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TheAnguishedOne

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Oh, the Red Viper is coming to pay a visit? I have once seen him try to avenge his sister by declaring war over blood feud, but he hardly counts as a king. The Iron Bank could give Mace or Doran a claim on the Iron Throne. The small folk gaining respect for Tyrion is a nice little detail. I'm sure you're purposefully keeping things vague, but any chance of us seeing how the wars are going? Or what Joffrey's stats are?
 

WingedLion14

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Oh, the Red Viper is coming to pay a visit? I have once seen him try to avenge his sister by declaring war over blood feud, but he hardly counts as a king. The Iron Bank could give Mace or Doran a claim on the Iron Throne. The small folk gaining respect for Tyrion is a nice little detail. I'm sure you're purposefully keeping things vague, but any chance of us seeing how the wars are going? Or what Joffrey's stats are?

Here's Joff's stats:

ck2_46_zpswrtnqqsc.png


Yea....not all that impressive of a dude.

Regarding the wars...to be honest, the war ingame involved a lot of armies moving everywhere, none of which were mine (I raised levies and they got wiped before they could assemble, because Stannis and Robb. For some reason, Tywin, Stannis, Mace, Robb, Balon, Harrold, and Balon seemed to have no idea where each others' armies were, and it only got worse as the War of the Five Kings slowly became the War of the Nine Kings (at one point, every LP was fractured in a megawar of some sort). I couldn't make sense of it, the CPU couldn't make sense of it, and I only knew who was winning based on the warscore at the bottom.

Since I know the warscore, I'm just crafting the military engagements to a realistic and interesting war that fits the intrigue.

Also...

TheAnguishedOne said:
Joffrey will take this as good news, because it means another army fighting Robb Stark, but everyone with a brain knows this is very bad. No one will believe the story about the Others for now though. Three more kings to enter the war though... Just curious, is Ygritte alive?

Unfortunately, not a clue in-game. But since I haven't seen her at all....in the story, sure, why not? Gives me another known character to POV if/when we venture within the wildling hordes....
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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You only have one stat over 10... Your child heir will probably be inheriting soon...
 

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Loved the exchange at the end.:D
 

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Well, Robb stark lost a Battle, Bets on how long it will take for The Boltons to start stabbing people?
 

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Part VI - Arya

How Arya had survived, she did not know - and unharmed, at that. The floors of the castle dyed red with blood as bodies piled up, women were raped, and buildings burned; the ruins of Harren the Black's great castle now themselves stood in ashy ruin.

Winterfell_Burning.jpg


Between sunrise and sunset, three armies had held the great castle. As they had for several weeks, outriders from Lord Tyrell's main army garrisoned Harrenhal, from whom her brother Robb seized the castle in the middle of the afternoon. Before the King in the North had even a chance to regroup his defenses - or have Arya, hidden in the kitchens, reveal herself to him - the army of the Vale arrived, meeting open arms with sword and dagger. Lord Harrold's men slaughtered the Northern army, looted and burned the castle, and left Harrenhal a burnt shell.

Three weeks had passed since that fateful day. The Lord of the Vale's army made camp outside Harrenhal, with the Lord taking up residence in one of the mostly-undamaged towers. The few smallfolk who had survived the slaughter were pressed into duty restoring the walls, the men doing manual labor, the women and young children refurnishing the interior and performing routine maintenance. Arya, still known by the name Weasel, worked in the kitchens as a serving girl.

"Weasel, you dimwitted girl! The Lord Harrold requires dinner for two be brought to the Wailing Tower," barked the old lady Lord Hardying had given the title of head maid. "For himself and the Lord Baelish." Arya nodded assent, but her face paled.

Lord Petyr Baelish. Arya did not now the whole story, but she did know that her the master of coin had a long history with her mother, and that the man had betrayed her father. Would he recognize her? She hoped not, as he had clearly shown that he was a Lannister supporter.

As she entered the private dining hall in the Wailing Tower carrying dinner, she heard a familiar voice. "...but I assure you, Lord Hardying, as far as the Imp is concerned you are a loyal ally of House Lannister who dealt with a rebellious Northern traitor fancying himself a king; not even Varys knows of your pact with Stannis."

Harrold shook his head. "Lord Baelish, you have been Cersei Lannister's closest..." He stopped when saw Arya. "Oh look, dinner has arrived. Bring it here, girl."

