Stannis Baratheon,First of His name(Lord of the 7 Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm) "Your Grace..." the man who had disturbed him looked pale and frail, his cheeks were hollow, his jaw - bomy and one could spot his harsh features in the light of the bright bonfire. Sannis could very well recognise the obvious effects of malnutrition - his soldiers were enduring quite the torment here, in their frozen camp, while the traitorous Boltons and whoever other "lords" of the north had agreed to bend the knee to them were quite likely to be feasting in the halls of Winterfell, to which they did not belong. And that just made Stannis grind his teeth. The other thing that caused this reaction was the timidness of the soldier - it was true he was addressing a King, but such timidity wasn't healthy for a man, let alone a man at war. Unbefitting, yes indeed, but the man was nevertheless carrying out his duty and that won him some respect. "Speak up lad, I can barely hear you from over there. What is it?" Stannis' voice came out, harsh and loud, as usual, cutting through the awkwardness of the situation with the steel knife of urgency. His soldiers and even his lords might have been thinking he was sitting here, alone atop this would-be tower with the large bonfire in front of him, in order to speak to the Lord of Light, but that wasn't true. Stannis had a battle to plan. No - a campaign. Getting out of the North was not just needed for the survival of him and his men physically - it was required that they get out of this land with more force then they've had when they entered. So far, however, fate had been against him - the addition of the mountain clans surely helped quite a lot to recover his losses and then some, but this damned cold was taking out more of his soldiers than the wildlings and the Lannisters did. Unlike the human foes, however, he had nothing to do against the cold other than wait it out, trapped between a rock and a hard place, those being the wasteland beyond and the enemy stronghold in front. He would not back, of course, but marching anywhere in this condition was suicide... and Stannis was not a man to commit one. He did the best thing he could do with the time - plan his campaign while hoping his men showed some restraint and durability. It was taxing - both for him and his, but alas, such was their fate and men ought to rise up to their fate. When the weather cleared, he need to march against Winterfell, his soldiers were both bitter from the time spent in the snow and anxious to get their revenge of the enemy, both feelings reinforcing one another and as a commander he would take advantage of that. The Boltons and their allies were warm and cozy, yes, but warm and cozy doesn't make a good soldier. Determination does and he knew all about it. Some of his men were with him since that dreadful siege of Storm's End that he had endured and they must be aware of this as much as he was. However, unlike before, when he knew each men in his army had his back for sure, that was more than he could say for the force he currently lead. It was a sad thing for a leader to admit, yes, and Stannis hated it - deceit and trickery were some of the things he hated and despised more than anything in this bloody world, but for now he'd have to endure those - one of the far too many things he had had to endure in this accursed war since his brother's death. After all, he was undermanned and had less resources than all of his enemies - he couldn't afford to bring about punishments left and right to his limited soldiers risking desertion. The fact that at least half of those who'd come with him were turned into R'hllor zealots was a stretch enough, when it came to his army's espirit de corps. "Your Grace... m'lord Florent asks..." the man was obviously disturbed by the request he was supposed to convey and Stannis' stern silence, as he refuse to even turn his back at him didn't make anything easer "...m'lord Celtigars asks, that Your Grace allows him to give more of the unbelievers to the Lord of Light, so that He may lift this storm away for us. He claims the Lord is not answering our prayers because he needs more sacrifices." Stannis grinned his teeth even harder - he had been doing this far too often recently. "Half of my army is made up of unbelievers. Pray harder!" that was all he had to say and it was more than enough. Yet, as the man bowed and stepped back, visibly relieved, Stannis questioned whether a burning wouldn't actually do him any good. The Karstarks hadn't been very talkative since he had imprisoned them for the treachery they'd prepared, but perhaps seeing a man die a fiery death would make them far more willing to opt for the painless execution by accepting his offer and spilling their guts. Yet it wouldn't be just to execute one man solely for the sake of extracting information from another, even less so if it meant trading a subject for an enemy. Stannis turned his gaze from the fire and made his way down the tower at a fast pace - the time he had spent here was quite enough. He knew his new move at this point - he knew his moves for the entirety of his northern campaign, in fact. But to execute, he needed to make an appearance and reverberate his men - the southerners, at lest - it seemed that those northerners were taking the punishment of the winder