SIMPLY THE BEST
Previously: Ain’t Doing Jack
Themesong: Simply the Best by Tina Turner
As soon as I saw the next cabinet, I laughed. It was perfect in more ways than one. First… It was A Song of Ice and Fire. If there was any one entity in all creation suited to be sent into a jump with that name, it was me. The second was because it was one of the relatively few settings I was both familiar with (to a certain point) and utterly and completely lacking any respect for. Game of Thrones was, in every way, a soap opera set in feudalistic times. There were few characters I could tolerate, let alone like.
Sure it was fun watching Tyrion Lannister be a right bastard… but actually putting up with him… not on a month of sundays. There were many horrible people in this world and, after a decade of impotence, I was going to take unwholesome delight in doing evil unto the wicked.
I had a clear vision going in, and all I needed was the right perks and drawbacks. I could pick any point in the history of the world to appear, but coming in before the events of the book didn’t interest me particularly. I dialed in the date to the first day of 298 AC and rolled for location. Where I started didn’t matter to me. I had places to go and people to kill in inventive and often cruel ways. I had a little list… and if they were missed or not, I could not care less. I ended up with the Westerlands, home to house Lannister.
I select Drop In, wanting no memories of growing up in this festering cesspool of a land. That, and it has a very nice selection of perks I’m already finding uses for. “Prince in Exile”  which means people will welcome me as a prince(ss) from a foreign land and be amused at my alien ways and customs, allowing me to be welcomed at most courts as a curiosity. “The Builder”  (750/1000) which will make me an exemplary architect with preternatural skill when it comes to the construction of buildings and fortifications. Immensely large structures take far less time to make than they should. This is particularly noticeable when a structure is built to keep a specific foe at bay. And “Schemer”  (550/1000) which will make me a talented schemer and plotter, giving me an easy understanding of how people are moved and ways to subtly move them. It will give me a keen insight into the ambitions of others. A foot in the door at almost any court in the universes, mastery of physical defenses, and the power to scheme and plot with the best. I am Slytherin, I am the snake from within.
Schemer gets me a discount on a cache of Poisons that not only regenerate, but include pretty much every known poison in both Essos and Westeros. As a bonus, it only costs  (500/1000), which evens my total back out. I take it partly for the potential utility, but mostly so I’ll know all the various subtle ways and can both detect and treat such poisonings. Better to have samples than not, right?
I bring in my allies… identities for 8 costs me  (400/1000) which gives my chosen Brave Companions as the import option is called here 300 CP for Skills and Gear. It says I may give my companions an Identity, appearance, history, and place of origin of my choice. But first, we sit down and listen to the audiobooks of the first four chapters and I lay out my plan to the wolfpack.
I place Ryoga and Yoiko as Nobles of the Riverlands, and members of the King’s Guard. This gives them Weapon Proficiency which is proficiency with all the common weaponry of this world and truly exceptional skill with one specific weapon type. Ryoga, who is now Rynar of House Greatoak of Blackhorse Reach, takes up the battleaxe, while his cousin, Yoiko/Yana of House Greatoak of White Hill chooses the greatspear. It also gives them “Mine By Right”, which means they’ll be given more consideration than others, that people will consider their rights and desires as generally more important than those of other people… as well as fine clothes, a pouch containing 100 Golden Dragons, and a set of steel plate & chain, plus a finely made steel weapon of their chosen type… and a Land Deed in their chosen region that updates with each jump.
With his points, Ryoga selected “A Quiet People” and “Bold”. The first made people under his authority remarkably unlikely to cause trouble for him… while doing nothing to make them more loyal. That was a little worrying, but I doubted he’d abuse it… too much… more neglect than outright malice was his style. The second made him brave without being reckless, and would allow him to keep his cool in even the most heated situation… which is why he took it, I’m certain, since he already barely balked at the most dangerous of challenges.
His sister… now cousin, blew it all on Warg, the power to possess animals and, once possessed make them loyal to the Warg. Didn’t work on overtly magical animals though. There were going to be a great many bears giving her rides in the future, I had no doubt.
Everyone got “Words and Heraldry”… Me included. It was an interesting little bonus, a motto and coat of arms to each of our specific designs. Those words and symbols would be inextricably associated with each of us and give (within reason) the specific impression and feeling we’d imbued them with. Nobles began with a cape and standard of the finest quality with words and arms emblazoned upon them. Everyone else started with their emblem and motto crudely painted on a bedsheet… which was both amusing and a little insulting. as a Princess in Exile… was I noble enough to get the upgrade? I asked the system and was assured I was… they’d just be a little… tattered. I could live with that.
House Jaynus’s banner materialized as I considered, unrolling to hand from one of the walls of the Warehouse. It showed two masks facing each other the same way actors will face each other on stage (at angles so their faces are 3/4ths facing the audience or so), with a third mask facing forward, all in green on a silver field. Above that were the words “I Shall Defend”… but if you could see into the ultraviolet spectrum, you could see a second set of words beneath the shield that said “Measure for Measure”
I tasked the duo to keep Robert Baratheon alive until I can get on scene. I have no love of the fat fool, but his death triggers everything, and I’d rather delay that as long as possible. But not too long. The man is a beast and deserves to have his head mounted on a spike. And as I gave that assignment, they were designing their heraldry.