Arya kept her head down as she passed out dinner from the kitchens, a roasted turkey with fine spices from Volantis and Dornish wine - gifts from Lord Baelish, she was sure. When she was done, she hurriedly bowed to the two lords and excused herself, claiming that she was needed in the kitchens, but Littlefinger stopped her. "Girl, come here one moment."

Dammit, he recognized me, she thought, but he had other ideas. "Whose are you, girl?"

Arya blinked her eyes, not understanding. "Pardon me, my lord?"

"Lord Harrold, who assigned this girl to serve your meals? How do you know she is not one of Varys's little birds?"

The Lord of the Vale looked at the older man quizzically. "She is but a serving girl from the kitchens, my lord; a different one comes every night. She is lowborn, and beneath me."

At that, Littlefinger laughed. "My friend, you have come far, but still you have much to learn. The people to fear are not Cersei Lannister, or the Imp, or Robb Stark, but the lowborn, the smallfolk. Highborn lords, they fight with rules, they travel in luxury, their name follows them everywhere; learning their movements, finding their intentions, exploiting their weakness, a child could do it, if a child only knew to listen. But the lowborn, the oppressed, the trodden underfoot - they brood in silence, they travel without fanfare, they hide in plain sight. They can be your biggest source of power...but also your greatest weakness." He gestured to Arya. "Where are you from, girl?"

"Maidenpool, ruled by House Mooton."

"Liar. Your accent is Northern and you bear a Stark face. Where are you from?"

Arya swallowed. "Last Hearth, my lord, ruled by House Umber. The people believe my grandfather was the bastard son of Edwyle Stark, because he and Lord Rickard were of similar appearance. My father looked like a Stark, my mother said, and so do I. But I am not sure if I believe them; I saw the King in the North with my own eyes, and he has brown hair, while mine is black."

Baelish nodded. "And how is a girl from Last Hearth all the way here in Harrenhal?"

"My mother died when I was young, and my father was sent to war by Lord Umber; I had no other family, so I joined him. But he died at Riverrun, and I...I got lost, and was taken by Lannister men, and they brought me here. That is the truth, I swear."

Once again, Littlefinger laughed. "You see, Lord Harrold, the smallfolk have such stories to tell, and you can do much with them. All you have to do is listen; you must learn that while I am away."

"Away?" The Lord of the Vale seemed alarmed. "What do you mean, away? I need you here." But Baelish just shook his head as he rose to his feet.

"I am a businessmen and a politician, not a general; I can help you no more from here. And with Tywin imprisoned at Riverrun, the Northern army vanquished, and the King in the North wounded and imprisoned here in Harrenhal, there is no threat between here and King's Landing; even Kevan Lannister's army assembling at Casterly Rock is too far away to be of any use. But the Imp still thinks I am loyal to him, just as he thinks you and your army are, and I intend to keep things that way. Perhaps I will convince him to let me go to Braavos; the Iron Bank will back Stannis I am sure, with the Crown defaulting on its loans and Westerosi pirates harassing the Bank's ships."

Right before Littlefinger closed the door behind him, Harrold called to him. "You never answered my question, Lord Baelish. The Lannisters gave you everything, elevated you from a small lordling to the Master of Coin - why should you betray them?"

"Look around Westeros. What we do, it's all a game that we're all playing - and friends are only as useful as they are successful. The Lannisters hold an empty hand, although they do not know it. You and me, our goals work together. You want power. Respect. You were born to nothing, and I have made you the most important Lord in Westeros."

screen-shot-2014-02-10-at-1-34-48-pm.png

"And what do you want Baelish?"

"Everything, my friend." Littlefinger smiled. "Everything there is." With that, he closed the door behind him.

Arya stood there, her head bowed. "Well, girl?" the Lord of the Vale demanded. "What are you still doing here? Go back to...whatever it is you lowborn girls do."

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________​

The halls were empty aside from Arya; that was no surprise, as she had been ordered early that night to clean the kitchens, and not to go to bed until the job was done; the job had taken her several hours, and the moon had already reached its height and began its descent. At this hour, the castle seemed quiet; you could almost believe Harrenhal was not occupied by an army, that there was no war.

Until, of course, the scream filled the night.

