King Daemon Stark
Two years he had been king, two years since his grandfather Daeron Stark the Winter Dragon had died. Two years of peace and plenty for the north, it felt knowing that there was no outward risk of war, at least not just now. Daemon had made sure that the terms of the treaty were enforced he made sure that his cousin Quellon Greyjoy knew that there would be strict punishments for any Ironborn that went on raiding missions or tried with full knowledge to break the peace agreements, so far the Ironborn had stayed true to the terms of the peace and had resorted to doing trading and other more legal means of bringing coin and prosperity to their islands.
Elsewhere in the kingdom, Daemon had ensured that the ports of Stony Shore and White Harbour were furthered enhanced and developed so much so that it could be argued that they rivalled Oldtown and King's Landing as centres of trade in Westeros. He also made sure that the towns and cities developed inland were allowed access to trade with the free cities and with the other places that fell under the north's domain especially the summer islands, where the Ironborn colonies continued to hold sway. All in all trade had developed quite well since the peace, and Daemon was relieved to have become king when all the parties involved with the wars of the previous generation were dead.
This was mainly due to that the fact that with the peace treaty in place more trade was happening between the north and the south than had happened since the first Blackfyre war. This had as such allowed for many things to happen that benefitted the north more than they benefitted the south, for example there were more people coming to the southern north to see the wonders that were present and as such Daemon had been able to bring in coin from those who sought to see the lizard lions and other animals in the neck and the Wolfswood. Though he did not want much to do with the south, not after the loss of Samaira and Jorelle, he was not so blind as to not see the benefits that came from trading with them, the south lacked for timber, wool and furs that would be needed in the winter that was coming and as such they were willing to pay hefty prices for the goods, in return for modest returns on their own products that were traded in the north, such as spices from Dorne, and wine and grapes from the Reach.
Daemon also knew that the people of his kingdom were more than glad that the wars of the past few decades were at an end, though the nobles suffered a lot during the wars, it was the smallfolk who paid the greatest price during the wars that were waged. They lost men and women and children alike to the fighting and sometimes to the diseases that the soldiers brought back with them from the south, and these things had drained the populations of the kingdom significantly, that was one of the things that Daemon resented his grandfather for, the fact that his grandfather was so content to wage war and would not worry about the effect such actions were having on his people the ones who made it possible for the crops to be harvested and for collections to be made, and yet that he was still remembered with a fierce passion and fondness in the north by lords and smallfolk alike even though it was Daemon and Maester Aemon who had done the rebuilding. That stung a bit, but it also gave him something to work with smallfolk or lords who complained overtly about something or the other, they did not want to shame the memory of the Winter Dragon and so they did what they were told to do by Winterfell.
The Lyseni had also recanted on their postulated aggression, the thing that had made Daemon and the council hesitate to truly engage in the war of the Ninepenny kings, the Lyseni had sent pirates north to test the defences of the north and the pirates had been destroyed and flayed and skinned for information. The chief pirate's head was sent back to the leaders of Lys as a warning and after that they ceased all their previous postulations and accepted trade remissions and more gold to pay for the timber that the north sold them. It was good for Daemon, as it showed that he would take no nonsense from anybody and as such that he was not living within the shadow of his grandfather, impressive as the man had been, Daemon was determined to be his own man, and as such he was convinced he was.
Things were finally easy within the family as well, with his grandfather dead it was easier for the family to function without the cloud of unease that Daeron Stark had pervaded over his children, grandchildren and anyone even related to him. Though Daemon's grandmother had retired to the Wolf's Den to spend time with her brother's descendants, Daemon's sister Rhaenrya had returned to Winterfell following the death of her husband Laenor from a chill and the ascension of her son Jeor to the lordship of Bear Island, the boy was a good lad and would make a fine lord, that he already had a son whom he had named Jorah seemed to help. Rhaenrya had brought her daughter Maege with her, Daemon's little niece was a fierce little thing who often reminded him of his cousin Robyn. As for his aunt Elaena she remained in Greywater Watch following the death of her husband Lord Donnor Reed, a good man and loyal, his son Daeron Reed who Daemon had envied growing up was now a good friend, but the Reeds rarely visited Winterfell now so preoccupied were they with other things.
