But A Boy
Casterly Rock 289 AC
Karl stared down his father alongside his grandfather, while Ned Stark stood beside his friend. There was a tense silence as father stared off against his son.
"Father, why?" Karl asked simply trying to sound neutral and open to discussion
"Enemies can be turned into Allies, I have done so during the rebellion and it has helped keep stability," Robert replied as he rubbed his beard.
"Pardoning Ser Barristan and the Tyrells and Dorne is a different matter to pardoning the Greyjoys."
"I didn't pardon them; I took a hostage."
"You think Balon cares you have his son? He lost a bunch of others, did he bat an eye? No, he kept his rebellion going. The Iron Islanders don't care for familial bonds all they really care for is strength and their own greed." Karl argued back
"Mercy is important my prince; a good ruler is merciful." Ned Stark spoke quietly, Karl's eyes glanced at the warden of the north, he had no doubt that his father's best friend had a role in sparing of the Greyjoys
"Mercy, mercy constitutes weakness to the Iron Borne. And Mercy is well and good but to remind you of what you said, father. Fear and blood, sometimes fear and blood is needed. This is a situation where it would have been appropriate."
"Hold your tongue, Karl! In this situation, we are not father and son but King and Son." His father practically growled
"But he is the Prince, your grace. His thoughts are important." His grandfather chimed in, inwardly Karl sent a glance of appreciation for the support of his grandfather. The two Baratheons continued staring down at each other.
"A Prince or a Lannister mouthpiece?" Robert growled as he stared accusingly at his grandfather.
"A Prince, A Baratheon," Karl growled back equally losing slight control of his temper. Their eyes locked as Father and Son stared down at each other.
"What is done, is done. I shall take Theon Greyjoy as a hostage." Lord Stark spoke not wishing to cause violence between a father and son.
"Indeed but our objections must be noted." His Grandfather spoke calmly.
"Fuck your objections, out of my way I need a fucking drink" His father growled before he slid past his son nudging him with his shoulder. Karl stared back at his father, their first proper fight. Luckily no one had been slapped or hit. But he wondered if he merely alienated his father more? Or earned more begrudging respect?
Lord Stark tilted his head down. "My Apologizes" he whispered softly before sliding past the pair and heading out into the hall.
"He does not seem to value your advice." His grandfather spoke
"We pushed him too hard and he loves Lord Stark, more than my Uncles." He sighed before pacing to the other end of the room.
"We shall just have to be wary of the Ironborne, I will continue to improve our relationship with The Tyrells and if possible the Dornish. I do not have to worry about the Westerlands, they are safe in your hand's Grandfather"
His grandfather gave a ghost of a smile. "I am proud to have a grandson who cares for the family legacy."
Karl pondered, he cared for the legacy but in a different way to his grandfather, he cared in so much as it provided stability to the seven kingdoms. A legacy must be strong and powerful, project importance but not at the cost of above all else. One must be able to compromise, one must be balanced and one must not be arrogant especially when there are other families with their own pride.
"Indeed, if you wish to have a legacy that rules the Seven Kingdoms for perpetuity. We must be able to compromise with others."
"Is that why you have focused on the Tyrells? They are the best able to help us?" His grandfather asked
"Yes, it makes sense from a strategic position, if we ally the Reach, it means that we form a strong central bloc. The Westerlands, the Reach and the Stormlands. The Dornish if they cannot be made to brought into the fold or at least amicable relationships so be it. They will be isolated. The Reach has the biggest military and grows the most food. We rely on them to supply Kings Landing. "
"But the Tyrells grip on the Reach is weak. They are considered up jumped and illegitimate compared to other houses like Hightower."
"But it can be remedied, with support from the Westerlands. We have some Lannister cousins do we not? I am sure a marriage or two to the Reach will begin help fostering relations."
"Sounds like a plan with potential grandson, I shall consider it at the very least. When you are in King's landing, keep correspondence." His grandfather ordered and the prince nodded.
"I shall take care Grandfather."
King's Landing 290 AC
Karl returned to Kings Landing, his relationship with his father had worsened but they were still somewhat amicable. His mother did not seem too bothered, rather she was happy to introduce him to his little sister, Myrcella.
Karl stood by his mother, allowing Mycrella to hold his finger in her tiny hands. A small smile flickered across his features but also memories. Memories of his own daughter….
He pulled his fingers away, which caused Mycrella's face to scrunch up and stare up at him. His mother smiled.
"She likes you, my prince"
"I hope so, I am her older brother." He could not help but laugh softly, his eyes flicking over to his mother.
"How are you and father doing? I and he are not on the best terms." He asked, his mother's feature tensed and something flickered across her eye
"Your father and I are fine my Lion." His mother lied, but Karl did not want to push her.
