“So Robb, what’s on your mind? Oh, sorry, I suppose I should call you ‘Milord’, am I right?” I ask Robb when I enter then tent. With 2 hours rest and my men sorted out for now I am in a much better mood. Not sure what Robb wanted to talk about, but considering how I thought our last meeting was going to go, I have decided to enter this one with a more optimistic outlook.
“Ha. I suppose you should, but it just sounds weird. My father asked you to call him Ned in private, so I can’t exactly act like I am better than him. Besides you are a Lord now, though I am your Paramount, friends calling each other by their first names should be fine.” Robb replies with a smile, passing me a mug of ale. I was always more favourable to Ale rather than the sour wines, Robb copied me when he was old enough.
“So where is Arya? And your mother for that matter? I thought you asked me here for a reunion.” I ask him when I realised we are the only ones in the tent.
“We can all catch up later at the feast. For now I want to get some formalities out of the way. I also want to ask for your advice.” Robb replies. He passes me several documents, all with his signature already signed.
“As a Lord you are entitled to your own territory and banner. I am giving you Oakbridge to serve as your main keep. Your territory is bound by the rivers to the east, 1 mile of farmland to the south, 5 miles of woodland to the west and north.” One of the letters confirms what he is saying.
It is relatively fair. Though Oakbridge is quite small for a keep, that is primarily because no-one has really invested in it before. It is one of the crossing points for one of the small rivers in the North and is relatively close to the Kingsroad. If I invested in the roads and trading facilities, it could become a decent merchant hub, especially if i undergo recruiting processes to increase the population. The main export is the timber, the farms don’t really earn much profit and are really just to cut down on food imports. Giving me primarily woodland rather than farmland will let me develop the area, and even if I want to invest in agriculture I can simply clear the areas for the necessary land.
“The land already bestowed is not included in this, though in the event they default on their obligations then their land will return to you.” The territory belonging to knights like Ethan within those borders is already owned. They will continue to serve the Starks, and pay their taxes to them, not me. If they lose their knighthood however, the land is returned to me, not to the Starks.
“Sounds good. Though I hope you will let the margrave continue to manage for a while. I will pay him, don’t worry, but I am going to be busy with this war and have no-one else suitable.” I will have to send another letter to Ed to return to Oakbridge. I will write a letter stating he is lord in my absence. The margrave can show him how to manage the territory while I am away.
In the future I plan to hand the territory and title to Ed in it’s entirety. I still want to travel and can’t do that while I am managing Oakridge.
I will make sure Ed is taught how to rule, give the necessary budget for some light development, then leave for adventure. Before I can do all that though, I need to make sure we win this war. Which brings me back to Robb.
“You said you wanted some advice? If it’s about women i am sure I could give you a few tips. I see why you wanted your mother and sister to leave.” I joke to him, which brings a slight smile, though it doesn’t last long. He points to the maps and outlines the broad plan.
“I need your advice in this war. There are so many fronts to this war that keeping track of it is impossible.” He points to Kings Landing. “My sister is being held in the capital. I have received demands from the king, Tommen, that I need to disband my banners and report to Kings Landing, otherwise me and my family will be branded traitors.” A bit late for that, surrender or not the Starks will be made traitors.
“I know I can’t do that. They already killed my father, if I went to the capital I would just be another prisoner. Mother has told me that the only way to free Sansa is to defeat their army in the field. We can then march on Kings Landing to demand justice for my family.” Robb explains, then looks to me and smiles. “Though you have helped in that regard. With Tywin’s son, maybe we can trade Tyrion for Sansa, and war will not be needed?” He asks optimistically
“Unlikely. I have spoken to Tyrion over the past couple of weeks. He has assured me that his father would never beg or yield for his sake, and I mostly believe him. The recent events are only in support of that. Like you said, you want justice for your family, but that would require giving up too much on the Lannisters side. They would be exposing themselves to be weak. Besides, they hold the advantage, with the Westerlands and the Stormlands they outnumber you by too much. The Vale was making no moves to fight when I was there. I don’t know the full story, but I can assume there is some reason they aren’t helping?” I ask. This confused me when I was there. The Vale and North have been close to the North for several years, and the current leader of House Arryn is Robb’s aunt, who hates the Lannisters as well from how she was Tyrion’s original captor.