As for his own actual family, Daemon could not be happier, his daughters Daenaera and Delena brightened up his days when the council were being frustrating and they also provided distraction from the many things he had to think about and consider in ruling the north. Daenaera looked just like him with her silver hair and purple eyes, a quiet little girl was his Daenaera but even at the age of two Daemon knew she would be a proper little lady, like his own mother had been. Delena was a loud little babe, a year old but fierce all the same and demanding. And then there was Aemon, his two moon old son and heir, the boy looked just like Visenya with her widow's peak and silver hair and violet eyes, if he was honest Daemon was relieved his son had been born for now it meant his duty had been done and for the time being he would not have to do anything more with his wife for the time being. It was not that he did not like his wife, he did, it was just that they were more friends than anything else and that too their friendship was awkward and strained, their conversations were nothing more than duty and it angered him, though he knew not how to change it. His wife seemed determined to keep it that way and he would not force the matter, he was not his grandfather.
The opening of the council doors shook him from his thoughts; he had called the council to discuss various issues that had been brought to his attention. The Lord Commander of the Winter's Guard Edrick Snow was already present in the room, the lords who walked in included high steward and lord of Moat Cailin Rickard Stark a good man honest and true, High Justiciar Lord Rodwell Karstark, High Shadow Lord Brandon Dreadstark, Lord Treasurer the jovial Lord Wyman Manderly Lord of White Harbour, High Admiral Lord Edwyn Berstark a fierce man and finally Grand Maester Aemon for whom Daemon's son had been named for. Daemon cleared his throat once the lords had all sat down. "My lords I thank you for coming. It has been some time since our last meeting I would hear what events have occurred since we last met."
Grand Maester Aemon spoke first, his voice clear and strong. "After the last court session I took the liberty to look into the issues that Lord Donnor Umber brought before Your Grace, and have made some suggestions based on the evidence at hand for us." Daemon nods and the maester goes on. "Given that it seems that the wildlings seem to be growing in number and the raiding parties from them seem to be growing as well, it seems advisable that the crown seriously consider strengthening and fortifying the gift and the lands near it. Raymun Redbeard caught Lord Willam of guard last time, such a thing cannot happen again."
Daemon nods and then says. "Rickard I want you to send word to the houses Glover and Umber as well as to the Mountain clans, tell them that they are to send men to camp on the gift and near the lands bordering Last Hearth. Should a raiding party cross they are to capture them and question them using any methods necessary." Lord Rickard nods and then Daemon asks. "Now what more has occurred since we last met?"
Lord Edwyn Berstark speaks then, his voice sharp. "There has been word from the commander of the Sea Wolf, it appears that the auld alliance of Tyrosh, Lys and Myr is getting together and is looking for ships to fuel their growing campaign."
Lord Rickard speaks then. "And to what purpose does their campaign serve for us my lord?"
Berstark looks at Rickard and says. "Nothing my lord steward, it is simply that the talk is that they mean to attack Volantis, and as such have begun asking around the commanders of ships formerly of the royal navy for ships with which to attack Volantis."
Lord Brandon Dreadstark speaks then his voice serious and grim. "What Lord Edwyn says is correct. Lys, Tyrosh and Myr have reformed into the three daughters led by Saaro Saan the pirate king, and they aim to bring down Volantis and remove Targaryen or dragon influence from Essos for good. My sources across the sea say that they lack a significant fleet though and so have set their sights on Yunkai and the north as valuable assets for the naval strength we could provide them."
Daemon speaks then. "Seal the port for the time being Lord Edwyn. I shall see what these envoys want myself, and until I do they cannot leave, nor can any rogue captains leave. If they try to hang them and give their ships to someone more loyal and truthful." Lord Edwyn nods and Daemon then asks. "Now what of trade, Lord Wyman how goes the trade in preparation for winter?"
Lord Wyman a young and jovial man, who looks as if he will tend to fat in his older years, looks at the papers before him before speaking. "Trade is prospering Your Grace. Bravos and Qohor and Lorath all have made the payments for the goods they loaned from us, and have now paid for complete ownership of them. Lys, Tyrosh and Myr have all asked for increased shipments of wood and mortar, undoubtedly for their ships now, they promise to pay thrice as much as they currently are for the increased shipments."
Daemon is silent for a moment and then he says. "Very well, tell them that we shall accept thrice the payment for one more increase in their shipment. So long as they are only building merchant vessels and not war galleys. I want a representative from White Harbour who we can trust going with the shipment and staying until the ships are built. Lord Wyman you shall consult with Lord Rickard on the matter."
"There is also one more issue Your Grace," Lord Rickard says. Daemon nods for him to continue. "Lord Reed has written asking for assistance in dealing with a series of skirmishes that have grown in number between his people and the Freys."
Daemon is silent for a moment and then asks. "Has Lord Daeron been able to capture any of the Freys or their men to question them as to why this raiding is going on now?"
