Tywin POV (1 week after trial)
“Give me a hundred riders. I will head North, find Baskerville, and take his head.” Jaime demands, slamming the table. The wine bottle shakes, though I steady it before it falls. “We know where he is going, Varys told us he was preparing to go to White Harbour. If I leave now I can reach the North when they land. Without horses of their own I will have time to catch him before he reaches Winterfell.”
Jaime has just started reading the letter from Kings Landing I showed him, and after a few sentences destroyed a chair and spoke nonsense like this. “No. You will remain here to command the army. No-one will go North.” I deny him. As I sit in my chair, look at the map and plan our next move. Despite my anger, I can’t help but admire the fact that my children have managed to enrage nearly every Kingdom in Westeros. I see Jaime calming down and about to argue again, when I cut him off.
“The North is about to go to war. Their Paramount has just been killed in the capital, by the king no less.” Jaime mentions that it was Baskerville that killed him. “And the moment you can convince the Lords in the North that is true is when you will be able to talk the dead from their graves. Robb Stark has already called the banners and from what Varys has said most have already declared their support, with the remaining have yet to respond. In a few months they will have gathered 30 to 40 thousand troops to march south onto Kings Landing. This is not like the past where you could go wherever you wanted, the Northerners will kill you soon as they see you.” I explain to him the reason his plan to capture the assassin is stupid. “I know you grieve for your nephew’s passing and your sister’s condition, but this is no time for stupidity.”
Jaime calms down some more, then re-engages me with another plan. “Then we should strike before they are ready. Half our forces are already gathered and uncle has just finished gathering the other half at Casterly Rock.” Our forces defeated the Tully forces 2 days ago and we were in the middle of pursuit when we received the raven. The Tullys were unable to gather their full force to Golden Tooth pass, partly due to the lack of unity with the Riverland lords, and partly due to Clegane’s raiding of their fields, preventing theother lords from sending their forces. We quickly destroyed them and they are now on their way to Riverrun to seek shelter. That was all done with only half our forces. I originally had Kevan ready the other half so we could end this conflict quickly and show the world what happens when you poke the lion. Now we have shown the world what happens when a lion’s cubs taunt every beast in the jungle.
“Once uncle Kevan joins us we will have a combined force of 60,000 without even mustering our entire force. With conscription we could muster another 20,000. The Tullys only have about 6,000 to defend Riverrun.By leaving 10,000 troops to keep them looked inside, the rest of our forces could march North to defeat the Starks before they gather their full forces.” He then recovers his former sarcastic tone, having cooled slightly. “Or could it be family is not that important. You went to war when Tyrion was captured. Could it be when your grandson is murdered in front of a crowd you will not even punish him.” He attempts to provoke me.
“*sigh* You should read the entire letter before continuing with that thought. Planning without taking in the full information is for fools.” He looks back at the letter he discarded earlier, picking it up to continue. I wait for him to finish, he was never a strong reader, and when he does, I can see him thinking. He knows the problem but is still trying to find a way around it.
“Renly escaped Kings Landing and returned to the Stormlands. In a few weeks he will have reached Storms End and called his banners. He and his brother have always been opposed to our family in court, and with the recent events with Ned he would never trust us enough to swear fealty.” It was a common joke, though never spoken openly, among the nobility that the Baratheon brothers all have 2 of 3 things needed to conquer a kingdom. Tactical mind, political charisma and the ambition. Robert had the first 2, but found himself severely lacking in want of the throne once he had it. His brothers both wanted power but each found lacking in the other quality. Stannis had the might, his countless victories and strict discipline has allowed him to achieve victory with a smaller force many times. Renly was a match in court for anyone on the small council, despite his youth, and has gained the firm support of the other Stormland Lords. If the brothers overcome their dislike for each other, then they may replicate Roberts achievements during the rebellion.