"YOU DID WHAT BOY!" he heard his father's voice crack like thunder across the keep glancing to his mother and Uncle. He quickly turned around and headed for the voice, his mother and uncle quickly marching after him.
The door slammed open as he stepped into his father's solar, his brother Joffrey was sprawled on the floor, the Kings guard on either side of the door staring at the scene. His father towered over the small form of his brother, his chest rising and falling with anger and deep heaving breaths. His eyes swirling like violent storms, his hand pulled back raised again.
Karl paused his mind racing as he stared at what caused his father's ire, next to Joffrey was small red pinkish masses, he paused before his body tensed. Were those kittens? Unborn kittens?
"WHAT KIND OF A MAN GUTS OPEN A KITTEN! YOU WANT PRAISE FOR KILLING SOMETHING DEFENSELESS!" His father roared before he smacked Joffrey who was scrambling to get onto his feet, two white objects flew through the air scattering across the stone floor. The air was cut through with his mother's howling screams, she surged forth slapping her hands against his father's strong broad chest. His father gave her a mere shove to the side.
Karl stepped in before things got out of hand, interceding himself before his father and his mother and brother.
"Father, stop" he spoke calmly his eyes staring up at his bigger father, his form tense. His father's stormy eyes stared back down at him. His father's chest is heaving. His hand raised once again, but Karl stepped forward and grabbed it. Flexing as much as he could to wrist his father's meaty hand. A sliver of begrudging respect flicked across his eyes.
"You are better than this. What Joffrey did was reprehensible, but beating him solves nothing." With that, his father nudged him and forced the prince back. Grabbing a jug of wine and guzzling it. He glanced back at his uncle, before glancing back at his mother and brother. His Uncle and Barristan understanding stepped forth to take the two away, while he calmed his father down.
His father sat down, his fingers curled around the jug. Holding his head in shame. He advanced closer, putting a hand on his shoulder to comfort his father. His father does not seem to mind it.
"That damn boy! Where did I go wrong! If only Lyanna had raised him…"
Karl was no stranger to his father's love for Lyanna. The whole realm wasn't, it was romantic in a sense but instead one could see it as a man's lust and desire had crumbled a dynasty. His father still loved Lyanna, a dead woman. He could only imagine how his mother felt.
"Sometimes I think you are the only real son I have. That boy can't even stand up to a maid."
"I won the bloody rebellion cracked Rhaegar's breastplate but what good was it for? I now sit that shit piece of metal called the Iron Thorne and I don't have the woman I love."
He stood there unable to offer words to his father, just squeezing his shoulder in comfort.
"Karl leave me be"
And with that, he stepped away from his father, glancing at him one last time from the doorway before stepping out.
He stepped away to find his mother and brother. Having found them to be attended by Grand Maester Pycelle. His mother was practically seething and Joffrey was wailing. Barristan and His Uncle were standing to the side.
"The prince has lost his teeth. And I shall apply some salve. But I believe he will be fine." Pycelle coughed out
"He knocked his teeth out!" His mother growled to his Uncle.
"I know Cersei. I saw!" Jaime growled out, Joffrey meanwhile wailed louder.
"Joffrey, why did you do that to that cat?" He asked his brother, he genuinely did not understand why his brother would do things like that. It chilled him to the bone… it reminded him of what the foul Chaos Cultists would do to animals and fellow citizens of the empire.
His brother stared at him, blinking for a few moments. "Because I could. I am a prince, mother said I could do whatever I want."
His Uncle Jaime shivered for a moment, his own fist tightened for a moment. He glanced at his mother who flicked her hair back.
"It is just a cat." She said rather weakly
"Mother, it's not just a cat. It's a living creature. Joffrey being a prince is not a pastime or an excuse to do whatever you wish. We have a duty to uphold, people to care for. A kingdom to inherit." He lectured
"Of course, you would lecture me! You are my father's favourite! You would rather he beat me more!" Joffrey stood up and stood accusingly pointing his finger at him.
"No, I would not." He raised his voice, he could see everyone in the room still. Stepping closer, Joffrey flinched away from him.
"Have I ever beat you Joffrey? Said anything untoward to you?" Joffrey spluttered but he pressed on
"No, I have not. But this is something I cannot overlook. And neither should your mother and uncle. You are enabling his behaviour mother. This time it's a cat next time it could be a peasant girl? A noble's daughter? The kingdom is already suffering from fathers whoring and spending. I will not risk rumours of a Prince cutting up pregnant cats." He continued, his eyes narrowed and jaw set.
"Karl, you are my son. I love you but you do not lecture me!" His mother ordered standing up, staring him down.
"Mother, we must address this. Otherwise, I will inform grandfather and we all know Grandfather would not be as kind as us." He pressed but his mother snarled at him.
