The cold, heavy mist obscured the Kingsroad ahead of the small group, as they slowly made their way up through the Neck. The silence all around them was eerie and there was not much to see but trees half-buried in the water, clad in fungus, and the narrow Kingsroad ahead of them. The lack of sunshine surely made many of his men wish for heavier cloaks as they shivered in their surcoats. Even Jaime was wrapped tightly in his white Kingsguard cloak. Jae never let heat or cold touch him. He rode comfortably in his fine black leather jerkin and black breeches. A thin braided leather headband held back his long dark curls. “Blood of ice and fire”, his father would say cryptically as he sported a proud smile. His father often said the oddest things.
The horses were clearly ill at ease with the poor sight and Jae had to keep kicking with his feet to make his gray palfrey keep up with Jaime who rode first. In truth, he himself didn’t mind the poor sight as much as the persistent smell of rotten eggs that followed them ever since they entered the swamps. Having grown up in King’s Landing he was used to the smell of the ocean and the flowers that adorned the Red Keep. The training yards, where he spent half his days, smelled of sweat and dirt, but it was part of home. When he ventured out into the city to explore and sometimes greet the people, usually accompanied by Jaime and dozen or so Targaryen guards, he could smell sweet perfumes, spices and freshly baked meat pies and loaves of bread straight from the oven. People always told him that the stench of King’s Landing used to be unbearable during the reign of his mad grandfather Aerys, but he could scarcely imagine it.
As the short column of a dozen well-trained and trusted guards rode on, Jae’s thoughts drifted back to King’s Landing and home. He missed his mother dearly. Father always said Lyanna was as fierce as she was beautiful. Their horseback races outside the city were legendary and he had never managed to win more than one race out of four. He wasn’t oblivious to the talk of the court, and how many frowned and deemed such behavior highly inappropriate for the queen, but even the usually melancholy father indulged them with a warm smile as they returned sweaty and laughing.
Jae missed his father and sisters as well. He was immensely proud to be the son of Rhaegar who enjoyed the love and adoration of both lords and small-folk alike, but wished that he had inherited the Targaryen look. While his features and build mirrored his father’s, his colors were all Stark except for his eyes which had specks of dark purple. He knew that not everyone in court was happy about his northern look, but father never seemed to mind and that was the only thing that really mattered.
His older half-sister Rhaenys looked Dornish like Queen Elia, while his younger sisters Visenya and Shaena looked mostly Targaryen but with the Stark eyes. His dead brother Aegon had looked exactly like father though. With great effort Jae willed his thoughts away. It never did him any good to dwell on the brother he had never met, one whose death was the main reason he himself was alive. And the same was true of his younger sisters. There seemed to be no possible world in which they would have been alive at the same time, like brothers should have.
His thoughts were interrupted when Jaime suddenly lifted his hand and called a halt, his armor looked pure silver in the faint daylight, his lack of a helmet revealed short blond hair and a handsome face sporting a neat beard below his piercing green eyes. The day he had joined the Kingsguard, maids all over the Seven Kingdoms had wept bitterly, or so Jaime always boasted. The smug bugger, he thought amusedly. As Jaime ordered the men about, some to stand guard and others to see to the midday meal, Jae dismounted and stretched his sore legs and back. Jaime caught this and smiled at him cheekily, “And here I thought you took after your half-horse lady mother, my Prince”.
Jae groaned at his, used to Jaime’s irreverence as he was. “Bugger off, Ser Jaime. We’ve ridden for weeks with barely a good night’s sleep to be had”.
Jaime made a mock sad face at this and stepped closer, towering over him as he did, “You’re not going to cry on my shoulder now, squire mine, are you?”
With a curse, Jae struck him hard on the plated shoulder but received only a sore hand and mocking laughter for his efforts.
“I should have you whipped for your insolence, Ser, son of Tywin Lannister or not,” he grumbled while the men who overheard around them just laughed. It always surprised everyone to learn what kind of relationship the Crown Prince of the Seven Kingdoms enjoyed with the Kingsguard who followed him like a shadow wherever he went. But soon they learned to expect the constant irreverent banter and took it in stride. Jaime and Jae only toned it down on official occasions, or in front of the King or the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy. Neither of which were men to be trifled with.
