He doesn't. I keep pressing the matter in the Diplomacy menu, asking him to give me The Twins in exchange for the safety of his family and the pleasure of not having his entire lordship revoked, but he just won't listen. I try waving my sword about and pointing up at all the heads of his citizens that I've arranged in neat little rows, but he's still not giving in.
"I send super-Arya to fabricate a claim."
So I take him home. Not back to his home, but to mine. I pull my forces back – they're overextended and starting to succumb to disease and lack of resources – and set a course for Winterfell. The second I drag Duncan over the border, he capitulates, offering me peace, money and, most importantly, the Twins. I immediately accept and let Duncan loose. He's a good prize, but he fought well and I'm in danger of forgetting my original aim: wiping the Freys off the map.
I give The Twins to Jon Snow. He's an acceptable commander, and it should stop his – heavily accented – bleating. Next on the list of Frey properties I want to pilfer is the Freylands themselves.
As before, I send super-Arya to fabricate a claim on them. As before, it takes her about 13 minutes before she has rustled up enough 'evidence' of my right to their control to convince the king. Think about this for a minute: she's managed to convince the ruler of Westeros that the Starks have more of a claim on the Freylands than the Freys themselves. She will make a hell of a queen one day, this one.
I begin the process of war again, and bring up Riverrun's ruler. It's not Duncan any more: the poor bastard died of 'severe stress' a few weeks back. Riding along with an invading force as they pillage your lands and nick your stuff will do that to a person, I guess. His son Malwyn is the new leader of the Riverlands. Luckily for me, he's totally useless.
"I seem to be caught in the grip of late-onset homosexuality"
My forces rampage through his already- depleted group and lay siege to Riverrun. Malwyn is trapped inside, but every time I walk up to the murder-hole and shout “give up yet?”, he shrieks “no!” and slams the door shut. Looks like my army is in this for the long haul.
I say “my army”, because I'm not going to be there all the time. I'm not going home to Winterfell – Mya's there after all, and she might get a bit poison-y again. Instead I'm off to King's Landing, where Robert, ever the hedonist even as his two biggest allies are butting heads, is holding a tournament. Sit tight at the gates, lads, I'll be back in a few months.
Something strange happens at the tournament. I win the melee, which is nice – but that's not the strange bit. I've been to loads of these since taking on Ned's crown, after all, and I'm good enough in a fight that I usually come back with a win and a prestige boost. No, the strangeness is my suddenly apparent attraction to men.
I seem to be caught in the grip of late-onset homosexuality – I'm 48 now – seemingly caused by watching dudes beat the snot out of each other in a load of mud. My Ned is now gay, and I've taken hits to my fertility as a result, but I'm mainly worried about what Mya is going to say, and who she'll try to poison because of it. Maybe I'll put off that triumphant homecoming for a little while longer.
I'm on my way back to Riverrun to rejoin my troops when I get even more surprising news: Robert Baratheon is dead, and his son Steffon – no Joffrey in this campaign – has taken the throne. “Suspicious circumstances” are to blame for Robert's passing, so I pause the game and scan through a list of the usual suspects: Cersei, Tyrion, Theon.
They're all dead. Cersei died at 43. Tyrion died at 39, chaste and a widower, his wife Asha Greyjoy having died three years previously. I'm one of the last survivors of the old guard. Suddenly, I feel very mortal, and very alone.