It was a beautiful morning in the North and Apollos was taking a short ride to wake himself further. He was being poorly followed by Cersei's chosen assassins, though it was admittedly very hard to follow quietly on horseback. Apollos tied his horse to a nearby tree and waited for them... Ilyn Payne, Sandor Clegane, Mandon Moore, Meryn Trant, and Boros Blount all appeared in his line of sight. When they saw Apollos waiting, they all urged their horses closer.
"Gentlemen," Apollos greeted. "Did you all need something?"
"Yeah! Your head on a stick!" Trant said getting off his horse and his fellow Kingsguard did the same, but Sandor hung back to keep watch as agreed.
"You idiots? I've seen little boys with more martial prowess!" Apollos said, before drawing both of his longswords in the blink of an eye and scaring the hell out of his assassins. "Draw your swords, b***hes. I have things to do today."
They drew their swords and attacked. Blount had his sword caught bare-handed and then lost his arms to Apollos' sword. Trant received the same treatment and Apollos merely cut off Moore's sword arm before focusing on Payne, who he had kept at bay with his off hand longsword. Apollos quickly cut through Payne's sword and then removed his hand. They were all easily beaten in less than five seconds.
"Thank you for working with me Sandor. I will strive to get you greatly rewarded." Apollos said, before halting the blood loss of the Kingsguard.
"I appreciate that. Why are you saving their lives though?" Sandor asked in cruel amusement.
"Their lives still serve a purpose and they will all bear witness against my sister or I'll have to persuade them too." Apollos replied, before placing them on their horses with their limbs safely stored in their saddle bags. "If not, then I can always make them suffer later as punishment." Apollos said, to Sandor's approval, as they began their return to Winterfell.
They arrived minutes later to see an angry Barristan Selmy and Jaime Lannister.
"What happened to them?!" Selmy asked angrily.
"They tried murdering me, Selmy. Sandor can testify to that and so will they, that's the only reason they are still alive." Apollos replied coldly, before climbing off his horse and easily picking up two of the fully armored Kingsguard, with Sandor doing the same.
"What's going on here?" Robert asked angrily, noticing his defeated Kingsguard.
"Payne and three of your Kingsguard tried murdering me Robert. If Clegane hadn't informed me, then I would have been taken by surprise." Apollos said, before noticing Cersei exitting the castle and looking smug.
"You heard him! Arrest Apollos and Clegane!" Cersei ordered, getting a glare from Robert.
"Ignore that order!" Robert yelled, even though no one had moved to obey. Most looked conflicted or outright afraid. "Clegane, who ordered the death of Apollos?"
"Your Queen, Cersei Lannister," Sandor replied without hesitation. "She ordered all of us to kill him and offered us his daughter as a reward to humiliate him even in death. I knew better than to even think about it, so I informed him and he knighted me as a reward." The Knighthood part was a lie that we both agreed on. He got the respect without the risk of oathbreaking. Their were whispers of the word Kinslayer around the court yard.
"How dare you?" Cersei said angrily. "We can now add treason to your crimes!"
"Shut up!" Robert yelled at her. "You have gone too far! I know it's you that ordered it, because you tried getting me to destroy his bloodline with my influence!" Robert said, to everyone's shock. "Yes, last night!"
"May we talk in private, Robert?" Apollos asked, wanting to protect the family name from further shame, but still punish Cersei. Robert nodded and they both entered Winterfell Castle; followed by Selmy and Jaime.
"I'd like to spare the Lannister name further disgrace, Robert, and would like to suggest that you merely send Cersei to visit her family in the Westerlands indefinitely. I have a couple isolated places that she can stay at and not cause any trouble. You could even send Joffrey with her to keep her company and proclaim Tommen your heir for his hardwork and accomplishments... He would make far better match for Sansa anyway and Joffrey would just torture the poor girl; he is his mothers son after all." Apollos said, manipulating Robert.
"I could be free of Cersei and Joffrey?" Robert asked in interest.
"And the Seven Kingdoms would have a worthy, honorable, intelligent, capable, and strong Prince in Tommen. Your families legacy would be truly secure." Apollos said. Privately, Cersei would actually be in a cell and Joffrey would be taught humility and forced to become a real man. And his families legacy would be securely destroyed. Tommen didn't even want to rule!
"I agree with your terms, but what about the ones who tried murdering you?" Robert said.
