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Fanfic / Knight Of The Dreadfort The Ballad Of The Red King

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"knight of the dreadfort (the ballad of the red king)" is a A Song of Ice and Fire fanfic centering around Domeric Bolton, Roose Bolton's legitimate son who was a Posthumous Character in canon, and examines the War of the Five Kings from his perspective.

Tropes that appear in this fanfic:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Everyone has something nice to say about Ser Mark Ryswell. Lady Dustin remembers him taking her and her sister Bethany on rides in the Rills and comforting her when her heart was broken, Lord Stark could be moved into telling a story about him, and Robbie says that if Ser Mark had survived the Tower of Joy, he would have been the one to succeed Rodrik Ryswell as Lord of the Rills, who favored him more than his own sons.
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  • Abusive Parents: Not directly, but Domeric constantly fears stepping out of line with his father Roose Bolton. For example, a break in his stoic exterior could lead to losing his toes. Gainsaying an order could lead to flaying.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: According to Cassandra Redfort, Roose Bolton became Lord of the Dreadfort at an unknown but very young age since he was too young to be a squire.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Chapter 8 is an exercise in this trope as the Northern soldiers at Harrenhal receive letter after letter of the Ironborn taking castle after castle.
    • Roose Bolton left home to fight in the Greyjoy Rebellion. When he came home, both his wife and younger son were dead of fever.
    • Ryella Royce lost her siblings before she was 15; her brother Kyle was executed by the Mad King and her sister Kella died of spring fever.
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  • Affectionate Nickname: Domeric remembers that his little brother Roger called him "Dommie".
  • Agony of the Feet: Domeric constantly thinks about his father flaying his toes as punishment.
  • Alliterative Name: Ellyn Egen, Jon Redfort's wife.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Robbie Ryswell is betrothed to Sara Glenmore and they get along quite well.
    • The Royces and the Redforts have been plotting an alliance for decades. Cassandra Redfort was betrothed to Robar Royce. When Robar was killed by Loras Tyrell, his sister Ysilla married Mychel Redfort.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Harrion Karstark gets more page-time and lines than he gets in the books.
    • Ser Aenys Frey is the most prominent Frey who appears in this story.
    • Ryella Royce gets a little more backstory.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Domeric is sent to the Twins presumably to find a Frey bride for himself. It turns out that Roose sent him to get a bride... for Roose himself.
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  • Balkanize Me: Discussed. Bronze Yohn Royce had wanted to split the Vale off from the rest of Westeros into a separate kingdom allied with the North and the Trident, but that fell through because they decided it wasn't worth breaking the Crown's peace. Anyways, everyone's aware that Robert Arryn and Harry Hardyng would make poor kings.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Robb is an in-universe example. He enjoys a lot of support from the houses that participate in his campaign in the Westerlands (the Umbers, Karstarks and Mormonts) while his name is mud with the Ryswells, Dustins and Boltons; the Ryswells disapprove of him because his mother is a Tully while the Boltons (Domeric in particular) think he’s an idiot who prioritizes battle over rescuing his sister. By Chapter 21, his approval rating with them has almost hit zero.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Ysilla Royce has wanted to get married to a lord who was younger than 30 so she could enjoy having (and making) children. Now she's married, but she and Mychel rarely have sex, if at all.
  • Blood Oath: Domeric routinely cuts open his hands when offering prayers in Harrenhal's godswood.
  • Broken Pedestal: Domeric once thought of Robb Stark as a good heir to Winterfell. Now he thinks that he's an idiot because he sent Theon Greyjoy to the Ironborn and doesn't intend on helping Sansa.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ysilla Royce is blunt and frank with Sansa.
  • Cain and Abel: Domeric is Abel to Ramsay's Cain. They've never met and Domeric is in no hurry to meet Ramsay.
  • The Cameo: "Nan" really Arya Stark appears in Chapter 7.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Chapter 3, Sansa once made a pink hankerchief with a flayed man and a bloody sword for Domeric. She uses it to identify him when he sneaks her out of the Red Keep.
  • Child Soldiers: Domeric notes that some of the Red Cloaks in King's Landing are lads of about 13.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Tywin blames the Tyrells for Sansa’s disappearance, so he had the Vale Mountain Clans prowling the Reach.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: Robbie mentions that Uncle Rickard has never shown interest in taking a wife.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Discussed via Sansa's internal monologue. Bronze Yohn is an old friend of her father's, but is bound by oath to Lady Lysa Arryn, who's just thrown in her lot with the Lannisters. However, Bronze Yohn has decided to hide Sansa and Domeric out of his own goodwill.