Arya jumped, on the lookout for a potential threat, but when the scream came again, she realized it was not of a scream of fear, or of battle, but of anguish, of pain, of suffering. There was something familiar about it, although she could not place it. Curious, she followed the noise, making sure nobody else was around, before reaching a door; the screaming came from behind it.

"A girl seeks what is behind the door; a girl may not like it." Arya whirled around to see Jaqen H'ghar. "A man has two names. A girl has one more."

Jaqen.png

Not now, Arya thought. The third name could wait; for some reason, she could not concentrate on anything but the screaming voice. "Behind the door. You said I might not like it - what is it?"

"A girl does not belong here; she seeks what is not hers."

"Please, Jaqen," Arya begged. "I have to know."

"Very well. A girl bids, a man does." Jaqen opened the door, and she peered inside.

The screaming came from a man lying on a single bed, the only piece of furniture in the otherwise-bare room. It was dark, with just one small candle in the corner; shadows danced across the man's face.....His face, once fair, charred black; on one side, the skin had been burned away to bone blackened with smoke. His eyes, once blue, now so pale they were almost white, looked but did not see, distant and cold; his hair, once auburn and flowing, now patchy and blackened. Above his head hung a wolf's head, likewise blackened with soot, was hanged over his head, a crown of iron dug upside-down into its head.

Arya's knees buckled, and she fell to the floor. "Robb....no." If Robb heard her, he gave no indication; his wordless screams continued.

"A boy has suffered. He will receive the gift of the Many-Faced God soon."

No. "Can you save him?"

"Where there is death there will always be death. The Many-Faced God does not punish; his touch is a gift. A man must depart on the morrow; a man needs a name."

Arya sighed. She had been thinking for weeks who to name third; she wanted to help Robb, to help end the war, but since the obvious choice - Tywin Lannister - was already captured by his armies, she had not come to a decision. And now she had to make one, and Robb was not only captured in battle, but fatally wounded, and his mind was gone. Now that her brother was defeated and her family likely to meet her father's fate, she suddenly had the urge to leave Westeros for good.

"Can I come with you? I want to learn."

Jaqen seemed to be getting impatient. "If a girl wants to learn, she must come to Braavos. But first, she must give a name."

Arya looked back at Robb, wiping tears from her eyes; there was only one way she could help her brother. "I'm sorry, Robb."

got-game-of-thrones-33238599-852-1040.jpg

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________​

Well well well...betcha didn't see that coming. What's Littlefinger's game? Or Varys, for that matter - for surely he has plans. And no, as noted below, this is not a new king, but a succession.

The Six Kings:
1. Joffrey Baratheon, King on the Iron Throne
2. Stannis Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands
3. Renly Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands (deceased)
4. Robb Stark, King in the North and of the Trident (deceased). Succeeded by Eddard Stark, Son of Robb Stark (infant)
5. Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Isles (invading the North)
6. Mance Rayder, King-Beyond-the-Wall (invading the North)

Other important lords:
1. Mace Tyrell, Lord of the Reach.
2. Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne
3. Harrold Hardying, Lord of the Vale
4. Oberyn Martell, Lord of Plankytown
5. Petyr Baelish, Master of Coin
 

WingedLion14

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You only have one stat over 10... Your child heir will probably be inheriting soon...

That would be utterly predictable, although it is the stupid heirs that love to survive in CK2

How is Tywin doing?

At the moment, in a Northern prison, sitting right next to Jaime.

Loved the exchange at the end.:D

Thanks! Varys and Tyrion just work so well together

Well, Robb stark lost a Battle, Bets on how long it will take for The Boltons to start stabbing people?

The Boltons have a part to play, although it may not be the part most will expect.
 

Karmic Knight`

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The Boltons have a part to play, although it may not be the part most will expect.

Ah, the Leech Lord is going to raise King Eddard then?
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Oh, Littlefinger. I adore him because no one but himself knows how many schemes he has. So the Vale is plotting with Stannis, eh? I look forward to what happened in game to inspire that bit of narrative. You say Joffrey won't die young; just how far have you played into the War of the Nine Kings? I doubt Joffrey is still 16.

Who is King Eddard's mother? As for the Leech Lord, I usually don't have to worry about him too much. He is often my most loyal vassal, so having him educate the infant king isn't so unimaginable. The Stark could even end up with a good intrigue if he lives long enough.

