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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Recently I started playing the GoT mod as one of my favorite characters, Stannis Baratheon. After about four hours, I was caught up in a thrilling narrative that had me on the edge of my seat. I realized that I wanted to write a narrative AAR shortly after. The goal is to tell the story of Stannis without ever actually telling it from his perspective. The main POV characters will be Davos Seaworth, Loras Tyrell, Shireen Baratheon, and Tyrion Lannister. There will also be a few chapters with Jon Snow, and possibly one with my all time favorite GoT character (who will go unnamed until then). The AAr will be split into several books, the first of which is An Arm of Iron. There will be several others with more POV characters, most notably Arys Oakheart and Steffon Seaworth.

There will be no screenshots in this AAR, as I already played a good portion of the game without taking any.

There are Clash of Kings spoilers, but beyond that the story differentiates significantly.


Book One: An Arm of Iron
Prologue
Chapter 1: Parley at Storm's End
Chapter 2: Bad News Travels Fast
Chapter 3: The Killing at Camp
Chapter 4: The Body
Chapter 5: Queen's Men
Chapter 6: The Drunken Squire
Chapter 7: War Across the World
Chapter 8: Lords Paramount
Chapter 9: Sea Knights
Chapter 10: The Challenger
Chapter 11: Chained
Chapter 12: It Begins
Chapter 13: The Lion Gate
Chapter 14: Blood, Death, and Green Apples
Chapter 15: A Taste of Victory
Chapter 16: An Army's Stomach
Chapter 17: You are a Knight
Chapter 18: Unraveling
Chapter 19: A Dagger in the Dark
Chapter 20: The Pyre

Book Two: A Battle of Banners
Prologue
Chapter 1: The Blackcell
Chapter 2: My Lord Hand
Chapter 3: The Seven
Chapter 4: Whores and Miracles
Chapter 5: The Throne
Chapter 6: The Heir of Tywin Lannister
Chapter 7: Rain
Chapter 8: The Beauty of Tarth
Chapter 9: King's Men
Chapter 10: The Meeting
Chapter 11: The Bear and Maiden Fair
Chapter 12: A Son to A Father
Chapter 13: Lords of War
Chapter 14: The Message
Chapter 15: The Rock
 
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Prologue​

Davos


In the darkness of night, seven statues burned. Effigies of Mother, Crone, Maiden, Father, Warrior, Smith, and Stranger had been piled with wood and set a flame, and now they burned. Davos Seaworth knew not whether to be awed by the sight, or offended. After all, it was his gods being burned.

"Take them and cast your light upon us," The Red Priestess said from among the flames, "For the night is dark and full of terrors." Melisandre was an attractive woman with full breasts and a narrow waist, and taller than many of the men present on the beach. Her hair and robes were the same bold red, deeper than the flames around her. Despite being close to the licking flames, she did not appear to feel the burning heat that Davos felt on his face.

"For the night is dark and full of terrors," most of the men around Davos repeated. He remained silent. He was no Queen's Man.

"In the midst of The Long Night Azor Ahai rose up against The Others and wielded Lightbringer, The Red Sword of Heroes. One day The Others shall come again, and Azor Ahai will be reborn, and pull a sword from the fire, and that sword will be Lightbringer," The Red Woman said.

Stannis came forward silently. He was a large man, tall, broad shouldered, lean, and muscular. He had the dark black hair of a Baratheon, although not as much as he used to, as he lost it steadily over the years. All men assembled had great respect for Stannis as a soldier and a lord, although Davos suspected he was the only one who truly loved him. All he had he owed to Stannis, and in his eyes there was no better man to sit on The Iron Throne.

"We must stop this madness," an old man whispered to Davos. He turned and saw Maester Cressen, an old, infirm man with trembling hands and a bad hip. "Stannis cannot just abandon the Faith of the Seven, the gods of his fathers."

"Don't do anything foolish," Davos cautioned, but Cressen didn't listen. He rushed in front of Stannis and put up his arms to stop him.

"My lord," he pleaded, "Do not take such rash action. You cannot abandon the Seven..." he trailed off as Stannis simply walked around him.

Stannis walked up to a burning statue. Davos was not quite sure which one, as it's face had deformed in the heat. Stannis had no fear of the flame as he reached up and pulled a sword free from the crumbling statue. The sword burned bright in the night, like a beacon for all men loyal to Stannis. The Queen's Men cheered as Stannis brought the sword before them and drove it into the sand, standing tall with the flames to his back. He was grim faced as always, showing not the slightest hint of satisfaction. In the fifteen years Davos had known Stannis, he couldn't remember seeing him smile.

Melisandre came beside him. "Hail to Stannis Baratheon, Azor Ahai reborn, champion of R'hllor, The Lord of Light. For the night is dark and full of terrors."

"Hail to Azor Ahai reborn!" The Queen's Men cheered.

"Hail to Stannis Baratheon!" Davos and the other men who did not follow R'hllor cried.

Once the cheers died down Stannis spoke, "King Joffery is a bastard born of traitorous incest. The same can be said for all the king's so-called children. The Iron Throne is mine by right, and any man who denies this is nothing less than a trator. Renly, Robb Stark, they're thieves who think they can claim my kingdom. This war will end with me on the Iron Throne, and justice being served. We will send out riders to tell the truth to Westeros. And we sail for Storm's End!"

All the men assembled gave a mighty roar. All except Maester Cressen, who spoke to Davos. "This woman will lead him into a war he cannot win."

"Don't try it," Davos advised. But Cressen once again didn't listen. And before the night had ended he was dead, killed by poison meant for The Red Woman.

