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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

cyrileom

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This is a reboot/spinoff of the Seven Kingdoms MultiplayAAR. This is NOT a resurrection; real life has conspired to effectively kill the Seven Kingdoms game. This is a solo campaign using the setting (from the last post I made, not the point we played up to, because I don't remember a bit about the last gameplay session) and has little to no chance of becoming a multiplayAAR again. I won't say it's impossible, but I kind of doubt it.

Now, because of the positively wonderful (/s) "Must not marry an infidel" modifier, the Greyjoys cannot really engage in any meaningful diplomacy. To combat this, the next heir is being cheat-converted to the Faith of the Seven (which was always the plan anyway) and use of the console to switch between rulers will be used sparingly to facilitate marriages under Gwyneth.

The first ten chapters are verbatim copy-pastas from the Seven Kingdoms thread; they are not indicative of my usual upload schedule. I have no particular endpoint in mind for this campaign, so I will endeavour to end it on a suitably dramatic note.

Table of Contents:
1. Prelude
2. Chapter 1: 2 - 11 AL
3. Chapter 2: 11 - 15 AL
4. Chapter 3: 15 - 22 AL
5. Chapter 4: 17 - 25 AL
6. Chapter 5: 25 - 30 AL
7. Chapter 6: 30 AL
8. Chapter 7: 30 - 31 AL
9. Chapter 8: 31 - 32 AL
10. Chapter 9: 32 - 36 AL
11. Chapter 10: 36 - 41 AL
12. Chapter 11: 42 - 44 AL
13. Chapter 12: 44 - 48 AL
14. Chapter 13: 48 - 51 AL
15. Chapter 14: 52 - 55 AL
16. Chapter 15: 55 - 60 AL
17. Chapter 16: 60 AL
18. Chapter 17: 60 - 63 AL
19. New: Chapter 18: 63 - 66 AL
 
Last edited:

cyrileom

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Chapter 1: Prelude

Vickon stood at the prow of his ship, gazing out at the fledgling city of King's Landing. Even though it was nary two years old, it was still larger than anything back home on the Isles. "See that?" Vickon asked, pointing at the city. "That's going to be our home for now, Olu-Olahu-Oluy- oh screw it, whore. It's not like you can understand me anyway." Vickon looked over at the hunchback standing - at least he thought it was standing - a few feet away from him, glaring at him balefully. He paid her no mind. She didn't speak a word of Westerosi, and, until recently, had lived out her life on the Summer Islands, before Vickon came with his reaving fleet and set the northern isles aflame. He still wasn't quite sure why he had taken the hunchback when there were better choices, but at least she was good in bed.

Vickon turned back to look at the city. Landfall would be in an hour, and then everything would begin. He'd been called to be the new king's "Master of Whisperers." He had then promptly ignored the urgent summons, mustered his fleet, and set off to raid. Half a year later, Vickon's fleet had finally slaked its thirst and sailed home.

Vickon shook his head. "I don't know what King Aegon was thinking when he put me to the post. I'll have a knife in my back in a month, and probably from one of the other council members. Probably the Westerman or Reachman." Then, an idea struck him. An absurd one, it seemed at first, but the more he thought about it the more it made sense to him.

___________

Vickon stood in the interim Small Council chamber, slightly leaning over the table, his sword at his side.

The door opened, and the Reachman, Harlan Tyrell, walked in, followed by two guards. Vickon snorted softly.

Taking up position across from Vickon, Harlan gave a wry chuckle and a quip. "So, the Ironmen know their letters, hm? What matter is it that you have to discuss with me?"

Vickon looked at Harlan, stonefaced. "A simple enough matter. We're in the same boat." At that, a small smirk emerged onto Vickon's face. "I'll be blunt. We both have detractors among our vassals, though yours are greater. We both need friends, and diplomatic coups."

Standing up straight, Vickon pulled out a bottle of wine and two cups. "A surprisingly good vintage, from the Summer Isles." Vickon said in response to Harlan's questioning look.

"The hand of your daughter Falia, to be married to my firstborn, Harren." Vickon poured a cup for himself first and Harlan second, then offered Harlan his cup.

Harlan scowled and glanced aside. "By the Seven, it is so... And I assume that with such a bond, our houses would be committed to aid one another should... any such troubles arise..." He took the cup, giving a courteous nod to Vickon, then sipped thoughtfully at the wine.

Vickon gave a disapproving glance to Harlan. "We are not honorless curs, Reachman. As long as the marriage holds, and likely after, we will come to each other's aid." Vickon lifted his cup to his lips and sipped. "Harren is here in King's Landing with me. Pretentious name, that, but..." He shrugged. "If you wish to meet with him, that can be arranged."

Harlan nodded, and his mouth twitched, almost as if to smile. "It is -quite- the sight, a diplomatic Ironman. I never would have thought to see the day..." He trailed off, then nodded. "It would do well to see if the boy is worthy of being my good son, indeed."

Vickon nodded. "In a day, then. I need to get all the King's affairs in order. The imbecile who held an interim post in my stead could not have been any less capable."

Harlan laughed and raised his glass in a toast. "Ah, in that regard, we truly are alike. The finances of this new kingdom... I shall have to set them right." Vickon raised his glass in response, and both took a long sip. "So then - we are agreed, and I shall see your son on the morrow."

Vickon nodded. "On the morrow, Lord Harlan."
___________

Vickon wandered the dark halls of the small palace. His nightly bedding of his saltwife invigorated him more than anything, and afterwards he couldn't stand to be in the same room as her hunchback. So he had taken to wandering the Red Keep.

Now, however, it seemed like a mistake. Someone was following him - he had made certain of that a few intersections ago.

The clanging of metal against rock sounded from behind him, and Vickon turned around to see a man in white, one of the Kingsguard. Waving a greeting, Vickon approached cautiously. "Hail -" He was cut off abruptly as the man drew his sword and slashed at Vickon, cutting deeply into his chest. He tried to yell, but could only muster a hoarse whisper. Alright then, bastard. Let's finish this. Vickon drew his sword and assumed position, but he doubted his chances. While he could cut down almost anyone, his opponent was armored as well as armed, and Vickon's breathing was labored and his movement impaired by the pain in his chest.

Even then, Vickon held his own, parrying most of his opponent's strikes and even landing some of his own. Unfortunately, his opponent could weather Vickon's weakening assault, whereas Vickon was completely unarmored. A strike to the leg, a slash at the arm, a cut across the face. The wounds added up, and after a minute, Vickon lay on the ground, bleeding out. Bastard...

 

cyrileom

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Chapter 1 - Harren I

2 AL - 11 AL

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Harren sat in his room, scared. The day had been a blur, with countless people, even the King, coming to see him and saying things he didn't quite understand. Finally, someone he knew came in.

"H-hullo Lord Harlan. W-what's going on?"

The Lord Paramount of the Reach looked sadly at Harren. "Your father's dead, boy. I'm sorry."

Harren's lip quivered. Almost reflexively, he prayed. "What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger."

Harlan snapped at Harren. "Your father is dead! He won't be rising. Your Drowned God can do nothing for him."

Harren looked at Harlan with wide eyes.

Harlan grimaced. "Ah, sorry, child. Everyone's nerves are frayed." He took a deep breath. "I've spoken to the king, and you're to be my ward."

Harren nodded wordlessly.

Harlan sighed. "Well, come on then."

_____________________

The tutoring lasted eight months, and Harren learned a lot. He spent some time with Harlan's sons, and fought with Owen on a few occasions, and all in all it was blissful, and Harren was starting to get over his father's death. Then, one day, a riot occurred in King's Landing, and Harlan died, leaving Harren once more without a father. This time, Lord Torrhen Stark took over Harren's tutelage. Harren bore this with a stoic grace.

Harren stayed in King's Landing for another year, when suddenly one morning Torrhen came into his room and told him to pack his things - they were going to Winterfell.
_____________________

Morra giggled. "Pass the knife Harren, pass the knife."

Harren pouted. "But you skinned the last two rabbits Morra! It's not fair."
"That's because you weren't watching Harren. Now come on, share. Gimme the knife."

"Gimme? GIMME?"

"Aw, don't be like that! Come on, give me knife!"

Harren looked around at the dying rabbits. "But you did two more than me!"

Morra stood up and put her hands on her hips. "Give me the knife! Or I'm going to get Father!"

Harren clutched the knife to his chest. "It's my knife! Mine!"

Morra Stark turned around and stormed off with a huff.

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____________________

Harren waved at Brandon, then offered a cup to him when he walked up. "Here, you should try this." Brandon looked at it with curiosity. "What is it?" "Wine. It tastes funny." Brandon shook his head. "No thank you." Then a grin split his face. "Say, want to join in on some fun? Morra found a prisoner." Harren looked around tipsily. "I don't know Brandon. We've never done men before. What if we get caught?" Brandon shook his head emphatically. "Everyone's drinking and dancing. No one will notice us. Come on!" Harren looked around furtively, then followed Brandon down, down, down into the dungeons.

Morra was already waiting outside the door. "Come on! I've been waiting for almost an hour! What took you so long? Oh whatever, just get in here."

Morra opened the door, and all three of us stepped in.
_____________________

At the end of 4 AL, Torrhen told Harren that they were going back to King's Landing. He had finished with his business up in the North, and needed to return to his duties at the King's side.

The day after Harren arrived back in King's Landing, he met Owen Tyrell while practicing in the yard. "Hello Owen. I haven't seen you in a while." Owen nodded. "Neither have I, but I'm not supposed to be talking to you." "Why not?" "Mother is very upset at you. Said you killed Father. She's been raving about wanting to kill you for months now." "What?! Why?" Owen shrugged. "Care for a bout?" Harren nodded, still dumbfounded.

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______________________
Harren spent the next five years in King's Landing. A few months after his fourteenth nameday, Lord Gyles Tyrell came to the capital to escort his sister to her wedding. Lady Cienna, predictably, did not attend.

The ceremony was a small thing, and held in a small sept. Harren did not mind this much. The "men who sow", as his religious "tutor" called them, had strange customs, and in any case, the marriage ceremony would be repeated upon Harren's return to the Iron Islands, except this time in proper Ironborn custom.

That night was one of new experiences, and, a few months later, new surprises.

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(The first picture is from the fuutuureee.)

A year later, Harren celebrated his fifteenth nameday, and after saying his goodbyes to Torrhen, Brandon, Owen, and everyone else he had come to know, he boarded a ship and returned to the land of his birth.

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_______________________
Such a perfect marriage. Two utterly evil and irredeemable individuals.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 2 - Harren II

11 AL - 15 AL

DDHxHky.jpg

Harren sat in a chair, swirling a goblet of wine around. It had been close to a decade since he had last been in Pyke, and it was still the same night of his arrival. Falia lay in her labor bed, no doubt screaming. Sipping from his goblet, Harren looked at his Castellan. "So, Lord Theon, tell me, what has happened in the Isles since my father's death?"

Lord Theon grimaced, turned, and spat at the roaring fire. "Terrible things, my lord. Terrible terrible things." He took a deep breath. "Everything starts with that devil of a Maester. By the Drowned God, he tried to seize power! Him and that bastard lord of Saltcliffe. He convinced the other lords to re-instate the Kingsmoot with the intent of endorsing Lord Harrag, though thankfully the captains of real power still support you. That didn't stop Maester Sawane though." His voice dripped with venom when he spat that name. "His next foul act was to fake letters from the King who Knelt, claiming that you had gone mad and were unfit for rule. No one believed it for a second, but the gall of that man! Even worse, he's been stealing from the treasury for years, and-"

A loud shattering sound filled the room, and both men glanced at Harren's right hand. It seemed that the goblet had turned out rather brittle. Tossing it aside in disgust, I turned back to my Castellan, my voice cold as the Northern winter. "Where. Is. Sawane?" Lord Theon spat again. "Fled, my lord. He left a few days prior, claiming that he had been summoned by his Conclave. With the gold he's stolen, I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that he bribed his way onto it. He had to know his time here was done. My lord, if you will forgive my impropriety, what do you plan to do about him?" Harren closed his eyes. "For now, nothing. But I will find him, and I will kill him. Now, what about Harrag Saltcliffe?"

Lord Theon licked his lips. "After the, uh, failed attempt at a coup, myself and Lord Urzen took it upon ourselves to imprison Lord Harrag for his crimes. Unfortunately, he demanded a trial-by-combat at a time when no competent warrior could be found, and thus escaped punishment. He still lords over Saltcliffe, my lord."

"Have Lord Ambrode of Harlaw find something, anything, that can be used as an excuse to strip Harrag of land and title. Some obscure law, some old family, anything. Have him fabricate the claims if it comes to it."

"A-are you sure-" "DO IT LORD THEON!"

Someone knocked at the door, and a moment later I heard someone come in. "M-milord?" Harren opened his eyes and saw a short woman in blood spattered clothing. "Yes?" He spoke. The woman spoke with a stutter, nervous. "I-It's about your w-wife, sir." I waved my hand impatiently. The woman took a deep breath. "Y-your daughter, sir, she - she did not survive." The woman stuttered for a few moments more, before quickly leaving the room. Harren closed his eyes again. "Tell me, loyal servant, where is my father's saltwife. I assume she still lives." A short silence filled the air until Theon spoke. "Yes, she does. The servants probably know where. Why?" Harren opened his eyes again and stood up. "Call for a reaving, Lord Theon. I have to start my reign properly." Without explaining himself further, Harren strode out of the room.

