Rodrik Tassel POV
‘Zipline’. That was what Lord Baskerville called it.
When the Lord jumped into the river, I was shocked. It took me a few seconds to process the situation before running to the edge and looking out. I was panicked about what to do, when I saw his head rise above the water. By that time the rest of the men were gathered with me. Like that we watched as a man and beast swam against the raging current, a task a fish would struggle at, to cross to the other side.
After a few minutes we got worried. As he got further away it got harder to follow him with our eyes and eventually we lost sight of him in the water. The Lord’s beast companion, the humongous hound was still visible, but his master was nowhere to be seen. Several of the men that were confident swimmers started to strip and wanted to dive after him. I hurriedly stopped them. If even Brutus, the massive hound, was struggling then they would stand no chance.
They almost did it anyway, the idea of the punishment when returning to Lord Stark after losing the Lord was too terrible. Fortunately, they didn’t have to. One of the men, Jack, suddenly pointed to the other side and called our attention. On the other bank was the Lord, standing safe, Brutus crawling onto the bank beside him.
While we were cheering his success, marvelling at the incredible aquatic feat, Lord Baskerville took the rope from Brutus and tied it round a tree on the opposite bank. We watched as he tightened the rope and formed a connection to the other side. Just like that the Green Fork was crossed and a point of contact was made, almost in mockery of the Twins just half a mile away.
He started to wave at us then, but I didn’t know what he wanted. When I asked the others, they answered the same. It was as we were arguing what he wanted that he jumped back into the river. At first, we were shocked, but it quickly wore off. He already swam across once, so the second should be the same. This time he was swimming towards us, so we could keep track of him at least, and therefore we were less worried.
When he reached us, I gave him a hand up the bank, he told us to gather round while he collected his breath. Then he told us his plan to get us across undetected.
We would use leather straps and wrap them around the rope from the tree, then we would jump from the tree and glide to the other side, one by one.
We would travel quickly and out of sight from the Twins. A large, slow-moving raft would be seen from the towers, but a single man moving at a quick pace would be undetectable as anything but a blur. Even if they saw us, they would dismiss it as a glare from the sun on the water. We are between the sun and the Twins so it is an added cover for us.
To make it easier we were told to remove our armour and weapons, then leave it with the raft. The last 4 people would tie the equipment together, and place them on the raft. They would wait until night, then untie the rope attached to the tree, then firmly tie it to the raft. Like this, they would push it into the water, while 3 men would get on the raft with the gear to keep them from falling into the river.
The current would cause the raft to go down stream, until the rope is taut. The raft would act as a swing and slowly travel to the other side without the need for paddling. This meant they won’t be seen or heard in the quiet night. The added distance from the Twins as they travel would also decrease the chance of being spotted.
The last man, boy more, would be sent to Lord Stark to report our success or if there was a problem. The one selected was little Harry, the youngest of our company. I approved of choosing him, it being his first battle and not being ready for this. Though he was reluctant and seemed to want to refuse, a quick glare from myself shut his mouth.
The first part of the plan seemed crazy, which some of the men actually said to his face. This was followed by the Lord’s face going blank, then punching Mike square in the face, knocking him to the ground. He then spoke to the rest of us.
“The next time you disrespect me I will use a knife. I am going to go first and show you lot how it is done. I will also then catch you on the side.” He started to the tree and began to climb. Before he did, he threatened us again. “Anyone that refuses to get across, I suggest you start running. Because if I am forced to swim across this river again to get you, this time I will bring Brutus across and you will have to try to convince him not to eat you. Rodrik, choose 3 men to man the raft, then you are to cross after me.” He announced before climbing the tree, my and the others faces paling.
We watched him cross, picking up a lot of speed, but ultimately landed safely. I sighed and assigned 3 of the strongest men to start collecting the stuff along with Harry. I then climbed the tree and went across. There were a few slow ones, but we all made it across in the end. The thought of facing Lord Starks punishment for disobedience at best, or Brutus, if Lord Baskerville was serious, at worst was very motivating.
When we were all across, we started to slowly approach the Twins under the cover of night. It was fortunate we all had dark clothing and most of the attention was on the other side of the river, the guards this side looked pretty lax. We got to within 200 metres when Lord Baskerville signalled to wait. We were told that when we hear the horn we have to charge straight for the gate.
I asked what we would do to open the gate. Without battering rams or ladders, we would have to use our weapons to slowly chop at the gate to open it, and have no way to climb the walls.
He answered that he already has a way to open the gate, and once we are inside we are to take point around it. The dozen best archers among us were to climb the wall from the steps inside and suppress the courtyard from there.
When I mentioned we didn’t bring any bows and arrows, he responded with that they have archers on the wall. We will kill them and take their equipment. He must have seen the doubt on mine and the others face, because he followed up with this.