“My mother asked the Vale for their assistance, but was refused. Ironically the other Vale Lords are supportive of us, but it is my own aunt that is against it. Mother says that the assassination of her husband has made her paranoid. She refuses to commit soldiers to our cause as it would reduce the protection for her and her child, Robin. The other Lords won’t leave the Vale without their leige’s consent” Robb explains. He then corrects me on my assumptions. “Though you are wrong about the Stormlands. Not only are they not on Tommen’s side, they are against him.”
That was surprising. “Really? The Storm Lords are against the son of Robert Baratheon? I thought he was really popular in the Stormlands. Is it because of Tommen’s age? I can’t imagine the Lords being happy swearing to a boy of 12.” I ask.
“That was actually the greatest surprise. Soon after the events in the capital, Stannis sent letters to all the Lords in Westeros. He said that Tommen and his siblings were not Robert’s children at all. They are actually the children of Jaimie and Cersei Lannister. Bastards that have no claim to the throne.” Robb tells me. I almost choked on my ale at that. I admit, the idea that they were bastards isn’t a surprise. All blonde children with a black haired dad, something was clearly suspicious. But this was not what i expected to be their true parentage.
I never looked into it as it was none of my business and would do me no good to know. The fact they were the children of a brother and sister is... I admit I try not to judge when it comes to people’s feelings. To each their own I say. But that may cross the line.
“Stannis has called the other Lords to support him. Many of the Stormland Lords supported him and I suspect it was the reason that Tywin was staying at Darry, so Tywin can retreat to the capital if Stannis invaded.” Robb indicates to the map where The Lannister forces are positioned. Judging by the number of markers I can see that the Lannisters outnumber the other forces. If it was a straight fight it may even be enough to fight the North, Stormlands and what remains of the Riverlands. Lucky for us it isn’t a straight fight.
“So the Lannisters are divided. If you put pressure on Tywin from the North while Stannis attacks from the south they should collapse. What is the problem?” I ask. If the map is as it seems then the enemy is fighting a war on 3 fronts. If they lose even one of them then they should collapse, while if we win even one then victory should be ours.
“If it was just Stannis then it would be possible. 2 weeks ago, Renly Baratheon, Stannis’s brother and Paramount of the Stormlands, declared that he was contending for the crown. The Storm Lords are now divided on who to support. Some threw themselves in with Stannis at the start. Stannis has quite the fame from his years of supporting Robert and his successful campaigns against pirates and foreign threats earned him a lot of good will from the smaller coastal Lords. Renly on the other hand has ruled the Stormlands for years, and after the wars emptied their coffers, he helped to restore their prosperity.” Robb explains the southern situation, noting that a lot of this information came from his mother’s mouth.
The brothers are now fighting and unlikely to help us until they have dealt with the other brother. The problem is they are about even in strength so it will be a drawn out struggle.” Robb points to Riverrun and Darry. “If Jaime defeats my grandfather at Riverrun, while Tywin finishes reinforcing Darry, we will have to face the entire Lannister army in a fortified position. Even if by then the Stormlands unite under a single leader, then assuming they will still have the strength and be willing to fight with us, we may still lose.”
I look to the map. Considering where our current position is Robb isn’t planning to head down the Kingsroad. After asking him he confirms that his intention is to cross the Green Fork to ally with Riverrun. When he mentions his plan to do so, I am confused as to why he is going to such an extent with the Frey.
“I can’t leave the rear to them. If I head to Riverrun the only way to return to the North or get reinforcements is by crossing the Twins again. I can’t trust Walder Frey not to be bribed or threatened by Tywin to trap us on one side of the river if they think we are losing.” Robb answers, going into the details of the Frey Household and recent events.