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_____________________________

Lady Falia was waiting at the docks, watching the fleet arrive and waiting for it to dock. It took a while for the flagship, the pretentiously named Iron Storm. The Ironborn were overly dramatic and too focused on their titles. She'd already had a few servants consigned to the dungeon for repeating the moniker that had followed her from Highgarden - the Black Rose.

She spotted Harren coming out onto the deck and turning to walk to her. She waited patiently for his arrival, and then slapped him when he walked up. The ambient chatter froze up and died then. Harren rubbed his cheek. "The hunchback, I presume?" Falia's tone was sickly sweet. "Of course, husband. Who else gave birth while you were gone?" Harren waved for everyone to continue.

"Honestly, I don't know why you're surprised. Surely your tutors must have covered this - we've been betrothed for years."

Falia seethed with anger. "She's a decade older than you! Your FATHER bedded her!"

Harren shrugged. "Your point?"

Falia took a deep breath. "Alright, alright. Let's forget about this and talk about nicer things. Did you succeed?"

"Somewhat. The Summer Islanders were tougher than expected. We won a few, but for the most part they repelled us. I did get up to some fun with Urzen though, danced the finger dance." Harren motioned to his face, which bore a slight scar.

Falia shook her head. "Men."

Harren smirked. "So, what about the babe?"

Falia almost slapped him again.

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____________________________________

"Well, Lord Theon? Did you do as I commanded?" The Castellan nodded. "Lord Ambrode has indeed found something. I pray you will forgive me taking the initiative and sending a raven to Harrag - he has already replied, and it seems that he will not oppose your will. Saltcliffe is yours."

Harren grunted. "Pity. Would have been nice to imprison him." Harren sighed. "Very well. Send some of my retainers over to take over Saltcliffe. Make sure that no ardent loyalists remain."

Lord Theon nodded, then paused, then cocked his head, and then made a small jump. "Oh, yes, I almost forgot. A raven flew in from Winterfell the day before lord. Lord Torrhen invites you to the wedding between your sister and Owen Stark."

Harren snorted. "He'd better - I'm the one escorting her."

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_____________________________________

Harren rode through the winter town, his twelve guards surrounding him. The walls of Winterfell looked as he remembered - impressive, grey, and bland. The Stark banner flew high above the castle, and the small golden kraken on a black field that flew alongside it was a pleasant surprise. The other flags - a rampant golden lion on a red field and a leaping white fish on a blue and red field - were a greater surprise. He heard a muffled cry from the gatehouse up ahead, and the gates slowly swung open. Harren smiled as he saw who waited on the other side of the gate. After riding through and dismounting, Harren shook Brandon Stark’s outstretched hand.

“It’s been a few years, Harren.”

“Yes, it has. I noticed the flags. What are the others here for?”

Brandon smirked. “An amusing coincidence. Seems that my father, my brother, and I are getting married at the same time.”

Harren burst out laughing. “All of you? Well, this will certainly be amusing. Are they here?”

Brandon shook his head. “No, not yet. Speaking of which, your party seems very light - and lacking in women.”

“Yes, well, my sister took ill travelling here, so she’s coming the slow way, by carriage. By the way, where’s Morra?”

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “She’s around, and betrothed to my future uncle-in-law.”

Harren contorted his expression into one mock hurt. “I’m married! And Falia is coming to the wedding anyway.”

Brandon laughed. “That hasn’t stopped you at all, if what I hear is true.”

Grabbing each other by the shoulders, the two men headed towards the Great Hall, laughing all the while.
_________________________________

The wedding itself was one of grandeur. After all, every Stark male was getting married in the span of a few days. So much food was made that the leftovers would be able to feed King's Landing for a week. The ceremonies were conducted one after the other, and the large group of retainers from every family filled the godswood to bursting.

The night after was one of revelry. The high point of the night was Lanna Lannister's shriek of terror and Brandon Stark's creative list of obscenities upon discovering a skinned rabbit in their wedding bed. The most relevant part, however, was the night of wild abandon shared by Harren and Falia, which again resulted in a pregnancy.

Harren was heard to have quipped. "People should get married more. I need more children."

Nine months later, the child was born, healthy and hale. Lord Harren's second daughter was named Gwyneth, at Lady Falia's request.

CsvzEOw.jpg
_________________________________

Harren tried the doorknob on Oluhura's room again. Getting increasingly frustrated by the locked door, Harren eventually gave up and tried to bash the door open. It came down on the third try.

Unfortunately for Harren, and ultimately for Oluhura as well, Oluhura threw a slipper at Harren's head, which clipped him on the scar of his face. Harren wobbled from the blow, then fixed an angry gaze at Oluhura who, despite her best efforts, withered at the stare.

With an abrupt chuckle, however, Harren turned around and walked out of the room.

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cyrileom

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Chapter 3 - Harren III

15 - 22 AL


DDHxHky.jpg

Harren leaned over the railing, looking out at the roiling waves. He wasn't interested in the terribly boring minutiae of ruling that Theon was spouting behind him. He was Castellan - let him deal with it. As usual, the only important things would come up at the end. Perhaps it was Theon's way of trying to get him more interested, but it never worked. Harren stared out towards the docks at his fleet. After another few minutes, Harren turned around and walked back into the room.

Lord Theon cleared his throat and continued. "In addition, I have a letter from your brother Nute -" "Nute can write?" Theon jerked, surprised. "Y-yes, lord. He could read and write since his fifth nameday." Harren cocked his head. "Oh. Huh." He waved. "Please, continue." Theon licked his lips before doing so. "As I was saying, your brother Nute has sent you a letter. He respectfully requests the lordship of Saltcliffe due to blood relation." I looked at my Castellan. "And he sends a letter asking me this instead of coming in person?" Theon nodded. "It seems so, my lord." Harren pursed his lips in thought. "I don't suppose I have enough pull to reject him?" Theon shook his head. "Not enough to do it safely, I'm afraid." Harren shrugged. "Well, that's unfortunate. I suppose it will make him a more acceptable candidate for the Kingsmoot at least." Harren leaned back and closed his eyes, musing. After a moment, Harren opened his eyes. "Lord Theon, assemble the fleet." "To what purpose, lord?" "Justice. Vengeance." Boredom. "Take your pick. We sail for Oldtown when it's assembled." Theon nodded slowly. "I understand, my lord. I will send out the ravens immediately."

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____________________________________

Harren stood on the prow of the Iron Storm, dimly aware of the flag of truce flying above him. He looked out at the towering walls and gardens of Highgarden, and felt Falia come up behind him.

He turned to her. "Your old home is pretentiously grand."

Falia snorted. "You're one to speak. Didn't you Ironborn build Harrenhall?"

He nodded. "Yes. My namesake built Harrenhall. And look where that got him - not even an unmarked grave." He looked back at Highgarden. "A waste of money."

Falia touched his arm and pointed. "There. That's Owen - in the green and gold livery."

It was Harren's turn to snort. "You're going to have to be more specific. Everyone there is wearing green and gold livery."

Falia thinned her lips. "You know who I mean."

Harren shook his head. "I don't, actually. The last time I saw Owen was years ago, and I never spent more than a few months in the same place as him."
The Iron Storm groaned as the ship came up to the dock, and Harren turned around. "Well then, wife, let's go meet your brother."

Falia smirked. "Yes, let us, husband."

Owen wore a faint scowl, anger in his eyes as he gazed upon the Harren. "Your reaving has not had the same success as it once had, hm?"

Harren snorted. "If I'd wanted to reave, I'd have started at the Shields. It would have been interesting to see you try to break the Iron Fleet. No, I'm not here to reave. Just simple vengeance."

"And what, pray tell, has my Castellan or his kin ever done to deserve such bloody reprisal?" Owen answers, his gaze still firm upon his good-brother.

"Them? Nothing, but I'm sure there's some reason I could drum up if I cared to. My issue was with a Maester that fled justice."

There was a brief pause before Owen continued, "And so you expect me to believe that you would send an army to hunt down but one man, and harm no other?"

"Yes. Especially since I'm leaving with my host for the Summer Isles. Now, I'm here to deliver my wife and daughter to spend some time in their family home. Falia is also here to... see to Sawane. You're not going to do anything about this because, frankly, not only is there not much you can do, nothing has happened and nothing was going to happen."

Harren took a breath before continuing. "Oh, and convey our respects to your wife." Harren glanced at Falia with not a drop of sarcasm or contempt in his voice. "We know how you feel."

Owen narrowed his eyes upon his twin, then scowled at Harren, "And what makes you think you are in any position to impose such demands?"

"The fact that you aren't in any position to impose any demands either, given the circumstances."

Let's have some fun with this. Harren sighed, a tad dramatically, and continued speaking. "What do you want, Owen? Just get it out."

"Peace for the Reach," Owen replied with nary a blink, "You will withdraw from Oldtown. I shall see about this... Maester Sawane, and should he be guilty, I shall see that justice is served."

Harren smirked mentally. "Easily done, and already finished." Harren shrugged. "If that's all..."

"That is all," Owen replied, giving a firm, emphatic nod.
Harren turned and lightly kisses Falia. "I'll be back in a year. Just some advance warning."

Owen stared frostily at the two. "I shall see to it that your wife, my dear sister, is at home one again in Highgarden."

Harren inclined his head respectfully, smiling in reality as he did so. "My thanks, brother."

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___________________________________

22 AL

Harren waved magnanimously as Aegon entered the command tent. "Welcome, Your Grace, to my humble abode. I wasn't expecting to be in Dorne after five years abroad but, well, life is full of surprises."

King Aegon stopped short, his face one of surprise and caution, as if the Conqueror hadn't expected such a welcome. He nodded as an answer to the courtesy, saying: ''Yes.. Your return has been long awaited, Lord Greyjoy.''

Harren braced himself mentally and waved at a servant, who moved to pour wine. "No doubt, no doubt. As you can see, Sunspear is completely surrounded."

Harren's words were followed by silence - Harren thought it a bit obtuse, really. The Conqueror made his point at Harrenhall. After a moment of intense staring, Aegon Targaryen finally opened his mouth and spoke with a wholly different tone: ''Yes - it is good that you are here. With more men here behind the Dornishmen lines, they'll ease the defenses of the Prince's Pass and Boneway.''

The King took the wine from the servant but didn't make a move to drink it. ''Assuming you mean to stay? No doubt your men are weary of fighting and long for home after four years away.''

Harren smiled. "True, true. Unfortunately, my men need a morale booster. The Summer Islanders were hardier than expected."

The King nodded twice and smelled the wine, proceeding to take a sip. ''What do you have in mind, Lord Greyjoy?''

Harren cocked his head like an avian. "What do I have in mind for what, King Aegon?"

King Aegon held his cup in both hands. "You said your men needed a 'morale booster.' I presume that's why you're here at Sunspear? The Dornish are known for their women and wine, and a city has plenty of both."

He smiled before continuing. "Of course, I hear you prefer the women of the Summer Isles. When we take the city, you and your men may have their share of the latter."

Harren rolled his eyes and sighed disgustedly. "Bed one hunchback and EVERYONE judges." Harren shook his head before continuing. "Regardless, I accept your gracious offer."

Harren abruptly switched topic. "So tell me. What's happened in the kingdom in the last four years?"

''Take no offence, Lord Harren'', King Aegon said, clearly amused that he had managed to anger Harren. ''I am but an observant man who is married to his two sisters.''

''But back to business'', the King stated with a more official tone in his voice. ''I am more interested in the future of my kingdom than its past.''

The King looked meaningfully at Harren before continuing: ''As always, people need to move forward. Your presence here, being first of my vassals to invade Dorne brings a whole different light to how I view certain things. Do you understand what I am saying?''

Harren snorted mentally before continuing. "I presume you mean that issue five years ago that happened right before I left? I have no doubt you asked Owen about it later. Did he not tell you?"

''There are two sides to every coin. I haven't seen the other one for a reason we both know well. Nor do I need to.''

The King drank once more and then set the cup aside. ''No irreparable damage was done. If your men help me turn the tide of this war, you and those affiliated with you shall not be judged for past actions.''

''After all, it would seem odd and unjust if I happened to imprison you and your fellow raiders right after you fought beside me. But don't mistake what I say, Lord Greyjoy - I do have all the justification I need for doing so.''

Harren sipped from his wine and muttered absentmindedly. "Hm. Guess he didn't." Then he shook his head and looked back at Aegon, thinking that he must be rather insecure if he threatened one of his weaker vassals. "Very well. You should know that Dorne's army is nowhere near here - my scouts have ridden out far enough to provide two weeks' notice, and the guards on Sunspear's gates make me think the army isn't inside."
''Yes, I know the city is mostly empty. Or did you forget I arrived here riding a dragon?'' A smile climbed the King's lips for a short moment. ''I suggest we continue this conversation inside Sunspear. I do not complain about your decision to place siege on a city that has close to no defenders, but my men are weary of a long journey asea and could use rest with roofs above their heads.''

Harren nodded. "As you wish."

''Good'', the King said and got up on his feet. Looking Harren in the eyes, he offered the Harren his hand.