far lighter than his own men - "summer knights"... was that how lady Stark had called them? He never quite understood the reason for that constant frown that northerners had for the knights of the south, but seeing the latter shiver and quiver as he walked across the camp, unescorted, he could very well see why. Unfortunately he couldn't confess his understanding neither to Lady Stark, nor to her husband, as both of them were dead long ago - just some of the many deaths and treasons he would need to avenge, one he had put his iron boot across King's Landing. Oh, how the streets of that den of debauchery would run with blood! "My King!" "Your Grace!" "Your Grace!" "King Stannis?" The King's movement throughout his camp hadn't gone without notice. Just as he expected, the idle men, bored and disheartened a couple of seconds ago had jumped in doves, following their King's rapid pace across the camp. They had all not seen him in a long time and rumours were a dangerous thing, especially in such times - it was best that everyone saw and heard him. Lords and knights went out from their cabins and tents, all alert after hearing the whisper that had traversed every mouth and was quickly carried like a virus by running footmen all across the crofter's village - "The King is on the move". Seeing him eager and, despite physically weakened, as decisive as always would work wonder on his troops, especially after their continuous apathy and exposure to adverse conditions - he had seen his brother doing it and although he wasn't Robbert, a King ought to act as one. The men following him were of a rather different kind than Robbert's were, anyway. "What's all the fuss?" he spoke loud and confident, after running a prolongued, iron-clad stare across all the men who were piling around him "Have I risen from the dead, or have I grown horns that you act as if not seeing your King before?" Many faces who had seemed overjoyed a second before went blank at the realisation of who he was and how they've reacted. Just as he needed them to. Some faces grew faint smiles and the most battle-hardened veterans remained unaffected at all. Good - he was a commander, not an orator, he didn't need applause and a kneel every time he took a shit. "Very well, since you are all here anyway, then I command you to begin preparations immediately. We do not know what the Boltons plan, but they could be upon us as soon as the snowfall stops. I want those woods chopped clean and spikes put in three lines all around the camp. Lord Florent, Ser Narbert Grandison, Ser Benethon Scales, Ser Dorden the Dour and Ser Lambert Whitewater" he paused naming most of the self-titled "queen's men" who were with him and staring into the eyes of every single one of them "I was made aware that you wanted to be of some use. Take charge of the lodging and foraging activities." he stared across them once more, noticing their revolted and annoyed expressions, adding "...Personally. Lords Wull, Burley, Harclay, Knott, Liddle and Norrey" he addressed all the mountain clans as lords, just as the Starks had - those men were supporters of his claim and if they rose to expectations, he would name them such officially, after taking power - "you are to assemble your men to receive a training on how to fight a mounted knight cavalry by my own royal guard." "Your Grace, we have been fighting ever since Ned took us for his war! I think our boys know a thing or two, if there's anyone who would need a lesson it's those pretty boys" lord Hugo, also known as "The Big Bucket" Wull had spoken out - the huge northerner was not only the leader of the most numerous clan, but also a self-appointed speaker for all of them - an openness which Stannis appreciated. "I was made aware of lord Burley's men getting massacred by Lord Greagor "The Hound" Clegaine, lord Wull. I was also aware that those same men had won the fighting competition amongst the clans during the same year. I also know, that every knight who is really worthy of the name is capable of running down Clegaine's pack of mongrels like a hot knife through butter. It is not your men's courage or strength that I'm questioning, it's merely their technique - the North doesn't have too many knights for you to meet." Stannis hadn't moved his gaze from Lord Wull's eyes the entire time he spoke. Most of his men had learned not to question him and those mountain clans would have to acquire the skill eventually. To his credit, the large man endured his intense stare and agreed "Well, there's not much to do anyways, why not make the men sweat a bit..." Stannis awarded him a quick nod and ordered the men to disperse. Two guards accompanied him, as he was getting ready to finally get some rest in his tent, despite the cold, after hearing the encouraging sounds of his men actually moving to some sort of action. He didn't really expect an attack, nor did he expect any good to come from either practising or setting up defences, but any work was better than standing idly in the snowfall. Nevertheless, his march was interrupted by Asha Greyjoy, his prisoner was actually running towards him without a guard and with a grim look on her face: "Your Grace...! " she yelled towards him, barely catching her breath - she had been running for some time, apparently. What could be so urgent... and why was the bloody Greyjoy without her guard?