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Chapter 1 will be posted into three sections, all posted under different nights:


**Warning - If you have not read up on the character bios in the "Character List" and "Other" pages, I would suggest reading them in order for all the following to make sense. I included those, that way it would be easier for everyone to keep track of the characters' background story, that way I can get right into the characters plot of actions and thoughts without having to introduce 30+ characters with the same thought process, which would make it redundant. I would also suggest reading up on the histories of each household, which can be found on "The Realms" and "History" pages. The rest should be self-explanitory, for if you need to know where places like Winterbone, Dagger's Edge, and Falls Palace are, go to the "The World of Trivium" page, etc.



The spoke of the wheel churns and churns into repetition, as the restless minds of those onboard spin into duress with them. The carriage of the three prisoners has been traveling all the way from Bullsrush, with the Sorenson men tagging close behind.  


“Where are we headed?” Reese asked the driver urgently in his southern accent.


“To hell with you thief, death welcomes you at any site or location,” Ser Leyton Farrow replied back following with a chuckle of laughter.


Gunmar knew this road all too well; they were headed to the great house of Cartel, Dagger’s Edge. As a young lord he made a few visits to Dagger’s Edge with his mentor Torsten Van Horne, who was like the father he never had. Dagger’s Edge is a beautiful city in the summer, but now with the leaves changing colors, and fall making its presence known by the day, the night consumes the city in darkness as the tree suffocates the lands. The road is treacherous and filled with forests, and all its terrors. The villages leading to Dagger’s Edge from the west are as sinister as they come. Not directly in the area of Sidden Point where legends grow stranger by the day, but it is said uncivilized men and bandits alike populate the area all the same. Upon entering the little village of Darnmur, he was astonished by the sight he had seen, a man lynched at the front gate. Gunmar thought to himself, “The deeper south I go, the more dangerous the world becomes.”


Gunmar for the past year has been running from his past, and has disguised himself as a commoner in hopes of keeping his true identity a secret. He took refuge at the local inns at Darnmur until he ran out of gold. Once he did, he made a life out of stealing for more gold, until he was caught and had to steal a horse as a means of evading capture. He was caught just two days ago, just north of Bullsrush, trying to find refuge with his great mentor, Torsten. But instead he had been intercepted by Sorenson men out for a hunt, when Gunmar fell right into their laps. He would have never dared to ride north to Winterbone, but perhaps now he wishes he had.


If it hadn’t been for Arthur Sorenson, his identity would have been kept secret, but Arthur knew a prized possession the moment he laid eyes on Gunmar. House Sorenson has stayed secluded from the North for the past decade now, but its allegiance to House Riggs still stands strong. What Gunmar couldn’t understand is why he was being sent to Arthur’s sister, Avril Cartel, instead of to the lord of Winterbone, and the warden of the North, Jerraco Riggs. The question bugged his mind endlessly on the ride to house Cartel, but he’s sooner grateful that his head isn’t on a spike right now, or on its way to Winterbone itself. Gunmar would always lose his train of thought regardless due to Reese’s constant heckling of the driver.  


Reese couldn’t have been any older than 25, but his face was worn out, and a scar that reached from his right eye to his ear. Reese’s southern accent troubled Gunmar to understand him at times, but not like Gunmar could hold a conversation with the man anyway. Gunmar was all tied up in chains and was gagged, making him unable to speak. Reese questioned why along the way, but the third prisoner did not dare to answer Reese, but instead continuously looked at Gunmar with a smirk on his face, making the lord of the Seerforge uncomfortable.


“You, quiet man, what are you locked in chains for?” Reese asked the third prisoner. At first the man did not answer, and didn’t even acknowledge the question or Reese himself. A flock of ravens are let go from a cage behind them, assumingly off to Dagger’s Edge that they’re close by. The quiet man watches them soar through the vast acres of tree before he turns to Reese. “For being far away from home,” as he tilts his head the opposite direction to salvage sanity away from Reese’s existence.   


“Aye, same here.  Come from the south meself, from Lionsport. I was a courier of messages for House Sorenson for the past couple years, but I was caught stealing some gold from Bullsrush. Little do they know, I has been givin’ that lord daughter of Bullsrush my seed the entire time! They say nothing good ever happens after midnight, but they must of never heard that girl Alise scream.”


“Quiet, you! Or else I’ll have your throat slit before we even reach Dagger’s Edge,” the driver quickened to shut Reese up. It didn’t help much, but the three prisoners were trying their best to keep their laughter to themselves, including Gunmar. The third man didn’t speak much, if at all, but even he seemed to get a good chuckle out of that. The quiet man was wearing a full cage of armor in red, and had dyed hair into three different colors. Gunmar’s observation of the man lost its course once Reese started heckling him instead. “You, boy, what makes yous’ think you can be laughing along with the men here? I outta’ punch you for that. I don’t like dangerous people, and they have must have you locked in chains and kept quiet for no good reason at all,” examined Reese. Gunmar gave Reese a cold stare with his blue eyes, as Reese’s expression turned red.


To the shock of both Gunmar and Reese, the quiet man spoke up. “I would not do that if I were you, for it is punishable by death to strike a lord.” He knows. How?


“Is that so? And who is this lord I be setting my eyes upon now? I’ve never seen a lord worth lands and titles of the great Talos himself locked in chains. This is no lord, quiet man,” Reese replied harshly.


“That is because you’ve never seen the terrible side of such power. At the age of eight, right in front of my eyes was the rotting flesh of Lord Rush Volken, while my father fed the bones to Volken’s own pet coyotes,” said the quiet man as his eyes in tensioned.  “You are looking at Gunmar Stone, of house Haren, who is about to meet the same fate as Lord Volken himself.” Even at my age of 20, I barely know much about Gunmar Stone. How in the hell of Sithis does this man know who I am?


