shelbs
oswin

It is currently WINTER in WESTEROS during the year 303 AC. The new moon cycle marks a full twenty years since the Mad King was murdered, and his son King Rhaegar ascended the Iron Throne in his place. Though the year is fresh, war in the Narrow Sea has left the Free Cities of Volantis and Tyrosh in ashes, and the Long Night continues to beckon from the Northern fringes of the Seven Kingdoms. With the Queen Lyanna presumed dead, the citizens of the realms look only to each other for survival.
[x] SURPRISE! Please enjoy our new skin, and let the staff know if you find any bugs! (Shelbs accidentally overwrote the old skin and posted this too soon so it's entirely possible the dumbass she forgot some things!)
[x] THE FATE OF TYRION LANNISTER HAS BEGUN! Mass thread HERE! If you play a character that has been selected as judge, please join in asap! Otherwise the thread is open to all wanting to participate!
[x] Keep an eye out for a new mini-event we have been planning! The bloodshed fun is never over!
[x] As always... we are in need of MALE characters!
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Alias: Shelbs
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Age: 66
Sworn To: House Targaryen
Born to: House Stark
Location: Winterfell
Title: WARDEN
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RICKARD STARK

NORTH [A]

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Jun 13 2018, 09:18 PM
Was it the frost that lined the windows of their bedchamber, or was it the frost over his heart that made Rickard feel almost immune to the warm clutches of his wife’s embrace? The hot springs coursed through the stone walls around them as his own manhood coursed between her thighs, yet he could feel the heat of neither of them no matter how powerful the water or deep his thrusts. Having let the heavy coverlets of fur and wool fall away from them, Rickard’s silent lovemaking continued to gently rock their bed on its posters, his eyes closed and head lowered into the crook of her neck. Though he plunged without interruption in and out of her, as he had done for many years past, the Warden’s mind was deceivingly elsewhere. Try as he might, his sighs came infrequently and quietly, and he made no move to show his wife any further affection beyond the movements between her thighs. Past the falling snow outside and the dark corners of the Wolfswood, his mind raced and wandered until it was only his climax that finally forced him back into the present, spilling himself within Lyarra’s womb and at last falling still atop her.

He still said nothing, rolling to the empty space beside her, emitting a low groan that seemed to reverberate through the mattress beneath them. A steady breath filled his chest and he rested his hand upon the inside of her thigh, solid grey eyes staring at nothing but the wood and stone ceiling above. For long moments he laid like this, listening only to the sound of their breathing and the hearth crackling nearby, perhaps even the slow rushing sound of the water through the walls, wondering not for the first time how he had gotten here. As lord, husband and father, it seemed as if one day as a young boy he closed his eyes and, suddenly, here he was… Rickard was still not sure he was so proud of it all. How could he? Lyarra and Benjen were not even resting in Winterfell’s crypts, if he could not do his own children that honor, what else was he possibly good for? Lyarra’s resentment, as well, was palpable enough beside him, emanating from every rivet and curve from her body even as he’d been inside of it. Though her arms and legs touched his own as they laid there, he felt as if not only the two empty tombs of their children remained between them, but the entire North itself.

Perhaps it was.

With a deeper sigh than he’d shown during his lovemaking, Rickard rose from the bed, journeying wordlessly over to where his flagon of supper’s ale still sat. He drank greedily, the bone in his throat bobbing with every swallow, and the belch that erupted after tasted only of the thick black drink itself. As bare as his nameday he stood before the hearth, the pale glow of his muscled form warming before the orange flames whilst the ale warmed the parts the fire could not reach. Still his thoughts troubled him, coupled with the brooding silence in his bed, Rickard knew it would not be long before peace was disrupted at his wife’s behest. “You have barely spoken to me for days,” he finally noted, the sound of his voice surprisingly rough against the softer, more serene noises of their bedchamber. Pouring himself another cup of ale, again he did not hesitate to tilt it down the back of his throat, and only turned to face her once it was nearly emptied a second time. Though the hour was late, late enough for most of Winterfell to be long in their beds, their room glowed with candles and torches that gave Rickard a clear view of his pale Lady Stark. Even his still-softening manhood seemed to glisten from the moisture left behind. “I presume that only means you have much to say.”
Oct 16 2017, 05:55 PM
Late 260 AC, at the conclusion of the War of the Ninepenny Kings... Rickard is 23, and Lyarra is 17

