They sailed less than a month later. Five ships laden with all the food supplies, armour, horses, weaponry, sailors and soldiers they could need. They'd set sail out of the port of Valaria, up High Water and out the Emerald bay before following the cliff line of Jade Spear before heading out into the vast open waters of the Azure Ocean. The huge land mass of Jade Isle was lost a great, great many leagues behind them by now. The five war galleys sailed constantly, the strong winds at their back pounding them through the harsh blue world they found themselves in. Tywin was on the flagship, White Rose. She held a large crew with a small battalion of soldiers charged with keeping him alive, at least until they got to White Isle. The war galley had several huge crossbows on her main deck that took two men to operate, the sailors called them Ex-wives. When asked why they simply laughed amongst themselves before one finally turned to Tywin, 'Once you got a few lad...you'll know why.' The White Rose had the other four galleys at her back, the Black Widow, Hunter's Arrow, Jaelor's Pride, and Bloody Betha. Most of the king’s soldiers were in those ships.
Standing on the deck of the ship as it thundered through the rocking waves Tywin studied her captain, a huge beast of a man that his crew called Gray Beard. A master sailor from the River Isle Rickard Thunderson, his proper name, was a veteran of nigh on sixty years at sea. His face was covered in scars and well weathered by the constant barrage of the sea winds; his arms were thicker than Tywin's legs and he always had his shirt open from the top button showing a nest of glistening black chest hair. Fighting the urge to itch the scab down his face Tywin dug his hands into the pockets of his tunic. It was a constant bother. Whether it was the salty sea air or the wind or what it didn't matter but the long scab that ran down his right eye and cheek always itched! Even at night he had to resist the urge to scratch and risk the scab pealing. He should be thankful really that he still had the use of his eye, but he was sure a lot fewer ladies at court would find him quite so comely anymore.
'We should be there within the week I reckon' Ser Tywin,' said the captain through the thickness of his luscious gray beard. Tywin nodded doubling over the desk in the captain's cabin Rickard had been kind enough to give him. The maps slipped and slid as the ship rocked in the rough sea but it didn't matter. No matter how long he looked at the map of White Isle no great strategy came to him. This truly was a land forged by ice, and nearly impossible to raid with the amount of men he had. Only eight thousand, the rest were out in the Mainland fighting to make King Baelor Barristan king of those lands, and Tywin was sure when they reached the Gods Spine he'd order them to find a way around them so they could conquer more lands when every school child knew the colossal mountains were impenetrable. Studying the map he took point of every location carefully. To the east of the isle was a thin blade of land where Black Reach sat against the easternmost edge of Ice Watch Bay, they called it the Great Tusk. Its eastern coast spread all the way up to the Ice Gate in the north, north-east.
The ice cliffs of the Great Tusk were treacherous places for sailors, great shards of ice they called 'Snaps' were known to jump from the cliff face without warning and shear unlucky ships in half. To the north and north-east corner was the Ice Gate,The Siblings themselves couldn't scale that thing and wish to live.Heading west from the gate they came to Storm Fall, that wasn't an option either. With winds strong enough to lift ships from the oceans and turn them to kindling against the black stone cliffs and Heaven Fall castle staring from the cliff tops it wasn't a prudent option. The western most point still carried the winds from Storm Fall and only the Little Tusk held shelter for ships, but that wasn't an option either. He'd taken Little Tusk once before with climbing spikes, with the small cliffs and minor winds it was simple. But he hadn't the men or the equipment for cliff climbing, after that there was the huge jetty of land and then back round to the rectangular bite of Ice Watch Bay. Black Reach with its pebbled shoreline and a landscape capable of hiding large numbers if they travelled at night seemed the only logical option.
It was the city he'd been told to sack...but he saw another option. 'Captain Thunderson is it possible for ships to sail up this river here?' he asked pointing to a small blue line on the map at the very top of the Great Tusk.
'God Stream? Why?' asked the huge bear of a man.
'Cannis Wolfborn is a cunning wolf, he'll know that Black Reach is the easiest city for us to take. I'd bet my Nala that he's sent most of his forces there to strengthen their defences, leaving many of the other cities undermanned. If we sail up God Stream it ends a mile from the Mammoth Keep, if we could pay Lady Siren a visit, take the city and it's castle it would be a massive strategic foothold for launching an attack on the Fang.'
'And if you're wrong? If the mammoth riders are not at Black Reach?'
'I know it'll be difficult...' he began.
'In all honesty young one, you bloody don't,' said the old sailor flatly but with a king twinge to his words. 'The cliffs of Great Tusk drop snaps the size of houses as easy as you drop a shit. We'd have to sail a fair way out in order to avoid any that might choose to jump and ruin my day. Further we are from the cliffs the more likely it is we'll be spotted. Then there's the God Stream, all rivers in the White Isle freeze over completely, even in summer. We'd be hard pressed to get through it with any great speed, and as you say river end is half mile from the Mammoth Keep...we'd be spotted, and with our ships snailing through the ice be good target practice for that bitches men.' he said brutally. Tywin smiled, any of the king’s men would have told him it was an ingenious plan, but spending more time on sea than land you had to be a truthful sort. Because the sea was a bitch, and liars had place only in her darkest depths. 'U'll see soon enough when we reach the ice waters.'
Tywin remembered them from the last time he'd been here when he'd scaled the Little Tusk and slaughtered the nearest village, all the seas around the southern coast of White Isle were frozen solid making it hard work getting through them at any great speed, or without detection. 'What do you recommend master sailor? Because all I see storming Black Reach is a bloody death for us all.' taking a long draft from his wine skin while Rickard Thunderson studied the charts and maps Tywin wondered why he'd been call Thunderson...it wasn't any house in the Nine Isle he knew of.
'Might be Black reach is our only way mi'lord...' said the old seadog eventually. 'Death comes for usall' in the end, I'd like to die in a fight!'
'I'd like to die at the age of eighty in my own bed with a belly full of wine and a girl around my cock.' Rickard laughed hard at that whereas Tywin could only manage a smile at his own wit.
'I like you boy...' that made him laugh.
'And I you Rickard Thunderson, I need men around me that'll tell me the truth...' Rickard smiled, Tywin offered him his wine skin and he took it with a nod. 'And call me Tywin, by the god’s I’m not even a knight.'
'True. But you stand out like a diamond in shit wearing that red armour of yours!' he joked as he sat across from him. 'Might as well be a knight.'
'Stand out...' Tywin's brain kicked into life. 'Stand out, stand out.'
'Eye boy! You a fucking parrot?'
'How far is Black Reach from the sea?' he asked picking up a quill and scribbling lines across the map.
'Right on it, could stand on the city walls and piss into the sea virtually,' burped the old captain. 'During bad storms the city floods and people hole up in the keep.'
'And what's the range of the Ex-wives?'
'Four...five hundred feet.' Rickard's hard green eyes locked onto him as he worked. 'Why boy?'
'Because you're right captain...I draw attention...a lot of attention.' he smiled passing him the new map. His green eyes sparkled as he read his words and scanned his movement lines.
'By the Sister's tits!' he looked up to Tywin with a smile. 'I could sure use a lot more sailors as smart as you Tywin Phoenix Knight...CORPOR!' bellowed the captain. His first mate crashed in, a younger man of only forty years.
'We have a new plan! And tonight I'm going to get royally pissed because we'll probably all be dead soon!'