(Scenario: Lord Walder fears for the future of House Frey, whilst eating his breakfast following the Red Wedding. This is Part III of The Lord Walder mini-series. To see the previous story, click here.)
Lord Walder slurped his porridge. He chewed on the mouthful, keeping his eyes on the serving wench scrubbing the blood off the floor. Memories of what had happened the previous night flashed across his vision, and his breakfast tasted acrid on his tongue.
Kingslayer. The word echoed loudly in his mind. Lord Walder hated it. The word had only ever been used for Ser Jaime Lannister for stabbing the Mad King in the back. Now every man, woman and child for generations would associate the word with Lord Walder Frey as well. “I should never have agreed to Lord Tywin’s demand,” he mumbled. “The gods will bring ruin to House Frey for this-”
“Grandfather?” Perra asked, with another spoonful of porridge ready to spill into his mouth. “You said something? I didn’t hear-”
“Just give me my breakfast!” he snapped.
Lord Walder had no interest in explaining himself to his imbecilic granddaughter. If it had been his wife feeding him, mayhap he would have tolerated her questions. But Lady Catelyn Stark had slashed her throat after Lord Roose Bolton had stabbed her son. Now, Lord Walder would have to find another young girl to warm his bed and feed him.
The Future of House Frey Enter
Another spoon of porridge pushed its way into his mouth; this one tasted just as sour as the last. Then the future of House Frey, Ser Ryman Frey, the heir to The Twins, along with his sons, Edwyn and Black Walder, marched into the breakfast room, to worsen the taste in his mouth. The three of them were laughing in a self-satisfied way; even Edwyn, who seldom ever smiled. Lord Walder could not hear what they said. But he did not need to hear to know that they were bragging about their despicable actions from the night before.
Not only had they murdered their guests. They had mocked the dead by sewing the direwolf’s head onto King Robb’s neck. Moreover, they had dumped Lady Catelyn’s dead body naked into the Trident to ridicule the Tully burial rite. Both acts spoke volumes for how low his offspring had sunk.
The Lord Paramount of The Trident
“Lord Walder,” a man whispered.
The whisper crept up Lord Walder’s back. Seemingly, it took the skin with it. “Lord Bolton.” Lord Walder’s neck creaked, like a rusty door hinge, as he faced the Lord of the Dreadfort. He quivered when he looked upon his counterpart. Lord Roose Bolton was straight-faced and unnaturally pale. His black hair was slicked back with oil to make him look ill, while his pink cape gave him a queer contrast. And, yet, this was a man who skinned people alive without flinching. “How does it feel to be the new Warden of the North?” Lord Walder asked, uneasily.
“I feel honoured.”
Don’t lie to me. Your shit means more to you than honour. Or are you going to tell me that you don’t shit as well?
“And how does it feel to be the Lord Paramount of the Trident?” Lord Bolton added.
Lord Walder laughed, mirthlessly. He had always wanted to be rid of the Tullys. He had hated being under them, having to do as they told him. But after Lady Catelyn Stark had sworn that one of his daughters would marry Robb Stark, and the Northmen and the Riverlords had crowned Robb Stark King in the North, Lord Walder had wanted to be a father-in-law to a king. He would rather Robb Stark had kept his mother’s vow than have that stupid title. It was not worth the hassle of dealing with the bickering Riverlords. “I am sure I will get used to my new position,” Lord Walder said, with a shrug.
“It Would Not Be Wise To Make The Same Mistake As The Young Wolf.”
Lord Bolton stared at him. It was as if he were penetrating Lord Walder with those grey eyes, as if they were dirty icicles boring through him. Why he was staring at him, Lord Walder had no clue. But ants seemed to crawl under his skin for every moment Lord Bolton stared, and Lord Walder wished he would stop.
“I must head north very soon,” Lord Bolton finally said. “First, though, I have to fulfil my side of the bargain to you and marry your daughter. It would not be wise to make the same mistake as the Young Wolf.”
Lord Walder grimaced. He did not like to be reminded of his betrayal and the events of the previous night. “No,” he said. “No-one wants that.”
Lord Bolton nodded once. It was a controlled nod that unnerved Lord Walder as much as his counterpart’s skin complexion and stare. “I have Ironmen to rid the North of,” Lord Bolton then said. “I want to be on my way as soon as possible, to restore order. With your permission, I will marry Lady Walda tomorrow. Have you weighed her?”