Rickard looks at the letter before him and then says. "He has managed to capture one Ryman Frey Your Grace, the man said to have led the early incursions into the Neck. The boy did not speak much but says that old Lord Walder Frey knows not of what is happening north of the neck."
Daemon nods and says. "Very well, I want a raven sent to King's Landing asking Lord Walder call his weasels off of the neck and send some men to aid Lord Daeron."
King Aerys II Targaryen
He was king, and by gods was it a strange feeling. He had never truly thought that he would become king, oh sure once or twice as a foolish little boy he had dreamed of what it might be like to have a crown on his head and sit the Iron Throne, but that was just a stupid childish fantasy, he had never truly thought something like that would actually happen. And then Summerhall had happened and life had changed, his cousins Aemon and Daenys had died and his father had been crowned and suddenly he was prince of Dragonstone, learning how to rule at the same time at trying to make sure that his wife did nothing to serious to damage her health or the babe's health that she carried.
Rhaella, his elder sister, Aerys had loved her as a brother loved a sister, he had never felt anything more than that for her, and yet his grandfather had demanded that they wed to fulfil some damned prophecy that that whore and the wood's witch had sprouted from their mouths that had so captivated his grandfather and even to some extent his own father. He knew that Rhaella had been deeply upset by the match, and that she had thought rather delude that she might be allowed to wed her knight, that prancing jack nape Ser Bonnifer Hasty, the man had never been good enough for his sister, it was not that he was from a knightly house, it was more that the man claimed to love his sister and yet Aerys had seen the man sitting more than one woman on his lap and fucking them senseless afterwards, he had heard the knight talk about it so often in the yard during practice that at one point Aerys had swung out at him and nearly beaten him bloody. He had never told Rhaella the truth of her knight though; he had not had the heart to do so.
Even so, there had been some small part of Aerys that had also dreaded wedding his sister, it was not the thought of actually wedding her that made him dread it after all they were blood of the dragon and that was what their family had done for generations, no it was the fact that he would not get the chance to wed his lovely Joanna. He had known her since she had come to court at the age of eight to become his sister's bed companion, and he had grown to know her and become first her friend and then more than that, they had shared kisses many a time, and Joanna had hinted that perhaps she might even wish to marry him, but of course he had wed Rhaella and then Tywin had come into the picture. Tywin who had squired for his uncle Duncan, before the war for Dorne and then afterwards with uncle Maegon, had grown to know and love Joanna as well, and Aerys had seen his chance slip by, he had seen how Tywin and Joanna acted around one another and though they were not betrothed yet, Aerys knew that they would wed one another sooner rather than later and it made his heart hurt, that his lovely Joanna would wed Tywin and he would be left with the cold marriage bed that his grandfather had thought fit to give him.
When he saw Tywin and Joanna together, those were the days that he cursed his grandfather and his obsession with that damned prophecy, that prophecy had driven his grandmother to the brink of madness and had cost him his life, and Aerys any chance of happiness that he might know. Rhaella was a good sister, he loved her as that, but he mourned what he could have had with Joanna, that easy companionship and flirtatiousness that they had had before when they were younger, the feeling that he might be able to speak with her and take advice from her, that was what he missed, some of the things he wanted advice on he could not ask Rhaella about they were far to embarrassing to ask one's sister, but not bad enough he would risk ruining the dragon's reputation by asking Joanna.
Still he supposed that at least he was doing his duty to his house, and to the throne. Their first born Rhaegar had been born in Castle Darry after the Tragedy of Dragonsville, and Rhaella was with child once more, Aerys hoped for another son, so that perhaps the line might continue. As it was, with Aemon and Daenys dead, and the fact that his uncle Aelix had died before getting his wife with child and only had one bastard roaming the riverlands or perhaps the crownlands rumour had it, meant the royal line was shaky and Aerys did not want the throne to pass to anyone else should tragedy befall them. In fact Aerys had often wondered if Ser Dontos Waters the former master of whispers who had died during the fever that had struck King's Landing had been a royal bastard so Valyrian had he looked, of course the man did know of his parentage, and neither did anyone else. A shame the man would have made any Valyrian proud, and would have made a true Targaryen.
Aerys sighed and ran a hand through his hair, and looked at what the council would discuss today. His small council was made up of the hand of the king Ser Tywin Lannister, a man he considered a friend and someone he was impressed with ruthless and young, master of laws Lord Jon Arryn a man with a good sense of right and wrong and young as well, master of coin Lord Walder Frey old and finicky but cunning and smart with coin, master of ships was Aerys great uncle Lord Maegon Velaryon and old dog of the sea, then there was the master of whispers Lord Horras Bolton a cunning man though one who was down with the fever, and finally there was Grand Maester Pycelle and the lord commander of his Kingsguard Ser Gerold Hightower. These were the men who made up his council, and these were the men who Aerys was determined would build on the peace that his father had built. As the door opened and the lords in question walked in and were seated Aerys took note of who looked tired and who looked determined. Once they were all seated, Aerys cleared his throat and spoke. "My lords I thank you for coming today. I know we have much to do individually but I thought it would be good to see what the other have done. Now what news?"
