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Game of Thrones: Path of the Hungry Bear

When you're reborn as Jorah Mormont you ain't got much. A Dad looking to bale and go spend his days hanging out with the guys on the Wall, a wild Aunt raising your wild cousins you can't stand, an arranged marriage to a girl you never met with a dowry almost low enough to be an insult, and a populace of smallfolk so inebriated and incompetent its no wonder nothing's changed around here in 8,000 years. Hopefully the gold finger granted by Levid's Magically Wheel of Reincarnation can help. A really nice pair of testicles. With that, the right attitude, and a shovel I have everything I need to dig a nice grave to lay in. Or Bag End. Let's see which happens first. You can support me and my family at ko - fi . com / jmanm

JManM · Book&Literature
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74 Chs

A Game of Thrones

Mid 298 Ned Stark

They say, King Robert Baratheon took enough gold from Essos to burn King's Landing to the ground and rebuild it two times over. It nearly came to that after he returned home from his first voyage with a fervor to live in a city of worth and towing behind him many willing and able immigrants quick to carry out his commands. Only the mercy of the gods saved the city, for the diggers hired to clear out and expand the sewers stopped and reported to their supervisor after finding the first cache of wildfire hidden beneath the city. If they'd tried handling it themselves, Robert would be down one rebuild out of his capacity. Despite the threat of still unfound caches, the King continued his expansion and renovation of the city, his dreams filled with images of far off Essos, and his will bringing the best of it here to his capital. 

While Robert planned on a grand tourney to celebrate Ned's arrival as Hand of the King, the Lord of Winterfel went about finding his footing in the deep end of Westerosi politics. He expected to find few friendly faces in the Red Keep, but a surprising number of Northmen made up a substantial faction among the King's Courtiers, most of them from Bear Island and the rest from its allies. Many of the men personally fought beside Robert in the Rebellion and sailed with him in his overseas ventures, and came to King's Landing at the man's request. Almost all of them had a son married to one of Jorah Mormont's daughters, who once again formed a faction among the ladies of the court. 

With so many of the man's kin and allies in the court, Ned understood Jon's paranoia. These men were Jorah's crew, The Elite, some of them remained in King's Landing since the Rebellion, serving in Robert's court and advancing Jorah's interests in the city. Though Ned felt more secure with so many veteran Northmen in the capital, he understood that these men only obeyed him so long as his objectives never ran afoul Jorah's. By and large the men enjoyed officer positions within the gold cloaks, keeping a stranglehold on that infamously corrupt institution and through it a stranglehold on the entire city. 

"I can see that you now understand why Lord Arryn had me spend so much of my resources on the Mormonts." Varys spoke as the pair walked in the gardens of the Red Keep, "It takes much blood and gold to create a good spy network. The Hungry Bear is the first man I've ever known of to personally father his. A most unusual route to take, but Jorah Mormont as always beggars belief."

"I hadn't known just how much of the city he controlled." Ned grimaced, once again feeling like the sorcerer ran circles around him and his family.

"Influences, not controls." the Master of Whispers countered as they passed by a collection of Westerlands Red Cloaks standing guard around a blonde haired teenage girl and the crown prince, "King's Landing is ever a difficult beast to mount, let alone ride." 

Ned grit his teeth at the sight of the Lannister soldiers, perhaps in remembrance of their dishonorable actions at the end of the Rebellion, and definitely due to the letter his wife received from her sister leveling accusations of assassination at the quickly rising faction in the capital surrounding Myrcella Marbrand, the betrothed of Crown Prince Orys and granddaughter of Tywin Lannister. The Lannisters returned to the center of Westerosi politics in a large surge, pushing hard for any and all influence possible to build up their powerbase around the future queen, and Ned knew they coveted a position on the Small Council. They'd lobbied for the Old Lion as Hand after the death of Jon Arryn, and Caitlyn's childhood friend Petyr Baelish believes they are trying to oust him as well to take the position of Master of Coin. Ned thanked the gods they'd hit a bear shaped brick wall infiltrating the Gold Cloaks. .

Orys Baratheon smiled widely as he held hands with the Marbrand girl, who sported a matching expression as the pair laughed at some joke. 

"I find the Lannister's version of playing the game quite droll." Varys stated, "All a rush of gold and threats. Real violence if they feel they can get away with it, but not here. Not yet. Not after King's Landing became Bear Country fifteen years ago." 

Ned noticed that they'd moved deeper into the garden, where no one else ventured save them and the two guards following them. 

"My Lord Hand, might I have a word in private with you?" the eunuch spoke softly and paid each of the men at arms a brief glance. 

"Step out of earshot." Ned commanded the pair who nodded and stepped away. 

"My little birds have watched the situation in the capital closely since the death of Jon Arryn." Varys kept his voice low, "I know not when exactly, but sometime after the King and his companions left for the North, someone began spreading rumors of Jon Arryn's demise, that it was not a sudden illness, but poison. I have hit nothing but dead ends tracing the origin of these rumors, but whatever the origin, these rumors have severely raised the tension in the city, particularly between the entrenched faction of Bear Island and the ambitious faction from the Westerlands. Thank the gods that the steel has remained sheathed, but if things continue as they are, there will be blood."

"What has been said that drives such?" Ned inquired.

"Quiet insinuations, but possibly soon accusations." Varys responded, "I know that the Gold Cloaks have been interrogating smugglers, looking for someone who brought Tears of Lys into the city. A poison both rare and costly, as colorless and tasteless as water, leaving no trace behind." 

"They believe this Tears of Lys was used on Jon Arryn?" Ned prodded the eunuch to continue.

"Its method of death matches that of the late Lord Hand." Varys answered vaguely.

"Who do I talk to about the investigation?" Ned demanded with a hard look on his long face. 

"I'll get you a list of who to talk too, as well as details of Jon Arryn's dealings during his final weeks." Varys acquiesced, "But perhaps a chance to find the truth arrives with the tides tomorrow. Jorah Mormont dines in Driftmark tonight, putting him just a day's sailing from King's Landing. He seems to know much he should not, and always manages to be in the right place at the right time to seize advantage."

Ned shivered as a cold sensation crept up his spine. 

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The next chapter is likely the last.