Their coats of arms were counterparts of each other. Each featured a Red Bear and a Black Boar rampant (rearing back on their hind feet/paws) and back to back, on a field divided horizontally, one half silver, the other green. On Yoiko’s shield, the Bear was dexter (on the right), while the Boar was sinister (on the left), and the silver was on top. On Ryoga’s shield, the colors and positions were reversed. Yoiko’s words were “None So Mighty”, while Ryoga’s were “To The Breaking Point”. I nodded as their banners joined my own on the wall, hanging left (Yoiko) and right (Ryoga) of my own as if an honor guard… which they would be.
I ask Joy and Ahab, my most experienced agents, to go in as Dothraki Nobles, using their auto-import for this jump. They get the same as the Hibiki’s, but a Horse instead of a Land Deed, and Free City’s currency instead of Seven Kingdoms. They both take Dothraki swords, of course. Their task, safeguard Daenerys and (more importantly) Khal Drogo… and guarantee the untimely, painful, and untraceable death of the witchwoman Mirri Maz Duur. I might have no respect for the Dothraki, who are uncivilized, brutal, and rapacious… but Maz Duur plotted to kill an unborn child for the sake of revenge… after pledging loyalty. Vengeance I get… but infanticide and oath-breaking… she gets no mercy from me.
They don’t get the 300 points, but nothing on the list really screamed that it would help them in their tasks… but they too got Heraldry and Words. Their symbology could not have been more diametrically opposed. Ahab’s was almost whimsical, with a blood-red viper wrapped around a steel anchor on a field of cardboard brown… with the words he chose being “Snaaaaaaaaake!” It got an appreciative chuckle out of most of us. In contrast, Joy was deadly serious. Her coat of arms was a white hart on a field of red… with a black arrow in its chest. Her words summed up the image perfectly and honestly. They were “The Last Full Measure”. No more needed to be said, for those who understand will understand, and those who don’t never will. Their banners joined the first pair, though at a distance, in the most shaded part of the long wall. Ahab became “Aggo”, whose name came from the Dothraki verb “Aggendat” or “To Rip”, which was a little shudder inducing. Joy became “Layaffi”, from the verb “Layafat”… which meant “To Be Happy”… talk about hitting the nail on the head.
Zane & Kendra I keep with me, as Sworn Swords from Bravos. As Sword Swords, they get the weapon proficiency & the armor and weapons, described as Castle Forged Steel, as well (it is that kind of world… though their armor was a little more dinged up than that of the nobles) and Dirty Fighter (they’ve picked up a lot of tricks in tavern brawls apparently and were quite capable at fighting cleverly… i.e. dirty.) Zane sticks with the sword, in this case an arming sword, while Kendra sticks with the greatbow… getting a spring steel greatbow even though those won’t exist for centuries if ever in this world. She’s gotten quite good at it.
Zane… now Zagara, also picks up Large for 100 and Quick as a Snake for 200. A big man with lightning fast reflexes. I wouldn’t want to fight him if I weren’t me. Of course, as me I don’t want to fight him either… except when he eats all the ice cream. Kendra, calling herself “Karatas”… ew… carrots… takes Mystery Knight for all her points, which was a threefer. When her identity was unknown to her opponent and her face was fully concealed, not only would her combat prowess improve drastically, but their morale would be greatly reduced… and fortune was more likely to swing her way in battle. It was hard to argue with that.
Zane went all noble with his words, choosing “Uphold the Right!” which was, I think, a reference to something, but I wasn’t sure, while his emblem was a blue dog’s head (a little like a lucario’s head of course), on a starburst of silver, on a field of green. I asked VIvian to run a search… it was reference to a hymn “Uphold the right, tho’ fierce the fight, and pow’rful is the foe. As freedom’s friend, her cause defend, nor fear nor favor show. No coward can be called a man, no friend will friends betray, who would be free, alert must be, indifference will not pay.” It was also the motto of the police force of Victoria Australia. Zane / Zagara was proclaiming himself to be the law, come to this lawless land.
Kendra, whose chosen name wasn’t going to make me cringe, nope… had chosen the word “Beyond Sight” and had selected an emblem featuring a black upturned face, with silver light shining down upon it from above… also on a field of red. I began to note a theme. Both Kendra and Joy had been dead, slain, and both lived only through my agency. Joy’s emblem memorialized her sacrifice… Kendra’s her resurrection. Both were a little too… sacrosanct for my comfort level, but I didn’t tell either of them that, instead nodding in approval as the makeshift banners unfurled next to mine, this pair in the middle of the space between the spies and the nobles.
Toph, who’s been turning the Lifestream Garden into a serious work (6 stories tall, 40 feet by 80 feet footprint.. it allows her to get her feet dirty), I invite to take on any role she chooses, and she decides to go for Smallfolk in Dorne, about as far from the action as it’s possible to be. I shrug, “Sure. I guess. No skin off my nose. But it doesn’t actually come with anything free. I mean… nothing. Just a place in the world. You’d be better off as a Noble-“
She arghed… actually argghed. “No Noble! I was raised noble first time out! I’ve had enough of politics. I just want to kick back! I want to be a-“
“Calmly, swamp toes… calm yer tits and let me finish, or a Sworn Sword who has lost all their money. At least you get stuff… like knowledge of how to use weapons. If you run around Earth & Metal Bending, you’re going to get accused of being a witch and burned alive… and since you’ll respawn when that happens, it might happen several times if you don’t make yourself scarce. These are primitive fuckheads for the most part.”