Lastly, how is Tommen shaping up? I adore the kid and he isn't too far off in the line of succession.
 

WingedLion14

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Ah, the Leech Lord is going to raise King Eddard then?

They have an interesting part; to say any more would spoil multiple twists and turns.

Oh, Littlefinger. I adore him because no one but himself knows how many schemes he has. So the Vale is plotting with Stannis, eh? I look forward to what happened in game to inspire that bit of narrative. You say Joffrey won't die young; just how far have you played into the War of the Nine Kings? I doubt Joffrey is still 16.

Who is King Eddard's mother? As for the Leech Lord, I usually don't have to worry about him too much. He is often my most loyal vassal, so having him educate the infant king isn't so unimaginable. The Stark could even end up with a good intrigue if he lives long enough.

Lastly, how is Tommen shaping up? I adore the kid and he isn't too far off in the line of succession.

So, to answer in order
1. I don't even think Littlefinger knows everything he is plotting
2. Quite literally in game, Harrold asks to marry Cersei, I say no (because she wouldn't), and then he declares for Stannis. His plot is interesting, to say the least
3. So...I'm being intentionally vague on the exact timeline, as I'm manipulating the gameplay timeline for a coherent narrative, but I'd say late teens at this point. Old enough to have a kid and at multiple bastards (hey, don't judge Joff, clicking Visit Chambers was how I passed the time when I had no levies :))
4. King Eddard's mother is the Frey that Robb starts out bethrothed to; in older builds it was Roslin, but not anymore I think. As for his education, I'll have to check that
5. To be honest, I lost track of the kid - every Lannister decided they liked the name. I'll have to check in on him.



As for upcoming updates...I think we need to head to the Blackwater pretty soon, right
 
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Dayni

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So Robb got caught and Harrold declares for Stannis.

Things are certainly taking a turn, though whether it is for the best is another question. And is the new Eddard anything noteworthy so far?
 

WingedLion14

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Part VII - Tyrion

"A message from your outriders, my lord: Stannis's army is camped just inside the treeline across the bay. Ser Balon thinks he is waiting for his fleet to arrive before beginning the assault."

Tyrion looked up from the maps on the table. "Thank you, Jothos. Go to my chambers and ready my armor - if he's camped this close to the city, his fleet will likely be arriving shortly." The boy bowed his head and excused himself.

In truth, Jothos Slynt was not Tyrion's squire; that honor - or punishment, it was probably meant - belonged to young Podrick Payne; but since Tyrion had arrived in King's Landing, Podrick and Joffrey had become alarmingly close, while the only person in King's Landing Joffrey despised more than Jothos was Tyrion himself. Unsurprisingly, despite the fact that he had sent the boy's father to the Wall, Jothos had all but become Tyrion's personal steward.

"As I was saying, my lord," Jacelyn Bywater said, continuing where he had been interrupted by Jothos. He pointed to the Mud Gate and the King's Gate on the map of King's Landing. "Based on Ser Balon's reports, these are the only two gates Stannis is likely to assault; while the Lion Gate might be a target, that would involve marching past the King's Gate and beside the walls, where we have catapults lined up."

ib12rg1JUdanP5.jpg

Across the table, Bronn nodded. "The Lion Gate sounds like a mighty fine place to launch a sortie from - far enough away that opening the gates isn't dangerous, close enough to hit the bastards before they know it."

"No." Tyrion shook his head. "The King's Gate has sally ports for precisely this purpose...and even so, we have 8,000 men in the city. What does Stannis have? 20,000? 30,000?"

"Forty-five thousand, my lord." Damn the eunuch - no matter how hard he tried, Tyrion could never find where Varys's secret passageways were; he just seemed to appear wherever he wanted to be, almost like a ghost. "With another ten thousand sellswords remaining on Dragonstone."

Eight thousand up against forty-five thousand, and those eight thousand were merchants and farmers, smiths and apprentices; only a handful were true soldiers. Stannis was one of the greatest military minds in Westeros, with an equally-experienced army. To the outside observer, Tyrion had no hope of victory; he was outnumbered and outclassed. Nonetheless, he planned on holding the city, no matter the cost.