They could not yet see White Harbor, and the sea-green banners that donned its parapets. But they had to be near, no? Rickard was no sailor, even less an admiral, but he could navigate well enough to know they were but days away from dry land. Too long, he thought to himself, the cold Northern winds rushing through his dark hair, frosting even the caps of the waves against his ship. Too long had he been gone. Too long had Maelys Blackfyre kept him from his land, his home, even his wife. The War of the Ninepenny Kings was finally over, and though victorious, the young Warden did not feel so young anymore. A different man was returning home on this ship, he knew, a different lord and husband would be walking through Winterfell’s gates, fresh from the Stepstones and marred by his slowly-healing battle wounds. He was no longer the eager young lad who had joined Tywin, Steffon and Prince Aerys at the year’s beginning, glory on their minds and valor in their hearts. Even his men, those select few that accompanied him on the ship, they themselves looked different to him. Or perhaps he was simply seeing them with a new pair of eyes, somehow now greyer than the last time he looked upon their faces.

He wondered, would his wife look different? Though he struggled to recall the finer features that had stared back at him in front of the heart tree, he could still remember the expression she wore when he last departed Winterfell’s grounds. He had left everything in her hands. His castle and his realm, his House and his namesake. Everything but a child in her womb. What if he had fallen? What if he had been felled by some masked sellsword from the Golden Company? What if it were his painted box of bones coming back on this ship? All questions he was asked by his own maester before he left, counselling against his involvement, advising he allow the southron realms their southron glories, arguing that he assure an heir with the Lady of Winterfell before ever leaving it. Rickard had ignored him, of course. Should he fall on the Stepstones, Lyarra remained a Stark by blood, the Stark; their House would be hers to rule in his place. Though he did not leave an heir in his wife’s belly, he still left an heir standing at the castle gates.

The rallying cry of his soldiers still echoed through his skull, splitting his ears much the same as Ser Barristan’s sword had split Maelys the Monstrous. How sweet victory had been then, watching the enemy’s commander fall to his knees with blood pouring from his gaping mouth. How sweet valor had been, when he was there to witness Tywin dub a kneeling Prince Aerys himself, knighting him with his sword in just a few precious moments. Steffon’s cheer was as loud as the battle itself, and even Rickard was moved to follow suit. Perhaps those were the very moments in which glory could be found, honorable triumph even when wearing armor caked with blood and tissue. They were so very fleeting and were much too short for how long the battle was, but they were all he had to show for what he’d done. The coming fortnight he spent journeying from White Harbor to Winterfell, these were the moments he tried to think about. His first war. And he knew it would not be the last. If Maelys Blackfyre was any indication to the ailment that ruled House Targaryen, Rickard was sure he had many more wars to come…

Winterfell was alight with cheer upon his arrival. Majority of his soldiers had yet returned, still journeying on foot from the southron realms, but the leaping direwolf of his House flapped proudly above him, signaling to his castle and his people that they came victorious. Alive. By the time he rode his horse into the courtyards, he had become surrounded by those who called Winterfell home, those who had remained behind to protect the castle’s walls and all those within. Swinging a leg over his stallion’s neck, Rickard slid down to the half-frozen ground below, grey eyes dancing with all those that had come to welcome him. His servants and his cooks, his kennel-master and maester, the old blacksmith and his too-young apprentice, even his castellan soon moved forth to embrace his liege. Though he was happy to greet them one by one, there was only one person who truly gave him pause, forcing him to fall to a standstill in front of her as their grey eyes met. At last, there she was. “My lady,” he spoke, somewhat rigidly, dipping his chin upon the sight of her. She was different than he remembered. Perhaps even more beautiful. “I bring you nothing but victory. Maelys is dead, and most of his Golden Company with him.”