Jae sat down on the muddy ground, pushed his long, brown curls back and mumbled his thanks as one of the guards passed his some bread and cheese. It was good to munch on something while they waited for the kettle on their hastily erected fire to start boiling. They needed to let both men and horses rest for a couple of hours before they continued on their long journey to Moat Cailin. Riding through the mist was frustrating, but with some luck they ought to arrive at midday on the morrow. At Moat Cailin they would rest for a week before Jaime and he continued on to Winterfell while the guards turned back to King’s Landing.
“Whose turn is it to cook?” the burly guard Gawyn asked as he sat down with a heavy grunt. The middle-aged Reachman was dressed in black surcoats like all the guards, with the red three-headed dragon on their chests. As the Targaryens hailed from no Westerosi region themselves, save from the scarcely populated Dragonstone, they drew recruits from all over the seven kingdoms and not just the Crownlands. Well, six, as no Northman Jae was aware of had worn the colors of the Dragons.
“Yours”, Jaime answered him with a smug smile.
“How can it be my turn again? I cooked three days ago!” Gawyn burst out; sounding almost petulant which seemed ill suited for a man his age. “Ser”, he added hastily when he realized who he had spoken to.
“Nevertheless, it’s your turn, my good man.” Jaime said with a tone of finality while he discreetly winked to Jae, who had to turn away to hide a smile of his own. It hadn’t taken him long to figure out what system Jaime had designed to keep track of the cooking duties. Whoever asked first got the honors. When he had pointed it out to Jaime, the man had just laughed and responded that it was one less thing to keep track of. The Gods knew, Jaime had never been one to work hard except for in the practice yards.
Jae ate silently as he turned his thoughts to the next day. The guards were telling stories and exchanging bawdy jokes, but he paid them no mind. He could hardly wait to see his uncle Ned and all his cousins, whom he had yet to meet, especially Robb who was of his own age. No Stark had journeyed south of the Neck since Lyanna’s wedding – the Tullys had been forced to travel north and see their daughter married before the Heart Tree at Moat Cailin – and this was his own first time heading north. Father had decided to have him foster with grandfather Rickard and Uncle Brandon at Winterfell, although he was already a bit old for fostering. Jae knew that as Crown Prince he couldn’t be away from King’s Landing for too long, but it was also important that he got to know the other side of his family. It made him nervous though. What if they don’t approve of me, he worried for the hundredth time.
His mother had always been upset at their lack of visitors from the North. He knew that the Starks had almost closed themselves off entirely during the reign of his grandfather, who was known to most as the Mad King, rebuilding Moat Cailin and seemingly waiting patiently while the Southrons solved their own problems. Father had explained to him how the North had never fully adapted to the yoke of the Iron Throne, even one as feather-light as his own was. The Starks were proud and the Northmen were proud of them. “The Starks are still the true kings of the North regardless of oaths and titles”, his father had told him privately. The Iron Throne had never truly ruled the North. And rarely did the Starks intervene in the politics of the south, but when they did, they didn’t use half-measures. His father had always had a healthy respect for the North; a respect that was all too rare in the south.
Outside of meals, or when Jae was required in court, he didn’t see his father much. The only exceptions were when he found the King observing him on the practice yard, or during their weekly private lessons. While Jae had many tutors, his father never fully relied on them to see to his only son and heir’s education. In these sessions Jae learned whom his father trusted and who was deemed untrustworthy, which seemed to include at least half of the Lords Paramount. He learned what his father thought of the Lannisters, Tyrells and many lesser lords and what motivated them. The more power someone had, it seemed, and the more they felt they were entitled to. “Just like Aegon the Conqueror”, young Jae had once responded enthusiastically. His father’s face had broken out in an astonished smile at that while he mumbled something inaudible.
He also learned recent history, including all the events that led up to father’s own coronation. He learned how father had gathered a Great Council and overthrown grandfather who was locked away in the Red Keep, where he withered away and eventually died under close guard. Father had seemed sad when he spoke of this, like a man full of regrets, which was something Jae didn’t quite understand. Jae had never met grandfather, as he was the Prince of Dragonstone and spent his first years on the island when Aerys passed away, but what he had heard of him had given him nightmares as a young boy. Father had done what he had to, there’s nothing to regret, he decided years ago.
