• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

ATempler

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Spoiler Warning


From the Lips of Flayed Men

Game of Thrones Mod - A Feast For Crows

(Credit to here)
Between And Now My Watch is Ended by Victor227, An Arm of Iron by OConner and The Little Cub by Aidun I've been wanting to do a Game of Thrones AAR for some time and have been lurking for a lot longer. I've had a few great games (Robb Stark in Clash of Kings and Eddard Stark in Robert's Rebellion, including a custom character getting post-red wedding revenge) but my latest game shaped up to very quickly be one that had me hooked. To the dismay of my roommate who is a big fan as well, it was where I decided to play as House Bolton in AFFC. Things quickly went mad and I've played ahead a few times with wildly different stories unfolding each time. That said, it actually starts some time into the play through and the first few posts are just bringing everyone up to speed on the world.

Seeing this as a good a time as any I've decided that the Boltons will be the basis for my first AAR. The first post will be up right after this and will set the stage.

Rules and Objectives

- Effectively RP the characters in game
- I will be more concerned with telling a story than anything
- I will limit cheats and reloads to a minimum for story purposes
- Carry on until the AAR has reached a satisfactory point, or until the game breaks

Other Notes

- I have not yet read the books but am aware of many of the main spoilers thus far, so I might take some liberty in writing characters and events. I might also draw on the aforementioned AARs as influence for the game/story world. If anyone has corrections or wants to clarify something that I have misrepresented/misunderstood please let me know
- I'm going to do my best to update everyone on what happens to the main characters from the series but I might miss one or two. Let me know if you have requests and I'll look them up

Table of Contents


Book I - The Flayed Wolf
Roose IV of His name, Son of Ramsay, Son of Roose of the House Bolton
Act I - Early Days

Prologue - 11th Name Day
Chapter I - Court Life
Chapter II - The Lions Weep - Jaime Lannister/Brienne of Tarth
Chapter III - Fire and Blood
Chapter IV - A Bolton Wedding
Chapter V - Hunt For the White Hart - Roose Bolton/Various
Chapter VI - Coming of Age

Act II - Sharp Blades, Bitter Words

Chapter VII - Chaos Cometh

Chapter VIII - The War of Three Crowns - Roose Bolton/Martyn Payne
Chapter IX - Winning the North
Chapter X - Debts to be Paid
Chapter XI - Black Stag, Black Wolf, Black Name - Roose Bolton/Stannis Baratheon/Jon Snow
Chapter XII - The North and The South

Act III - An Age of Blood
Chapter XIII - No Small Council - Roose and Eddard Bolton/Brenett Stark/Myrcella Lannister
Chapter XIV - The Last Dragon - Roose Bolton/Jon Connington/Tormund of Giants Bane/Sigorn Bluerage/Daenerys Targeryan
Chapter XV - Dear and Departed
Chapter XVI - Heirs to Thrones - Roose Bolton/Symeon of Feast Fires/Myrcella Lannister
Chapter XVII - Wars and Rumours of Wars

Chapter XVIII - Brotherhood in Arms - Stannis Baratheon/Theon Greyjoy/Various
Chapter XIX - Lightbringer - Stannis Baratheon/Theon Greyjoy/Various

Interlude ...

Book II - The Dying Light
Roose IV of His name, Son of Ramsay, Son of Roose of the House Bolton
Act I - Winds of Winter
Chapter XX - Castle Black - Eddard Bolton/Various
Chapter XXI - Under Attack - Tormund of Giantsbane/Sigorn Bluerage/Stannis Baratheon/Roose Bolton/ Myrcella Lannister
Chapter XXII - The Nightfort - Stannis Baratheon
Chapter XXIII - Of Flayed Men and Free Men - Eddard Bolton / Roose Bolton / Myrcella Lannister
 
Last edited:

ATempler

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11th Name Day

It is the 312th year after Aegon’s Landing and my 11th name day. I am the last of my House, and I am afraid. My Regent, Master Eddard of the small folk, has already tried to have me killed, and I hear him plotting with Master Roose. My Mother does what she can to distract them and warns me of the dangers day by day. If I am not killed, then she shall be in my stead. Gods be good, I will survive to take my place in the seat of my forefathers and claim what is mine by right, but such is many years away and many challenges lie ahead.