"Well then, I think we need a bigger wall." When nobody laughed, he turned to Varys. "We have been here going over plans for protecting this city from Stannis's army - do you have anything to contribute, or are you simply here to tell us exactly how outnumbered we are."

"No, my lord, although I fear I cannot help you much once the battle starts. I come with a warning, however: when the time comes, do not open the gates to Lord Harrold."

Great, the last thing I need is more enemies; the last time Varys had warned a King or his Hand not to open the gates, Tyrion's father "Have your little birdies been singing of a traitorous lord, Varys?"

Shaking his head, Varys responded, "No - and that is precisely the problem; my little birdies have not been singing at all. Remember, Lord Harrold was won over to our side by Petyr Baelish; I do not trust Petyr Baelish."

"As any smart man should. Very well, then; we will let Lord Harrold prove his loyalty. Bronn, send a messenger to his army ordering him to swing around to the south and trap Stannis's army between the Rush and the walls."

The Spider nodded. "Most prudent, my lord."

For the next few minutes, the four of them discussed the logistics of the impending battle - potential sorties, emergency retreat routes, and Tyrion's personal gift for the traitor king's army. Suddenly, the door crashed open, and in stormed an angry Joffrey, flanked by the Hound and Ser Meryn Trant.

"This meeting ends NOW. How dare you talk about military strategy without me, unless you are planning to turn on your king! I should have all your heads on spikes for this insolence. I am the King, and I will lead my armies to victory!" As if his point was not already made obnoxiously clear, the young king drew Widow's Wail and levelled it at each in turn, letting it rest in Tyrion's direction.

He sighed. Even without Joffrey's meddling, this battle would not be easy; but the king was no longer a boy, but a man grown - albeit a young man - and so he held full power without regency...and as annoying as dealing with Cersei was, she at least knew to leave some things to others; Joff thought he was the best at everything. Tyrion had to tread very delicately. "We did not mean offense, Your Grace. However, the men you see in front of you have been preparing for this battle since this war began long ago, and you have been very busy these last few weeks with the newborn prince Tywin; we simply are doing whatever we can to help you keep your throne." That seemed to placate Joffrey somewhat, as he lowered his sword.

"When my father was my age, he was leading armies and winning his throne on the battlefield. That is what a king does - I will lead from the front, not hide behind my servants."

"At your age, King Robert was already a successful warrior, renowned throughout the Seven Kingdoms for his fierceness in battle. Up until now, you thankfully did not grow up on the battlefield, and were raised to rule the realm, not conquer it; your skills lay elsewhere. You may know the ways of the sword, but you do not know the intricacies of war and battlefield strategy - that cannot come from training, but from experience alone. During the battle, you will be on the frontlines, leading the defense, but you will do so beside us, so that you may learn the ways of war."

Joffrey nodded. "Very well then, Uncle. But remember, when we defeat Stannis, I intend to take his head and put it above the Red Keep myself."

"Before we can do that, Your Grace, we must win this battle at hand. But now, I think it is time for your first lesson. Bronn, please show the King how soldiers spend their time waiting for battle. I doubt you need to show him the details; he does have a newborn son, after all." With much haste, Bronn escorted Joffrey from the room, Meryn Trant hurrying behind him.

"If I may, my lord," Bywater began, "I would like to personally inspect the defenses on the walls, to make sure everything and everybody is set for the coming battle."

Tyrion nodded. A wise decision. "A very wise decision, Ser Jacelyn. Go ahead, and make any changes you deem necessary." The Commander of the City Watch nodded, told him that he will report back as soon as possible, and departed.

"Sending Joffrey to Littlefinger's girls? Trust me, our king's taste is much....classier. There are rumors that he is even the father of your child by your pregnant wife."

To get back at him for seizing control of court from her over time, Cersei made one last attempt at revenge - arranging a marriage between him and Lynesse Hightower, Jorah Mormont's old wife, overcoming his objections by saying in front of the small council that it was necessary to win House Hightower over, as they were almost about to declare for Stannis. How true that was, he did not know, but it forced his hand. She was pretty enough, although he did not truly care for her. "Rumors that are true, you may be surprised to hear."

Tyrion-Lannister-Varys-tyrion-lannister-34266760-1024-576.jpg

That actually surprised Varys. "Really? And how would you know that?"

