The Children Of Ice And Fire

VVSIGNOFTHECROSS

Chapter 023

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Lord Tywin Lannister

The Cousin’s war had been a good thing for Tywin and his family, for one thing it had removed the problematic Targaryen dynasty with their brand of insanity and destruction and had replaced them with the far more tractable Baratheon dynasty, headed by Robert Baratheon the Demon of the Trident. Robert Baratheon had proven to be far more tractable and easy to manipulate than Aerys had, the man was more of a warrior than a politician and did everything that Jon Arryn told him needed to be done to secure his reign, at least he had done in the early days. And so Tywin had finally gotten his wish of having his daughter as a Queen, Cersei had shone brightly that day in the Sept of Baelor, setting all the others to shame, and Tywin had wished so badly that Joanna had been there to see their daughter becoming Queen, she would have been proud. Following his daughter’s marriage to Robert Baratheon, the stag king had done all he could to impress Cersei and that had resulted in there being an increase in Lannister presence at court.

This had allowed Tywin to manipulate the court and the small council, Pycelle, Bolton and perhaps even Baelish were all allies that Tywin had on the council, all of whom did their bit to ensure Lannister interests were looked after at court. It had been Cersei who had suggested the match between Cerenna Lannister and Lewyn Osgrey the heir to Highgarden, and with Robert’s eagerness to impress Cersei the match had gone through, as such though the old chequered lion Perwyn Osgrey had not approved of the match his son had and so it had all gone through. Court had become the bastion of Lannister power and influence, that Robert was a huge spender also helped them as well, for the crown was now several million dragons in debt to the Rock and as such with the war waging Tywin had cut off the debt, but he would make sure that debt was paid one way or another. With the debt hanging over his head, Robert had made sure that the Rock got tax exemptions that made sure their gold mines continued to flow and gold continued to be made.

With all the power and influence that he had at court, there were some things that were going wrong at home, despite his attempt to build an everlasting legacy for the Lannister name and make up for the horror that had been his father, the gods had seen fit to curse Tywin with a dwarf for an heir whilst his golden son remained bound and chained in the Kingsguard. Tyrion was a disgrace to the Lannister name, a dwarf who whored and gambled and did what he could not afford to do, the boy had married a whore when he had been fourteen and in punishment for that, Tywin had had his guards rape the woman and then had Tyrion do the same, a fitting lesson for what would happen to those who disobeyed his orders. All of his proposed marriage offers for Tyrion had been rejected by those whom he had offered him to, it would seem that these lords would be more willing to part with their Valyrian swords than wed their daughters to an imp, even if the imp was a Lannister. Tywin though still held out hope that Jaime would once again become his heir, and that the Lannister legacy could continue unhindered.

Amongst his siblings, only Kevan and Genna remained, Gerion had died in Lys when the pirate war’s had begun, Tygett had died of a fever some four years ago. Both of his younger brothers had in some way or the other lived up to the Lannister name and had done it proud, Tygett with his prowess in battle, and Gerion with his ability to negotiate trade at the most absurd rates, as well as having found Brightroar the ancestral sword of house Lannister once more. Kevan as always remained his staunch right hand, his vanguard in council and a good man over al Genna was always vocal in her opinions, and as such sometimes could come across as very annoying and distracting, but still Tywin loved her as he always had and made sure that she and her children were always provided for, her husband as far as he was concerned could go and die in a hole and Tywin would not shed a tear, for there would be one less Frey in the world.

Of course now there was war, and the world was turning once more. Robert Baratheon had died from a wound taken whilst hunting, killed by a boar an ironic way for one such as Baratheon to die, but still the man was dead, and so Tywin’s grandson Joffrey had become king. All would have continued as normal, except for the fact that Eddard Stark the honourable fool had tried his hand at treason and had tried to crown Stannis Baratheon as king, for some absurd reason that Cersei and Jaime had actually sired Joffrey, Tommem and Myrcella, an absurd reason nearly as bad as what the Blackfyre idiots had used to defend their own treason. Stark had been arrested and then was supposed to confess his treason and be sent north to the wall, but his grandson had ordered Stark executed, and then after that Stannis Baratheon had declared himself king.