“Har! Well lord Stone, it was nice knowing ya,” said Reese laughing, as he looked back towards Gunmar. “I’ll be sure to weep the songs of Haren for ya in my dungeon at Dagger’s Edge. Even in Lionsport the songs of your great house are widely known. I wonder what song they’ll mark for your death, Stone,” said Reese as his laugh accelerated in tone. “Wait, wait… I know, they’ll sing, ‘And for Gunmar did not appeal, for he couldn’t give out a single squeal’ That one even had Ser Leyton laughing.


“I’ve never seen a man try to make a song of his own funeral,” said the quiet man. It took a little while for Reese to comprehend what he meant. “That cannot be!” worried Reese, “They cannot kill me; I only stole a bit amount of gold! I’m no lord who caused a civil war within a region! Oh by the Eight, no!”


The laughter in Ser Leyton deafened. “There’s no saving you now, thief. Dagger’s Edge is just another league away. You best make your final moments count, for Sithis awaits you now.”


“Talos give me the strength to live, Javhid give me the wisdom to do how, and Astrid the mighty give me my justice, but not this way,” as Reese put his hands together to pray. The quiet man just sat there with a smirk looking at Reese’s final plea, in obvious disgust. The man in red armor somehow knew who he was, but Gunmar couldn’t even begin to think where he had seen this man before, if it all. His thoughts were racing, as the quiet man accelerated all his fears and convicted him of the fate laid out before him.


The day is as clear as any now, as the prisoners can now spot the great watchtower of Dagger’s Edge.  Gunmar was able to escape death from Darco Riggs and his army that out-numbered him three-to-one, and able to avenge his people of the Seerforge. But now looks as if his death was only delayed, and will now come at the hands of a lord he never wronged. Gunmar only had questions, and with his death in the balance, he held no answers. Why are we going to Dagger’s Edge? Why did Darco want to kill me? Who is this quiet man truly? Who was my father? Why did my mother abandon me? Do I have any siblings? Why did you leave me with Grandfather Tohhen? Why has his all happened to me? All these thoughts circled around Gunmar’s head, but it only led to even more frustration.


Gunmar’s mind finally comes to peace, as he sits in silent, as do the other two prisoners. They turn back to silence being their own salvation, for the probable end of the road for each that nears. Gunmar clenches his fists and begins dreaming of his mother. He does not remember much about her but the only living memory he has of her is of the age of 3. He doesn’t know why, but while his mother was holding him and another close to herself, a man with a thick beard kissed her gently on the lips, as she began to cry. The man could have been his father, and the other child Gunmar’s brother or sister. Why was she crying? Why is this the only memory I have?


The questions bothered Gunmar for a moment, until he remembered in his only living memory of his mother, they were in the grand hall of the Seerforge, and with them was Maester Olney. Maester Olney loved the Haren family, and Gunmar most of all. Gunmar always had a little hatred towards the man for never giving Gunmar the answers he desired for regarding his questionable childhood. Everyone at the Seerforge adored his mother, they say. They must have, for keeping true with her wishes to never let Gunmar know his truth. Damn them all. I deserve to know. Gunmar’s thoughts traveled back to the Grand Hall. The place I grew up, the place I was worshipped, the place I was named lord, the place I put a sword through Darco Riggs.


Maester Olney, Grandfather Tohhen, Old Lady Greyson, Knight Vixon. My people, the ones I swore to protect, and the ones that protected me when they should have taken refuge. All dead. Damn you Darco Riggs, you and your army. I could be sitting at my keep right now, perhaps a father, surrounded by all those who love me if not for your wild northern rage.


The three prisoners catch a whiff of a putrid smell, which must be the city sewers, which mean they’re only minutes away from Dagger’s Edge. Gunmar has seen this sight before. It’s right before his eyes. Dagger’s Edge. The city, so beautiful, in the time of day, as the solid structure of sandstone shines against the rays of the sun, and the surrounding trees create layers of shadows from afar, and the reflection glimmers into the Madre River.


Gunmar’s thought process came to a crushing halt when the Sorenson siege began to close in on the carriage, and began to chant. “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!” The prisoners know what that means. The time has come, for the carriage has found its way onto Dagger’s great bridge, and the city gate is within foresight. Reese goes back to his frantic praying, and the quiet man looks up to the sky, whispering to himself under his breath.

The carriage comes to a stop, as the gate is opened and the flock of 100 passes through the city’s walls. People surround the city’s outer shops and all watch intensively as echoes around the carriage began to shake at the nerves of the men one by one. Some section of the city they are met by silence, and others they are met by cheers and humiliation. The carriage comes to a complete stop, at the city’s central square. Gunmar, Reese, and the quiet man are all pushed off the carriage and pushes to the dirty pile of marvel of the city’s dirt. Then everyone’s eyes turn and are followed with a kneel, as they echo, “My Lady.”


Gunmar’s eyes met that of Lady Avril Cartel, who stood above 6’, much taller than your average woman. She wore a golden crown, and a silver and red cloak, resembling the colors of House Sorenson and House Cartel. Avril Sorenson married Lord Jeremiah Cartel when she was 15, and has been Lady of Dagger’s Edge ever since. They had always said Avril Cartel had the eyes of an owl, but the intentions of a bull. Now Gunmar sees why. She is still beautiful, even at her age of 35, but those eyes of her look as if they want to hunt, and they help shine through her intentions of vengeance. She took a long look at Gunmar, before turning to the quiet man and slapping him without a moment’s notice.


“Is that how you greet all your royal guests, Lady Cartel?” questioned the quiet man. It must of set Avril off even more, because this time she kicked the man in his ribs. The quiet man wasn’t so quiet now, for all he could do was laugh, until Avril kicked him repeatedly in the face, causing the quiet man to cough up blood. Avril looked satisfied in herself until the man stood back onto his feet.


“Not bad, for a Cartel. Showing more fight than Zane, that’s for sure,” stated the quiet man, as gasps echo throughout the square. Avril’s face filled with rage, but instead of acting she quickly turned to her guard. “Bring out my family at once. I want them to witness the death of Edmond Ashdown.”


That’s when it hit Gunmar. The quiet man was no other than Rowan Ashdown’s son. They’re not in Dagger’s Edge for the public execution of the killer of Darco Riggs. They’re in Dagger’s Edge for the public execution of Rowan’s offspring, and the revenge of the Riverlands.




