Stannis Baratheon, King of the Andals and the First Men, lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the realm, stood at the top of Castle Black. It was almost as if he could touch the clouds from here as he looked below.
He looked to the south there stood the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, torn by war and the treachery of House Lannister. Lives beyond counting had been cut short by Tywin’s pride and Cersei’s greed. They took what was his by right and cutting down any who opposed them.
He turned and looked to the north, at the eternally frozen wastes where only savages dwelt, but there was more there. An ancient foe loomed once again, threatening his kingdom; to swallow everything in ice and death.
“It almost looks small from here,” he commented.
“Aye,” Ser Davos Seaworth said in agreement. “So long as you’re looking down. But if you’re looking out,” he said, looking toward the horizon, “it looks to go on forever.”
Looking out, not looking down, Stannis thought. That was his problem. He had been so obsessed with claiming the Iron Throne that he had forgotten to protect the kingdom that he wished to rule over. Davos had a way of reminding him of that. That’s why he was his best friend, though he wouldn’t admit it, and that’s why he was to be the Hand of the King..
He had lost a great many men attacking King’s Landing, when he could have saved them to face a greater threat than even the Lannisters and their userper-bastard Joffrey.
Still, they would likely not post an immediate threat. This was a time to rally support to his side, and use the support he had gained from the Iron Bank of Braavos. The North was the best place to gain allies from the scattered bannermen of House Stark.
There were obstacles in his way. The Boltons and the Greyjoys had proven themselves to be treacherous and barbarous, both. Tyrion Lannister would doubtlessly, scheme as he always did, but the mistrust he had earned in the North and with the Iron Bank of Braavos would make it nearly impossible to reach him out here. He couldn’t even touch him on Dragonstone. Of course, there were still scattered bands of Wildlings and the activity of the White Walkers.
All he needed was one chink in their armor.
Just then, bird flew over Ser Davos’ shoulder, landing on a stone wall in front of them. It was a raven, carrying a message on its leg. He took the bird in hand and opened the message. He began to read, albeit slowly, still new at it. He silently thanked Princess Shireen as he did.
His eyes widened.
“What is it?” Stannis demanded.
“It’s Tywin Lannister… he’s dead.”