Ser Daniel Coryn POV
I awake to the throbbing pain in my left arm, which was quickly followed by the rest of my body. I taste the dirt in my mouth and move to push myself up, which is foiled when the agony from my arm forces me to the ground again. I clutch my left arm with my right and lie there as I wait for the pain to pass, teeth gritted.
Once the pain starts to fade, I regain my recent memories that led me to this position. After being dismissed by Lord Frey, I went down to the main hall where I gathered the disorganised rabble that retreated from the gate. We were quickly joined by the men that were previously asleep in the barracks. They had only now finished getting their armour and weapons ready. If they were any slower the battle would have ended, but I decided to admonish them later.
Once nearly the entirety of the soldiers remaining in the East Twins was here, about 700, I brought them round the side entrance and made my way to the stables. After hearing the situation from the men that fell back to the keep i debated that it was the best idea to get the horses first.
The enemies were entrenched on the walls and had the courtyard supressed. I need to prepare the carriages and horses for Lord Frey anyway, so rather than dividing my forces and receive unnecessary casualties, I decided to get them first. I can then attack the gates with all of my forces. By using horses to flank from the side I can take them by surprise and enter the towers quickly before they can stop us. Then they will have to defend the pair of stairs that lead to the courtyard, and the ones inside the towers. The divided force will have no chance against our superior numbers.
When I entered the stables, I was met with a surprise. Several men were opening the doors to the pens and cutting the ropes securing the horses. Noticing they were wearing Stark colours I immediately led my men to attack. Most were killed and a pair was taken alive. One of the men wasn’t seen when we entered and tried to rush for a torch on the walls. He was stopped by a spear throw from my men, pinning him to the floor before he soon died.
I was suspicious so I began to interrogate the captured soldiers. After breaking a few fingers and cutting off an ear, I found how close I was to disaster. I couldn’t help but curse the deviousness of the enemy. Their attempt to ruin our retreat was almost successful. If they had then we would have been trapped. Even if we escaped the keep some other way, maybe rappelling down the walls with ropes, without the horses and carriages the lord won’t outrun the Stark cavalry.
I killed the captives, despite their begging. Partly in rage, but also because they have no use now that we are abandoning the Twins. I was about to order my men to rush to the gate, when I stopped and think.
According to the captives the enemy weren’t planning to retreat until they set fire to the stables and the men we just killed return. That gives me some time, but not much. Once the enemy realise their soldiers haven’t returned, they will realise something is wrong. They might set fire to the gate in a panic and that would be bad. My only hope was to reach the gate before they can retreat. They won’t set fire to the gate while they are on the inside, as that would leave them trapped as well.
We won’t make it on foot, even with the element of surprise. We still have to run about 100 metres before we reach the gate while they are right outside it, even taking into account the time to descend the stairs. I quickly divide my men into 3 parts.
The first are the foot soldiers that remained from the gates. They are sent to return the horses to their stables, but with the doors open. The second is for the best 100 men, including myself, to mount and take the horses to the end of the stables
There is enough room for us to get a 50 metre warm up before we leave the stables which I intend to make use of. Once the stable doors are opened, we will ride out and charge the gates, stopping them from leaving. The final group is the largest, and they set to mounting the other horses in the pens. Oncethe second group leaves they will follow us as fast as they can to help.
Once the enemies are all dead, we could remove the obstacles. All that’s left then is to wait for Lord Frey to arrive and we can leave the keep and our enemies behind.
It all went well up until I was halfway to the gate, then something struck my horse and I was sent flying. I now realise that I broke my arm in the fall, and looking behind me I see my horse is dead with an arrow poking out of its skull. Thinking it could have been worse, I could have snapped my neck instead, I turn to face the gate.
I am faced with my worst fear. A large pyre has been made in front of the gate. The opening that was once large enough for several wagons to pass through, is now hidden behind a wall of flames.
I wonder how that was possible. Even without me to lead the way, my men should still have made it to thegate before the enemy retreated. A clue becomes apparent when I look to the end of the walkways.
I must have been out for several minutes because my men had already engaged the enemy on the walls. Most of the Stark men were dead, only a few still struggled on the ends. They didn’t for much longer, as 2 more died before the last few flung themselves from the walls. Likely they hoped to escape that way, but thinking to survive a 20 metre drop is fairy tales.
I make my way over to the other knights and officers. “So, they lit the pyre even when they were still inside. I can’t help but admire their resolve, to cut us off at the cost of their own lives.” I analyse the Stark men must have sacrificedthemselves to stall us here, and prevent us from fleeing.
“That was the weird thing.” Callis Frey tells me, eyes looking to my injured arm. “They didn’t act like martyrs. When weengaged them, they were disorganised and their morale was in tatters. Instead of trying to take us with them, many tried to surrender, though we denied it. At the end many were looking to the outside and cursing someone.” He explains. Callis Frey was one of Lord Frey’s bastards that was legitimized, and was made one of the officers in the cavalry. He is one of the worst though, yet he acts superior due to his relation to our Lord.
That is curious. I can only assume someone was placed behind the carriages with a torch. Likely he was supposed to wait till they were all through before lighting the pyre but with our appearancehe panicked and lit the carriages before running away.
I can’t help but feel even worse about the situation. I know it is semantics at this point, but the fact that we were foiled by cowardice rather than bravery makes our defeat even harder to bear.