"Payne will be forgiven. And I'm willing to forgive Houses Blount, Trant, and Moore; in exchange for being made Master of Coin and Ser Moore being dismissed from the Kingsguard and returned to Vale." Apollos said. He wanted Baelish neutralized and someone who was likely his spy confined to his home. Robert seemed to find the offer agreeable, he was also sparing two House Baratheon vassals in the process and disposing of a rumored murderer of Jon Arryn.
"Deal," Robert replied. Apollos nodded gratefully, while thinking of how they would all die of illness to keep Tywin happy. He telepathically manipulated everyone in Winterfell to protect the Lannister name and inflicted mental damage on a few spies for Baelish. Robert left to arrange for Cersei and Joffrey's visit of their family and Apollos went to write a letter to his father.
Cersei tried having me murdered by Ilyn Payne, Sandor Clegane, and Sers Trant, Blount, and Moore. Clegane acted as my spy and was knighted as a reward. I spared our families reputation from damage by bribing Robert with Cersei 'visiting her family in The Westerlands with Prince Joffrey' and offered to spare/forgive the above families in exchange for being named Master of Coin and the return of Ser Moore, a potential spy for Baelish, to the Vale. Said knights are unlikely to survive given the conditions here and required travel home; as such we sacrifice nothing, including our family image, to expand our families power. Tommen, a much worthier and easier to deal with Prince, is to be named Robert's heir.
I normally wouldn't have made such a decision without consulting you, but the stain of Kinslaying is too severe for even our Great House to endure and it had to be kept quiet to save the many. Unless you over-rule me, as is your right, Cersei will be contained, indefinitely, in a remote location, basically secret exile and prevented from humiliating us ever again. I humbly request that you postpone any decisions over-ruling her exile, until we can talk, when I arrive at King's Landing with the Royal Party.
As Master of Coin, I can remove the debt owed to the Iron Bank and the Faith, and begin the process of the House of Lannister seeing some actual benefits of our generosity. My recent investigations and actions, which will require a face to face conversation and in a secure room, have made that much more likely.
Your loyal son, Apollos.
Apollos teleported the letter into Tywin's solar and went to prepare to leave for King's Landing.
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We had finally arrived at King's Landing and Cersei and Joffrey were already sent away, all with Tywin's approval. He approved of my willingness to remove threats to Lannister greatness, even if they were family. Joffrey had already tried to keep asserting his non-existent authority to cost Arya and Sansa their pets and have an innocent boy killed... Apollos shattered his rotater cuff, to the point where it couldn't ever be repaired and rendered him a cripple, who would always be in constant pain for the rest of his life as punishment. Joffrey was beyond redemption and Apollos was going to take his chances to neutralize him and make him less dangerous in the future. And rabid beasts were very dangerous.
Apollos had learned something during his meditation and spying upon the old gods. Magic was trackable. Mutation was not. Cersei suddenly became very depressed when she heard of her and Joffrey's exile. She might even become suicidal in the future...
"Welcome, Lord Stark. Grand Maester Pycelle has called a meeting of the Small Council. The honor of your presence is requested." The Page said. "Lord Lannister, your presence is also requested, so that you can take up your Master of Coin duties."
"I will be there," Apollos said politely.
"If you'd like to change into something more appropriate..." The Page suggested strongly.
"Trust me, we'll need our armor and weapons for this meeting. It will be a fun one." Apollos said, before heading to the meeting.
Stark and Apollos entered the throneroom minutes later.
"Apollos, Lord Stark." Varys said.
"Lord Varys," Apollos returned, with Ned doing the same.
"Renly! You're looking well." Ned said.
"And you look tired from the road. I told them this meeting could wait another day, but..." Renly said.
"Should we begin?" Pycelle asked.
"Without the King?" Ned asked.
"Winter may be coming, but I'm afraid the same cannot be said for my brother." Renly replied.
"His Grace has many cares. He entrusts some small matters to us that we might lighten the load." Varys replied. "Also, Lord Baelish has been detained as you asked, Lord Apollos." He said, pointing where Baelish was bound and gagged.
"Excellent. I'll present the evidence whenever the Council wishes to hear it." Apollos said.
"Perhaps now would be best, Apollos," Renly suggested. "I only had him detained because you requested it and said you had evidence of his wrong doing." Renly added. Apollos had known of Renly's sexual orientation and kept it secret for years and had advised him on ruling and had greatly helped him to become a competent Lord, such a small favor was easily done for such a good friend.
