A Time of Fracture

Eddard

EDDARD

Eddard Stark hobbled to the King's chambers, leaning heavily on his cane. The cobbled floors of the castle were not helping the pain he suffered every time he took a step. Damn the Kingslayer. Damn him. It was Jaime Lannister who inflicted this injury upon him. It was an act Ned Stark wouldn't soon forget, or forgive.

He approaches the door to the King's chambers, and knocks. A voice inside beckons him in. A woman's voice. Cersei is with him. Seven Hells. This meeting was not going to go well. He opened the door, and stepped inside. Robert Baratheon was sitting on the bed, clearly still drunk. His wife, Cersei Lannister, was with him.

"Your Grace," Ned began.

"Spare me your formalities, Ned." The King Replied.

"Robert, I need to talk to you. I need to talk to you about Joffrey. Alone." He glared at Cersei as he uttered the word 'alone'. She glared right back, with her false smile looking particularly crooked and menacing.

"What, and tell me he ain't mine?" The King laughed heartily. "I'm no fool, Ned. I know it's not mine. No idea who the father is, though it'd take a sadistic, twisted man to spawn a boy like Joffrey."

Cersei visibly winced at his words directed towards her son, and his true father. Ned chuckled as much as he'd dare too, and rubbed the knee that Jaime had ruined.

"Aye, a very sadistic man..."

Cersei cleared her throat. She knew that Ned was just insulting her and Jaime at this point. Her incestuous relationship with her brother had spawned Joffrey, but to the realm, Joffrey was a Baratheon, the son of Robert, and heir to the throne. Ned had figured out that he was illegitimate and could not be heir. His knowledge would also put Cersei and Jaime behind bars. If it were anyone else, they may have also been executed, but Cersei and Jaime were the children of Tywin Lannister, who the crown owed a lot of money to. Playing the game of thrones was like trying to cross a raging river by stepping on Eggshells. Ned recalled Cersei's own words to him earlier that day; "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." It was some comfort that she was losing at the moment.

"Was that all you came to talk to me about, Ned?" The king inquired, shuffling further onto the bed and laying down. "The wine's getting to my head. I want both of you out. Give me some damn peace...Oh, Ned. There's a letter on the shelf to your left. I want it delivered to Varys. He's with some foreign fool in a ridiculous coat and his wench, outside the Castle."

"And what does it say?" Ned asked, suspiciously, as Cersei strode past him and out the door. This matter didn't concern her and she knew it. She no doubt had gone away to plot, scheme, and contact her father too, probably.

"You know what it says, Ned. I won't sleep easy until the Targaryen girl's dead, her false king brother's dead, her unborn son's dead, her barbarian husband's dead, and her army of Dothraki savages have crawled back into the holes they came out of. Give it to Varys. I'll know if you haven't."

Ned bowed, turned, and left the room, shutting the door behind him. He didn't want to deliver this letter, but it was a crime to disobey a King's orders. Curse Robert. He would give it to Varys, but first, he needed to speak to Renly. He spotted Renly near the council chamber, and approached him.

"My Lord," Eddard called, "I need you assistance on a matter of inheritance."

"Ah, Hello, Eddard," Renly replied. "What can I do for you?"

"There is evidence on my desk in the Tower of the Hand that Joffrey is a product of Incest between Cersei and Jaime. I ask you to hold a meeting and invite all parties concerned, and confront your brother and Cersei with the evidence."

"Of course, Ned," said Renly, starting to walk away. "Oh, and Ned," he added, "Thank you."

It was no secret that the three Baratheon brothers disliked each other. Robert won the throne with a war hammer while Renly merely sat in his small council. Stannis was treated even worse, shipped off to Dragonstone to pickle in bitterness and resentment. Eddard would write a letter to Stannis too, informing him of this development, but first he would pay a visit to Varys, and give him the letter, he was also mildly curious of the foreigner that Robert mentioned.

Eddard continued on his journey to the courtyard outside the Castle. There he saw Varys, conversing with the foreigner. Robert wasn't half kidding about his coat. He approached them.

"Ah, Eddard Stark," mused Varys, softly. "What are you doing out here, unless you have business with either me or our guests."

"I have a letter from the king for you, Varys. It's orders regarding Daenerys Targaryen," Eddard spoke, uneasy. Varys' face showed signs of understanding and pity, but knowing the Spider, they were false.

"My Lord, I understand that you do not like the choices we must make, but it is for the good of the realm. How will honour help us when the Dothraki army arrive on our shores?"

Eddard didn't want to argue. He'd already been down that road. He silently handed the letter to Varys, and Varys took his leave. The stranger in the strange coat raised his eyebrow.

"And what were the contents of that letter?" He asked.

"What business is it of yours?" Ned snapped back. The stranger raised his hands in a 'surrender' pose.

"None whatsoever. I apologize." He replied, before offering his hand. "But let's not introduce each other on bad first impressions. I'm the Doctor, and this is Peri."

Eddard shook the Doctor's hand. He did not seem sly. He almost had a child's energy about him, but he did seem intelligent and in control, and in Eddard's experience, that combination was dangerous.

"Eddard Stark, Hand of the King," Eddard replied.

"Varys was just educating me on the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. I'm not from here, you see, and neither is Peri."

"I see. So are you both from the free cities?"

"We are from a lot further away that the free cities. Much, much further away."

Eddard pondered their words. They were not from Westeros or Essos. Not many knew much of any lands beyond the two continents, or even if there were lands beyond the two continents. These two strangers were a complete mystery, and a mystery that needed solving. However, there were bigger and more urgent matters to attend to. He would humour them for a little longer, but he needed to write that letter to Stannis, and then there was the meeting that Renly was organizing. Hopefully that would go smoothly.

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