Lord Walder snorted a chuckle. The bodies of the slain were not even cold; yet, all Lord Bolton seemed to care for was a new wife and coin. Did the man not care a jot for the dead? Was he that cold-hearted? “Aye,” Lord Walder said. “You need not worry. I am a man who keeps his word.”
“You Will Have Lady Walda’s Weight In Silver”
Lord Bolton stared at him again, coldly and without movement. His grey eyes once more bored into Lord Walder, with doubt and distrust, as if he suspected a lie.
Lord Walder did not blame him. He had opened his gates and given Robb Stark, his men and his mother hospitality, only to slaughter them at a wedding. That was the epitome of lies and betrayal. Lord Walder’s stomach roiled at the thought of it all. “You will have Lady Walda’s weight in silver as we agreed,” he said. “You needn’t worry.”
The faintest smile cracked across Lord Bolton’s expressionless face. “Then the wedding tomorrow will be a joyous one,” he said. “The Warden of the North shall marry the daughter of the Lord Paramount of the Trident. There hasn’t been a wedding like it since Robert’s Rebellion.”
“Aye,” Lord Walder said, and raised his mug of ale. “To the union of our two our two… Houses. I hope my daughter gives you many sons.”
A Future Marriage?
“That is the hope, aye. On another matter, what is to be done about Lord Jon Umber?”
Lord Walder’s muscles tightened. He had had quite enough of speaking to Lord Bolton for the moment. The man unsettled him, and he wanted him gone. “I think it best that the Greatjon remain in the dungeons,” he said. “It is safer here, and it will help you to gain the cooperation of the Umbers.”
Lord Bolton blinked once. “I had been thinking much the same,” he said; although, whether it was a lie or not, Lord Walder could not tell. “In time, we shall discuss his release and a possible marriage between a Frey and an Umber as well?”
“In time, aye.”
Lord Bolton nodded and left. Lord Walder sighed. His muscles eased, and he drank another cup of wine to relax them further.
“Let Us Slit His Throat And Be Done With Him”
He put the cup down to find himself surrounded by Ser Ryman, Edwyn and Black Walder. “What is to be done with Lord Edmure, My Lord?” Ser Ryman asked. “We took him to the dungeons after he consummated his marriage as you told us. But so long as he lives, every nobleman in the Riverlands will use him as a weapon against us.”
“Just let us slit his throat and be done with him,” Black Walder interrupted. “His House is finished-”
“Shut up!” Lord Walder snapped. “Because of you fools, the Blackfish got away. House Tully is not finished!”
“An old man on the run is no threat to us,” Ser Ryman said. “He is nothing more than a rebel now. For all I care, let him join the fabled Brotherhood Without Banners and die with them.”
Lord Walder growled. “No doubt he will get to Riverrun before we do,” he said. “Then, he can turn that damned castle into an island fortress, which will make it impossible for us to take it by force. At least if we keep Lord Edmure alive we can use him as a hostage against the Blackfish. Have none of you fools thought of this?”
The Future of House Frey
Ser Ryman, Edwyn and Black Walder grimaced at one another. Clearly, they were so drunk on murder that little else could pass through their poor excuses for brains. “No,” Ser Ryman said. “We had not.”
“And to think you, Ser Ryman, are my heir. I have good reason to fear for the future of House Frey and The Twins with you next to become Lord Frey.”
Ser Ryman narrowed his brows. It was a foul look that hinted that Ser Ryman would have killed his grandfather if he could get away with it. “You have no reason to fear for the future of our House, My Lord,” Ser Ryman said, lowly. “I will know how to be Lord of the Twins and Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. I will keep the Riverlords in order, as well as those under them. Have no worries about that.”
“I do have worries about that. But right now I don’t want to contemplate them. Get out of my sight! All of you!”
The Punishment For The Red Wedding
Ser Ryman, Edwyn and Black Walder walked away. Black Walder rolled his eyes as he did so, and muttered something to his brother; a curse no doubt.
That riled Lord Walder. “Oh, and Black Walder,” he shouted. “I am Lord of The Twins! I make decisions in this House. Remember that, as it is something you’ll never do!”
Black Walder smiled. “Never say never, My Lord.”
His smiled widened to give it a sinister edge, sending shivers up Lord Walder’s spine. After Lord Walder had agreed to Lord Tywin’s demand to betray and murder Robb Stark, Lord Walder had wondered how the gods would punish him and His House. Mayhap, Black Walder was the punishment. Him, and the Seven Hells that awaited all who had partaken in the Red Wedding.
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