"Because I had not bedded her for eight weeks when she became with child."

"You do not seem too distressed about your wife's infidelity. Of course, you do have that other girl....what is her name again? Ray? Pay? Bae?"

"Her name is Shae, and you know it perfectly well; she says you and her are close friends." She has also told me much more, although not enough to get your head on a spike for it.

"In any case I fear King's Landing will be overrun with Waters the way Joffrey has been; he is a veritable Robert the Second."

"Better than an Aerys the Third."

"Aye, my lord. So long as he does not bed the wrong woman, and remembers that he has a duty to his wife, a duty which his father very much neglected."

"Very true." But in order for Joffrey to even have that option, they first had a battle and a war to win. "On a different note, what news have you heard from the field, besides nothing about young Harrold's intentions. Should we expect any reinforcements?"

Varys shook his head. "Only Harrold, and that is only in two days' time. Your uncle Kevan has continued moving against the Twins, in an effort to free your father and brother. Lord Tyrell's army has been cut off by ironborn along the Trident, and is also suffering from multiple epidemics. If Prince Oberyn is on our side - and we do not know that - Stannis's army stands between us and his five hundred men and five daughters. My contacts across the Narrow Sea inquired on the Golden Company for us, but they have already been hired out for the next five years."

Dammit. "So it's all on us, then." Just then, the city bells began to toll. "Please tell me Tommen's getting married and Cersei didn't invite me."

"No, it's not that bad. If we're lucky, Joffrey's been killed by a prostitute; if we're not, Stannis is about to attack."

Tyrion's mouth stood open. "Are you telling me you prefer a dead king or a city under siege to a wedding?"

The Spider shrugged. "Have you ever been to a Westerosi wedding? Give me a siege any day of the week."

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________​

So, the Battle of the Blackwater has begun. Truth be told, this is one of my favorite parts of the book and favorite episodes on the show; unfortunately, we can't get as detailed in our version as they do because A) we don't have several chapters to tell the story, and B) we don't have a multi-million dollar budget to recreate it. I wish we had the second, though; that would be really cool.
In any case, it'll probably be at least 2-3 more parts for the battle, I think; we shall see.
And before you ask, yes, Tyrion is married to the Hightower girl in-game, and yes, Joffrey has a bastard with her, although Tyrion thinks it is his; he knows the truth, but doesn't want to embarrass his wife, because he's a nice guy.

And, as always, for reference,
The Six Kings:
1. Joffrey Baratheon, King on the Iron Throne
2. Stannis Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands
3. Renly Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands (deceased)
4. Robb Stark, King in the North and of the Trident (deceased). Succeeded by Eddard Stark, Son of Robb Stark (infant)
5. Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Isles (invading the North)
6. Mance Rayder, King-Beyond-the-Wall (invading the North)

Other important lords:
1. Mace Tyrell, Lord of the Reach.
2. Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne
3. Harrold Hardying, Lord of the Vale
4. Oberyn Martell, Lord of Plankytown
5. Petyr Baelish, Master of Coin
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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8000 soldiers with Joffrey leading them against Stannis and potentially the Vale, both having over twice that amount of soldiers... I hope you've making use of your pyromancers. I'm surprised Joffrey is having several bastards. In most of my games, he turns out chaste or dies too early to have a lot of kids.
 

dragoon9105

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Here's hoping Stannis does something incredibly stupid. :p
 

dragoon9105

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This Joffery loves the ladies, and everyone knows Podrick has the best 'equipment' for the Job.
 

WingedLion14

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Part VIII - Sansa

She had found the balcony moons before, when trying to escape the Queen Mother and court politics for a day. Through a never-used door in a seldom-used hallway on one of the upper levels of the Red Keep, the room was old and decrepit, and it felt it. Rust covered the railing, dust blanketed the floor, and the lock on the door collapsed when she tried it. Even though she doubted anybody else in the Seven Kingdoms knew about the room, only the presence of an armed Joffrey would make the room more dangerous.

She loved it. It was one of the few places in King's Landing where she could truly feel alone, and the balcony had a great view of the bay, the rush, and the kingswood beyond. And, as it turned out, it had a great view of the battle the night before, and now she stood, watching Stannis's banners reform after they withdrew across the river at dawn after failing to take the gates. As the men stood out there, they almost looked like the knights in the stories she adored as a child, ready to go on dangerous quests and save damsels in distress...but that was before the fighting started, and what she saw there only reminded her that she was not in her stories, but in King's Landing; the stories of war left out a lot of details about war.