It was Tywin who spoke first, his voice carrying through the council chamber. "It would appear that there have been skirmishes in the Neck between the cranongmen and men from the Twins Your Grace. King Daemon Stark wrote to ask that Lord Walder order his boys to cease and desist."
Aerys looks at his master of coin and sees the man's weasel face scrunched up in concern. "Lord Walder, did you know your boys were planning to disturb the peace before you left from the Twins?"
Lord Walder sputters and then says. "No Your Grace. I promise you that I do not condone this breach of the peace. And I shall write a stern letter to Stevron demanding he end this foolishness at once."
Aerys fights to hold back a smile and looks at Tywin before asking. "Does the letter from Stark say who it is that is leading the attacks on the cranongmen and whether or not they have any prisoners?"
Tywin looks at the letter in front of him and then says. "Aye, it says that apparently that the Frey raiding parties are being led by Lord Walder's own cousin Ser Gavin Frey. The cranongmen hold Ryman Frey prisoner in Greywater Watch and are willing to release him if the raiding stops."
Aerys looks at Lord Walder and the man nods. "Aye I will head north Your Grace, and end this foolishness as soon as you wish. I will send Gavin to the Wall, that's where such scum belong after all."
Aerys nods and then asks. "Now what more news is there?"
Lord Horras Bolton, pale as death speaks then his voice hoarse. "There has been word from Essos. It appears that Tyrosh, Myr and Lys have entered into an alliance once more and are planning on launching an attack on Volantis. They have united under the banner of the Three Daughters once more and are attempting to gain more materials to build up a fleet that will be strong enough to challenge and perhaps damage Volantis."
Aerys nods and then asks. "And where have they sent emissaries to, to ask for aid in building up their war fleet?"
Bolton looks at the paper before him before replying. "They have sent emissaries to Yunkai and to the north, though it appears that King Daemon Stark has decided against allowing them to leave his port and as such has kept them detained in White Harbour itself. The Yunkai though have given in and are funnelling some their resources into the three daughters."
Aerys nods and then says. "Very well, I want you to gather more information about this potential threat before we act on it Lord Horras. And I want word sent to Volantis, I want my great uncle to know that he shall not be left alone should the fighting hurt him."
Lord Horras nods and then says. "There has also been word from Summerhall. It appears that there is more to these bandits that have been raiding along the Red Mountains and the Marches than first met the eye. For it seems the leader of the bandits carries the sigil of the Vulture King."
"What of it?" Tywin asks. "The Vulture King and the second pretender were both defeated long before they could ever prove a threat to the wider realm. So what if one bandit carries their banner, likely the fool thinks that by doing so he will rally the small folk to his cause. Little realising that the small folk are tired of war."
Though he is inclined to agree with Tywin Aerys waits and sure enough his uncle Lord Maegon, who was old enough to see both the first and the second vulture kings come and go speaks. "It is an important matter not because of what the smallfolk want, but because of what the Vulture King symbolised. The man was half mad all agree, but when he started his campaigns he started them during a time of peace, and nearly overran both Dorne and the marches with his propaganda and actions, so much so it required three marcher lords to take him and his followers down. That the bandit leader carries his banner now that peace has been obtained is no coincidence no doubt the man wishes to bring more trouble to realm, now that peace has been achieved. He cannot be allowed to grow even more in power, and must be stopped immediately."
Aerys is silent for a moment and then sighing says. "Very well, Pycelle send a raven to Summerhall; tell them to call lords Cafferen and Dayne in and to discuss what needs to be done. If they need more help they should send word as soon as possible. Horras, I want you to use some of your sources to find out who this bandit leader is and what it is he wants, and how best he can be dealt with. Now what more is there?"
Lord Walder speaks sheepishly. "Trade is flourishing, and we no longer owe any money to the Iron Bank. However, I am curious to ask what you wish to be done about the throne's trade contracts with Lys and Myr, now that they have joined with Tyrosh into the three daughters."
Aerys was silent for a moment, before he said. "Keep them going; unless they give the throne reason to cease trade then we have no reason to worry. It is Volantis they are aiming for not King's Landing. Let us see what they do before we act."