Not for long. I eventually ransom my way out of prison, though I have to take a loan to do it. Littlefinger, doesn't waste any time, immediately becoming Castellan for the new King Arrec, and shortly after, The King’s Hand. My little celebration was a bit premature.
Swans aside, my own prospects aren't great: my small collection of soldiers, which only stood at 1,200 at the start of the game and 900 before the war, have been whittled all the way down to 29. Twenty. Nine. That claim I have against Pebble? I’m not going to be able to press it with a mere 29 men, and after repaying my loan I’m flat broke.
Worse, I’m off to war. Again! Ned Stark has decided to claim independence from the Iron Throne, and he’s marching south to fight, and the Throne is marching north to meet him, and what’s directly between the north and the south? The Vale. Stark gets here first and his armies begin stomping all over the Sisters islands. I feel like the safest thing to do would be to fight the North, get imprisoned, and spend the war in Ned Stark’s prison, but despite losing several battles I can’t seem to get captured.
The battle spreads to The Eyrie, and Ned and his 6,400 men clash with considerably fewer Valemen. It seems The Vale will fall to the North when suddenly, shockingly, Ned Stark is killed in personal combat with Marwyn Belmore. I have no idea who that is, but he’s got an awesome name and apparently a good, sharp sword.
The battle continues. For some reason we’re fighting Ned’s army on open ground instead of just hiding inside The Eyrie and dropping rocks and bookcases and random prisoners onto Stark’s army through the Moon Door. Ninedrick is wounded in battle.
Finally, a full 31,000 Iron Throne soldiers arrive in a big clanking cloud of swords and armor. Dead Ned’s army, now led by his son, Robb Stark, promptly retreats through The Vale, and I squeeze in among the Crown’s soldiers. We’re off again to retake those stupid Sisters islands everyone is constantly fighting over.
While we’re riding toward another battle with a regrouping Robb Stark, I decide to send him a message. See, my son Neddrick has just come of age. His stats aren't great—he’s a naive appeaser, and he’s slothful and gluttonous. But Neddrick and his betrothed, Robb’s cousin Lyra, are now both old enough to become married (she’s 14). Maybe we should make it official? Seems like an odd message to send Robb Stark while engaged in a war against him, but these little details can’t be overlooked.
In response to my polite query, Robb Stark sends back a raven that says ARGGGGGGGHH because he’s just been maimed to death in battle. Whoops!
Luckily, Robb’s uncle and Lyra’s new guardian, one Benjen Stark, is still alive and quite friendly. The kids get married. I get a boatload of prestige out of the deal, somehow, and Lyra Stark gets to live in my castle with my lazy, gluttonous son. Also, the Starks pay me a handsome dowry for this deep honor despite me being involved in the war that just got both Ned and Robb killed. It’s a strange world, this Westeros.
With the marriage business out of the way, we continue to march north, but Robb’s son, Eddard II, accepts a truce from Arrec. Looks like the youngest of the Starks might be the wisest. I disband my remaining 21 soldiers and head home. In the aftermath, a new paramount of The Vale is named, Criston Moore. Littlefinger immediately becomes Castellan for Criston—of course—and I’m re-made Keeper of the Swans. I don’t think I’ll ever get any higher than this title. I’m just gonna be the swan guy forever.
In case it isn't evident in the writing, these wars have raged on for years. Home once more, everything settles down, but only briefly. I’m going to war again. This time it’s not for some distant ever-changing monarch who never talks to me and only lets me look after his stupid swans. For once, I’m going to war for myself. I’m pressing my claim on the island of Pebble.