"Well, when I investigated my spies claims that he had Lysa Arryn kill Jon Arryn to prove her love for him, I found his massive increase of wealth highly suspicious and looked deeper to find the source. It was House Lannister, The Faith of the Seven and the Iron Bank of Braavos. He was borrowing money from them and stealing some of it, stealing tax revenue, money for various budgets..." Apollos said, withdrawing Baelish's records. "Maybe you shouldn't hide important records under the floor of a brothel office, Baelish." Apollos said, getting laughs from the Council and a murderous glare from Baelish.
"As there is only one record for his earlier and more sloppy activity, it will need to be passed around." Apollos said, before handing it to Ned.
"I can't make sense of this." Ned admitted after reading the first few lines.
"He borrowed 500,000 Gold Dragons from House Lannister and 250,000 disappeared into his pocket. He used taxes to cover up part of the loss and stole money budgeted for the Navy and Army to cover the rest." Apollos recited from memory. "Next, he borrowed another 500,000, from the Iron Bank of Braavos and repeated his same process, but with money for improving King's Landing further. At this time, the records show smaller amounts borrowed, but with him still taking large cuts from them all."
"Where is the money though?" Ned questioned angrily.
Apollos gestured to his Lionguard, his personal army sworn to enforce his will, and they drug in two massive trunks. "In there," Apollos said, "three million Gold Dragons."
"How did you recover that?" Renly asked in amusement.
"Are you asking me as Renly or Master of Laws?" Apollos asked in return, with a smirk.
"Renly," Renly replied with a smirk of his own.
"I had the stolen wealth retrieved and had it brought to King's Landing." Apollos replied. "Only one tried stealing some and he was severely punished. I'm quite proud of my Lionguard for their integrity. As for how it's here... Ned do you remember that group of Lannister soldiers who joined us in Lionguard armor while the others escorted Cersei, Joffrey, and my family, and Arya away?" Apollos hinted.
"It was with us the whole time. It had the best protection... No one knew about it. And no one would attack the highly protected Royal Party and risk war with Houses Baratheon, Stark, and Lannister and their allies and vassals." Ned realized, with a genuine smile.
"Exactly," Apollos said before having Baelish ungagged. "Anything to say Littlefinger?" Baelish said nothing. "No? Just going to keep deluding yourself that your a hero and victim, and we are all the big scary villains that you must defeat to have your happy ending?" Apollos questioned mockingly, amusing the Council and enraging Littlefinger. Apollos loved reading the Game of Thrones wiki in his first life!
"You would think that someone with his formidable skills would study himself to destroy any and all weaknesses. But, I suppose, he just lacks the necessary objectivity to do that. Petyr Baelish, nothing more than a weakling who obsesses over power and loves having it over others, purely to feel powerful to compensate for what he really is: a weakling behind a facade, who will never have what he truly wants." Apollos gloated, having nothing to fear due to his modifying of Baelish's memories. He had a lot of useful and incriminating information, and was a major threat to House Lannister.
"This is evidence enough to prove treason, but I have witnesses and more evidence." Apollos said as the witnesses were escorted in: children, amputees, rape victims, and extorted nobles. "See why I wore armor and brought weapons?" Apollos asked Ned, who nodded.
One hour later...
All of the evidence had been presented and all the witnesses had testified. Several had implicated themselves for Apollos' non-existent protection, and had all been imprisoned. Apollos had promised them all the protection he could... But he couldn't actually promise them any protection... As such, he literally promised them nothing and told them that in advance.
"Petyr Baelish," Ned began. "I denounce you and attaint you, I strip you of all rank and title, of all lands and holdings, and sentence you to death." Apollos smiled at Baelish. Ned ordered him to be imprisoned until the meeting was over and he could be executed by Ned personally. "Any other business?" Ned asked tiredly.
"My brother instructs us to stage a tournament in honor of Lord Stark's appointment as Hand of the King." Renly said.
"How much?" Apollos asked in obvious dread.
"40,000 gold dragons to the champion, 20,000 to the runner-up, 20,000 to the winning archer." Ned replied.
"The treasury can bear that amount, now that the stolen wealth is recovered, but we do need to at least pay off the debt to the Iron Bank. They don't play around and could fund our enemies in revenge and to hopefully profit from it. We could also pay off a portion of the debt to The Faith of the Seven and improve King's Landing further; as we are in peace time, that should be priority." Everyone seemed to agree.
