Cluiz

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Oh-hey-there. Name's Cluiz, or El, if you like. I heard about Crusader Kings by way of the Song of Ice and Fire mod, but fell in love with it tinkering around with Sweden en route to creating the Empire of Scandinavia (giving myself a hefty leg up with save scumming, I'm kind've ashamed to admit, but it was my first time and burdened with incompetencies such as managing to net myself a Greek Orthodox heir in a Swedish Catholic court). Anyhow, it was inevitable that I'd eventually have a look at the GOT mod, and after playing around with the Starks for a while, my writer's itch started up. CK is of course a story rich game, and as somebody who likes to think herself a creative person, I could see an awful lot of potential in that save. However, it was a considerable way in already, and starting a story in the middle didn't quite feel right, so I elected to go with something brand new to share on these forums.

Just a few quick things; I'd never even heard of 'AAR's before arriving here about a week ago, so it probably goes without saying that I'm new to all of this. I might get things wrong (I almost certainly go micro in the timeline sense), I might miss screenshots of interesting stuff (I already know I've done that a couple of times) or go into irrelevant diversions. Still, I'm going to do my best to supply an enjoyable story. This will be narrative heavy, with maybe the occasional gameplay aside because I like commenting on the mechanical side of things. It's also very character based, maybe a little too much so when it comes to the councillors, but anyhow, I'm learning, I guess.

I made use of the ruler designer to create my starting character, as I wanted to go for something a little different than the default, so I ended up usurping a canon character. All fans of House Peckledon are entirely entitled to leave in protest :p.

I'll be trying to stick to the events-as-presented as closely as I can, but I might reshuffle one or two things if it works better for the narrative. There will definitely be no reloading here!

Valar Morghulis.
 

Cluiz

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CH 1 - Succession

It was noon. The sun shone brightly in the skies, illuminating the battlements of the modest castle of Peckledon, sparkling off the armour of the men patrolling the walls, beating down on the bald head of the smith toiling in the yard and the guards practicing sparring. It filtered through the loose thatch of the stable roof to warm the horses nestling there, and shone down upon the book of a young man stretched out in the castle’s gardens.

All in all, it was a perfect day.

The sun also found its way through an open window in the keep – the window to a bedroom. From within the chamber, snoring could be heard from the opposite end of the floor. Sprawled in bed was a blond-haired man of considerable stature. Tall, muscular, and absolutely reeking of wine. Empty cups littered the floor, and the bedding had a huge red stain right by its occupant’s head. One might have given the scene a second, suspect glance were it not for the utterly deafening sound emitting from the room.

There was a rapping at the chamber door. A pause for a few moments, then another set of knocks, louder this time. An exasperated noise of frustration.

“Lord Albright! Lord Albright! I bring you urgent news!”

The snores abated for a moment as the towering man murmured in his sleep, scratched his belly, and then rolled onto his front. Seconds later, the snoring started up again.

There was the sound of disgust from the other side of the door, and then the heavy oak was pushed aside and a thickset man with a bright red face entered the bedchamber. About his neck was the heavy chain of a maester, though he seemed perhaps a little young for such an office. The maester’s nose wrinkled at the sight arrayed before him and he wrung his hands together for a moment before simply throwing them up in the air.

“Lord Albright! Please rouse yourself!”

The slumbering giant let out a moan, covering his head with his huge hands, but showing no signs of an inclination to wake.

Letting out another ‘Ugh!’ the maester approached the bed and reached out a tentative hand to shake Lord Albright by the shoulder.

“Mamma I’ll go to my studies tomorrow…” Albright muttered, rolling over again.

Growing more frustrated, the maester simply poked the Lord in his broad chest, and after a few applications of that method, was rewarded with a bloodshot blue eye cracking open, instantly slamming shut when the light from the window struck it.

“Seven hells!” Albright growled, shading his face with his hands. “What in the Mother’s name do you want, Rolph?”

The portly maester took a step back, swallowing. He always forgot how loud the man was. “Uh, Lord Albright, I’ve been sent to uh, that is I’ve…” Rolph stumbled over his words.

“I have a headache that could murder a man, lord maester. I’m seriously considering making that man you right now.”

Maester Rolph blanched. “Y-your uh… it concerns your lord father.”

“Oh? Sent you to lecture me has he? Tell the goat he can come do it hims-“

“He passed to the Gods not half an hour past.”

Albright snapped bolt upright, all the colour draining from his face.

“Oh sod.”


1Albright.jpg


--


Albright looked every inch the lord as he stood vigil in the Sept, watching over his father Alric’s body. He looked like he’d stepped straight out of the pages of some storybook – the tallest man in the room by a distance, arrayed in full plate armour burnished to a fine sheen, not a blonde hair out of place. Buckled at his side was a fine sheath, within which resided the blade of Alric, passed down from father to son for generations. Valryian steel, named ‘Warsong’.

Men that did not know Lord Albright of Peckledon as well as Cadwyn might even have been taken in by appearances. However, Cadwyn had lived in Peckledon since he was a boy, taken in as a ward by the kindly late Lord Alric, and he had been Castellan for over ten years now. He’d watched Albright grow up from a stubborn, selfish and lazy boy and into a stubborn, selfish and lazy man, and one who was usually in his cups before lunchtime to boot.