King Arthor of House Karstark, King of the North and Lord of Winterfell

King Arthor Karstark of the North rules from Winterfell. Before then, my family was all slain in the wars that came before. The War of the Five Kings and the War in the North that followed as Lords fought one another for the vengeance of the Young Wolf, slain at the Red Wedding in the 299th year of Aegon’s Landing. His death had prompted the War in the North, as Stannis Baratheon rallied the Lords against ‘Roose the Leech Lord’ and his bastard son, Ramsay Bolton. War raged for three years after that. Ramsay, cursed be his name, was the first to die – slain by Theon Flint at the Battle of Sheepshead when his army was outnumbered and cut off in the year 300. Mere months later, the Leech Lord himself was slain in the Battle of Dawnsforest. Peace descended on the North for a time after, and Stannis was defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister and the Army of the Iron Throne at Moat Cailin the year of my 3rd name day.


Finally defeated, Stannis the Lord of Fire, was sent north to the Night’s Watch where he joined my Uncle, John Snow – Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch – and Theon Greyjoy, having barely returned to some semblance of his self before his time under Ramsay. I have yet to meet him, but by all accounts he is a man of honour, courage and great skill. I wish such was not the case. I can only dream of hearing his accounts firsthand of the Battle of Castle Black, where he broke the Wilding Horde and forced Mance Rayder the ‘Twice Turned’ to bend the knee, taking the Black once again. Together, and with the help of Samwell Tarly they have held the Wall as rumours creep to us of the coming of the Long Night and sightings of White Walkers, hushed though they are. Doubtless however, the Frey’s – all outcasts and exiles from those holds in which they do not rule, have helped replenish the Night’s Watch. Maester Alester tells me a full two dozen have been forced to take the Black for the stain of their dishonour. For my part, I am glad that not all have suffered the sins of their fathers.

While King Arthor is my liege, and Protector of the North, the South is a Land unto its own. King Tommen, First of His Name of the House of Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne and rules Four Kingdoms – having inherited from his brother King Joffrey before him. Strife has been rampant in the time since the War of the Five Kings. Cersei Lannister, now in her 46th year rules the Westerlands, and has been the true power behind the Throne since before her family openly claimed it and Tommen renounced his Baratheon lineage, and deposed Lady Shireen as Lady Paramount of the Stormlands. The Tully’s too have been cast down from their former positions under the new King and the last of their house, Edmure Tully has fled to Essos where rumour says he has wed Daenerys Targaryan, the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains.


After their fall, bitter fighting erupted against Lord Paramount Baelish and the Freys. Marq ‘the Smoked Pipe’ Piper wrestled the Riverlands from Lord Petyr Baelish, hewing off his sword arm in the Battle of Blackwood Vale as Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully cut down Lord Tywin Frey, the installed Lord of Riverrun. Lord Baelish died of his wounds and despite promises of aid, the Lannisters left the Riverlands to slaughter as they fought Victarion Greyjoy for the Reach and against Euron Greyjoy for the Iron Islands. At the Battle of Old Oak, the armies of the Crown and the Greyjoys clashed in a titanic fight not seen since the War of Five Kings. Euron himself was cut down by Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, while Ser Ilyn Payne fell to Victarion. In the end, Victarion Greyjoy bowed to the Iron Throne and his nephew Quellon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands bent the knee. Through it all, the Vale was among the strongest supporters of the King, and news of Lord Paramount Robert Arryns cruelty grew day by day, some amongst his court telling of a new Joffrey Lannister. From more than a decade of slaughter and war, the Lannisters had secured the Iron Throne.

Cersei’s final victory however came over her brother, Tyrion the Imp. As he worked with Daenerys Targaryan to free the peoples of Slavers Bay, he was approached by Maester Theomore Lannister, who claimed to have crossed the Narrow Sea after betrayal from Cersei over some lued affair. Weeks later, after realizing his love for Cersei or finally enacting her orders, he plunged a dagger deep into Tyrions chest and carried his body back to Westeros, eventually docking in Lannisport. Upon arrival, Ser Melwyn Lannister saw Tyrions body, and after hearing his confession, attacked Theomore. Before anything could be done, the heir of Lannisport had slain his cousin and two dead Lannisters lay before him. Tyrion was given a proper funeral by the Lannisters of Lannisport, claiming that the death of both Gregor Clegane and the Red Viper had shown the Gods unwilling to pass their verdict. Theomore however, his guilt certain and self-proclaimed on arrival, was dumped outside the gate of Casterly Rock.


Daenerys continued her conquests, and to me only rumours drift. Maester Alester does his best to inform me, but he knows it is out of idolization than anything else. She is freeing slaves to be free, just like the small folk in Westeros. More importantly though, shes bringing new glory and fame to her House – making it what it was not before.