"They told me the beautiful Sansa Stark had found herself her own castle in King's Landing, but there was no way I would have imagined that hers would have a prettier view than my own chambers." Sansa turned to see the Queen Margaery standing in the doorway. "Is this where you went when you disappeared from my own meager feast for the ladies?" When Sansa did not answer, the Queen laughed. "I wish I had had your freedom - the clucking of the hens, as my grandmother would call them, was terribly boring, with everyone fretting over the scarcity of food, or the latest fashion trends in Essos, or some other nonsense; there was a battle raging outside, and everybody chose to ignore it!" She sighed. "But alas, I had to stay, for I hosted them, after all - although at the Queen Mother's insistence; she said that a true Queen provides protection for her ladies in time of warfare. As if I could do anything if the Imp and the sellsword lost the battle out there."

Sansa did not know how to respond to that, so she asked, "And how did the young prince do during the battle?"

Margaery snorted. "My boy Tywin slept like a babe, because he is a babe. The Keep is far enough from the battle that he did not hear the fighting, not even the explosions, and never woke up once during the night." She kicked an old book sitting on the floor. "Tywin...what an awful name. I wanted to name him Robert, after his grandfather, but my husband insisted...at the insistence of his mother, I am sure."

"You do not like the Queen Mother, do you?" Sansa suddenly realized.

Margaery shook her head. "No. Nobody with any sense does; she spoiled Joffrey rotten and almost ruined the kingdom; the smallfolk despise her, accusing her of such heinous crimes that would have a man taking the black within days. I wish she had been bathed in wildfire and launched at Stannis's fleet to set it ablaze."

Despite herself, Sansa laughed. Whenever she was alone with the Tyrell girl, her guard dropped, no matter how hard she tried; the girl just had that effect on her. She thought of the Lord Tyrion's defense of the city the night before, using wildfire to set the King Stannis's fleet ablaze, forcing many of his forces that had tried to cross the river to turn back when faced with what looked like a green star on the bay; even the water burst into flames. "Oh, that fire was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, do you not agree?"

Wildfire_explosion.jpg

"Yes indeed. If the Seven grant us victory in this battle, the singers will sing of the day Blackwater Bay burned. The Imp...I will be honest, I doubted him myself, but if anyone in this city can save it from Stannis, he can."

Sansa nodded, but she did not share the Queen's faith in the dwarf; he had only fought in one battle, she had heard, and he had not played a major part. He was a politician, not a warrior, and his sellsword had never commanded an army this large before - or faced one as large as Stannis's, for that matter. "But if he should fail, and Stannis's army takes the city...what should happen to us?"

At that, the Queen frowned. "I do not know, my friend, I do not know." Forcing herself to smile, she added. "Come, sup with me; in war, you never know which meal is your last."

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She stood outside the Hand's chambers, more than a little uneasy. For what reason would Lord Tyrion summon her? She ran through possibilities in her head as the guard announced her arrival, none of them good.

After supping with the Queen, and promising to come and dine with her more often, Sansa made her way back to her room for a bath and fresh clothes, where she had found a note from the Hand requesting her presence in his chambers as soon as she was able. The matter was not of the most urgency, the note said, but one that nonetheless should be resolved sooner rather than later.

The dwarf opened the door; he smiled at her, but there was a sadness behind it, as if the smile were forced. "Come in, my lady." He turned to the guard. "Wait outside, Shagga. Tell any visitors to leave a message - we shall not be disturbed." He beckoned Sansa to enter, so she did. Closing the door behind them, he addressed her. "I expect that you know that I have not summoned you here to have tea and lemoncakes, or to discuss battle strategies." She nodded; either would be a ridiculous reason - she and the dwarf were not close, and her knowledge of warfare stopped at...well, the knowledge of people killing each other. He looked her in the eye. "My lady, I have news from the North, from your family - both good and bad."

She stiffened; her mouth suddenly felt very dry. Oh no, something has happened to my brothers, or my mother, or... Once again, worst-case scenarios went through her head. Her brother had already been killed in battle, how bad was fate treating her family. "Go on," she heard herself croak.

