Walder Frey POV
“Grandfather!! The Starks are attacking. They have already broken through the gates!” Ryman, my oldest son’s son declared.
We are currently in my bed chambers, the western Twin. I was woken from my slumber by the sounds of distant horns and soon heard the sounds of battle, seemingly amplified by the previously quiet night.
“What!? How is that possible? It has only been 2 days since he gave his demands, how could he break his word and attack now!” I shout.
The same day i received the young Starks demands I sent a raven to Tywin Lannister. I knew I would never resist the army alone, but my fellow River Lords would never send men to help me. They would like nothing more than to spit upon the graves of myself and my family. Except maybe putting us there themselves.
My next actions were going to depend on Tywin’s reply. If he promised immediate help then I would delay the Starks as long as I can with negotiations. If he refused, or the help took too long, then I would surrender at the end of my week deadline.
I briefly considered abandoning the Twins to flee south, but that would be suicide. I know my body better than anyone. I would not survive a hard ride, and travelling by a slow coach would take too long without holding back the Stark hoard.
I could not abandon my family, but there are too many to move. The Starks would immediately notice our escape and commence their attack, though that has proved irrelevant now. My soldiers would also forget their vows to me and the coin I paid them without myself and my loyalists to watch them. They would never fight the Starks without my supervisions, and may even betray me in exchange for rewards.
I never expected for the Stark boy to engage in treachery. I would almost laugh, the fact that the son of a man who once scorned my cunning, is now using treachery against me. I would laugh, if the cost wasn’t my home and maybe my life.
“How did they get inside? The gates were triple manned and I ordered the soldiers to always be on the look-out.” I ask. My men may not be the most seasoned warriors, but there are many former sell-swords among their ranks. They know the importance of keeping watch when the enemy is before us.
Even if they did sneak up on us, the gates are thick and sturdy, the walls are high. I made sure they were replaced 6 years ago, during the Greyjoy Rebellion. When the ironborn attacked the Seaguard I strengthened my defences in case they attacked. It should have been impossible to breach them quickly, especially with over 500 men assigned to the night-watch.
“We were betrayed grandfather! The gates were opened from within. I haven’t counted everyone yet, the chaos makes it impossible, but I haven’t found several of my brothers.” Ryman accuses.
“Calm yourself, calling your siblings traitors is a harsh crime, especially with lack of evidence. Several of them were manning the gates, they could have been killed in the fighting and that is why you haven’t found them. Though I hope it is just because they are lost or out of sight, it is still a possibility.” I berate him.
The fact his first thought is to accuse our family of treachery is disappointing. Many of them may be disgraces to my name, but I have always instilled loyalty to the family above all our lessons. Some may squabble, and their desire to inherit my title is obvious, but the fact I have been alive for over 90 years, and not once has a Frey died at the hands of another Frey says something.
“It doesn’t matter right now. We need to leave. Ser Coryn, Ser Marr!” I call to the hall. The 2 men that enter are both well built and armed. These 2 are the heads of my personal guard, and the most loyal men I have.
Ser Coryn, what is the situation with the other Twin? Can they hold?” I ask. Before making a rash decision, I need to know how bad it is outside. I slowly rise from my bed with the help of Ryman, stretching my aging limbs. I will be lucky if my heart holds till the end of the night, as stress-full as this is.
“I am afraid not, My Lord. The gates and courtyard were taken almost simultaneously. Most of the men were asleep and were unable to arm themselves before the barracks were taken over and they were forced to surrender. The last messenger said that they have fallen back to the main eastern keep, but they have only a few hundred left and are barely holding out. If they don’t receive reinforcements soon, they will collapse within the hour.”Coryn tells me of my worst fear.
Originally, I had sent most of my force to the east Twin to prepare against the Starks. There were about 3000 men on that side of the river. Unfortunately, there were only about 600 men on night watch, with the rest asleep. I wasn’t expecting any attack or I would have doubled the patrols. Because the Starks got through the gates too quickly, there was no time to wake the rest of the soldiers and arm them. By the time the Starks reached the barracks they were only in a state of half dressed and could put up no resistance.