At any rate, he had learned that the Great Council had been perhaps the last chance to avoid a brewing rebellion that even the Starks might have involved themselves in. It was a strange thought that one side of his family might have raised arms against the other. Through his mother Lyanna, father later learned that Maester Walys had pushed Lord Rickard hard on creating alliances in the south, but with the sudden and unexpected arrival of a pack of direwolves at Winterfell, Rickard’s interests in the south had disappeared quicker than snow on a summer’s day. At this clear sign from the Old Gods, Lord Rickard deemed it best to stay north of the Neck.
Brandon had ended up marrying a lady of the North, while Eddard, as the second son and newly raised Lord of Moat Cailin, had been given a Tully wife after the Iron Throne had secretly conveyed its wishes of tying the Tullys to the Starks. Old Lord Hoster Tully had been upset that his grandson wouldn’t be the future Lord of Winterfell, but Lord Rickard hadn’t budged. “The Seven have no place in Winterfell for as long as a Stark still breathes”, the old man had loudly proclaimed one night in the great hall of Winterfell, according to Jae’s mother. Lord Rickard’s newfound religious fervor had become more than slightly embarrassing to Lyanna and her brothers, from what he could tell from her stories. The Manderlys hadn’t been amused.
Lord Hoster, sensing that suitable matches were slipping away, had agreed to give Catelyn to Uncle Ned instead. At least he would be a lord from a prominent family and the distance from Riverrun made travel less infrequent. “Men make their plans and the Gods laugh”, his mother often told him when they discussed his history lessons. It was an old saying but Jae couldn’t remember from where. As it turned out Uncle Brandon had three daughters and no son, thus the Stark patriarch decided to make Lord Hoster’s grandson Robb the Heir to Winterfell and the North after all, all the while grumbling that Robb looked more like a Tully than a true Stark.
Brandon’s firstborn daughter Lyarra was then betrothed to her cousin Robb to avoid any future feuds over issues of inheritance. And perhaps to give their future offspring the Stark look, he thought to himself. He knew well what it was like to not live up to those expectations and he saw himself likely marrying Princess Daenerys in a few years, partly for the same reason. He didn’t really mind all that much. The Gods knew that Dany was by far the most beautiful maid in the Seven Kingdoms – and likely beyond – but her sweet exterior belied a hidden strength. Of that he was certain.
Brandon’s remaining daughters would undoubtedly be married off to strengthen ties with Stark bannermen across the North. Over thousands of years of shared history there was scarcely a major Northern house that hadn’t at some point gained Stark blood through marriage. This, his father told him, was crucial for any lord who wanted to avoid future strife and discontent. Creating alliances with other Lords Paramount might seem like a good idea on paper, but it might also cause the bannermen to resent their liege lord.
The key was to use marriage to balance the power between the vassals and keep them focused on each other rather than allowing some powerful lords the opportunity to use marriage to pull others with them in a potential uprising. The Starks had certainly not kept their seat of power for thousands of years by marrying Andals. Likewise, a King should be wary of the Lords Paramount marrying their children to each other. There was no clearer sign that they were preparing to play the Game of Thrones.
A tap on his shoulder caught his attention and has he turned around he saw Jaime offering the hilt of a practice sword. “You’re brooding again, my Prince. But there is a better way to spend the remainder of our rest, which will let you loosen up those stiff and sore muscles.”
Jae nodded in acceptance as he grabbed the blunt sword. With a sigh he rose to his feet, unsheathed the sword and followed Jaime a few paces away from the resting guards. “We might as well,” he said as he turned around to face Jaime. “I haven’t seen you walk this stiffly since Prince Oberyn was last seen in King’s Landing”, he smirked. “Remind me, what was the name of that inn he showed you?”
He would have been more proud of his goading if his voice hadn’t betrayed him towards the end, with the last words made him sound a boy again.
“Insolent pup!” Jaime exclaimed and brought his sword up. Quick as a viper Jae raised his sword to parry Jaime’s fast but mighty slash. This brought a smile to his lips. Getting under Jaime’s skin was far too easy given how Jaime himself always spoke to others. Jae continued parrying as he was forced to back away from Jaime’s relentless strikes, allowing his muscles to warm up a little before he fought back.
Now Jaime was smiling as well. He had once said that nothing made him feel as alive as when he wielded a sword against another man. Jae sensed that there had been a soft and at the end of that sentence, but Jaime never voiced it. ‘Twas probably something crude about women. Jaime could be crude, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as his brother Tyrion.