I have to believe that I can do the same. My grandfather of my Mothers line, Eddard Stark, was murdered by King Joffrey for decrying what Tommen has acknowledged. In the war that followed, his son Robb Stark, the Young Wolf and King in the North, was killed by my grandfather of my Fathers line, Roose ‘the Leech Lord’ Bolton. My Father, Ramsay Bolton wed my Mother, Arya Stark and thus it was that I have come to be.

It is my 11th name day, and I am Roose the IV of that name of the House of Bolton. I am the last of my line, and Men and Gods curse me for my lineage and their sins. My Mother raised me, as Ramsay and Roose were dead before I was born. I am betrothed to Kyra Flint, niece to my Fathers killer.

More than that, I am High Lord of the Dreadfort, of Overton and Sheepshead Hills. I have many enemies, and but one man to guide me on what lies ahead. Roose Ryswell, my Master-at-Arms, Protector, and Friend.

Whatever I am to become, I will owe my survival to him and to my Mother. My legacy however, will be of my own making, and it will require much to be done – for there is much to account for.



Our Blades are Sharp
.
 

Derahan

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Interesting settings you have, I shallt be reading this! I've always had some strange addiction to the Boltons, they are so dark! :)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Subbing :D
 

ATempler

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Interesting settings you have, I shallt be reading this! I've always had some strange addiction to the Boltons, they are so dark! :)
I have two saves that I can pick from, one from 18 and one from 11 and I'm a bit torn between updating from the 18th like I had planned or starting from the 11th. Bear in mind though that, they will be dark but not all of them will be treacherous sadists.

Very interesting start! Will be following.
Thanks!

Thanks!
 

WingedLion14

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interesting update. as an avid reader and watcher, I utterly despise the Boltons, but sometimes the tales of the "villains" are the most interesting. will do my best to follow
 

ATempler

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Chapter I - Court Life

The days passed quickly from the celebrations of my 11th, humble enough though they were. Master Ryswell says that Winterfell grows wary as I age. King Arthor has already sent ravens once to confirm my allegiance to my knowledge, though it seems my Regent Eddard has sent many more of late. I see them from my quarters, flying to the West. To the King. I would name him usurper, but the throne was neither his, nor mine by rights. Mother tells me different. She says Winterfell will be mine again and the blood of House Stark will return to the throne. I smile and nod but it kills me inside. She is Stark, and she is my Mother but I am not. I am a Bolton.

My Mother or sister Meliana though, even Sansa Stark, each is the true Lord of Winterfell. I remember being very firm on this when discussing my doubts with Master Ryswell. It was only then, as we debated and argued back and forth about their claims and my own that he informed me of quite momentous news. Two men had been found, one in Oldcastle and another in Kingshouse and they had made wild claims. They declared themselves Rickon and Brandon Stark. They claimed that my Mother was not truly Arya Stark, and claimed no knowledge of their murder at the hands of Theon Greyjoy.


The King deemed them imposters, but left them in their holds to live out their lives away from court and titles. My Mother was distraught over their denial of her lineage, and I was furious. True, the one who named himself Brandon was crippled, as the boy had been last he was seen. Nonetheless, he rode a horse well enough and many men before have faked an injury to get a handout. Of Rickon meanwhile, there was no way to be sure. Sansa wrote to the North, saying she would not travel to confirm their identities, as she had taken ill. With most of the Lords who had known them in their youth dead from the various wars since their disappearance, few enough survivors lingered to verify their claims.

I was surprised when it was my Mother herself who wrote to the King, and claimed they were her brothers but that they must have forgotten her in their absence. Stark business however, is not mine to interfere with and I accepted her decision, though to me they were frauds. The only true Starks in all the world, were my Mother Arya, my Sister Meliana and my Aunt, Sansa.

Within a year, this was no longer true.


Though I had thought her past her fertile years, from all the Maester had taught me, my Mother gave birth to a son, a true male Stark heir. His name was Brenett, First of that name, of the House of Stark. I was now twelve and had a half sister and a half brother, both of Stark blood. Yet still I linger. The last Bolton, harboring the surviving Starks in the Dreadfort. The Gods had a strange sense of humour.

No doubt my Master Eddard had intended to inform the King of the news, but he soon found himself incapable of doing so. He was found, face down on the banks of the river soon after news spread around the castle. My Mother told me the Gods were watching over me. Master Ryswell said that it was my Mother who was doing the watching.


At any rate, no more ravens departed westward. Freed from at least some sense of danger, I devoted more of my time to the training yard with Master Ryswell. True, he was no great swordsman but he taught me well enough, and when he took on Walton Poole as a squire, I learned better yet. It took a lot of practice but eventually I was as good as he was.