 
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Chapter 1: Parley at Storm's End

Davos

They met on top of a hill, and in an absolute gale. The wind ripped at Renly's blue banner and Stannis's red ones. A dozen horsemen from either side had come to meet there. Renly had with him Loras Tyrell, in highly ornate armor that gave Davos a headache to look at. There was also a monstrous armored beast next to Renly that Davos didn't realize was a woman till the third time he looked at her. Strangely enough Catalin Stark was also present. Davos guessed that she had been sent south to negotiate with Renly for Robb. And of course there was Renly himself. He wore heavy golden robes and a crown shaped like a stags antlers. Davos thought he looked like a woman trying to impress them with his pretty new dress.

As soon as Stannis had landed he'd sent a messenger to arrange the meeting. Davos could not guess it's purpose, but he felt it was the idea of Melisandre, not his lord. Since Stannis's pulled Lightbringer from the fire they had several private meetings together, and Davos was left to wonder what kind of filth Melisandre was pouring into his head.

"I was rather surprised you asked for a parley brother," Renly said, "Whose banner is that?"

"My own," Stannis replied shortly, "I've come here to discuss peace brother Renly."

Renly smiled. "Whose peace brother? My army could wipe your's out by nightfall. You have what, 5,000 men? I outnumber you ten to one. You have no grounds to negotiate, unless of course you plan to surrender."

"Be careful how you speak to the Champion of the Lord of Light," Melisandre said, "For the night is dark and full of terrors."

Renly smiled again. "This must be the Red Priestess I've heard about brother. It explains how you found religion in your old age. So, are you going to surrender or be wiped out?"

"I have 200 ships," Stannis said. It was not a threat or a warning, simply a statement.

"Yes, but unless those ships sprout legs they won't be much use to you in a field battle," Renly laughed. "Wait, I'm sorry, can the Lord of Light do that too?"

"You're not a soldier are you Renly?" Stannis said in his usual monotone. "You can't take King's Landing without ships, and you have none. I can't take King's Landing without an army, and I have none. It would be better for the both of us to work together instead of waste our time and energies fighting."

"What are you proposing?" Renly asked, raising one eyebrow. "An alliance? Under what terms?"

"Name me as your heir until your new wife gives you a son, give me command of your army, and make me Lord of the Stormlands once you sit on the throne," Stannis said. "Fulfill these terms and I'll bend the knee to you and I'll take King's Landing for you. You have no man more capable of doing it." The statement had a finality to it. It was clear there would be no negotiation.

Davos was surprised. Stannis had not spoken about this to anyone, not even him. He glanced over at Melisandre and saw she had a satisfied smirk on her face. So this was her doing. He glared at her, wondering what other schemes she had in her head. Stannis was the king. But she had gotten to bend the knee to his younger brother, who didn't even know the right way to hold a sword.

Renly looked wary. "I have Mace Tyrell to command my army. How do I know I can trust you not to take the throne for yourself?"

"You will find no many more worthy of your trust in all the Seven Kingdoms than Lord Stannis," Davos was moved to say. "And all Mace Tyrell has ever done is fail to take Storm's End from your brother. You can't hope to take King's Landing without his ships, and you will find there is no better commander."

"You are brothers," Catalin said to Renly, "Who can you trust if not your own family?"

Renly was silent for a long time. Davos could almost hear his brain at work, considering all possibilities. Finally he said, "I loved you brother, when I was a boy. You were a hero to me. I accept your offer. Let's kill a few Lannisters together."

"The Lord of Light blesses you King Renly," Melisandre half-bowed to him. "His champion will crush your enemies for you."

"I hope he will," Renly said, going back to his smile. "I might even convert if you manage to rain fire on King's Landing or do something like that."

Together the party rode towards Renly's camp. Davos trailed behind, watching the Red Woman's back. She was up to something, he could feel it in his bones. This alliance was not all it seemed to be.

 
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Nice start. Your character descriptions are particularly vivid.
 

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Stannis... kneeling? Does... not... compute. I mean, I know they're going to shadowbaby Renly the second he sits the throne, so as to avoid that whole mess with the Tyrells and the war getting pretty dirty. Pretty efficient and all, more than the alternative anyway. Still... wow. Stannis kneeling.
 

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Sounds like a great AAR, can't wait to see it unfold!
Lord Durham said:
Nice start. Your character descriptions are particularly vivid.
Thank you for the complements!

Victor227 said:
Stannis... kneeling? Does... not... compute. I mean, I know they're going to shadowbaby Renly the second he sits the throne, so as to avoid that whole mess with the Tyrells and the war getting pretty dirty. Pretty efficient and all, more than the alternative anyway. Still... wow. Stannis kneeling.
I know. I always hate it when strategies require me to go out of character, so I figured it was probably Melisandre's idea.
 

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Chapter 2: Bad News Travels Fast

Tyrion

"Are you sure?"

Lord Varys nodded slowly. "Several of my little birds have confirmed it. The Baratheon brothers have made peace. Stannis has sworn fealty to Renly and is on his way here with 60,000 men and 200 ships." The fat bald eunuch was, as always, hard to read, but concern and no small amount of fear seemed to be present in his voice. "We can expect an attack from land and sea. Stannis is no fool when it comes to military matters."

Tyrion decided it was time for some wine. He reached onto his desk and poured himself some into a glass goblet. He leaned back and nearly drained the glass in one gulp. "Damn," he said solemnly. "We must make arrangements for the defense." He turned to Podrick, his thin, unremarkable squire, "Call a meeting of the Small Council together. And get me a copy of the Great Sieges of Westeros."

"Hoping to find inspiration in history my lord?" Varys said, eyeing Podrick as he left.

"All the winning strategies have already been used one time or another," Tyrion said, pouring himself more wine. "The trick is to find the right strategy and copy it to the best of your abilities."