It was only then did he finally close the distance between them, his war-weary legs making those long and deliberate strides until she was trapped within the arms that clamped around her waist. “Too long,” he murmured desirously, catching her mouth in such a slow yet fierce kiss that he could hear some of the servants departing around them. It was here did he realize how much he had truly missed her, his cousin and wife, having been granted only a short while after their union before the King’s call for war called him south. But now he was back, alive and triumphant, and he could think of nothing more than starting his life with her. Their House’s redemption. “You will tell me everything that has happened in my absence,” he said with a grin, pulling away from their embrace if only so he could capture her fingers with his own. A brief lick of passion flashed through his gaze. “Tonight.” For now, certainly they had matters of more import to attend…
Jun 29 2017, 10:22 AM
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How I wish this raven could fly to you bearing happier news. Know that you cross my mind daily, and I know I am not the only one to miss your presence within Winterfell's halls. It seems my castle will soon be destined only for the company of men... for where you took your leave to Raventree, so, too, did Sansa and Elinor take theirs. I think of you all often.
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While I could hope this letter bears only my affection, alas I must indulge to you the cold truth that flies with our cold winds. Your father has taken to bed with an illness Maester Luwin is not sure how to treat best. I have sent word to the Citadel, beseeching for their advice and guidance, but I fear their words may come too late. All we can do is let him sleep, as Luwin is never far without dreamwine, but each time your father awakens, he has asked for you. I can no longer ignore his requests, for what I would give to be able to have these moments with my own daughter. Pray these are not his last, but I fear the worst.
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You must return to Winterfell immediately. Lord Tytos will be instructed to arrange a retinue for your journey, as the roads are thick with snow and the woods are not to be trusted. Your father will wait for you. I know he will. I will command it of him, if I have to.
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<div style="width: 280px; font-family: 'Mr Bedfort', cursive; font-size: 35px; color: #000000; line-height: 90%; letter-spacing: 1px; text-align:right;">R. Stark</div>
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Apr 27 2016, 04:28 PM

HOVER OVER IMAGES FOR MORE INFO! Keep in mind that all PBs are only suggestions <3


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<h1>WINTER</h1>
<h2>is coming</h2>

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<h3><S>Lyarra Stark</S></h3><hr>

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<p><i>Lady of Winterfell</i></p>
<p>If there was ever a female counterpart for Rickard Stark, a pure embodiment of the North, its frost and ice and frozen winds, it would be Lyarra. A Stark in her own right, Rickard's own cousin, the two make a fierce pairing and have ruled their frigid realm for nearly the past four decades. Though she can oft be the salve to his jagged edges and the warmth to his ossified heart, it is not always her bed that he keeps to. Trusted with their House and with even Winterfell itself, still, Rickard has been known to indulge in his fair share of mistresses and paramours throughout their years of marriage. Though all awfully temporary and mostly only when Lyarra was pregnant with their children, it could perhaps be said that it remains his only fault in their otherwise powerful and relatively stable union.
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Suffering the disappearances of both Benjen and Lyanna, however, have driven a greater wedge between them than any dalliance he may have in a younger woman. Overwhelmed with a sense of failure, he became painfully distant from her, so much so that even Lyarra felt the need to leave Winterfell alongside Brandon, Elinor and Sansa. For half a year she remained in the Red Keep with her family, present both for Princess Rhaenna's wedding, her daughter's funeral, and even the wedding of Aegon and Visenya. While Rickard remained in the North, he began to find comfort elsewhere...
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Only within number of months has Lyarra returned to Winterfell, realizing that perhaps things are not exactly how she left them. Her reunion with Rickard was, though passionate, almost troubled, for the nights are growing longer in the North and the grief of outliving two of their children still weighs heavily on each of their hearts. Her husband very rarely indulges in his emotions, however, and has instead begun finding comfort in the embrace of another, much younger woman. Though he first brought her to his bed during Lyarra's prolonged absence from Winterfell, his wife's return has not stopped nor even slowed this new affair of his. I do plan on her discovering his indiscretion soon enough, and how she handles that WILL BE SO FUN TO PLAY OUT. PM ME IF YA NEED
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<h4 class='hleft'>59 / Julianna Margulies</h4>
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<h3><S>PARAMOUR</S></h3><hr>