We continued practicing for a time, and he kept tutoring me on how to lead men into battle. He was perhaps the best commander the lands of House Bolton had, and he was certainly among it's most trained swordsman - even if none in my lands are particularly talented. One particular day though, after I had passed my 13th name day, he visited me in my quarters with my Maester and Mother. A raven had come from Winterfell. King Arthor had declared war upon the Riverlands, even as the lands under Lord Paramount Marq 'the Smoked Pipe' Piper marshalled to support King Tommen in suppressing a particularly zealous Victarion Greyjoy, who had declared the Reach in open revolt against the Iron Throne.


The raven, the first since the death of Master Eddard, asked for the support of the Dreadfort and for a levy to be sent to join the King's host. We debated it for some time, but eventually agreed to send what few men we could muster. They would be marching under Lord Hugo Wull of the clansmen, and it was suspected he would be overall Commander of the army. Sure enough, we received a raven confirming this from those we had sent. They also confirmed that they would be in the vanguard.

We had expected this. To be sure the clansmen had not forgotten those who had betrayed 'The Ned's Son', and the King had no love of those whom he had usurped either. Few enough of our men would return from the 600 who departed we knew.

Soon enough, we learned where the first engagement of the war would be. Having declared in order to assure Lord Howland Reed's seizure of the Twins from the Freys, both the King in the North and the Lord of the Trident would meet there.


Claims of the size of the enemy varied widely, from half the number of our Northmen to more than double. Most of it was gossip and mummers talk but no one was certain. Even Master Ryswell seemed unsure, and we had estimated together after looking into the few records from the War of Five Kings, and the War of the Smoked Pipe - where Marq Piper usurped Lord Petyr Baelish, and the numbers that had mustered from those accounts. Even more frustrating was attempting to decide how the Battle would strike and who would win when the armies met. The Twins were a difficult crossing and a hard keep, so Master Ryswell said. He explained how they were a keep connected by a great stone bridge stretching across the river.


No doubt the fighting would be difficult and mistrust between the Freys and the whole of Westeros would only make the fighting more difficult and bloody should both sides refrain from slaughtering the Freys in whole. Word from the army was quiet at first, when a raven arrived from the South for my Mother. It was from Lord Brynden 'Blackfish' Tully who was leading the Riverlander host, and yet it did not mention the War between their nations.

Instead it came with news from the Iron Throne. It came with words of vengeance long denied.
 
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Derahan

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And so the plot thickens! Great read! Keep it up! :)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Gods have a strange sense of humor indeed.
 

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Chapter II – The Lions Weep

Brynden 'Blackfish' Tully said:
Lady Arya Stark,

I write to you to confirm news most longed for by our families for near on twenty years. Word has reached me, from friends at court in King’s Landing that in the war against the rebel Victarion Greyjoy the armies of the Crown and the Greyjoys met together at a place known as the Rosehill. During the course of the battle, the King himself marched with his Mother, Lady Paramount Cersei Lannister, and his uncle, Lord-Commander Jaime Lannister. Each was in a position of command in the army, and during the course of the fighting found themselves engaged in the melee …

Jaime cut through the guard of another Reachman and plunged his sword deep into the man’s gut. There was screaming all around him as Crownlanders, Westerman, Stormlanders and Dornishmen together fought against the assembled Ironborn and Reachmen. Both sides knew that the Greyjoys of the Reach were ill kept and couldn’t trust their own vassals. Still, the men followed their liege as dutifully as oaths required. They at least could be praised for that.

He raised his shield to block an oncoming blow and the Lady Brienne of Tarth cut clean through the man with her sword, Oathkeeper. He smiled as he saw her. "Good to see you again, m'Lady." He said with a nod of his head. She had a stern look but managed something of a smile for an instant before she hurled herself back into the melee. Jaime turned as well, and blocked another blow before striking true with his sword.

"Ser Balon!" he called. The white cloak was old, but turned to the Lord-Commander as he slew an Ironborn. "You must go to the King's side. He holds the right flank, and the Ironborn have been marshaling in that direction." He said, gesturing to the horizon concealed by the crest of the hill. The Ser nodded, and pulled some of the men closest to him and in the rear ranks to follow him. Jaime would hold the line here.

A roar from above the hill signaled a new charge by the Ironborn. "Brace the lines!" Jaime yelled. He had been in his fair share of fights. He had fought in the War of Five Kings, against Euron Greyjoy and against a dozen smaller lords. Even so, this was one of the more serious fights he'd been in. "Brace!" he called again.