“You’ll enjoy it more. Trust me, being nobody might seem interesting, but it’s really not. Not in Westeros.”
After a while, she nodded, “Fine. but no nobility. Sworn Sword I’ll do… then just drop out and chill.”
“And Dorne is a desert. You’re not fond of those, if I remember correctly.”
“It’s got mountains, don’t it? Coastlines?”
“Yes… but you might prefer the Vale for mountains. It’s relatively isolated too.”
“Grrrr… I thought I was getting to pick.”
“You can. I’m just offering suggestions.”
“But you might…”
“Say one more word and I’ll throttle you with that candlestick.”
“That’s a menorah.”
“Death to the Tyrant!”
Oww… I assumed she’d decided to specialize in maces, obviously… but I was wrong, as, when I wasn’t looking, she switched back to Smallfolk, though she did stay in the Vale. She picked up Glamour (the ability to change your face to resemble other people and copy their mannerisms… made even more convincing if you happen to have an object belonging to the impersonatee… is that a word? Impersonated? probably better.) and Worker… which just meant she could push herself far beyond her normal limits with physical or tedious work. Sounded boring to me… but it was, ultimately, her choice. Her symbol was a steel grey lotus on a deep Earth Kingdom green… and her words were “This is Your Fault”. I had to laugh and acknowledge the hit… it was very palpable. Her name would be “Topher the Gopher”… because she could.
RayRay I invite to join us, and she agrees… as long as she got to be a Noble… of Volantis. I’m not sure why, but I’m not going to argue with her. “Sure. Just keep us informed of goings on.” One rapier later… “I’m taking Great House.”
“Because I’m great.”
“I don’t think it carries over.”
“Course it does. I’m great.”
“Ah… well… I don’t know if Volantis has great houses.”
“I… see… okay. I figured the Oldblood were the nobility… I don’t know if there are gradiation within that. Maybe you’re an actual remaining noble of Valyria? Is that possible?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”
I groaned. “What else you taking?”
“Valyrian Steel Rapier.”
“You already have a Castle Forged Steel Rapier.”
“This is better.”
“It’s not free.”
“I’m importing my wand as it.”
“Oh. well… whippy stabby metal wand. I approve.”
“Leads from the Rear. It says Men under me.”
“THat means under your command”
“Don’t care. They’ll throw themselves at the enemy as if I was leading the charge… but I won’t, because I can fly and they can’t.”
“Do you have words?”
“Like the Wind”
She had… it was a green serpent coiled on a sky blue field. So… essentially, her symbol was herself. I had to restrain myself from hitting the table with my head. Her name in this incarnation would be “Rahys Rayn”… that table was looking extra smackable. These are my friends. Siiigh.
I offer the last two positions to Bao and Uriel, both of whom turn it down flat. The idea of that level of snake fighting reminds Uriel too much of being Emperor. Still, I had 2 slots, so I offered them to Petra and Dyna. Only to get a lot of hemming and hawing.
“What the heck? You guys are usually down for anything!”
“But… Everyone dies in those books!” Dyna says in her slightly alien way. All these decades, she’s still not quite human, no matter how she looks.
I gape at them. “You’re Pokemon! You don’t die! You just… KO and respawn at the Warehouse!”
Petra’s the one who breaks it down for me. They aren’t afraid of getting killed… they’re afraid of coming to like locals… who then get killed. There is, unfortunately, that risk. Even if we last the day in this… Winter is Coming. That’s the tagline. That’s the real problem. Stupid unfixed seasonal length. But I can’t argue. I poll the other mon, AJ & Francine feel the same. RayRay is RayRay, above it all, and doesn’t care. Ziggy is about dog level intelligence, maybe a bit higher. They’ll all do as I command, but this isn’t the world for them. “Okay then. We’re going to abuse the system. AJ & Francine, you two are Nobles from the North. That will nab you some land near the wall and the one task of handing those deeds over to me. Well, one and a half, protect Winterfall and the Starks until I can get there. Then you can go back into storage until things play out.”
They agree, reluctantly. I am the boss. Funds are good. Land is good. Recon is good. I hand them the tablets and make myself some coffee to go with my Lembas scones… they have dried elderberries in them. Ryoga made them. Once I’m done, I come and have a look. Francine has selected Warg with her points, because it fits with her psychic powers, and the Words “To See Within” and a coat of arms (remarkably free of spoons) featuring nothing but two blazing silver eyes on a field of midnight green. Her name she has listed as “Fae of house Nordhammer” and her chosen weapon was… the Warhammer.
