Chapter Seven

3.3K 113 3

The ironman who came for them was a squat thick-bodied man with a coal-black beard that covered half his chest. He bore the boy easily enough, though he looked none too happy with the task. Rickon's bedchamber was a half turn down the steps. The four-year-old was cranky at being woken. "I want Mother," he said. "I want her. And Shaggydog too."

"Your mother is far away, my prince." Maester Luwin pulled a bedrobe over the child's head. "But I'm here, and Bran and Lyanna." He took Rickon by the hand and led him out.

Below, they came on Meera and Jojen being herded from their room by a bald man whose spear was three feet taller than he was. When Jojen looked at Lyanna, his eyes were green pools full of sorrow. Other ironmen had rousted the Freys. "Your brother's lost his kingdom," Little Walder told Bran. "You're no prince now, just a hostage."

"So are you," Jojen said, "and me, and all of us."

"No one was talking to you, frogeater."

"Shut up, Little Walder" Lyanna blurted.

One of the ironmen went before them carrying a torch, but the rain had started again and soon drowned it out. As they hurried across the yard they could hear the direwolves howling in the godswood. I hope Visenya wasn't hurt falling from the tree.

She saw Old Nan, her toothless mouth opening and closing. Hayhead was carried in between two of the other guards, a bloodstained bandage wrapped about his bare chest. Poxy Tym wept inconsolably, and Beth Cassel cried with fear.

"What have we here?" Theon asked of the Reeds and Freys.

"These are Lady Catelyn's wards, both named Walder Frey," Maester Luwin explained. "And this is Jojen Reed and his sister Meera, son and daughter to Howland Reed of Greywater Watch, who came to renew their oaths of fealty to Winterfell."

"Some might call that ill-timed," said Theon, "though not for me. Here you are and here you'll stay." He vacated the high seat. "Lady Lyanna." He called, she walked up close to Theon.

People were still being driven outside of the Great Hall, prodded along with shouts and the butts of the spears. Gage and Osha arrived from the kitchens, spotted with flour from making the morning bread. Mikken they dragged in cursing. Farlen entered limping, struggling to support Palla. Her dress had been ripped in two; she held it up with a clenched fist and walked as if every step were agony. Septon Chayle rushed to lend a hand, but one of the ironmen knocked him to the ground.

The last man marched through the doors was the prisoner Reek, whose stench preceded him, ripe and pungent. Lyanna felt her stomach twist at the smell of him. "We found this one locked in a tower cell," announced his escort, a beardless youth with ginger-colored hair and sodden clothing, doubtless one of those who'd swum the moat. "He says they call him Reek."

"Can't think why," Theon said, smiling. "Do you always smell so bad, or did you just finish fucking a pig?"

"Haven't fucked no one since they took me, m'lord. Heke's me true name. I was in service to the Bastard o' the Dreadfort till the Starks give him an arrow in the back for a wedding gift."

Theon found that amusing. "Who did he marry?"

"The widow o' Hornwood, m'lord."

"That crone? Was he blind? She has teats like empty wineskins, dry and withered."

"It wasn't her teats he wed her for, m'lord."

Lyanna could see about twenty of them. She probably left some guards on the gates and the armory. Even so, there couldn't be more than thirty. Theon raised his hands for quiet. "You all know me—"

"Aye, we know you for a sack of steaming dung!" shouted Mikken, before the bald man drove the butt of his spear into his gut, then smashed him across the face with the shaft. The smith stumbled to his knees and spat out a tooth.

THE WARG AND THE GREEN DREAMER,   game of thronesRead this story for FREE!