Harren accepted it and shook.

Aegon Targaryen grabbed Harren Greyjoy by the wrist in the way warriors do, but his grip was uncomfortably hard. Though no words pass from the Conqueror's lips, his eyes are determined to remind the Lord of Iron Islands of one thing; that there's something even stronger than men called Ironborn.

Harren considered winking.

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Harren stood among his generals, looking around at the endless dunes of the desert before turning back to them. "How goes the fight?" "Rather poorly, my lord. It seems the desert heat does not favor Balerion, and the Dornish are surrounding the King's forces. The nearest reinforcements beside ourselves are days away. We will have to move quickly if we are to save the King." Harren raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. "Ignore the King when he is in peril? Why would we ever do that?" Harren shrugged, feeling the armor on his skin. He'd forgone his plate mail in this heat, and he didn't plan to lead from the front besides. "Get ready. We'll move in two forces to break open the Dornish forces. I'll lead the right flank and pin the Dornish. You move to rescue King Aegon."

Harren noted that the fight was indeed going poorly for King Aegon as Harren crested the dune. The King's men were surrounded at their landing and barely holding on. They were almost completely surrounded.

Harren snorted. "He should've left this task to us. Less men would have died." Mustering his voice, Harren bellowed. "WHAT ARE OUR WORDS?" His army responded in kind. "WE DO NOT SOW." Harren took a breath. "WELL BUGGER THAT! PLOUGH THE DORNISH! CHARGE!"

The dunes behind the Dornish lines suddenly bristled with men as twenty thousand Ironborn crested the dunes and charged into their lines from behind. After realizing their predicament, the Dornish started trying to extricate themselves, running right up against Harren's troops. While his immediate opponent was more comfortable with the terrain, and probably a better commander as well, Harren acquitted himself honorably, using the dunes and the shore to force the Dornish to engage across a small line. A few thousand Dornishmen managed to wriggle out over the course of the next few hours, but it was too little too late. The main bulk of the Dornish force had been crushed, and with it Dorne's only hope of resistance.

Catching his breath, Harren bellowed for probably the hundredth time that day. "HAIL KING AEGON!" The cry was taken up and echoed by his men, continuing like a ripple. Harren stood up straight and waved with his sword in the direction of the Black Dread.

The day was won, and the Battle of Ghost Hill turned out to be well named.

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__________________________________

Aidun, you need to give better credit. The Ironborn totally saved your bacon. Why you did a preemptive landing against superior numbers I'll never understand.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 4 - Harren IV

17 - 25 AL

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Harren stood on the prow of the Iron Storm, looking out at the approaching grey walls of Pyke. It had been longer than he had planned, and the detour into Dorne had only exacerbated it. He idly noted Qarl Orkwood as the man approached.

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Waving at Pyke without turning to face Qarl, Harren spoke. "Behold my humble abode. It's where you will be working. I'll have my Castellan escort you to your new office when we arrive." A long silence passed before Qarl spoke, pointing at the docks. "Say, who's that?" I followed his gaze to a woman dressed in black standing on the docks. "Ah. That would be my irate Lady Wife, I imagine." Refusing to notice the look Qarl no doubt directed his way, Harren started to slowly walk towards the port side of the ship. He tried to walk slowly enough to make it there as the ship was pulling up to dock, but missed it by a few minutes.

When the ship finally docked and the plank lowered, Harren strode off the ship towards Falia who, as expected, wore a face of smoldering fury. As he approached, Harren raised his left hand to block Falia's slap, as she favored her right hand, and completely missed her left. "I'll be back in a year." Falia spoke in a mocking imitation of Harren's voice. "You lying bastard." Harren massaged his jaw a little, then spoke. "I don't suppose we can continue this discussion inside, over a glass of wine?" Falia huffed, turned, and strode away.
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Harren sat in a chair directly across from his wife. Both of them swirled goblets of wine in their right hands, and a lit fireplace blazed a few feet away from them both. Falia spoke first. "Five years. Five bloody years. You bastard." She took a sip. "I left you a gift, if you recall." Harren interjected. Falia stared angrily at her husband. "Your whore was a nice gift, yes, but it is nowhere near enough compensation for the grief you've caused me. I admit, putting her on the rack and having a turn with the flaying knives was enjoyable, as was her drowning, but it is nowhere near enough." She spoke the last few words with a heavy emphasis. Harren sipped from his wine and hummed thoughtfully.

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"I suppose, then, that this is a poor time to inform you of my other three 'whores', as you so call them, and my newest bastard daughter." Falia's eyes bulged and threatened to pop out of her head, and she clutched the goblet so hard it would've shattered had it been glass. She spoke in a deathly flat voice. "Three?" Harren shrugged. "Well, none now I suppose. One of them died in the brig and the other two suffered unfortunate accidents after they refused to continue serving me, but yes, there were three at first."

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Falia glared for another few moments before speaking quietly. "They call you a child-killer, you know." Harren cocked his head. "Oh really? What for?" "Ordering the death of Lord Cromm of Blacktyde." Harren closed his eyes in thought. "Lord Cromm of Blacktyde. Cromm. Cromm. No, doesn't ring a bell." "He was an only child with no family." Harren nodded, eyes still closed. "And upon his death, I would inherit Blacktyde. Very clever. Your idea, I presume?" Harren didn't need to open his eyes to know that Falia nodded. "Admittedly, I would have preferred the assassination to stay silent, but the fool that was hired to throw the boy got caught and confessed. However, given recent events, I can't say I'm too sorry about your reputation." Harren shrugged. "I would have done it anyway."

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"Now, is there anything else you want to tell me about what happened while I was gone?" Harren could hear Falia sipping from her goblet. "Lord Yohn of Lordsport committed some minor offense. I ordered his imprisonment and, as he wasn't terribly sympathetic to your cause to begin with, sent him to the Wall." She took another sip. "Oh, and Gwyneth has taken up quite the interest in swordsmanship. Her trainers tell me she's quite proficient at it." Harren opened his eyes in surprise. "Really?" Falia nodded. "They say she can beat most boys her age. She's even trounced Nute a few times, though I doubt the legitimacy of those bouts." "Hm."

"Oh, and one last thing. The old Lord Harlaw died, and his replacement is quite the problem. He finagled his way into the position of your spymaster, and has made himself quite the cozy nest. Moreover, he put himself forward as a candidate for the Kingsmoot, and it seems that most of the important lords favor him."

Harren's eyes showed a little surprise. "The Goodbrothers are backing him?" Falia nodded, and Harren whistled. "Well, that is unfortunate. Still, it is a problem that has a solution. I recently acquired an impressive diplomat. It seems that the Lord of Orkwood's brother is discontent with serving a minor lord, and has pledged himself to my service." Harren downed his goblet. "He is quite excellent at his job, I must say." He wiped some wine from his mouth before continuing. "I think I have a... solution, to the problem of the Harlaws. Something that will secure absolute power for the Greyjoys." Falia raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

Harren's only response was to smile wolfishly.

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______________________________
As a side note, Falia acquired depression somewhere during this period, but I'm not entirely sure when. It becomes a semi-relevant plot point later. This marks the end of the 2nd session of play for me.
 

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Chapter 5: Harren V

25 - 30 AL

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Harren sat on the balcony, looking out at his daughter. She was trying to dance the finger dance, and was doing quite well for herself.

"Hm, this should be interesting." The dry voice of his spymaster spoke, and Harren had to stop himself from snarling. The fact that that damnable bastard was still out of his grasp irked Harren immensely, but at least it was only a matter of time until Qarl fabricated some pretense to take his titles.

"It seems that the Conningtons desire your assistance. They want to forge some documents that would allow them to lay claim to the Stormlands, and they want the backing of a powerful individual."

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That caught Harren's attention, and he turned to face the aging Harlaw. "Who is the lord of Griffin's Roost at the moment?" "Lord Roland Connington." Emmond replied. Harren nodded. "Then kindly inform Lord Roland that if he wishes to commit suicide, there are better ways to do it, preferably ones that don't involve me. Plotting against Orys Baratheon would've been dumb enough. Plotting against the King's nephew is a sure fire way to get eaten. Tell him that he should be thankful I'm not offering him up on a silver platter, and that he owes me for this stupidity."

Shaking his head, Harren was in the process of turning back to look at Gwyneth when Emmond Harlaw spoke again. "Oh, a raven from the King arrived this morning. I just received the letter." He reached into his robes and pulled out a fine letter. Barely suppressing a glare, Harren took the letter and carefully cut it open.

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Harren smirked, and then started to giggle. Within seconds, the giggle turned into full-throated laughter. When he finished, he turned to the Harlaw. "Tell my Castellan to prepare me for an extended stay at King's Landing." He threw the letter down onto the table as he left.

"And what about your youngest daughter?" Harren stopped. "What of her?" "She will be of the age soon where she will need a private tutor. Who should I call for?" Harren gritted his teeth. "No one. Because she doesn't need one, and because you won't be in charge." Harren completed his exit.

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_____________________
Harren was busy penning a letter when Falia entered. He barely glanced up to acknowledge her entry, and then waved at an empty chair a few feet away. Falia sniffed and proceeded to sit down.

"You need to stop letting Gwyneth play with the guards. She's starting to do the finger dance with two of them at once, and one of these days she's going to get hurt."

Harren continued to pen his letter as he spoke. "She won't; she's a natural. And if she does, limits are an important thing for a child to learn."

Falia snorted. "Funny thing for you to say, Lord tyrant-in-the-making."

"If you're referring to my plans for the Iron Islands, that is not, strictly speaking, tyranny."

Falia's only response was to laugh lightly.

Setting down his quill, Harren smoothed out the paper and passed it off to Falia. "Here, read it."

Falia imperiously took it with her right hand and started to read. When she reached the end of the letter she laughed. "A brilliant play, sending that snake beyond the wall to antagonize the wildlings. Unfortunately, I think Emmond Harlaw is too clever to get caught like you hope. The 'King Aegon commands it' part is a nice touch."

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Harren shrugged. "I need him out of my hair while Qarl does his work."

Falia's lips thinned into a line. "Yes, about that Qarl. He recently sent a letter, saying that he was sorry and that he had accepted a position among the King's court."

Harren's face froze. When he spoke, his voice was flat. "What?"

Falia nodded.

Snarling, Harren stood up. "Come on, we have a king to meet." "Why?" "To incur a debt."
_____________________________

Harren stood on the docks, watching the ship that was supposed to bear Qarl Orkwood sail into the bay. It took approximately another half hour for the ship to dock and start disembarking, and Harren waited the whole time. When he finally spotted Qarl Orkwood, Harren smiled and strolled off to meet him.

When Qarl spotted Harren, he froze like a deer startled at an unexpected sound. He glanced nervously from side to side, but there was nowhere to run.

Harren put on an amiable face and the appropriate tone to go with it. "Greetings Lord Orkwood! It's so nice to see you make it in time for the tourney!"

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Qarl cleared his throat nervously and spoke. "Yes Lord Harren, indeed." His eyes continued twitching from side to side.

"Oh cheer up Qarl. I'm here to congratulate you on your new post!" Qarl froze completely at that, and a raw animal fear appeared in his eyes.

Savoring the sight, Harren clapped Qarl on his back. "Lord of Torturer's Deep! I'm impressed Qarl, King Aegon must think highly of you."

"W-what?"

"Yes, King Aegon has seen fit to provide me a base in the Stepstones from which to operate, and he and I have agreed to name you as the overseer." Dropping into a cold whisper, Harren continued. "You will never again leave my service, Lord Qarl Orkwood."

After waiting a minute to ensure Qarl understood, Harren resumed speaking in a jolly tone. "Come now, don't be upset! You'll come to enjoy the life of a lord. Now, come along. The tourney's in a few days and we have a lot of work to do, seeing as how I'm Aegon's Master of Whisperers."

Harren was none too subtle with the threats.
___________________________

Harren and his family sat a few tables away from the king, watching the last joust of the tourney. While the Crown Prince Maelon had made it far, securing third place for himself, the final contenders of the tourney were relatively minor nobles - a Westerman and a Reachman, to be exact.

A horn signaled the start of the tilt, and the two jousters galloped at each other. Harren had never quite understood why this sport was valued, but it was an impressive sight. Fortunately for the tension, they both stayed on their horses. The second time, however, the Reachman hit the Westerman square in the chest, and the latter practically flew off his horse. A loud combination of cheering and booing erupted from the crowd.

"Who is that?" Gwyneth asked, pointing at the victor. "That, my dear, is Lord Alliser Chelsted. He a minor local lord that served on the King's Council at some point, as the Master of Laws I believe."

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Gwyneth looked at me. "How do you know that?" Falia smiled and answered for me. "It's his job to know dear." She turned to face Harren. "Say, husband, my cousin Bryen is hosting another tourney at Highgarden a month from now. We should go." Harren shook his head. "I have too much work here, unfortunately. Maybe another time."

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_________________________

Harren nodded to the guard, accepted the torch, and ducked inside the cell after the guard opened the door.

Joseran Goodbrother sat in the cell, chained to wall. When the door opened, he turned to see who it was, and bared his teeth when he realized.

"What, come to gloat?"

Harren shook his head and sat down a safe distance away from the imprisoned High Lord.