"I have other news my lord," Varys said, leaning towards Tyrion, "Concerning your brother. Apparently he has escaped Stark custody. I do not know how, or where he is going, but that is some good news at least."

"Hopefully he's on his way here," Tyrion said, "To defend his beloved nephew. His presence would be a boon to the defense." He walked around his desk and opened the door, glancing back at Varys as he did. "Come on now. It would be rude to keep the Small Council waiting."

* * *​

The rest of the small council was already assembled when he got to the council chambers. The Queen Regent was there, looking sullen and drunk as she usually was these days. She had been slipping farther and farther into depression ever since Joffery had become king. Her cheekbones remained impeccable however. Littlefinger was there, holding a ledger of crown expenses and managing to look like a handsome weasel. Maester Pycelle was present, looking rightfully old and confused. Bronn was also present, although technically he was not on the council he was commander of the city watch, and it comforted Tyrion to have some muscle on hand should any council debate become to impassioned.

"I assume you have all heard the bad news?" Tyrion asked, "The Baratheons march against us in force, along with the Tyrells. Stannis will soon be upon us."

Apparently the council had already heard, as none of them were surprised. "How can we stand against 60,000 men?" Cersei asked.

"Well we start by hiring every sellsword, bandit, and ruthless cutthroat in the Crownlands," Tyrion explained. "I want are numbers as large as possible before Stannis arrives. Also, I'll be visiting the Alchemists' Guild to see about Wildfire."

"King's Landing is a strong position," Bronn told them, "I have about 6,000 gold cloaks and 800 or so Lannister knights."

"Oh good," Cersei remarked sarcastically. "They only outnumber us ten to one."

"My dear sister stop being such a pessimist," Tyrion said, "There is also the 1,000 mountain clans from the Vale, and who knows how many sellswords we can get our hands on."

"I can provide plenty of gold as incentive for the sellswords," Lord Baelish said, and the entire council turned to stare at him. "I do not know whether Stannis or Renly will truly be in command when their army reaches this city, but I have a feeling it will be Stannis. The man won't show us any mercy. I hear he likes to burn his enemies as a sacrifice to his god."

"And I don't think any of us have an immense desire to be burned alive," Tyrion remarked, "So let's put aside our disagreements and get to work."

 
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Chapter 3: The Killing at Camp

Loras

Ser Loras considered the qualities that made Renly such a fine king. His charisma, his kindness, his sense of honor. He was not overly kind though. He could bring down a hard hand of justice on those who deserved it. He was dashingly handsome as well, and had an impeccable sense for fashion. He was absolutely sure that Renly was the finest king Westeros could have. Just as he was absolutely sure he loved the man.

"I have to go," he whispered into Renly's ear. Just as he was about to get out of bed Renly reached over and wrapped an arm around him, keeping him there.

"Yes you do," Renly said, pulling him closer. "My wife will be here soon. I'm sure she'll be most appalled."

"It's late," Loras said, trying to pull away. "Stannis has called me to a war council. He wants me to lead the van against the Old Gate you know." He once again tried to get out of bed, but Renly pulled him back for another kiss.

"Why would you want to spend time with my brother?" Renly asked between kisses, "He's such a terrible bore. It's been three weeks and all he ever talks about how best to attack King's Landing. And all his Red Woman ever talks about is how the Lord of Light will save the world. I might convert just to shut her up about it."

"For all his faults he is your brother," Loras said, "And I must say, he runs the army well. I've never seen the troops so disciplined. We'll take King's Landing with ease."

Renly laughed. "Ser Loras, is it possible that you're starting to like my brother? And here I thought I was the man of your dreams."

"Like? No," Loras said firmly, "Respect? Perhaps. He drives my father mad to be sure, and that's something I like." He realized how late it was. "I really have to go," he said, giving a few more goodbye kisses then turning to get his armor on. That's when he realized Margaery was standing there. His sister was slender but shapely, with soft brown hair and intelligent brown eyes. She had her arms crossed at was staring at the both of them. "Sister!" Loras said, rather surprised, "How long have you been here?"

"You should probably get to that meeting with Stannis brother," she said, and Loras began to put on his clothes. She looked over at Renly, "Unless of course the king is ready to try and get himself an heir."

Renly looked her over and shook his head. "Not quite yet. But we might try... later though."

"Whenever you're ready husband," Margaery said with a forced smile.

Loras wrapped his belt around his waist. "I'll leave you two alone," he said, trying to forget about what he just did in front of his sister.

"Shouldn't you put on your armor?" Maraery asked. "Wouldn't want the troops to get ideas."

"Yes, good idea," Loras said, putting his armor back on distractedly. Once he was back in his shining steel suit he rushed out of the tent as fast as he could, and headed for Stannis's tent. The sun was just sneaking behind the hills, and most of the men were turning in for the night. Loras however, was going to have to sit through a good hour of Stannis, Davos, and Randyll Tarly ignoring his every suggestion and insulting his father. In truth the only reason Stannis was trusting him with the attack on the Old Gate was because the main attack would be against the King's Gate. He was too inexperienced for Stannis to give him a more important task.

He wished they could reach King's Landing faster. He willed the men of his father's army to march faster, to cross the miles and get to battle. He wanted to fight in a real battle, really kill men, show everyone that he was a soldier as well as a knight.

A scream sounded from behind him, cutting through his thoughts. Sneak attack! was his first thought, and his sword was in his hands a moment later. He rushed back to Renly's tent, for he was sure it was Margaery who screamed. He burst in and saw a black shape slipping out of the tent. In a moment he was after it, but as he ripped through the tent's side the shadow had dissipated into the night.