“You are all going to have to trust me. I will take the lead, so I will be the first to die if anyone. Our mission will save hundreds of our fellow brothers in arms from losing their lives, and will be critical in the first victory for the Northern army. If we succeed, our deeds will be sung about in every tavern for a hundred miles. Every woman will name their sons after us, in the hope that they someday accomplish similar feats such as you. There is no retreat. We will fight, for the North!” He told us in a sombre whisper. The rest, confident, repeated, ‘For the North’.
I hear the sound of the horn followed by what seems like the roar of the gods, but which is actually the familiar noise of 2 armies clashing. With the signal given I start to run, Brutus at my side. My other troops jump up from the ground and start to follow us.
I quickly outpace them as I flare my qi and draw my bow. When we reach the 100 metre mark, I draw 2 arrows and start to run towards the left tower overlooking the gate. 40 metres high, I begin to fire arrows with the same spacing as the walls of King’s Landing onto the tower until the 30 metre mark. Once the arrows are in place, I throw away my bow and draw a pair of hunting knives in each hand.
Brutus and i are now 50 metres from the wall and Brutus picks–up speed. The watchmen have noticed us now. They were too distracted by the alarm from the other side to properly see us before. Now that they have it is too late. Brutus reached the gate just as the first archers knock their bows.
To anyone else it would look like suicide. Brutus is as large as an ox, but even an elephant would need several rams to break such a thick gate. Brutus’s charge would only serve to dent the wood, splitting his skull in the process. With qi however, we can exert a force far greater than our bodies would suggest. With a burst of power, Brutus leaps towards the gate, claws out and covered with white energy that bystanders would mistake for white fire.
With one massive strike from his claws the gate is knocked from it’s hinges, sent flying across the courtyard. Brutus stands before the now shattered opening, raised his head and howled a thunderous roar. Between the roar and the shock from the flying gate, the archers had completely lost their composure.
When they were once aiming towards my approaching men, they are now gazing at the courtyard in stupefaction. The enemy infantry that were already in the courtyard and preparing to climb the walls are stunned. They were going to mount the walls and repel any climbers, but faced with the beast from hell they take several steps back, some breaking rank completely to flee back to the keep.
While this was happening I was displaying another qi use, though admittedly less flashy. With several leaps I jump up the wall and step on the arrows. When I reached the 30 metre mark I was tired and needed to rest my legs, but couldn’t stop where I was. Instead I flared my qi, coating my daggers. With one final leap from the last arrow, I plunge the left dagger into the stone walls, like cutting butter. The final five metres was covered by withdrawing and inserting my knives into the wall like climbing spikes. My feet were placed into the grooves in the stone to stabilise my form.
When I climbed the wall, I spotted a pair of archers who were still staring at the courtyard, oblivious to my arrival. I don’t intend to change that, and instead quickly stab the both of them in the back with my daggers, straight through the heart. Pulling them back so they don’t fall over the edge, I relieve them of their arrows and choose the better of the 2 bows. Taking my position, I face the walkway that overlooks the gate, and start analysing the situation.
Some of the men in the courtyard have gathered their senses now, the braver ones calling for their men to ready spears. Similarly, the archers on the wall start to regain their awareness. They ready their bows and take aim at Brutus. I watch as Brutus charges the infantry down below, I focus on the archers.
Brutus is different from the past in King’s Landing. His flesh is thicker and reinforced with tightened muscles, covered by heavily matted fur. His claws and teeth can be reinforced to clash with steel and his swipes are like being hit by a war-hammer. There are few points on his body where he can be injured fatally, and his enhanced reflexes mean those slow thrusts are not a threat. Even if one or 2 connect with him they can be shrugged off as bruised or paper cuts so long as they don’t get overlapped too much.
The real danger is being struck somewhere sensitive like the face or balls. An arrow coming from a blind-spot while he is occupied with enemies in front is one of the ways he could be seriously injured, which is why I take them out first.
With a quick draw one after the other, I shoot the archers on the opposing tower first. They are the furthest and if they know someone is targeting them, they could duck down behind the battlements. I could possibly still get them, but it would take several stone breaking qi shots to remove the cover, or time wasting angled shots where I guess their position and hope I get lucky.
With them dealt with I started to pick off the men on the walkway, exposed and distracted by Brutus. Before any of them can release even a single shot, I kill 8 in under 5 seconds. There were 2 that I failed to kill in time, but their shots were rushed and missed Brutus by a wide margin. I don’t allow them another chance, while they were looking for who just killed their companions, I take them in the skull.
The spearmen on the wall have noticed me now. Some point and shout, while a few rushed to the door leading to the tower from the walkway. I ignore the ones trying to get me, and instead put the fear into the others. Targeting the ones with the most composure, I slowly increase the panic among the wall guards. Shouts turn to screams, pointing hands turn to sprints in the other direction. Death from above and death down below, the dozen or so left run to the only safe place, the other tower. I let them run. Off the walls and out of the way, they can’t harrass my men that will soon enter the gate.