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<i>Lady Ice</i>
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Having caught the affections of the Lord of Winterfell, this fine piece of woman finds herself in a position not even Rickard himself quite knew existed. Though he has had his share of paramours throughout his lifetime, never were they for very long, and mostly only when he was either away at war, or while his wife was pregnant. The relationships being fleeting and ultimately frivolous, he has never kept to another woman too faithfully, as his grasp of his own emotions is vague at best. A man of many needs, it was in these trysts that he found relief from his day-to-day routine as Warden of the North, refuge from the at times monotonous interactions with his own wife, and peace from all the noise of Winterfell. He is known to show his affection in the form of material possessions, bestowing fine gifts and tokens instead of honeyed words and knightly romance.
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But now Lady Ice, as we'll call her, seems to be changing much of that. Already it has been many moons since he first took her to bed, while his wife Lyarra was away in King's Landing, and they were given much freedom in her absence. In truth, it has been many, many years since Rickard last took a mistress, but the girl has exuded such a way over the frozen Warden that it may be that his heart isn't so frigid after all. His current struggles as lord and patriarch seem to be dulled in her presence, and he is all too eager to go to her when he feels the darkness creeping. Despite their obvious age gap, he seems to only be more enamored by her, while at the same time, fearing his wife's discovery of the affair and the infernal backlash that will no doubt come. Alas, true to his nature, it is likely the man will refuse any demand Lyarra will make of him, never tolerating commands and ultimatums not his own. He is fully capable of being with the two women, his affection for one not outweighing or affecting his affection for the other... or so he will say.
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Who Lady Ice is, exactly, will be up to you. I do prefer that she is noble, or at least half-noble, if you decide she is a bastard. I don't have any specifics regarding her personality, although with Rickard's wife being the hard-headed type, I can't imagine he would seek that trait in a mistress. (He has enough aches and pains, heh.) Their relationship, as of now, would likely only be known by his servants and wards, at the most his castellan. I do plan on his wife finding out eventually, so that will be a disastrous mess that I can't wait to play! Not to mention that I plan on Lady Ice getting pregnant I MEAN WHAT
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Feel free to PM me with any questions and stuffs!

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<h4>18-25 / Elona Lebedeva</h4>
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<h3>JON STARK</h3><hr>

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Though second son to Eddard Stark, it is his uncle Brandon who he seems to embody most, adventurous and all too ready to accept the highest of personal risks. Known best for his knack of climbing whatever tall tree, tower or roof he can find, it is a wonder how the boy has not yet fallen and broken a limb. Always under the scorn of his mother for his wild and independent nature, it seems to only fuel the boy's appetite for thrill. Matched only by the energy of his sister Arriana, the two are often found together in the training yards, taking weapons to each other while the master-at-arms is not near. Oft times an eternal thorn in Lady Wylla's side, he is no less doted upon, though is perhaps the one that stands to inherit the least out of his siblings and cousins. With his brother Robb being Eddard's heir, and his younger cousin Artos being Brandon's, Jon knows it will have to be by other means if he wishes to earn a true name for himself.
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How he has handled his House's recent losses seems to manifest in his urge to explore and risk even personal bodily injury. Though his direwolf is never far, always watching him from below, no doubt young Jon shares in the sense of failure with the rest of his family since losing Lyanna. Unsure of what he truly wishes for in life, he knows, somewhere, he and his wolf have a role to fill, but finding out which role has been as confusing as it has been infuriating. Perhaps the recent dreams he has been having, where he himself is a direwolf, his direwolf, will give him the answers he seeks.


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<h4 class='hleft'>15 / Matheus Matte</h4>
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<h3>Brandon Stark</h3><hr>

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<p><i>Heir to Winterfell</i>

<p>Canon blurb: Known as the Wild Wolf in his youth, Brandon was born in the warmth of summer and carried the spirit with him until he was well past a teenager. An eternal thorn in his father's side but a favorite of his siblings, Brandon has always, above all things, centered himself around his family. Wild and reckless he may have been, but the Stark lord has wizened over the years and with his long-term wife Catelyn Tully, the two have brought even a larger pack to Wintefell. Not including the direwolves that now call Winterfell home.

