Fire and Blood: Titan's Rise Capítulo 10 (2024)

It is the last month of the one hundred and thirtieth year since Aegon's Conquest, and now two armies are camped on opposite sides of a river, only prevented from clashing by the bridge that connects them. This is The Twins, the seat of House Frey, where it has been decided that the Northmen are to meet the delegations of King's Landing right in the middle. The south of the bridge is filled with banners of Rivermen, Westermen, Crownlanders, and the Targaryens, while the north of the bridge displays only the banners of the Northerners. The atmosphere in the camps is tense. While the southern army is tired and sick of the death that has been seen since the start of the war, the northern army grows rageful, eager to die on the battlefield.

At a table placed in the middle of the bridge sit Prince Aemond Targaryen and, opposite him, Lord Cregan Stark. The prince is seated, while the Lord remains standing, the Valyrian Steel Sword Ice hanging behind his back. He is covered in thick fur, and his face looks cold.

"Take a seat, Lord Stark," Aemond offers.

"I believe we've no time for small talk, Prince Aemond," Cregan answers plainly. "Speak on what you need to speak."

Aemond merely gazes at the young man and hums. "It is time that the violence comes to an end. You have no more side to fight for, Lord Stark. Many of your soldiers will just die in vain if we continue this."

"They died the moment they marched," Cregan states. "They came to the south looking for an end. I cannot simply tell them that it is over."

Aemond tilts his head a little. "So you will risk their families that they have left so that they can get the satisfaction of death?"

"The North is strong, Prince Aemond. You won't find it easy to conquer us."

"Even now, my brother Daeron could fly in his dragon and burn Winterfell alone."

"Your injured brother and his injured dragon, you mean?" Cregan scoffs.

Aemond leans back in his chair. "I have other means, besides dragons."

"The titan," Cregan hums, finally sitting down as he leans Ice against the edge of the table. "The one who flattened Driftmark, and the one that made The Eyrie crumble. A dishonorable deed, that one, you didn't uphold guest rights."

"Don't twist the facts, Lord Cregan. It was Lady Jeyne who first sent the boy Joffrey to attack my brother while he was leaving."

"We both know that Lady Arryn did no such thing." Cregan shakes his head. "The boy had lost everything due to you, kinslayer. His brothers, his mother, his father, his birthright, he had no one left. What the boy did is only the retaliation for what you have done."

"I have done what is good for the realm," Aemond says. "You, on the other hand, swore yourself to my sister. You say I am a kinslayer, yet you ignore the sinful deeds that woman has done."

"Better a bastard on the Iron Throne than someone like you."

"So you know the truth of the matter." Aemond simply chuckles. "I am no king, Lord Stark. My nephew is the king."

"Aye, the child. But you are his regent."

"It does not have to be." Aemond leans closer to the table. "Bend the knee and give peace to the realm, and you shall be one of the regents, if you wish. I know you do not trust me because of what I have done, so you can handle it yourself."

Cregan sighs, standing up from his seat and walking to the edge of the bridge, watching the river flow as mist thickens around it. "I have no care for southern politics, Prince Aemond. My gaze is forever fixed to the North."

"Then do you wish for war?"

"Do you?" Cregan throws back the question.

"We can still fight. If you rebel, we will quench it. But choose wisely, Lord Stark. Winter has come, and your people might not survive the winter due to your choice," says Aemond. "Why do you think Torrhen Stark bent the knee to the conqueror? You should give your people the same kindness that your ancestor once gave, by not marching south and surrendering. We will not execute you, nor will we punish you in any way. You have no one to support as king. What benefit do you get from continuing this conflict?"

Cregan clenches his fist. "It is not a matter of benefit. It is a matter of honor."

"Then do the honorable thing," Aemond responds. "Give peace to the realm. The crown will support the North during winter if that is what you wish."

Cregan pauses for a while before sighing deeply. "I have unwanted men in my army. I cannot bring them back."

"We have many widows in the Riverlands," Aemond says. "They are welcome to help rebuild the realm after this conflict comes to an end."