It seems as if he had been a lord for years, as Jerraco’s crown had finally fit onto his head perfectly, and he was finally comfortable with calling Winterbone his own. His wife lay beside him sleeping soundlessly and no sound from the children’s room either. His castle was sound asleep, and was as peaceful as it could ever hope to be. The night was silent, even the city seemed to join in without a notice of melody. Jerraco climbed from his bed and made his way down the grand stairs, out of the keep, and into the backyard where the springs from beneath the keep has made a little pond behind the castle. The night was as clear as can be, much different from the normal winter weather he is used to in Winterbone. Jerraco goes to wash his face in the pond but in the reflection, the face he sees is not the one he remembers of him. Jerraco studies his face until he hears a scuffle from inside the castle, followed by a scream until it diminishes into silence. Jerraco runs towards the doors, but stops dead in his tracks as he hears in a faint voice, “Jerraco”, coming from the catacomb tombs of Winterbone.


The voice gets louder for every step closer he gets to the catacombs. Jerraco knows something of interest is happening within his castle, but he can’t control his curiosity of what’s down below in the crypts. He lights a torch and finds his way down into the center of the catacombs, where ancient lords of Winterbone, and former Kings of the North and their family are buried, including his mother and father. The features of each person buried is carved into the stone that seal the tombs. In long rows, the proud members of House Riggs sat, staring out into complete darkness with their blind eyes.


He studies the tomb of Diedrich Riggs, the last King of the North, and feels his mystic, legendary sword “Dragontooth”. It had been named Dragontooth because it was shaped like a huge fang, that were only seen in dragons, and it comes from the first line of Riggs who helped Talos the conqueror defeat the last of the dragons. He goes to pick it up, but for him to only be stood in awe by the sound of the whispers of his name that came from the tomb behind him.


It was the tomb of Darco Riggs, his brother, the one who Jerraco succeed after. Jerraco never felt so strange, so surreal. Darco died at the Seerforge, with his body never returned to Winterbone. Jerraco went to open the tomb, until he heard in his brother’s voice, “Look at you brother, you couldn’t be more of a stranger to that crown than you are to those around you, no matter how much you try to mimic my rule.” He still spites me.  “I do not try to be like you, brother. I mean to be my own man, in my own shadow,” Jerraco replied back, realizing he was only talking to a tomb.


He turned around, and felt as if he could feel the eyes of all the dead Riggs stalking his every movement. Now he knew what it felt like to have those “Cold, Blue Riggs eyes” staring right at you creating chills down your spine, as everyone always described to him. He spotted his mother’s tomb and walked closely to it, studying the architecture of her crypt in the sepulchers. Her stone face was livelier than when he was attending to her on the deathbed when he was only twelve years old. She didn’t seem to care she was on the verge of her last few breaths, no matter what Jerraco said, she would always reply to him, “Forgive me, Jerraco, tell me you forgive me.” Jerraco never knew what that meant, and he especially didn’t in that circumstance. His mother never did him any wrong, and it was especially strange to him that it was the last sequence of words his mother ever said to him, or anyone. Anytime Jerraco asked for Cecilia to elaborate, she would only tell him, “For forcing you to be somebody you are not.”


Even though Jerraco never was able to find out what she meant, he told his mother he forgave her, in whom she was able to give a lasting smile before her last pulse took her away from Jerraco and his brothers. Jerraco’s recollection of the memory perished, as he heard the same voice that drew him to the catacombs, which he now recognizes to be his mother’s, “Jerraco, forgive me.” This frustrated Jerraco to no end, “For what! You have nothing to be sorry for!” Jerraco went on about how none of it ever made sense, begging for his mother to explain herself to him now that she’s finally resting. His pleas came to a rest, as he heard a harsh voice that he only feared as a child, “She’s sorry for your own disappointment.”


Jerraco turned to his right, “Father...” Kenric Riggs, the Warden of the North before his son Darco Riggs, had the same cold, stern look in his stone eyes as he did in life. His sword “Frostburn” laid under his feet, as just the sight of the greatsword could blind someone if they stared at it for too long. “Don’t you call me that, for you’re no son of mine. What kind of man can’t do his family a duty, and protect them from a slaughter?” Jerraco heard in his father’s voice. “I don’t recall a slaughter, and definitely not under my consent,” Jerraco harshly argued back, questioning what his father meant. “Is that so? Look to your right!”


Jerraco obeyed his father’s commands, as his knees trembled at the sight, as he frantically went to investigate the tombs. He sees four tombs at the end of the pillar, one with the name of “Jerraco” that remains empty. But the three beside him are sealed, including the one of his wife. Jerraco’s thoughts race within his head, as he tries to make sense of what’s going on. Then he remembers the scuffling and screaming inside the castle before he entered the catacombs. Jerraco screamed “NO” at the top of his lungs, as he grabs the torch and runs as fast as he can out of the crypts. Each step he can hear the sounds of the House of Riggs either weeping or shouting words of their disappointment in him.


He makes his way out of the crypt and to the backyard of the keep. He stops in his tracks as everything seems like the same before he went down below. The night was quiet, and the lights in the city out. It still seemed very peaceful, until he spotted a trail of blood from the pond leading its way to the castle. He follows the trail, deep into the keep, as he walks his way back up the stairs, as the spurts of blood only get bigger the further he goes. He reaches the top of the stairs, and that’s when he saw his nightmares come to life.


His wife, and their two children, slaughtered like pigs, blood pumping from his children’s necks and from his wife’s stomach, which each had two slashes marking an X on each body’s rapture. He knelt beside their bodies, as he could hear the stomps of feet marching up the steps, with voices chanting “No king of mine, no king of mine, no king of mine.” He did not care to give it a moment’s notice. He had failed his family, so now he must meet their same fate. Jerraco notices a note left beside the body, “When one burns another’s bridges, what a nice fire it makes” Jerraco crumbled the paper into a ball and threw it onto the ground, catching it ablaze. Jerraco did not care for it; he wanted to die along with them. Jerraco put his arms around the corpses until he was yanked by the neck and dragged away.


