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Not Today - Post Red Wedding
Collapsing for what he thought – perhaps even hoped in that moment – might be the last time, Robb was spared the visual of the desecration of his Greywind as the wolf’s head replaced the human’s on the body thought to be his and was paraded around on horseback to the amusement of the backstabbing victors. As everything started to fade to black, he heard the last mocking, laughing, cheering words from those who had so betrayed him and destroyed his entire world.~~~~~
“The King in the North! Here comes the King in the North!”
It was some time before the darkness faded and what replaced it was so very much worse. Swirling nightmares dancing across closed lids, replaying things better left buried in the dark. There were sparks of light reflecting off swords dripping with blood, lifeless eyes staring up into a cloudless sky, never to return home again. Trees crying red tears as the Boy King stood laughing over Ned Stark’s headless corpse. Twisted perversions of love and death as he looked into his beloved’s eyes only to see the light fade from them as she collapsed at his feet while he heard her voice on repeat, asking “Don’t you want to teach little Ned Stark to swing a sword?”
A kaleidoscope of images in rapid succession: His mother, tired and sad, yet so very proud of the boy she had raised. Bran, claiming he would rather be dead than be a cripple shifting into despair upon learning he was to be the new Lord of Winterfell as his brother marched off to war. Rickon, clinging desperately to his legs as he cried and wondered what was happening that was tearing his family apart. Arya’s hands under his as he guided her in shooting a bow for the first time, before lifting her chin as she claimed she would NOT be the lady she was told she had to be, showing the wolf that resided within. Sansa, ever the lady, laughing about some story Old Nan had told her before that laughter turned to tears and her hands lifted to cover her face. Jon…the brother his mother would never claim, but had been family just the same, stepping forward to wrap his arms around him in brief embrace that finalized the splintering of their once happy family. Lastly, his father. Tall and proud as he begged for honor and justice and then melted away into smoke and flames as Winterfell, the only home he had ever known, burned to the ground while wolves howled despairingly in the distance.
Pain sheathed each image in red and black, pounding out a rhythm that left no room for coherent thoughts or anything more than wanting it all to end, wanting to return to the eternal darkness that was the only relief to be had.
When at last the pounding weakened and the images blurred, an iron will ordered the God of Death to come back some other day. Blue eyes misted with confusion, devastation and an almost panicked desperation to understand what was going on opened to unfamiliar surroundings. What was this place? How had he gotten here? How much of what he thought he remembered was true?
A hiss issued through chapped lips as he shifted in an attempt to sit up, to even get his arms under him to support him in taking better stock of his surroundings. As things swam into focus, the confusion remained. It was a homey but simple room, which he had never seen before. Small, but not the kind he remembered from inns and the like. A farmhouse perhaps? It was as good an assumption as any. Clearly he was not in any formal castle or keep.
A glance down, showed a vigorous amount of bandages wrapped around his chest in an attempt to aid with healing and fend off infection. They appeared to be well taken care of which only added to his confusion that was suddenly swamped by flashes of memories of what had made such care necessary. He shouldn’t be here. The promised wine had run red, but it had not been the only thing to do so. Rivers of blood had flowed and many beyond count had lost their lives. Escaping the keep had been nothing but blind luck. Stumbling out and into what might be considered a gift from the gods as the man with the unlucky and eerily similar appearance to his own was cut down to take his place in a last-ditch attempt to flee, survival instinct winning out over the desire to let Death take him to be with his loved ones.
It seemed the ruse had worked as no one had come to hunt him down. Had they not believed the decoy, he never would have been given the chance to wake Or, if they had come to look for him, they had been unsuccessful in their attempts. Gritting his teeth, he shifted again, swinging his legs over to the side of the bed with the intention of getting to his feet. Momentary dizziness engulfed him and he placed a hand on the bed to keep himself from falling on his face. That would be undignified – even if there was no one there at the moment to see such a thing – at best and very painful at worst. There was no guarantee he would be able to get up again.
