It is finally over. That fat, whoremongering husband of mine is finally dead, the Starks are imprisoned, and the city is under my control.
The city gates have been closed and no-one will leave until I say so. The ravens are all accounted for by Pycell. No news will get to our enemies until i have made preparations and are ready. When they do find out, it will be spun to my discretion. Baelish has told me the Goldcloaks are out on the streets and though there are concerns, there are no riots or rumours leading to treason.
There were 3 problems that occurred but the largest of them will be solved in this meeting. We are currently inside the small council chamber, I am sitting in the place of my son, Joffrey. Baelish, Varys and Pycell are the only members present other than myself. The master of ships, Stannis hasn’t been to King’s Landing for months, and Renly has escaped the city.
Renly has always been a nuisance to me in court, but he was a minor one that has since learned to shut up with the removal of Jon Arryn. I should have known however that a man as cowardly as that would surely run at the first sign of trouble. He apparently had spies among my soldiers who told him about the attack. Renly lives in the city rather than the Keep and I couldn’t send the appropriate force to capture him at his home in the noble district without alarming the other nobles and their guards. I originally planned to restrain him like Ned. I sent a letter calling for an emergency small council meeting and once in the council he would be not allowed to leave without my say so. He should have also been less of a fight than Ned was. Ned brought down 3 men before he was subdued, unwilling to accept his fate till the end.
After forcing him to sign a letter to the other Stormland lords renouncing all claim to the throne and declaring Joffrey the rightful king, he would stay in kings landing. He would be ‘helping’ his nephew to manage the kingdom, causing him to remain in the Keep long-term. He received word of the attack and instead of coming to the keep he fled the city. Last word had him racing to the Stormland and would reach it before any pursuers could make it.
I have sent word to father that the Baratheon brothers would be trouble. He will send an army to destroy them, turning them into another example of what happens to those that threaten our family. The first example would be the Starks fate.
“How goes the search for Arya Stark?” I ask them. That is the smallest problem that I have to deal with, though no less annoying. The Stark daughters were needed for other plans. Her sister, Sansa, has been cooperative and is currently being kept in one of the guest rooms, several handmaidens keeping an eye on her. The bratty one that beat Joffrey with a stick escaped.
I sent Ser Meryn to retrieve her from the Tower of the Hand, yet not only did he fail, he died as well. She was last seen fleeing into the dungeons with that dog and another man. Varys tells me the man was her dancing instructor, though his real occupation is as a master sword master. Leave it to the Northerners to be so barbaric as to give their daughters sharp steel to wield.Clearly Sansa didn’t take after her father’s barbaric customs. If she did, I would likely have put her in the cells, same as her father. Instead she has cooperated and is being kept under watch in the main keep. Several handmaidens watch her and make sure she is taken care of. If this situation is to have a positive outcome, she must be alive and healthy.
“The guards have searched the dungeons and found no signs of her, your grace. We did find a secret entrance that leads to a number of passages under the keep, though we have yet to fully explore it. The size of the caverns and the number of hidden pathways have made scouting it difficult.” Baelish reports. He is the person in this room that I have to worry the most about. He has kept to his side of the arrangement so far, but I would not put it past him to scheme for greater benefits once he has what he wants.
“Those passages are most likely the passages built by Maegor Targaryen. Maegor was afflicted with terrible paranoia, leading him to construct hundreds of secret passages and escape routes in the Red Keep and the surroundings. When they were finished however, he ordered every builder involved with its construction to be executed. This was to make sure that only he would know about all of them. Since his passing the successors of the Targaryen line have discovered many of them, but every decade or so there will be another one found. I assume Arya Stark came upon one of these and has used it to evade us for now.” Varys reports, bowing like he should. He has always kept to himself, though he has over the years informed me about several leaks in the secret of my children, the most notable was Jon Arryn.