Even so… the Castellan studied Albright’s face and saw a look of much greater solemnity than he’d grown to expect from the young Lord. He had seen his twenty-fifth name day not two weeks past – perhaps it was never quite too late to be doing a little growing up. The issue to Cadwyn’s eyes was that Albright did not need to do a little growing up, he needed to do a lot, and the clock was already ticking. The affairs of court were a bore to him, and Albright’s idea of diplomacy was not punching a man who spilled his drink.

That would not suffice. As Lord Alric’s only son, the entire High Lordship of Peckledon now rested on Albright’s shoulders. Five castles, seven towns and a handful of villages, and all those that lived within them were now Albright’s responsibility. Sure enough, the castles had lords, the towns mayors, most of them capable enough – but capable men were not happy serving those less competent than themselves. Or who were not at least charming enough to make that matter less. Or talented enough in the field to command respect. Or good enough with the whispers to command fear…

The list went on. For his overpowering size and the heritage of his new blade, Albright wasn’t even a good swordsman. Cadwyn had seen the boy fight in the practice yard, and it was like watching a bull charging; impressively strong and intimidating in its own way, but mindless and predictable. He could batter those weaker than him into submission, but soon came unstuck against those with real finesse wielding a sword. He was a better warrior than statesman, but Cadwyn was reasonably sure that some of the local urchins would make better statesmen than his new liege lord. Albright hadn’t even been knighted – too lazy to pursue the path of the squire, and Lord Alric – Seven rest his soul – had been too indulgent of his only son to force him.

Cadwyn bowed his head, face falling back into the shadow beneath his hood as the Septon continued the ceremony. Albright was going to need help. A lot of help.

The Castellan was just going to have to do his best.


3Cadwyn.jpg
 

Saithis

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Nice start, looking forward to it. Subbed.
 

Cluiz

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CH 1 - Succession

The drumming of Tywin Lannister’s fingers was the only motion on the entire form of the lord of Casterly Rock. He was seated at a large table, spread across which was an array of maps, books, and letters. The maps were decorated here and there with small figurines; men, boats and horses, representing the armies of the seven kingdoms – or at least the most recent reports of them. The lords of Westeros were on the march, and there would be blood before the year was through. Tywin couldn’t say how long it would be before the war ended… which was precisely why he had as of yet refused to commit to either side. True, they called Aerys the Mad King for a reason, multiple reasons in fact, but it was a bold man indeed that betrayed his liege lord. Especially when that liege lord was a Targaryen.

Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark. Those were bold men, perhaps too bold for their own good. No, certainly too bold for their own good. For a moment, Tywin considered his own response, had it been his father and brother slain at the hands of Aerys – or on his orders, at least. Aerys didn’t carry out his sentences himself. Almost immediately, the thought was dismissed as fanciful. It was not his family that had been killed, and therefor irrelevant.

He could afford patience. Aerys would be too preoccupied with the rebellion itself to punish Tywin for not involving himself, and Robert would hardly want to drag the might of Casterly Rock into the war on the side of the King. No… now was not the time to act rashly, not when Jaime was in King’s Landing.

There was a knocking from without. Tywin’s drumming ceased.

“Enter,” he intoned, not looking up from his maps.

“My lord, there has been a raven from Peckledon.”

Now Tywin did look up. His new maester, Brunwick, hovered awkwardly in the doorway. The lord met his eyes for a moment.

“I said enter. I trust you are not deaf, maester?”

Brunwick shook his head and then hurried over to Tywin, stumbling over his robes in the process. He almost fumbled the message producing it from a pocket, but tightened his grip before it could fall to the floor. The man was enthusiastic, Tywin would give him that. In some ways, news from Peckledon was more interesting than a raven from this lord or that lord demanding he raise his banners and pledge himself to Aerys’ cause or Robert’s.

Tywin read in silence, and then when he was done, neatly folded the letter back up.

“Lord Alric is dead,” he announced, and Brunwick’s pale face resolved into a frown.

“I am sorry my lord, I heard he was a good man.”

“He knew his duties and executed them,” Tywin responded shortly, the wheels in his head turning. “Apparently this wasting sickness killed him in a matter of days. So now his son will succeed him.”

“Lord Albright, as I understand,” Brunwick hesitated, seemed about to continue, then stopped. Tywin turned his sharp eyes back to the maester.

“And what have you heard of him?”

“I have… heard he is well known for his looks, my lord.”

“Indeed, and also doubtless that he’s the size of a horse and drinks enough to drown one.”

“My lord, I’m not sure I-”

“You will not get far in my service by playing stupid, maester. I scarcely have enough time to weed out the real fools.”

“…I understand, my lord,” Brunwick made to leave, but Tywin stopped him with a gesture.

“I shall need to send a reply with my condolences… and a summons,” almost imperceptibly, Tywin gritted his teeth.

“After all, the boy is a Lannister.”


7AlbrightLannister.jpg

Dat statline.
 

Cluiz

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CH 2 -Responsibility

“Casterly Rock…” Albright breathed. “I haven’t been here since I was a boy.”

“Oh yes?” the answer came from some way below Albright. A big man required a big horse, and that left almost everyone craning their necks to speak to him.