"No, I don't gloat. I just educate."

Looking Joseran in the eyes, Harren continued. "You betrayed me. You backed that snake Harlaw instead of me, and then you plotted further against me. Granted, the offence was minor, but enough."

"What's your point Harren?"

"That's Lord Harren, Joseran. Don't forget it. My point is that you've lost. Before the night is done, I will hold absolute voting power in the Iron Islands. I will soon be able to nominate whoever I want as my successor and be unopposed in my decision. I'll make my announcement at the climax of the feast."

Joseran laughed. "And how do you intend to do that?"

Harren stood up. "Rather simply. Joseran Goodbrother, I hereby strip you of the High Lordship of Great Wyk, and furthermore, I dictate that henceforth you will call Lord Emmond Harlaw your liege, not me."

Joseran glared at me, eyes full of hate. "I demand a trial by combat, bastard."

Harren nodded. "Of course you do. Alas, there is nothing you can do to change your fate."

"I'll kill you you bastard!"

"Joseran, stop making threats. They're as empty as your cell."

Harren turned to leave and paused at the door. "Oh, and when I said I could nominate whosoever I chose, I meant my daughter Gwyneth."

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________________________

The next morning, still hungover from the last night's revelry, Harren sat on his seat as an old man hobbled towards him. Harren's guards stopped the man a good distance away from him, and Harren took the opportunity to speak. "Yes? What are you hear for? My guards tell me you've been here since last night." The old man looked up, and his eyes were strange. "I can fulfill your deepest desire, Lord." Harren smirked. "And what is that, old man?"

Reaching into his voluminous robes, the old man spoke with a terrible finality. "A sword like no other, crafted of Valyrian Steel."

Harren froze in anticipation as the old man drew out a scroll and unfurled it. It was obvious even from this distance that it was a map. Without hesitation, Harren made his decision. "Guards, seize that man and throw him in the dungeons. Bring me that map."

The old man started in surprise, but he never stood a chance as three guards grabbed him and dragged him off. A fourth guard forcibly took the map and brought it forth.

Thanking the guard, Harren turned to his captain and asked "Who's the best soldier under your command Captain?" The man thought for a moment and then answered. "An odd man by the name of Fashbinder, my lord. He's an excellent swordsman."

Harren clapped his hands. "Very well then. Inform this Fashbinder that he is to accompany me. In addition, ask my daughter to pack for a return to King's Landing."

"Why, my lord?"

"I've been trying to secure an alliance with the Targaryens, and that pompous zealot of a crown prince demands any who marry into his family be 'faithful.' She's going to be tutored by someone of his choosing while I'm gone."

The captain inclined his head. "At once then, my lord."

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____________________________

The next part's going to be a shorter one focusing solely on the quest.
 

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I'm trying something new this time with titles.

Chapter 6: Harren VI

Crouching Modder Hidden Sword


30 AL


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Harren was leaning over the railing on the ship he'd hired as Fashbinder approached and spoke. "Say, Lord Harren, I've been meaning to ask why you hired a merchantman instead of sailing with the Iron Storm."

Staring pointedly at the deep water, Harren replied. "You know, I don't rightly know myself. Divine will perhaps."

Fashbinder grunted and leaned over also. A long time passed until Fashbinder spoke again. "Say, Lord, isn't that another ship on the horizon?"

Harren glanced up and squinted. Yes, that was another ship on the horizon, flying the... skull and crossbones. Of course. Harren groaned. "Amateurs. They bring a bad name to pirates and reavers everywhere." Harren straightened. "I'll warn the captain. When those idiots come over here Fashbinder, kill their captain." The man nodded.

The time before the pirates caught up was surprisingly boring. Neither ship had archers, which was an impressive display of idiocy on the parts of both captains. Harren had enough time to go and raid the ship's store of alcohol - not that he did.

The pirates themselves were rather lackluster. Unfortunately, so was the ship's crew. The two exceptions were Fashbinder and the enemy captain. Their fight was exquisite and beautifully terrible, but Fashbinder slipped up. He got caught in an awkward parry and the enemy captain ran him through. Luckily for Harren and the crew, however, Fashbinder lived long enough to stick his axe into the pirate captain's head before he gurgled blood and collapsed, dead. The pirates quickly lost heart after that, and were driven off, albeit at a high cost. The survivors were barely sufficient to act as a skeleton crew, but it was enough.

Or, well, WAS enough. When a storm sprang up a day away from Valyria, the ship started to break. Masts snapped and the hull cracked, and the crew was too undermanned to save the ship. With a loud crack, the center mast broke and toppled onto Harren, knocking him unconscious and sealing the fate of the ship.

Harren woke up an indeterminate amount of time later on a sandy beach. Coughing as he emerged from the surf, Harren looked around for survivors and found none. Instead, he found a jungle. Grimacing, Harren strode through the jungle. Cursing his ill luck, Harren almost missed the giant snake that descended to consume him. Harren managed to avoid being wrapped up in its voluminous mass, but its fanged maw caught Harren on the shoulder as he ran. A wild swing from Harren detached the snake, but his shoulder burned from the bite. He ran for what seemed hours, and finally stopped, panting, outside a dark cave. Seeing no other course of action, Harren entered and sat down to rest. He bound his wounds with what remained of his soggy clothes, and lay down to sleep, too tired to care about his surroundings.

He woke up feeling terrible. His shoulder was burning something fierce, but Harren gritted his teeth and bore it. He felt around the cave until he realized it was too unnatural to be one. All the walls were straight and dark, and it turned out to be a square passageway. Continuing through in a haze, Harren found a mural on the wall. Its contents were confusing - something about dogs and crows and direwolves. It made little sense to Harren in his state, and he eventually continued on. A short distance later, he came across three square pillars with a single lever before them.

Each of the four faces bore an animal - a crow, an eagle, a dog, or a direwolf - and the pattern was repeated across every pillar. Recalling the mural, Harren groggily turned the pillars until he saw what he thought was the correct configuration. Then, bracing himself, Harren pulled the lever and let go.

The lever reset, and Harren heard the faint clicking of cogs. Then, the wall behind the pillars started to shake and rise, and a deafening clatter filled the room. Harren fell to the floor clutching his head, and curled up into a ball until he felt it stop. Harren shakily stood up and proceeded through the gaping hole.

Inside, it looked like a typical treasure vault. Piles of gold surrounded a nondescript treasure chest that took up the middle of the room. Tottering towards it, Harren looked for a lock until he finally gave up and tried to force it open. It took some effort, but Harren finally lifted the lid and opened the chest.

A shimmering steel blade with an ornate hilt was inside. The way the steel shimmered meant it was Valyrian Steel. Harren laughed, or at least tried to. Taking up the sword and using it as a walking stick, Harren went around the room and filled what remained of his pockets before tottering out of the treasure vault.
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Harren stumbled towards the smooth black walls of Dragonstone. The trip from Valyria had taken months, and the rowing to shore from the ship he had hired had tired Harren out. He had no doubt that he was dying - the only reason he was still alive was his copious consumption of the milk of the poppy, which was killing him just as surely as the poison.

The guards at Dragonstone's gate called out for Harren to identify himself, but he was too tired to do so. He made it to the physical gate before he collapsed. Harren grasped at his chest in order to make sure the letter he wrote was indeed there, but instead Harren slipped into a deep sleep.

He was brought into Dragonstone proper, where Prince Maelon confirmed that Harren Greyjoy was indeed Harren Greyjoy, but Harren didn't wake. The Prince's Maester confirmed Harren's death a few hours after his arrival, and Lordship of the Iron Islands passed to his sole legal child Gwyneth.

He died a widower at the age of 34 having left three daughters, two of which were bastards, and an irate court.

Gwyneth from a later date:
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Chapter 7: Gwyneth I

Enter the Hapsburgs


30-31 AL

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Gwyneth sat on her bed, reading her father's last words with the sunlight.

"By the time you read this I'll have been killed by a snake bite. Terribly humiliating and unfortunate, but there it is.

Now, there are many things that I set in motion that you will have to finish for me. The first is to attend to the sword. If the Prince has not already given it to you, I suggest you dye your hair and go lay in his bed and see how that works. Now, I have already sent to Qohor for a blacksmith, and he should arrive a short while after you read this letter. Do what you wish with the sword, as I am too dead to argue.

The next issue is the matter of the succession. You are undoubtedly my heir, and will succeed me. Whether you can hold onto your position is a different matter. The Harlaws are the greatest threat and you have to deal with them. Qarl has been working on a solution for some time now but has come up with nothing. You may have to find another way. The rest of the lords are too minor to matter. Support Nute until you have children of your own and you should survive this.

Which brings me to the last issue. Alas, since I am dead, the plan to wed you to a Targaryen boy is too risky. You cannot afford the decade of being a bachelor. You need to make your choice, and soon. Don't bother marrying for love - that's what affairs are for.

Oh, and don't make a habit of dying ignominiously like my father and I."

Gwyneth shook with a mixture of amusement, sadness, and anger before flinging the note into the fire. "Typical know-it-all. The Prince isn't even at Dragonstone. And-"

She was interrupted by a knock at the door, and a liveried servant peeked in. "M'lady, Ser Clarence requests your presence."

Gwyneth snorted. "Why? Am I to start going to the sept twice a day now? He already has me waking at the crack of dawn."

The servant gawked for a moment before recovering. "H-he requests your presence. Some visitors have arrived."

Gwyneth raised an eyebrow. "Interesting. Very well then, where is he?" "The main hall, M'lady."

Gwyneth got up and walked there herself. While she'd only been living at Dragonstone for a few months, but it had been long enough to familiarize herself with all the important locations. In other words, the mess hall, the training grounds, the main hall, the sept, and her bed.

It took a few minutes, but eventually Gwyneth reached a set of black double doors and knocked. A moment passed before Ser Clarence Crabb opened the door and spoke. "Going to the septry twice a day is no great burden Lady Greyjoy." Gwyneth stared at him dumbfounded. Ser Clarence continued without smiling. "You are very predictable when it comes to sleeping. Come in." He held the door open for Gwyneth, who entered, still very confused.

She was confused even more by the black goat on the livery of the man who sat at the table. "A Qohori?" she said. The man turned his head at that to look at her. "An Ironborn Qohori?" The man smiled thinly, and Gwyneth turned to Ser Clarence. "What is- Oh. That was fast." Ser Clarence raised an eyebrow at that. "It seems you already know what this is about. Come, sit." Still very confused, Gwyneth followed Ser Clarence to the table. "Why am I here?" Gwyneth asked. "This is your father's hired man. You're here to negotiate terms with him." Ser Clarence replied. Gwyneth nodded wordlessly and sat down across from the blacksmith.

The man smiled again before he spoke. "My name is Yohn, my lady. I admit, though I've had many clients, it is quite rare to get a request from someone who assures me that they are dead. However, the pay was good enough to make it worth my while to investigate this oddity. Now, may I see the sword please?"

Gwyneth looked at Ser Clarence, who just reached under the table and placed the sword, scabbard and all, on the table. With a glance at Gwyneth, the man reached for the sword and unsheathed it, running his fingers along the blade.

"Yes, I believe I can work with this. Tell me, then, what do you wish I make with this?"

Gwyneth thought about it for a moment. "An axe." The man chortled slightly. "Such a typical thing for one of the Ironborn to request. Very well then. However, the forging of the axe requires less metal than this sword has. Is there something else you want in addition?"

Gwyneth answered instantly this time. "A dagger." She heard Ser Clarence cough. "Doing that finger dance with a normal dagger is bad enough. Do it with one of Valyrian Steel and you'll cut off your fingers for sure!" The man chortled again. "True, but she's thinking only of the challenge and the prestige." Yohn nodded. "Very well then. An axe and a dagger for a sword. My work will be done in a fortnight, if you consent to my use of the forge." The last was directed at Ser Clarence, who only nodded.

Finger Eater and Finger Dancer were delivered a fortnight later, as promised.

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"Father, I present to you your niece, Gwyneth Greyjoy."

Gwyneth stared daggers at Myranda as she entered, and muttered under her breath. "Thank you, first cousin." Myranda's only response was a wink.

Gwyneth was garbed like Myranda - a mixture of mail and leather, with Finger Eater on her hip and Dancer hanging from her neck like a necklace. Which made curtsying quite awkward. "Greetings, Uncle Ronnel."

The Lord Paramount of the Vale sat on a dais facing her, with his lady wife standing off to the side, looking quite timid. Ronnel stood up and bowed. "Hello, lord niece. Welcome to the Gates of the Moon. I trust there were no incidents on the way from Gulltown?"

Gwyneth suppressed a wince and shook her head to cover it. "A minor skirmish, nothing more."

Myranda chuckled at that, along with some of the footmen with her, except for the one that had made the mistake of trying to protect Gwyneth. Ronnel blinked, but quickly recovered. "Oh, I hope it wasn't uncomfortable. Lord Gwyneth, I believe you know my wife, Valiete Tyrell." He motioned to Valiete to come over, and Gwyneth sighed internally. Valiete smiled, curtsied, and walked over to her husband. "I hope you will forgive my son Robar's absence; he was recently married, and has taken his wife up to the north coastline. He married a Stark girl, and wants to see her lands from afar.

Gwyneth blinked at that. "How long ago was this?"