News of Stark’s death had reached Tywin shortly before Stannis had declared himself king, and as such Tywin had called his banners expecting some sort of kick back from those actions, and when Edmure Tully had called his own banners, and the declaration of war from Stannis had come, Tywin had marched. Jaime had arrived in Casterly Rock shortly before Stark’s execution, and so it was that Jaime led the host that broke the Tully defence of the Golden Tooth and then broke Tully’s host outside the gates of Riverrun. Covering himself in glory, Tywin had left his oldest son to lay siege to Riverrun, take Riverrun and the Riverlands would be theirs. Tywin had marched for Harrenhal, destroying what resistance some of the riverlords put up, taking Harrenhal relatively bloodlessly. But then Stannis has actually moved from Storm’s End and had sent a probe force led by Lord Selwyn Tarth to attack them at Harrenhal. Tywin had sent Ser Gregor Clegane out to deal with that threat and though Tarth and his men had been slaughtered, Tywin had only later realised that it had been a trap, and as such Stannis had smashed through the defences of King’s Landing and had taken the city. Tywin’s eldest grandchild was now dead, and his other two grandchildren were prisoners. Something needed to be done.

As such Tywin had called a war council to discuss what needed to be done. Apart from himself and Kevan, Lords Sarsfield, Kenning, Crakehall and Jast as well as Ser Gregor Clegane were all present. Tywin spoke first. “What news from our scouts? Has there been any sighting of Stannis Baratheon or his men?”

Kevan spoke then. “As of yet no my lord, though there was a raven that arrived today, it appears Viserys Targaryen has taken Storm’s End and as such now plans on moving on King’s Landing. Stannis Baratheon would be fools to leave that threat go unchallenged.”

Tywin nodded and said. “And we all know that Stannis Baratheon is no fool. What else did this letter from Viserys Targaryen say?”

“He says that he will pardon all those who sided with the usurper if they bend the knee to him and provide men for him to take King’s Landing. He also says that he will free Tommem and Myrcella.” Kevan says.

“Jon Connington’s words coming from a Targaryen’s mouth, how fitting. That is a ruse, the man will never pardon House Lannister not after what we did to his goodsister and nephew and niece. No, we agree to that and we are finished. Let Stannis and Viserys fight each other, we will take King’s Landing whilst they are away. Now what news from Riverrun?” Tywin said.

“Jaime writes that Riverrun will soon break under siege, he has sent men out to scower the riverlands of food and other resources, soon enough they will break. Edmure Tully did not think before he acted, and as such his people are breaking because of it. Riverrun will fall soon, and with it Stannis will be caught hard.” Kevan replies.

Tywin nods and then asks. “Now what news of the Vale, what has Elbert Arryn done since declaring for Stannis?”

Lord Sarsfield speaks then, his voice wispy and reedy. “It would appear that the lords of the Vale have all marshalled behind Elbert Arryn and as such last time my scouts came and reported they were already passed the Bloody Gate and were going some way towards coming towards Harrenhal and laying siege to us.”

Tywin nods and says. “Very well, we must deal with the Valemen before we can free King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon. We cannot afford a long siege, send word to Riverrun, I want Jaime to break them and then come and aid us in this fight. We shall meet the Valemen in open combat on ground that suits us.”

“Is that a wise move my lord? After all, they could just as easily link up with Stannis Baratheon and take us on two fronts.” Lord Jast says.

Tywin looks at the man and says. “I shall not have them drain our sources when we need to be elsewhere. Let them come, we shall destroy them.”

And so it is that three days later, though there has been no word from Jaime, they ride out to fight the Valemen, 25,000 men in total from the Westerlands ride under Tywin, and they go against some 20,000 men from the Vale. The battle occurs beneath the God’s Eye where once two hundred years ago the Targaryens fought each other, Tywin as is his custom fights the reserve, whilst Ser Gregor leads the van, Kevan leads the left and Lord Sarsfield leads the right. Tywin watches from atop the river mountain as the battle commences. The cries of men fighting, dying and living, all echo throughout the valley, on and on it goes. The battle rages beneath the hill and Tywin sits as still as can be, he watches as the right of the Vale host breaks as the slaughter begins, then the left enters the fray and he watches as they fight and fight, and then he sees his brother’s standard fall and he watches with suppressed horror as his brother is cut down. A squire beaten and bloody comes back to report what Tywin has already suspected. “Ser Kevan is dead my lord, the left is broken. The right is falling as well.” Tywin nods and then orders his men to charge, he will not die sitting idly by.

The charge is furious and fast, and he has memories of breaking the Reyne host all those many years ago. He swings Brightroar left and right, bringing men down with a swish of his sword, the ground is covered in bodies, and the body count simply continues to grow. On and on it goes, hacking, slashing and cutting, bodies fall to the ground, men are killed and it goes on and on. Tywin himself receives a few blows that dent his armour and some which open up wounds that cause blood to begin pouring out of him, but still he fights on, hacking, slashing and cutting. Bodies fall to the ground, men die screaming for their mothers, their fathers, their wives or their children, on and on it goes, the fighting raging and blaring, through the rain through the stream, the river runs red, as blood becomes the currency of the day.

