It was finally time for Robert and the royal party to arrive, and even after having Apollos' sons Hadrian and William trying to impress her, Sansa was still wanting Joffrey; even though Hadrian and William were more like her dream husband. At least Arya seemed to return Alistair's crush, which Apollos found really cute, but atleast one Stark sister had great taste in men. Even Ned seemed to approve of Arya's and Alistair's closeness, and he had thanked Elizabeth several times for training her in combat. Her mother didn't approve, but didn't want to offend her guests, and having read her mind, Apollos learned that she feared reprisals from the 'Butcher of Pyke' who killed all of those people; including children. Apollos was glad of that and really wanted to avoid drama if possible.
As the royal party road in, Joffrey first, followed by Sandor 'the Hound' Clegane, and then the coach carrying Cersei. Finally, King Robert Baratheon arrived, or as Apollos called him behind his back 'Fat Rob'. Robert heaved his fat ass off the horse. Robert signalled for all to rise.
"Your Grace." Ned said.
"You’ve got fat." Robert said, causing Apollos to discreetly roll his eyes.
Ned looked down at Robert's belly and they started laughing.
"Nine years. Why haven’t I seen you? Where the hell have you been?" Robert asked.
"Guarding the North for you, Your Grace. Winterfell is yours." Ned replied, though secretly he was thinking it was because Robert ruined their friendship by not punishing Tywin Lannister.
Cersei and Myrcella and Tommen exited the coach.
"Where’s the Imp?" Arya asked, causing Apollos to snort in amusement
"Will you shut up?" Sansa asked angrily.
"Who have we here? You must be Robb." Robert said, before noticing Sansa. "My, you’re a pretty one." To Arya. "Your name is?"
"Arya," she replied.
"Ooh. Show us your muscles. You’ll be a soldier." Robert said to Bran. Jaime removed his helmet, getting Arya's attention.
"That’s Jaime Lannister. The queen’s twin brother." Arya said, again Sansa hissed for her to shut up. Apollos was really hoping that his sons would lose interest in her, but was torn from further thoughts by Cersei approaching the Starks to speed things up so that she could go inside.
"Where’s the Imp?" Arya asked, once Ned and Robert went to pay their respects.
"You really want to meet my littlest brother. Don't you, little one?" Apollos asked in amusement.
"Am I not enough for you, my lady?" Jaime asked with a teasing smile.
"You are a bit lacking, brother. And your interests are focused on stabbing men with your sword." Apollos said, using a little innuendo and causing Jaime to smirk. "Your personal life aside, little brother. We must quest to find the rare golden Imp for the lovely Lady Stark here." Apollos said, causing Arya to blush in embarrassment.
"Aye, that we do," Jaime replied in amusement. "But first you face the terror of hugs from your niece and nephew."
Apollos was tackled by Myrcella and Tommen who hugged their favorite uncle. Apollos picked them up like they were five year olds and hugged them back. "You two look very familiar..." Apollos teased, putting them back down. "You're Marcy and Tommy, right?" He asked, feigning ignorance.
"We aren't falling for that again," Tommen informed me haughtily.
"So you are Marcy and she's Tommy?" Apollos asked, getting pushed by Tommen in retaliation. "I'm kidding, you two. You're getting strong Tommen, how's the knight training going?"
"It's going amazing! I'm beating most of the other squires now!" Tommen replied excitedly. That smile on his face made all the work to get Robert to over-rule Cersei's smothering worth it to Apollos, Tommen could defend himself and his sister now. He had been having him secretly tutored in politics, ruling, strategy, and economics. Tywin and Tyrion both helped and all three agreed that Tommen would make a far better king than Joffrey.
"I'm glad and I'm very proud of you. Someday, you might even defeat your uncle Jaime." Apollos said.
"Can I come with you and Jaime to find uncle Tyrion?" Tommen asked, hopefully.
"Sure, why not." Apollos answered, secretly pleased that Cersei had already gone inside to get warm.
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The three of them had already tracked Tyrion to a local whorehouse.
