#CK2: A Game of Thrones #4 – The Black Wolf

Lord Paramount Edrick Stark inherited the Lordship of Winterfell and the title Lord Paramount of the North upon the early death of his father, Lord Brandon Stark.

During the funeral to honor his father, a vassal came forward to ask that Lord Robett of Last Hearth be charged with murder in the realm, and Edrick, bound by honor and duty, sent forth men to bring the Lord to Winterfell and set matters straight. The Lord of Last Hearth rebelled, and in the lull between Lord Brandon’s funeral and Lord Torrhen’s funeral, men marched to suppress another rebellion in the lands of the North.

The might of one vassal wasn’t enough to stop the Lord of the North, and Lord Robett was taken into custody. For the first time in almost a decade, a lord from the North was beheaded at the order of the monarch, with Edrick, bound by his grandfather’s honor, lifting his sword to take the man’s life personally, something that Brandon didn’t do.

Following the death of his grandfather Torrhen, Edrick inherited the Valaryian greatsword Ice, the ancestral Stark blade that spent Brandon’s reign in possession of the still living Torrhen. The Lord of Winterfell was reunited with the ancestral sword of the family.

Orys Baratheon perished in 8034, and King Aegon I awarded Edrick Stark the title “Warden of the North”, putting the North’s armies under their direct lord’s command during major conflicts, of which there were none during the first few years.

The next years of the rule of Edrick could be considered the most peaceful time for the North since the Starks bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen. Lord Edrick, having grown up in the reign of the Targaryens, had accepted King Aegon as his liege upon the death of his father, and as the Warden of the North and Lord Paramount would be seen attending tourneys and other festivals in the south at the invitation of the King.

In 8038, Lord Edric sent a host of banners south to Seagard to help his allies by marriage in the Twins conquer lands held by a rogue kingdom of Darry that was still independent, though politically unstable. The Freys being beaten back by the armies of Darry, were on the losing end of the war until the Northern host mustered in Moat Cailin and marched south to provide fresh soldiers and turn the tide of war for good, aiding the Freys in capturing and integrating their claimed lands into the Kingdom of the Iron Throne.

The Wall was raided by the wildlings for the first time at least half a century during the Conquest of Seagard, and half of the Stark host turned north to march for the wall alongside Targaryen warriors, leading to a bloody war to successfully defend the Night’s Watch.

In 8040, King Aegon I died at the age of 67, and his 4-year-old daughter Daena, his first child since his 18-year-old daughter-wife Elena died in the War of Conquest in 8026, was declared Queen on the Iron Throne, inheriting an Iron Throne and a Westeros unified almost completely under Aegon I, with only portions of the Vale and Darry still independent.

The Reach used the ascension of the young Queen and the distraction of Targaryen forces by a territorial dispute amongst the Lannisters to declare independence. Lord Edrick the Black Wolf, as he was now known, organized his banners to help subdue the Reach, though his forces, weary of war, were unable to make a substantial impact in the war. The Northern host withdrew within 18 months and disbanded, ending their involvement in what was ultimately a successful reintegration of the Reach.

While there were concurrent disputes between the vassals during the independence war that ran on for the next many years, they were merely for territorial changes that didn’t affect the integrity of the kingdom itself, and Edrick didn’t send warriors back down south.

Though not as bad of a ruler as his father and predecessor, Edrick was known to be arbitrary and a bit on the cruel side. When his brother was unjustly captured by Lord Benford of the High Lordship Stony Shore in 8041, Edrick attempted to peacefully secure his release, but he died in Benford’s custody. In a rage over his death, Edrick had Benford arrested and on January 19, 8042, less than a week after his brother’s death, had him hung, drawn, and quartered as a lesson of what disloyalty would mean. The harshest death sentence served in the realm in years, and out of character for the Stark Lord who would usually follow the old way of personally beheading offenders.

Despite his ways, the black wolf commanded the respect of his vassals, and his first 14 years reigning in Winterfell were significant in establishing a lasting prosperity for a realm that had spent the last two decades in turmoil during the last years of Torrhen the Just and the brief reign of Brandon.

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