“Yes, it was for a wedding I believe, some cousin or another to a Crakehall. Or was it a Westerling? Either way. Father was invited and he brought me along too,” Albright’s face broke into a broad grin. “I snuck away from the feast with half a wineskin and woke up underneath a hay bale in the stables.”

His companion, master-at-arms Lewys of Westerborder, opted not to comment that nothing much had changed since then. Albright’s drinking had been surprisingly moderate since the death of his father – moderate by Albright standards, at least, which meant that he was drunk only one evening in two instead of every single day. In fact, since they’d started riding, Albright had been almost constantly sober, though Lewys suspected that was more through lack of a ready supply of wine than any focus on the task at hand.

Lewys himself was just glad of the opportunity to get out of Peckledon for once. His position had grown dull of late, especially as Lord Alric’s – rest the old man’s soul - lifestyle grew more and more sedate. He hadn’t swung a blade in anger in at least three years, not even at highwaymen. Organising an escort detail had been a refreshing change of pace, and he was glad to discover that he still had his mind for military matters. Lewys was more fighter than tactician, but he still took his duties seriously.

Albright remained in high spirits on the entire approach to the Rock, hailing just about everyone they passed on the road, consistently remarking about what a lovely day it was until Lewys was sorely tempted to brain the man. He almost preferred him when he was drunk. He spoke less.

In time, the party drew up to the gates of the fortress. Lannister guardsmen barred the way, though the entrance stood open. Courtesy then – guests weren’t greeted from atop a castle wall, after all.

Lord Albright urged his horse forward, a gentle smile on his face. The light struck him just right to shine off his golden-blonde hair. Lewys felt a moment of zealous frustration (NOT jealousy, he told himself). For the Seven to have gifted a man with such physical attributes, blessed him with good looks… and for him to waste those gifts on contented laziness… it was a sour draught to swallow. If only Albright had bothered to apply himself, bothered to learn the way of the sword – he could have become one of the best fighters in Westeros.

But like it or not, this was his lord now. He had made oaths, and they were to be honoured.

“Hail,” Albright called out once he had closed to a respectable distance with the guards. “I am Lord Albright Lannister, Lord of Peckledon. I am here by the invitation of my kinsman Lord Tywin Lannister.”

The guardsmen each stepped to the side.

“Welcome to Casterly Rock, Lord Albright.”


4LEwys.jpg


--


Albright and his party had received a most gracious welcome from Lord Tywin, accompanied of course by an entire retinue, the majority of them Lannisters that ‘Bright wasn’t entirely sure how he was related to. After sparing a moment to offer sympathies for his loss, Tywin had invited him to eat. Uncomfortable in the presence of so many courtiers and having managed off travelling rations for the entire ride from Peckledon, Albright had been more than happy to take Lord Tywin up on that.

It had been a fine spread, all told, but the meal itself had been punctuated by questions - questions and condolences. Family members Albright barely knew telling him that his lord father had been a great man, that they were sure he could carry on the family’s legacy and that the Seven always took the most virtuous before their time (the lattermost from a hoary sort whose hair had long since greyed). Tolerable enough at first, the seemingly unending roulette of people felt suffocating, like a heavy cloak fixed about his shoulders in midsummer.

He suspected the cloak of his father’s death would remain for some time. They had not seen eye to eye for some seven years prior to Alric’s demise, which may or may not have had something to do with Albright celebrating his eighteenth name day by riding naked through Brixworth declaring himself the king of mead and the god of invisible smallclothes. No, the bonds of father and son had never been strong, they were each far too different for that. Yet… Alric had still been his father – the only parent he had known for most of his life. Albright had not forgotten those nights when Alric had sat him upon his knee and told him tales of Warsong, and the men that had wielded it. Stories that he’d share himself, someday.

It had come as a relief when the meal had finally come to a close, by which point Albright had thoroughly compensated for the lack of alcohol on the ride to Casterly Rock. Fortunately, that which would have laid a smaller man low Albright took in his stride, and when Lord Tywin approached him to ask for a word in private ‘Bright was only at a pleasant buzz, certainly far from drunk.

The two men walked to Tywin’s solar in silence. On a number of occasions, Albright looked to his kinsman, opened his mouth to speak, then quickly shut it again. Lord Tywin did not strike him as the kind of man to make idle conversation. In truth this was only the third or fourth time Albright had seen Lord Tywin in person, and the first that he had been alone. There had been the wedding at Casterly Rock, some tournament, and… of course, the time when Tywin himself had stayed at Peckledon and talked with ‘Bright’s father long into the night.

They reached Tywin’s chambers, and he gestured for Albright to sit. After a moment, he did so, bright blue eyes fixing on his Lord. Tywin returned the gaze levelly, then took his own seat, steepling his hands and regarding Albright over the top of them.

“You’ve heard more than enough of your father already tonight. He’s not my concern any longer. You are.”

Albright shifted in his chair a little, but remained silent. All of a sudden, he felt like he was ten years old again. He may have been able to reach out and snap Tywin’s neck, if he wanted – ‘Bright had over a head on the man, but that was not where his lord’s power lay. Albright knew the feeling for what it was; he was but a cub, and this man was the roaring lion.

