Bow of the North

by

coinhas2sides

chapter 64 - Capital Conflict 1

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Kevan Lannister POV

“I would like to call this meeting to order.” Tommen declares in a firm voice, though undermined by his age. Still, knowing he practice it for an hour before this meeting, I would expect nothing less.

“Yes, my King.” Rings the reply from the rest of the room. The other members of the small council have practiced that reply even more than Tommen, veterans of politicking as they are. After the customary exchange we all take our seats. We are arranged half on one side and half on the other, with myself and Tommen seated at either ends, allowing me to better keep an eye on the room.

On the right sits my niece, Cersei. She though as queen she was welcome at small council meetings, with Robert’s death she is now only the Regent, and she is pushing her authority with intruding. Her argument that without a wife, Tommen had no queen, therefore she was still the queen by default is flimsy. The fact she comforts Tommen and is a source of support to him is the only reason I let that reasoning slide.

Next to her sits Grandmaester Pycell. The man is over 80 years old, but many would think he was a hundred. I sometimes think it was a shame we never replaced him with another maester from the citadel. But my brother says he is a loyal supporter in times of prosperity. Once we are set upon by danger, however, I would be better cutting his head off.

On the other side sits Peytr Baelish and Varys. Tywin told me they are the ones to look out for especially. Cersei loves her son and would do anything for her, while Pycell is a coward who just wants to indulge in the pleasures afforded to one in his position. The other 2 are working their own agenda to be sure, but not even my brother has devised what they truly are.

There is one final seat that sits empty and several that have been removed. The empty one belongs to Barristan Selmy who remains absent to rest his wounds. Though he claims to be fit enough to resume his duties, Pycell assures us that it would only delay his full recovery. I need the man’s sword rather than his mind in the coming days, so for the moment so I ordered him to continue his rest.

The chairs that have been removed belonged to the Master of Laws and Ships, positions that belonged to the Baratheon brothers. They will obviously be stripped of their position and replacements will need to be filled. Baelish and Varys named a number of suggestions, but fortunately Tywin warned me of this possibility and how to deal with it.

We cannot allow the court to be filled with even more untrustworthy elements and whoever they suggest will almost definitely fall into that category. I told Tommen that it was his grandfathers wish that the positions remain open to act as rewards and to avoid creating conflict in our parties. Whoever is appointed will undoubtedly receive opposition from the other candidates thus risking them turning camp. On the other hand, while they remain empty the position acts as a delicious carrot to our bannermen. This encourages them to show loyalty and exceptional results in the war so they can hope to claim these seats.

At the ends of the table sits Tommen and at the other is myself. Cersei, the emotional woman she is, wanted Tommen to stay away from the council meetings, that he needed time to mourn the death of his brother and wasn’t ready to rule.

The fist point was dismissed. He had a week to mourn a brother that from what I heard and saw never treated him well. Even if he cried all throughout the time they would have dried by now, and I saw no tears in his eyes when I arrived.

The second point was thrown straight back at her. I fully agree that he is not ready to rule, which is why he needs to start learning as soon as possible. When my brother succeeds in the war, we will be faced with a kingdom that has been ravaged by conflict, internal turmoil and facing one of the longest winters in human history if the maesters have anything to say about it.

In that aspect I am happy about how he has taken to the role. I admit I never put much thought into my youngest royal nephew. He always came across as a quiet boy who was overshadowed by his older brother, though not for any good reasons. I was originally going to be happy if he was at least better than Joffrey, and hope time would correct him before he got to be as bad as his brother.

Instead he has shown great promise. I will not say he was born to the role, possessing neither great intelligence or courage, though that is to be expected of his age. Instead he has shown great motivation to grow. Practicing his speech is only one example, he is also inquisitive and constantly seeking advice. Whether it was the maester and Varys during the week of conflict, his mother when she recovered or mine upon entering the capital, he is constantly trying to improve himself.

His mother sits to his right and places a hand on his to show her support, drawing a look of concern from myself. I do worry that the boy lacks the required spine and bite. Unlike Joffrey, Tommen was never raised to be the king. If it was later then perhaps he would have gotten more involved in the politics of the kingdom and formed the required social knowledge to perform in social life.

Most noble boys will have butted heads with each other, formed friends and enemies. This teaches them the effect lies and kind words will have when used, and the devastating effect of a poorly countered rumour and the importance of connections.