He came back inside the tent and let himself see the damage. Margaery was standing over Renly, her hands clasped over her mouth. "NO!" Loras screamed. "NO! NO! NO!" he rushed to Renly's side and held him, kissed him, tried to coax the life back into him. At any moment he would awake. At any moment he would open his eyes and kiss back, and the bloody hold in his chest would disappear. "No, no no no no..." he trailed off, knowing it was no good. Renly Baratheon was dead.

 
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So ultimately it didn't matter that Stannis allied with Renly since Stannis inherited him.
But now Stannis has Renly's entire army and a shaky alliance with the Tyrells.
 

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Chapter 4: The Body

Davos

A gloomy atmosphere had settled over the camp in the three days since Renly's death. There was less laughing, less drinking, less cheery spirits around the fire. Stannis had been taking his meals alone, accompanied only by the Kingsguard (or the "Rainbow Guard" as Renly had called them). It was believed that a Lannister assassin had crept into the camp during the night and waited for the opportune moment to make the kill. A manhunt was underway all across the Stormlands, but until the assassin was found Stannis was kept under constant guard. They were also searching for Ser Loras, who had disappeared without a trace.

While everyone else was struck by sadness or paranoia Stannis seemed unaffected. His face remained grim and expressionless, just as it always was. He remained doggedly fixed on obtaining the Iron Throne, although now it was for himself instead of Renly. What time he didn't spend mourning over Renly's death was spent with the war council. And today they would get the army moving again, sending back a small force to bury Renly's body at Storm's End. It would not be a showy funeral. Stannis was paying his last respects in the large tent set aside for the body.

As Davos approached the tent the two Kingsguard outside tensed and put their hands to their swords. "Halt! What business do you have with the king Ser Davos?" It was Ser Parmen Crane, who had led the paranoia. He hardly ever left Stannis's side.

"He asked me to join him," Davos said.

"Leave your weapon here," Parmen said, motioning towards Davos's sword.

Davos sighed and left his weapon with the guards before entering the tent. Renly's corpse was on a raised platform surrounded by candles. He was in his most regal robes with his antler crown resting on his chest. His face was calm, with no smile or frown, only a simple peace. He looked more like a king at that moment, Davos thought, than he ever had alive. Stannis stood over him, gazing down on his brother, his face, as always, a grim mask. He hardly seemed to notice Davos standing there.

"Your majesty?" Davos asked tentatively. "You sent for me didn't you?"

"Tell me the truth," Stannis said slowly, "I'll know if you lie. Do you think I'll be a good king?"

"The Iron Throne belongs to you," Davos said, "Of cour-"

"That's not what I asked," Stannis said, a hint of impatience in his voice. "I know the Iron Throne is mine. But do you think I'll be a good king?"

Davos thought for a moment. But only a moment. "Yes."

"Why?"

"Because you are an honorable man. Because you are devoted to justice above all else. Because you always tell the truth-"

"Not always," Stannis interrupted. "I've lied a few times."

"I never said you were infallible. Every man makes mistakes," he thought of Melisandre.

"I've made a number," Stannis admitted.

That made Davos hesitate. But soon he continued, "No other man would have been able to hold Storm's End. They would have given up and surrendered, and maybe the Mad King would still be sitting on the throne, murdering more people, driving the kingdoms into further darkness. And I say damn Robert for not giving you the Stormlands like you deserved. My lord... my king, there is not another man in the Seven Kingdoms I would rather see on the Iron Throne."

Stannis looked Davos in the eyes for the first time since he walked in. "I never would have survived Storm's End unless you hadn't slipped through with your onions and your potatoes, and I knighted you for that. And when other knights mocked you, called you The Onion Knight, you took it as your sigil, and were all the stronger for it. You have always spoken the truth to me, even when I did not want it. When I sit on the Iron Throne, you will be my Hand. And because my line is the last of the Baratheons, when I sit in King's Landing the Stormlands will need a new lord, and a new house."

Davos realized what Stannis was getting at. "No my lord. I couldn't..." he sank to his knees. Words caught in his throat half-said. He was a smuggler, the son of a crabber. His wife was the daughter of a carpenter. All he'd ever wanted was to provide for his sons. Stannis was offering him more than he could have ever hoped for in his wildest fantasies.

"Ser Davos Seaworth, I would name you Hand of the King and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands to be ruled by your sons from this time until the end of time," Stannis announced. He turned and left the tent, and Davos, still not quite with the world, stumbled after.

"Call the men together!" Stannis roared to his guards, "Get ready to march!"

The armies of the Stormlands and the Reach assembled, a vast line of 60,000 men. Some were the highborn sons of rich lords, in shining armor and looking like heroes. But most were sons of farmers, sons of fishermen, sons of theives, and a number of crabber's sons Davos was sure. They were the ones that grew food, that made swords, and won battles. It was those men Stannis trusted to win his war. Davos clutched the pouch he kept around his neck. It contained the first joints of the fingers on his left hand. Before Stannis knighted him, he had cut them off as punishment for his past crimes. They were his most treasured possession, proof that Stannis was a man of justice.

Stannis came to the top of a hill before the army. He spoke with his great, authoritative voice, so that as many men as possible could hear. "In one way or another, the Lannisters have taken both of my brothers. They have taken a crown that is rightfully mine and put on it an abomination born of treason and incest. They have stolen, tortured, and murdered to gain their way. They have no honor, nor loyalties, and bring no justice. And I am tired of it! I tell them now the last great stag is coming! Let's capture that metal chair!"

The army roared. And slowly a chant began, a chant of the sons of highborns and lowborns. It was a chant of justice, a chant of vengeance, a chant of anger. Every man from lowest to highest had lost something at the hands of the Lannisters, be it gold, house, or beloved king, and so they chanted "The Last Stag! The Last Stag! The Last Stag!" and they marched to King's Landing.