“Nothing to say? Then listen. You are a Lannister. A Lannister from another line, perhaps, but no less of a Lannister for all that. You are a member of my house, and that means that your deeds reflect upon us all, both the good and the bad. You succeed the beloved Lord Alric, you wield a blade of Valyrian steel; those are responsibilities that you must live up to.”

“I will…” Albright’s voice was uncertain, but with the clenching of a huge fist, he firmed his resolve. “I will not let you down, my Lord.”

“You must not let anyone down. If that is understood, I have some advice for you.”

‘Bright cocked his head to the side and simply listened. There was no point in engaging in a debate with Tywin. He would talk circles around him sober, which he wasn’t.

Tywin tilted his head back and regarded Albright for a few moments longer. “You must marry. Once you have an heir your position will be secured. A lord without an heir is vulnerable,” Tywin paused, eyes locked on Albright’s. “House Lannister cannot show vulnerability.”

‘Bright froze. He felt as if he had been struck in the stomach and winded. Married? Him? He’d had dalliances with women before of course, but from that to marriage, affirming life-long vows? It seemed terrifying.

Tywin sensed his hesitation and went for the throat. “This is not the time for personal qualms. This is a matter of duty. I’ve procured a list of eligible young maidens for you to consider,” Tywin produced a parchment, held it out to Albright. He took it with numb fingers, and then began to scan it.

Names, houses, ages… and from this, he was supposed to pick his bride.

Albright swallowed, then nodded.

“Thank you Lord Tywin, I’ll not leave you waiting on me long.”

You’re a Lannister. Act like one.

Within the hour, a raven flew from Casterly Rock, its destination, Dorne.
 
Last edited:

Saithis

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Very interesting stuff, I'm definitely liking this AAR. I'm not super familiar with GRRM's works but from what I have read you seem to capture the spirit of his works quite well. Albrighton seems to have a long road ahead of him.
 

addsub

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Wow! Fantastic start to the AAR! I will be following this!
 

Cluiz

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Very interesting stuff, I'm definitely liking this AAR. I'm not super familiar with GRRM's works but from what I have read you seem to capture the spirit of his works quite well. Albrighton seems to have a long road ahead of him.


That's a big compliment! I'm not trying to specifically emulate GRRM, but I'm not surprised if you get that kind of vibe.


Love narrative aars, and this one's pretty good!


Hoping to keep it that way. :happy:


Wow! Fantastic start to the AAR! I will be following this!


Pull up a chair!
 

Cluiz

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CH 2 - Responsibility


Albright paced agitatedly before the gate of Peckledon, every heavy footfall kicking up great plumes of dust. Behind him, with his horse and mounted on steeds of their own were three of his courtiers. Cadwyn, Lewys and the fat Maester, Rolph. A retinue had been encouraged by the Castellan, but rejected out of hand by their Lord – he’d said that he didn’t want the common soldiers seeing his anxiety. That seemed quite a good idea now, as the trio sat in silence watching Albright going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, before at last he stopped and turned to them.

“What if she’s ugly?”

The trebled noises of exasperation.

“My lord…” said Cadwyn. “You do understand these tales of her beauty were not some story invented in the past few weeks as a jape?”

Albright looked down, to the side, and then back at Cadwyn. “But… she’s Dornish, maybe they’ve got a different idea of what beauty means in Dorne. I mean, maybe they just can’t take their eyes off gigantic noses and tiny black beady eyes,” he would have been drunk by now, but the three councillors had convened the previous night and confiscated every last drop of alcohol in the castle.

“They do not,” answered Rolph. “And even if they did, your duties would not change,” the Maester clucked to himself. “Nobody ever said that a woman had to be beautiful to put a babe in her belly.”

“And you’d know plenty about that, wouldn’t you Maester?” was Albright’s venomous reply.

Rolph’s jaw hung open, and Lewys nudged him aside. “The Maester’s right,” the master-of-arms told his lord gently. “Good looks or no, you need an heir, unless you want this castle to pass to some distant cousin you’ve never met in your life when you die.”

Albright stiffened. “I’m twenty-five, I hardly think I’m set to drop dead any time soon.”

“Aye?” said Lewys, voice growing harder. “And what if you catch the sickness that took your father from us? What if your horse throws you and you break your back? What if an unhappy peasant were to cast a stone and put a crack in your skull? What if some distant cousin you’ve never met in your life figures out he’s next in line for a lordship and sends a blade at you in the night?” Lewys leaned forward. “These are uncertain times, my lord. A child? That’s a certainty.”

“Yes, but…” Albright was faltering, Cadwyn nodded to Lewys and pressed the attack.

“Of course, my lord, the betrothal could always be set aside, you’ve said no vows yet,” ‘Bright looked up, his face somewhat hopeful. “Though you may of course be called upon to explain why the Sword of the Morning’s sister wasn’t good enough for you.”

Albright paled. “Seven hells!” he spat, turning violently away and going back to his pacing.

The three councillors shared a victorious smile.

The remainder of the wait passed in silence until, half an hour or so later, a sentry called from above.

“Riders on the road! At least four score of them. They bear banners; three stars above a red mountain on white, and a sword on purple.”

“The Daynes, Lords of Red Mountain,” Cadwyn announced after a moment, attracting a dirty look from Rolph. “Time to meet your bride my Lord.”