The thunder of thousands of feet as they charged down the hill was terrible, and hid the other sounds cascading along the base of the hill as the last wave was fought off and fell into the mud. Jaime raised his shield and fell back into the third line to manage the situation. "Arrows!" someone cried. Jaime barely recognized the whistle of the shafts sailing in the air when he felt one of them strike him in the shoulder, and saw many of his men fell, wounded in the volley.

His eyes went wide and he dropped his sword, the blow having struck his one good arm. A man beside him cast his shield overhead, sparing him another strike as an arrow embedded itself in the wood and passed through the mans arm. Blood dripped onto his forehead as he grunted in the pain and passed his shield into his wounded arm. He would have little more than his golden fist to wield against the enemy now upon them.

He never heard the clash of shields that had met the other charges. He never heard the orchestra of battle as swords met and men died. He just heard the thunder carry on. But he saw their lines shatter. Men fell left and right to the charge around him as he struggled to his feet and held up his shield as best he could.

He blocked a blow, and it carried up his arm. He felt it in the wound and clenched his teeth, trying to ignore it. His opponent swung wildly, but he found an opening and drove his fist straight into the mans face, crushing his nose and caving in his teeth. Another strike and blood poured from his face. Another and the man fell back into the mud.

It was of little use however, as the flank shattered. "Hold!" Jaime yelled. "Hold!" he yelled again as an orgy of violence enveloped what had been disciplined men moments ago. Another blow, and he raised his shield, barely catching it. The man struck again and Jaime yelled as he slipped backwards.

"Kingslayer!" his attacker yelled. "Your death will bring me great favour indeed." The man shouted. Jaime couldn't make out his face, hidden behind a skull helm, but he could see the sigil of House Harclaw on his chest. He scrambled backwards as fast as he could, but it was useless. The man raised his sword, and brought it down in a swift strike. Instinctively, Jaime raised his hand, and by the Seven, the blade caught in his golden fist. Jaime looked dumbstruck, as did the Harclaw man.

Without a second thought, Jaime used his wounded arm to push himself up and slammed the blade into the mans visor with his full body weight. The blade found its mark and tore into the mans face, biting deep and sticking in the skull. Jaime pulled his fist back and drove it again, and again, carving open the mans helmet.

"Ser Jaime!" called Brienne's voice as he felt her arms wrap around him, pulling him back from the field. He scrambled for his golden hand but it split as he tried to retrieve it, the blows of the sword too much for it to manage.

"What were you thinking?" she scolded him. He smiled and raised his stumpen arm to his injured shoulder as she helped him to his feet and pulled him back further from the fighting.

"I wasn't, actually."

Soon enough they had backed up far enough to see the battle that had enveloped their field, and saw that the Greyjoys were fully committed to the battle now, with no reinforcements left on Rosehill. The fighting seemed to be falling in their favour, until the Red and Gold banners of the Westerlands came atop the hill on a full host of Lannister cavalry.


"Cersei." Jaime whispered. He watched as she drew her sword and led the cavalrymen forward in a mass charge. There must have been a few hundred of them as they rode at break neck pace towards the Ironborn and Reachmen. Some of the outriders in her column fired arrows or readied their lances but most of them readied their lances or swords. They galloped hard and plunged deep into the Greyjoy host. Jaime looked on as he lost sight of Cersei amid the carnage.

"My Lord, we should go." Brienne said, tugging at his arm.

"No. I have to see my sister, I have to know that she is-"

Horror enveloped him as the neigh of horses erupted from the fighting and many kicked back or fell over in short succession. Particularly, he saw the front rank collapse among the cavalry and a particular white stallion, a full head taller than the others, kick back and raise itself high above the field. It's mane shone in the light, and the blood spraying from it's side and neck glistened as it did so. The rider, Cersei Lannister, was incapable of doing much else as the horse took another step back, and collapsed atop of her.

Jaime's eyes were wide, and he rushed forward in a mad dash. What drove him he didn't know. Was it feelings long forgotten? Was it family duty? It didn't matter at this point. His breath caught in his throat as he ran and the world was a blur. The fighting was madness as Greyjoy spearmen attempted to hold off the cavalrymen, having quickly reformed to the rear of their lines.

Jaime ducked and weaved his way through the chaos as best he could until he had reached his front and caught sight of his beloved sister, lying on her back and staring up at the sky, sword still clutched in her arm. She could have almost looked peaceful, were it not for the blood covering her armour and the butchered horse at her side.

