“It has been good speaking with you Lord Nader. I hope your father feels better and that he will have a positive response for me within the week.” I address to the second messenger.
“I will milord. Thank you for your hospitality.” Nalder Frey says before leaving in a hurry. Likely he is afraid to be turned into a different type of message if he takes too long. One that speaks more with visuals than with words
When he leaves I pour myself another cup of wine and sit back in my chair. I cannot relax completely, my bannermen are still present, and we still have much to discuss.
“Good show lad. The man, if you can call him that, was just about ready to piss himself. I bet it will be the same with the rest of them when they hear the demands. An entire House, especially one as large as that, all pissing themselves at once? Ha! That would be quite the sight.” Lord Umber is the first to speak, declaring his support for my performance.
Lord Umber, also known as the ‘Greatjon’, is a massive man. He is the tallest man I have ever met, taller than even Hodor. Though he might not be as wide as Hodor, he is well built and has been a renowned fighter for decades. He is at the peak of his age at the moment, and one of the strongest men in the entire North. There may be some knights who could probably beat him with luck, Ben being one of them, but none among the Lords would try and expect victory.
He was once one of my father’s greatest friends, and has become one of the men I can trust the most among the Lords. We had a rough start, but have since earned his respect. Any who have questioned me, publicly or in private, has faced the roar of House Umber.
“I agree with Lord Umber. That was indeed an impressive demonstration, my Lord. The Frey’s should react as we hoped them to, assuming our information was correct.” Lord Bolton also weighs in, followed by the other Lord’s support.
“Thank you, milords. However, I still worry that we have missed an opportunity. Although Lolder agreed to the offer, I feel if we offered the same deal to Nader it would raise the chances of success.” I voice my concerns again to the other Lords, not quite convinced of their decision.
When I first found out about their being 2 members of House Frey, I ordered they be waited in a separate tent while I debated with my council. The plan was always to give the offer to a member of House Frey, but with 2 being present, I could offer it to both to increase the chances of them completing their part in the plan. After-all neither has much power in their House alone, and may fail to open the gate even with surprise on their side. Together they could combine their strength to more easily accomplish our goals.
“Milord, this plan is based on the infighting in House Frey. Lolder and Nader are uncle and nephew, and only by Half-blood. The chances they would cooperate with each other is small say the least. If we included Nader in the offer, we would either have to split the reward with the both of them, making it less appealing overall, or increase it. All under the assumption one does not sell the other out to their father, giving up the greater reward from us for the safer reward from their father.”
“The first option is counterproductive if our goal of including Nader was to raise the chances of the plan. The second is dangerous. We can’t offer them territory and keeps other than the Twins, that they would accept, so the only option would be to offer them the other Twin. You yourself said that we need to control the other Twin to ensure our passage of the Fork.” Roose replies. This part I agree with and understand. It is the later explanation that throws me and the rest of the Lords off.
“Besides this presents an opportunity to further the dissention within House Frey. If Lolder betrays us and tells his father of our plan, the first thing Walder will consider is if we offered the same to Nader. When Nader denies any offer, Walder will become suspicious if he is lying and still planning to betray him. Even if he doesn’t, the issue will be released to the other members of the family, and that will be the end of House Frey’s greatest strength in resisting us.” Roose smiles at the thought, sending a slight shiver up my spine when I see it.
“The family will instantly become divided. Some will suspect the other members of betraying them, others will consider whether reaching out to us is worth it, to try and receive the same offer. It will become a case of everyone pointing fingers at the others. Some due to genuine suspicion, others due to old grudges and some just to drag down their competitors for inheritance. Walder, in an effort to save costs, has appointed many of his officer positions to his children. This was advantageous before, as it meant he could support his large family while they also learned valuable skills and experience.” Roose outlines the flaw in the Frey leadership.