A single thought kept running through his head. Not gratitude that he lived, that he had escaped the massacre his own oathbreaking had bought. Not gratitude that someone had found him and brought him here and done their best to nurse him back to health. Not gratitude at all but a thought, a desire he had only voiced once before since the war had begun. “I want to go home.”
Winterfell would forever belong to the Starks and he would reclaim his home or die trying. His brother’s words echoed in his head as his attempts to remain on his feet were finally a success. ‘You Starks are hard to kill.”
It brought a smile to his face that would have looked out of place on the boy who had left Winterfell with ideas of glorious rescues, revenge and battles to bring honor to the North. That boy was no more. In his place stood a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Let Death come for him again, he would only be shot down. It was not his time to die, not yet. Not until his mission was accomplished.
A gust of wind blew the shutters open and his gaze travelled to the snowflakes dusting the floor, a strength and determination he had never known before enveloping him in an icy calm.
“Winter is coming.”
Legal & Physical
Name: Robb Stark
Aliases: The Young Wolf, King in the North
Date Of Birth: 281 AC
Place Of Birth: Riverrun
Current Residence: Winterfell
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Family & Relationships
Mother: Catelyn Stark
Father: Eddard Stark
Sister(S): Sansa and Arya Stark
Brother(S): Brandon and Rickon Stark
Other Family: Jon Snow
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
On the Battlefield
War was never what one expected it to be, never like the stories that were told or the songs that were sung. What good were stories and songs to those lying dead on the ground, never to return to their homes or families? Honor, glory, victory. None of these things overrode the injuries, maimings, deaths, tortures. One did not make up for the other, one did not make the other acceptable. Even if one thought the ends justified the means, the means were not glorious in any way.
Robb stark was discovering this a little more each time he went into battle with his mean. Battle was ugly and fierce and there was no guarantee that this battle wouldn’t be his last. Thus far his battles had been a win for his men, his own direwolf in the thick of things right with his master. He had earned the title of Young Wolf because he and Greywind fought so well together that it was thought they were one being. ‘Unkillable’ was another reputation they were gaining and Robb often wished that were true. Yet, Death could come at any time and he knew that. They all did.
He may be winning the battles, but men on both sides were losing the war, losing their lives. The aftermath on the battlefields was a gruesome sight. Not all were dead as they scrambled to retrieve those wounded, to save those they could. It was a blow to behold and never sat well with the young Lord now dubbed King in the North. The fighting was necessary and he couldn’t stop it if he had wanted to. But, no losses were acceptable and they haunted him far too frequently because they were caused by his decisions. These men marched with him, bent the knee to him. The had decided he was a better leader than those they fought and expected him to prove it.
As he stood in the fields where battles were fought, he sometimes wondered if it was worth it and in the end, he decided it had to be. They had come too far to turn back and had no choice but to plow on until this war ended one way or another. He never spoke these wondering thoughts aloud because he could not afford to look weak, inexperienced, like a mere ‘boy.’ Men would not follow a craven or a boy who allowed his feelings to dictate his movements. War was a means of achieving a goal, of showing power, of making one’s enemies bow to their desires, be it honor and justice or exactly the opposite. War was dark and dirty and the men fighting it had to be willing to do whatever it took.
Sometimes it appeared his mere presence in medical tents and with the battle field healers was enough for those injured in battle. Seeing the one they fought for rather than blindly following their own Lords sometimes did wonders for morale, even among the worst injured. Other times it did no good at all. Harsh words and curses were spat in his direction as the leader who allowed them to fall. And for what? A refusal to bend the knee to some Boy King in the South? Because personal justice was more important than the lands and Houses he was supposed to be ruling over in his father’s absence? Sometimes the pain and hallucinations overtook rational thoughts and the frantic words made no sense at all. He listened to everything, never trying to explain away his mistakes or make it sound like any of their sacrifices were acceptable, yet always assuring that they were noble. Honor still trumped many things and these men had that in abundance.