"What do you know Karl? You are just a boy! Yet you speak as if you are the wisest man in the room!"
"Trying to be like our father? Emulate the great Tywin Lannister?" his mother pressed.
"No, I am a prince. I am trying to do what is best for not only our family but the kingdoms. I do not want Joffrey killing animals." He spoke back
"You killed a Greyjoy!" Joffrey shouted back "You also killed a being!"
"Did I relish killing the Greyjoy? Did I enjoy it? No, I did it because I had to." He deflected that point
"Get out Karl!" His mother shouted, causing him to tense.
"So be it." Karl bowed his head before stepping away. Barristan quickly followed after him. His uncle Jaime stayed to comfort his mother.
His eyes appraised the prince, today had been one of the worse days of being a Kingsguard. Seeing Robert beat his son and then the devolving argument. It reminded him of the time with Aerys, but there was hope for the young Prince. Karl Baratheon.
The Prince intervened protecting his mother and brother. Defusing a potentially volatile situation, but now another argument occurred. The Prince in a lot of ways was mature but people did not listen to him due to his age. He spoke with a certain authority; authority a young boy should not have. The Young Prince had also slain his first Greyjoy while campaigning with his father.
He felt it in his heart of hearts, that this was a Prince he could serve. Seeing him also defend the life of an innocent animal where others might be indifferent. In the cruel world of Westeros, such cruelty often occurred with no one caring.
The words "because I could" sent a chill through him, he could also see his fellow Kingsguard Jaime shiver. Those were the words the Mad King spoke. A man who was indifferent to the life and suffering of others. A paranoid man.
"Barristan" The Young Prince spoke
"Yes My Prince?"
"What have your fellow Kingsguard said about Joffrey?"
He paused, his eyes meeting that of the Prince. He was thinking, fermenting a course of action and was considering its execution.
"Your mother coddles him. He has not attended weapon training. He seems disinterested with his duties as well." He informed Karl, the young prince nodding
"I fear for the realm Barristan"
At those words, he could not help but let out a small chuckle.
"My Prince it is much too early to fear for the realm. You are still but a boy."
"I am a boy but I am also Prince, I fear for the realm for I shall come to rule the realm." He spoke before turning on his feet and heading to the Rookery
The Prince procured his own paper and ink, Barristan observed the Young Prince quickly and eloquently write a letter. Before giving it to a Raven, flapping its wings and taking to the skies. The Prince's eyes tracking after it.
A part of Barristan wondered where the letter would go.
"Now Barristan I think I would like to retire to my room."
The older Kingsguard bowed his head before marching off behind the Young Prince.
Entering his room, he let out a suffering sigh. He hated that he was a boy, hated that he was the voice of reason. A Rogue Prince, A Rebellion, Lavish Spending, A Whoring King, Potentially Rebellious Kingdoms, A Targaryen across the sea.
This was shaping up to be just like the Old World. But instead of being an emperor with Ghal Maraz at his side, he was just a boy. Walking over to his desk, he saw a letter. He stilled as he read the outside.
He grabbed the letter and ripped it open. His eyes read over the words.
The realms of men are safer in your hands. But threats stir Karl Franz. Ghal Maraz seeks its Emperor, in the heart of Old Valyria you will find it.
A threat to the Great North strengthens. Enemies akin to the Necromancy of the Vampire Counts, Beware the Long Night.
And lastly, beware of the Agents of Chaos.
You Fought Bravely in the End Times. We shall not fail again.
A Friend from the Old World
He could not help but laugh at the letter, it was good to know he was not alone. But Karl slammed the table, the ruinous powers and another threat. But at least he was offered a weapon, a part of him longed to feel the handle of Ghal Maraz around his hand.
He began wondering which friend it was from the Old World. But his heart stilled at the mention of agents of Chaos. He failed the Empire Once, he would not fail Westeros. He would not stand idle….
Well, who saw it coming I would eventually start adding elements from the Old World? I could not resist plus it was kind of a plot bunny. Have fun guessing who the Friend is.
I do hope everyone is enjoying this story. I know some people have pointed out, that Theon should have been killed. But I think Robert values his relationship with Ned a lot and considering the previous arguments Karl and he had. He would also spare Theon just to spite his son.
As for emphasising a Tyrell Alliance, well that might just be because I really like Margaery Tyrell, Karl's focus on such an alliance. In my eyes makes sense, because the Reach while fractious, has a lot of manpower and resources. With Tywin backing him, his father's relationship with Ned and the Stormlands, he can help give the Tyrells legitimacy and strengthen their hold.
Furthermore, the North is an isolated Kingdom, one that would not intervene in Southern Politics. The Riverlands are always fractured and naturally a weaker Kingdom, Karl also has a strong relationship with Jon Arryn so the vale is secured.