War Never Changes
I’m desperate, now. I take out a loan from the Iron Bank and hire 1,200 mercs. I have only 4 gold to pay their monthly fees with, so this war needs to be over right quick. The hired swords chase my enemies off Pebble, but the retreating soldiers merge with Lyonel’s forces sacking Wycliffe and return to kick the crap out of us. We lose repeated battles, dashing back and forth between Pebble and Wycliffe, chased by Lyonel’s larger army. Sunset Keep is under siege as well by another army backing Lyonel. The Fingers are burning.
All the while, 8,000 of Paxter's soldiers are still standing motionless on The Paps, and I finally realize why. The war over The Paps, between Mathis and Paxter, hasn’t actually ended. Mathis himself is out in the field, killing time until he’s replenished by more soldiers from The Reach. Paxter is unwilling to leave The Paps because if he does, The Reach will retake it when they arrive. They're in a little standoff, and while they both stall I'm losing everything.
Since Paxter is of no use to me, I desperately try to throw in with Lord Lyonel by forming a new faction: Lord Lyonel for the Vale! Maybe he’ll see the announcement in the local paper and stop trying to kill me? He doesn’t, and he doesn't.
Having sacked Sunset Keep, The Reach army marches to The Paps and engages the inert Valemen standing there. The Valemen are run off, but try to take Sunset Keep back. I quickly change factions again to support Paxter, and hope he didn’t notice my brief and desperate betrayal. My sellswords all suddenly quit due to the fact that I've run out of money. All of The Fingers have been invaded, and a number of other counties have swapped ownership. The Vale is a complete mess.
A raven arrives: Nanndrick has died at age 45. I know I’m related to her, but I can’t even remember specifically who she is at the moment. Another note informs me that Brienne of Tarth has died at age 76 of natural causes. Some good news arrives: Mathis has croaked in battle, leaving his son Loras in charge of the Paps. Loras, of course, immediately votes for himself as heir to The Fingers. Stupid elective succession!
Through the smoke filling my chambers, I read another note. Lord Branston of Coldwater Burn is asking a second time if I want to join him against Paxter. This time I say yes. I don't know how much trouble I'll be in if Paxter wins, but aligning with him hasn't done me many favors.
Years have passed during all this, by the way. Years. I was fifteen when this all began. Now I’m 25. Paxter loses the war, is captured and imprisoned, and promptly dies in jail. Lyonel is now Lord Paramount. Lyonel’s first act? Can you guess what it is? Correct: he immediately declares war on Loras of The Reach. For The Paps. The war over this stupid tiny worthless island is never going to end.
Since I have no money to fight, and few soldiers left, I might as well get busy ruining lives in other ways. I arrange marriages for my two sons to a couple of unfortunate young women they've never met. Meanwhile, there's a sharp knock on the splinters that used to be my front door: The Iron Bank has sent someone over to get their loan repaid. I raise taxes, and become pregnant again.
Thankfully, a nice chunk of tax money appears, just enough to pay back the Iron Bank. I’m broke, again, but at least I’m not in debt. The war for the Paps, believe it or not, is still going on.
I give birth to a third son. I name him Nomordrick because, seriously, no more. The war for The Paps finally, blessedly, ends, with Loras of the Reach still in charge of it. We have one millisecond of peace before a new war starts due to another claim on The Vale. Actually, two claims this time, both being pressed at once. Crab’s Shore wants Sarya Waynwood to claim The Vale, and Darkmoor wants Lord Gerold to run the show. I don’t even know how this war is going to work so I think I’ll just sit it out, thank you.
I can’t sit it out. The moment the war kicks off, the army from Coldwater Burn marches to straight over to Pebble and starts sacking the castle again.