Once more Jerraco screamed no at the top of his lungs, as he was hopeless, and unable to fight back. Jerraco was able to catch one last glimpse of the corpses as they were consumed by the flames, before they were out of his sight. The voice that dragged him, muttered the words that haunt him most, “Forgive me, Jerraco…”


Jerraco jerked upright, his heart racing, with the blankets tangled around him. Jerraco opened his eyes as the room was pitch black. Someone came hammering at the door, “Lord Jerraco, it’s Harkon,” the voice called loudly. That’s when Jerraco breathed a sigh of relief that it was all just a dream.


“Give me one moment, Maester,” Jerraco called out. Jerraco was sweating, groggy, and naked, as he made his way across the dark room, finding some clothes to put on. When Jerraco opened the door, Maester Harkon busted into the room, studying Jerraco. “You seem unwell, and your eyes tell the story of long-night’s sleep,” suggested Harkon. “Just a nightmare was all,” Jerraco replied, still trying to pinch his own self to make sure he’s back on earth.


“You have a long march ahead of you, my Lord,” said Harkon as he tried to study Jerraco, “Perhaps what’s to come is too overwhelming.” Harkon had noticed a change in Jerraco’s attitude the past few days, once they received the raven from Falls Palace announcing the ceremony for Jerraco at the capital. He’s been sleeping often, and has asked the maids to cut his hair and trim that famous beard of House Riggs. Even at the age of 20, Jerraco could grow facial hair like no other, but that’s the norm when it comes to House Riggs. The best beard Harkon has seen through his three generations of serving the Riggs family, is Jerraco’s uncle, Malik. Malik and his son Erik must be making their way to Falls Palace, and Harkon hopes to see him once more before his time is up.


“Jerraco, I know you don’t want to hear this, but it must be said, which is the reason I came up here” Harkon said as Jerraco listened intensively. “Your father may not have loved his children equally, but this would be a proud day for him. He would have wept endlessly for Darco’s death, but he’d take solace in knowing you would sit upon the throne of Winterbone.”


“Is that so?” questioned Jerraco, as the neglect of his father growing up still bothers him. “Very so, my Lord. If the man wasn’t so busy fighting useless wars, he would have seen the prize in you that I’ve been fortunate enough to see every day. I’m as anxious for this day as you, because now the whole realm gets to see the overlooked son of Winterbone. You will prove to be an asset to the realm, and to your family, something Darco never proved to be, even if I loved him all the same.”


“I truly do appreciate your words, Maester, and I do appreciate you for always being there for me and my family. For all you’ve done for me and my younger brothers, I’m not sure there is a reward high enough for your service. But I have proved to be no asset of yet, I’m sure Darco was told the same, and he ends up butchering an entire city. I know father would be proud today, but am I in the wrong to believe he would have been even prouder to see Darco butcher the Seerforge?”


Harkon paused for a moment, thinking for the exact words to say. Jerraco was right, no matter the shame Darco brought to the household, it would not have mattered to the great Kenric Riggs. “It does not matter what your lord father valued more, the man was known to be ruthless himself. He set goals and did anything to accomplish them, and your brother was taught the same lesson.”


“Only success feeds aggression,” Jerraco said, as he muttered the motto of his royal house. Jerraco despised the words, for they’ve become a mockery within the realm. “I must ask Lord Jerraco, when your name comes out of people’s lips, what do you want them to say about you?” asked the Maester of Winterbone. Jerraco pondered what to say, until he finally spoke out, “That I’m nothing like my father or brother.”


“Good,” said Harkon, “That’s what the king wants as well. I must make my leave though, there are a few more preparations for me to make before we ride south. I’ll be in the courtyard, and your family has a gift for you before we part.”


Harkon was making his way out the door before Jerraco called his name. “Wait, one last thing, Maester,” Jerraco called out, as Harkon turned back toward the young lord. “Have the remains of my brother been found yet?”


“They have not, my Lord, but as soon as I get word from a raven, I’ll be sure that you know as soon as possible. Why do you ask?” questioned Harkon. Jerraco didn’t want to say too much, as he felt Harkon was right about being overwhelmed, “Oh nothing, just he was in the catacombs in my dreams last night.”


“Well, have no fear my lord, if a zombie Darco Riggs walks into the city, we’ll be far enough away from Winterbone not to feel his wrath,” said Harkon as he made his leave, even putting a smile on Jerraco’s stern face with that comment.


Jerraco was left thinking to himself until it was time to leave. He was anxious about meeting the other house lords, and hoping they’d soon see that they can begin to trade with Winterbone again, for he intends to make no enemies. Supplies in Winterbone have been short and dry of late, because lords from the south disapprove of Darco’s butchery, and letting the rest of Winterbone suffer the consequences. Jerraco’s done as much as he possibly could, but with it being the fall season, growing crops in the north has become short and scarce. Jerraco doesn’t know what to expect from the ceremony, but he knows there isn’t a great history of luck when it comes to Lords of Winterbone traveling south. His lord father was on his way to the capital for the ceremony of Arthur Sorenson, but he died his way there. The men in his camp said he died from drinking too much alcohol, others from a ware and tear on his body, but either way he collapsed on his horse and pronounced dead. Thankfully Kenric asked for his family to stay behind, or else they would have all witnessed it themselves. His father… father


“Don’t call me that, for you’re no son of mine” The words echoed through his head, as he took recollection of the dream from last night. He’s still even trying to make sense of it. The thought of marriage has never even entered his mind. However, he noticed he was older in the dream. Could it be a premonition? Jerraco certainly hoped not. ‘It couldn’t be,’ he thought to himself, remembering that Darco’s body has yet to be found, and there was no mention of his brothers Meeco and Sirco. It had to be just a dream.