Ronnel looked away in thought for a moment. "About two years ago, I think." Myranda nodded. "Two years, lord father." Ronnel patted Valiete on the shoulder, which elicited no response. "We have so many children, and some are still uncalled for. I'm thankful I have more sons than daughters - only so many dowries can be paid." He chuckled a little, a lonely sound.

Gwyneth sighed. "Oh. Well, at least I didn't miss a wedding between cousins by a fortnight." She nodded at Valiete. "I have heard of my aunt, but have never met her. The only family on my mother's side I have met was my late uncle Owyn."

Ronnel nodded. "I knew Owyn in his life. He was a good soldier, and a good ruler. Highgarden will rarely see another like him." Valiete nodded, still silent. Myranda took the opportunity to speak. "Perhaps the Iron Lord will come to Bryan's wedding, when he is wed." Ronnel laughed, and Gwyneth glared daggers at Myranda again, who smirked. "Yes, well, he must be betrothed first..."

Gwyneth closed her eyes and started counting. "Bryan is your... fourth son?"

Ronnel nodded. "Nine name days under his belt at the moment. He's currently at King's Landing, being tutored by Prince Maelon."

Gwyneth nodded and waved her hand. "I have a half-sister the same age. Just something to think about." She sighed. "My stay will be short. I have problems enough at home, and a marriage to sort out."

Curiously, that produced an effect from Valiete, whose eyes started to beam. Ronnel looked to be deep in thought for a moment, then nodded. "Of course. Myranda, would you please show Gwyneth to her quarters? Please forgive me that I can't show you the Eyrie - we don't stay up there during winter."

Myranda nodded and Gwyneth curtsied, and the two left the hall. In a voice, Myranda spoke. "You should bring up the marriage frankly to my mother. I think she would appreciate it."

Gwyneth cocked her head. "Why? I'd think that your mother wouldn't like me mentioning my father's bastards."

"So don't mention them." Myranda snickered. "And it will give her some reason to speak to my father on affairs of state, and give them something to discuss together."

Gwyneth was confused. "Then why would I come to your mother to talk about marriage?"

"Fine, speak to my father then. But you should bring it up. Our families are already related through this marriage and that."

Gwyneth walked on, confused, then cocked her head again. Then she laughed. "Oh. Oh you mean me." Gwyneth stopped for a moment, thinking. "Well, I guess that works."

Myranda looked slyly at Gwyneth. "I would be careful, however, if you show such an iron head to my parents, They may not be too warm about the idea."

"Why?"

"They want intelligent children." Myranda stopped before a door. "Here is your room, my lord."

This time, Gwyneth didn't hide the wince. "You're one to talk about intelligence. Here I just thought your father was willfully ignorant."

Myranda smiled. "He's not ignorant, he's noble. Sometimes there isn't much of a difference, I'll admit. The servants will attend to your needs, and you are invited to our meal tonight." She curtsied, overly dramatic. "My iron lady."

Gwyneth returned the curtsy. "You got it right this time. I'm impressed."
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That night's meal went rather well. Gwyneth broached the topic with her aunt ahead of time, but was still mildly surprised when Ronnel agreed to it, specifically since she had specified that any children would bear the name Greyjoy and not Arryn. Still, it was a nice meal, and afterwards Gwyneth secured passage to the North, intending to continue north and meet that branch of the family before taking a ship home from Deepwood Motte.

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Gwyneth stepped off the ship and walked towards her half-sister. Lujja was easily recognizable, as she was the only person on the Isles with such a dark skin tone. She and Gwyneth weren't particularly close, but they didn't hate each other.

Gwyneth offered her hand to Lujja. She'd introduced Gwyneth to the art of combat, and while Gwyneth had no doubt she could now trounce Lujja, she was also a passable fighter. "So, sister, who ruled in my stead?" Lujja sighed deeply. "Lord Euron Volmark." Gwyneth cocked her head. "Lord Euron Volmark? To my knowledge, no such man exists." Lujja shook her head. "He does. You'd know him better as the Master of Coin."

Gwyneth froze. "And what, pray tell, is he lord of?" Lujja let go of Gwyneth. "Blacktyde."

Her move turned out to be right one, because Gwyneth's hands clenched into fists. "How?" "He claimed that he could do a better job administrating it. Considering the circumstances regarding how it came into the family's possession in the first place, and your... unpopularity, no one opposed it."

Gwyneth spoke through gritted teeth. "That bastard." Lujja nodded. "Margot is distraught; her best friend has left with no sign of return." "That IDIOT!" Gwyneth screamed, then calmed down. Slightly. "Doesn't he know what he's brought upon himself? What I'll be forced to do to him now?" Lujja nodded. "And he probably is using his daughter to stop you."

Gwyneth's eyes burned. "Lujja, go find the Master-at-Arms, whoever he is now. If he's in the pay of Lord Euron, fire him. If he isn't, tell him to arrest Euron on the slightest infraction as soon as possible." She stormed off into Pyke after Lujja nodded.
____________________________________

Gwyneth sat in the septry, staring at a mirror as the Septon worked on her hair. "So, Tristifer, how did the one Ironborn Septon in all of Westeros end up back on the Isles?"

The young man chuckled. "I was a Drowned Man in training for a time. Then I almost drowned in one of your father's reavings. I fell out near Oldtown, as they were coming back, and I decided at that point that I really didn't like drowning. So I stayed there, for a while. I was... an oddity."

Gwyneth chuckled as well. "An interesting story. But it doesn't explain how a Septon became the Drowned Man of Seagrave."

"Ah, that. A moment, please." Tristifer stepped back. "How do you want it done." "Get rid of the hair, put it into buns. The long hair is a liability." He smiled. "Ah, yes, the Warrior Lady of the Isles. How did that story go again? The-"

"dark-skinned bastard sister beat the rockborn daughter with a stick while I flailed around trying to protect myself. Yes, very entrancing." He chuckled a little bit. "Certainly an amusing image." "Seagrave, Tristifer?" "Ah, yes. Well, I don't think they wanted too. But they ran out of Drowned Men, you see." Another light chuckle. "And they had heard tales, you see, of the Iron Septon in Oldtown. So, grudgingly, they offered me the position. I bet it rankled their beards too."

Gwyneth chuckled. "I'm sure it did. Say, how did you learn how to do this? The hair, I mean." She heard Tristifer suck his breath in before continuing. "Well, like I said, I was an oddity. After a few... encounters, I became known as the person to go to regarding hair. It, uh, made me more intriguing." Gwyneth tried to suppress a chuckle, not entirely successfully. A few more moments passed before Tristifer stepped off to the side again. "There, we're done." Gwyneth grabbed Tristifer's hand. "No, we aren't."

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Gwyneth sat on the dais, rubbing her stomach absentmindedly. The child was still small, but it was becoming noticeable now. In front of her sat a chained Euron Volmark. To her right was her Castellan, Lord Meldred, who was currently doing a wonderful job of exaggerating Euron's shortcomings, faults, and offenses.

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The trial droned on for another few hours, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Euron would be sent to the Wall and forgotten. Gwyneth would have preferred to put his head on a pike, but then she could never face his daughter Frynne. So she had decided on the next best thing - eternal exile.

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The verdict came as predicted - guilty - and Euron Volmark was sent to the wall for bribery. Happy to be finished with the sordid affair, Gwyneth slowly stood up and started walking to her chambers. Others would have called it waddling.

She was interrupted by a messenger, who urged her to come to the Maester. She retorted by requesting the Maester attend her instead.

The Maester arrived a short while later. He was the only other member of the Faith on the Isles - at least, insofar as Gwyneth knew. He came bearing two sealed scrolls.

"My lady, a raven flew in from King's Landing, followed shortly by one from Oldtown. The latter was white, my lady." Gwyneth nodded. "And the other one?" The Maester held it out to Gwyneth, who clucked, irritated, and then cut open the scroll with Finger Dancer. After reading it twice over to make sure she read it correctly, Gwyneth lowered it carefully.

"Well, if this isn't an omen I don't know what is."

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Gwyneth at this time.

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There is no gap between 27 and 30 AL. I just got the years wrong. My bad. Oh, and Finger Dancer is purely flavor. It has no actual effect on gameplay.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 8: Gwyneth II

"And who are you, the proud lord said..."

31-32 AL

Gwyneth moved fluidly (well, not really fluidly, but no one would dare say otherwise) through the crowd, basking in the atmosphere of the feast. She was trying to waddle her way to her seat, but the throng pressed together and made it difficult. A few bards had been found passing through, and they were singing renditions of various songs at various levels of skills. One of them was singing a ballad that obliquely referenced Harrenhall, a move that showed the player had no taste.

Eventually, she made her way to her seat, at which point she picked up a glass and tapped a spoon against it to get everyone's attention. Repeatedly. After becoming progressively frustrated, Gwyneth threw her glass at the ground, which garnered everyone's attention.

Gwyneth composed herself. "Yes. Well. I hope you are all enjoying the feast." Every single one of her vassals was in the hall, and most of their retainers and family besides. Gwyneth took a breath before continuing. "After long deliberation, I have come to a number of conclusions. The first is that the High Lordship of Great Wyk is too tempting a prize. Multiple individuals have tried to press their luck to claim it, and as such, I have moved to dissolve the position." A low murmur started in the crowd. "In addition, my father made a mistake by placing Lord Joseran under the good Lord Emmond, one I intend to rectify. Lord Emmond Harlaw has already been informed, and is currently in deliberations." The murmuring grew louder, but Gwyneth paid it no heed. The bags of gold that had been placed in the guest rooms of some of her less leal vassals and the bundle of dead rats that had been unceremoniously dumped onto Harlaw's bed had set things in stone. Gwyneth wandered off to meet her generals, certain of Lord Emmond Harlaw's response.

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Gwyneth sat on a longship, overseeing the battle that was occurring outside of Pebbleton Castle. Her condition prevented her from coming any closer. Not that it mattered, as the levies that had been raised by Joseran in defense of his nominal liege were outnumbered six to one. The loyalist host battered at the Goodbrother forces, pouring forth from their longships and running into battle.

An aide touched her shoulder and pointed at a new, smaller, fleet of ships. These longships bore the white scythe of the Harlaws and was sailing to the Goodbrother position that was rapidly becoming enveloped. Gwyneth wasn't terribly worried, however. Emmond could muster at most four thousand men from the isle of Harlaw, nowhere near enough to relieve Joseran.

The battle raged until the dead of night, prolonged by the arrival of Lord Harlaw. Joseran and his men fought their way down to the Harlaw longships, whose men assaulted the Greyjoy position to try and rescue the Goodbrother levies. Only a fraction of those troops made it back onto the longships, however, and they quickly fled.

Gwyneth penned a letter to her generals, ordering them to set sail for Harlaw Hill, and retired to her quarters.

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Gwyneth lay on her back, panting. Giving birth was a new and painful experience, and Gwyneth was thoroughly tired and annoyed. Wordlessly, Gwyneth motioned at the midwife to give her her newborn child, who wore a face filled with dread that was mirrored by Tristifer. Impatient, Gwyneth motioned again, and Tristifer spoke with a voice completely void of emotion. "She's blue in the face, Gwyneth. Our daughter is dead."

Gwyneth fell back and loosed a scream of pure sorrow. Once she recovered, she fixed her gaze on Tristifer. "Help me up." He jolted. "What? Stand? You can barely-" Gwyneth's voice was steel. "Help. Me up." Tristifer gulped and moved over to Gwyneth. Clutching at him, Gwyneth pulled herself up and promptly collapsed. "Gods, Gwyneth, what-" "Shut. Up. And don't swear by the Seven. Now, bring me to my generals." "But-" "Now."

Tristifer nodded wordlessly, and the two of them limped off, blood trailing behind. The midwife tried to stop them, but one look from Gwyneth silenced any objections she had. Eventually, they came to the command pavilion and made their way inside. Ignoring all the stares, Gwyneth spoke a simple statement. "Assault the walls."

Lord Dustin spoke up. "What?"

"Did I stutter? I said, assault the walls. Now."

Dustin looked like he was about to speak, then thought better of it and left the pavilion. Gwyneth hobbled over to the chair he vacated and slowly dragged it outside to set it opposite the walls. At that point, she collapsed into the chair, and watched the preparations for the assault, and then the assault itself.

Gwyneth stayed in that chair the entire night and well into the morning, staring at the walls of Harlaw Hill. Eventually, Lord Dustin returned, leading a patrol of his men. They were surrounding two men and a boy, all in chains. Lord Emmond Harlaw's children.

Without even looking at Dustin or the traitor's children, Gwyneth spoke. "Kill them. Deliver their heads to Emmond. Tell him to make due haste for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, or I'll send him his daughter's heads too."

Dustin cleared his throat. "My lady, you are aware that Lord Emmond has a brother, yes?"

Gwyneth nodded. "Lord Sigrin Harlaw is the least of my worries. He's a simple man with one daughter and a barren wife. He'll live in full knowledge that I killed his family and will inherit his land when he too expires, and so will everyone else." By the last part, Gwyneth's voice was a hoarse whisper.

She felt no satisfaction, even though she had just brutally crushed her primary opponent. Perhaps the satisfaction would come later.

The rain started to fall, and Gwyneth watched the walls of Harlaw Hill.