 
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Chapter 5: Queen's Men

Shireen

Shireen didn't leave her chambers for many things, but she always got a good view from her window. She gazed out through the bars as a big ship pulled into port. She was disappointed when she saw the ship flying an orange fox on a white background with flowers. She had hoped it was The Onion Knight or father, but that was the flag of House Florent, her mother's house. A tall thin man walked down the gangplank. He had silvery hair, but from age, not birth, and a sharp, pointed beard. Everything about him was groomed and neat, and Shireen recognized him quickly. Great uncle Alester.

Shireen decided she wasn't that interested in whatever was happening, and was about to go back to her book when another man walked off the ship. He was younger than Uncle Alester, but completely bald. He did have hard grey hair in a beard that wrapped around his mouth and ran up the sides of his face. He was big, and strong, and his mouth remained in a constant frown. Everything about him was hard, most of all his eyes. His eyes were a icey blue that cut through everything he looked at. Even from far up in her room, those eyes scared Shireen.

"Brother!" Ser Axell said, rushing up to Uncle Alester and shaking his hand. Ser Axell was castellan, so he was taking care of Dragonstone while father was away. The stout, thick limbed man motioned for servants to collect Uncle Alester's things while he turned to the bald man. "And who are you?" he asked, extending a hand.

"Randyll Tarly," the bald man answered, keeping his arms crossed. "No need to take our things, we won't be staying for long."

"We can at least spend the night," Alester said courteously. "I wish to see my niece, and Dragonstone is one of the few places that I can visit with the Lord of Light. I converted you see. I now follow the faith of good King Stannis. I am a Queen's Man now."

"I'm glad to hear it brother," Axell said, motioning for them to come in. "May I ask why you are here?"

"Ser Alester has been given command of the Royal Fleet," Randyll said coldly. "We have come to gather all the ships together and make sure they're all accounted for, and Ser Alester asked me to assist him. I don't have much experience with ships though. I don't see why you couldn't have brought Ser Davos-"

"I will not break bread with that lowborn scum," Alester shot at him. "It's bad enough that the king showers him with titles. If we follow his advice the fleet will probably sink before we ever reach King's Landing."

Shireen was bored so she turned her face from the window and went back to her book. It was stories about great knights of legend. Shireen never found them very interesting, and so she got bored again and turned back to the window. Great uncle Alester and Lord Randyll were gone. Their ship was still there.

Shireen spent her hours reading different books, most of which she'd read before. At one point she got out the little toy boat that The Onion Knight had made her and got it's crew into a grand adventure across in the Summer Isles, where they washed up on an island of savage natives, and several of the crewmen met savage and gruesome deaths. One was about to be eaten alive by sharks when Ser Axell entered her room. She stood up quickly and faced him. She had learned to be quick to address Axell.

He grimaced at the sight of her. "We're giving a meal with Lord Randyll. My brother has requested your attendance."

"I don't want to eat with Randyll," Shireen said, pulling at her hair nervously and rubbing the hard, tough grayscale that took up half her face, "He's scary."

"I'm sure he'll be more scared of you my lady," Axell said, "Get dressed. I'll send a servant to collect you."

* * *​

The table was small, large enough only for Ser Axell, Alester, Lord Randyll, mother, and Shireen. It was a wonderful meal in terms of the food. Roast chicken, potatoes, beef, and various fruits. Alester insisted they break out the Summerwine, although it was too sweet for Shireen and she would have preferred water. Not that she said anything. She spent the meal looking down at her plate, trying not to be noticed. She cursed herself for not bringing a book or a toy, although if she had mother probably would have made her put it away.

Great uncle Alester did most of the talking throughout the night, mostly about the Lord of Light. Lord Randyll did little talking until Alester asked him; "Do you plan to join the Queen's Men Lord Randyll?"

"What?" Randyll asked bluntly.

"The Queen's Men," mother told him. "I was the first to convert to the true faith. We've taken to calling those nobles who convert Queen's Men. You should try to embrace the Lord of Light Lord Randyll. My husband is his champion, for the night is dark and full of terrors."

"Never had much interest in gods," Randyll said, "They never do what you ask when you pray."

"I prayed that my husband would have a grand army to march on King's Landing with," mother insisted, "And now he does."

"That was clever negotiations and and Lannister assassin, not the Lord of Light," Randyll spat. "I prayed that I would have a son worthy of my name. I got a fat pimple who couldn't be called a man and three daughters. I only trust what I can see. I don't believe everything I'm told like some."

Mother's jaw twitched. She was about to speak when Alester cut her off, "I think it's time for some entertainment. Where's your fool? I would love to see him preform."

"Yes, Patches!" Shireen agreed, hoping there might be some fun to be had after all.

A servant was sent and soon Patches arrived. The jester was big and round, with tattoos of green and red squares all over his face, and a hat with little bells all over it. He entered with his sideways gait, and his face twitched and shook. Every now and then he would be overcome by shakes and fall to the ground. Mother said he was cursed by the Lord of Light.

"There is a little island not to far away," he sang, "It's full of fish's rings and mermaid's things, but only crabs today. It is the only light around as far as there is to see. It's taken by the fact you can't light fires in the sea. I do not like to go there but I am soon to be. The crabs all bite and fight and roar and take away the mermaid's things. You that's best for when they practice with their claws."

He kept singing about an island full of crabs and Shireen slowly felt herself relax. Then she was struck by a vision, a terrible vision. Hundreds of bodies piled into a great lake, so many that you could not tell one from another, and the water looked like red paint. And she saw huge crabs bloated on the flesh of the dead clawing their way towards her, snapping their long wicked claws, opening their jaws to take a big bite...

She screamed.

 
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VILenin

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Hmm, well that's slightly ominous...