"I guess we--" Apollos began, only for Jaime to enter the room. "Will go inside, what the hell." Apollos said, before entering.
"Don’t get up." Jaime said.
"M’lord." The prostitute said.
"Should I explain to you the meaning of a closed door in a whorehouse, brother?" Tyrion asked. "And letting our nephew in..."
"We might get Tommen a lady while were here too. He needs to get his first time out of the way and learn how to please a woman." Apollos said, causing Tommen to blush. Jaime looked like he agreed. So did Tyrion. "Well, nephew. How do you feel about becoming a man today?"
"What if mother finds out?" Tommen asked in fear.
"Tell her sex is a skill and practice makes perfect, and that you want to be a perfect lover." Apollos said, causing the others to laugh. "I have no intention of her ever finding out, and besides, I paid for your uncles to get their firsts and learn."
"O-okay," Tommen said nervously.
"Good. Learning from experts is always the best option." Apollos said in approval, as Ros climbed off an annoyed Tyrion.
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The Lannister brothers were all quite satisfied with themselves. Tommen was a proper man now, and actually gave Ros several orgasms in an hour, with a little guidance from her. Apollos was so pleased with her teaching that he gave her a Gold Dragon and requested her silence, which she promptly agreed too. Apollos would also be visiting her before he left Winterfell, such a lovely woman deserved his attention and possibly even his seed. Hopefully any bastards produced would inherit the potential to tame dragons and use magic.
Apollos' investigation confirmed that Baelish ordered Lysa Arryn to poison her husband to prove her love for him; just like last time. Sadly, that was nothing but hearsay, because Apollos used his global telepathy, because he didn't actually have spies near Baelish and Lysa Arryn. He had more amusing ways of weakening them...
For now, it was time for a hunt. Hopefully, Apollos could retaliate against Baelish and neutralize him. He had already formed a few more direct, crude, and less challenging plans, but they would weaken Baelish greatly.
"Rough night, Imp?" Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane asked.
"If I get through this without squirting from one end or the other, it will be a miracle." Tyrion replied.
"You'll be fine, little brother," Apollos said in reassurance.
"I didn’t pick you for a hunter." Sandor said.
"The greatest in the land. My spear never misses." Tyrion replied.
"It’s not hunting if you pay for it." Sandor pointed out.
"He's not wrong, Tyrion," Apollos added with a smirk. "Charming women into bed for free is far more rewarding," he added as Ned and Robert came into view.
"Are you as good with a spear as you used to be?" Robert asked.
"No, but I’m still better than you." Ned replied.
"Apollos!" Robert said. "I'm surprised to see you here, but glad that you are." Privately, Robert had immense respect for Apollos and his extensive capabilities, and an even more immense fear of them. Anyone who could conquer the Iron Islands without external aid was a great strategist and warrior. Apollos was much more friendly and always tried treating Robert and his family like his own, even when he really disliked them. He had always tried to do that for Cersei too, but she kept rejecting him and replying with rudeness.
"Thank you, Robert," Apollos replied. "I thought I'd join you all, I haven't hunted in almost a year due to family business."
"Welcome then," Robert said as they all rode off.
"How has the investigation into Jon Arryn's death been going?" Tyrion asked.
"There isn't one happening yet, but there will be one." Robert replied.
"I actually have been looking into it, since I heard about it hours after it occurred." Apollos replied, immediately getting raised eyebrows and a look of suspicion from Ned. "It's only hearsay, from my spies no less, and a more intensive investigation will need to be performed, but Lysa Arryn is currently believed to have done so to prove her love for Petyr Baelish, and at his urging. It's widely believed, by my agents, that he is actually obsessed with Ned's wife, Catelyn."
"That's a strong accusation, Apollos," Ned said.
"I know. It fits though. Edmure Tully humiliated and mocked him and your brother nearly killed him when he challenged him for Catelyn and publicly proclaimed his love for her. That alone should prove a prior and possibly a remaining interest in your wife. If he or Lysa try setting you against someone, that would only give more weight to my theory. The thing about Baelish is that having grown up without wealth, power, and influence has made him desire and fixate on obtaining such things. He has an incredible financial acumen; though not as great as my own, he's a ruthless manipulator, owns brothels, and is rumored to secretly cater to his more depraved clientele." Apollos paused here.