"You have complete freedom to clear up as much of the debt as possible, Apollos." Ned said.
"Then I'll make that top priority and begin setting funding aside for future tournaments, development, emergency funds, and a war fund." Apollos said. "We could also use the tournament to attract Kingsguard candidates and see if any will compete solely for that chance; waiving the prize money, which could be returned to the treasury and applied to more pressing issues. Ser Barristan should probably approve such a measure, but he is likely too."
"An excellent idea. I'll still speak to Robert tomorrow. This tournament is an extravagance we cannot afford." Ned said, tiredly. "Forgive me, my Lords. I had a long ride and need to rest."
"You are the King's Hand, Lord Stark, we serve at your pleasure." Varys said respectfully.
Ned left the room and Apollos did the same. He had to negotiate the delivery of debt payments and speak to his father.
After quickly writing a letter to the Iron Bank negotiating the delivery of payment of the entire debt and interest, he went to visit his father in his solar.
Apollos knocked on the door and was let in by Tywin's guards.
"Welcome, son," Tywin said to Apollos. "Guards, you may wait outside." The guards nodded and exited the room. "I was surprised to hear that Cersei tried killing you and that is my biggest question. Why did she do it?" Tywin said, ceasing his paperwork and giving Apollos his full attention.
"Because I caught her and Jaime f**king in an abandoned tower at Winterfell..." Apollos said, disgusting Tywin. "I reacted strongly and removed my belt to give him ten lashes across the back. She also promised Elizabeth to my would be murderers and intended to allow them to rape and murder her. I would have loved to torture Cersei to death for what she tried to do," Apollos confessed, "but reason prevailed and now she's less than a commoner and that incest born beast she and Jaime sired is a cripple and a nobody."
"And the knights who dared try to spill Lannister blood?" Tywin asked.
"None of them made it home alive."
"What of these recent investigations and actions you mentioned?" Tywin asked.
"My spies near Baelish and Lysa Arryn informed me that we, House Lannister, were to take the fall for Jon Arryn's death, and Lysa Arryn even sent the Starks a letter saying such. As the truth was most useful, I used it and pointed them in their direction. Baelish is dead, and he had been taking a portion of the money loaned to the Iron Throne. All the money he stole from us, the Iron Bank, and the Faith has been reclaimed, some three million gold dragons, and I have been instructed to pay off as much debt as possible by the new Hand. I hope to merely pay off the debts to our rivals while secretly taking money and placing our most loyal into positions of power." Tywin smiled in approval.
"The northern canal was negotiated and implemented, my sorcerers were of great help. Alistair took an interest in Arya Stark and a betrothal was accepted." Tywin wasn't thrilled, but she could be used as a hostage if necessary. "Now, as for the other reason for secrecy... I recovered over 3,000,000 gold dragons, 954,033 silver stags, 56,514,096 Bronze pennies stolen from taxes. I only gave the throne the three million gold dragons."
Tywin laughed. He actually laughed! "Impressive Apollos. I assume you mean for House Lannister to keep it a secret income and still collect the large debt owed it? In addition to slowly stealing money from the Seven Kingdoms?"
"Yes, father. Doubling or tripling our investment would be an excellent return. We will need to take measures to avoid getting caught; especially when Tommen rules. The inevitable revenge attempt by Lysa Arryn presents some interesting options. I'm betting the Riverlands would take her side and we could seize large portions of it using the boon awarded to me." Apollos said, to Tywin's approval.
"Alistair cares for Arya a surprising amount, but the Riverlands would be in the wrong and Arya would choose to stay with us. The betrothal agreement states that only the children can open discussions of breaking it, and Catelyn Stark wasn't at all supportive of it, so Arya is already against her to an extent."
"That is good Apollos. Are all of my grandchildren by Cersei born of incest?" Tywin asked in disgust.
"Yes, it is for that reason, that I feel they avoid marrying anyone even remotely related to us by blood. I would suggest Trystane Martell for Myrcella and allow Tommen and Sansa to remain together. Sansa is quite stupid, but he can marry someone with a mind of her own after he outlives her, and he will need a lot of children to seal alliances with." Apollos said, to Tywin's approval. Apollos had no intention of Tywin living long enough to confirm that though. He wanted him to die on a high point in life; as a final act of kindness for being an okay father to him. At least he was a better father than Poseidon... by a little bit.