I was quite surprised when Stannis agreed to fight for Renly, though clearly his fraternal loyalty didn't go very far. I thought he'd at least wait until King's Landing had fallen before trying to off his younger brother. I suppose this it keeps the Tyrells committed, though after the Lannisters are defeated I can't see that alliance lasting very long. Stannis is still, well, Stannis and Mace and Margaery can't be happy about having lost their shot at her becoming Queen.

Keep up the good work!
 

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Chapter 6: The Drunken Squire

Loras​

Loras could not believe he'd gone so long without discovering the true values of ale. Not the fanciful Summerwines he used to drink, but simple brown beer. He was learning why King Robert had taken such a liking to it after Lyanna Stark had gone to her grave. It dulled the wailing pain of Renly's loss to a low hum, and made it harder to imagine his face, which had seemed to hang in front of him.

When he first left the camp he hadn't intended to get drunk. The night of Renly's assassination he had tossed some food and other supplies onto a horse and set out, intending to find Renly's killer and bring him to justice. He did not sleep and barely ate for days as he tried to pick up on his trail. But the assassin had left no trail for him to follow, and days away become weeks, and his anger had faded into a constant pain, slowly pushing him into despair. He had stopped at this inn, the Drunken Squire it was called, intending to rest for a day. It had been four, and all the coin Loras had brought with him was just about spent, most of it helping ensure he never had to endure a moment of sobriety. He stopped wearing his armor, and let it sit unpolished in a corner of his room. He still wore his longsword around his waist, but hadn't used it throughout his travels so far.

He sat in a corner drinking, barely moving except to put another mug to his mouth. He noticed some woman was walking towards him. He'd seen her before, who was she? Oh yes, she was the inn's owner, a stout, strong woman. She looked perturbed. "Look here," she said, mouth in a hard line. "You've been here four days and you said you'd be here one. I let you because you seemed a noble man, but you've got to get out now."

"I paid," Loras argued, rolling his head up off the table. He squinted at her through half closed eyes. "I paid. You can't kick me ou..." He stopped talking and closed his eyes, trying to shut the world out.

"Not for last night," the woman said, slamming the table to get his attention back. "And you didn't pay for your last few drinks either. So you're going to leave now. I have plenty of other men who need rooms to stay, and they can pay for it."

"Can you make me leave?" Loras said, stumbling to his feet. He pushed past her and addressed the room in a drunken shout, "Nobody can make me do anything I don't want too. I'm a knight, and I know King Renly. He would put a stop to this. He would say hey, I love that man, let him stay as long as he needs." He drew his sword and swung it around, nearly hitting some other patrons. "I'm the Knight of the Flowers. Nobody beats me."

One of the inn's patrons, a large fellow who had gotten a big grin on his face from watching Loras make a fool of himself, got up and went over to him. He had a battle ax tucked into his belt, and carried himself like a sellsword. Loras made a clumsy drunken swing at him, but he dogged to the side and then grabbed Loras by the scruff of his neck. "The lady asked you to leave. She asked very politely. I myself was never that partial to asking politely. He punched Loras across the face and sent him tumbling to the ground, then kicked him while he was down. "Is he really a knight?" the sellsword asked.

"He's got armor and a horse," the innkeeper said, "I guess he is."

"A knight," the man grinned, showing dozens of crooked teeth. "We could use a knight. I'll take him off your hands for ya. How much does he owe you?" The innkeeper told her and he paid her. He then got Loras's armor and horse, tied Loras up and hoisted him into the saddle.

Loras, still drunk and with a bloody nose, remained fairly incoherent as the man began leading his horse, taking him onto the road. "Who are you?" Loras mumbled, "Why are you..."

"My name's Gardel," the sellsword said, "And you are going to make me a rich man."
 

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Hmm, well that's slightly ominous...

I was quite surprised when Stannis agreed to fight for Renly, though clearly his fraternal loyalty didn't go very far. I thought he'd at least wait until King's Landing had fallen before trying to off his younger brother. I suppose this it keeps the Tyrells committed, though after the Lannisters are defeated I can't see that alliance lasting very long. Stannis is still, well, Stannis and Mace and Margaery can't be happy about having lost their shot at her becoming Queen.

Keep up the good work!
Thank you for the comment, and you're right. The Baratheon-Tyrell alliance will be hanging by a thread 90% of the time...
 

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How's the Lannister/Stark war going while all this goes on? As is, looks like Stannis has a curbstomp battle prepared, regardless of how tenuous his alliances are.
 

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Chapter 7: War Across the World

Tyrion

The walls of King's Landing were a bustle of activity as they prepared for the siege. Men kept watch on the ramparts, waiting for Stannis's hoards to make appear over the hills. Gold Cloaks prepared pots of boiling oil, arming ballistas, and making other preparations. It seemed every man in the city had been called to the defense, and every woman was busy making arrows or stringing bows. Every hour it seemed more sellswords came through the city gates, and Tyrion reckoned they had about 10,000 men in arms now.

"Six to one," Tyrion remarked to Varys, who had accompanied him on many walks along the battlements. "For a siege those aren't to long of odds. Stannis held Storm's End for a year against such odds. That was less encouraging than I thought it would be."

"Stannis is an able commander," Varys added, "But he is no military genius."

"Yes," Tyrion admitted, "It seems that honor lies with Robb Stark, who has yet to be defeated. He got married you know. To some Frey girl."

"My little birds did inform me yes," Varys told him, "They also inform me that Roose Bolton's forces have been scattered, and he himself is rotting in the dungeon of Casterly Rock. I assume they are not mistaken?"