There are only 1000 men in the East Twin, and most of them, about 800, are part of my cavalry division. Though they can still fight like infantry, in fact even better than the average foot soldier since I put more concentration into training them than the infantry, it would be a waste to lose them in a pointless struggle.
“Ser Marr, take half my guard and 200 men to reinforce the other Twin. You need to hold them off for one hour before you are allowed to retreat.” Ser Marr salutes and retreats from the room. Hopefully they can stall the enemy for long enough. It is regretful to sacrifice Marr and my guard, but without them to keep order the others would likely just surrender at the earliest availability.
“Ser Coryn, I want you to gather the rest of our men in the courtyard and prepare the horses and my carriage. We will have to abandon the Twins.” I declare somberly.
“Grandfather, what are you saying! We can’t leave our home! Where will we go if we let it be torn apart by the northern barbarians?!” Ryman expresses concern over abandoning our keep.
“Enough, I have made my decision. We lost the Twins the second the other Twin was captured. Now we need to ensure our family is continued. We will abandon the Twins for the mean time and live for another day. We will take what remains of our forces south to Join the Lannister host. By proclaiming our fealty we will help them defeat the blasted Tully and treacherous Starks. Our land will then be returned to us.” I reassure my grandson.
I know that even if I surrender the Starks will have little mercy. They have already thrown away their face by breaking their promise to me. Expecting for decent treatment or even retaining my power after this is the thoughts of fairy tales. I convey this in grumbling to Ryman as I get dressed.
What I don’t say as it is a bit too soon, but I also plan to enact revenge. As we flee south I will set fire to the niegbouring lands and raid the townships. This will allow us to gather wealth and supplies for our journey south and for the following campaign. Without coin or supplies I would either go into debt or risk my army abandoning me when I join the Lannister to someone that can feed and pay them.
None of the Lords between me and Riverrun have the cavalry to stop my force from reaching Jaime’s army. By razing the lands, I can also reduce their ability to resist once the Lannister army marches north, and will show my commitment to the Royal cause.
I dismiss Coryn to organise my men when we reach the second floor. The remaining 50 of my personal guard escorts me through my keep, 2 supporting me on either side. The paintings and sculptures I pass remind me of my families struggle and the near centuries worth of memories this keep has given me.
I sigh at the reminders of our soon to be great fall. Even if I escape with the majority of my family and a large force, I will never see my family reach its current state again. I know that even if I reach the Lannister force and Jaime agrees to return my keep, my family will need to pay a great price.
Tywin will demand exclusive privileges for his people and require ample funding for the days to come. My family will go from the most affluent houses in Westeros to one of the most destitute. As I walked down the hall, suddenly Mallen, one of my sons comes rushing to me, what looks to be tears streaming down his face.
“Father!! Father! It’s horrible, the gate is fallen!” He shouts at me.
“Of course, it has fallen you idiot, that’s why we are leaving!” I scold the fool. The fighting has been going on for an hour now, anyone within a hundred miles probably knows we are under attack, yet this incompetent fool is only now realising this. I was just about to rip into him when I remember that Mallen was supposed to be in charge of the West watch tonight.
“It’s not the East gate, it’s the West! Over 100 men, no 200 men have stormed the walls, broken the gate and slaughtered the watchmen. I tried to hold them off, but they brought monsters that tore apart the soldiers. Giant hounds and red skinned devils.” Wallen tells us while blubbering about the attackers.
“That’s impossible! Move I want to see this.” Ryman shoves his uncle aside and marched down the hall. He opens one of the doors to the rooms facing the courtyard and enters it. I shouldn’t waste time like this, but if what Mallen says is true then I need to see it. I follow him as fast as my bones will allow, my breath panting as my chest tightens.
When I reach the room and enter it, I can see Ryman by one of the windows, clutching the frame. As I approach the sounds from the courtyard become clearer and I can make out the sounds of mixed orders and shouts. When I look out into the courtyard, I see a clear division in the forces.
