Bow of the North

by

coinhas2sides

chapter 37 - Climbing in Chaos

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Peytr Baelish POV

 

It seems that despite the setbacks and changes, the situation has ultimately ended in my favour.

When Catelyn brought Tyrion to the Eyrie I knew my opportunity had come. I told Jaime about his brother’s situation knowing that it would start a conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks. A conflict that I could use to sell favours to either side.

When Jaime started to get the idea to use a hostage to release Tyrion, I told him through the use of a spy that he thought was loyal to the Lannisters, but had actually been bought by me some months ago, that Ned was currently at my brothel. I knew Jaime and Ned would not involve me in their conflict. I could even use my appearance to remove any suspicion of my foreknowledge in the events.

The rash man Jaime is would lead troops to the brothel and attack Ned. Either Ned would be killed or captured wouldn’t matter to me. Jaime disregarded a vital fact. He wanted to use Ned to trade for Tyrion with Catelyn, but he neglected that Tyrion was no longer her prisoner, but rather Lysa’s who is under my control. It is amazing what desperate and miserable people will do when you show them even the slightest amount of affection. I Have made use of these aspects many a time, both in brothels and in connections.

Lysa will not release Tyrion without my say so, so even if Ned captured it would ultimately lead to nothing. It would just lead to greater conflicts that might even send the kingdom into another war. The last war brought me so much freedom to move. When everyone is busy fighting they tenfd to forget their money pouches, only caring for killing their enemies. They know war is expensive and so they don’t care that their vaults are emptying, so long as they get what they want they will pay any price.

If Ned died then all the better, as Catelyn would then be available for my pursuit. Comforting the grieving widow is the sort of thing any good friend should do. It was the folly of my youth to try and duel Brandon Stark for her hand. I was rash and nearly paid for it with my life. After the war with the Trident I realized that if I had instead used my time to raise my station and power, I might have contended for her hand instead of Ned.

It was about then that things started to unravel from my control. The first issue was Ned’s capture which was a failure. The arrival of Ser Baskerville was an unexpected twist.The fact he could triumph from that situation was even more so, though that should be partly due to my fault. I have known about Baskerville for some time, though it was only recently that he made any moves that were worthy of my attention.

I have properties all over Westeros, primarily brothels and gambling dens, as well as a number of respectable establishments as well. The manager of one of my properties in the North has told me a great deal about Ser Baskerville through the reports he sent me. It was mildly interesting at the beginning, but after he was clearly unable to be used or affect me in any way I dismissed the reports. Although I prefer to use words and numbers to combat my enemies, I have always been on the look-out for protection, recent events have only highlighted this. I had this manager reach out to Baskerville when he was still just a commoner. He refused unfortunately, though it was no great loss as there are plenty of others that were willing to take his place.

After recent events with Jaime and Ned I looked into the reason for the failure, and the more I look into it the more I wish I had offered a higher price. He has demonstrated not just skill bordering on legendary, but has displayed excellent tactical and even political skills. His ability to read between the lines and look to the future remind me of myself in my youth. His willingness to perform somewhat questionable tasks for the reasonable price, as shown by his paid targets in the tournament days, make him the ideal person to accomplish special tasks.

His skill at dealing with Jaime Lannister on the road, was incredible. When I first heard that the Kingslayer lost to someone I thought that the North had simply gained a good fighter this time. I made a note of the name, not for recruitment but in case I needed a favour from Cersei and could sell Baskervilles head for a price. After the brothel I looked into those events more clearly. The way he dealt with Jaime was not just a physical feat but a mental one. Someone at such an age with physical, mental and tactical ability could be one of the legends of an age. He could follow in the footsteps of Barristan Selmy and Duncan the Tall.

I was considering if I needed to make arrangements to deal with him. He was too capable to leave by Ned’s side, but my investigation showed him preparing to leave King’s Landing. He had readied a ship and was making arrangements with the Iron Bank to move his entire fortune to the North. I was even more impressed with his decisiveness. Perhaps the Lannisters would call this cowardly and the Vale Lords would say abandoning his lord when he knows he is in danger is disgraceful, but knowing when the situation is against you and cutting your loses is an admirable trait in my book. Since it was clear he wasn’t planning to remain and interfere in King’s Landing I decided to just leave him be.

The fact that I was too distracted with other work was also a reason to leave him alone. The day after the incident at the brothel, Lysa told me that the imp was free. It seemed that he made use of the situation to call for a trial by combat, which he won through the use of a champion. With both the law and honour demanding he be released, she was forced to comply.

The Lords and knights of the Vale are some of my favourite people to use. They are loyal to a fault and will go to any lengths to uphold justice. This might seem like a disadvantage to someone like myself, as morally challenged as others see me but that is only if they can prove it. They are all loyal to House Arryn, of which the remaining members are Lysa and her son Robbin. Both of whom are under my control and persuasion, earning me control over the entire Vale, if not officially. As for their justice, that only applies when they know someone is guilty, and there are very few of them who possess the cunning and craftiness to unravel my schemes. Instead I just need to use them like the Tyrion case. By saying he was behind the assassination of the Bran boy, and providing information the knife was belonging to him, they will all jump at the chance to capture him.

What I did not count on was Tyrions ability to manipulate them and others. Not only did he call for a trial by combat, but he also managed to persuade a sell-sword who had never met him before to risk his life for him. When he won the Vale lords were forced to let him go and Lysa could do nothing to stop it. The annoying part of the Vale men is that they will not choose loyalty over honour. If Lysa asked them to capture Tyrion again, honour would demand they refuse, and they may even question her from then on.

