Night had fallen over Winterfell and the howling of wolves could be heard out in the wolfs wood. The wind was loud and cold but that was the North, always cold even with winter over. Tonight, though it was especially cold for death and war was upon the horizon. Old Nan would say that it was colder due to the Old Gods mourning the loss of 4 Starks being killed in the South. The cold penetrated even the Godswood of Winterfell but the wind and the howls of wolves did not, leaving only silence for the only Stark in Winterfell. Being the new Lord of Winterfell and the last male stark of Rickard’s line was a duty that Benjen never thought would happen to him, being the youngest of the pack and yet it did. Losing them all should have brought him grief but rage and the wolf’s blood was all that dominated Benjen’s very being. 4 starks killed in the South and one abducted in the span of a moon’s turn! How could this have happened? The obvious answer was the Targaryens but that felt empty for some reason as if there was something that went much deeper than that. That was the puzzling part. Hence the need to sit by the heart tree in the Godswood with Ice to think and calm the rage. The old Gods had a certain power in that, bringing people to silence in front of their domain. Ice was all that was left of his father, Rickard, he was wise not to have brought it to King’s Landing or it would have been lost to the bloody Southerners. They were a problem as well he realised, he would be allying with some of them in the war but they had broken up the pack, leaving few at Winterfell, in the North and making Father look South in his ambition. That was another problem, Rickard looking south in the first place, he should never have done, pained as it was to blame him; he should never have looked there for gain, it has only brought bloodshed in these past 300 years. It rang true the saying that Starks melt when they go South, remembering Rickon Stark who died in Dorne for a Targaryen wanting glory. Only Cregan faired well in the South during the Dance and he was wise enough to stay only for the day and dispense justice. He would need to be Cregan come again. Benjen thought coldly. He would need that strength and wit to win, especially when considered a boy even by his own bannermen in this war. Father should have remembered that Starks belong in the North, not to die in the south from Fire and blood. The North Remembers and Rickard Stark should not have forgotten.
That thought brought the anger that had been coursing to his veins to a halt at least for now. Regardless of that harrowing truth Benjen would be going South anyway, Ice at the hip, no matter how heavy the Valyrian Steel Great Sword was, he would use it. It was his symbol of authority as Warden of the North and he would kill Aerys with it. And Rhaegar for what he did to Lyanna. The thought of Rhaegar taking Lyanna made the Wolf’s blood run wild again. “Is this what sent you to King’s Landing and your death brother, will it kill me or it will it keep me alive in this war?!” Benjen bellowed in the Godswood. Benjen did not expect an answer from the Old Gods, they rarely spoke, only staring at the young Lord of Winterfell. Luckily the thought of Ned gave the answer and brought him back to silence. He was the calmest out of them but despite being named the quiet wolf, the wolf’s blood rang just a strong as in Brandon and Lyanna, he just knew when to use it. He remembered him knocking Brandon down in one shot for laying with Ashara Dayne at the Tourney of Harrenhal despite knowing Ned had been courting her for the entire tourney. Nobody else had seen what had happened and Brandon claimed he drank too much and passed out on a stone but Benjen was there saw the wolf’s blood in that moment, Ned just knew how to control it and use it when it was deserved. Benjen would need that control to plan this war. Calling the banners had been done before Ned had been killed in the Vale and half of the North would be marching to war alongside the Vale, the Stormlands and the Riverlands if the Trout decides to support. It would be bloodshed and the North alone would test his mettle before he even went to battle alongside the other rebels. Benjen needed a plan for the war and a good one before the bannermen arrived and he needed to be calm to think.
Benjen’s thoughts in the Godswood were disrupted by a thud. One of the castle ravens had fell into the Godswood, breaking its wing and snapping its neck. It mustn’t have been strong enough for the cold winds of the North. Winter had only recently ended but North still did not stop being a cold place because of it. It needed hard people and hard animals to thrive. This Raven clearly wasn’t. Benjen walked up to the dead bird, noticing a message attached to its foot. Opening it was a strangely tense moment, with the eyes of the Weirwood tree staring intently at the young Stark with the trees surrounding the lone wolf. For a brief moment, Benjen thought the Weirwood was beckoning him to read it as if Old Gods had deigned this an important for the Stark of Winterfell and that ‘dark wings dark words’ was the only truth to come from a raven. Leaving that thought behind, Benjen opened the message hastily, if anything to prove that it was nothing more than a false sense of unease as a result of listening to old nan. Reading the contents only proved the sense of unease was more than justified, revealing the mess that this war had put them in.
The words written on the parchment would change the course of the North, Benjen was certain of that. The words were enraging and a spit in the face to the North but they were needed because it gave him a plan, and that was all that was needed to prove himself to the bannermen and to the South that when a Stark and the North is wronged, winter will come for all that brought it. It seemed the Old Gods were listening to him in the Godswood, giving him guidance. Maybe they do act.
“I’m getting you back if I can Lyanna. But if I can't, I will avenge you and our siblings and I’ll fix Father’s mistakes. Winter is Coming House Targaryen… Winter is Coming. Benjen procaimed in the Godswood, grey eyes as cold as Ice staring at the Weirwood tree before leaving for the castle. There was work to be done and night would not prevent it from being done. As Benjen walked away, the face of the weirwood smiled for the briefest of moments, knowing the wolves were coming.