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<h4>39 / Ben Robson</h4>
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Jan 13 2016, 03:41 PM
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<h1><north>rickard stark</group></h1>
<h2>63 years old. the old wolf. northerner. BRYAN RANDALL.</h2>
<h3>shelbs. 23. gmt-6.</h3>
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<center><font face=times new roman><font size=5>WOLF PUP</center></font></font>
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These hands... cold, strong hands. They have seen so much, have done so much hard work... no one south of Moat Cailin would have the slightest idea. Their hands smell of flowers and perfume and fruit I myself have only tasted a few times in my snowy life. They smell like Summer. Weak and easy, fertile Summer. No one likes that kind of smell where I'm from, not even if we pretend to ignore it whenever a southron comes prancing about. It churns our guts and makes our icy veins run hot. They know nothing. Nothing of hard work, of hunger, of frozen beards and icicles coming from your nostrils. I've seen winter, true winter, winter so cold a man's laughter freezes in his throat. Winter so cold a man's mind and sanity freezes inside his own skull.
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But that is why men like the Starks, like the Umbers and even those bastard-crazy Boltons remain. When winter has come and gone, we remain. Even our summers consist of light snowfall and blizzards, ice patches to keep horses from, miles of snow to hunt through. I watched and helped my father Edwyle Stark fill our harvest cabins every Fall, our wood closets with chopped trunks from the wolfswood, and our ice basements with elk, moose and deer meat. Even then, sometimes it was feared not to be enough... and when the snows would hold us hostage within my own home of Winterfell, only the books of my ancestors could keep me distracted from the hungry rumble in my gut. It was during the long, long long months (even years) of winter was I forced into my studies... for by the old gods, I would leave the spring-fed keep as soon as the snows melted enough and the doors could be opened. Everyone in Winterfell had instructions to keep an eye out for "the little wolf pup," knowing breaking my own leash was only daily routine of mine.
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They called me "pup" all throughout my childhood. Even as I watched my father behead deserters of the Night's Watch, watched him shoot an arrow into the chest of a wildling, I was always told to "never blink, pup." Even as the warm blood would melt into the snow and travel to my boots, I stared unblinkingly at it all. Even as I was caught in my own rooms with chambermaids, my father would say, "Stupid pup, only following his nose to the rumps of little bitches." Though I was his only son, I remained a pup until the old brute breathed his last breath, half-snarling and all. I refused to allow his Valyrian greatsword Ice be buried with him, knowing it was my father's cold idea of a lesson that wanted it taken to his grave in the crypts far below Winterfell. "He will have what every Stark before him has had," I had told them, "his statue, his stone sword on his lap, and his wolves at his feet."
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<center><font face=times new roman><font size=5>THE ALPHA</center></font></font>
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I am not sure if I ever grieved my father Edwyle. Why, I wasn't sure... he had taught me everything my hands knew how to do, had taught me my very principles to live by, but perhaps it was just the cold of our North that had frozen any tears long before they formed. While my mother cried upon my hard shoulder, I stood as straight-faced and perhaps as icy as Winterfell. For this, and for my refusal to grant my father one of his many death wishes, they began to call me "The Stubborn Wolf." At least I wasn't a pup anymore. What my father did was simply be my father. He did little else for me. Did not wake me up in the mornings to break my fast, did not chop the wood in my own chamber fireplace, did not even season my meat like he would season his own. Not to mention he never bothered in finding a wife for me, unlike every other of our bannermen were doing for their sons. If I did not wake early enough on my own, I did not eat. If I did not chop my own wood for my fireplace, I slept cold. If I wanted my meat seasoned, I would have to learn how... and if I wanted a wife, I would have to wait to find myself one. Even wanting our family's greatsword Ice buried with him was likely his idea of never making decisions for me, never handing me anything than what was already mine to inherit. Perhaps he had simply forgotten Ice was mine to inherit, also.