  • Cool Uncle: Ronnel Stout for Robbie Ryswell, because Roose Ryswell acts more like an older brother, Uncle Rickard is a Jerkass, and nobody thinks Lord Bolton is a cool anything.
  • The Cynic: Waymar Royce has a rather pessimistic view of women, bordering on Straw Misogynist.
    "Don’t worry, Dom. You don’t have to listen to a fat slattern like Randa. Girls like her, they look at you and they decide you’re handsome, and because they’re pretty they know you’re looking too. A woman’s looks, that’s her weapon. Her kisses, her tears, her cunt. They look at you and think, aye, it would be fun to play him for a fool. It makes them feel powerful, to know they can disarm men who could cut them down in a moment. And if they don’t want to make you into a fool, they want to marry you, and then they always want something. If you’re an heir, they want to be lady of your castle. If you’re not, either you’re nothing, or they’re some merchant’s daughter who wants her children to be noble. They don’t want you for you. You’re just a tool to them. A stepping stone. If they praise anything that you do that you weren’t born with, it’s so they can brag to the other ladies while they’re sewing, and act all high and mighty while claiming your accomplishments, when they did nothing at all... It doesn’t count if they’re your mother or your kin. Jeyne’s just a little girl, and Cassie and Jessie are like sisters. Don’t mess around with that lady love nonsense, Dom. If you need to get your wick wet just pay a whore and be done with it. You’re an heir, you’ll need a wife, but you should just put a few sons in her and ignore her."
  • Dark Reprise: In-universe, Domeric writes an alternate version of "The Wolf in the Night" in a minor key, writing of the woes of the Starks through the plight of a pack of wolves.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: Domeric is thinking about who Robb Stark would include in a rescue party to rescue Sansa, when the Smalljon shows up next to him shouting "Bolton! So you’ve eyes for a Stark bride, do you!".
  • Domestic Abuse: Domeric notes that Roose would flay any wife of his who made him a cuckold.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Domeric disguises himself as a Lannister soldier to infiltrate the Red Keep.
  • The Dutiful Son: Mychel Redfort, much to his chagrin. Lord Royce was brokering an alliance with the Redforts and wanted it through a child of his own body (hence Albar Royce of the junior branch was not considered). Because Mychel's brother Jon married Ellyn Egen in a Shotgun Wedding, Mychel was the only remaining person who could fulfill the match and that's how he married Ysilla.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • None of the Ryswells like the Starks, particularly Lord Stark's children with Catelyn Tully, but they're not going to celebrate the deaths of two boys.
    • Domeric isn't going to ruin a maester's work by tearing pages from a book. He doesn’t partake in the bedding ceremony for Fat Walda because he isn’t going to shame his new stepmother.
  • Expy: In-universe, Domeric writes his Dark Reprise of "The Wolf in the Night" with a particular member of House Stark in mind:
    • The pack leader who wandered into the lion's den and died is Ned Stark.
    • The new pack leader who attacks the rocks and fails to find his sisters is Robb.
    • The lost pup is Arya.
    • The wolf in the cage is Sansa.
    • The pups left to drown when the den is flooded are Bran and Rickon.
  • Exact Words: Sansa's cover story is that she's the illegitimate daughter of a Whent and a Royce and was summoned from a motherhouse to her mother's ancestral home after Lady Shella Whent died without issue and she is next in line, bastard or not. Funnily enough, Sansa does have a claim on Harrenhal because her grandmother was a Whent.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Faith of the Seven in the Vale is heavily inspired by Christianity in France, similar to the Vale as the birthplace of the Seven in Westeros and France's status as the "eldest daughter of the Catholic Church".
  • Foil: Domeric to Ned Stark. Both are Northern lords fostered in the Vale who are considered outsiders to the North. Both go on self-proclaimed missions to rescue a lady of House Stark. However, Domeric undertook his mission alone and managed to find Sansa and rescue her, while Ned failed to rescue his sister Lyanna before she died.
  • Genius Bruiser: Domeric has an extensive knowledge of history and poetry coupled with a working knowledge of Northern politics, and shown to be a swordsman who can trade blows with Mychel Redfort, one of the best swordsmen in the Vale.
  • The Ghost:
    • Ramsay Snow doesn't appear, though he is mentioned a few times.
    • Despite being responsible for the War of the Five Kings boiling over, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish has not appeared in person.
  • Hero-Worshipper:
    • Domeric idolizes Rhaegar Targaryen for his accomplishments as a warrior and a musician.
    • From the other perspective, Domeric is idolized by his cousin little Rick.
