(Scenario: Lord Walder learns of Robb’s betrayal and shouts out “‘The Northmen Are Honourable; They Never Break Their Vows,’… Lies, All Of It!” What will he do next?)
… The band finished a rendition of the Rains of Castamere and Lord Walder laughed. “Whoever would have thought,” he said. “That the song Tywin Lannister had made for his fallen foes would echo for his own House. It is more fitting to call it the Lament of the Lannisters now.” He raised his cup. “Hear Me Roar,” he added, and roared with mocking laughter.
Edmure Tully, the half-wit leading the men of the Riverlands in place of his father, laughed. “The Old Lion, the Shield of the West,” he scoffed. “They were fearsome titles. In the end, though, Tywin Lannister looked much the same as that deformed, demon son of his that King Stannis defeated at Blackwater Bay.”
“Aye,” Lord Walder said, and turned to King Robb Stark. “How did you do it, Your Grace? No-one had defeated Tywin Lannister before. We all used to say that he shat gold enough to fund new armies if his were ever to fall. Yet, you made him look like a fool before taking Casterly Rock and routing him.”
“I Wish To Thank You”
King Robb, ever trying to imitate the honourable Lord Eddard Stark, nodded without smiling; gods forbid, he should have revelled in the defeat of his enemies, not least the richest family in the seven kingdoms and the most powerful man that Westeros had known since Aegon the Conqueror. “My Lord,” His Grace said. “First, I would like to say that you are a fine host.”
Lord Walder put his finger in his ear and cleaned out the wax to make sure he had heard right. This was the fourth time he had hosted a king as the Lord of The Twins; yet, King Robb was the first to praise him for being a good host. “It is your wedding,” Lord Walder said. “I only hope it is fit for a King and that my daughter, Roslin, pleases you.” He leaned in closer. “But if she doesn’t, or cannot provide you with an heir,” he murmured, putting on his most wicked grin. “I have other daughters and granddaughters you can pick. You can take more than one if you like, hehe hehe.”
King Robb bristled; his Northern honour turned his façade as icy as winter. “Queen Roslin is comely and will do just fine,” he said. “You ask me how I defeated Lord Tywin Lannister. Justice for what he and King Joffrey the Bastard did to my father spurred me on every day. That, and the trust you showed in me, which I wanted to repay. Not many a lord would have made an agreement, believing honour would see it through. But you did, My Lord, and for that I wish to thank you.”
“You Could Have Deliberated”
That took Lord Walder by surprise. He had never been thanked before, and he sat back in his chair, contemplating what to say. Something creaked, and just as he did not know what to say, he did not know if it had been the chair or his old body that had creaked. “You… had twenty thousand men at your back,” he said, hesitantly. “Imagine if I had not made an agreement with your mother.”
“You could have deliberated; held me and my men back on the Green Fork; and waited for Lord Tywin to arrive. He would have rewarded you for your deliberation with half the gold of Casterly Rock.”
Lord Walder laughed merrily. He had not done that for as long as he could remember, and it uplifted him. “We both know that Tywin Lannister would have given me a bill instead of gold,” he said. “And we both know that if I didn’t pay the bill, he would have destroyed my House, root and stem, down to the last child.”
“You still trusted me, and for that I wish to honour you.”
How Will You Honour Me?
“Honour me?” A surge of emotions overwhelmed Lord Walder, and his eyes watered. Every high-born lord had only ever looked down upon him because his ancestors were upstarts. No-one had ever honoured him before, but now the King in the North was doing just that. “How?”
Someone thumped the doors behind them before King Robb could answer. The thump sounded again and…
Lord Walder opened his eyes and grimaced. He had been enjoying his dream and would have liked to have seen what honour King Robb Stark would have bestowed upon him. “What?” Lord Walder said. He had been alive for ninety-one years. One would have thought that he had lived long enough for those around him to learn not to disturb him during his after-lunch nap. But the imbeciles that dwelt in The Twins never learned a thing. “This had better be important.”
Perra, one of his more temperamental granddaughters, entered his bedchambers. “You may want Lady Joyeuse not to be present,” she said.
Lord Walder sensed he was not going to like what Perra had to tell him. It was probably best that his young wife did not see his reaction. “All right.” He spanked her arse and the girl yelped. “You, out!”