I spent the next few days trying to plan how to keep this conflict going if both Tyrion and Ned are free.I was planning to hire men from Gulltown or the other towns in the area to either capture or kill him, when Ned himself provides the timber for his pyre.

Earlier this evening Cersei came to me with a plan and proposition. It seems Ned finally found out about the queen and her brothers little secret. How the 3 royal children are all bastards, and are the offspring of incest.

This comes as no surprise to me. I and several others have known for a while, though it seems the very outrageousness of the act has been what kept others from finding out. It was gossiped for several years a decade ago that the queen had a lover, however her lack of contact with potential partners and the fact those gossipers would leave the castle one by one and never be seen from again, caused the rumours to die down. The only people who know are like myself, we have little to gain from revealing the knowledge at the moment and are just waiting for the right time.

Ned doesn’t want to wait however. He pieced the truth together and is ready to release it to the king. If he did, I would say good show to him, but instead I almost laughed at what he did next. He told Cersei that she had until the morning to leave King’s Landing with her children, because that would be when he would tell the king. I assume it was done in attempt to save the children, but I can only think he deserves what comes next.

Cersei is a scorpion, and when she feels under threat, she will sting everyone in her surroundings till everyone is dead. The servants in charge of the king’s chambers have been in her pocket for years, likely so she can keep track of the king’s whores and deal out the suitable punishments.Though it could be she was planning this for a while.

The bed sheets have been doused in a special substance called ‘Emperors Breath’ named due to the origin. In the South on the Isle of Naarth, they have many species of butterflies that are poisonous to everyone except for the local inhabitants. One particular species is called the ‘Emperor’s skin moth’ due in part to its large size, but also due to its skin. Most of the other varieties carry their poison in their pollen, but this one has it in its skin, which is extremely poisonous to the touch when shed.

Cersei sprayed his sheets with the shed skin of that moth, so that when he sleeps the king will either breath in the skin fragments, or it will be absorbed through the skin. Either one will cause death, the only difference is whether it is 1 hour or 3. Tomorrow the king will be found dead and Cersei will have ordered her soldiers to slaughter the Stark guards, taking the Lord and his children captive. Through several planted evidences in his room and testimonies from bought servants she can say that It was a conspiracy to gain control of the throne and rule as regent. With Grand maesterPycell being the one to examine the body and the false evidence and witness, the trial will be all but conclusive.

As for why she came to tell me her plans was because she needed me to complete them. The king owed the Lannisters a lot of money, and in exchange for reducing the interest requested they receive several political benefits. The main one applicable in this caseis the number of soldiers they can have as guards. Most lords can only have a small number of guards at one time. Even when Paramounts visit King’s Landing they can have at most 100 guards, which is how many Lord Stark has. The Lannisters are allowed 200, combined with the Queens 100, not to mention the royal guards she has bought over the years, they will have no issue slaughtering the Starks. The problem is what comes after.

With the king dead and the Hand accused of treason, there will be doubt be unrest, from both the masses and the nobles. While they might not be overly supportive of Ned, seeing as he was a new arrival, but they know Cersei and Joffrey. They have both acquired a reputation over the years for their cruelty, and the thought of the 2 of them in power is a scary thought. They need me to control the Goldcloaks so that they can keep the peace and suppress any dissent.

I wouldn’t do it for free, and asked for compensation. She agreed to grant me the Seat of Lord of Harrenhal, and arrange for my marriage with Lysa Arryn.

Harrenhal is the former seat of House Hoare, who once stood against the Targaryens when Aegon the 1st invaded Westeros. The Lord and his entire family was burned alive inside the walls by dragons, and since then it has been abandoned. The area surrounding it still has a few farms and villages, but the castle has been left in ruins for centuries,ruled by one incompetent family after the next, and is thought to be haunted by the ghosts of those that burned.

The men who would leave such an obvious prize alone are either fools or those lacking in capability. I have no need for stories of ghosts, but I do have need for the great position of Harrenhal. It is located near to the crossroad of 2 major roads, King’s Road and the River Road. From it I would have connections to King’s Landing and 4 other kingdoms. As for the castle itself, while the damage done to it and lack of maintenance has let it fall to ruins, the foundation is still there. It is in a strategic position and has the walls and landscape to become one of the greatest keeps in Westeros. All it needs is the money to make the repairs and money is the thing I have in abundance.

No one has quite comprehended how deep my pockets really are. My known businesses are already enough to make me one of the richest in the lands, but through my position as Master of coin I have managed to inflate my assets even more. By using the kings taxes, I have invested in businesses that I either own or possess shares in. I then hide the expenses by exaggerating other expenses. When Robert goes on a spending spree, I will purchase services and goods at high price, and then replace them with either inferior goods, or using my own people to reduce the cost. I charge the full cost and use several accounting systems to hide the missing money so none are the wiser. If I liquidate my assets and use the money to rebuild Harrenhal over the years. It can become the Seat of power for my House, with the economic power over several major trade routes, military power of the old House Hoare, and the political importance of being the connection with the Vale and the King.

When I marry Lysa I will become the Lord Protector of the Vale when she dies and until Robbin comes of age. Lysa has spoiled her son rotten, and the boy adores me. Controlling him once his mother is gone will be easy, and I will soon hold the power over the Vale and be the most powerful Lord in the Riverlands, greater than even the Tullys. Never again will I have to suffer the humiliation of having the woman I love beg for my life from a Northern brute. Instead the men of the land will beg for my favour and Cat will finally be within my grasp once more.

 

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