By the gates the enemies have entrenched themselves. On the walls there appear to be a dozen or so archers that are using the high ground to their advantage. From the left it seems about 3 dozen of my men have flanked the enemies and tried to use the walls as cover to approach the stairs. They failed, and were stopped by what appears to be a large bear that is darting around them like some sort of spirit. Every few seconds he would jump in and slash a few before retreating. The soldiers have completely abandoned trying to head to the stairs. Now they are just huddled in a circle and trying to delay their deaths. Judging by the speed that monster is whittling the group down they will all be dead in a few minutes.
That was the only group with any cohesion in the courtyard. The rest of the men were scattered at various points about the yard, hiding behind barrels or overturned tables. I can hardly blame their reluctance to charge forwards.
The area about 50 metres in front of the gate appeared to be hell. There were dead bodies everywhere, in various states. Some looked to be torn to pieces and others were shot by arrows, some with a single and others with half a dozen. The worst were those that were still alive. Some had broken legs or other appendages, trying to crawl or limp back to the keep. Some were screaming with torn lips, their faces ripped off, or in one unfortunate circumstance, bleeding out from what I can only assume was an arrow to the nuts.
The worst were possibly the silent ones. The flickering light from the braziers lit the courtyard in a morbid outlook. I could see the slowly moving chests of those that before adjusting to the light, appeared to be corpses. One of these figures was one of my grandsons, one of the brats my sons called ‘Walder’, to try and earn my affection. As if naming them after me like the dozen others would make me favour them more.
Though all of that is irrelevant before the pain I feel as my families blood is literally spilled across my own home. When I looked to my men hiding while my family was dying, just metres from them, I felt enraged. Noticing a pair that had crossbows, but were too afraid to poke their heads out, I gripped the railing and leaned out, my men steadying me from behind.
“Shoot them you fucking cowards!! If you don’t kill them, I will have your entire families buried alongside my son, you fucking, piss-drinking rats!!” I screamed and pointed to the 2 that hid behind a table.
They look up at me as do several others. Seeing the rage in my eyes several that I did not point to muster a pitiful war cry and run to the gate. I don’t watch them and instead focus on the archers. As they realise, I am serious, they take a deep breath and raise their heads aiming for the enemy archers.
That should give the men a bit of a boost. Several that either didn’t hear me, or didn’t respond are looking to those charging the gates. With someone to follow several stand up and begin to move. While I am feeling a slight joy that this rally was borne from me, 2 arrows strike the archers.
With a solid plunk, both of them were struck at the same time. An arrow buried itself in their eyes and they fell to the ground. I stood there in shock as they collapsed beside the table, the bolts falling pointlessly from their weapons. One of the bows still released, though their was no bolt. Instead it caught the man’s hand as he fell, cutting 2 fingers off and sending them through the air.
While the shock was yet to pass, I felt a sudden tugging motion and I was dragged back inside. “My Lord, It’s not safe!” one of my guards shouts as I am thrown to the floor.
After rubbing my arm from what feels like a broken wrist, I turn to shout at him. Before I can do that, I see a fast object fly through the room and strike one of my other guards in the shoulder. It is blocked by the shoulder-guard so it doesn’t penetrate, but still knocks him back several steps.
I am speechless. That projectile nearly killed me. If it wasn’t for the soldier pulling me away, that arrow would have pierced my head. Just as I am about to thank the man, I notice that the only one in the room not to react to my near termination was Ryman, who is still standing at the other window.
Just when I am about to scold him for his lack of care in my safety, I see an odd protrusion from the front of his face. Another arrow was planted in his skull. No-one had pulled him to safety, too concerned with myself. Despite the momentum of the shot, my grandson has remained in the same position. His hands still gripping the window-sill, holding him in place.
It doesn’t last long, as his legs buckle under his weight, he falls into the wall under the window. When he hits the wall, the arrow is forced even further in and pokes out the back of his skull. Slumping to the side, he ends there, twisted body matching his twisted face.
I watch his form, face once so reminiscent of mine, now mangled. I once detested the faces of my children, as it reminded of my own poor looks. Now, I feel the fear as the image of my own face becoming like my grandson’s.
My men are shouting at me, but I can only see their mouths move, not hear the words. My heart is pounding against my chest, the sound drowning out all other noise. It strikes so hard that I fear it will break free from my ribs.
The beating gets harder and harder, until suddenly...