Ser Arys Dayne propped in one corner. His head hung down, chin resting on his chest, and Nella barely recognized him as the handsome, boastful Knight she'd known for so many years. Two soldiers dragged the Dornishman from the wagon and chained him to the wooden saltire cross that stood near the chopping block, moving to stand on either side of him. They were not needed, Nella thought. Ser Arys never struggled, in fact, the chains not only bound him to the x-frame, but seemed to be necessary to support him, entirely. She could see his hands and feet were bandaged, bloody stumps. Oh by the Gods... they've tortured him already... His face was bruised and swollen, to the point she'd not have known him, had she come across him unawares. Finally, she thought, here is evidence of the Mountain's cruelty...

"Arys Dayne..." Lord Clegane spoke, and a hush came over the crowd. Nella noticed he'd not used Arys's title and she knew this was no oversight on Clegane's part. He placed a huge hand on her sister's waist and continued. "You tried to take something that belonged to me. The night before my wedding, you attacked my betrothed, injured her, and attempted to take her maidenhead by force. What do you have to say in your defense?" He asked, waiting a moment. Then he laughed and Nella shuddered. There was no mirth in that laugh, she heard nothing but anger. "You say nothing, then?" he asked, as Arys hung silent. "Very well. Your sentence is death." Melicent stood straight backed beside him and Lord Gregor turned to Ser Reglas. "Look to your Lady..." he grunted, as he descended the steps of the platform, Cregan a step behind him. Reglas stepped in close to Melicent, as Lord Tomard stepped in to her right. Nella couldn't see her sister's face now, and she wished she could communicate with her somehow.

Joss Stillwood, Lord Gregor's squire, came forward now, bearing his Lord's six foot longsword and Nella could feel her tummy squirm as he presented it to his Lord. Clegane bore the weight of the massive blade with ease. All was quiet now, in the Flowstone Yard.

Gregor spoke softly, however Nella could make out his words clearly in the stillness of the yard. "Do you see that bloody sheet, you worthless fucking snake? When I took her maidenhead she yielded to me, willingly. Called my name. How does it feel to know it wasn't you? Do you think she thought of you last night when I was fucking her? You think she remembered you this morning when she was taking my cock down her throat?" Nella gasped softly. She saw the girl draw in a deep breath and Ser Reglas seemed to stiffen. The Knight placed a steadying hand on Melicent's arm and Nella could see that Lord Tomard's face was dark, She knew it must hurt him terribly to think of his daughter that way. Gregor leaned in close and lifted Arys's chin so the Dornishman was forced to look up into his eyes. "After I kill you, I'll fuck her again and again, she'll bear my heirs and she'll never spare you another thought." Then Lord Gregor lifted his sword and opened Ser Arys's belly with one long stroke. Dayne screamed and Nella closed her eyes as the Dornish Knight's entrails spilled out into the dirt.

Clegane stood and watched as Ser Arys writhed, his tormented screams echoing off the castle walls. When he turned back to the platform, his brow was furrowed. "No other man will lay hands on you again, girl, this I swear to you." He said, and she saw her sister nod, stiffly. As Arys began to quiet, Gregor turned and swung his longsword. There was a splintering crack and Ser Arys's head rolled several feet away. The crowd roared as Gregor wrenched his sword out of the saltire, and Nella was stunned to see the right side of thick wooden cross had been nearly cut in two by the blow. Arys's arm had also been severed near the shoulder, and hung swinging by it's wrist. Her sister swayed and Ser Reglas placed a hand at her back. She saw Melicent lean into him and knew the Knight's support was all that was keeping her on her feet. The crowd was thundering it's approval, yet to Nella, they sounded far away. She was grateful to be seated, as she was shaking from head to toe.

"Any man who thinks to touch my possessions, best remember this day. I do not share what is mine. In future, I will not be so merciful." Lord Gregor boomed. Cregan picked up the head by it's hair and held it high. "Mount that on the main gate. Throw the rest to the bear. I hear that it pleases my wife to see the creature well fed." He chuckled. Men ran to do his bidding as he approached the platform. "Your daughter will be well looked after, Tomard." Her father nodded curtly. Gregor gathered Melicent up into his arms and kissed her hard. Nella watched as her sister returned his kiss. Then she buried her head in his neck and and held onto him tightly. After a moment, she looked up into his eyes, cupping his cheek with her little hand. "Thank you, my Lord." she whispered, and smiled. Clegane set her down and looked her over, nodding as though in approval. "You did well, Little Doe." he said. "You please me once again." Nella felt cold all over. He'd called her sister a little doe. What was he but a vicious dog? Who knew when he would lose control and devour such a frail, helpless creature?

The crowd began to disperse and it was time to make their way to the Hall for more feasting. As they walked, Nella couldn't help but worry about what would happen in the days to come. Not only tomorrow, but what would their future hold? What was to happen to her? What if, may the Seven forbid it, her father did not return from the fighting? What if they lost her brother Hugh? Would they all belong to Gregor Clegane, and if so, how would he dispose of them all? She couldn't bear to think of it just now. Pushing the thoughts to the back of her mind, she accepted her father's offered arm, and they made their way back to the castle. It was time to make merry. Ser Arys Dayne was dead.

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  1. This part is perfect. And I want more. More Gregor. Good Gregor. Bad Gregor. I don't care ;)

  2. SOOO good! I'm dying for more! I have the crush of the century on your Gregor, and I need more of this story! Please don't make me wait so long for more. You continue to write the best fanfic, you're amazing!

  3. Can't get enough of this story i want more and more and more!

    1. Thanks Nala! I'm working on the next chapter! It's going along much more easily than this one did!

  4. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.......more sexy time please ;)....~XTina

    1. HA! Thank YOU! Yes, there will be more sexy time coming within the next few chapters! :D

    2. I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas!!!....~Xtina

    3. Christmas, like winter, is coming... ;)

  5. I'm in love with your fanfic. I know I'm crazy but...wish I were Melly.
    Please update soon!

    ~ Vally

  6. <3 thank you so much! That means more than you know! I'll keep working on it, I promise!

  7. I read this whole fic in one sitting-fantastic! Very brave choice, speaking from Gregor's perspective-it sheds a whole new light on him. I found some parts disturbing but in character and reflects his complexity-I also think anyone with half a brain can see that is the writer's intention lol!

    I have been targeted ever since I rec'd this fic and I will continue to stand by it-this is a great work and has a very creative originality. You have been so unfairly maligned I can only conclude the haters have not even bothered to actually read this work. It sickens me what you must go through but I applaud your courage. Great art is supposed to invoke strong emotions and I thank you for such an interesting and complex work.

    1. Thank you so much for this! I think if I lighten him up too much he won't be Gregor, and yet, I want to show that people can all contain some seedling of good, even the worst ones. If you nurture it correctly, it can grow. If some people can't believe that, then it's their loss. Thank you for standing by it and supporting this blog. We appreciate it SO much!

  8. Thank you!Fantastic!
    My antennae report me something, that I noticed already in chapter 12. It is only an emotion.I will not hope that it becomes true..Please let Ser Reglas not come between Melly and Gregor :-( Gregor has just began to change a little bit inside, I do not want that he gets hurt :-( Please not!


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