Eventually Tywin Lannister is brought down not by any swordsman or archer, but by his horse, his horse a big black war horse trips in some blood and comes crashing down to the ground, Tywin’s feet get caught in his stirrups and as he tries to get away from the horse it comes crashing down on top of him. Some Valeman sees an opportunity and rams a spear down his eye, blinding him before there is black. Tywin Lannister, the old lion, the Warden of the West and Lord of the Rock dies on the ninth day of the twelfth month of the 298th year after Aegon’s Landing, and with him gone the Lannisters chances in the war are significantly reduced.


Visenya Blackfyre

She was getting old now, Visenya knew that, her body often ached in the mornings, and her vision was not always what it had been. Still she had time left for her family, she knew that since Daemon had died, she had not been the best mother perhaps with her other children, Maelys of course because of his frail health, had needed her full attention and as such she had given him much more attention and love than she had perhaps given her other children when they had been young. Also because of his frail health, Maester Aemon had told her that he could not be overtly strained, and as such any attempts to train him martially where not possible, and surprisingly she did not truly mind, not as she would have done had Maelys been born when she was younger. That was also something that provided something of a interesting situation with her older children particularly Daenaera, who herself was a mother now, to a woman who was quite wild and martial in nature.

Her children were all grown now, Aemon had become the best possible king and heir that she could have imagined smart, kind and martially strong, Aemon held a sort of aura that Visenya had seen her son’s great grandfather have, and as such she was not surprised at the fierce loyalty that her son had from his bannermen. Daenaera was a proper lady, smart, courteous and brave, her daughter though not martial knew how to defend herself with words and actions. Delena was her most martial daughter and perhaps the daughter who was most like Visenya herself. Barth was still an angry man though he seemed slightly softened by his own wife and children, still it was hard for her to truly understand him and that was something that hurt her somewhat. Then there was Rodrik the son who joined the Night’s Watch and had largely avoided her notice for some time, she regretted that. Rickon Prince of Hornwood remained bookish and aloof from most of what happened in Winterfell, Dacey was a fierce woman who reminded Visenya a lot of her former husband Daemon in her mannerisms and actions. Maelys, her little babe was sweet and kind, and very knowledgeable on things that would put grown men to shame.

Of her grandchildren, Berena and her namesake Visenya reminded her a lot of herself as she was when younger, fierce, proud and stubborn they would make wonderful warriors when their time came. Benjen the heir to the north worried Visenya somewhat he was not very martial, he was more bookish than even Rickon had been, and Visenya worried whether he would be able to keep the loyalty of his lords once he returned from beyond the wall. Visenya did not really know her other grandchildren preferring to spend most of her time with Maelys, Borros or planning the eventual war that was going to come, she did not have the time to get to know her other grandchildren not when it was likely that she would never see them again, it would spare them all a lot of heartache.

When news had reached Winterfell and the north of the death of one of their own, there had been outcry and demands for them to march. Eddard Stark might have spent much of his time in the south, but he was still a Stark and the north was in his blood and that of his children, and the northmen were nothing if not loyal to those with Stark in their name. Aemon had wanted to march south as well, but then the wildlings had rebelled once more, Mance Rayder had betrayed the oath he had sworn to Aemon and rebelled, and had gathered considerable support to do so. And so they had had to leave it to Stannis Baratheon and the other southerners to tear themselves apart before something could be done. As such Stannis Baratheon sat in King’s Landing, and Tywin Lannister and his brother Kevan were dead slain by the Valemen. Viserys Targaryen sat in Storm’s End and waited, and meanwhile Jaime Lannister continued to lay siege Riverrun.

The time would never be more perfect for them to attack and see to it that Rhaegon sat the Iron Throne. The south was in chaos, and only a Blackfyre could bring the kingdom back together, the Baratheons had proved themselves incompetent, Viserys Targaryen seemed to be more and more like his father according to what Visenya’s spies had to say, and the Lannisters only had a child to help them to the throne. Rhaegon was a man grown with a grown son of his own, a proven battle commander and someone who would know how to rule and rule well. Yes the time was more than perfect for the final Blackfyre war to begin. Visenya had spoken to her allies in the south and they were mobilising now, and she had spoken to houses in the north that were interested in getting some sort of reward or riches from the south and had found Houses Manderly, Blackwood, Reyne and Greyjoy to be the most interested.

Both Aemon and Benjen had not been happy with what she was planning, but as she had sat them down and told them. “True Blackfyres don't die peacefully. We die slowly in agony or from a quick kill, but we never leave this world without taking as many of our enemies with us as we can. I will die on this campaign, in the gravest of agonies, and die gladly, that my family might show the world that the Dragon has not forgotten. "We bear the Sword," are our words. We live by the sword and all who would truly call themselves Blackfyres must seek to die by it. That, Benjen, is what it means to be a Blackfyre and why I will never be content to die peacefully as a Stark. Now I go to avenge my kin and meet my brother. Wish me luck."