“Baelish I want the Goldcloaks to search every crook in this city, if she got out of the Red Keep she must be in the city. Order them to inspect everyone that tries to leave the city. Varys have your birds look into everyone that is connected to Ned and would be willing to hide her. If they have her then I want them caught and arrested under conspiring treason. She must be brought alive.” I order the two.
“Yes, your Grace.” They answer together
“Now to the issue of my husband’s passing and Ned Starks betrayal. Last night my husband died of heart failure, excessive drinking the night before, and of recent, being the primary cause.” This is partly true. I had swapped his normal wine for stronger variety the evening before. If the wine was poisoned it would be too obvious, but his notoriety for drunkenness is finally useful for something. “At the small council meeting he attempted to declare himself regent and seize power. This was a betrayal of the king’s trust and when opposed by the entirety of the small council, he tried to take power by force. Thanks to the soldiers loyal to my late husband he was stopped, though there was much bloodshed.”
Everyone here is knowledgeable to the truth, but like father always said. ‘The truth is only real when we give it form’. The lie will need to be told later so may as well have everyone practice it.
I was originally going to have Ned executed but Varys came to me earlier and told me of an alternative. With Sansa under our control he could convince Ned to admit to this crime himself. After pleading mercy, he will be sent to the Wall, where he will be unable to command the North ever again. Even if he tells his son of the secret, without his leadership the other lords would not rise in rebellion. Sansa will marry Joffrey and through her can control the North and keep them in line.
“He will be tried in public to which he will confess his guilt to taking advantage of my husbands passing to take power, where he will be judged by king Joffrey.” This will act as a coronation ceremony as well. Once everyone accepts the sentencing it will also be accepting of Joffrey as king. I will speak to him later as to what will need to happen. “Varys, you are confident that you can convince Ned to answer honestly so that this trial can be done as efficiently as possible?” I stress.
“Absolutely your grace. Ned Stark is a reasonable man. Once he has realised his plans have failed, I am sure he will accept his punishment and plead for mercy, both for his sake and the sake of the kingdom.” Varys replies, reminding me to leave Ned an out, as if he hasn’t already stressed the importance of this enough. I am well aware of the consequences if this fails.
“Very well then. Let us move onto the next item. Grand MaesterPycell, how goes the funeral preparation?” I ask. As much as I wish this business was over, I know that there are many small tasks that must be done before tomorrow to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Captain Curt Douglass POV
I watch the sun rise, as is my habit, and gaze upon the clouds. It is a clear day, the winds are strong and steady. There are few gusts and the weather should hold for the rest of the day. It is a good day for sailing. Luckily for us as we are likely to be sailing hard and fast come the evening. My crew rowed back to us from King’s Landing this morning, without Ben. They came with a message.
Last night when they arrived they came across 3 pieces of bad news. The king being dead and his son now inheriting was the first. The second was the guards had apparently found The little girls escape route and were now patrolling the shore. Ben didn’t tell us exactly how he was planning to get into the Red Keep, but 200 armed guards patrolling the place he was planning to enter and extract the Starks made that very unlikely.
The third, and the reason he didn’t come back, was the news that Ned Stark was going to have a trial was announced at dawn. They were saying that the Hand of the king had committed treason against the crown and would be judged by the king in the town square by the king. Ben sent a message that he needed to know what the sentencing was for Ned.
If he was sentenced to death we would be staying in Kings Landing another few days. A noble like Lord Stark will have several days before the actual execution, time during which Ben can make an escape attempt. If he is sentenced to the Wall or exiled we will be needed to either intercept the transport or return to the North to tell the truth to his Son.
“Boss, can I talk to you?” Henry, a friend of mine who has been sailing with me since the beginning, approaches and whispers to me. We walk to a secluded part of the ship, away from any busy people and where the waves would drown our voices. “Why are we still here?” He asks.