The 2 brothers have failed in this aspect, partly due to their personalities and partly due to their mother. I worried for that girl ever since she was 9. She had the habit of abusing her authority and status, rather than make friends she would have subordinates. Instead of striving to overcome rivals or improve herself, she would either destroy them if they were small enough, or remove them from her sight if she couldn’t.

She raised her children in the same way, never letting them experience a slightest hardship. Though I can’t fully blame her for the over pampering of her children, Robert was much to do with this as well. A father needs a firm hand when dealing with their children, teaching them how to be strong. His neglectful only made Joffrey cruel and Tommen timid. I worry the boys will be too trusting and make him too easily persuaded.

In that regard he needs to be protected and allow him to slowly make mistakes that are not too damaging till he learns to trust himself as well as others. In that regard my brother is far more suitable than me. Until he is free, I will do my duty in his place and ensure there is still a capital to return to.

“Ser Manden, please call in Ser Janos Slynt of the Watch.” Tommen asks of his Kingsguard for the meeting. Baelish suggested Manden for the position of Knight commander, but was rejected when Varys replied that Barristan would soon recover and even if he didn’t there were those more appropriate, my nephew for one.

Not only is Jaime the better fighter but he was a member of the Kingsguard for longer, with only his reputation holding him back from taking over as Commander. Once he defeats the Tully at Riverrun he will have a reputation equivalent to Selmy’s on the field and will be the rightful successor if my brothers plans of removing him from the Guard proves ineffective.

Manden leaves the room and returns with the person addressing the first order of the day. Janos Slynt stout man with a bald palp, mid thirties but decadence has made him appear 50. He bowed to the council and began his plea.

“My King, my Lords, I appear before you seeking assistance regarding the refugees flooding the city. Many people have fled the conflict in the Riverlands and Stormlands making their way to the capital. The city is full to bursting and tensions are on the rise. There have been over a hundred counts of assaults and murders in the last month, several of my Goldcloaks among them.” Janos informs us.

“Is the Goldcloaks not formed to deal with such matters. Surely it can’t be that difficult to deal with a number of homeless peasants. Unless the years of peace have made you all soft.” I question the man, unimpressed with such whimpering. The corruption of the Goldcloaks is legendary, and after taking all that gold he expects to ask for help the moment trouble appears.

“During the Execution Riots, Ser Barristan Selmy led less than 500 men and subjugated the entire city. Could it be that with 10 times the number you cannot do the same to a hand-full of hungry and tired farmers.” Varys speaks out, reminding of us of the Gold Cloaks recent failure.

The ‘Trial Riots’ as they have been called, are when both Ned Stark and Joffrey were killed by Ben Baskerville. The following chaos was a result of the Slynt calling back the Gold Cloaks from the city instead of suppressing it. It was further confirmation of the uselessness of the Watch and later another line in the Book of Brothers for Barristan. Upon arriving in the city, I replaced several of the officers in the Watch with the knights I brought with me. I could not remove Slynt due to not having a suitable replacement and his support from both the remaining officers and Baelish.

“My King, Lord Hand, the people Ser Slynt has described as bloodthirsty criminals are nothing more than hungry men and women who wish only to survive the chaos. My birds tell me that the deaths among the guards were when the rations being distributed to the refugees were found lacking. The hungry people attacked the guards who they thought were keeping the food to themselves, which several sources confirmed to be true. Most of the deaths in the city are from the sellswords and gangs that prey on the new arrivals, taking what few valuables they were able to bring.” Varys continues, turning Slynt even redder as it goes on.

“That is because we don’t have the numbers!! The city has almost doubled in size and most of my best men were taken, at the Lord Hands orders, to man he walls and conduct drills in preparation for an attack. The ones I have left are mostly new recruits that used to be sell-swords, they lack the discipline and integrity of my more experienced officers.” Janos rebuttes, which I struggle to hide my sneer at.

In light of the possibility of attack I did expand the city guard by 1,000, but saying the problem is the lack of experience is the reason for the corruption is a joke. I have already received a dozen reports from my officers concerning misappropriation of supplies and attempted bribes. If these weren’t men I had ridden beside for years I would suspect them of being corrupted themselves. At this rate though I will give it just 6 months before they become as bad as Janos. Hopefully the war will be settled by then, or at least Tywin will have arrived so he can relieve me.

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