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I wielded that blade better than him, I must say. I was taller than him, too, so it looked even better when sheathed across my back. Not to say I'm a man of vanity, I'd rather split my fist on a mirror than see my face in it, but does not every man aspire to be greater than their predecessor? I think it was my father himself to teach me that. He had raised me just as the cold raises us all; hard, unforgiving, even bitter. Though I admired and thanked him for that, I never forgave him. Winter does not forgive anyone.
<p>
Much like my new bannermen were slow to forgive any short-handed mistakes I made as their new liege. It was not only the weight of Ice on my back, but the titles of Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell, as well... and I can admit that I made mistakes. Trusted some wrong few at first. Not to say I made any like letting a wildling king-in-disguise over my walls, but I was still young. Thank the gods for Maester Flowers. Were it not for him, I would have let poison be whispered into my ears until it led to my demise... I would have kept inviting whores to my bed and would have kept anyone who was not a Northmen closed out from my gates. I would have the wrong comrades, and all too few of the right ones, and Winterfell would be alienated. My egotistical youth was nearly my downfall, had it not been for Maester Flowers. It was that good, seasoned man that opened my eyes to perhaps things I to this day do not exactly want to see... but know I have to embrace.
<p><center><font face=times new roman><font size=5>RITE OF WOLVES</center></font></font>
<p>
House Stark had suffered almost unspeakable losses within the recent years, the same losses that had led to my unlikely ascension as Lord of Winterfell. My uncles had all died in a war, had died avenging each other or had simply disappeared in their wanderings. My men were finally beginning to respect me, and though some still disagreed with me (namely those Bolton madmen,) putting a wife at my side was the very thing the North needed. But where my House had once been strong and large in its numbers, now it was whittled and small and nearly depressing. Winterfell needed to besolid again. Winter was coming, after all, and it would not find me cold, shivering and alone. Not even my insufferable father Edwyle had been alone... somehow, my mother loved him. His men followed him with their eyes closed. I swore I would inherit all of that, as well.
<p>
Lyarra was a daughter of my great-uncle Lord Rodrik, the youngest of my grandfather William's brothers. She and her sister had fostered in the Vale for much of their childhood, but upon their return, it was she who I decided to marry. She was a Stark in her own right, fierce and embodied by the North. Winterfell had fallen to near disparity with the wide losses of our House and I sought to revive them with her by my side. After the mourning of our family members and even the mourning of my father, I made her my wife within the following year. Duty came fast.
<p>
And perhaps faster than I could be ready for. The War of the Ninepenny Kings, gods damn those Blackfyre fools, was what truly, finally froze me into my place as Lord of Winterfell. Yes, I was a Stark, my father's only son, only child, but even Starks have to prove themselves. Especially Starks, and especially all those who once took the very mantle I did. A man of my youth could not imagine the excitement that all brought me, seeing my dozens of thousands of men at my command, of my bannermen and their knights all ready to fight for me and the Seven Kingdoms. Imagine how the Kings of Winter felt. Every one of us, all the wardens of the realms were set into motion alongside each other... never have I seen such a magnificent thing in my life. So many men, so, so many, I did not think it possible. But bloody paths were cut, ranks were shortened, even dissipated, and the war was won. Maelys the Monstrous slain in single combat. Turning home, victorious, most of my Northmen still alive and following, I was finally Lord Stark of Winterfell. "The Stubborn Wolf."
<p>
<center><font face=times new roman><font size=5>PROMISE FOR WAR</center></font></font>
<p>
....And so, the years started coming. First it was Brandon, my heir, my handsome squalling little heir. If Winterfell was not already strong, it certainly was even stronger with the boy's arrival. In between the births of my next son Eddard, my daughter Lyanna and my youngest boy Benjen, I played my inherited role. I beheaded deserters of the Night's Watch with the very blade I'd seen my father use, I killed wildlings that somehow got over the Wall and into my wolfswood, I hung bandits and outlaws, or sent them to the Red Keep if I felt merciful enough. I helped crush rebellions against my King. I welcomed in any straggler or visitor on the King's Road, fed them at my tables, sheltered them beneath my roofs. I taught my growing family not ways of adulthood, butsurvival. (I left our new Maester Luwin up to teaching them the ways of books and words.) I loved my wife as much as my frosty Northern heart possibly could, forged alliances even greater than a king, and though there were a few times my bannermen still cursed me for my blunt truths and sharp tongue, I built my life with these hands... cold, strong hands.