The few that had the brains to try and climb my tower will be no threat. Just as I am thinking that, the hole that connects the roof to the inside of the tower opens and thy start to climb out the hole. I place the bow and quiver down momentarily, drawing my sword. Only 3 men entered the tower before the others ran in the other direction. Likely thinking I am nothing without my bow, and seeking revenge for their friends, they charge me together. I take exactly 5 seconds to slaughter them.
I take a few moments to catch my breath. Such rapid movements and qi use was extremely straining. Overuse could damage muscles, both short-term and long-term crippling. I pop my head over the side to check the courtyard. Brutus is doing fine down there, tearing them apart. 3 dozen bodies are down, some dead from a mixture of crushed heads, collapsed chests and excessive blood-loss from torn limbs.
There are others are alive but incapacitated. Most of them are down from injuries. When half a ton of muscle is moving at extreme speeds, even a glancing blow will fracture bones. Others were injured from their own weapons. Either they tried to strike Brutus and hit their friends, or they struck him but tried got carried away when they didn’t release their weapons. Their joints got dislocated from holding their weapons too tight when the spears and swords were wrenched from their hands.
The last few seem to have collapsed mentally, curled up on the ground, covered in blood not their own. You would mistake them for dead if you couldn’t clearly see their breath exhaled in rapid pants. Brutus leaves them for last as they are the least worrisome.
The rest of the men that were assigned to watch the West Twin gates have either fled in terror, or gathered around the outskirts of the courtyard. They huddle together in tight packs and hold shaking weapons pointed towards Brutus. They likely haven’t run purely for fear of turning their backs to him and inviting chase.
Despite the apparent success, I frown. ‘Where are my men?’ I Think. I look all over the courtyard, then look outside the walls and am stunned. My men are all standing about 10 metres outside the gate, staring in stupefaction at Brutus, with some of them pointing at me and my arrow pathway on the tower.
I am overcome with rage, both at myself and at them. I forgot this was a different world. None of the people here have seen me use qi in any spectacular fashion yet. In the old world what I just did would be considered incredible, but still within the realm of belief for someone of my cultivation and skillset.
But these guys have never seen a high-level qi warrior before. Where in the past such a feat would garner cheers and renewed fighting spirit, here it has caused them to stop in their tracks and debate whether this is an illusion or witchcraft.
There are 2 ways to overcome this usually. Either with logic, careful explaining with either truths or lies, whichever results in the desired conclusion in their minds. Or fear.
I don’t have time to explain to them. It might look like me and Brutus are demolishing the Frey, but that will soon change. There were only about 100 men watching the gate, but soon reinforcements will come.
Both me and Brutus are exhausted. Brutus might have an amazing physical prowess, but after breaking the gate and killing more than 3 dozen armoured soldiers in quick order, he is running on empty. Once reinforcements from the keep arrive, those scared men will be encouraged and Brutus will be overwhelmed.
I can fight for longer, my bow use conserves a large amount of energy, being more efficient at killing than Brutus. But I will eventually run out of projectiles, and I am a lot less capable than Brutus at facing large numbers in close combat.
A formation of myself sniping key figures from up high, Brutus smashing cohesive units, while my company provides support and cleans up the disordered leftovers would be ideal. We could fairly face a force 5 times our number, or even delay half the Frey forces, at least until Robb defeats the other Twin and relieves us.
Since I don’t have time to convince them, I draw my bow and fire an arrow towards my troops. The arrow lands directly between Rodrik’s legs, splitting his shorts in the middle. In their shock I shout at them.
“IF YOU LOT DON’T GET YOUR FUCKING ASSES IN HERE, I AM GOING TO KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU!!! THE LAST ONE INSIDE IS GETTING THEIR FUCCKING BALLS PIERCED WITH THE NEXT SHOT!!!!” I bellow, qi reinforcing my lungs and voice that it echoes across the entire Twins.
There is a strange silence for a few moments, even the fighting across the river seemed to pause for a brief moment, before reigniting just as fierce as before. Needless to say, I provided sufficient motivation, they all shook themselves straight and charged as one into the gates.
They took longer than originally planned to get through the gates. I hoped they would follow Brutus in so they could take the walls as soon as I cleared it. Fortunately, the Frey seem to be even more disorganised than I hoped. They still haven’t sent men to reinforce and retake the walls. They will soon, the men that ran-away will make sure of that.
I decide to prepare myself, jump down the hole into the tower to resupply. These towers are the primary location to position archers so they are always stocked with ammunition. I grab several quivers and head back to the roof, preparing for a long night.