I frown at his question. I don’t need to ask for clarification. He wants to leave Ben on shore and sail off. “This wasn’t part of the deal. We were told that we would only be taking him to see the world. I understand that, rich guy wanting to travel, needs a crew to make sure he doesn’t sink the ship the second he hits the Narrow Sea. But this? This is way beyond what we were asked to do. Mathew told me what they found out on shore.” Mathew was one of the men Ben tasked to gather information on the shore. Neither Ben or I expected them to keep the news to themselves, so we didn’t bother telling them to.
“Kings are dead and blood has been shed. Fighting soldiers and nobles goes well past what we are used to. I say we take the ship and leave this city. We have enough supplies to go anywhere in the kingdom or across the sea to Essos.” He continues to talk, losing nervousness as he talks. It seems he has become more and more confident as he talks. I wait for him to finish before telling him why it won’t work.
“Have you forgotten that we signed a contract with the Iron Bank. You couldn’t read it but I did. On the contract it states that if we go back on our contract the gold that was originally going to be used to pay us, will be used to hire assassins to kill us. It doesn’t matter where we go, we will be finished. Even if we go to Essos the Iron Bank is still there. News will spread that we betrayed such a large contract and never be trusted to trae again.” I wait for him to take that in, and noticing he is still determined, I reveal another flaw in his plan.
“Even if I wanted to, we wouldn’t do it. Have you forgotten that we have other passengers? The Raven lads and Ben’s brother are still on this ship. They are all skilled fighters with the weapons to match. If we try to leave without Ben we would be killed.” The reminder of the other men on this ship reminds him of the difference in fighting strength.
“Except for the brother, the rest should realise how stupid this is. We can convince them to join us, the brother alone can’t resist us. Even if they don’t we outnumber them 5 to one. We can grab them and tie them up, then drop them on an island somewhere.” He refutes this, thinking if all the men join we can overpower them, and they would be right if they didn’t count that monster.
“And what about the dogs. Brutus, the monster hound. I know you were sceptical about what I told you at the brothel, but trust me when I say it was an under-exaggeration if anything.” I remind him of Ben’s pet, and the thing that gave me nightmares for days. “If you want to tangle with something that eats armoured soldiers like cookies, be my guest. I won’t do it.” I assure him of my non-participation. He starts to doubt himself, but just as he was going to continue, we both feel a chill wash over us and turn to the main deck.
There, Brutus was standing. He was looking at us both and had his lips raised, revealing his teeth. He stared at us for a good while, me and hm covered in sweat. I knew, deep down, that he couldn’t possible have heard us from that distance over the waves. Even if he did, Brutus was a beast. A powerful, nightmarish beast but still unable to understand humans. But when I looked into his eyes, I can’t help but feel he has seen through us.
He stares for a full minute, before turning away, assured in something. I turn to Henry and repeat. “I will not fight. If you want to fight go ahead, but I will have no part in it.” I watch his reaction, his next moves deciding his fate. I watch as his shoulders slump, the fight draining from him, and he nods in acceptance.
As he walks away I sigh in relief. I am glad he didn’t continue otherwise I would need to do something I don’t want to. Even without the unexpected appearance of Brutus, I would not have fought. Not just because of my pride and loyalty to Ben, but also self preservation. Even if we could kill Brutus and the rest of the Ravens I would not survive the coming storm.
I lied slightly when I told Henry about the contract. Although the money will be used to hire assassins in the case of betrayal, the only one that would be killed is myself. 8000 gold coins is a lot of money, but divided between 60 so men, and that is only a bit over a hundred for each of us. Though there are many people in this world that would kill someone for that money, sailors are a bit of an exception. My crew and I could sail to one of the far ports like east of Quarth and no one would follow us for such a measly sum. The reward wouldn’t even cover the cost of finding us.
8,000 for a single unimportant captain however, there are few men who could resist such a prize, my men included if they found out. That was why neither me nor Ben told the crew and their contracts, even if they could read, only said they would forfeit the reward, not what the reward would then be used on. Like this I would be responsible for keeping the crew in line when Ben is gone. A good method and one I can’t even argue against considering it just worked