Albright hadn’t moved since the sentry spoke. He stood stock still in the middle of the road leading up to his castle’s gates. He was swaying slightly. All three courtiers stared. Then, with an expression much akin to panic, Albright rushed over to them and vaulted onto his horse with such force that he nearly overbalanced and fell straight off the other side. He steadied himself just as the first of the horsemen appeared in the distance.

For a few moments, they just watched and waited as the Dornishmen grew nearer.

“…Oh bugger this,” Albright spurred his mount forward and burst towards the visitors. Rolph almost did the same, but Lewys shook his head.

Cadwyn laughed. “Amazing. Now he looks eager, not intimidated. He makes the right move by mistake.”

“Here’s to many more mistakes,” replied the master-at-arms.


--


The hooves of Albright’s horse thundered as it raced onward. It was a fine beast, a present from his father for his twentieth nameday. Back then, Alric had told his son that it was about time he found a match, and Albright had simply laughed it off. Now, he wondered if it had not perhaps been a better idea to look for a woman to marry himself. His father had never denied him anything, he would not have minded if he’d chosen to marry some local girl from Peckletown, so long as he was happy. Instead, he was promised to some woman from Dorne that he’d never met in his entire life. Certainly Albright had heard the stories of Ashara Dayne, but he’d also heard that Tywin Lannister shit gold, that Tyrion Lannister was a twisted spawn of dark gods and that Albright Lannister was the bastard of a giant from north of the Wall. Well, Tywin visited the privy same as other men, and Tyrion was just an ugly dwarf. ‘Bright had laughed when he’d heard that last one though, telling the rest of the inn that it must have been a terribly handsome giant.

He hoped Lady Ashara had a sense of humour at least, this promised to be a terribly dull marriage if not.

It wasn’t long before the distant smudge of a crowd resolved itself into individual horses, individual riders. Albright slowed his pace, lest he greet his bride by crashing headlong into her. Seeing him there, one of the Dornish riders urged his own horse forward to meet the young Lannister. A man of about his age, dark haired, riding a mount just as dark.

“Greetings,” said Albright, as the Dornishman grew near. “And welcome to my lands. I am Albright Lannister, first of his name, Lord of Peckledon.”

The Dornishman inclined his head respectfully. “I am Tion Dayne, heir to Red Mountain,” he favoured Albright with a somewhat cold smile. “I’m to be your brother-in-law.”

“Then well met to you, my brother.”

Before any more words could be exchanged, another rider appeared alongside Tion. This time, it was a woman. Although ‘a woman’ didn’t quite seem to do her justice. A breath-taking woman with gorgeous violet eyes that set Albright’s heart hammering the moment they met his. That was a start.

“My lady,” ‘Bright managed, wresting control of his tongue .

“Lord Albright, allow me to introduce to you my sister; Lady Ashara Dayne.”

The Dornish most definitely had the same idea of ‘beautiful’ as the Westerlands. Albright nearly fainted.



6Ashara.jpg



--


The next few days were like something out of a dream. Peckledon had never seemed so full, and none of it had ever been quite so much Albright’s responsibility. There were men to find lodgings for, horses to stable and wedding arrangements to be made. The young lord never thought he’d have to spend an afternoon discussing the hangings with which he wanted the great hall to be decorated, nor just how many different varieties of meat he wanted available at the feasts. The Dornishmen were well behaved at least, though they largely kept to themselves apart from Tion. Persistently, the Dayne attempted to press Albright on when the Lannisters were going to call their banners and enter the war against the Usurper, Robert. At length, ‘Bright was forced to turn to the man and tell him that such things were frankly not his decision, and that if he wanted to ask a Lannister about the war, then Casterly Rock wasn’t far to the west.

He did manage to hit on the trick of diverting Tion with Lewys, though. Both men were just as devoted to the Seven, and very happy to spend hours debating religious matters with one another whilst Albright thoroughly wished he could slip out of Peckledon for five minutes to get a drink. The bastards were rationing him.

Albright also got to know his soon-to-be wife a little better in the mean-time – once he managed to get over the part of the dream that stole the words out of his mouth. Asides from being quite possibly the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, Ashara was also perfectly pleasant in conversation – proud of her house, but if she bore any resentment towards ‘Bright for the impending marriage to a man far distant from her home, she did not show it. She was quite lovely, and were it not for one thing, Albright’s nerves would have been greatly soothed.

But in addition to being beautiful, she was wholly miserable. ‘Bright couldn’t count himself as the most astute man in the Seven Kingdoms, but he knew enough to be able to tell when somebody was deep in despair. His father had been much the same after his mother had died attempting to bear his second child, and the babe had died along with her. Naturally, Albright’s first thought that it had to be the marriage, but on talking to Tion, who wasn’t much of a liar (and too anxious at offending a Lannister to avoid the question), he’d managed to coax out the story that she’d been that way ever since she’d given birth to a stillborn.

That had made Albright laugh. His not-quite lady wife had almost birthed a bastard, no wonder Lord Ulrick hadn’t objected to marrying her off to a minor Lannister. Well… it was not as if Albright had not lain with women before now, and the indiscretion didn’t bother him so much as Ashara’s misery. He couldn’t imagine that it would be much fun – or child…ful to be married with a depressed woman. For the time being though, there wasn’t much he could do about that. Albright supposed that if she’d shared his fear of an ugly spouse, said fear was by now alleviated, which was a silver lining for the both of them.