Cregan turns to Aemond, grabs Ice, and places it on his back once more. "I cannot trust you, kinslayer. But you are right that the realm needs peace. If we were to clash more in battle, the North would suffer, and it would hamper my duty as Warden of the North. I will bend the knee on the condition that you and your injured brother stay far away from the child-king's ears, as well as the death of the late king's council that schemed for the usurpation of his heir's throne."

"Will that include me as well?"

"If you wish to be included." Cregan said. "But I get the impression that you are not one of them, merely a bystander on what had happened. The things you did during the war are unforgivable, but without the ones who started the war, you would not have done it. Their heads, and only theirs, will be the only thing that will satisfy my honor."

Aemond looks down at the table and taps his finger on it. He is quiet for a while, thinking deeply as he searches for an answer in his head.

"A few heads for many. Done." Aemond said. "But I wish for this to be kept secret until we arrive at King's Landing. I do not want them running and starting a new war of their own."

***

At the turn of the new year, death reigns in King's Landing. Men who actively participated in the events following King Viserys's death are executed by the sword of Lord Cregan himself, after rigorous trials that brought witnesses from both baseborn and nobleborn. For one whole week, the young wolf served as the Hand of the King and simultaneously, the Lord Confessor of the Red Keep.

Otto Hightower, Jasper Wylde, Tyland Lannister, and even Grand Maester Orwyle were all beheaded by Cregan Stark. Those who were complacent were punished as well. Those who hid the king's death to allow the usurper to be crowned, and all the servants involved, were either expelled from the keep or, in the case of the worst offenders like Lord Larys Strong for his involvement in the aftermath of the king's death, given the choice to take the black or be beheaded. Larys chose the latter.

Many lords questioned the decision of Prince Aemond, who sold out his former comrades of war to the enemy. Some whispered that the prince had changed; he was once fierce, but after Vhagar died at the field of Rook's Rest, he gradually mellowed, becoming a defanged dragon. In some respects, perhaps they were right.

But after the deaths of the betrayers came peace. King's Landing celebrated the end of the war with parties and orgies in the streets. Yet, amid the festivities, the lords gathered in the keep remained solemn, for they now had to choose the regents to rule for the child-king until he came of age. In the end, seven regents were chosen: Ser Tohhren Manderly from the North, Lord Boros Baratheon from the Stormlands, Lord Walys Mooton from the Riverlands, Lord Thaddeus Rowan from the Reach, Ser Corwyn Corbray from the Vale, Lord Roland Westerling from the Westerlands, and the new Grand Maester Munkun.

***

It was early in the morning when a knock came at the door of Willam's chamber. He had just woken up, washed his face, and changed his clothes. The door then opened, and to his surprise, northmen entered. Men with Stark tabards, along with Cregan Stark himself, passed through the door. Cregan looked ready to travel, Ice strapped to his back, and fur covering his body.

"Lord Stark," Willam greeted calmly.

"Titan," Cregan greeted back. "I have come to settle some things with you. As of this morning, I have resigned as Hand of the King, and I will return to Winterfell to deal with the remaining winter."

Cregan then approached and offered a parchment to Willam. Willam took it and opened it.

"You can read?" Cregan was mildly surprised.

"Somewhat, my lord," Willam replied.

"That makes it much simpler," Cregan nodded. "That is the deed of land. You are now the Lord of Harrenhal."

Willam sighed. "The prince told you of my deal with him?"

"Aye," Cregan said. "I do not like it. You are a snake in men's clothing. But I must honor the promise."

"Yet you put me in Harrenhal. You wish for my death."

Cregan chuckled. "Do you believe in a midwife's tale? A titan's castle, for a titan like you. The last thing I need from you is to create your House, its words, and its sigil. But I believe the Grand Maester could deal with it if you want time to think of one."

Willam nodded. "I thank you, my lord. But where is the Prince now?"

"Both princes are sailing to Dragonstone, exiled from the capital," Cregan said, stepping back. "As for their mother, she's following them soon. One more thing: I have many unwanted men here. I have told them to follow the Riverlords to marry widows from there, as the prince suggested. You can take some of them to help you build your house."

"I'll make sure to remember that," Willam replied.

"Then I must take my leave," Cregan said, walking towards the door. "I wish you good fortune."

After that, the door closed, leaving Willam alone in his chamber.


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