"I suggest regulations and laws regarding brothels. I could even suggest some..." Apollos continued.
"What kind of regulations?" Robert asked suspiciously, fearing the loss of his favorite past time of whoring around.
"A minimum age, say sixteen, and the requirement of freely given consent to participate in such activities." Apollos said. They all approved, so that counted for a lot, and Apollos would ensure that it was made law and that each had horrific punishments.
"Who is trustworthy in King's Landing?" Ned asked, honestly curious.
"No one. Everyone has an agenda and even the more benevolent of them might consider you a threat to their positive ambitions. Trust no one, including myself, and even believe that I'm lying to you until you confirm it for yourself." Apollos replied, much to Tyrion's agreement.
"Enough politics!" Robert said assertively. "I've noticed that Arya and Alistair are spending a lot of time together. What are you two going to do about that?"
"I support the friendship and if it becomes more, then I would be all too happy. Arya is quite an impressive lady and has rapidly progressed in the combat techniques taught to her by my daughter and is able to stalemate Alistair already. They both enjoy spending time together, even talking, and seem to have become fast friends. I would be quite willing to discuss a betrothal now, in the future, or let the relationship happen naturally." Apollos replied.
"It would seal the alliance between your two families and Arya seems to get along with all of your children." Robert commented, getting surprised looks from everyone. "What? I'm not completely inept at politics."
"What do you say, Ned? Do you want us to become family?" Apollos asked, completely seriously. "I would make sure that Arya is treated well and if she ever wanted out of the betrothal we could gather and discuss it, with both of the kids present, of course."
"I'll discuss it with Catelyn first." Ned replied.
"Fair enough," Apollos replied. "Now, we need to kill some animals or we'll have the women-folk questioning our hunting prowess, and I find that unacceptable." Apollos said, causing the men to laugh.
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The hunting party had finally returned to Winterfell, with an immense bounty of deer with them. Apollos killed three of them himself and was quite proud of himself. Though he felt it time to take control of his siblings, before Bran became paralyzed. Apollos had already insured that Bran wouldn't be climbing today with a bit of telepathic persuasion. He climbed off his horse gracefully and extended his telepathy to find their minds. He quickly found them both in the tower f**king and privately enjoyed Jaime's thoughts of Cersei's tightness, before quickly shaking it off to go interrupt them.
He arrived at the tower, telepathically caused people to avoid the location, and then quickly opened the door and entered.
"Jaime, Cersei?" Apollos questioned in false shock and with a true undertone of disgust. "How long has this been going on?" He asked, now much more angrily.
"Since we were children," Jaime replied nervously, indiscreetly eyeing his sword.
"Boy, if you go for your sword, I'll cut off your damn arms and then beat you death with them." Apollos said angrily. "The children," Apollos 'realized', meaning Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. "If anyone found out, then the Faith would kill them and the two of you, and Robert would cheer them on and direct them after all the Lannisters! No wonder Joffrey reminds me of the Mad King so much! His mind is weakened through incest!" That angered the two of them.
The Westerlands could withstand an external siege for months, without the commoners suffering, but would be vulnerable to traitors from within that wanted to take over, and benefit from our hard work. And Apollos would sooner kill every man, woman and child and take all the wealth that he wanted into hiding and then retake his holdings and then every other kingdom or thing that he wanted. His work in making his people breed would be undone and make winter preparations a lot more difficult. Their actions endangered the lives of his children! He had sons who could die or daughters that could be brutally raped and murdered!
Apollos removed his belt. "It's not quite a whip, but it'll suffice. Turn around Jaime and remember that you're getting off easy, but you will suffer far worse if you do again..." Jaime nodded fearfully.
"You can't!" Cersei said angrily.
"Oh, I can. I can kill you both, with Robert and the High Septon as witnesses and get away with it. Your actions endanger your childrens lives! And if some men got ahold of you and Myrcella, you would both suffer far worse!" Apollos said harshly, before striking Jaime across the back with his belt.