Jerraco hadn’t been able to convince himself as much, so he decided to take a visit to the catacombs before he rode to Falls Palace. The catacombs were just as dark as they were in his dream, and once more felt like the stone eyes of each Rigg family member were staring directly at his presence. He made his way to the pillar of his father’s family. There his tomb stood; empty, alongside Sirco and Meeco’s. He was delighted to see that variation from his dream, as they were nowhere to be found in the nightmare. He finally took a look to Darco’s, even though hesitantly, and had the weight of the world off his shoulders to see Darco’s remains and tomb not to be within the pillar. Jerraco had no intentions of staying any longer than he had to. He always hated the catacombs, even before his dream. He was about to make his leave before stumbling upon battered rock and stone. It took him a few seconds to realize, but it left him in disbelief.

My mother’s tomb. Shattered. Missing. Somebody’s been down here. The dream was only for me to find out.


Jerraco continued to investigate, trying to make sense of who would do this, and why. All he could think to himself was, “Forgive me, Jerraco. Forgive me Jerraco. Forgive me, Jerraco,” as if the voice from his dream followed him into reality. His glorious day has turned into the most frustrating. The infamous northern aggression sets in, as Jerraco’s blood boils and the veins of his forehead are made apparent. Jerraco was far from a religious man, but even he had some religious values, in the sense of letting the dead rest in their graves. He must make someone answer for this, but he knows he has bigger duties than a tomb. ‘Harkon must know something,’ he thought to himself. He made his way out of the catacombs and out into the grand courtyard of Winterbone. There, stood his siblings and Maester Harkon as they cheered in his name.


Jerraco quickly hid his furious rage, and was able to dawn a fake smile for he knew that’s what they would want. There stood his two younger brothers, Meeco and Sirco, and along with them his cousin Mallo, and of course Maester Harkon and all the maids and knights that Jerraco found of value. “A gift for the warden of the north, and rightful lord of Winterbone!” shouted out Yammy, his sworn protector since the age of 5. Yammy walked towards Jerraco with his hands behind his back, as he knelt to the lord.


Jerraco called out, “You may rise,” as Yammy followed his commands. His family circled around him, as Harkon muttered the words. “Jerraco Riggs, the first of his name, I hereby award you the most precious item within your family’s line.” That’s when Yammy pulled it out in front of him. Frostburn. His father’s great sword, that dates back to the first line of Riggs. It has been passed down from each generation of Riggs, and usually given to the Lord of Winterbone. “It was always your father’s wish to give you this sword, Jerraco,” said the Maester. “I told you the man had his intentions for all his children.”


Jerraco never understood why Darco never received Frostburn, for the greatsword is twice in length than your average one. He definitely could have used it on the battlefield against the Seermen. “Now these lords of the south can see the aggression of House Riggs!” called out Yammy. “They’ll be in for a treat once they see this lord of Winterbone can’t wield it to save his life,” called out Jerraco’s younger brother, Meeco. Meeco was always the kidding one within the family, making jokes, the exact opposite of Jerraco’s stark manner. The two embraced each other, as Meeco patted him on the back. “Now with that sword, nobody can deny your lordship now, not even the king himself,” stated Meeco.


“It will definitely remind me as much. Now I can stop reminding myself of it, for it’s been too surreal,” admitted Jerraco. Maester Harkon butted into their conversation to make a chirp he similarly made towards Darco, “Getting married also reminds one of lordship, you are well old enough to be put in a match of another noble house,” said Maester Harkon, as Jerraco could only remember back to his dream.


Thankfully his brother was there to defer the attention of what he said, “The only reminder marriage will bring onto my brother is that of a nasty headache,” Meeco exclaimed, as even Harkon received a good laugh out of that one. Truthfully, Jerraco knows one day he has to marry, and always was excited for the idea of marrying Audrey Sorenson, like his father wished. The Sorenson’s stayed at Winterbone, along with House Cartel and House Volken, during the age of the 5 great rebellion wars, as Jerraco was able to form a close relationship with Audrey at a young age. But once Lord Ashur Sorenson died, the Sorenson family left Winterbone without a moment’s warning, and he hasn’t seen her in seven years. His older brother also lost his marriage their father betrothed, when Rush Volken and his entire family line were wiped out in the war, along with Darco’s to-be-wife Rosalie. Perhaps it will be up to me to betroth my younger brothers, to strengthen our influence. That’s what father would want.  


But Jerraco knew his father would want him married too, but the time will come and he’s certainly in no rush to see it happen, especially after last night’s dream. It still seemed too real to Jerraco, even after finding a little bit of meaning out of it. He decided then he will not marry until he makes House Riggs a proud name in Trivium again. His thoughts ceased once his 11-year old cousin began to tug on his silver and blue cloak, which shined the colors of House Riggs. “Jerraco, when are we leaving? I want to get to the capital and see father already,” questioned Mallo. “Only a few more moments, Mallo, we’ll get there. There is no rush, he’ll be there if we get there in a week, or if we get there within the month,” he replied to her. Telling by her expression, she did not like the answer he gave out. Jerraco wondered if this was one of the moments where his little cousin would claim him “Jerk-o” whenever she didn’t get her way. He found it in good fun, as she has been getting her personality from Meeco, who always finds a way to give Mallo a new way to make fun of her Lord cousin. “I’ll tell you what:  You can ride your own horse on our way there, would that make you happy?” She obnoxiously shook her head yes and seemed satisfied enough in Jerraco’s promise that she left him alone. Mallo reminds Jerraco a lot of Meeco back when he was her age. She’s not your prototypical young girl, as she much rather enjoys archery and sword play than knitting and princess stories. She’s of House Riggs, she’s born to bleed and make other’s pay the consequence. That was always what his uncle Ulfric would say, when describing her personality. He’ll finally be able to see his uncle for the first time in three years, who is now hand of King Vance Burke. Ulfric sends ravens to Winterbone as often as he can, asking about Mallo and passing off the message that he misses her, but it’s quite obvious to Jerraco that his hands are tied with business of the realm. Ulfric loves his daughter, and his nephews so, but he’s a man of the realm, and loyal to House Burke more than anything.