Behind him, Brienne ran forward and cut down any Greyjoys that she could. She had lost sight of him, but looked for Cersei and knew he would be there. When finally she came upon the body of the Lady Paramount, the day had been won and the Greyjoys slaughtered.

And there beside the Lady Paramount, with a bleeding wound that had split the back of his head, lay Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer and Lord-Commander of the Kingsguard.


Brynden 'Blackfish' Tully said:
Both were found after the engagement unconscious and were brought to Kings Landing and delivered to old Maester Qyburn for healing. Despite his exceptional skills, both passed to the Seven soon after within a fortnight of one another. I would not suggest what this may mean to you, but as you have more reason than most to hear the news, I have felt obliged to inform you Arya. Hopefully the dead may rest a bit easier now.

I say nothing of our war, as it is yet unresolved, but do not be afraid. We are far from the Dreadfort and Lord Marq has no want to enter the North.

All health and happiness to you,
Master-at-Arms of the Riverlands,
Lord Brynden Tully
 

Derahan

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And so the twins of the west dies. Maybe Westeros will be in turmoil now?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Well, that makes me happy. :cool: Though I am curious myself about where this will go.
 

ATempler

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And so the twins of the west dies. Maybe Westeros will be in turmoil now?
Not quite yet.

Well, that makes me happy. :cool: Though I am curious myself about where this will go.
I only play a few years ahead at a time, and I haven't played ahead from his 11th name day very much. I've generally stuck to an 18th name day save, but went back farther for the proper start to this AAR. Normally Jaime and Cersei are still alive in the latter save games for a while so everything right now is up in the air in terms of where it will go.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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I only play a few years ahead at a time, and I haven't played ahead from his 11th name day very much. I've generally stuck to an 18th name day save, but went back farther for the proper start to this AAR. Normally Jaime and Cersei are still alive in the latter save games for a while so everything right now is up in the air in terms of where it will go.
Really? I've been playing the GoT mod for a good bit lately, and it seems like at least one of them is always dying early on. :mellow: One time nearly every well known character died off, leaving minor characters to take things over.
 

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Chapter III - Fire and Blood

News of the death of the Lannister twins was news more suited to my Mother and the last generation of Northmen who had grievances with them. I had heard the stories from the War of the Five Kings, but I knew the Battle of Oxcross, Blackwater, Riverrun and the Red Wedding and had paid less attention to the stories of the feud between Starks and Lannisters before the war itself. That was the prelude to the event, and my House played a role only in the closing of the war. Those stories I knew well too. Edmure Tully was one of the few who had survived that terrible night.

It was fitting that our next ravens concerned him, only it was some weeks later that I actually read the message. More stories from across the narrow sea. More stories from the Mother of Dragons and her children.


The Targeryan Empire in Essos

And by all the Gods, Edmure let one of them loose. They called the beast Rhaegal, so named for Rhaegar Targeryan, who fought and died in Roberts Rebellion, the first war of my Grandfathers. How different the world would have been had that war been different.


There was no explanation of how or what possibly transpired, but merely that the Ghiscari Empire was to be plagued by a new, and terrible fear. Stories told the beast had fangs the size of bastard swords, and its armour was as hard as the walls of Harrenhall. Its wings were said to stretch across the Red Fork if it flew in Westeros, and its mouth was wide enough to swallow a man and rider whole! No one could say if the tales were true but I admit that I hoped I would see it one day, terrifying though it would be.

Word closer to home was even quieter however. News from the Battle at the Twins was sparse and rumours swirled around the largest battle since the War of the Five Kings. Eventually, a Ser Jonos came to us seeking refuge, claiming to be a Hedgeknight from the lands of Riverrun. He had wandered North after the battle, stranded on the wrong side of the river. Apparently, the Northmen had besieged the North end and were breaking through the gates when the Riverlanders arrived. The River Lords ordered their hosts to assemble for battle and began marching across the bridge when the Northern General brought dozens of catapults to bear on the Twins and bathed the crossing in fire. In the confusion, the Northmen slipped boats hewn from the forest into the water and crossed en masse, surprising the host on the opposite side of the river as they broke through the gates and charged the survivors on the rubble strewn bridge.


Ser Jonos had apparently been knocked into the river early in the battle and managed to get free of his armour, before swimming across the river and finding himself in the North. Apparently, there was another engagement across the Twins and the war had ended. He stayed for a time before bidding us goodbye, and returned on his way south.