"Yes, I got a raven from my father boasting of the victory," Tyrion said, "He also told me that we can expect no rescue from him for quite some time. He is still trying to beat The Young Wolf, and can't manage to do it. Just as well I suppose. He only has 20,000 men. Three to one odds are fine for a siege, but hopeless in a field battle. I read that in Great Sieges of Westeros."

"Your study of the book has been most studious," Varys commented.

"Yes, I'm going to the Alchemists Guild later today to see about Wildfire," Tyrion said, "If we can cripple Stannis's fleet with it as they sail up the river, one of his avenues of attack will be cut off."

"That might work," Varys said, "Lord Alester Florent has been given command of Stannis's fleet. Although he is a seaman he is no soldier. I am more concerned about his new appointment as Lord of the Stormlands. He was a smuggler fifteen years ago. I have never met him, but he must be capable for Stannis to put such trust in him. I do hope he does not posses to much cunning."

Tyrion nodded, "That would be bad for all of us. I wonder...hey, who's that?" He pointed to a rider galloping towards the gates like the Others were on his heels. Even from a distance Tyrion could see he was dressed all in black. "What's a Night's Watchmen doing here? Doesn't he know about the siege?"

They walked down the wall and approached the gate. They heard the Night's Watchmen yelling at the Gold Cloaks that barred his way; "I need to see the king now! Or the King's Hand, or someone! It's vital, from the Old Bear himself!"

"I'm Hand of the King," Tyrion announced, slipping through the crowd around the gates and laying eyes on the Watchmen. He was a small, ratlike fellow with large round ears. Dark bags were under his eyes and his breathing was ragged. His horse looked near dead. "A man of the Night's Watch is always welcome. Why are you here?" Tyrion asked.

"My name is Pypar," he told him through ragged breaths. "The Wall is under attack. Mance Rayder and wildlings. Giants and mammoths. We're near overrun."

Less than an hour later he got his audience with the king in the throne room. Joffery sat on the throne, looking down at Pypar with disdain. His mother was close, and the rest of the Small Council surrounded him. Tyrion stood by the boy's side as he spoke. "They came in the thousands," the Night's Watchmen told his story, "One day, they just started swarming out of the trees. We was barely able to beat them off m'lord. But they kept coming, with giants ten feet tall. They rode mammoths too, great towering things. We thought we could hold them while we went messengers for help, but two hundred attacked from the south, and killed half of us before we beat them. Each day the attacks grew worse. Lord Commander Mormont told me and a few other ones to ride south and warn you. The Wall may already have fallen, I think the Shadow Tower has."

There was silence as the boy finished his story. Tyrion was the first to speak. "We need to send men to help them-"

"Can't you do your jobs?" Joffery spat at Pypar. "The Night's Watch is supposed to stop the wildlings!"

"We tried m'lord," Pypar said, "I myself killed three of the bastards. But there were to many, and we were to few. And they had giants."

"You come before my son and speak of giants," Cersei said. "Did a force of grumkins assist them?"

"I saw what I saw!" Pyprar shouted, angry. "And unless you send men North the Wall will fall!"

Grand Maester Pycell leaned to Joffery's side. "Clearly this man is not well your grace. He speaks nonsense. I have a number of remedies which would aid him if you wish me to use them."

"You're missing the point!" Tyrion said angrily. "Whatever the truth of the matter, whatever is happening at the Wall must be bad for Lord Commander Mormont to send for help. We should send troops to assist them."

"You would have us send out troops on the eve of battle?" Joffery said, "How stupid are you Uncle? The Night's Watch will do their job and beat the wildlings, and if they don't I'll lead an army up there myself and crush them. So what if the North burns in the meantime? I care nothing for the wailing of Northern savages."

"The wildlings will overrun the Kingdoms!" Pypar said, "If you won't help I'll find another king who will!" He started towards the great doors of the hall.

"Stop him!" Joffery ordered, and Lannister knights moved to block his path. The boy drew his sword, but he was exhausted and outnumbered ten to one. They overwhelmed him and dragged him before the king. "Now whip him until he learns!" Joffery ordered, a savage smile on his face. The Kingsguard stripped the boy's shirt and Ser Ilyn Payne got a whip.

"You cannot attack a man of the Night's Watch!" Tyrion shouted angrily.

"I'm the king!" Joffery shouted back, "I'm going to teach this rat loyalty!"

Ilyn brought the whip down on Pypar's back, leaving a bloody red line. Pypar screamed, and screamed again as the whip came down. And again and again as his back became a mass of blood. Joffery looked on with eager eyes, drinking in the gore. Tyrion left the keep and returned to the walls, but Pypar's screaming would never leave him.

 

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How's the Lannister/Stark war going while all this goes on? As is, looks like Stannis has a curbstomp battle prepared, regardless of how tenuous his alliances are.
The war isn't going that well for the north, although the Red Wedding has been averted. And Stannis is about ready to stomp on King's Landing with his boot.
 

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Chapter 8: Lords Paramount

Davos

"No."

"Why not father?" Allard said urgently. "With Ser Loras gone somebodies got to command the attack on the Old Gate, and it shouldn't be that oaf Mace Tyrell." Davos's second to eldest son was a tall, lean, handsome youth of twenty-four. He wore steel plate armor that had cost him all his money to make, and had with him an impressive longsword. He was popular among the ranks, and reportedly among the women of the camp, with long hair that reminded Davos of Ser Loras. Behind him his brother Dale, senior by one year stood, similarly armored. Dale did not have the looks or easy way that Allard did. He was a recluse, and rigidly faithful to his wife back at Cape Wrath. Very like Stannis, Davos always thought. Both had, without his permission, gotten themselves anointed in holy oils and now went by Ser Allard and Ser Dale. They were fine swordsmen, but untested in battle or tourney. With this they had burst into Davos's tent and demanded a command during the coming battle.