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____________________________________

Cue the Rains of Castamere.

A/N from later/now: I seem to have missed uploading this in the first round. Hm. Oh well, it's up now.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 9: Gwyneth III

32-36 AL

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Gwyneth lounged in her chair, listening to her council. Maester Michael had just finished espousing her half-sister Margot's skill with numbers, which was all well and good even if Margot practically spat every time she saw her. After a moment, she realized the room had grown silent, everyone looking at her expectantly. Irritated, she wracked her memory of the past few moments and found what everyone is waiting on.

"So what if the King seeks to abolish the tradition of the First Night? It does not affect us." She pointedly ignored the quick glances of some of the lords in her council. "Send the raven back with a letter of support." Qarl nodded, and shuffled some of his papers.

"Now, unless there's something else you need to tell me burning its way through your loins, I think we're finished." Gwyneth dismissed them with a wave, but fixed her eyes on Tristifer. It was a rich joke that the Drowned Man of the Lady Paramount of the Iron Islands did not even worship the Drowned God, but no one else suited to the position could be found. "Tristifer, stay behind." Again, she pointedly ignored her council. Tristifer merely nodded, and the two of them waited for the other five men - and one woman - to leave the room.

"The table won't do for this, you know, cluttered as it is." Tristifer spoke first.

Gwyneth replied as she stood. "Then clear it." She turned around as Tristifer spoke.

"Really?"

"Yes. Getting out of this dress is a pain. Clear the desk in the meantime."

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Gwyneth reclined in her chair, sitting in her chair much like the previous year, and listened to the current litany of news that her council had brought her.

Ravella cleared her throat - or tried to, at least; at her age, it sounded more like a fit of coughing - and spoke in a dry, reedy voice. "The nobles are grateful that you have lowered their taxes. The commonfolk, however, are a different matter. The peasants were quite disgruntled with the latest tax collection, and, according to my agents, some have begun to arm themselves."

Gwyneth nodded and looked at her Master-of-Arms. "Lord Drennan?"

He inclined his head. "I will assign some of the men I am training to police the island. They could use the experience."

Gwyneth nodded and noticed Qarl tapping his papers in bursts of three. "The meeting is concluded. Qarl, stay behind please."

He nodded - barely - and smiled a smile that had no warmth in it whatsoever. Young though he was, the years and the work had worn on him. He waited for the rest of the council to file out of the room before approaching.

"Well? What is it?"

Qarl sat down at an adjacent chair without asking. He knew his standing with her. "I set Margot the task of finding some scrap that could be useful in proving your right to Blacktyde, and she's found something."

Gwyneth grimaced. "I suppose that explains why she keeps looking at me like I'm a silverpike about to bite her nose off."

Qarl raised an eyebrow lazily. "Is she now." He reached into a pocket and withdrew a carefully folded, but unsealed, note. "I've taken the liberty of drafting a letter."

Gwyneth carefully unfolded it, quickly read over it, and handed it back. "Good. On your way to find Maester Michael, find Drennan and tell him to muster my forces. Sargon won't give up his current position, not after what I did to his father."

"There is another issue. Bryan Arryn's fourteenth nameday is quite close."

Gwyneth closed her eyes and quickly counted. "I suppose you're right. Send a ship and courier to Gulltown."

Qarl simply nodded.

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______________________________________

The following months passed quickly. The young lord Sargon did indeed reject Gwyneth's demand to give up his post, and he called his banners. Gwyneth did the same, but she gave overall command to Lord Drennan.

Gwyneth's time was instead consumed with gardening. An offhand statement by Tristifer that the garden at Pyke was absolutely pitiful spurred her to action. By the time Sargon's men were annihilated outside Crow Spike Keep on the isle of Orkmont the garden was flourishing - at least by Ironborn standards.

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As it happens, the fourth son of Ronnel Arryn arrived on the eve of victory. He was brought in by Qarl Orkwood, though he hardly looked the same. Clad in roughspun robes and carrying a driftwood cudgel, Qarl spoke of how their ship had been caught in a storm and how the young lord Bryan had been washed overboard. Qarl had sprung to the rescue, diving into the water after Bryan, and Qarl placed his success squarely at the Drowned God's feet. He spoke of many other things as well, but by that point Gwyneth had stopped listening and had instead begun to study Bryan. He was still a youth at fourteen, though Gwyneth was not that much older, and he was clad in plate that he seemed to know how to use.

The marriage itself was held the next morning, a small ceremony conducted to the sound of splashing water and the feel of soaked cloth.

A few months later, word of Sargon's surrender reached Pyke. Starved out of his castle, he had finally surrendered. The island of Blacktyde was seized by Gwyneth, but nothing was done to Sargon. She had no desire to kill her closest friend's brother.

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And, half a year after that, Gwyneth gave birth to her third child, a living one this time. He seemed to take after his father, yet it was hard to tell, seeing as how Bryan Arryn had shaved his head to the point that it resembled an egg.

His name was Urzen.

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______________________________________
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 10: Gwyneth IV

36-41 AL


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(Side note: I screwed up the dating on the pregnancy last part. Not a big issue, but it's pertinent)

Gwyneth looked at Urzen, snug in his crib, a mere two weeks of age. Her child. Her living child. Her son.

Gwyneth looked up at the empty chair and swallowed. Bryan had sat there for a time, watching Urzen. Gwyneth couldn't open her mouth while he had, and she had loosed a sigh of relief once Bryan had walked out. Even after all these months, she hadn't been able to tell him.

Gwyneth looked back down at her son, and it felt like that Andal goddess the Mother was playing with her heartstrings. It was almost as if she were barely balancing on two horses starting to ride in opposite directions, one named Love and the other Duty. She took a deep breath, and almost jumped when she heard the door creak open.

Bryan walked in, carrying a goblet of wine. He was somewhat tall, but Gwyneth stood above him by about a quarter of a foot. She took the goblet when he offered it.

She stared into the wine, lost in thought. Eventually, her thoughts coalesced into something resembling clarity. Bryan doesn't need to know. And neither does Tristifer. It will be my secret, and maybe Urzen's too, one day.

A light tap shook her out of her reverie, and she realized that Bryan had asked her multiple times if she was alright. She didn't answer. She merely drank the wine and firmly mounted Love.

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The months passed peacefully. Lord Drennan drilled the troops, Gwyneth tended to her garden, and in the early months of the thirty-eighth year after Aegon's Landing found herself pregnant again. Then, two months later, Lord Nute Calmsea, Gwyneth's lone uncle, died, leaving Saltcliffe in the hands of his son, Lucas Greyjoy.

Gwyneth attended her uncle's funeral, but it was fraught with tension. Lucas kept glaring daggers at Gwyneth, and even went out of his way to converse with every guest but her.

In return, when Gwyneth looked upon her uncle for the last time, she dryly told Lucas to "hold her cup" before she clasped Nute's hands and poured the saltwater over his head herself.

Then, a few months later, she was treated to a surprise intervention as she walked into a sitting room with her close friend Frynne and found her half-sister Margot there waiting for her. Both sisters tried to stalk out of the room, the younger a bit more gracefully, but Frynne was strong, Gwyneth pregnant, and Margot the youngest, which is how the three of them found themselves locked in a room until Frynne was confident that Margot no longer detested Gwyneth.

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A month later, Gwyneth's second living child was born, a daughter this time. She was named a more suitably-Arryn name like Beony.

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A short time after that, the last of the male Harlaws, Lord Sigrin, finally dropped dead. He was an aging man, the brother of the old spymaster, and the last of the Harlaws, married as he was to his old wife. Upon his death, with no Harlaws remaining in the succession, the island of Harlaw passed into the possession of Gwyneth Greyjoy. She moved quickly, annulling the title of High Lord in a matter of days. The last of the powerful Ironborn lords had died - the only ones left besides herself only owned minor lordships.

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As the thirty-ninth year after Aegon's Landing came to a close, Gwyneth noticed Bryan prowling the castle of Pyke. More specifically, the general area where Tristifer lived. Feeling a little regret and pity, Gwyneth started spending more time with her husband. Things seemed to be better, and the fortieth year after Aegon's Landing was looking to be a better year.

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(They didn't fall out of love)
____________________________________

Gwyneth was sitting at her table, throwing Finger Dancer at the wall, when her Master-of-Whisperer's walked in. Gwyneth frowned at her. "Helya, what are you doing here?"

Helya Pyke swallowed, and visibly gathered her courage before continuing. "There-there's a plot."

Gwyneth snorted. "Well, that isn't surprising at all. Between the rash of petty bribery and the completely illogical kidnapping attempt on my half-sister Lujja that was orchestrated by the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard - the Lord Commander! - I'm really not amazed."
Helya swallowed again. "It's against you, my Lady. They... they say you're a bastard. That your mother slept with another man, and that that is why you are alive while all your other blood sisters are dead."

Gwyneth's eyes had lost all trace of mirth and instead blazed with a cold fury. "Who are they, Helya?"

Helya was shaking. "Your cousin, Lord Lucas. One of the Harlaw girls, Harra. And... and your husband."

"Tell Lord Drennan to arrest them."
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Gwyneth slammed open the door to Harra's cell and strode in. Harra stood quickly and rounded on Gwyneth, and she seemed ready to spit bile at Gwyneth.

She never got the chance.

A stab to her stomach, followed by a thrust into the side of her neck took care of her, and also blooded Finger Dancer for the first time. Harra gurgled blood, surprised, then fell over. Gwyneth cursed as the Harlaw girl got blood over her dress. Grimacing, Gwyneth wiped Finger Dancer clean with Harra's clothes and strode out of the cell, slamming it shut behind her.

She sheathed Finger Dancer as she approached the next cell door. This time she merely opened the door a crack. Instead of going in, she told the guards standing outside Lucas Greyjoy's cell door to throw him into the deepest, darkest cell available. She spoke rather loudly.

Then Gwyneth walked to the last occupied cell. Bryan's. She composed herself before walking in. She was not wholly prepared for Bryan's hate-filled eyes, even though she had seen them plenty the last few months. His eyes took in her blood covered dress, but he said nothing.

"Why?" The question rang clearly in the cell.

Bryan crooked a smile. "Because you are a whore."

Gwyneth sighed deeply. "He bribed you, didn't he."

Bryan shrugged. "Yes. Your cousin did. Not that it mattered; I would have done it anyway. A man needs to be paid for his talents."

Gwyneth laughed richly. "Oh please. You may be a passable commander, but everything you know about intrigue? We taught you."

Bryan smirked. "It doesn't matter. There isn't anything you can do. My family-"

Gwyneth cut with a voice that had no mirth in it whatsoever, only cold. "I don't care about you or your family, little bird."

Bryan's eyes bulged as if he were being choked. "How dare you speak to me like that? My family-"

"Can do NOTHING! What are they going to do? Bankrupt themselves hiring a merchant fleet that will break apart at the first sight of the Iron Fleet? Or are they going to ask the Starks? Little chance there, seeing as how Lord Rickard is my uncle-in-law. The Tyrells? Oh, yes, they might do something, but I'm as much Tyrell as you and yours. The King? He has a reputation to preserve, and laws to uphold. Do you think he's going to do anything when he discovers his precious ward was effectively committing treason?" Gwyneth stopped, watching as Bryan shook with fury.

"Now that you've realized precisely how badly you misplayed, I'll tell you what happens to you. You'll be leaving the Iron Islands in a little fishing boat, with no money or name. Once you arrive in Lannisport, well, I'm sure the Lannisters will be happy to escort you."

Bryan laughed dryly. "So, you're sending me to the Wall then?"

Gwyneth smiled coldly. "Like I would give you even that slight honor. No, I'm afraid that you are now Bryan Arryn, an unmarried pig in armor."

Bryan flushed completely red, and somehow managed to shake even harder. "You can't-"

"I CAN AND I HAVE! I DO NOT ENJOY BEING BETRAYED! NOW QUIET YOURSELF, COCK! DAWN ISN'T HERE YET!"

Gwyneth would've thrown a cup at him if she had one. Instead, she turned and strode out of the cell.

Now, even though more money was always useful, and Bryan's personal reserves were somewhat deep, she almost didn't want to touch it, tainted as it was. Eventually, however, she chose to keep it, if only to inflict a deeper pain on her now divorced husband.

At least that was easy enough in the Isles.

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Some of the images are in spoilers because there's limited text between them and what's contained in them is already described in the text. And that was quite the short-lived marriage. About six to seven years.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 11 - Gwyneth V

42 - 44 AL

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Contrary to what the Starks' said, winter was not, in fact, coming. Actually, the rather mild winter was ending.

It was, in fact, a mere fourteen months since the disastrous plot by her cousin had seen him imprisoned, her ex-husband divorced and banished, and a surviving Harlaw unceremoniously executed. The special occasion today was Lady Paramount Gwyneth Greyjoy's second wedding, this time to a rather unique and interesting individual: a traveling Braavosi duelist. After all, she could not remain unwedded, but she was determined to make sure that whoever her husband ended up being, he could not cause any problems. The lesson with Bryan Arryn had been painfully learned.