    Robbie: [speaking to Domeric] Little Rick reminds Grandfather of you. Little Rick adores you. Wants to be you. Speaks with a soft voice. Begging Aunt Barbrey to take him on as her page. Puts on that scary face you wear when you think we all need to shut our mouths.
  • History Repeats: The War of the Five Kings was not the first time that a Bolton tried to seize control of the North while an Ironborn invasion took place, as Bartimus Bolton tried to take over the North during Dagon Greyjoy’s rebellion only to be thwarted by the Crannogmen.
  • Hopeless War: The War of Five Kings from the perspective of the Northern soldiers in the Riverlands under Lord Bolton. They're sitting on the sidelines while their leader Robb Stark wages war on the Westerlands, negotiations go nowhere to rescue the princesses, the Ironborn invade their castles including Winterfell, and the Lannisters and Tyrells ally at the Battle of the Blackwater, which puts the North on the ropes.
  • Hypocrite: Roose Bolton talks a good game about a peaceful land and quiet people and not throwing away your troops, but of course, his invocation of Droit du Seigneur (resulting in Ramsay) and sending Northern troops to Duskendale to whittle down Robb's forces speak otherwise.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Everyone says that Ser Mark Ryswell should have been the one to succeed Lord Rodrik Ryswell as Lord of the Rills... if he hadn’t died in Dorne at the Tower of Joy.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The town close to the Dreadfort (already an example of this trope) is known as the Weeping Town.
  • I Have Your Wife: Roose defies this trope when he decides not to have Domeric serve as one of Robb's bodyguards so the Starks won't have a hostage.
  • Indy Ploy: The author makes it clear that Domeric is making up his plan to free Sansa up as he goes along.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Domeric spends much of his father's wedding feast drinking as much wine as he can to distract himself from Amerei Frey.
  • In Vino Veritas: Domeric hasn’t spoken about his little brother Roger in years, and the feast where his father gets married to Fat Walda makes him believe that he’s drunken a lot because he winds up talking about Roger.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Domeric for Sansa. A lot of his issues come from his heritage since Boltons are never married to Starks and his belief that Robb would refuse to give Sansa’s hand to him.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Barbrey Dustin refers to Sansa as "Catelyn Tully's little minnow".
    • There are nicknames for each of the male Manderlys. Lord Wyman is Lord Too-Fat-to-Sit-a-Horse while his sons Wylis are Ser Slower-than-a-Trot and Wendel (unnamed) is Ser No-Saddlebags-for-Me.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Sansa winds up in the Vale, except that she's under the protection of the Royces rather than Littlefinger.
    • Lysa Arryn's still marrying Littlefinger.
  • I Own This Town: Littlefinger has Gulltown in his pocket.
  • I've Come Too Far: Harrion Karstark notes that the Westerlands campaign has gone on too long for the Northern lords there to just give up their loot for a ransom; Greatjon Umber would bristle at giving up Castamere, while Rickard Karstark would not give up his vendetta against the Lannisters and would refuse any trade.
  • Killed Offscreen: Rickard Karstark and Hoster Tully die offscreen after Domeric leaves to rescue Sansa.
  • Left for Dead: Domeric uses this as a cover story in his disguise as a Lannister soldier, that he was knocked out at Duskendale and left behind.
  • Lost in Translation: The Faith of the Seven's prayers and hymns are spoken in Old Andalosian in the Vale. Whenever any of the other kingdoms tried to translate them into the Common Tongue, various complications ensued.
    • The Reach and the Westerlands have the most poetic language and the most beautiful music, but adds too much to the point it becomes distracting.
    • The Riverlands' version is simplified for the smallfolk but is missing much of the meaning and symbolism.
    • The Stormlands' translation is technically correct but is ugly to speak.
  • The Mole: Bronze Yohn Royce had a spy in Renly’s army keeping tabs on the Vale Mountain Clans’ movements, a spy who is still with the Tyrells.
  • Monster Knight: Like the book version of Ramsay's armor, Domeric's armor evokes this trope; made of black plate, it features carvings made to look like bone and skinless muscle and the breastplate evokes the appearance of a broken cage of ribs (complete with bleeding heart).
  • My Greatest Failure: Ronnel Stout’s is not being in Dorne for Lord Willam Dustin.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The scene between Domeric and "Nan" is a reference to the various scenes between Tywin Lannister and Arya in Game of Thrones.