Lordship of the Twins passed under control of Lord Howland Reed, one of the oldest of the Northern Lords and he bestowed them on Vayon Greengood, who was apparently a giant of a man. I had heard little else of him, and never his family name before. Master Ryswell suggested that he might have been a warrior in service to Lord Howland who proved his worth and loyalty. That made sense. Then again, Mother said that Lord Howland was close to the Starks. Perhaps, she suggested, he was taking vengeance for her family in the only way he could. Whatever the case, we soon heard the Freys lost the High Lordship of the Crossing, and soon after the Freys of Riverrun were fighting the new Crossing Lords to reinstall their family to the title, though they could not help regain the Twins. They were firmly held by the North.


The lands were quiet after that. The Lords had had their latest taste of blood and Lord Howland had the pleasure of watching the Freys be slaughtered in the war for the Crossing. It was eerily quiet. Few ravens flew, from or to the Dreadfort and days slipped into weeks, and weeks into months and so on. All the while, Master Ryswell and Maester Alaester had, under Mothers direction, been teaching me the High Lordships and history of the North. Most concerning, they said, was the uncertain succession of the throne of Winterfell and the betrothal of the heirs of both White Harbour and the Barrowlands, which would make those lords very powerful. They didn't say but I think I gathered what they meant for me to realize.


My own betrothal though was not to be as profitable. Still, before long it was time to prepare. The ravens were sent out to give the guests plenty of time to prepare, and those managing the affair soon found themselves extremely busy.


All my vassals were invited, as were Lady Kyras House. Meliana and Brenett would be in attendance as well, though Ser Walder Frey would be excluded and kept at the gate. How he had managed to find his way into my Mothers good graces after we had banished all but my grandfathers last wife, Arwyn Frey, was beyond me. When he had first come to us he was just a boy, and thankfully after having grown up with him, I at least knew one good Frey. To be sure however, she would be in the country and unable to attend. Freys were ill guests at weddings these days, and a wedding with Boltons and Starks was already coming too close to slow healing wounds.

It was months before the finalities of the wedding however, and I finished my lessons from Master Ryswell before the annointed day. He had trained me well in sword play, and I was at least confident that I could hold my own, but I was no gallant swordsman like the late Kingslayer. In truth I felt more comfortable in command, and fewer were better in that regard anyway. Nonetheless, I was content. I was prepared to lead, and knew that I was at least skilled in that.


The wedding, when it came was in truth a modest affair. We had gold enough to spend but winter and hard times had shown it difficult enough to keep the gold when it mattered if such affairs were given more than their due. Still, Mother made use of what we had as best she could. She even managed to convince King Arthor to attend, though how she had managed that when just a few years before he had wanted me dead, I'll never know. Also in his company was Lord Howland Reed himself, whom I had persuaded Mother to invite in recognition of his friendship with her father. A few other Lords were invited but few enough were in attendance - the name Bolton had a long road to recovery.

The presence of the King and Lord Howland would be enough. I might not be the schemer that my father was, nor his father - thank the Gods - but I had plans, wrongs to right and duties to fulfill. Master Ryswell had heard them briefly, and parts I had told to Mother, but the bigger picture was my own. It would take time, and patience. Thankfully, I have both.

Soon enough everything was set and the day had arrived.



Let the game begin.​
 
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Derahan

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Finally you are a grown man, now Westeros can bend the knee to the banner of the flayed man!
 

ATempler

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Chapter IV - A Bolton Wedding


The wedding itself was magnificient. I had never seen the Dreadfort look so wonderful. Flowers draped the causeway, and over the main gate. Through the courtyard fresh hay had been spread to guard the feet of the guests from the dirt underneath, and a few pillars half my height lined the main walkway, lighting up the path as night grew closer. Soon enough all the guests had arrived. They talked amongst themselves and shared their adventures and comings and goings to anyone who would listen. Particularly interesting to many of the guests was my courtier, Koroxhar of Yeen. He was a pirate half-man passing his 50s, but if you believed his tales he had been everywhere and done everything - and everyone. The last time we spoke was many weeks ago but he claimed to have been a consort of Daenerys Targeryan herself. After that slander, I had him locked in the dungeons and then paraded naked through the town, a crown on his head.


He kept to himself well enough. In the meantime, I was waiting before the weirwood and had a clear view when Lady Kyra began her walk to join me before the Gods. Her hair was braided and kept back, behind her head. Her face was shrouded behind a vale. I had never seen her before. She was said to be pretty, and to keep active in her daily life. Her figure showed the latter to be true, and when I pulled back the vale I was satisfied. She was no great beauty, but she was my bride and together we would make a family. As the Lady of Flint Keep, our son would also find himself heir to new lands. Given the fast approaching power of the marriage of Donnel Ryswell, heir to the Barrowlands and Wynfryd Manderly, heir to White Harbour, new lands meant new troops and greater influence.