“The disadvantage in such an arrangement is that it made their forces completely corrupt and incompetent. Now we will also ruin their unity. Walder will be suspicious of every member of his family now. This will further reduce their moral. If Lolder betrays us, or he tries to perform his part but fails, it will still be easier to take the Twins later on.” Roose finishes.
The possibility of Lolder betraying us has always been considered. If Walder was aware of my plans then he could det traps and open the gate so my men would charge into it. By shutting the gate when my men are close to the entrance, hundreds of my men could be killed before we can retreat.
That is why the contract stipulated that he must leave the Twin upon opening the gate. I will position teams of several hundred men, disguised as drunks, at the edge of the camp on the second night. If Lolder rides out, they will charge the Twin, taking control of the gate before it can be retaken by forces loyal to Walder. The rest of the army will be on standby to attack, hidden in the dark and among the tents.
From what we have gathered from merchants who pass through the Twins many times, and those among my Lords who have visited the Frey, for weddings or celebrations, the Twins only have fortifications on the outward directions. The bridge sides are almost completely undefended, so if we take the east Twin, the other will fall in short order. There is the possibility that Walder or key members of the Frey will retreat, but that will only speed up the collapse of their forces, which is our main goal.
To prevent Lolder revealing the entirety of my plan he was told none of this. Rather to avoid suspicion, he was told what was said to Nader, so when Walder asks them they will give the same story. If I am lucky Walder will either think I was just insulting him by speaking to his messengers separately, which considering what mother said of his personality, is possible. Or he will be too distracted by my declaration of war to look into it.
“In the case where Lolder doesn’t full fill his part, what are Walder’s options?” I ask the room. I have little worry for Lolder suddenly feeling love and loyalty to his House, rather I am worried about his more base desires. If his paranoia and fear of me betraying him overwhelms his greed.
“If Walder is aware of our attack, he could set a trap for our forces. Hiding additional troops and archers to ambush our preliminary force, then quickly closing the gate on the rest of our army. They could cause some damage to our now army through archers, but the damage would be minimal.” Lord Glover proposes the possiblity of an ambush, though my mother rebutes the likelihood.
“That would require courage, careful planning and timely execution. Walder may have more pride than he does honour, but he is no fool. He is aware of the quality of his soldiers, if you can call them that. I seriously doubt he would risk opening his gates to us, even if it was to lead us into a trap. No, the more likely thing is he will do as the Frey have done for hundreds of years, only better. Hide in his castle and wait.” Mother speaks. As the person who knows the Frey best, her family being the leige Lord of them for years, but I worry about her bias against them.
“That is a good point. How sure are we that Tywin...” Ser Manderly was about to speak when a disturbance outside the tent interrupts him. A few seconds later, 3 men enter the tent. 2 are the guards assigned to the entrance, while the other is one of the officers in charge of the scout patrols. He bows to the room when he enters, panting and out of breath.
“Milords, sorry for the interruption. This man claims his patrol has found something that requires your immediate notice.” One of the guards informs me. I clench my hands as I wait. This man was in charge of the scouts watching the KingsRoad. If he is barging in here, hurried as he looks, it must be important. For a moment I consider the worst, that Tywin has abandoned Darry and snuck up on us. If he truly abandoned his position to strike at us and is close enough it could be a disaster. I made contingencies against this, but Tywin could have avoided them if he was clever enough.
I stop thinking of random thoughts, blindly speculating will not help me. I take a breath, and when the man had rested enough I asked for his report. What he told me was the last thing I expected.
“My Lord! My patrol was scouting about 20 miles to the south, when we came across a small group of cavalry. The man in the lead was identified as Ser Ben Baskerville, who claims he is here to deliver Lady Arya Stark home!” He declares loudly.
I was shocked to say the least. I told mother that Ben would bring her home and was confident in him, but there was always the doubt. I worried that they would come across some accident, or be trapped and delayed. But no, he actually did it.
“Where!?” Mother shouted at the scout. “Where is my daughter!?”