    • Domeric makes references to Lyonel Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen when he tries to persuade Robb to surrender; Lyonel rebelled when Duncan Targaryen broke his betrothal so he could marry Jenny of Oldstones and Lyonel had to be subjugated by Ser Duncan the Tall, while Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark and paid the price when Robert Baratheon smashed open his chest in the Battle of the Trident.
  • Never Learned to Read: Mya Stone, according to Mychel.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe, Domeric knows that he will be paying reparations to House Manderly for most of his life because of what Ramsay did to Donella Hornwood (nee Manderly).
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Domeric finds Amerei Frey's attempts to seduce him off-putting, particularly when she fondles him under the table.
  • No Name Given: The Fossoway knight that Domeric faces at Duskendale is unnamed.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Lord Bolton putting all the Harrenhal servant girls, stripped naked and shaved bald, in the stocks for the other soldiers to rape.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: As much as this setting can have one, Edmure Tully refuses to allow a mission to save Sansa, since they have to consult Robb and when that message was given, he hadn't recovered from his wounds at the Crag.
  • Oh, Crap!: Domeric when he comes face-to-face with Tywin Lannister. He manages to keep his composure though
  • Old Soldier: Ser Sam Stone has been on active duty for more than 40 years, as a veteran of the War of the Ninepenny Kings. As the Master-at-arms for Runestone, he’s also an Old Master.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The normally stoic Roose Bolton appears upset by the news of Sansa’s death, while not knowing it’s faked.
  • Original Character:
    • Robert “Robbie” Ryswell, Domeric’s cousin and close friend.
    • Roger Bolton, Domeric's little brother who died at the age of 1.
  • Outfit Decoy: Domeric fakes Sansa’s suicide by smashing a window and leaving part of a torn dress on one of the panes.
  • The Paranoiac: Domeric believes he'd become one of these if he ever acceded to the Lordship of the Dreadfort while Ramsay was still around. He'd have to hire a food taster, personal guard, never leave his castle, etc... it wouldn't take long to become as mad as King Aerys.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Domeric had several siblings who died as infants. The most notable was Roger, who was almost two years old when he died while Lord Bolton was away during the Greyjoy Rebellion. Domeric's mother also died during that time, meaning that Domeric spent six months with only Maester Uthor for company.
    • Ser Waymar Royce, the third and youngest son of Bronze Yohn Royce. He's been dead for awhile since the story starts late in A Game of Thrones, but he appears in a flashback.
    • Bartimus Bolton, the Lord Bolton at the time of Dagon Greyjoy's Rebellion.
    • Jonnel Holt, the Northern knight who Domeric impersonates while at Runestone.
  • Practically Different Generations: Domeric notes that he is three years older than his new stepmother Fat Walda, which will mean that any children his father has with her will be this trope.
  • Properly Paranoid: Domeric and Sansa don’t spend much time in Gulltown because Littlefinger practically owns Gulltown and he could rat them out.
  • The Quiet One: Domeric isn't known for his abilities at speaking. After a speech where Domeric calls for rescuing Sansa, Donnel Stout remarks that "that’s the most words I’ve heard you string in a row since I’ve laid eyes on you."
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Domeric asked Lord Redfort why men rape, and he replied that only a particular type of man rapes.
    "Because their blood is up, boy, he’d said, and they don’t care if she says yes or no. She’s there, and her feelings are in the way of what he wants. Or because they like the sound of crying, screaming. Some are like that... it’s the cries and pain for their own sake. The knowledge that you have the power to cause that in another soul. The cries and pain get their blood up. Or the thrill of the chase, the fear in their eyes. And when the blood is up the need is there."
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Northern host sent to Duskendale burns, rapes and loots its way down towards Duskendale; it's during this point that Domeric begins writing his version of "Wolf in the Night".
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Domeric's knowledge of Barrowton makes him realize that "Nan", who claims to be from that area, is lying to him. Compare with Tywin's conversations with Arya in Game of Thrones; Tywin, having never been to Barrowton, wouldn't care, but Domeric would know.
    • Domeric's map of the Red Keep, which was made during the days of Jaehaerys II, isn't completely up to date.
    • On a meta level, Domeric isn't skilled enough to fight off multiple bandits on the Kingsroad and defend Sansa at the same time (unlike the Hound), so he travels along the Rosby road instead.
  • Real Men Love Jesus:
    • The Boltons organize mass ritual prayers while at Harrenhal to pray for those menaced by the Ironborn.
    • The Vale is very serious about the Faith of the Seven, and they did not support Stannis because of Melisandre's fanaticism against the Faith and Old Gods.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Domeric's opinion about Robb's campaign in the Westerlands is that they're wasting time and resources they could be using to rescue Sansa and Arya, then going back north to answer the threat of the Ironborn. Instead they're wasting their efforts just to get back at Tywin Lannister.