She was nervous, and to be truthful I had yet to be with a woman or so much as kiss a girl when I pulled her closer and our lips came together. It was as awkward as one might expect, but there was something innocent about it. Something that had been missing from the Dreadfort for many, many years. We smiled at each other, out of relief more than happiness but I believed we were a good match.

Soon after we returned to the main hall with the guests and the feast began. Kyra and I talked together quite a bit, trying to get to know each other and learn who we were. She was just as gracious and good as I had been told, though I could see that she was nervous about my family history. I had been expecting this but, at least I did not let it show. She was a good girl, if not well educated or skilled, and I was happy to have a good bride.


I took my leave of her after a time though, and spoke with the guests. In particular, I managed to speak with both Lord Howland and King Arthor, who had otherwise appeared to be speaking to one another alone. We spoke at length after I got them off guard which was understandable. Were I from another House, and especially were I a King, I would be nervous about attending a Bolton wedding. The conversation however went well enough and by the end of it, I'd managed more than my usual share of daily intrigue.


I spoke with Lord Howland first and after discussing the war against the Riverlands and claiming of the Twins, which should have been taken by the Northmen long ago I added, mentioned my Mother, Lady Arya Stark. We discussed his relationship with the Starks at some length, and surprisingly he held back any sharp talk against my House the whole while. I brought Mother to see him and they wished each other well, her more so in thanks to his friendship to her father and brother Robb against the Lannisters and Targeryans. She left to attend to other guests, and shortly thereafter I mentioned my sister, Meliana.

As intended, King Arthor was suitably on edge and drunk at this point when I mentioned the succession to the throne of Winterfell and the match of the Ryswells and the Manderlys. The rest didn't take much convincing, except perhaps of Mother over the next few days. After a bit of discussion it was agreed that Meliana Stark would wed Qhorin Reed and ally the lands of the Dreadfort and the Neck, while Brenett Stark would wed Cassandra Karstark, King Arthors only daughter and fourth child.


We agreed to meet again in the morning to discuss the proposal over and, as expected, it was all finalized. Any shred to the doubt of King Arthors rule would end with the legitimacy of a Stark betrothal, the Crown would also gain the loyalty of House Bolton, while the Neck would gain a valuable ally in the Dreadfort. At least, that was their motivations. My own were more complicated.

The bedding ceremony soon followed and was more private than others I'd heard about. We managed to break from tradition somewhat by undressing when we were alone in the room and keeping our clothes on as we were carried to. The night was ... hard to describe. It was not what I had expected but I had no complaints.


The morning after saw many of the Lords and Ladies managing heavy headaches. I chose not to partake and so was spared. When people realized, I soon heard that my grandfather Roose had been of the same mind. That day though, it was not I who did the more intrigue. I quickly realized that plans were afoot. Granted, it was because the fools came and told me.


Perra. A beautiful young maid came to me the night after my wedding and tempted me into being alone to hear an invitation to the plot. The fool had the gall to ask me to betray my own family, and to kill my Mother. I evaded the question and took her. She was more open after that, believing that I had agreed to her plot. After that though, the whole time we spoke I was trying to figure out who was involved. Perra had married Mark, my Master of Coin. I assumed his involvement. Koroxhar too, I guessed. The little bastard would love revenge on me.


I spoke of the plot to no one for there was no evidence to share and expose it. Not even my wife, who had returned for a time to Flint Keep, while I bed Perra with growing frequence. She gave me little more information though. She wanted me to make my allegiance more clear, and her attempts to seduce me grew more passionate as the weeks passed.

Eventually, as months passed with little news and no action on the part of the conspirators, word came from Flint Keep. When word had first reached me of Kyras pregnancy, I was elated. Now though I barred Perra from my chambers. My wife had given me an heir. She had given my family a future. She had my loyalty for that. I rode out at once with the Dreadguard, the household guard I established of House Bolton, and quickly arrived at her keep. I spent a week there as we spoke more than letters had allowed and I apologized for my absence from her side. Intrigue at court was my only explanation and it was true. At least, from a certain point of view.

Eventually, after some debate we settled on a name. She had intended to name him Hugo but I managed to convince her to change it. The first wrong I had to right, was paying respects long overdue. Hopefully, this went some way along that intention.


When I returned to the Dreadfort however, I could no longer tolerate the scheming of Perra, Mark and Koroxhar. They would talk. They would share with me any other conspirators - and if they would not, well ...

A Flayed Man has No Secrets