Lady Joyeuse hurried toward the exit, with a frightened and repulsed look on her face. She hated being Lady Frey; especially, when she joined him in the bed. Lord Walder smirked. No doubt, Joyeuse Erenford had once dreamt of marrying a young, handsome knight. Instead, she had ended up as the eighth wife of the oldest man in Westeros.
She closed the door behind her and Lord Walder removed his smirk. “What do you have to tell me that’s important enough to wake me?”
“Two ravens arrived. First, Ironmen led by Lord Eddard’s ward, Theon Greyjoy, have taken Winterfell. We have no word yet on what has happened to Big Walder and Little Walder. We pray they are alive and being treated well-”
“Fat chance of that!” Lord Walder grimaced.
A Letter Came From The Crag
Theon Greyjoy’s capture of Winterfell was going to have repercussions for the Freys. The Northmen would have to abandon their incursions in the Westerlands and head back North to retake their lands. That would leave the Riverlands vulnerable to Lord Tywin’s wrath. The song of the Rains of Castamere reverberated in Lord Walder’s mind, and he shivered as if a cold wind had blown through his bedchamber. He did not want his House to suffer the same fate as the Reynes, the Tarbecks and the Targaeryans. “What news did the other raven come flying in with?” he asked.
Unusually, Perra tremored, as if from nerves. “Gr-grandfather-”
Perra took in breath. “We received a letter from The Crag.”
Lord Walder narrowed his eyes. The last he had heard, King Robb Stark had attacked that decrepit castle on his way to Casterly Rock. By the tone of Perra’s voice, something grave had happened. If the Young Wolf had died during his attack, the agreement Lord Walder had made with Lady Catelyn Stark would be void, now that those damned Ironmen had taken Winterfell. No doubt, Theon Greyjoy had killed the other two Stark boys. Lord Walder would have done the same in his position. “Go on,” Lord Walder insisted, waiting to hear his suspicions confirmed.
The Northmen Are Honourable… Lies!
“King Robb… has taken one of Lord Westerling’s daughters for a wife.”
Taken. A. Wife. A knife seemed to stab at his insides and Lord Walder clenched his jaw.
One. Of. Lord Westerling’s. Daughters. The knife seemed to twist inside him and Lord Walder’s arms shook; his body jerked. “King Robb has betrayed me,” he said, forcing the words through his clenched teeth. “King Robb has betrayed me!” He whacked the jug of ale on his bedside table and it clattered on the floor. “Call every one of my men in the Stark armies back. Call them back!”
Perra nodded. “Yes… Gr-grandfather,” she said, and dashed out of the chamber.
Lord Walder wrapped his fingers around the rounded top of his staff, and gripped it as tightly as he could. It was a feeble grip; as feeble as the vow on which the Starks had humiliated him with. “I took him at his word,” he said to himself. “‘The Northmen are honourable; they never break their vows,’ his mother told me. Lies, all of it! I should never have listened to Lord Hoster’s whelp. I should have waited for Tywin Lannister to arrive and let him slaughter them all.”
I Should Have Known Better
Lord Walder pushed himself up and skulked to the window. The breeze coming from the reeking river did nothing to blow away the treachery that King Robb Stark had done to him. Now, he and His House were stuck. Without the armies of the North for support, he would have to humiliate himself before Tywin Lannister and beg for a pardon.
Lord Walder grinded his teeth. A tooth cut into his empty gum and it hurt, almost as acutely as King Robb’s betrayal.
I should have known better. The blood in his mouth gave the thought a bitter edge. The deal Lord Walder had made with Lady Catelyn had been too good to be true; Robb Stark’s crowning at Riverrun had only heightened the surrealism. A king was no different to any other lord, despite the crown on his head: he pissed, his shit stank, and he said one thing but meant another. Robb Stark was always going to betray the Freys once he had used the bridge for his desired end.
Well, the Young Wolf had been a fool to believe that he could save his father. If he believed that betraying Lord Walder had no consequences, then he was an even bigger idiot. Did he not realise that to return to the North by land, he would need to go up the Neck? Did he not realise that that route took him past The Twins?
An idea bent Lord Walder’s thinking and he sneered. Lord Walder Frey had never lacked for cunning, even if he had never been given the chance to show it before. Now he had his opportunity, and it also meant he could approach Lord Tywin from a position of strength, rather than on his knees.
PS: For more Game of Thrones fanfiction short stories, including the previous blog post in the Lord Walder mini-serie, please fill out the form below.