The feast itself was as grand and boisterous as her previous wedding, with food filling the tables and mead and wine flowing in equal measure. There was a great deal of dancing, both graceful and not, with a great deal of partners slinking off into darkened corners for a variety of reasons, including Gwyneth's half-sister Margot and one Meldred Goodbrother. As the feast wound down, the bride and groom were carted off to Gwyneth's bedchamber to consummate their marriage. Unfortunately for the couple, however, Gwyneth had already sated her appetite previously...

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On a different note, Prince Lucerys Targaryen proved himself capable by bringing forth another dragon into this world, naming the he-dragon Morghon. As a reward, his father granted him control over the Stepstones (except for Torturer's Deep, which was still subservient to Lady Greyjoy).

On yet another different note, nine months later Gwyneth eventually gave birth to her fifth child, fourth daughter, third living child, and second living daughter, Gretchel.

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A year later, the Starks' words rang true, and winter came again. And with it, a very interesting letter.
________________________________________

Gwyneth sat at her council table, reading the latest, personal message from the King. She had to give him credit: despite his absolute belief in his Seven gods and his subsequent hate of everything different, he could be very diplomatic, flowery, and even tolerant when required, as demonstrated by his latest request: an offer for her son and heir, Urzen, to be trained under the newly "crowned" Prince Lucerys.

It wasn't hard to read between the lines; King Maelon clearly wanted to raise Urzen to be of the Faith. Gwyneth wasn't opposed to the idea; after all, at one point her father's plans had called for just such a thing. Indeed, she was already taking steps to ensure her son could properly interact with the rest of the Seven Kingdoms when she came of age by ensuring that he went to Tristifer's small sept/temple every other day (Gwyneth was uncharacteristically diligent in tending to Urzen's lessons in that regard, for a variety of reasons). However, the primary reason for her reticence was standing right in front of her: her Master-of-Laws and de facto majordomo, Lord Qarl Orkwood.

In fact, he was reclining on a chair and half-looking in Gwyneth's direction, though his curiosity was evident. Gwyneth read the letter a second time, sighed, and put it down.

"Well?" Qarl asked.

Gwyneth rapped her fingers against the desk, deep in thought.

"It would solve a great many problems, not the least of which being that it would improve relations between the Targaryens and us from grudging tolerance to respect. However, Urzen is not going to turn out a general, and besides," Gwyneth pointed at Qarl "you're the best wordsmith there is. He's getting the best possible education. I mean, my sister Margot never had any private tutors and look how she turned out."

Qarl chuckled lightly. "I thank you for the compliment, my lady. I assume that's a no to the King's request, then?"

Gwyneth nodded. "Yes. Be polite about it, certainly, and do tell him that Urzen is being properly educated in the ways of the Seven. Tristifer is quite capable."

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Qarl nodded. "While we're on the topic of your sister Margot..."

Gwyneth closed her eyes in thought for a moment. "Ah, yes, she did ask about getting married. I should probably see to that. What was that young lad's name from the wedding feast. Meldred something-or-other?"

"Goodbrother." Qarl supplied smoothly.

"Ah, yes, Meldred Goodbrother. Do send a raven out to Joseran, see what his response is. Meldred is third or fourth in line correct?" Gwyneth waited for Qarl's nod before continuing. "See if he'll accept a marriage like mine; I'd prefer to not lose my new Master-of-Coin."

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Qarl nodded once again. "There are two other items of note, my lady."

Gwyneth waved for him to continue, and Qarl reclined further in his chair, positively lounging now.

"The first is that your cousin, Lord Lucas, did not adjust to the prisoner life well. In fact, he seems to have died a few months ago; how such a thing was missed is beyond me."

Gwyneth dismissed the news with a wave. "Good riddance."

"The second is that my efforts in Tyrosh have finally panned out. I have bribed, cajoled, and threatened enough people to finally fabricate a plausible claim to the Free City of Tyrosh and its surrounding holdings." Qarl's smug grin was palpable.

Gwyneth just stared in shock. "And you saved this for last?"

Qarl's grin just widened.
___________________________________

Gwyneth promptly celebrated by bedding her husband, even as semi-confirmed rumours about her infidelity with the Septon swirled around Pyke. Some people said that her husband Roro had found out and revealed it, but she didn't particularly care. It certainly didn't change what happened in bed.

Shortly after that, a messenger was sent out to Tyrosh with a formal declaration of war and her vassals called to muster.

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___________________________________

The war itself was rather uneventful. The Tyroshi had just emerged from a slave revolt which had exhausted their coffers and armies, resulting in them being utterly incapable of a proper resistance. As such, the war with Tyrosh was mostly a footnote. The Free City was seized, governors appointed, titles distributed, and Gwyneth secured the Free City itself for her own personal retreat, tax-producing land, and summer vacation home.

The items of greater note were the birth of her sixth child, fourth living child, and second son Wex, and the minor civil war going on in the Stormlands between Lord Paramount Aegon Baratheon and Queen Elaena. The family squabble culminated in a grand dance of dragons, with Prince Aerion bravely and adroitly fighting against Queen Elaena and Prince Maelys, slaying the Queen's dragon Trogdax in the first dance.

When it came to the second dance, a legend died. Meraxes died to the young dragon Vhagar, and with it, so did Crown Prince Maelys.

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_____________________________________

A/N: I was pretty amazed that Aerion managed to take out not one, but two dragons (including Meraxes!) and also killed his nephew and the heir to the kingdom. Way to go Queen Elaena, screw it up for everybody.

And yes, Aegon Baratheon did end up winning. The dragons were the only shot the Targaryens had and, well, they died.

Also, since this is now a single player campaign, Urzen is also the secret child of Tristifer and Gwyneth and not Bryan Arryn and Gwyneth. She seems to do that a lot doesn't she?
 

Aidun

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And so Gwyneth's tale of debauchery goes on.

We actually came close to that duel in our original game. Elaena declared a dragon's conquest on the Stormlands, and we ended our session to that. I continued the scenario on my own several times to see how it might end - and most times there indeed was a dance of dragons where the royal family turned on each other. When we did continue the save in multiplayer, Andrzej did what I had not anticipated - he forced Elaena to stand down and imprisoned her, even though it cost him a point or two of tyranny.

It'll be interesting to see how Seven Kingdoms turns out with only you in reins.
 

cyrileom

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Chapter 12 - Gwyneth VI

44-48 AL

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The latest round of "purges" were taking place, and Gwyneth was sitting near the head of the court, barely watching the proceedings as her Castellan, Lord Torwold, handily dismantled Lord Jon Volmark's poorly structured claims of innocence. She would much rather be out with the army that was currently subduing the Stonetrees, but the current matter called for her presence.

And so, rather than pay attention to the foregone conclusion (off with his head!) she tried to puzzle out her finances and arrange for Beony's education and tutors. She'd have preferred to enlist Urzen's, but they were busy enough dealing with him.

Eventually, the court pronounced Lord Volmark to be guilty, and Gwyneth grunted out something resembling "Head. Spike." before returning to her work. She considered having Qarl tutor her, but he was busy with his own work and Urzen, so she decided that it wasn't worth it. Instead, she decided to take on her daughter directly, and employ a few private tutors to take over when she was feeling especially lazy.
_____________________________________________

"And who is this, Qarl?" Gwyneth asked, motioning at the blue-haired Tyroshi man that was standing beside her Master of Laws.


"This is Yorko of Tyvis, an associate of mine. Unfortunately, your seizure of Tyrosh dispossessed quite a few locals. Yorko played along to hide his own involvement, and because I heavily implied there would be a place for him here." At that, Qarl stepped to the side, and Yorko bowed slightly.

"To put it simply, my lady, I am a humble [yadda yadda yadda; Gwyneth had perfected the art of not really listening yet still being able to interject perfectly, something she considered a requirement for any sane and competent diplomat] and so I offer my services to you as a private tutor."

Gwyneth leaned back in her chair and motioned at one of the myriad that filled her council chamber.

"Please, sit. Let us discuss your price."

When Yorko was eventually escorted from the council room to his new chambers, Gwyneth turned to her majordomo.

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"I do hope you aren't trying to be clever, Qarl."

He shook his head. "With all due respect, my lady, that would be a death sentence. I merely anticipated your response and promised a favour. Yorko was quite instrumental in the construction of the fable we spun about your rights to the city."

Gwyneth nodded. "Anything else?"

"Yes, actually. Do you want to hear about the dead dragon or the dead Tyrell first?"

Gwyneth pondered for a moment. "In that order, I suppose."

"Apparently, Prince Aerion's dragon Vhagar died in South Crackclaw Point; just went to sleep and didn't wake up. As for the second, it seems that the Lord Paramount of the Reach succumbed to a bout of illness, leaving the king's ward Loras as his successor."

Gwyneth paused, deep in thought. "Keep an eye on him. Depending on how things go, I might end up invoking my own Tyrell blood."

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___________________________________________

Gwyneth poured herself another drink. She enjoyed the new Tyroshi wines, even if she only brought them out for special occasions like the current lavish feast.

"Not that I don't enjoy these, Gwyn, but why now?" Tristifer asked while refusing another cup himself.

Gwyneth took a sip (really, more of a big gulp, but she was getting a bit too drunk to properly notice). "Would you like to hear the official reason, the reason anyone that looks is going to find, or the real reason?"

Tristifer shook his head in exasperation. "Let's go down the list, I suppose."

Gwyneth put up three fingers (or tried to. She was surprisingly clear in her speech, but the rest of her body just didn't follow). "Officially, there is no reason. Just to show my generosity and goodwill. Also, actually half of the real reason. Next, there's the fact that Beony is taking after me in terms of the sword. She's good as I was when I was that age."

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Gwyneth offered another cup to Tristifer, who again refused, before she continued. "The last reason is that Aegon Baratheon has kicked the proverbial bucket."

Tristifer raised an eyebrow. "And we're celebrating the death of the King's cousin because...?"

Gwyneth shook her head. "Not his death."

Tristifer thought for a moment. "We're celebrating the succession of a small child who by all accounts is mentally incapable because...?"

Gwyneth shook her head again. "Closer, though. No, it's that Loras Tyrell is showing interest in pressing his own matrilineal claim on the Stormlands, something that is practically guaranteed to annoy the King."

"So we're celebrating an upcoming war. Seems a bit morbid."

Gwyneth chuckled. "Oh, come off it. Have a drink! It's been hours."

"Minutes, Gwyn, minutes. And you're on your eighth. You should probably stop."

Gwyneth tried to smack him. "Oh, come off it. I'm completely fine."

Tristifer easily evaded and moved to get her up. "Come on. You're in no state to continue, and the feast will go on without you."

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__________________________________________

A/N: Nothing big really happened here. Lots of small, little things, but hitting them one-by-one isn't really my style. So, a shorter, transitionary part. There WOULD be a declaration of war against the Reach for Gwyneth's weak claim at the end of this part, IF I KNEW WHERE I PUT THE IMAGE OF IT!

Ahem. Sorry. Yes, that does mean I declared war. It was my plan from the time of the feast, before I was aware Aegon Baratheon died. Things just worked out very well with that.

On a side note, however, Gwyneth FINALLY got herself a Drowned Man for her council. He's currently performing charity in Tyrosh. Yes, really.
 

Saxon125

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Nice to see this, the Greyjoy chapters were always great to read. Pity SK died it was a lot of fun to be part of it. Is it possible me to have your save so I can continue the game from the Tyrell perspective? With Loras now in High garden things look interesting in the reach, especially with the possibility of war with the Stormlands.
 
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cyrileom

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This chapter is extra long because there's just so much good stuff to cram into it.

Chapter 13 - Gwyneth VII


48-51 AL


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Gwyneth sat at the head of the council table. There were only three other people currently present in the room besides her: Qarl Orkwood, her Master-of-Laws, Drennan Farwynd, her Master-at-Arms, and her sister Margot, her Master-of-Coin.


"You all know why you're here. What do we have and what do we need?" Gwyneth asked, motioning out to the trio.


"Between your own personal levies and those of your vassals, we can muster a force of roughly twenty-three thousand men and enough ships to carry thrice that amount." Lord Drennan opened.


"The treasury can support the contracting of three typical mercenary companies. Keeping them paid is the bigger issue, however; we'll only be able to manage it for three or four months at most." Margot continued.


Qarl leaned back in his chair, as usual. "We cannot rely on the Baratheons for assistance or even to hold; the young child is widely regarded as an imbecile and unsuited to further rule, and the only real reason he wasn't replaced instantly was his distant relation to the King. As it stands, his regency can muster a host of, at most, six and a half thousand men - nowhere near enough to contend with the nearly thirty-five thousand men that Loras Tyrell can muster."


Gwyneth nodded and drummed her fingers against the table. "Very well. Qarl, send some overtures to the little Baratheon's regent; at the very least, being able to know where the Tyrell host is would be useful, and we might be able to improve our standing in the King's eyes if we're seen to be defending his young cousin. Lord Drennan, you have absolute command of the host. In addition, I want you to hire as many mercenaries as we can currently afford; which ones specifically are at your discretion. Margot, send a message to the Iron Bank to secure the funds necessary to keep the mercenaries on retainer. Any questions?" All three shook their heads. "Well then. Dismissed."


The two older men got up and left, with Lord Drennan leading the way, but Margot remained at her seat and waited for them to leave.