Deciding that it was finally time to counterattack, Jae let his eyes signal to the left while he swiftly moved to the right and struck in one seamless movement. Jaime barely got his sword up in time, but gave Jae another proud smile as he parried and countered with a few quick strikes of his own. Hard pressed, Jae was forced back and after a few quick follow-ups by Jaime, who pressed the attack, Jae suddenly saw his sword flying through the air and a moment later he felt Jaime’s sword on his throat.
To no one’s surprise it had ended the way it did, but Jae felt that every time he got a tiny bit closer to finally landing a hit on the smug knight. Jae was incredibly quick, everyone said so, but he neither had the strength, the reach or the experience to truly match grown men. While he always lost in their sparring, he had landed hits on all the Kingsguard save Jaime, Barristan and Arthur. He felt no shame over it. Few knights could have done better.
Jaime lowered his sword and smiled at him. “One of the first lessons a competent master-at-arms will teach you is that the eyes never lie, yet yours did once again and you almost had me. True, I wouldn’t be badly wounded until you put some meat on those twigs you call arms. Still, not bad for a green boy,” he complimented teasingly.
“I guess we should be grateful that you can still beat a green boy of three-and-ten at your ripe old age. You’d be a shit Kingsguard otherwise, don’t you think?” Jae smiled as he went to fetch his sword. Jaime muttered curses at him half-heartedly before they began another bout. At the end Jae hadn’t really been close to beat Jaime, but both were panting and smiling as they finished. The guards had finished cleaning up and it was time to be on their way.
“Moat Cailin is yours, your Grace,” Ned greeted his nephew with a bow as he beheld the boy in front of him. His gray direwolf, who had remained behind them suddenly approached the prince carefully and gave him a sniff. “I see that Storm was eager to greet you as well,” he added apologetically. The gods knew it was all but impossible to fully control those beasts.
The Kingsguard, Ser Jaime Lannister, who stood only a few steps behind and to the side, stiffened behind his young charge, his hand on the hilt of his longsword. Prince Jaehaerys merely watched Storm curiously, betraying no sign of discomfort despite facing a direwolf slightly taller than himself. His nephew finally removed his glove and held out his hand as he slowly began to pet the huge wolf. After a moment Storm seemed to decide that he liked what he found and began to lick the prince’s hand in return. To his credit, Prince Jaehaerys merely smiled in response, making no attempt to stop the wet greetings.
By the Gods, he looks just like Lyanna, Ned thought, although he was handsome in a way that no Stark man had the right to be. Prince Jaehaerys’ clothes were simple, but looked to be of the highest quality. A black leather jerkin and gloves, as well as black breeches and black riding boots. The rumored nickname the Black Prince appears to not only refer to his coloring.
“I thank you, Lord Stark. It’s a true honor to be amongst my Northern kin”, his nephew replied in a steady voice as Storm wandered off again. “Long have I yearned to put faces to the many stories my mother the Queen has regaled me with since I was but a small child. My mother of course, sends her most heartfelt greetings.”
Ned nodded and turned to introduce his lady wife when he noted how she looked upon the prince with clear approval in her eyes. “Please, let me introduce my lady wife, Catelyn of the Houses Tully and Stark.”
Jaehaerys took his wife’s hand and gracefully brushed his lips over her knuckles. “My lady, it’s a pleasure. Your father and brother send their regards.” He said. “We stayed with them briefly on our journey north,” he added hastily to forestall the question in her eyes. “They were gracious hosts.” He left unsaid why they decided to take such a long detour.
Robb was afforded a more relaxed smile and a nod, while his blushing daughter Sansa received the same greeting as his wife and was complimented for her beauty in a way that made Cat smile proudly. She undoubtedly wishes for a royal match, although the King would be foolish to suggest or accept such a suggestion from us. The loyalty of the Starks was already assured through the Queen and the Crown Prince himself.
Bran, Arya and Rickon got their heads ruffled which clearly put them at ease and put smiles on their faces. They had all been beyond excited to meet their royal cousin, but nervous too. Ned admitted to himself that not only they, but he too had been quite nervous. Sansa had spent weeks sewing a new dress for tonight to make an impression on Prince Jaehaerys. If her still blushing cheeks were anything to go by, her cousin had surely succeeded in making an impression on her. Damn those Valyrian looks, he grumbled to himself. He had certainly never got such a reaction from the ladies.