Jerraco heard a loud roar of “Watch it!” from little Mallo to his right. Sirco was practicing archery again, and must of missed his target and almost hit his cousin in the face with it. “Sirco! How many times do I have to tell you to not practice unless the yard is clear! You almost killed poor Mallo, now apologize!” Maester Harkon demanded of him. Harkon had just as much of a burden to raise Sirco as his parents did. Jerraco knew if time of war were to ever come to House Riggs again, his brothers would be safe with him. “Sorry, Mallo, I… I didn’t mean to,” hesitantly and shyly stated Sirco. Sirco was just 14, but he always had an interest of archery ever since Jerraco could remember. House Riggs and the city of Winterbone are known for forging and making Steel, making it known as the “Steel City” across the country of Trivium. However, Sirco preferred bows and arrows, so he allowed his brother to stick with that instead, to help cope the loss of his parents. Jerraco could notice that Sirco was startled, and angry at himself for continuously missing his shot.


“Sirco, would you want me to ask Lord Arthur to take you under his wing and have you join in the training of the Sorenson men?” asked Jerraco. Sirco nodded his head with excitement on his face, as everyone knew the stories of House Sorenson. They are known as the family that excels In archery, and have proven to be a great asset to House Burke through its line. Their house sigil is of a bull, for the term “Bullseye”, and the name of their home follows suit of “Bullsrush”. Perhaps once down at the capital, Jerraco can try to rekindle the alliance between House Sorenson, who was as furious as any at the butchery and raid of the Seerforge. They have remained loyal to his house, stating as much through ravens, but for how long? Jerraco admits to himself that it would be nice to see Audrey too; it’s been well too long and knows he has feelings for his childhood crush somewhere down inside him still.


Harkon announced he is done with his work around the keep, as are his maids and workers, for now it’s time to saddle up, and make way towards Falls Palace. Everyone is jolly, laughing, and life couldn’t be better for Jerraco and his family. Jerraco decides right there that he plans to have a great feast once they get home, but this time in the honor for everyone else, including the maids. He must make no enemies this trip down south, like his brother had his entire reign as Warden of the North.


The chatter stops as the sound of a flock of ravens are heard. The birds swoop down as Maester Harkon grabs the letter from one of the bird’s neck, as they fly away. Everyone stops in their tracks, waiting in anticipation for what the letter says, fearing something terrible had happened, or the ceremony was to be canceled. Harkon opens the letter, as he is a loss for words after making sense of what it says.


“Maester?” calls out Jerraco, expecting the worst, “What’s it say?”


Harkon takes a gulp before explaining, “The letter is from Lady Avril Cartel from Dagger’s Edge,” explains the old maester. “Read it to me,” demanded Jerraco.


To Jerraco Riggs: Once you arrive in Dagger’s Edge, I have a special gift for you and your family. This little bird was found far away from his nest, and is awaits your sentencing upon the word.


Everyone stood in shock, others with a smile on their face. They all know as of whom they were speaking about: Gunmar Stone, the man who killed Darco Riggs. Everyone was standing still, waiting for Jerraco to say something, as they stood staring, waiting for words to follow his lips. Harkon was too impatient, “My Lord, what do you plan to do with this situation?”


Jerraco continued to stand there still, without expression, continuing to gather his plan. “We march,” is all the lord said, to the dismay of everyone in the courtyard. Everyone began to get onto their horse until Jerraco spoke once more, “We march… and once we get to Dagger’s Fall, we give Gunmar the fate he always deserved from Darco.”


Prince Keaton Burke was lurking in the shadow of his father’s throne room, listening in on the conversation between the King and the Hand. Ulfric Riggs, the younger brother of Kenric, whose son reigns as Lord of Winterbone, and whom will be coming to Falls Palace in the coming days. Ulfric has been Vance Burke’s closest friend for quite some time, and has served as the hand for the past five years. Keaton is fond of Ulfric, which is more than he can say of his father at this time. The two have never been close by any stretch of the imagination, especially once Jaden Burke, the Queen of Trivium, passed years ago.


The tension between the two is well-known from inside the palace. But it is through Ulfric that any type of bond is formed between King and Prince. Ulfric has been sending men to train young Keaton for his future reign, something his father has neglected to do. But Keaton knows better than to blame his father for such actions, or lack of actions. He neglects his father as much as he can as well. But today he has been summoned into the court room by the man himself. But Keaton couldn’t help but listen in on the conversation between the King and his men.  


“There are reports that Rowan Ashdown is marching with his entire army,” said the King’s Hand. “He is traveling up Murdersroad and is planning to add to his total by joining forces with House Mercer of Sincoln Harbor. By my guestimations, that'll bring his troop total to around 30,000 men”


The King looked on, as everyone in the room looked at his expression, including his son, knowing the history between House Burke and House Ashdown. Could this be Rowan’s plan to finally try to overtake the capital city?


“Something must be done,” said the King, with a cold, blank stare in his eyes.


“My King, if you’d like, I can start to really the troops outside the city, and blockcade the Murdersroad from Lionsport to Falls Palace,” Ulfric said, as the King seemed inclined to agree.


Everyone’s attention moved to the door, as a man wearing an elegant golden cloak enters the room, a man that always finds a way to stand out from the crowd, London Martyn. He walked in with his glowing blonde hair matching his outfit, and that smirk that everyone loved to hate. “There is no need, he’s not coming for Falls Palace,” said the heir of Lionsport, as he was waving a letter in the air with the Lion stamp glued on it.


“This is a letter from my father,” said London, as he handed the letter to the King. It took a moment for Vance Burke to take it all in, before announcing it to the men in the room.


“Rowan Ashdown has declared war on Jeremiah Cartel,” the King said point blank. The others in the room gasped, and not knowing what to say. “This is a problem. I will not have a family feud boil over into my kingdom.” The King looked at Lord Kiba, the bald-headed man in robe who specializes in being the man of whispers, a spy so to speak. But he also controls the ravens of Falls Palace. “Lord Kiba, I want you to send a raven to both Dagger’s Edge and Sincoln Harbor at once. I demand an explanation at once to why they’ve suddenly taken arms up against one another, and I demand it to be stopped or both Jeremiah Cartel and Rowan Ashdown will be hung for treason.”


