With Joanna staying at Winterfell, the king and his caravan started on the Kings road home. Ned Stark took fifty men with him as well as his youngest daughter Arya. Sansa was angry to be left in the North. She had hoped to be married to Joffry, though Ned declined king Robert's request at a second marriage between their families. "We have more children, but if they are all married to each other, how will they gain allies when we are no longer of the living?". Robert laughed his boisterous laugh at Ned's response, and slapped his hand down on Ned's shoulder. "You always were the one thinking ahead." And with that it was settled. Though Robert accepted his friends reason, Ned had given him false words. Ned saw and heard of Joffry's character, and did not wish his daughter married to him.
The snows of the North had left a little more than a coating on the ground for the travelers as they moved through the North. The men of Winterfell didn't mind, but the southern folk welcomed the warmer climate of the south as they grew closer to it. The caravan made camp at the Neck just after midday. The king felt a longer rest would benefit everyone, and give he and his hand a chance to speak thoroughly.
While the king and his hand engaged in conversation, the men made camp. Hunting parties were dispatched as well as foragers and scout teams. When Robert and Ned finished their lengthy conversation the king came to his tent irritated and ill-tempered. Cersei did her best to calm Robert but she only annoyed him more. "Stop with your false words. Let's not pretend to care for each other any more than necessary. We have children together let that be our love. Get out woman, let me alone. Go make sure my dinner is being prepared." Cersei glared at him with contempt and a touch of fear. She knew better than to anger her husband when he was already in a foul mood and off she went.
Before the king could finish calming himself a guard interrupted his isolation. "Your grace. Forgive me, the daughter of the hand has gone missing. " the young guard hung his head and a queer look came upon his face. "What is it boy?" The king growled, glaring almost through him. "Your son my my king. He was injured" the guard struggled to finish his sentence. "Speak boy, or should I have your tongue for your silence?" The guard quickly looked up and tripped over his words as he spat them out. "The hands daughter. It was her who injured him. She hit him with a sword your grace." His face had gone pale with fear at the expected reaction of the king. Robert stared at him with anger in his eyes and his jaw clenched. The stare seemed to last an eternity, then with a sudden jolt Robert burst out in laughter, his anger fully dispersed. "Another girl bested my spineless son!" His laughter continued as the king moved towards the door of his tent. He stopped only to give the guard his wine cup which he pushed harshly into the guards chest. "Finish it boy, don't waste good wine." With that the king had gone to find his best friend and hand.
It wasn't until late in the evening when Arya had been found. Robert was called to the food tent where he did his ruling on the road. Arya gave her explanation as did Joffry. The king once again crushed his son with his words. "Bested by another girl and her dog. If I knew my son would be such an incompetent fool I'd have asked the gods for more daughters." Joffry was red with anger but lacked the courage to stand up to his father. The king instructed Ned to deal with his daughter and when the opportunity presented, Joffry instructed the hound to kill the boy Arya had been sword fighting with. The rest of the journey home was uneventful but carried an uncomfortable air to it.
Upon arriving at the capital Ned Stark was summond to his first small council meeting. His mood was soon foul as the details of the kingdoms were layed out. It took only one meeting to have him questioning his decision to serve as hand. Soon Petyr Baelish was in his ear about a good number of things, including the circumstances surrounding Jon Arryn's death. Ned took the rest of the day to settle in and tend his daughter.
Ned's second day in Kings Landing was busy with a great deal of responsibility and learning. The capital had grown and changed since he and Robert had captured it. He sought out a sword instructor from Bravos to teach Arya after discovering her sword Jon had given her. He visited maester Pycelle with inquiries, Varys had approached him with questions and mysterious comments and Petyr Baelish lingered about more often than Ned was comfortable with. It didn't take long for Ned to realize being Hand of the king would be more difficult than being king.