  • Rousing Speech: Domeric attempts to give one as a call to action to rescue Sansa before Stannis can take King’s Landing and force terms on the North. It doesn’t work.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After Robb marries Jeyne Westerling and the Freys depart, Domeric decides to go on his own mission to rescue Sansa.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • When Roose sends Domeric to the Twins for a wife, Domeric gets very apprehensive about taking a Frey for a wife. Then Roose tells him that he's interested in taking Fat Walda, making Domeric's angsting about having a Frey wife completely pointless.
    • The Ryswells had a plan to create a navy on the western half of the North to defend against the Ironborn. All they heard was that Lord Stark was reviewing it and the next thing they knew, Lord Stark was a head shorter.
  • Shotgun Wedding:
    • Mychel Redfort mentions that his brother Jon deflowered Ellyn Egen and they were married within the hour.
    • Likewise, he suggests that Domeric and Sansa might wind up like this; they were alone for a fortnight and that would be enough to ruin a girl's reputation.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Sansa. While she has a good head for facts and detail, she has more trouble with determining bias. According to Runestone's maester, it's a very common problem for highborn ladies who are not being groomed as heirs.
  • Spanner in the Works: The crannogmen’s defeat of the Ironborn in Dagon Greyjoy’s rebellion thwarted Bartimus Bolton’s attempt to seize the North from the Starks.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Domeric Bolton is alive and well here.
  • Spotting the Thread: While talking to Tywin Lannister, Domeric sees a scroll marked with a Bolton seal on his desk.
  • The Squire:
    • Ronnel Stout was Lord Willam Dustin’s before Lord Dustin left for Dorne and died at the Tower of Joy.
    • According to Lord Royce, Stevron Frey was fostered at Runestone, which makes sense because Lord Walder’s first wife was a Royce.
    • Eustace Hunter was squire to Vardis Egen while Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark were wards of Jon Arryn.
  • The Starscream: Bartimus Bolton tried to take Winterfell during Dagon Greyjoy’s rebellion.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Some of the boys staying at Runestone take offense at the idea of Sansa (under her identity of Danelle Rivers) learning with them, but the maester allays them by saying that Danelle has to learn with them as she has a claim on Harrenhal.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • With his dark hair and ghost-grey eyes, Domeric is said to look like Ser Mark Ryswell.
    • Lady Lorra Royce (Bronze Yohn's wife) looks like an older, plumper version of Arya.
  • Super Breeding Program: Rodrik Ryswell runs a rudimentary version of this regarding his family's appearance.
    Grandfather Rodrik had always stressed the importance of jealously guarding the blood through deliberate matchmaking. It was the same with men as with horses and dogs. The wrong choice of sire or dam could spoil a line forever. Ryswell heirs sought brides who were tall, strong-boned, and fair of face, with brothers who were tall and broad, muscular and handsome, so Ryswell daughters would be tall and comely to attract powerful husbands, and Ryswell sons would be imposing to command respect. He was glad that for all he had Roose’s coloring, he had inherited the frame and features of his mother’s kin. Like skill in battle and a shrewd wit, comely faces and well-formed bodies were assets in the great game.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Domeric mostly spends events as a passive observer watching Robb's campaign unfold. That changes in the Battle at Duskendale, which he uses as a cover to infiltrate King's Landing.
  • Taking the Veil: Domeric thinks that Robb should take the Black (join the Night's Watch) to avoid punishment from the Lannisters for rebelling and the Freys for his broken betrothal.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Domeric when he hears that Ramsay has been named castellan.
    Hunting horns and missing girls and bloody tree trunks and barking hounds. It will get worse. And Reek will be there too.
    • And again when he sees The Mountain slam into the Karstark lines at the Battle of the Green Fork.
  • Token Good Teammate: Domeric is a Deconstruction. He may be of higher moral fiber than his father and half-brother, but he allows war crimes to happen because he won't raise a hand against his father and doesn't want to end up in his crosshairs. It wouldn't be pretty.
  • Unexpected Successor: Sansa's cover story while at Runestone is that she was a bastard daughter of a Whent and a Royce who was in the motherhouse to become a Septa, but was called back after Lady Shella Whent died without issue and left no heir.
  • Warrior Poet: Domeric is a skilled warrior who also writes songs, including an entire volume of poetry dedicated to Sansa.
  • White Sheep: Robbie’s opinion is that Edmure Tully is the only Tully who isn’t crazy or grasping and conniving.
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