Apollos was politely dismissed by Tywin and he left without complaint, due to knowing that Lysa Arryn's assassin was nearing the city by now.
Goodbye, son, Tywin thought, sadly. I am so proud to have my worthy successor... Even if he is going to let me die.
It was nothing personal, but Tywin had outlived his use, and it was time for Apollos to make his move and complete his plans. Everything was in place, Tyrion was in King's Landing and drinking and whoring, but he could be recruited to act as Master of Coin in Apollos' stead.
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Apollos had just received word of his fathers assassination and was rushing to the location on horse back. Fortunately, they had caught the assassin, and Apollos fully intended to torture him into publicly revealing who sent him, even if already knew himself that Lysa Arryn did it.
Apollos arrived near where Tywin was murdered and quickly climbed off his horse.
"Is this the animal who murdered my father?" Apollos asked the Lannister guards who were restraining him as he walked to them.
"Yes, Lord Lannister." The guard said as Ned, Tyrion, Jaime, and Robert neared them.
"Who sent you?" Apollos asked coldly. No answer... How surprising, Apollos mused sarcastically. "Did they pay you enough to endure life long torture until you talk to me? Because that's what I'll do to you. I'll torture you until you lose the ability to feel, until you are a hollow shell of a man and crave only a death that shall not be granted to you... Until you tell me what I want to know..." Ned and Robert looked horrified but thankfully remained silent.
"Lysa Arryn." The assassin replied, preferring a quick death over torture.
"Is that sufficient enough for you both?" Apollos asked Ned and Robert. "What are her plans?" Apollos asked the assassin.
"She wants House Lannister gone and has convinced her family to aid her, that's all I know." He replied, telling Apollos what he already knew. The changes that were happening were concerning, but manageable. The Riverlands would be a worthy conquest for House Lannister.
"So be it," Apollos replied. "Unless there are any objections, then I'll be killing this insect."
"Go ahead, Apollos," Robert urged. Apollos killed the assassin with a lightning fast sword strike to the heart, causing the eyes of everyone near him to widen in shock.
"I would like Tyrion to take up my Master of Coin duties during this war." Robert nodded in agreement and Tyrion looked somewhat thrilled at being entrusted with the duties. "Tyrion, I'll give you my notes and financial plans, and I'll arrange for the funeral. I'll also be preparing to wage war on the Riverlands and Vale and Robin Arryn will be placed into the custody of Ned and he can choose who will foster him." Robert and Ned nodded in resignation, knowing that Apollos was well within his rights and that they would both do the same thing. They were just glad that Apollos wouldn't harm the Jon's son and were secretly very worried that the war might get even worse when they had actually demanded his safety.
Apollos left to take care of house business, first gathering his notes and plans, and then asking Tyrion to slowly siphon very small amounts of money from the Seven Kingdoms; he absolutely refused, but Apollos didn't care and just took the lost opportunity for profit with indifference. Apollos did erase his memory of his asking him that though. Apollos organized the funeral, informed his family and bannermen of Tywin's murder and the upcoming war, and then planned to leave for The Westerlands, knowing that it would be unexpected and give their enemies less time to prepare. Apollos knew that Tywin would understand and approve and so would the other Lannisters. Plus, Apollos didn't want to attend a funeral. He had been to enough of those in both his previous and current lives.
"Lord Varys is here to see you Lord Lannister," A guard informed Apollos.
"Let him in," Apollos replied.
Lord Varys entered his solar barely a minute later.
"You wished to see me?" He asked.
"Yes, I want you to stall any investigation into Jon Arryn's death and prevent Stark from learning about my nephew and nieces true parentage." Varys nodded in agreement, already planning on doing that. "If need be you can use Jon Snow's true parentage against him as a bluff. We need to retain our hold on the Iron Throne until a stable Targaryen is ready to accept it's surrender, most likely from my nephew. Stannis and Renly will regretfully have to be dealt with, but I am hoping Renly can be negotiated with, Dragonstone will seized for the Targaryens and hopefully be improved by myself to be a more profitable holding for the lucky Targaryen."
"What if he informs them anyway, due to his honor?" Varys asked. Apollos would freely conceed that was highly likely.
"Then I'll have to deal with the Baratheon brothers. I will still have enough soldiers here to take control, if needed. I am hoping that I can subjugate the Riverlands and Vale quickly using superior resources and our numerous secret strategic advantages."
"I wish you luck, Lord Lannister." Varys said genuinely, before leaving.