AJ, or rather “Astolfo of House Jugar”… earned all the hugs that day. For his Words he’d chosen “For Mother”, and his coat of arms bore a pair of crossed red swords over a green helm on a field of white, symbolizing his Gallade nature of course… and he’d chosen a Falchion as his weapon, and when I saw that he’d bought a Starforged Sword, which was a milky white and intensely shiny chunk of a fallen star forged into a blade as light and sharp as Valyrian Steel, but radiating a strong impression of chivalry and honour, I’d been expecting to see that he’d bought a Starforged Falchion… but he hadn’t. Instead, he’d paid to import Soul of Ice as a Starforged Sword. It had cost him a third of his points.
I flinched a little at that, then checked his other purchases. He’d also shelled out another third to import my Elfin Mythril Pulse Rifle as a Dragonbone Bow, giving it exceptional power and range, as well as giving it the property of tending to hit where it’d do the most damage simply by chance. I was almost scared to see what he’d spent the last 100 on… and I was right to be. He’d spent it on “Pet”… which he’d used to import Ziggy as a Dire Wolf.
I wanted to shake him and tell him not to be so deferential, not to give up self-advancement for me, that I routinely had far more points than he did… but I couldn’t. It clearly meant so much to him, so I pulled him close, snuggling him into my lap as he turned back into his Gallade form and gave him a playful nugey. “Sucking up to get the best cookies, huh?” He blushed but didn’t gainsay me. I let him help me finish out the list as a reward.
I have 400 left and the only perk I really am drawn to is Warg, which is 600, but with it I’d be able to slip into the skin of animals, allowing me to effectively possess them, making them serve me loyally once I’ve bonded with them, though it won’t work on overtly magical animals. But that would put me 200 over. So I flip through menus to find the drawbacks… and hit Scenarios. Well hello there, be right with you, just let me grab 200 more CP.
Maegi is too good to pass up, if only for the name. It’s drop in only and will make the superstitious naturally hate and fear me. That’s good. For once, a drawback might be useful. Fear and hate are powerful tools, and Maegi isn’t an automatic burning at the stake in this world… actually… at this point that might be almost pleasant. That’s halfway, and Stalwart Shield gets me the rest. It requires me to be entirely loyal to somebody in this world (my choice) and to spend a lot of time working with and for them as their loyal supporter and ally. Well, fuck, Ned Stark and his line were going to to have my protection regardless. That gives me the 200 I need, so now back to those yummy scenarios.
The Usurped Scenario makes me laugh. Being the sibling of Daenerys and Viserys, then seizing the throne for 20 years? Intriguing, but too expensive to set up. Same for The Black Dragon Scenario, which is almost identical but set 100 years earlier with a bastard princess instead of an exiled one. The Think of the Children and Last of the Giants Scenarios require an awful lot of breeding, the first of Forest Children, the second of Giants. Probably inbreeding with groups this small. I could probably help… medically speaking with that, but it might be hard to explain. Still, with time to set up cloning facilities I could probably end the jump early. I consider it, then reject it. I don’t need to be 14 feet tall (Giant) and Think of the Children… well, would you want to bring children into this world, especially ones that require heavily forested regions and are weak against humanity? Might make some allies though.
The Valar Morghulis Scenario requires me to be an acolyte of GRRM’s fucked up death god. While I’ll almost certainly cut a swath bigger than 100 lives, I’m not dedicating them to anyone, and I’m not wearing someone’s preserved face. Fuck that. Ditto for the Conversion scenario. I have my way and there won’t be any fucking R’Hllorgian clergy. Fucking Red Priests.
First Among Nine means unifying the Free Cities. Could do that… but Best Dynasty Ever calls to me. Victory Condition. Take the Iron Throne for your house and hold it for 300 years. I can do that… by myself. If I go Elf. That neutralizes the aging problem… which is good, because dying of old age in any of these scenarios means you effectively scrub your oldest legit kid out of existence to take their place… fucking noooo. Jesus, who’d want that fucked up option?
I ask the others if they’re in for the long haul, they shrug. They’ve been with me for 12 millenia… what’s 3 centuries to them. That changes the perk I want. Warg is nice… but Gregarious is better for a queen to be… and the same price. With it I’d be significantly more charming, making friends easily and, most remarkably, gaining the uncanny ability of turning defeated enemies into very loyal allies and supporters. A plan begins to form. I chuckle.
“Zane? Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Zane looks at me hard, then sighs “Are we going to try and take over the world?”
“We are!” I chuckle menacingly. “And we’ll succeed. Come. We have wars to plan.”
“How many wars we talking bout?”
“All of them.”
We drop. It’s raining. I laugh. I’ve never conquered a world before… outside of Civilization where my people conquered millions of them. This should be interesting. The drop has scattered us to our bodies… I wonder if there’s a Riverworld Jump… and I find myself being introduced to the Court of the Lannisters, the Princess Sariel Jaynus, far from home and aren’t you all so nice. They look at me and smile… nest of vipers. My eyes scan the crowd and I nod, finding Tywin, marking him. I am my most graceful, my most charming self. I finagle a letter of introduction to the royal court to meet Tywin’s daughter, Queen Cersei and her husband, the King… and of course, her precious children… including Joffrey, the heir.