“Something your sister, and you to a lesser extent, have never comprehended is that a strong House does not mean we can oppose every other. Your sister’s actions have caused us to be at conflict with the North and Stormlands in addition to our current conflict with the Riverlands. If we are not careful then even the Vale could join them and we will be facing another rebellion, though there will be no way for us to join the winners this time.” Baelish has assured me that Lysa Arryn would never risk the safety of herself and her son by sending the Vale forces out, but if I trusted the word of men like that I would be dead same as Eddard Stark.
They don’t even need the Vale Lords to join to defeat us. Unlike the Targaryens we don’t have Dorne and the Reach to support us. In fact, The Dornish hate my family even more than Roberts, while the Tyrells have been resentful of us keeping them from court. The Reach I worry about the least, they are not the sort to risk their troops and people in an unsure situation. They are much more likely to remain neutral and strike when the sides have changed, or just kneel to the winner.
Dorne has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. The Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell, has kept his people in control for the most part, but I don’t trust his supposed bending the knee during Roberts rebellion for a second. He is not as hot-blooded as his brother or fellow countrymen, but maintains a cold demeanour, waiting for the right time to strike. A distracted and surrounded House like ours is just such an opportunity. It will take time for him to attack, seperated by the Stormlands and the capital, but he will strike.
“If we head North it will be to our demise. The Neck has defended the North for thousands of years, no army without dragons has ever successfully invaded it. Even if they don’t gather their full force they will still gather enough to stop us at Moat Caitlin. We will be drawn into an extended conflict hundreds of miles from our lands. Our supply lines will stretch along the Riverlands, enemy territory.” I explain why his plan would not work. “It would only increase our enemies. The Lords of the North will be hesitant to commit the entirety of their forces to The Starks so that they can be led by an inexperienced boy. Invade the North and they will use their full force to resist us.”
“The Tullys are already defeated, it is just the question of asking for it and the other Lords will swear fealty to us. The Riverlands are the most fertile land in Westeros other than the Reach. We can transport their grain to the North so that even if we are cut off from supplies we can last for a year at war. By that time the Starks will be defeated. If we form a defence south of the Neck and wait for them to come to us, we can defeat them. The Northern Lords would lose faith in the new Lord after his defeat and we can sue for peace. With his sister as our hostage and no way to defeat us, he will bend the knee and might even trade Baskerville for his sisters safety.” He has started to piece together a plan, and is even on the right track. His obsession with Baskerville is going to lead him down a bad path if this continues though.
“You forget that this entire plan relies on too many unknowns. Even if we have the supplies to defend against the North, if the Tullys break the siege on Riverrun we will be facing a force on both sides. Their forces may be small, but once the other Lords are given a chance to recover and no longer raided by Clegane, many will think to lift the siege. The Tullys have cultivated marriage and political alliances with many houses over the years. Without a large enough army to keep them in line they will come their Paramount’s aid and destroy the small force we left behind.” The Riverlands are the weakest territory in Westeros, except maybe the Iron Islands, lacking the natural barriers of other kingdoms. They have survived by strategically making allies with their neighbours for times of trouble.
“You are also forgetting the most important point. Most of our enemies aren’t coming to attack our army, but rather Kings Landing. If we send the majority, or even a significant number of troops, we leave ourselves open. The Vale, Stormlands, Reach and Dorne are all possibilities that could strike at us. We are surrounded on all sides and our only chance of victory is to deal with our enemies one at a time.” This is a war where my family will be tested, not just myself but my relatives. This war will be fought on multiple fronts and I can’t be everywhere at once.
“I am going to divide our forces into 3. You will remain with our current forces and continue to Riverrun. You will lay siege to it and once you have breached it you will use Riverrun as the base to subdue the rest of the River Lords West of the Trident. You will also be there to reinforce our own territory. I will order Stafford to conscript another 20,000 men and remain on standby.” I wouldn’t put it past Balon and the Iron born to attack in our vulnerable state. Stafford is my cousin, though distant, and while he lacks the brains for leading an army, the Iron Born are not a real army either. He should be capable of butting heads with any raiding parties.