"You have a smaller problem, Gwyneth; Gretchel and Wex are going to need their own tutors soon, and the funds are going to have to come from somewhere. You can't exactly not see to their education." Margot spoke with a not-so-subtle hint towards their father's own stingy nature.


Gwyneth nodded in agreement. "You're right. However, with the amount that you'll be able to get from the Iron Bank, we'll be able to finance the mercenaries and our own forces for about a year and a half, and we'll doubtless secure more gold from the Reach and your own efforts in Pyke. If the worst comes and we start to run low on funds, we'll simply throw the mercenaries at some walls, let them expend their usefulness, and let them go with a smile and a pat on the cheek."


Margot looked a bit discomforted at that statement, but mutely accepted it.


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___________________________________


Gwyneth parried another one of Beony's blows. The scene was almost comical in nature: mother in daughter, nearly thirty years apart, striking at one another with practice swords. Well, it would have been comical if they were simply flailing about at each other, but such was not the case. While Beony certainly did not have the height or muscle tone to present an actual threat at the moment, her skill was certainly improving, and she had actually managed to hit Gwyneth in the ankle earlier.


Beony tried again to strike her mother, but this time Gwyneth caught her on her fingers and she dropped the practice sword, yelping in pain and cursing up a storm. Gwyneth clucked.


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"What did I say about speaking like that, dear?"


"Only do it in verse, mother."


"No, that's not-" Gwyneth sighed in exasperation. "Fine. We're done for today." She promptly ignored the plaintive wails of her daughter as she caught sight of the very pregnant Margot.


Margot winced and clutched at her belly as Gwyneth approached. "How did you manage to go through this six times? By the Drowned God, this is intolerable."


Gwyneth smiled lightly. "It does get easier. And you do forget. Honestly, however, it's the bedding beforehand." Her own wink was met by her sister's glare. "And it's easier when one is in charge." Gwyneth briefly scowled. "Except for the midwives; dealing with them is an experience I never look forward to." She glanced over Margot. "Speaking of which, I doubt they'd let you walk about on your own in this state without good reason. And yes, before you ask, I have seen to Wex's tutors - the money coming in from the Shield Islands and the citizenry of Pyke are greatly helping to plug the money drain that is the war."


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Margot shook her head. "No, not especially. This is just the last opportunity I'll get to shake those harridans before they practically tie me to the bed. Though, Qarl did send a raven to you, apparently. Here." Margot pulled out a small scroll and handed it to Gwyneth, who quickly glanced over it.


"Hm. It seems Lord Loras is making an issue over my own attempt to press my matrilineal ties; I'll need to go to King's Landing posthaste." Gwyneth looked up at Margot. "Should I stay around for your first?"


Margot once again glared at her. "If you're anywhere within a hundred paces of that, I swear I'll kill you for the temerity of keeping those damn devils around."


Gwyneth chuckled. "Of course you will."


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____________________________________


Qarl looked up from the bench he was sitting on at Gwyneth. "You're quite late, you know."


Gwyneth's heart froze, but Qarl simply motioned at the open space beside him, and she woodenly sat down.


"Fortunately for you, I am a consummate diplomat, and managed to fix the problem with no issues. Prior to my involvement, Loras Tyrell was well on the track to marrying into the royal family and securing the King's favor in dealing with you in whatever matter he saw fit." Qarl chuckled. "Was he surprised when I started passionately arguing for little Steffon's own rights."


"And?" Gwyneth spoke, her voice split between worry and impatience.


"And, to make a long speech short, the boy's regent was so moved he broke the agreement that had been made between the previous Lords Tyrell and Baratheon to marry Loras and Rhaenys, Loras came out looking like a fool, and I daresay that King Maelon only mostly detests you now."


Gwyneth sighed in relief, and Qarl's face stretched into a smirk. "Moreover, the young, unmarried Princess Rhaenys is currently under that very same regent's purview. And, as I recall, young Urzen, well." His lips curled in disgust as he finished; it was, perhaps, the one big rift between Gwyneth and her majordomo: whatever else, Qarl was quite a devout man after his experience saving Bryan Arryn during a storm at sea (which he admitted to regretting after the divorce), and Urzen was being groomed to be a member of the Faith. A member of the Faith with a comprehensive understanding of the Drowned God, yes, but a "heathen" nonetheless.


"Where is Steffon Baratheon's regent now?" Gwyneth asked.


"Halfway back to Storm's End by this point, I wager."


She nodded. "Then let's set sail at once; there's a marriage to arrange."


Qarl stood up and offered his hand to Gwyneth. "How goes the war?"


"Well. Apparently, Loras' marshals cannot decide whether to fight us or the Baratheons; they march in circles around the heartland of the Reach, all the while our fleet occupies the Shield Islands. After all, there's no point in further aggravating the lords of the Reach, or the King, by massacring men in assault after assault."

____________________________________


Gwyneth looked at Rhaenys Targaryen as she approached. She had to admit that the princess was rather attractive, even if that was mostly her exotic appearance and not any stroke of good fortune or particular effort.


"Tea?" Gwyneth offered, holding up a cup with a rather strong brew. Not what she personally enjoyed, but Storm's End had precious little tea available at all.


"N-n-no thank you." Rhaenys responded with barely veiled contempt, which Gwyneth studiously ignored before offering the princess a seat. They sat in silence for a few moments before Rhaenys broke the quiet.


"Y-y-you know that f-f-father won't allow t-this."


Gwyneth nodded. "Very true. The good King Maelon has a rather singular obsession with the Faith of the Seven, and looks down on those that do not cleave to it." Gwyneth took a sip from the cup and set it down on the table. "It is good, then, that the person currently responsible for you is not your father. Little Steffon's regent and, so I am lead to believe, you as well, are not quite so fanatical."


"Y-y-your point?"


"My point, Princess Rhaenys, is that the regent is quite interested in keeping his position. And if Loras Tyrell were to come down to Storm's End with his army, he could quickly remove little Steffon Baratheon and with him, his regent. And, well, he sees quite the profit in catering to my desires; namely, my desire to not send a raven to my marshal telling him to sail for the Arbor."


"A-a-and what ab-ab-about my desires, hm?"


Gwyneth sighed. "It is a sad truth, Rhaenys, that women do not get to choose their husbands. My position is rather unique; my father died when I was still young and before any agreement had been solidified. Did you know that I was once promised to your youngest brother?" Rhaenys shook her head in a mixture of confusion and wonder. "Ah, well, now you do. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out; spending over a decade without a husband was not an option. And, as half the realm no doubt knows, even having the choice does not result in happiness." A note of bitterness crept into Gwyneth's tone before she caught it.


She shook her head to clear it. "However, no agreement has been made yet. You see, I am actually particular about these things, which is why I'm seeing you now rather than in Pyke as my son drapes his cloak over you. He's around here somewhere, actually." Gwyneth took another sip of her tea. "Anyway, what, if anything, do you know about him?"


"H-h-he's a f-f-filthy p-pirate, like the r-rest of you." Rhaenys spat.


Gwyneth sighed. "Well, I see he'll have his hands full with you." Gwyneth stood up and went to the balcony doors. "He'll be around shortly. We leave in... two days. With or without you." Gwyneth shrugged. "Your choice."


When the time came for them to leave, Rhaenys Targaryen came along, her eyes full of more curiosity than hatred, following closely behind Urzen.


"The actual ceremony is going to have to wait, I'm afraid, until after the war. Still, at least then we'll be able to host a proper ceremony and feast."


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____________________________________


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"And, that, children, is why you don't hunt alone in the one forest on Pyke."

"But mom..." - Beony

"NO! No exceptions. And why did you bring along Wex anyway? He's SIX! Now off to your room and back to your studies."

"Yes, mother." - Wex

"Yes, mom." - Beony

____________________________________

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"So, they have eight thousand more men than us."


"Yes."


"And they're just staying on the other side of the Mander."


"Yes."


"And they've been there for months."


"Yes."


"Have they ever moved on Highgarden?"


"Yes."


"Really?"


"They stopped within days."


"Really?"


"Yes."


"How incompetent are they?"


"Very, my lady."


"Carry on, then, I suppose."


And so they did. Right up until Highgarden fell.


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___________________________________


Gwyneth rushed about Pyke, seeing to all the last minute feast preparations. "What's the guest list?"


The servant running by her side studied the list. "Everyone that's a direct vassal, barring Lords Hosman, Luthor, Gormon-"


"Only tell me the names of the High Lords. For the minor lords, just a number."


"As you wish, m'lady. Lord Luthor of Blueburn and Lord Leo of the Northmarch for the High Lords. Seven lesser lords."


"Loras Tyrell is attending?"

"Yes, m'lady."


"Hm."


The actual feast itself was... unique, to say the least. Most of the lords of the Reach openly glared at the Iron Islanders, though some at least made the attempt to mingle. There were more than a few exceptionally rude individuals, including the Iron Islander Lord Ragnor, who drank entirely too much wine, had a row with a few other Reachmen, and finally threw up on Margot's shoes (for which he was slapped, but no one could really tell by that point as he had passed out).


Ostensibly, this was a wedding feast designed to celebrate the marriage of Urzen Greyjoy and Rhaenys Targaryen, though the way some lords glared at others made Gwyneth wonder if this would dissolve into a bloodbath. The earlier announcement that Lord Reynard of Alden Keep would be replacing Lord Drennan as her Master-at-Arms had stifled the pressure somewhat, but she could still feel it boiling up.


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Fortunately, matters came to a head when her Maester rushed in, which drew more than a few eyes to the dais. Gwyneth took the letter, read it, read it again, read it a third time, then handed it back to the Maester before standing up primly, fixing Finger Dancer's necklace, and folding her hands behind her back.


"It seems, esteemed lords and ladies, that one of you - Lord Leo, to be precise - is not happy with the current way of things." She waited for a suitable amount of time to let the tension. "He has decided that things would go much better if he could decide how the succession should go: all to the firstborn, rather than split up among the sons." The silence in the room was palpable as Gwyneth idly played with her dagger. "Now, I doubt he is alone in this desire. Would his compatriots stand up? I promise no harm will come to you; you are, after all, under guest right."


The silence continued for a long time before one finally stood, which broke the floodgates; by the end of it, six High Lords of the Reach and a smattering of lesser ones were standing. Gwyneth just nodded and continued caressing Finger Dancer.


"I thank you for your candidness. In fact, I have even come up with my response." The already think tension intensified to the point that one could practically see it.


"You are, of course, entirely correct."


The confusion in the hall was evident: Gwyneth didn't do this. She held on to power with an iron grip, killing all who opposed her. Well, yes, that was true, but she wasn't stupid. This scenario smacked of the spectacularly botched plot that her father had told her about that had occurred at the start of his reign. In one stroke, she could placate the lords, secure her position, and solve any problems that might come down the line. After all, splitting titles might become a headache if she or her son were to increase their power in the Reach. Not that that meant she wouldn't repay the favour in kind later - she would - but this served her purposes just as well.


"I'm sure the... fourteen? Yes, fourteen of you have some method of contacting Lord Leo. I would greatly appreciate if you did. But now, let us get back to the main event: the wedding!" Gwyneth waved magnanimously and burned the fourteen faces into memory.


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___________________________________

A/N: First, the happy couple:

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Now, to address a few things. Yes, King Maelon did not intervene. It was a VERY close thing, but Loras just could not quite overcome the Foreigner penalty to make King Maelon's opinion of him positive.


Yes, there was a bit of cheating involved with the marriage to begin with. I addressed that at the beginning.


No, there were no big battles that occurred. I think I actually managed to break the Reach AI by landing right when their army was in between the Greyjoy host and the small Baratheon host, which meant the AI could never quite decide who they wanted to focus on. They never crossed the straight from Manderford to the Shield Islands, which was, in all likelihood, a good idea, but neither did they turn around to deal with the tiny Baratheon host and gain more troops that way. The initial war plan was to just take the entirety of the Shield Islands and lesser, smaller lordships through my superior mobility until I had enough warscore to just win, but I decided to chance Highgarden when the number disparity wasn't too huge (river between Manderford and Highgarden worked to my advantage). I guess I broke the AI there, because they just sat there. Forever. And did nothing. Occasionally they would march against me and then break it off a day or two later. So... somewhat disappointing. But I'll take it.


I pulled the number fourteen out of thin air for the supporting lords. I'll probably just pick some of the more recalcitrant High Lords and retroactively make them the faction supporters.


And yes, I did cheat with Urzen's religious preferences. Again, stated at the start. On a sidenote, however, it appears that Cruelty is genetic in the Greyjoys. Neat. And his diplomacy... well, when you have a proper education and your tutor has 27 diplomacy, let's just say things go VERY well. I really, really, REALLY, lucked out when I got Qarl.
 

Saxon125

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Damm AI stupidity, Loras is out of High garden, and the Tyrells are nearly out of the picture. Still wonderful chapter.
 

cyrileom

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Damm AI stupidity, Loras is out of High garden, and the Tyrells are nearly out of the picture. Still wonderful chapter.
Eh... Loras is still in Highgarden. I actually transferred all his appropriate vassals to him, and there's still the rather large possibility that a faction for him will actually form and potentially win. Plus, Gwyneth is half Tyrell, so...

Also, the war between Loras and Steffon is still ongoing. Loras doesn't quite have the troops to do anything atm, but never underestimate the AI's stupidity.