Tywin is a gracious, if cold, host, and he insists on sending a train of guards and wagons with me to make sure I reach the capitol at King’s Landing in one piece. I graciously accept, cursing slightly, but I roll with the punches. This one just sets me back a little, timewise, but minimizes expenses. Tywin’s already paid more than he knows by the time I’ve left Casterly Rock, as I’ve absconded with thousands of golden coins from his treasury, located and violated with only the casual disregard for personal property that a seasoned adventurer might have developed. The security was, of course, laughable.
The first night we camp early. I am fatigued (so I say) and I retire inside my wagon… then allow AJ to bring me to the North, to just outside Winterfell. I transform into my Asari form and become a creature of the night, flying swiftly through the darkness. The land is vast and I have only Yoiko’s Map of the World to go by. It’s not the most accurate thing, but it shows me the location of the Dreadfort, home of Roose Bolton and Ramsay Snow. I land outside the walls and make my way inside, a whisper of a memory to anyone who notices, my traces scrubbed from their awareness.
I peer into many minds, finding the lord of the roost and his bastard son. One of them will not live to see sunrise… but it will not be Roose who suffers this night. I mark the lord, his chambers, his face… and as he sleeps I give him a little invisible tattoo, in the small of his back. A present no one will ever know, a magnet that will draw misfortune to him… and him alone.
Next, I find his bastard, the Bastard of Bolton. He doesn’t deserve it, but I make the kill quickly, a dose of powerful sedatives that stills his heart. A tinge of remorse crosses my mind, at the perversion of medical science, but I shake my head. The man was a cancer. I hang his corpse from a tree outside the Dreadfort and flay the skin from his body after cutting off his manhood and feeding it to him. Who knew there were spells for both those things. I left a note on the skin of Ramsay’s chest, saying, “A Greyjoy pays a debt… in full”.
That’s one. Zane draws me back to the caravan and I let him give me a hug. “Even after all these years, you don’t have a taste for this, do you?” I shake my head.
“I kill those who need killing, but I never want to be the person who does so just because it’s expedient. I looked into his mind. He’d done terrible things, would do more. Still, I gave him a merciful death… not the one he deserved.”
The second night took me to The Twins, home of Walder Frey. I scouted there, but left him alive, for now. Though I did give him a gift as well, a cursemark that would make water his enemy in all the subtle ways it can be. If one of these marks brought the target down, all the better, but either way, they’d pay full price for their betrayals.
The third night took me to back to Casterly Rock, and from there I flew north to Pyke. This time, the only marks I left were tracking marks. Sailors dwelling in Islands are not easy to track, so I fabricated a few microsatellites and lobbed them into geosync to follow the various Greyjoys as I located them. It took most of the trip to King’s landing to find them all. Balon, lord of the Iron Islands was the easiest and he led me to his daughter and heir Asha and his brothers, Victarion, the master of the Iron Fleet, and Aeron Damphair, a priest of the Drowned God.
Aeron’s debt is light… for one of the Iron Men… a pirate, a rapist, and a fanatic. On the night before we arrive in Kingslanding, I send him to his god, letting the water of Pyke harbor take him.
For the next couple of months, I play the part of the curiosity at court, studying the goings on, learning their ways, making friends and enemies, especially among the priesthood. I take great pride in accepting all challenges with arms or games. Some I win, some I lose, being gracious in both victory and defeat. My status gets me invited to many a party and I attend, of course. More than one young noble tries something foolish and none of them leave such an encounter without a scar to remember me by, though I don’t kill any of them, though a couple I mark for further action after reading the abuses of their past deeds from their minds.
Of course that leads to challenges, but this society believes in the concept of trial by combat and in this land there are none who can best me, though I am damping myself down to merely human levels. None who challenge me die by my hand. They are fools, fighting for the honor of would be rapists… let them feel the sting of yielding… perhaps it will win them over to my cause and… maybe… teach them a lesson.
I do not save Jon Arryn from the poison that kills him. Things must be set in motion, after all. But, before he dies, I do administer to his son, Robert. The boy is sickly, over protected, and under the medical care of an idiot. Maester Colemon, the idiot in question, gets his mind… adjusted… not a lot, but enough to where he will no longer bleed his patients. Young Robert Arryn gets a trip to my medbay one night after all are asleep, and his condition… analyzed quite extensively. Many treatments will be needed, but I prepare a cocktail of nanites and drugs which will strengthen his system and fight off all but the worst seizures and ease those as well and present it to his father, easing the man’s suspicions until he overrides that lunatic that is his wife. She too, gets an adjustment, an easing of her (even for this world) paranoia, and a few little whispers that maybe she should start weaning the six year old.
And that brings us to journey North, to the court of Winterfell and the home of the Starks. For a moment, the schemer in me wonders if I should allow Bran to fall and to step in as a saviour and fix his broken back… but then I realize I’m thinking of using the pain and suffering of a little boy as a pawnmove… especially considering that this is the son of the man I am sworn to help. No. Far simpler to give Jamie Lannister food poisoning… nothing kills the mood faster than the shits. No, he and Cersei will not be doing any of the incest at Winterfell. Still, I give Bran a blessing to soften his falls. The boy climbs too much. The monkey in me chides me for saying it though.
Ned Stark and his family are lovely. Hard, yes… this is the North, and relatively simple… these are not sophisticated people… but his loyalty is like a beacon… I’ve chosen right by picking him… His line will be exalted above all in my new world… and he’ll need it, because Winter is coming… and with it the White Walkers.