Jaehaerys then proceeded to introduce Ser Jaime. He was forced to admit that Ser Jaime was the very image of knightly gallantry as he gracefully greeted Cat. With his silver-plated armor and chiseled face he made quite the impression. Ned could tell that the children were wide-eyed at the sight of the Kingsguard, and none more so than little Bran who had taken on a look of deepest hero-worship already. Bran had always wanted to be a knight, always asked for stories of famous knights, and he had even spoken of becoming a Kingsguard. But he was much too young yet to realize what he would give up. It made him wonder if Ser Jaime had known… At least he served an honorable king now, unlike his predecessor.
He motioned to Jory, who served as the castellan of Moat Cailin, to find quarters for the royal guards and to have the horses taken care of. He turned back to his nephew, “Come, my Prince, you must be tired and wish to rest and refresh yourselves before the feast tonight.” He received a grateful nod in return and proceeded to lead the way to the keep.
“I’m quite impressed, Uncle Ned – you don’t mind if I call you that, do you? My mother always referred to you as such,” he added hesitantly. “..And please call me Jae, everyone in the family does.” At Ned’s encouraging smile and nod, the prince continued, ”– I was told of course that Moat Cailin had been restored, yet I had expected a small wooden keep, not this grand stone keep.” The question looked like it was honest enough and not just flattering small-talk.
“Oh yes, my lord father decided that we Starks needed a strong and well-manned keep to guard our southern border,” he replied somewhat embarrassed as he remembered exactly how his father had phrased it, to guard against the Southrons and their false gods. Lord Rickard Stark had become quite intolerant of everything southern in the past decades. It made them all somewhat uncomfortable, not the least his Cat who always felt weighed, measured and found wanting. All because she was a Tully and followed the Seven. Ned hadn’t even dared to build her a sept at Moat Cailin while his father was still alive, and no septa was hired to teach their daughters despite her wishes. He felt sorry about the first, but not about the second. His children were of the North. Between herself and Maester Lonnel they could learn the basics of the Andal faith as to not remain ignorant.
His nephew raised his eyebrow at that and replied solemnly, “Let’s hope that it’s an unnecessary precaution, uncle. But my tutors always told me that the man who looks to his defenses long before he has anything to worry about is less likely to be taken unawares. Perhaps my lord grandfather is right to prepare, for Winter is coming after all.” Jae finished the Stark words with a small smile, which Ned returned approvingly. The lad had a good head on his shoulders.
They arrived at the chambers set aside the prince, with adjacent chambers for high-ranking servants which were to be Ser Jaime’s during their stay. “I hope you will find these chambers to your liking, nephew,” he said as he showed them the door. “The servants will see to all your needs and the feast is not until the evening. Should you wish to explore, feel free to do so. I know my children would be delighted in showing you around.”
“Thank you, uncle,” said Jae simply with a smile as Ser Jaime positioned himself at the door.
The feast was not grand even by northern standards, but the hearths were roaring, spreading comfortable warmth throughout the great hall. There was plenty of delicious food, and lots of ale and wine to wash it down. Ned cut himself a juicy piece of wild boar and turned to face his nephew who was seated on his right, in the place of honor. On Jae’s own right-hand side sat Robb and the two of them were already busy discussing sword-play and the tourneys of the south. He smiled as he saw that. His eldest son was not his own heir, but Brandon’s, and it was promising that the future King got along well with the future Warden of the North.
“And is Ser Arthur truly as good as the rumors say he is?” he heard his son ask.
“Aye,” Jae replied as he put his cup of watered wine down, already seeming to adopt northern speech, “no one can match him, although Ser Jaime and Ser Barristan come the closest. Few things are as awe-inspiring as watching them spar.”
Robb got something wistful in his eyes upon hearing that. “What is it like to grow up with such renowned knights?”