“You honestly think that’s going to stop a man like Rowan?” questioned London. “Pardon me if this offends you, but Vance, you can’t honestly expect an empty threat to stop a man who is as tenacious as any to just lay down his arms. Jeremiah, too. There’s as much bad blood between those two as there are between you and the Court –“


“Don’t you dare speak that name in my throne room, and the next time you call me ‘Vance’ instead of ‘King’ I’ll have you put in the dungeon. Now how’s that for a threat, or do you think I’m empty about that one too?” the King exclaimed.


London backed off. “My apologies my King, but I say we should investigate this matter even further, or at least not get the whole kingdom involved. These two families have been at a war of words for decades now. Jeremiah Cartel isn’t even in Dagger’s Edge, so how are we to know what’s truly on the line here.”


The King studied the situation for a moment before finally coming to a decision. “Very well, but I want to know why the sudden outburst. We are having a ceremony for Lord Jerraco in a week, and I will not have it be tarnished by the selfish acts of two stubborn, old lords. Lord Kiba, find out at once.”


“As you say My Lord,” the man said as he scurried off.


Ulfric looked on, with a worried expression on his face, “Jerraco is on his way to Dagger’s Edge right now.”


“Nothing will happen to your nephew, Ulfric, I’ll make sure to that. Like you’re the one to keep such promises.


In the mean time, I have an order of business to discuss with my son,” the King says as he looks directly at Keaton. “You’re all dismissed,” The men left the blue-suffocating throne room, as Keaton walked down the yellow stone steps, to meet eye-to-eye with his father, as he sees a glimpse of pain from him while shifting his body to get more comfortable in the Dragonstone chair. Keaton had the same features as his father, black, long hair to go along with a thick beard that Keaton could even grow at the age of 17. Vance was in his silver-plated armor with the crown stuck upon his head, as Keaton wore the shades of red, a color his father never liked.


“Looks rather uncomfortable for you up there,” said the prince.


“It is, but I dare not to complain about it,” said the King.


“Just tell me what it is that you want, father,” said the Prince of Trivium. The King liked that not one bit at all, as Keaton could see the disappointment in his father’s face after that remark.


“Where have you been, Keaton?” questioned the king. The Prince just stood there in awe, trying his hardest to avoid eye contact with his father. The King, looking unsatisfied with no acknowledgement from his son, continued on. “You’ve been avoiding me for some time. I know you can find a lot of things in life to be mad at me about, but why have you always been so angry at me?” Vance Burke wondered.


Keaton still would not acknowledge his father’s words, for the rift between their disagreements has obviously met a point of no return. Vance was getting restless and tired of Keaton’s non replies, and Keaton himself could sense it. The King banged his fists against his throne, “Damn it Keaton, all I’ve ever wanted was for everyone to be happy.” Keaton had heard enough.


“WHEN WAS THIS TIME WE WERE HAPPY, FATHER?” Keaton shouted, as the echo rippled throughout the long hallways painted in blue. “Please tell me of this time when we were all happy, because if I could remember it, then I’d help steer us back there. But no, all I remember as a child was a mother who drowned herself in sorrows with alcohol, and a father neglecting the signs at any turn. How dare you claim of something we never had. Your failure to realize this has killed everyone!”


The king allowed for a moment’s of silence to overcloud the halls before finally speaking up once more, as the memory still stings deep to the both of them.  “Keaton… listen. I dare not to try to say I have been a perfect father. Especially once your mother left us. But am I to blame for feeling heartache? You have no idea how I feel. You loved her as a mother, but you never loved her as a person Keaton. So don’t you dare tell me I didn’t notice the signs of my wife’s collapse, because they destroyed me from inside out every day!” The king said as his tone trembled at the thought. “Your brother and sister, I told them not to go into the crowd that day. Those arrogant fools,” Vance shutters as his face boils in red. “I will get my revenge on them Keaton. Those bloody bastard Court of Reckoning bastards think they’re the only ones with spies and eyes in high places. The day I find them is the day we can finally be happy.”


Keaton was unsure as to of what to say to that. He believed his father’s words, but they didn’t have any merit to him. “I don’t care for damn revenge. You think that’s going to make me happy? The day you stop living in your own fairy tale is the day our family can finally move on from what has transpired. I’m done sitting in the shadows and letting you tear us all down,” said the prince.


“Well, you’re a little too late for that then, because everyone’s gone, Keaton,” the King of Trivium fired back.


“BECAUSE YOU KILLED THEM. You’re supposed to be a king, let alone a man! The least you could do was protect your own family,” Keaton fired back, regretting what he said even before the last word left his lips. Vance’s expression turned from fiery red to a blank, cold look. The words of his son struck his heart in more ways than one. “I’m sorry, father, I did not mean to…”


“I can’t fault you for telling the truth,” Vance said to his son, without making eye contact. “You know what your mother told me on our wedding day, Keaton?” Keaton didn’t even dare to answer. “She said, ‘Vance your love is sweet, but it will never change your nature,’” Keaton studied his father’s face, and it’s filled with regret.


“The mistakes I’ve made as a ruler, husband, and father are dead to me. But I can’t take back the things I never did,” said Vance, with his voice shot and tender. “I always thought we were safe, Keaton. I tried my damnest to keep this family safe, and make no enemies. I’m Trivium’s biggest fool for that. I should have known that doesn’t make us immune to being sorry. It’s funny, ever since the beginning of my reign as king, I’ve had power, love… and time, but didn’t know it. It took decades to pass for me to realize the importance of all three. And now, all I feel towards them is contentment.”


The awkward silence that followed seemed to ripple through the great palace. Two of the most powerful people in Trivium, left without words. The heir to the throne finally broke down a king who is nicknamed “Vance the Unbreakable”, a nickname given to him by Kenric Riggs, who witnessed many assassination attempts on the king’s life. Keaton knew words couldn’t fix the damage his words brought upon his father, and he didn’t want to sympathize for being right.