I dote on the dire wolves, they are adorable. As are Ned’s children… though Sansa has… issues. Still, she hovers around me like a moth, drawn to the exotic pointy eared princess, wanting to know all about my home and what being a princess is like. I tell her that a princess must be strong, graceful, cunning, fiercely independent, never clinging too tight to a man, nor ever seeking his protection. I tell her that a princess must be a pillar of strength, the equal or greater of her husband. He should be worthy of her, not the other way round. I push, not too much, stripping away her blinders gently to reveal that royalty is duty, not privilege, that marrying a man who is a prince does not mean that that man is princely. I teach her of noblesse oblige, the noble obligation to rule wisely and well. I am not so kind as I strip away her blinders regarding Joffrey, her betrothed.
We leave the North without incident to any of the children, though I do take too much pleasure in allowing Joffrey to get himself attacked by Nymeria (Arya’s direwolf) after picking a fight with Arya and her friend Mycah, son of the Stark family butcher. I’d considered stopping the event from happening, but reconsidered, wanting to see if I’d made enough impact on Sansa, who in the story as written had sided with the prince instead of her family. This time she hesitated… a good sign. Still, I clouded her memory ever so slightly so she’d be uncertain of the details of the fight.
Jory Cassel, Arya’s protector, wanted to send the wolf away, but I convinced him to trust me, then I cornered the little princeling (ostensibly to return his sword “Lion’s Tooth”) to lay a powerful compulsion upon him to only tell of the attack by the boy, Mycah, and none of the rest of the tale. I knew I was risking the life of an innocent, but I had need… and ways.
I abducted the boy, placing him in cryosleep, then replaced him with a pig transfigured into the shape of a boy. The farmer I bought the pig from was most confused about me wanting such a scrawny one. I let Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, a monster in human form, hunt and kill “Not-Mycah”. The ruse is needed. Arya will gain strength from this… and a little caution… in the books, she is destined to become an assassin, hidden in darkness… in my world, she will become so much more. Real Mycah will be returned to his family in a few days time, once the caravan has passed, with all the proper explanations provided.
We returned to King’s Landing, 2 lives saved, 2 lives improved, 2 lives taken. The scales were, for a time, in balance. Next to fall would be Gregor, but for that I had to wait until the Tourney of the Hand. I entered the melee and the archery contest, not wishing to interfere with the joust. I won 30,000 Dragons that day… Gregor killed Ser Hugh of the Vale with a lance, then attacked Ser Loras Tyrell (The Knight of Flowers, and third son of the lord of the Reach, lushest of the 7 Kingdoms… and one of the few people I didn’t despise) who’d bested him by riding a mare in heat to upset Gregor’s stallion (idiot… always ride geldings into battle).
As Gregor rode from the tourney with seven of his men, heading home, I followed, with Zane and Kendra, out for a pleasant ride along the Goldroad (the way between King’s Landing and Casterly Rock). I had another life to save and another life to end.
At a small alehouse in Rolling Ford, Gregor and his party stop for the night, stymied from continuing west by the flooding of the ford. As the books had faithfully reported, The Mountain decided that raping the thirteen year old daughter of the proprietor would be jolly good fun. Unfortunately for him, I’d decided that killing him would be jolly good fun. My fun trumps his fun. I even made it a challenge for myself, not slicing through his armor or sword with Soul of Ice. I didn’t even use the artifact, but rather one of the least powerful swords in my collection.
The man was massive, all psychosis and sadism and pure unfettered strength. But one cannot kill what one cannot hit… and even if he’d hit me with everything he had, he couldn’t have harmed me. The fight wasn’t in any sense of the word, fair. He had less chance against me than the Ale Man’s Daughter had had against him. I took his hand… then, leaping high, plunged my sword into his left eye… it didn’t stop him.
In the end, I had to bleed him dry with a dozen cuts and slashes, dodging his progressively more violent flailing. He truly was a mountain and he fell like one. Kendra and Zane had beaten back the 7 knights who’d ridden with him, but killed none of them. I glanced their way, locking eyes on each of them to plant an imperial command, a geas that would force them to tell the truth of what they’d seen. Then I drove them from the inn and cut Gregor Clegane’s head from his neck and rode back to King’s Landing.
Word of my deed preceded me, and Eddard “Ned” Stark met me at the gates of the city to ask me what I’d done. I gave report and passed over the head of Clegane “A base rapist and thug, one who’d faced me in combat and lost, refusing to yield to the last.” It was the law of the land, and I’d broken no law, though I could see Ned was worried about possible repercussions, since Clegane was a bannerman of the Lannisters. But I had other things to worry about.
Littlefinger was next on my list. Petyr Baelish, called Littlefinger, the Master of Coin on the Small Council of King Robert Baratheon, a womanizer and pimp, was cut down in the street for his purse. There were no leads on the man seen running from the scene and he vanished into the city without a trace. Alas. The city was scoured for the murderous cutpurse, and the King offered a reward, but there was little to be done.