Jae laughed at that. “They are somewhat like uncles, I suppose. At least a few of them such as Ser Jaime, Ser Barristan and Ser Arthur. And Ser Oswell too, I suppose. I’m closest with Ser Jaime however, as he’s the one most often assigned to guard me, and I squire for him although I am taught by almost all. He’s mostly a fun person to be around and a devil with both sword and lance,” he almost whispered that last part as he simultaneously looked over his shoulder to make sure Ser Jaime hadn’t heard. Curious. “Ser Arthur mostly guards father and Ser Lewyn is with Queen Elia, as she spends more time at the Water Gardens in Dorne than at King’s Landing. Her health is sadly not the best,” he added mournfully. Ned had heard from Lyanna that Jae got along well with both Rhaenys and Elia, but it was nice to see confirmation in Jae’s honest regret over Queen Elia’s poor health. Whispers of her frail health had even reached the North.
Robb looked like he was pondering what was said when Bran suddenly interjected himself in the conversation. He had clearly been listening most attentively from his place on Robb’s right, “Will Ser Jaime knight you soon?”
“Hah!” Jae exclaimed, “that smug horse’s ass claims that I have to either defeat him in a spar or single handedly slay at least three opponents in a real fight before he even considers knighting me.” Robb laughed at that. He could sense disapproval emanating from his wife to his left, undoubtedly scandalized at the prince’s poor language. Bran looked mostly confused and dejected, clearly wondering if the requirements for knighthood could truly be that difficult.
He felt bad for him and said, “Your cousin spoke in jest, Bran, and should perhaps choose his words better next time given the audience,” he added as he directed a frown at his nephew whose cheeks flushed slightly at the reprimand. “You can be knighted if you perform well at a tourney or in battle, but first you need to squire for a knight and wait until you’re a man grown.”
“But Father, Ser Jaime was knighted when he was five-and-ten, everyone knows that!” Bran said excitedly and loudly enough to cause the aforementioned knight to look up from his seat further away, before he shrugged and went back to his conversation with Jory. “Yes, there are sometimes exceptions, but even the King was seven-and-ten before he was knighted.”
Jae gave an amused look at Bran and asked, “You wish to be a knight then, cousin?” To Jae’s seeming surprise his question caused Bran to look down on his plate and murmured something inaudible. “What was that, cousin?” Jae asked again.
Bran looked like he was close to tears as he replied in a near whisper, “Knights follow the Seven, but grandfather says we are Starks of the North and only hold by the Gods of our ancestors.”
Jae looked somewhat surprised at this, but undeterred he continued, “But aren’t there knights in the North who don’t follow the Seven? Isn’t Ser Rodrik, uncle to your own castellan, a true northern knight despite not being anointed with the seven oils?”
Ned looked at him gratefully, “Aye. The prince is right, son. Any knight can bestow knighthood upon another who deserves it. One day you might be a northern knight and lord of Moat Cailin, serving your older brother as his bannerman and guarding the southern border for him.” This seemed to cheer Bran up a little and the boy of six name days smiled hesitantly, most likely trying to picture himself as first Ser Brandon and then as Lord Stark of Moat Cailin. It was perhaps best to send Bran off to squire for his granduncle, the Blackfish, or perhaps for the Manderlys at White Harbor should they decide it best to keep Bran in the North.
“My lord,” Maester Lonnel’s voice came from behind him, further down the Great Hall. “My lord, there was a raven from Winterfell.” The middle-aged Maester, wearing his usual gray wool robe, came up to them looking flustered as he held a small scroll with the Direwolf seal on.
Ned took the scroll from his hand with a nod of thanks and broke the seal carefully. He hoped for good news, but as always felt some trepidation when he received a scroll from Winterfell. His lord father wasn’t well and Maester Luwin had said that he didn’t expect Lord Rickard to survive until his next name day.
He read the words carefully and breathed a sigh of relief. As he looked up he saw all the expectant eyes on him, some showing signs of worry akin to his own. “All is well.” He said. “My brother Brandon writes that Winter has whelped a large litter of pups. Nine of them; four males and five females. He says our lord Father has decided that each Stark child – and Jae too if he so wishes – is to receive a pup of their own and he bids us all to ride to Winterfell with Prince Jaehaerys. Lord Stark says it is another clear sign that the Gods favor our family.” He words were met by stunned silence.
The children all looked beyond excited at the news, but Cat had taken on a look of immense worry. “Surely the children are too young, my lord?” She pleaded.
He frowned at that. He loved his wife dearly, but those were the words of a Southron woman. “My lady, the children will have to grow up fast, for winter is coming.”