"I will start with the bad news first. Winterfell...is no more. Balon Greyjoy took the castle, and within hours, Mance Rayder's wildling hordes sacked it, burning the castle. Apparently the Lord Commander's pleas for aid were not insane, after all. Both now fancy themselves King in the North, although Varys's spies say that Mance has a stronger hold on the area." The news hit Sansa like a dagger in the heart, but she tried not to show it as the dwarf continued. "The good news is, however, that your brothers Bran and Rickon still live - the Smalljon rode into Winterfell three days before the attacks and brought them southwards. Reports say that they are headed for Moat Cailin, where the lords of the North and the Riverlands attempt to assemble an army to push back the armies from beyond the wall."

Sansa did not know what to say, or even what to feel. Her family was safe (well, except for Robb and probably Arya), although her home was destroyed. Her insides felt like a dagger wound in her gut had healed, but healed wrongly. Elated and unsettled all at once.

The Hand looked at her with pity. "Do not worry, my lady. You will see your family again, and unharmed as well. I will see to that." He then stood on his short legs and put on his helm. "But first, if my lady would excuse me, I have a battle to go win."

She left the Hand's chambers to find Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard waiting for her. "You have been summoned by the King, my lady; he requests your presence in his chambers immediately." She swallowed, then followed the knight. Nothing good would come of this, she was sure.

Joffrey was sitting on his bed, clad in armor, with his sword laying on his lap. The Weeping Widow, she thought it was called; or was it something else? Not a pleasant or a noble name, not like Ice, she was sure. "Your Grace, you wanted to see me?" she asked, bowing her head.

The King stood, holding his sword in hand. "Yes, my lady. I wanted to see you before the battle, and ask for your blessing. You may not be my Queen, but you were one my betrothed, and mother says that a King should see his ladies before going into battle. Here, have you seen my sword yet?" He raised his blade. "It is called Widow's Wail, for it will make many widows wail - Stannis's, first among them. I will duel him single-handedly if I must."

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Sansa suppressed a smile; the King was not a warrior, although he tried to play the part. "Stannis is quaking in his boots at the thought, I am sure; I fear for him."

Joffrey smirked. "Yes, yes, of course he is." He sheathed the sword. "I have another reason for calling you here to my chambers. My impudent uncle's sellsword told me what a warrior does before and after a day of fighting. And I have enjoyed the company of many of the ladies here in court, all except for, well, you. And since you were once upon a time to be my queen...well, I would like to know what I am missing." The meaning of his words slowly dawned on Sansa, and she tried to protest, but Joffrey just laughed. "You should be honored - a traitor's daughter should not be worthy to share the bed of a King, even for a night. Ser Meryn, please make sure Sansa is here upon my return."

The king left the room with a laugh, the door locked from the outside and guarded by the Kingsguard. Sansa silently prayed that Joffrey would fall in that night's fighting. But she knew it would be futile...the worst ones always lived.

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There's a lot jammed in this chapter, I know. I included that last exchange with Joffrey as a reminder...he may be our King this time around, but he's still a despicable human being who does whatever he wants (also, somehow Sansa in-game had one of Joff's bastards, and I needed some narrative justification for it).

In the North...the wildlings took Winterfell and the North, thus ending their war with the Iron Throne. The Riverlands and many Northern lords revolt against them, pressing Bran's and Rickon's and Prince Eddard's claims in turn (they'd fight one war, lose, and then another faction would press a claim immediately, and they'd all rise up again. So, the North will take a backseat for some time.

Next time...well, probably 1-3 more chapters on the Blackwater.

As always...
The Six Kings:
1. Joffrey Baratheon, King on the Iron Throne
2. Stannis Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands
3. Renly Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands (deceased)
4. Robb Stark, King in the North and of the Trident (deceased). Succeeded by Eddard Stark, Son of Robb Stark (infant)...in-game, merely claimants
5. Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Isles (invading the North)
6. Mance Rayder, The Free Folk King in the North (holds the North and Beyond-the-Wall)

Other important lords:
1. Mace Tyrell, Lord of the Reach.
2. Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne
3. Harrold Hardying, Lord of the Vale
4. Oberyn Martell, Lord of Plankytown
5. Petyr Baelish, Master of Coin