This was never how he expected he’d be getting married. He thought that… well, he thought that there would be something romantic to it – more romantic than “Hello politically advantageous woman, my father’s distant cousin asked me to marry you, let’s find a septon” at least. Albright wasn’t entirely sure what said romance might have construed, but he was forced to glumly admit that it would probably have been something along the lines of meeting someone in a tavern, having an ill-advised tumble, and then marrying them to keep his child’s surname from being ‘Hill’.

See, this was what happened when he was sober, he started thinking.

Gods he needed a drink.
 
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Cluiz

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CH 2 - Responsibility

Albright’s wedding night was one of surprising moderation for him. He drank to a degree – but little by his standards, he chatted with all the right people, he took the well-wishes in stride and spoke the vows with a ringing clear voice. It still all had that sense of unreality, as if he were reading about this happening to somebody else than experiencing it himself.

But as he was pushed into his bedchamber to the sight of his new lady wife, naked on his bed, reality most definitely struck him. Gods but Ashara was beautiful… perfect, and as the door slammed shut behind him to a chorus of giggling, Albright felt at a complete loss for words.

“My lord,” Ashara said, attempting a smile but not showing particular conviction.

Albright took a few steps closer, and then sat himself on the edge of the bed, alongside Ashara. Any lust that he may have held was instantly burned away by the expression on her face.

He sighed softly. “I’m sure this isn’t much of a comfort, but this wasn’t really my choice either.”

Ashara did smile then, but it was wry, humourless. “You’re right, it’s not. But thank you anyway.”

They sat there for a while, the silence stretching for several minutes before Albright shifted uncomfortably. “I can’t say I know much about being a husband, or a lord, or… well, much of anything, but… well, I’m going to give all of this my best shot, at least. I’ve seen father’s bannermen, I’ve seen their expressions. None of them think I’m up to this,” Albright smirked. “I guess proving them wrong is motivation enough.”

Ashara’s eyebrow arched, and it took quite a considerable effort for Albright not to let out a moan. This was his luck, to be married to one of the most beautiful women he’d ever laid eyes on, and she’d rather be anything but his wife.

He pressed on, trying to push that thought aside. “Well, to be perfectly honest I’d sooner spend the day in the tavern than sitting in a chair ‘ruling’, having people bring every little problem to me. It looked boring when father did it and it’ll be even more so when I’m doing it.”

“Why don’t you drink and rule?” Ashara’s tone was semi-contemptuous, but Albright laughed.

“That’d be an idea. People are much more interesting when I’m drunk. Or is that when they’re drunk? Probably both,” Albright waved a hand, trying to get back to the point. “What I’m saying though is… well, I’m not cut out for this, but it’s my duty as a lord and a Lannister. I certainly don’t want to go to the Seven and find generations of stern blonde-headed men staring at me with folded arms and telling me I ruined the house’s reputation in the afterlife. That would just be embarrassing.”

His wife didn’t seem sure whether to glare or break into laughter.

“So I’m going to try, at least,” Albright reached out and took Ashara’s hand, delicate and slender next to his meaty paw. He gave it a gently squeeze and smiled at her. “I can’t promise I’ll be an ideal husband, but I can promise that I’m going to try.”

“That’s…” Ashara looked at him uncertainly, and then leaned over, resting her head against Albright’s chest. “That’s all I can ask for.”
 

Cluiz

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CH 3 - Life in war

To anyone following; I have some exams coming up mixed in with some travelling so the next couple updates might be a lot more spaced out than the every three days or so I've been doing. I also have banned myself from playing the game itself via password shenanigans, but I have a lot of material written down, just a matter of finding time to write it up. Anyhow, that was your PSA, enjoy!


---



2Rolph.jpg

Generated Maesters, awww yeah. He's... proud of his poetry I guess?


Maester Rolph huffed and puffed his way down the flight of stairs leading down from his tower, cursing again whatever fool predecessor of his had elected to have the Maester’s chambers at the top of a spiral staircase. He stopped at the bottom, leaning against the wall to catch his breath, round face shining with sweat, giving himself the opportunity to look at the message in his hand once again. Not urgent news, per se, but important, the type of thing that a young lord should know.

Provided he wasn’t in his cups already, Rolph thought darkly, pushing away from the wall to begin walking again. Becoming lord hadn’t done anything much to Albright’s drinking habits, and the moment Cadwyn had relinquished his hold on the wine cellar, the lord had reverted straight back to type. Still… the Maester mused, Albright had managed a year in charge without inciting any revolts, murdering any peasants or being caught at any marital indiscretions, so that ranked him higher than a worryingly large number of lords.

Rolph hurried his way to the castle’s main hall, still struggling for breath. Seven hells… you’d think a man would lose a little weight, living on top of that damned tower. By the time he emerged into the hall, the Maester was red in the face and wheezing like an old man. There, he was greeted by the sight of Albright seated at his usual place, huge boots up on the grand table. Alongside him was Cadwyn as always, as well as Ser Merlon, a brash knight that Albright had taken a liking to recently.

Ser Merlon was regaling the others with a story as Rolph approached. “…and so the father says ‘I’ll have your head for this!’, and I tell him ‘No need, your daughter got there first!’”

