Two months of this, and I've chased down every last fighting man in the Riverlands and jabbed something sharp through their chest. My warscore hits 100%, and I give Malwyn a raven-shaped call. He doesn't answer. Someone else sends a message back, explaining that living in a dungeon for the better part of a year without food or water can do bad things to a human being. Malwyn's dead.
"My warscore hits 100%"
No problem: Malwyn's heir can do the surrendering for him. OK, he's two years old and hasn't had time to learn how to read, let alone wrong anyone on this low-fantasy earth, but I'm not above storming into a castle in full plate armour and holding my sword to a baby's throat until he gurgles out a capitulation.
He does. I mean, I think he does, between the giggles and the windypops. Three generations of Whents, terrorised by me and mine in the name of, um, having more stuff. Baby Whent's home, his lordship and all the Riverlands, are mine. Well, they're not mine. They're Arya's now.
I could've taken them in Robb's name. My kids have a claim on the Riverlands because their mum – my dead wife Catelyn – was a Tully, and the Tullys were once lords of the region. It would have been sensible for me to claim them for Robb, given that Ned is now reaching a ripe old age – visually represented by the fetchingly grey beard I'm now sporting in the character menu – and Robb's the character I'll play when he dies. But I have a real attachment to Arya, and I think she'll make a fantastic ruler.
I'm immediately proved wrong. Over in the eastern lands of the Vale, Pia Arryn uses Guyard's ascension to the throne to make a break from kingly command. She wants the Vale to be an independent realm, and manages to convince Arya her cause is just.
"I should rise up in support of my daughter and my daughter-in-law. But I can't."
It probably is. Pia's married to my son Bran – who's technically a king as long as the Vale stays independent, boosting my prestige as proud pappy – making her sister-in-law to Arya. Elsewhere in the family tree I've got Daenerys, with claims to Dragonstone and the Iron Throne itself, married to Robb. There are a lot of Baratheon bastards, but a lack of marital dealing has left their ranks thinned. The other noble families are in similar states: the Tyrells are stripped of power, the Martells have intermarried so effectively their name is lost in Dorne, and the Lannisters are down to Jaime: old, maimed, sworn-to-chastity Jaime.
The Starks should control this land, and I should rise up in support of my daughter and my daughter-in-law. But I can't. I already cast my lot in with Guyard shortly after his coronation, expecting the tussle to be a quick one, and because of our differences – I worship the old gods, Pia and the others pray to the Seven; I like ketchup on chips, they prefer brown sauce, that sort of thing – I'm unable to switch sides mid-conflict.
I'm stuck silently mouthing words of encouragement over the border to Arya as she sends ineffectual forces southwards. Lannisters broken, Guyard has control of all of the west, in addition to the southern Reach, south-eastern Stormlands and King's Landing itself. An army of 55,000 sits in Westeros's capital, sallying forth to destroy the Riverlands' already-depleted forces any time they poke their nose into contested territory. I've got 35,000 men at my command, but there is nothing I can do to help my favourite daughter as she slides towards imprisonment, or worse.