After that, her son and grandson had reluctantly allowed her to go and so she and some 3,000 men from the north had sailed from the Stony Shore with help from the Greyjoy Fleet, and had landed in the shield islands, where they had been greeted by the lords of the shield islands who had all pledged themselves to Rhaegon and acknowledged him as the rightful king. From there they had sailed up the Mander to Highgarden where they had been greeted by Lord Wilbert Osgrey the Lord of Highgarden and the Warden of the South following his father’s death. Lord Wilber and his bannermen those who had not gone for the Lannisters or to the Baratheons had sworn themselves to Rhaegon at Highgarden. With that done they now had to do the planning for the first few battles that would be coming their way soon enough. As such a council had been called, Rhaegon, Visenya, Lord Wilbert, Lord Terrence Osgrey the lord of Coldmoat, Lord Samwell Tarly, Lady Arwyn Oakheart, Lord Borros Reyne and the other lords who had sworn themselves to Rhaegon were all present. Rhaegon spoke first. “I thank you all for coming today my lords and ladies. Before we turn to discussing our plans for the upcoming battles I would hear news from the war currently being waged.”

Lord Samwell Tarly, not a warrior but a smart man nonetheless spoke first. “Well Your Grace, as you know Tywin Lannister and most of his men were butchered at the Battle Beneath the God’s Eye by Elbert Arryn and the Valemen, those who were left retreated in an orderly fashion led by Ser Gregor Clegane to aid in the siege of Riverrun. Riverrun is very close to breaking at present, my sources tell me that soon enough their food supplies will run out. In the south, Stannis Baratheon gave battle to Viserys Targaryen in the Kingswood. Baratheon was slain and Targaryen was injured, and as such the Targaryen forces were forced to retreat to Bronzegate.”

There was some murmuring at that and then Lord Wilbert spoke his voice calm. “Well with the old lion dead the Lannisters and their boy king are as good as finished. Jaime Lannister is many things but he is not patient he will likely break his host to bits smashing on the walls of King’s Landing, and the Valemen will see to it that he breaks before he reaches King’s Landing. Stannis Baratheon’s death makes things much more interesting, with his death and Storm’s End still under Targaryen control, perhaps we can reach out to Robb Baratheon, the boy who is now king? If we can get him to bend the knee to you, your grace in return for keeping Storm’s End and Lord Paramount of Stormlands then we would have significant support.”

“So you would suggest rewarding a house that has always been traitorous towards its rightful king and always supported the Targaryens in return for support that should rightful be his graces? What sort of message would that send?” young Robb Reyne asked.

“It would show that his grace can be merciful, after all it is one thing to serve fire and steel to those who rebel against you, but for those who are on their knees begging for help you raise them up, dust them off and give them the hand of friendship. If his grace does this for the Baratheons, we will have their undying loyalty, and with it we will get the Stormlords and we can then end the Targaryens once and for all.” Lord Wilbert replied.

“What Lord Wilbert says makes a lot of sense. I want a raven, or ravens sent out to King’s Landing extending the hand of friendship to Robb Baratheon, get him to bend the knee and he will get the aid he needs to rid himself of the Targaryens.” Rhaegon says his voice firm.

“What of the Lannisters? There are still too many of those golden haired shits around. They must be dealt with as well if we truly want make the way to the throne clear for you, Your Grace.” Borros says the anger plain in his voice.

“We must needs give Jaime Lannister and the Lannisters a need to leave Riverrun, and come running back to the Westerlands otherwise we shall always be stuck here. Attack the Westerlands and we shall have the reason we need, there’s nothing a Lannister fears more than an attack to his gold.” Visenya says

Her nephew looks at her for a moment and then turns to look at Lady Oakheart. “Red Lake is the traditional seat of many a battle between the Reach and the Westerlands is it not my lady?” when the woman nods Rhaegon continues. “Very well, Lady Oakheart I want you to work with Lord Terrence raid along the lake and then head towards Crakehall. Provide the distraction, and the majority of our forces can then storm along the path paved by your forces, and we shall meet the Lannisters on their own territory but we shall meet them with our full might. Bleed their strength and we shall have them on a knife’s edge.”

“When do you wish for this to begin Your Grace?” Lady Oakheart asks.

Her nephew looks at them all and then says in an ominous tone. “In two days time you shall march. Set the Westerlands on fire, and bring us the way to end the Lannisters and all shall be as it should have been for many years now. Let us show them that it is not just the north that remembers.”

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