Albright roared with laughter, Cadwyn giving a tight-lipped smile. Ser Merlon grinned. “Of course, that was it after that, and he challenges me for his daughter’s honour, not that she had much of it,” he took a sip of wine. “I didn’t hurt him too badly.”

Rolph attempted to clear his throat, sounding rather more like a dying horse than he would have liked. Albright looked up, still smiling. “And he emerges! Serious business must be afoot for the Maester to be here,” the young lord raised an eyebrow. “Run out of sweet meats up there?”

Rolph scowled. “I bring news of the war.”

All three men at the table immediately sat up, attention fixed on the Maester. Rolph produced the message and unfurled it. “Hoster Tully is dead,” he announced. “They’re saying King Aerys slew him in personal combat.”

Albright snorted. “More than likely he had one of the Kingsguard do it for him and then claimed credit for himself.”

Rolph shifted from foot to foot. “Regardless of who did the deed, Lord Tully is still dead.”


11hosterkilled.jpg



“Aye…” Cadwyn said, stroking his beard. “Ill news for the rebellion. Edmure Tully is just a child.”

“Doubtless the Blackfish will take over the war effort,” Ser Merlon frowned. “Might have some trouble with the bannermen though. Tough to make soldiers fight for a boy – could make them think twice about their loyalties.”

“Wonder if Tywin’s thinking twice,” mused Albright. “Like as not he’s waiting until the dust settles, or it’s about to settle.”

“You know…” ventured Ser Merlon. “We could muster several thousand swords.”

It hung in the air for a long, long moment, everyone weighing up the implications of what the knight had just said.

Albright swung his feet from the table and sat up, before slowly pressing his palms to the surface. He gave Merlon a hard look. “Lannister swords. Lannister swords that belong to the rock,”

Ser Merlon bowed his head. “Understood, my lord.”

“Cadwyn, Ser Merlon. You can go,” said Albright, in a tone that meant ‘Leave’.

The knight and Castellan exchanged glances, and then both excused themselves, leaving Rolph alone with his lord. The Maester had an idea of what was coming – Gods knew that it was the only thing Albright ever seemed to seek his counsel on.

The young Lannister looked at his goblet for a few seconds, and then tipped his head back and drained it. Setting the empty vessel aside, Albright gave Rolph a sullen look. “She still hardly talks to me, you know.”

Exactly why Albright chose Rolph to confide in about Ashara Dayne was quite beyond the Maester. He was sworn to advise, it was true, but he’d hardly had much of a way with women even before forging his chain and taking his vows. “Give her time, my lord, and if I might be so bold… well, conversation is not necessarily what’s required.”

Albright gave a short bark of laughter. “So give her a tumble and that’s it, eh?” he sighed, massaging his temples. “Gods above, I shouldn’t feel this bad about taking a woman that gorgeous to my bed.”

“If you desire, my lord, I know of a number of herbs that, if imbibed into a tincture, will ensure ah…” Rolph cleared his throat. “Virility.”

The giant smiled ruefully. “Worth a shot, I suppose. Mix up a batch.”

Rolph bowed. “At once, my lord,” turning, he began to walk away.

Albright called after him. “Maester?”

He looked around again. “Yes?”

Albright cocked a smile. “Make it two. Have to make sure, after all.”



10sermerlonmasteroflaws.jpg
 

Cluiz

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(Woohoo! Available to write again! Finally! Things will hopefully get more regular again from her on out)


CH 4 - THE OUTSKIRTS OF CONFLICT


“Checkmate.”

Albright paused. He had been halfway towards reaching for a knight, but now Ser Merlon was sitting back and favouring him with a grin. Albright’s eyes tracked across the board, and then he scowled.

“I bloody hate this game.”

“Only because a scullery maid could best you at it.”

“Tell me, master of laws, is there a law against smacking a man in the mouth for having too quick a tongue for his own good?”

Merlon laughed – a loud, brazen guffaw that summarised the man at a stroke. ‘Bright couldn’t help but grin himself. The knight was blunt, caustic and the concept of manners was apparently alien to him, which was exactly why he and Albright got along so well. He was a breath of fresh air amidst all the sage warnings and earnest advice. If Merlon thought that Albright was being an idiot, then he would damn well tell it to him straight. That was happening less often these days, but even Albright acknowledged that he still had an awful lot to learn about ruling.

“Lord Albright?” both men looked around at the sound of the voice, seeing the bearded Castellan Cadwyn coming walking into the room. It was a spacious chamber, cool and airy – the late Lord Alric’s old study that Albright had assumed for himself, in no small part because he’d always been curious about what the place looked like.

“Cadwyn! Come, sit!” the young Lord gestured to a free chair nearby the chess table, before using that same hand to grab a goblet of wind and half drain it. Cadwyn and Lewys still stood resolute in their attempt to get him to abandon the bottle, but Albright had simply taken their meaning literally (quite deliberately too) and started drinking solely from cups. It had reduced the amount of broken glass around the castle, at the least, though both advisors had scowled mightily at his jape.