"No, you will not be given any commands until you have both tasted battle. You will fight, but you will not lead," Davos said sternly. "You're wasting your breath anyway. Stannis would never allow you to command the attack. There will be battles after this one."

"Are you so sure?" Allard said, keeping the pressure on him. "What if Tywin Lannister gives up after this? What if Robb Stark agrees to swear fealty to King Stannis?"

"Yes father," Dale spoke quietly, "Lord Robb's war is with the Lannisters, not us."

"Then you can kill Greyjoys," Davos said angrily. "I hear they have decided to become kings themselves. But you will not be given command yet!"

"Seven Hells father you're going to be Lord of the Stormlands!" Allard shouted, frustration ringing through his voice. "You know what your future vassals say about you, about us, about how Stannis is a fool to give you such titles? They're laughing at us father, spitting on us. They call us scum and speak of teaching us our place. Tell Stannis to give us command of the attack on the Old Gate and we'll show them our place as Lords Paramount!"

Davos hesitated, grinding his teeth. "How does your brother feel about this?"

"I agree with him father," Dale said softly. He always half mumbled things, as if he was telling a secret.

Davos ground his teeth some more, acceptance on the tip of his tongue. "I have a war council to attend," he said, and swept out of the tent as fast as he could.

As Davos walked for Stannis's tent, his sons words sunk into him. Davos could endure mockery, but Allard was proud, proud of what his father had accomplished, and intending to accomplish great things himself. Even as he walked he saw knights and petty lords looking down on him. They made jokes and sniggered once he passed. But with the rank and file of the army it was a different matter. They saw him as an idol, a source of hope that their lot could rise. "Glad to see you m'lord," they said as he passed, or "I hope I'm placed under your command for the battle." He felt the weight of Lordship lessened by their admiration. He wasn't quite sure that he deserved it, but it felt good.

Davos came to Stannis's tent and walked past the guard, Ser Richard Horpe today, a Queen's man. He came into the tent for a rather small war council. Lord Tarly and Lord Florent had not yet returned from Dragonstone, and had sent a raven saying Florent thought it best to remain their until the attack was to be launched.

Mace Tyrell was there, a fat man with curly brown hair and a triangle beard. Davos had figured out from many councils that Tyrell was useless for anything pertaining to military matters. Davos's admiration for Stannis's holding of Storm's End had been lessened when he found out how tedious and bumbling the man he faced was. Worse was his sense of entitlement. He demanded to play a large role in the attack, commanding ten thousand men at least, and when Stannis had wanted Margaery to go back to Stom's End, and she had refused, he had threatened to march his men back to Storm's End with her and torch the place. Stannis had very nearly thrown him in a cell for that, but Davos had calmed him.

Also in attendance was Ser Garlan Tyrell, Mace's second son, who was a fine knight by all accounts, with a thin beard and handsome face. He was was a quiet man who rarely spoke, but Davos liked him far more than his father. Stannis stood staring at the map of King's Landing, as if he could find a secret entrance that hadn't been there before.

"Good, the Onion has arrived and we can begin," Mace said haughtily. He had shortened Davos's nickname, probably because he was to lazy to say the whole thing.

"Yes," Stannis said, "The current plan was to launch our primary attacks against the Lion Gate and King's Gate while diverting them with attacks on the Old Gate and from the river, but I've been thinking. It's more important that we throw our main weight against the Lion and King's. And with Ser Loras gone there is no one to lead the attack on the Old." Davos almost spoke up and mentioned Allard and Dale, but thought better of it. "We'll push the gates with 20,000 men each, close enough that they can support one another. Another 10,000 men will attack from the river, led by Lord Tarly. We'll keep 10,000 men in reserve, to support where needed. I'll lead the assault on the King's Gate and-"

"I will lead the attack on the Lion Gate," Mace announced. It was not a request.

"No," Stannis told him, "You will lead the reserve. Lord Davos will lead the assault on the Lion."

Lord Mace swelled up in anger, puffing out his cheeks. He bore a striking resemblance to a blowfish, although Davos didn't mention it. "You would give a fisherman more troops than I? He has no experience in war whereas I beat Robert himself at the Battle of Ashfort, and nearly had you yourself at Storm's End."

"The Battle of Ashfort was won by Randyll Tarly long before you arrived," Stannis said, "And you were never close to taking Storm's End. Ser Davos fought by my side during the Greyjoy rebelion. His advice helped me destroy the rebel fleet, and he fought by my side during the ground war. I trust no one else to the task."

Mace puffed up even larger. "You intend for me to sit back while this commoner leads my army to ruins? I challenge you to combat for the command of the Lion Gate attack!"

"You will do no such thing," Stannis said coldly, but he was to late.

"I accept your challenge," Davos said at the same time, hardly knowing what he was doing. Allard had gotten to him, he realized. He wanted to show this pompous fat man that the Seaworths were a house to respect.

Stannis gave him a hard stare. "Are you sure?" Davos nodded, not opening his mouth for fear he would say something else foolish.

"Father," Ser Garlan said, touching his father's arm, "Lord Davos has lost the tips of his fingers on his left hand. Hardly noble to fight a man who can not use one hand. Perhaps a battle of champions instead. I would gladly serve as yours."

Davos got the feeling Garlan was trying to save his father from being gutted. Davos was not a great swordsman, but he was sure he could beat a arrogant fat lord. "Fine then," Mace said, "A battle of champions then. You best find a good one. My sons never lose one on one combat." He stormed out of the tent, his son close behind.

"That was foolish," Stannis told him. "If you need a champion I'll lend you one of my kingsguard."

Davos was about to accept his offer when Allard's words came back to him. "No your grace," he said, "The Seaworth's will fight this battle."

 
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