I shake my head and dismiss such thoughts. Instead I start to assign the men their duties. I organise several teams to form a water chain. They will look for buckets and form a chain from the well in the courtyard to the flaming carriages. Once they put out the fire, we can have the horses drag the wreckage away and clear the path. We will have to seat Lord Frey on one of the horses and travel slowly until we find somewhere with another carriage.
A man is sent inside the keep to find Lord Frey and inform him that we have taken the gate but there are complications. He needs to head here as soon as possible so that we can leave as soon as the obstacles are removed. Ser Marr won’t be able to hold the Stark horde for long. The thought of abandoning my long time friend is saddening, but I know it is necessary.
A few minutes have passed and the water chain has just formed, when the messenger returns. He rushes like his life depends on it and I fear what news he brings.
“Ser Coryn *pant pant* Lord Frey is dead!!” He shouts, his words bringing a stop to all motion.
“What!? How is that possible?! I was with Lord Frey not half an hour ago. Marr still holds the Starks back and he was guarded by his men when I last saw him. How could he have died?” I shout grabbing him with my good arm.
“I-I don’t know. Lord Frey suddenly collapsed and none could wake him. They sent for maesterCalmon but Oliver says he felt the Lords wrists and can’t feel a heartbeat. Lord Ryman was also there though he was killed by an arrow.” The messenger declares. The other officers have gathered round and are talking now.
“Then it is hopeless. With the Lord dead what are we to do? We need to surrender.” One declares.
“Are you crazy! The Starks will definitely kill us. We need to run, put out the fires then flee with as much as we can carry.” Another rejects and alternatively proposes.
“Hold your tongues! I will have no more of such treasonous talk. The battle is not over. If Lord Walder has indeed perished then Lord Stevran is next in line and we must see to his safety.” I order their silence, reminding them that our duty is to the Frey family, one that does not end with Lord Walder’s death.
Though I am reluctant to admit to our Lord’s passing, I trust in Oliver, a member of the Lord’s guard, and the messenger wouldn’t make such a dire mistake. Now is not the time to be divided, instead we must have even greater haste in our actions.
Noticing that the water chain has stopped moving, distracted by our discussion and the lack of instruction, I order the officers to resume putting out the fire. I then tell one of the officers to get a team and head to the keep to look for Lord Stevran. With his fathers passing it is he we must escort from the Twins and then it will be his decision how to proceed.
I notice there was a distinct lack of movement though. Many were hesitant and some outright glared at me with opposition and hate. Seeing the need to make an example I prepare to order them once more and draw my sword if necessary, though it is awkward with my non-dominant hand. Instead I feel a sharp pain as something enters my back. Stunned, I stumble forward and fall as it is removed.
I fall to the ground, my body failing, and felt agony again when I try and use my injured arm to stabilise myself. Instead I roll to my side and grasp it again, screaming as the combined sensation from both my old and new wound overlap.
“You fucking idiot. Why would we waste time looking for that old idiot, the keep is about to fall? Everyone, follow me! I will lead us out of this hell and to survival!!” I hear someone shout. I open my eyes and see Callis Frey standing above me, bloody sword proving his betrayal.
The bastard probably thought he looked gallant standing over a knight and speaking a few words. But between the lighting, the bloody sword and the generally weaselly face, all I and anyone can see is what he is. An opportunistic bastard that just stabbed his commanding officer in the back.
Several of those that are loyal to me stand against him in outrage, some going as far as to draw their swords.
“You back-stabbing shit!! How dare you do that to Ser Coryn?! I am going to run you through like the dog you are!” Matt shouts and moves towards Callis. It is then that Callis’s men move to defend him. Some look reluctant, but others look joyfull and greed fills their eyes.
“Coryn was a useless man who wanted all of us to die alongside him. I needed to remove him for the sake of House Frey. Due to the sudden passing of my father I am assuming command of the army until a new Lord is appointed. Now shut the fuck up and put out the fire.” Callis shouts and tries to assert his control before anyone can oppose.
If my mouth wasn’t already full of blood, I would curse the prick. If my body wasn’t broken, I would beat him to an inch of his life and throw him on the pyre. He’s so full of shit that it might just put out the flames.
Matt and the rest glare at Callis with gritted teeth, but start to back-off due to being outnumbered. It is then that a new group confronts Callis, but the reason being different to Matt.
“Callis you low born bastard, what gives you the right to assume the title of Lord. You are nothing but a bastard that grandfather took pity on! If anyone should take up the burden of Lord it should be me!” Declares Walder. This is one of Lord Walder’s grandsons that was named after him and is another officer.
Just like a dam, shouts and claims are thrown all over the place. The army is suddenly split into a dozen factions, calling support either to themselves or to their family members, those here and not.
This goes on for 10 minutes, and while my life fades the fires continue to burn, both of us now forgotten. With eyes focused only on themselves, they neglect the east gate to the bridge. I watch as doors open and barriers raise. Men stream from the buildings as riders pour through the now open path, the banner of a wolf raised at its head.
My soldiers, if you can call them that, don’t realise what is happening until they are upon us. Some at the back seemed to notice and tried to warn the rest, but couldn’t be heard over the cacophony that was this power-struggle.
I close my eyes and pray to the Seven, hoping he will forgive me for failing him and my Lord.