<p>
Of course, it could never end there. The alliances I forged were soon tested and emboldened at the Tourney at Harrenhal, where I pledged both my life and unexpectedly my only daughter to the dismantling of the Mad King. What could I have done? Though I had my comrades and allies by my side, Lannister and Tully, Arryn and Whent, I had just admitted treason. We all had. Rhaegar himself could have had our heads that very night if he'd wished... but I trusted him. I trusted him enough to agree to allow him the hand of my daughter Lyanna and made him promise to take her as far away from the war as possible. Tywin Lannister helped the broken matches between our alliances by bringing young Robert Baratheon into the fold with the betrothal of his daughter Cersei to the young stag and his armies. Though it was not all what we had initially planned, it would have to work.
<p>
And work it did. It was greater than all the forces we had summoned to face Maelys upon the Stepstones decades before. War of the Seven, they called it, and rightfully so. The whole of the realms either came together or clashed against each other, and it was the very war we promised to bring to Rhaegar's father the Mad King in retaliation for his affronting descent into insanity. The Sack of King's Landing was not without its bloodshed, and though it was not Northern swords to see the end of King Aerys, I had been happy to send my men home with word of victory upon their lips.
<p>
<center><font face=times new roman><font size=5>A COMING WINTER</center></font></font>
<p>
I remained within the city only long enough to see Rhaegar return with my daughter at his side. I did what I could to discern myself from the matters concerning his other wife and children, for I could not dare doubt him now -- not after swearing to him my word and my own daughter's hand in marriage. When it came to be that Lyanna would be the only Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, I had never felt such sheer pride and raw fear at once before. I had no choice but to leave her there after the wedding, returning to Winterfell with my wife and sons at my side.
<p>
It would be months until I saw her again, making the unlikely journey all the way to Lannisport to meet her there during one of her many royal progresses. Alongside each other we sailed to the Iron Islands to retrieve her stolen lady-in-waiting, and we left hardly speaking to one another. She had toyed with her crown and had undermined my own position as her husband's Warden of the North, and we both left the islands as empty-handed as we'd come. Though her travels found the royal family at Winterfell shortly after, I have no doubt were it not for the wedding of her brother Brandon to Catelyn Tully, Lyanna would have never come.
<p>
Her mother was with child, too, amazingly. I had left my pregnant wife to assist in a fruitless mission for the crown and came back bitter for the girl who had grown from my daughter into the woman upon the Iron Throne. Alas, I could not help but want to see her again once my twin grandsons were born, and there was little she could do to stop me once she finally introduced them to their grandfather. When they at last departed for King's Landing, I turned to my own family. Brandon would have children himself, no doubt, and even Eddard would soon get his way with Lady Wylla's hand in marriage. It was nearly hard to believe that, barely twenty years before, our great castle had been almost empty, so many Starks dead that we had neared extinction with a single misstep of a generation. But now... now we were about to burst past the unpassable limits of Winterfell.
<p>
Starting with the birth of my miracle child and sweet daughter Elinor. I had not thought her conception would be possible, but I had promised her to her mother anyway before the war, and I returned with it still in mind. Somehow, the old gods had listened and she was born but a few short months after Lyanna and Rhaegar returned to King's Landing with the new twins. She was beautiful and perfect, and she was followed by Brandon's first child Sansa and then Eddard's first son Robb, and it seemed with every year or two, another grandchild of mine was born in alternating turns between my two sons. It was all I could have ever wanted, now that I knew all of the hardships of the first few decades of my rule were done and over with.
<p>
Dragons and wolves, though, changed a bit of our coming history. My daughter Lyanna has had one by her side for years, now, and her daughter and my grandchild Rhaenna, as well, calls a young direwolf her companion. My other grandchildren in King's Landing ride dragons and it is all my old and cold heart can do to keep from stopping in bewilderment. I try and not think too much on it, what it all means, and try and have another barn built for the direwolves that have found my other daughter Elinor and my other grandchildren here in Winterfell. All I can do is remind them that winter is coming, and it is coming full force for House Stark.


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