For all the realm’s turmoil, Peckledon had been… surprisingly peaceful as the war raged on. There had been a battle in bordering Mosborough, and some of the broken men from that battle had filtered into the forests, stolen a few chickens and robbed a few villagers, but Lewys had soon seen to them. Albright had insisted on coming along too, although he hadn’t done much more than sit astride his big monster of a horse and cooked in his armour. He’d wanted to get to killing outlaws, but sadly by the time he reached the site of the only scuffle of note, half of the deserters were dead and the rest had yielded. On the advice of his master-at-arms, Albright had sent the men – without their weapons, marching back towards Mosborough, promising them they wouldn't be extended the same mercy if they returned. Best not to be seen hanging Targaryen men, even ones that had fled the army.

Cadwyn reluctantly took a chair. He didn’t like Merlon, Albright knew, but the Lannister cared little and less. They both advised him, gave him good counsel. He could handle them not liking each other. It made the meetings a damn sight more interesting, though of late Merlon had taken to offering to settle disputes with his blade, which tended to make proceedings grow rather… heated. The knight had learned the ways of the bravos across the sea – both their style of fighting and their swaggering attitude. He was blindingly quick with that rapier of his, but fought but seldom, too laconic to train properly for battle.

Cadwyn cleared his throat. “I’ve had more word from the war.”

Merlon, who had been slouching disinterestedly, immediately perked up. “Someone die? Any big battles?”

The Castellan shook his head, a slightly annoyed expression on his face. “I’ve had word that Robert Baratheon has doubled taxes in his lands. Ravens are going out demanding gold rather than blades, now.”

Merlon snorted. “He has to be desperate!” the brash knight looked to the chess board, started to rearrange it for a few moments, until a white king and a pair of knights stood surrounded by black pawns and rooks, other pieces arrayed to either side, as if spectating. Merlon gave a nod to his display. “He demands help whilst surrounded. Tywin will never go to the aid of a man who’s foundering, and why would any loyalists turn their cloak for a man who is losing?”

“How do you know this?” Albright asked quietly, and Cadwyn looked away for a moment.

“We received a raven,” he answered in a cautious tone. “One from Robert, in fact.”

Albright shrugged his broad shoulders, after a long moment. “We’ve avoided the war, along with the Westerlands. I see no need to join it now. Tywin waits, so we wait too,” before becoming a lord, Albright’s blood had never been of that much importance to him, and Alric hadn’t placed too much stock in it either. He’d been quick to impress on Albright that they were only minor Lannisters, only a step or two removed from the multitudes of Lann’s, Lannis’s and Langley’s that sprung up around Casterly Rock. They barely even knew how they were related to the Wardens of the West – distant cousins of some description. The lines had diverged a long time ago. Were it not for the Valyrian steel blade Warsong, the family would most likely not have held a lordship at all.

However, Albright’s talk with Tywin had… opened his eyes, so to speak. He wasn’t just a boy any longer, no matter how much he yearned for the taverns of Peckletown and just a night in one of the whorehouses of Brixworth. He still had the solace of his wine, but that short conversation had made him aware that he represented more than just himself. Half of Albright’s impulses urged him to raise his banners and strive against the Mad King, helping the noble rebels. But this was not a story, and in reality, the handsome young man with the fabled blade riding a huge steed would not prevail. There may have been a chance for it once, in the early days of the war when a single lord may have tipped the balance decisively, but that was long past. Most importantly though… Albright was a Lannister, and what would be seen of one Lannister would be seen of all of them. Like as not, if he struck off on his own, Tywin’s own armies would take him in the rear and his head would wind up on a spike, proclaiming where the true loyalties of the Rock lay.

Merlon nodded. “This war ain’t going to touch us if we do nothing. Best to stick well clear of the thing, like a whore with the pox.”

Cadwyn’s nose wrinkled. “…Indeed. Unless anyone should come knocking at our doorstep, we’re likely to remain unmolested. Aye, and unpunished even if Aerys lashes out for our inaction. It’s Tywin’s head he’d want, not ours.”

Albright rolled his eyes. “Not mine, you mean. I’m the one holding the castle.”

“Aye, but this is the Mad King we’re talking. Might be he’d cook everyone who didn’t help because the voices in his head told him to.”

The room mulled that over for a while, and then Albright shrugged. “If he tried he’d have a second war on his hands. You don’t just cook Lord Tywin. I imagine he’d be rather tough to chew, in any case.”

“Charming. But you’re right, my lord. Even the Mad King will know that he can’t risk sparking off a second revolution. It would be the death of him.”

Albright nodded. “Well, if you don’t mind…” he rose, towering over both advisors. “I think I may go out for a stroll in the sun.”

He’d hardly taken a single step out of the study when somebody came crashing into him with a thump and an “Oof!”, knocking Albright back a step. The lord whirled around, ready to give a careless servant a piece of his mind… only to look down into the face of Ashara Dayne. She looked… different.

And then it struck him with the force of a lance to a chest, stealing his breath away. She was smiling. Ashara was actually smiling, all the way to her eyes, lighting up her face and making it twice as beautiful, making it utterly heart-stopping. Albright felt he might fall stone dead just from seeing something that amazing.

“A-Ashara?” he managed to choke out, tongue feeling thick and fat and clumsy in his mouth, like a bad hangover but with none of the pounding headache.

“Albright!” Ashara almost seemed to purr. “I’ve been with the Maester and…” her face was shining, radiant. “I’m with child! We’re to have a baby!”


12asharapregnant.jpg
 
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