Finally, only when Jaime received ten lashes across his back and was in severe pain, did Apollos stop.
"If I have to choose between you two and your bastards and my children, then you will be the losing party." Apollos warned. Jaime glared angrily at his brother. "I won't let my children pay for your mistakes brother... Oh and don't glare at me, like you're the victim here." Apollos said, before punching Jaime in the face, rendering him unconscious and knocking him onto the floor.
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Later that night...
Ned had just finished recounting what Apollos had told the hunting party... Catelyn was not happy and Ned had to resort to physically restraining her to prevent her from attacking Apollos, verbally or physically, for slandering her sister and her oldest friend. Ned was actually beginning to agree with Apollos. What he said fitted and Apollos seemed honest when he said it. He was brutally honest and even seemed like he was worried that Ned might get himself killed in King's Landing, and was willing to lose any trust that Ned had in him to ensure it didn't happen.
"And he dared to mention betrothing our Arya to his son!" Catelyn said angrily, having ranted for minutes now.
"I support that, Catelyn. Arya and Alistair get along well and have a lot in common and they can both exit the betrothal whenever they wish. Honestly, they accept her interest in combat more than either of us, and Elizabeth defeated Meryn Trant, Mandon Moore, and Boros Blount today. They aren't exactly impressive, but she's still one of the better fighters of Westeros and Arya gets to learn from her. The idea of betrothing her to Alistair Lannister cannot simply be dismissed out of hand, Catelyn, she would benefit greatly from it and could leave at any time she wanted."
"You trust a Lannister? No... You trust the murderer of thousands, including children!" Catelyn said angrily.
"He destroyed the threat of the Ironborn forever, Catelyn. I don't like it. In fact, I was and am disgusted, but I understand his reasons... He destroyed the ideology they followed and erased all known traces of it. Do you want to know he said when I verbally condemned his actions and asked him why did it?" Ned asked, receiving a nod from Catelyn.
"'They rape and murder, and I have children. I owe it to them to protect them as best I can. As you can see, Lord Stark, my best effort is considerable and devastating.'" Ned replied, quoting verbatim what Apollos said.
"I'm not worried about Arya being with the Lannisters. Apollos would destroy anyone who harmed her and probably any who harmed us by extension. His son seems to care about Arya and I strongly believe that Apollos would protect her as if she were his own family and Arya is quickly learning to protect herself. She is happier than ever, Catelyn, and that is very important." Ned said, trying persuade Catelyn into consenting.
"She should be doing more womanly things!" Catelyn argued.
"She doesn't want to do such things and hates doing them. She's happy learning combat and I don't want to take away that happiness from her."
"Her life is more important Ned!"
Ned sighed, he had wanted to avoid saying this, but had too. "The facts Apollos presented condemn your sister, I will have the matter investigated, but as it stands... I agree with his assessment of your sister and Baelish. If it's proven that the Lannisters did kill Jon, and Apollos and his children were aware, then she will be freed from the betrothal."
"You're over-ruling me?" Catelyn asked incredulously and angrily.
"No, but if Arya chooses it, then I will. I will give her the deciding choice, and Apollos and I have both agreed that she can break it at any time." Ned said, before turning over to go to sleep.
Catelyn began writing a letter to her sister, Lysa, which she would send in the morning.
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Jaime was still recovering from his whipping and being knocked unconscious with one punch. Jaime knew that he was given a light punishment and that Apollos could have done far worse to him, and he would have deserved it. Jaime had broken his Kingsguard oaths; again, commited adultery, incest, and he most shamefully even considered becoming a Kinslayer to protect his secret. It was the 'what if's' that were plaguing Jaime's mind. What if a Stark had caught them? Would Jaime have violated Guest Right to keep that secret? Sadly, Jaime could freely admit that he would have. What if his actions got his children, neices, nephews, siblings, and other family killed? Jaime would hate himself!
He loved his family and he had nearly caused their extermination!