“You will need to deploy your cavalry to assist him if that is the case. I will take Clegane and his riders south to join Kevan’s force and travel east to the Ruby Ford. The Starks and men of the Vale,if they fight, will head to Kings Landing. I will take the time for them to muster their forces and head south to prepare defences at the town of Darry, the area south of the Ford, while Clegane will take a division to guard the bridge along the Kings Road. With them I will be able to contend with both their forces if the Vale joins. When you are finished with Riverrun, you will lead your army and the Lords who commit to us to assist me and we will crush them between our 2 armies.” I pause to sip on my wine, giving him a chance to question or oppose the plan. When he doesn’t I am sure he has fully calmed by now and is thinking strategically. “If Baelish was telling the truth, then I will be able to defeat the Stark army, thus the threat to the North will be settled. From there the war will be over.” I finish my wine and rest my back.
“The war will be over? What of the Stormlands, Reach and Dorne? These 3 all have a grudge against us and even if we defeat the Northern threat, what of the South? We will be tired from fighting, and even if we defeat the north, if the other Houses attack Kings Landing we will have lost. Tommen is now king, but he doesn’t know how to rule or fight. Cersei fainted after Joffrey’s death and has been grief stricken since. She is too weak to rule in his place. Send me to the capital, I will...” Before he can convince me to send him to comfort his sister, I stop him.
“No. You are not able to rule Kings Landing. You are a member of the Kingsguard, not even the commander, nor will you be before Selmy dies. You hold neither the authority nor are you the most accomplished general, that would be Selmy. His injury will heal, though he may be weaker of body, his mind is still the one which led men through 3 wars.” If I named someone else he would probably have resisted. But Barristan Selmy is a man he has always respected, and for good reason. Selmy is similar to Robert Baratheon in that he is a skilled fighter and tactician, but unlike the latter, Selmy knew his limits. He never tried to delve into politics or rule over others. Instead he stuck to his strong suits and it served him well.
“I will send Kevan to Kings Landing. After I meet up with his force I will take over the army while I send him to capital to serve as Hand of the king in my absence. He will bring 2 dozen officers with him and will restructure the guard to defend from a siege.” He asks why he can’t be made Hand of the King. “Your duty is to defend the kings safety, there is no precedent for a member of the Kingsguard serving as Hand of the king. It will be a reason for our enemies to contend with you.”
“As for the Storm and Dorne, they will be dealt with by the Tyrells.” I point out Lannisport and the reach on the map. “Martin will travel to Highgarden to negotiate an alliance with the Tyrells. Both Tommen and Marcella are unmarried and lack betrothed, same with several of the Tyrell children. I will propose an alliance of their choosing to them. They will defend the south while we defend the north.” I tell him. Martin Lannister is another distant relative, though is one of the more competent ones. Not as much as Kevan, but he has managed Lannisport for many years, and through it has had several trade deals and positive meetings with the Reach nobility. He is the best person I have to parley with them.
I talk with Jaime for another 30 minutes, discussing minor issues and reassuring him, then sending him off. When he leaves and is far away, I let myself go for a moment, throwing my plate to the floor, shattering it. If anyone wonders they will think it was from Jaime’s previous outburst. The important point is that they not know how worried I am. The plan I just laid out was the best option, if everything went right, then we will win.Bbut nothing ever goes right. A plan never survives the first engagement.
If it was people like Ned and Arryn I was dealing with, I can predict, plan and outmaneuver. Child lords and insane women? Those are the characters that no-one knows what they will do. They could do the most unexpected or stupid moves at the right time to cause irreparable damage.
Why did Cersei kill Robert? I don’t believe for a second that lie about him dying from sickness and if it was someone else then she and Pycell would have sent me word of their suspicions. Instead they tried to hide them. Robert should have lived for another 5-10 years before being removed once he lacked use. Joffrey would become king and my family would control the seven kingdoms. My debts could be paid back using the revenue from the taxes, and even if the other lords realized my families current weakness, it would be too late. I would have secured my families place in the kingdom for the next hundred years.
Instead everything happened too soon and without my knowledge. This led to the fuck up with Joffrey. Now I have to stay strong even longer. If I can win this war, I will have cemented my legacy and ensure my families survival. If I fail, I will not have to worry about the future, for my family will have none.