“Smart move. It is also a good show of force to the other Lords, both your enemies and allies. If the Lords think we are punishing the Frey for breaking their oaths, it will encourage the others to commit to a side, ours being the most likely.” I point out.
The Riverlands are historically the most divided of the regions. During Roberts Rebellion, the North was completely united behind House Stark, while the Vale and Stormlands only had a few holdouts who remained loyal to the crown. The Riverlands were complete chaos, some committed to the Tully, some to the king and others who chose to remain neutral.
With the Frey, a powerful and widely disliked House as an example, the other Houses should be more enthusiastic when committing forces to our cause.
“It can also be used to boost moral. If you take the Twins, a fortress that has stood for centuries with minor loses, peoples confidence in you will improve. The Frey are hated by many as greedy and spiteful, so there will be little push-back. Your soldier’s confidence in you will be raised as well, ‘your first battle ended in a flawless victory’.” I paint the picture the men will see.
I may have to look into hiring some bards to spread songs of this. Paying pleasure girls to whisper compliments into the ears of our men is also effective. You would be surprised how many people will charge unafraid into battle to impress some pretty face they don’t even know. All these methods are considerably cheaper than promising rewards or increasing the quality of the camp.
“That is a good point, however we still need to win.” Robb mentions. “Before you arrived the Frey sent 2 messengers to negotiate. One of them, Lolder Frey, was convinced to open the gate the next night so that our forces could enter. In exchange he would be awarded Lordship of the Twins. If it works we can take the Twins quickly before they can react. If not then we will prepare to take the fortress by siege.” Robb explains his scheme.
I must say I am impressed. This plan takes into account the structure of the Frey’s and their history to manipulate their emotions and minds. Though with every assumption the chances of something going wrong increases, the casualties of failure would still be minor. With a safe back-up plan to fall back on, I can only see one area that can be improved.
“What about the other side? If you are planning to attack the Twins from this side with the majority of the forces, wouldn’t sending another force to the other side to attack from the West be the best idea. Once the Frey forces all rush to try and fight you back on the East, the second force can take the now undefended gate. This will both affect the moral of the enemy, thinking they are surrounded, and prevent the Frey from fleeing out the other side. If they divert enough forces to retake the West, it will lessen the pressure on the main army, while our men on the west can just retreat to safety.” I direct Robb’s attention to the other side of the Fork.
“If this plan failed, I planned to send men via boats to the other side, but it can’t be done quickly. I considered delaying the plan, but every day that went by raised the chance of Lolder changing his mind or for Walder to pull something unexpected.” Robb says.
“You couldn’t build a few rafts to send the men over?” I ask.
“The Twins may be outdated, but they are still fortresses. Without proper siege equipment it would require at least 10 times the number of attackers to take the gate in a quick period of time. Even if the Frey divert the majority of their forces to the East, I doubt they would be stupid enough to not leave any watchmen. If even 100 men are at the gate I would have to send a 1000 men to take the gate quickly. Send less and it will take too long to breach. The Frey would reinforce the gate and the 1000 men would be slaughtered. To take them by surprise I would have to send them over on the night of the attack or cross much further down the river, which wold take longer to travel back to the Twins once they are on the other side. With the time restraints it is impossible to send a large enough force over the river to take the gate.” Robb explains the lack of craftmen and time.
It is at this point that I smile. “Give me 100 men, 250 metres of rope and a single raft. By the next night I will have the men across and the gate taken.” I request to Robb’s surprise. He looks to me for a minute, then seeing my confidence, asks me to confirm.
“You did hear me when I said it would take 1000 men to take the gate?” He asks.
“No, you said it would take ‘you’ 1000 men to take the gates. I am not you. Trust me when I say that I have a plan.” I reassure him. In my old world one of the first things an army needed to know, was is there any high quality qi warriors on the opposing side. Because sometimes a skilled qi warrior can destroy any preparation, any defence and any strategy.
I may not be as strong as I was in the past, but compared to the men manning the Twins, I am enough to do some pretty spectacular things.