“Why was mother so eager to die, father?” Keaton asked finally, for the question troubled him since her death. He never dared to ask his father before, but this is the perfect time to let it all out. “You had half of it right earlier when you claimed I killed her and your two older siblings,” the King said as if the words burn through him like a flame.


“You know I didn’t me –“ Keaton said before his father interrupted him.


“No, no… you had the right of it. But the true reason she was so eager to let herself go was because… because I killed everything she ever loved about herself,” said the King, with his eyes drawn shut to fight back any potential tears. Keaton didn't understand what he meant by that, but he didn't even bother trying to.


“If it wasn’t for you Keaton, I would have allowed death to welcome me long ago. But I must strive on, for the sake of House Burke,” said the King, with a moment’s pause, “And for you, Keaton.” This is the first time that Keaton had ever felt a bond with his father, at least in a long while. Finally a smile broke through, this time from Keaton, as he asked, “Will you teach me to be king like you, father?”


Then Keaton’s smile quickly faded away, no sooner than hearing his father’s simple word, “No.” Keaton once more left speechless, until his father spoke up once more. “I will not teach you to be a king, but I will teach you how to be a survivor, and how to be safe,” said Vance.


“And how will you go about doing that?” questioned Keaton. “Simple, my son,” explained Vance, “By getting you as far away from Falls Palace and this throne as possible.”



Scene between Jerraco Riggs and King Vance Burke


"...I'd say I'm an adequate sword-fighter my King. It was Darco who received all the lessons from my Lord father"

"And look where it got him. Buried in some grave far away from home. Truth be told, if he wasn't your father's son, I would of never granted the young lad lordship, let alone make him warden of my north. There's a reason your father spent the better part of his days at his fort protecting my kingdom. He wasnot the kind to sit at home and watch the leaves change colors. I knew the man quite well, he loved his family, specifically Cecilia, but he was bred to kill. Looks as if he tought his heir to be the same."

I couldn't argue that, father would be home for a few months at a time, but spent the better portion of the year protecting Trivium from bandits and the Court of Reckoning. He would always take Darco out to the training square and hone his craft on how to wield a sword, proper stance, how to block an attack, and even how to stab a man in his guts at age 10. All his attention was on Darco and mother when he came home, too. Meeco, Sirco, and I were left to fight over the little bits of attention left. I suppose Meeco and Sirco were too young at the time to realize father's love wasn't shared equally. They were just glad to see him when he was home. They knew little of the politics of it. I wish I was able to see the world in their simplistic views.

"Let me make myself clear Riggs, I do not want another Seerforge scandal spread over my kingdom, like the one your brother caused. Your father was a good man, but he had his flaws, and they all shined through Darco's actions. I wish to name you Warden of the North, but I do not need another Kenric. I do not need another Darco. I need a Lord of Winterbone that will rule with that northern aggression when rivaled, but knows not to lock in the jaw until the pulse of life is no more. I need a Pit that will lock that rage away until the time for war is upon us all. That's where your father found his value to me, and where your brother proved he was no more than a wild dog that lost his leash."

He is testing me. He's seeing if I give a damn about the insults he's throwing towards my brother. Darco never did me any harm, but I never valued his actions.

"Only success feeds..."


That's when our grins met one another.

"I knew Ulfric couldn't be wrong. The man has been my hand for six years now, and I have yet to hear a bad suggestion from him. He suggested that I forgive the Riggs, not because of he or Kenric, but because you were the lord I was looking for. I believe his exact words were, 'If Jerraco had been born first, the Court of Reckoning would have to stage a war with Rowan to keep themselves entertained.'

"My uncle is kind to suggest as much, but I have not tasted what it's like to be a warden over an entire region, and yet to face the difficult tasks and decisions that comes with critiscm no matter what. Who is to say I won't turn out like Darco?"

"Because you are wise to suggest as much, and already understand more than Darco himself. I remember the first task I gave your brother, I told him to interrogate a captured member of the Court of Reckoning. What does he do when they tell him nothing? He beats the man to death with his fists. It was just a test that he failed miserably. The man was honestly just a drunken man without a home on the streets of Winterbone. I learned that day that he has no sense for consequences, no vice to control his rage that runs through his blood, and no connection with the people of his own castle."

"So why did you let him continue to rule?"

"Because of that damn house sigil motto of your father's. 'Only success feeds aggression'. I knew if I didn't at least give the young lad a chance to rule his lands, it would of only angered all your damn Northern men. If I were to give the north to Zane Cartel like I originally wanted, they would of assassinated the young lad, starting a war. I still think back to the day when your lord father brought little Darco to Falls Palace to answer my Heir Pact. He was crying that he was to be separated from his father, until he saw my little Corgan laughing at him. So he ran towards him, tackling Corgan and wouldn’t stop punching until Kenric was able to pull him off. Kenric came to me to apologize but I had only been proud of Darco for teaching my boy a lesson of not looking down on others."

The grin is gone, as even the mention of his son hurts him. He of all people has that right, with as much turmoil his family has gone through over the past few years. He's too good of a man for all this. It's drained the life out of him, I see. He's not just testing me, he wants something out of me.

"I'm sorry, my King."

"Ha, I think we both know your father was not the apologetic type. He --"

"No, I mean, I'm sorry for all that you've lost. I never knew Corgan or Marion quite well, for as I have been isolated in the North mostly, but if they even resembled you in the slightest, they had to of been good people with the right intentions. Trivium has never had any peace within each household until you came along, my father would always say as much."

"It's kind for you to say Jerraco, but if I was half the man you're making me out to be, I... I would of protected Jaden and our children."

He is not just drained, he is defeated. That face is full of grief and despair, as he'd gladly welcome death to wash it away. Is this the reason Uncle Ulfric no longer makes visits to Winterbone? He's too busy doing the King's work for him?

"Who would ever want to be king, after all that's happened to my family?"

He's no king. At least not anymore.  "This ceremony isn't for me after all, is it?"

"It is not, but...