The Hightower of Oldtown. © Ted Nasmith
”So, how bad is it?” Lord Leyton Hightower asked the Seneschal when the council of Oldtown had convened in the seven sided High Chamber. “It is bad, my Lord”, the Arch Maester answered, “four of the Lords Paramount have risen against the Iron Throne, along with all of their banner men, save for very few who still stand loyal to His Grace. But all in all, the lords of the North, the Trident, the Vale and the Stormlands have risen in open rebellion. They have united behind Robert Baratheon, and consider His Grace having forfeited his throne due to his recent… …transgressions. As Robert’s grandmother was Aegon V’s daughter, his claim to the throne is strongest outside Aerys himself, his children and grandchildren.”
“Gods”, the lord thought to himself, “that is just an excuse; this is a war for power and against the Targaryens.” He had never met the young Lord of Storm’s End himself, but Robert’s reputation as a formidable warrior had spread through the kingdoms. Along with his foster brother, the new Lord of Winterfell and their mentor, the enigmatic Jon Arryn, he would make a formidable opponent to the King.
“But all is not lost”, the maester continued, “all of the Reach, Dorne and the Crownlands stay firm with the Iron Throne as does the lords Ryger, Darry, Grafton and Connington. But surrounded by enemies on all sides, I fear that their stance, as valiant and comandable as it is, will be very dangerous for them. But it is in the west that everything will be decided”, the Seneschal carried on. “Tywin Lannister and Walder Frey have yet to declare for either side, as have the savages of the Iron Islands, each of whom could turn the tide by their support.
“Thank you, Arch Maester, “Lord Leyton said as he dismissed the council and waited for everyone except his sons to leave. When they were alone, the first one to speak was young Gunthor, only 10 years of age. “What are we going to do, father?” he asked, as the fire of the eternal beacon roared high up above them, “Are you going to fight with uncle Gerold?” “Uncle Gerold is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, he has six brothers-in-arms and the whole of the Royal Army with him, I’m sure he will survive without me.” Leyton answered with a smile, “but never the less”, he added, turning serious again, “war will come, and we will have to be prepared for it.”
“Traitors to the crown should be hanged”, Baelor, the eldest son, mumbled, “we should assemble the banners and hunt them down, one by one.” “Our place is here in Oldtown,” lord Leyton snapped, “and our game is trade, not war. Our house was lords of the Port even before the Andals arrived, we survived the Wars of Conquest and we shall survive this. Our way is not that of rash action, but of calm and calculated thought.”
“But, unfortunately, you are right”, he continued. “As you know, your sister is married to Mace Tyrrell, and he has called up the banners of Oldtown. We can’t deny them to him without insulting Highgarden, so I have decided to send 3000 mencommanded by Lord Ben Beesbury, to the aid of King. But our biggest force will stay behind and defend Oldtown and the Citadel. This way we stay true to our liege, but have not overcommitted if, the Gods forbid, His Grace should be defeated. Now, our future is in the hands of the Warrior."
The Seven Kingdoms at the eve of the Rebellion