Tyrion Lannister became the King’s Master of Coin… which might have had something to do with my suggesting it. The absence of Baelish meant that when news of Daenerys’s pregnancy with the child of Khal Drogo came, there was no voice but Cersei’s promoting assassination… I’d seen to that. The King didn’t push it, though I knew he’d secretly command Varys, his spymaster, to send the assassin anyway… his thoughts were an open book. Still, I needed Ned to remain the Hand of the King just a little longer.
And that would have been that. A civil war averted, nipped in the bud as it were. I could have happily lived out the rest of a ten year jump and been fine with what I’d done. I’d maneuvered myself into a fixture at court, I was a respected and feared warrior, but I wasn’t done.
When the boar struck the King with what would have been an eventually lethal blow, I was there to save the King more than a little pain. Three more times that day I… accidentally saved the quite inebriated king from accident… I was knighted for my bravery, and a few days later the King, acting on information brought to him by Ned, had Cersei and Jaime Lannister brought before him.
The king was in a towering fury, unaccustomed to being a cuckold and… displeased to say the least to learn that none of Cersei’s three children were his. He wanted them arrested, wanted them executed. Ned was the voice of reason. He had the king banish the queen from the court and publicly striped Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen of their place in the succession, which no doubt saved their lives. He sent them back to their father with a note demanding easement of the Kingdom’s debt to House Lannister. It was a calculated insult… and one I intended to push to war.
Making the Lannisters go to war was easy. Robert had all but bankrupted the Seven Kingdoms with his extravagances, and much of that money was owed to House Lannister. Lord Tywin wasn’t a man who took slights easily… and all it took was a few midnight visits to plant and reinforce the idea that he’d be a better king.
Getting Ned to abandon the King was also easy. All I had to do was make sure he overheard Varys and the King talking about the assassination attempt… which had failed… against Danny and her unborn child. Ned was too much a man of honor to countenance that, and so he and his family headed back to Winterfell, leaving Robert all alone. Within a month there was civil war.
Within two, Tywin was dead and Jaime was Lord of Casterly Rock… I’d ridden out with the King’s Army and personally smashed my way through the Lannister forces to bring the King Tywin’s head. Perfect military information is a force multiplier the likes of which this world had never known. I was now the most feared knight in the realm and a general who’d won every battle… though the people spoke of dark magic. I soothed the emotions of those I needed, won over others. Jaime made peace with the King, and named Cersei’s children as his heirs. All was coming along most ricky-tick.
Still, I went to the King and asked him to send me north with a force of those captured in battle (we’d taken over 6,000 prisoners), with which to augment the Nightwatch on the wall. The King was amused.
“You’re a fine lass, and no mistaking, but the Nightwatch takes only men.”
“I do not go north to join them, but to test myself beyond the wall. I’ve never seen it. It is said to be a marvel. And what lies beyond it are said to be the most brutal of savages.”
And that’s how I absented myself from court. I was a thousand leagues north when the king died, having drunk himself into a stupor and fallen from the ramparts of his castle. There had been witnesses to his stumbling walk. Puppeting the unconscious king had been… odd, but he while he wasn’t an innocent, I didn’t make him suffer. Stannis became King the same day I reached the Wall.
It was most impressive. The nightwatch didn’t want to let me and my handpicked forces through into the lands beyond. We were only 5 in number. I invited Jon Snow to come with us, to act as a guide. We came with quivers full of obsidian (dragonglass) arrows and knives, and every Valyrian Steel sword we’d been able to find. We were hunting the White Walkers… and I had a target who lived beyond the Wall.
His name was Craster. When I staked him out in the snow, naked, I told him his sons, the many infant sons that he’d left out in the cold to die, sent their regards. I didn’t stay to watch… but I did leave a tracker embedded in his skull. I may be a supervillain, but I’m not an idiot.
Finding the White Walkers wasn’t easy. Making the Wildlings who lived in the area respect us was much easier. Agreeing to provide them with obsidian weapons against the “Others” was a step. But largely they respected strength, and me and mine? We had strength to spare.
The White Walkers were, as advertized, extremely vulnerable to obsidian. Ridiculously so. The only question was were they as vulnerable to man-made obsidian as natural. Unfortunately, the answer was no… at least in the case of machine fabrication. The stuff crafted by magic… or my firebending… that stuff worked fine, keeping the essence of the fire that forged it. They very much were servants of the god of Ice and the fire of the volcanic glass was their kryptonite… but even more… icky. It made their magical flesh slough off at a sickening rate.
Agreeing to ship the Wildlings supplies and weapons makes a tentative peace there, and I march south again. My spies in Essos tell me that Khal Drogo is buying a fleet of ships to sail across the narrow sea. I rub my hands in glee. My legend is growing. If only the Iron Islands were between Westeros and Essos. But they weren’t… which meant it was time to pay a few debts on the march south.
Roose Bolton was recovering from a broken leg when I visited him late at night. “Betraying your liege lord? Really? You think you’re scary, just because your symbol is a flayed man? My only regret is that I cannot bring your entire family down by revealing your treachery to Lord Eddard.”
He came awake, clutching his blankets. “I… I’ve never betrayed my lord.”