That terrified and disgusted Jaime! Apollos was more of a father to him than Tywin ever was, and he didn't raise him to be like this! He had failed himself, his family, and someone who was a father to him and had taught him much of what he knew of battle.
Jaime knew that that he had to stop committing incest and had to regain his lost honor.
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Cersei was absolutely infuriated! How dare her brother judge her and Jaime! He will suffer for his behavior and for daring to strike a member of the Kingsguard! But how to do it... She would have Robert force his sons to join the Kingsguard, Night Watch, or the Maesters! His daughters could be forced to become Septas! Doing this would doom his bloodline and would give Cersei an opportunity to gain control of House Lannister when her father died! If they refused, then they could all have accidents.
"Robert," Cersei said sweetly, causing him to immediately become suspicious. "Apollos has gotten arrogant of late and needs to be humbled... Perhaps you could force his children into certain professions to decimate his line of succession." Cersei suggested, angering Robert.
"I will do no such thing, you stupid useless woman!" Robert replied angrily, shocking Cersei. "I won't make an enemy of the real power behind House Lannister, because of your jealousy! His actions at King's Landing and the Iron Islands are the only reason your family still exists! Your brother personally slew hundreds in each battle! He even moved faster than the eye could follow!" Robert said, before calming himself.
"Your brother once easily defeated Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Gerold Hightower, and Ser Barristan Selmy to escape from being taken hostage to ensure your fathers loyalty to the Mad King. Your brother could kill me and my entire Kingsguard, and then make himself king and the smallfolk would be completely loyal to him and so would most noble families. I would sooner kill you as an act of mercy to protect you from your brother! I was relieved that he was being forced to sit out my rebellion, because I had seen him fight and knew that my strength was no match for his speed and a level of strength that was rumored to secretly surpass my own." Robert said, shocking Cersei.
"How is Apollos the real power of House Lannister?" Cersei asked skeptically, while secretly thinking Robert a coward who was making excuses.
"Because he took it's power further than ever! He increased it's wealth, army, navy, and territory more than your father ever did; the army, navy, and wealth all to immense levels that surpass that of The Reach! He's fortified the entire Westerlands to the point that we can't conquer them anymore! The scary thing is that your father is actually holding him back! Most of his rumored ideas would have made The Westerlands so powerful that they could easily conquer the Seven Kingdoms. So no, I will never cross your brother!" Robert lied down in bed, to finally go to sleep.
Robert was obviously a coward, Cersei thought angrily, but taking control of The Westerlands would be a worthwhile goal and she would finally get to show everyone that they were wrong to underestimate and dismiss her. Cersei decided that she would deal with Apollos first and then Tyrion, Tywin, and then all of Apollos' worthless children. Elizabeth would be given to Trant, Moore, and Blount, and then killed. They would love to get revenge for their defeats by taking their pleasure from her and it would serve as a warning to Cersei's enemies and humiliate Apollos even in death. Apollos was always arrogant and believed that he was better than Cersei, and now Cersei would punish him!
Cersei smirked as she imagined the look on her brothers face as he died knowing that his family would soon join him, and that her children would inherit The Westerlands while she truly controlled it.
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Apollos had been monitoring and manipulating the various situations... For Jaime, he had dissolved the feelings of lust and all the twisted love he felt for Cersei and rendered Cersei barren with his magic. Ned hadn't actually required any manipulation, which was very surprising. Apollos had monitored all the situations and already knew all those that Cersei would be sending to kill him and wasn't even remotely impressed. Robert's fear and respect of Apollos was highly useful and would need to be carefully cultivated; as would his disdain for Joffrey and his preference for Tommen.
Cersei and her thugs were essentially already dealt with. Arya would accept the chance to be with Alistair and her 'elder sister,' Elizabeth, who came to quickly be thought as such by Arya. Jaime was changing for the better and would soon turn against Cersei and never lay with her again. He now associated sleeping with her with risking the murder of his children and family. And associated not sleeping with her with doing something for his children to protect them and actually being some semblance of a father to them by protecting them.
Tomorrow would be fun, Apollos thought, before teleporting away to steal most of Baelish's valuables and plant some evidence to condemn his strongest supporters.