Another council spot is quickly vacated as Maester Luwin snuffs it. There's no foul play or peasant murdering here: Luwin was just really old, and the north's continuing winter finished him off. Maesters are ASoIaF's scientists and teachers, and are trained down in Oldtown in the extreme southwest of Westeros. When one dies, the lord can send for a replacement. Mine doesn't take too long to turn up.
"I find Tyrion Lannister not only married, but married to Asha Greyjoy"
I get lucky: he's a 'Mastermind Scholar'. He's also 'Shy', and 'Rude'. Nevertheless, I ask him to start teaching my kids how to do stuff, and with a muttered “fuck off” and a red face, he goes about his duties.
Westeros remains peaceful for a spell, and I spend my time looking for the series' major characters, using the map like a fantasy medieval version of Facebook. I find Tyrion Lannister not only married, but married to Asha Greyjoy, daughter of Balon, lord of the Iron Islands. I can't think of a more mismatched pair, and imagine bounding up the Winterfell stairs to tell my lady love Catelyn the news when a popup appears.
'Catelyn Stark has died.'
I'm stunned. I – not Ned, me – sit in silence for a while. I pause the flow of time and Alt-Tab out from Crusader Kings II, rocked by the news. I flit back to the game and confirm her death. She died of natural causes at age 34. Her face on her character sheet – the mother of Robb, Sansa, Bran, Arya, and little Batman – is tarnished by a little skull symbol in the corner, her braided red hair only just starting to fade with age. Ned had only come to love her this year, but she was a constant companion for my time in Westeros. She'd helped me avoid narrative determinism, avoid the blade that should've canonically chopped Ned's head off. Survival was hard enough when we were in this together, and now I was in this alone.
"The light in Ned's eyes grows dim."
The light in Ned's eyes grows dim. The game puts him in mourning and lumbers him with depressive, widower traits. A short time afterwards, Ned becomes 'Chaste'. I 'don't feel comfortable touching other human beings' with my wife gone.
For a time I embrace Ned's sadness and toy with the idea of reloading an old save when Catelyn was still alive. It's a bastard that snaps me out of my funk. One of my illegitimate children – I swear I don't remember anything your honour – comes to me and asks to be legitimised. With Catelyn gone I incur no spousal wrath for my infidelity, so I accept the claim. I realise that although Ned might have lost his wife, he hasn't yet lost his life: he's still a virile young man at 38, and – more pragmatically – my two oldest sons are massive nerds blessed with some of life's most useless traits. It's time to put myself back on the market.