Bran Stark was sitting beside his brother Robb, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North in his father's absence. He didn't want to be here, but Maester Luwin had insisted, saying it was good practice for when Bran would eventually take that spot, just as other Brandons had done before him. Brandon the Builder, Brandon the Burner, Brandon the Bad...what would his name be? Brandon the Broken?
Bran had no hope of becoming a knight since the fall that paralysed his legs, but it didn't deterring from really, really wanting to. He found these meet and greets boring and tedious, and get got the impression that so did Robb.
The next guests were ushered in. Two Craggonmen, a boy and a girl, though they were near children, not much older than Bran himself. The girl carried a net and a three pronged spear on her back. The boy was staring right at Bran while the girl spoke.
"My Lord," she began, "My name is Meera Reed, and this is my brother, Jojen. Howland Reed is our father."
"Your father was a good and loyal friend to my father. Continue," replied Robb.
"We are at your service, my Lord, and we beg your hospitality. We are weary from travelling."
"It shall be done."
Bran could not shake the feeling that the boy was important somehow, and he had not taken his eyes off Bran since the moment he came in, but soon they were sent off to rest. He will see them tonight, at Dinner, he was sure of it. He wanted to talk to the both of them. They were significant in some way, he could feel it.
Neither of them showed up at dinner, and he still had not had a chance to talk to them when he was taken to bed, as he drifted off to sleep, he resolved that he would see them tomorrow if he had to crawl to their lodgings with but the strength of his arms. His eyes closed, and darkness took hold of his vision, and consciousness.
He was a wolf, in a cage. The smells of Winterfell filled his nose. He longed to be free, to run and hunt. Two people he did not know approached the cage. Their smells were completely alien to his canine nose, but he did know them, Brandon realised. It was Jojen and Meera.
"What are you so afraid of, Jojen? It's in a cage."
"I know, but ever since the night I dreamt he arrived, I can't see my death. I could die at any time. I must be very careful."
"Not having dreams that tell the future. Must be terrible. How can you possibly survive under such conditions?" Meera lightly punched her brother's arm, but he was still just as serious.
"I still have the greensight, but it's...gone fuzzy. It shows multiple things happening at once. Sometimes I dream of a wolf getting its head ripped off by lions, but it changes into a lion getting bullied to death by stags. We can't waste any more time. I must teach Bran to unlock his true potential as a Warg as the dreams showed me before this 'Doctor' showed up. I must go to King's Landing and speak to him. I need his influence on my greensight to cease. And I must convince all of Winterfell to let Bran come south with me."
"And how are you going to do that, dear brother? Pray tell."
"I'm not," replied Jojen, staring right at the wolf in front of him. Staring right at Bran. "Bran is."
Bran awoke the next morning, called for Hodor, was helped into his pouch on the stable-boy's back and commanded him to go to the main hall. He needed to talk to his brother.
Robb was sitting at his father's seat as per usual, receiving reports of rising tensions between Stark and Lannister following the kidnapping of Tyrion Lannister by his mother, and his father's injury at the hands of Tyrion's brother Jaime. Thankfully, they had not come to war yet, but it wouldn't take much to set them off. Bran approached him.
"Brother, I need to leave Winterfell."
"Explain yourself," said Robb, sending his advisors and messengers away and focusing all of his attention on Bran.
"It's my dreams. Jojen can help me make sense of them."
"It'll be dangerous."
"I'm not afraid!"
"Bran, your place is here, in Winterfell. You are a Stark."
"A broken Stark! And I don't want to be a Lord! I want to ride!" There was a silence between them. "...Please, Robb. Let me ride..."
The arrangements were soon made. Bran was to ride south with Jojen and Meera using the saddle Tyrion gave him. Hodor would also be sent, as well as Theon Greyjoy, his father's ward and like a brother to Robb and Bran in all but blood. He'd been sent with them for protection. He'd proved his worth in that field saving Bran from wildlings, one of which, named Osha, was taken prisoner. Bran liked her, but Robb didn't trust her enough with such a task, as he trusted Theon, to his mother's annoyance. 'Never trust a Greyjoy', he'd heard her say more than once.
The five set off the next morning. Jojen looked like he'd hardly slept. He walked close to Bran. Theon was busy attempting to make conversation (flirt) with Meera, and failing from the sounds of it. Hodor was simply walking beside Bran's horse, smiling with the bliss that comes from being so ignorant of the world's evil. He's happy because he's simple.
"So, who is this 'Doctor'?" Bran finally asked Jojen. Jojen didn't seem to hear him for a few seconds, but then he turned to the young Prince.
"The Doctor is an outsider. He's not from Westeros, or Essos. He's from beyond the sky, and beyond the gods. All I saw of him in my last green dream was a blue box that contained...everything. All of the past, and all of the future. I didn't even see what this Doctor looked like. I just heard his name. It was whispered by the forest around the blue box in the most...surreal voice. A voice that was friendly and angry and safe and dangerous..."
Jojen stopped telling the story, as he'd passed out. Hodor carried him from then on. Theon, sensing he was getting nowhere with Meera, approached Bran.
"That one isn't a good traveller, it seems," mused Theon, tutting.
"He is," retorted Meera, her voice already hinting at a dislike for the Greyjoy boy, "He just didn't sleep at all last night."
Bran carried on, once again in silence. He had strange dreams too. He wondered if the three-eyed raven had anything to do with this, but this 'Doctor'... He sounded much stranger than anything Bran had ever heard of.
It's a long way to King's Landing," Bran finally said, spurring his house into a canter. "Come on. We need to make good time."