“Oh, but you would… and in another time you did. But you practice First Night, don’t you Lord Bolton… though that secret isn’t known to Lord Stark. I could reveal that… but I’m certain you’d be able to worm your way out of it. No. Better my way, I think.” The fire that consumed him was hot enough to melt the stones of the Dreadfort. I left the words “All Hail R’hllor” etched in the wall of the chamber, then moved on.
I sank every pirate ship out of the Iron Islands with waves summoned from the deep. One by one I took the heads of every adult male noble of the Iron Islands, from the lowest on up… one each night. I’d promised myself that if I could find one who wasn’t an unmitigated bastard, I’d spare them. I didn’t find that man. By the time I got to Balon Greyjoy, he was a cowering wreck. He asked the shadow that I’d become why I was doing this.
“You are House Greyjoy. You do not sow. Those are your words. Well, I am House Jaynus… I reap.”
That just left Walder Frey, architect, in another time, of the Red Wedding. If you don’t know what that is, I shan’t tell you, but it warrants his death a hundred times over. I was merciful though. The poison I put into his wine did not kill him. It left him incontinent, crippled, palsied, and incapable of speech or the motor control needed to write. Some punishments should be lasting.
I could tell you how I married Renly Baratheon, then how I arranged for him to take the throne when I convinced Stannis to step down and take the post of Hand of the King… it suited him better. I never slept with Renly, he wasn’t my type… and I certainly wasn’t his, but he wasn’t a bad sort and if I never complained about Loras Tyrell, he never complained of my proclivities either. I could tell you about how I faced Khal Drago’s invasion, how I beat down the fierce horselord in single combat, then how I lifted him back up and proclaimed him my brother, gifting him and his wife fine things and title to the holdings of the restored house of Targaryen. I could tell you how, over the decades, my empire grew steadily, slowly swallowing up the Free Cities, bringing the wild Horsemen of the Dothraki Sea under my sway. I could tell you of the long Winter, and how I led my people through it to the other side, largely with the help of the Hanging Gardens, and with it the excess grain how I extended my influence. But I won’t.
Instead, I shall tell of how Ned allowed Wildling Settlements south of the wall, of how Mance Rayder became the new lord of the lands beyond the wall and bent the knee to the King of the North, a title I allowed as King’s Landing became the seat of Empire. I shall tell of how Sansa went with Theon to reclaim and rebuild the Iron Islands and how he ruled… if not wisely, then well over his reinvigorated populace. She in turn became mistress of her mother’s father’s lands when the old lord of River Run died. I shall tell of how Robert Arryn grew up to be everything his father could have hoped, and how Arya became First Sword of the Empress. Bran married the Karstark heiress, Rikon became the new lord of the restored Dreadfort, and Jon commander of the Nightwatch… which in time became my empire’s state police, the first of its kind in this world. I will tell how I demanded Joffrey be fostered at court and how, after many false starts, he learned not to be such a little shit. Tyrion Lannister, a staunch ally since I’d worked my ways on him to ease his pains (medicine can do only so much) was a great help as Master of Coin.
Ruling an empire of primitives… and make no mistake, this was a primitive age… was not hard. I knew who in my inner circle to trust and who not to. Time and again the suspicious raised arms against the Maegi Queen, but I dispelled their fears by claiming that I was heaven sent to bring the people into a new age. And then doing so. It was so much more satisfying being hands on this way, moving houses against each other, bringing prosperity and the rule of law. I did not build a dynasty, that is true, as I ruled completely through that three hundred year stretch… but by the end of my reign I’d taken the people of Westeros and Essos from the darkness of the 12th century to the dawn of the 20th, introduced them to modern medicine, actual courts of law, and… through very liberal use of telepathy, progressively stripped away all those who did not rule their people justly, wisely, and compassionately.
It was, by no means, a complete victory. It was, by no means, even close to canon. I had overturned the natural order and made mockery of GRRM’s text. I was the Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues, at least in this time. But for every life I took, I made others better. For every injustice I made more justice. Does that justify anything? Of course not. I did what I did because I felt I had the right. Justification is meaningless. A life spared is not atonement for a life taken…. But those I killed were all murderers, rapists, and worse. I needed no atonement for what I did.
I left behind no heir. For the last fifty years of my reign I’d been moving the Empire more and more to a republic and announced that the 300th anniversary of my reign would see me step down in favor of the Prime Minister. There would be no more monarchy. In all honestly, none yet lived who remembered it except with me on the throne anyway… aside from my ageless companions.
I had the Iron Throne moved down to the beach for the occasion, and waited until time froze and the Pillars rose, confirming the 300 years were up. I tapped on one of them “Bring time back into play. Give me ten minutes.” And I spoke to those assembled, the men and women, Giants and Forest Children, Dothraki and Westerlings and Freefolk, ones I had handpicked to lead wisely and well, and said my goodbyes. I left them all with a memory of us boarding a ship and sailing off into history… though in reality, the Pillars reappeared and we lugged the Throne through the portal into the Warehouse.
“Why are we taking this hunk of junk again? It’s incredibly uncomfortable!” Zane complained as he poked himself on one of the sword points. The Throne towered three stories above him, looking all pointy and menacing.
“I need a momento. Plus, I’m planning on making it a recliner.”
Next: World 25 – The Gang Speaks