The howl of the wind whistles outside the Old Keep, mingling with the constant patter of rain that grows louder when a gust pushes the raindrops harder against the many-paned glass windows of the solar. Many have kept to their apartments in the keep rather than brave this weather, and others still crowd the great hall. Fewer, however, are in the solar; and why not, when there’s no sun to bask in?
But Aidan Dayne, at least, is here. The young knight hides his fine robes beneath a still-damp cloak of lilac wool, and he does little but sit at a table and look glum.
Similarly wet, though Joleta would never allow herself to appear bedraggled, the future Lady of Salt Shore arrives. She is trailed by her Gold-Cloak escort, since the Iron Serpent placed guards back on their persons, who is both wet /and/ bedraggled. Joleta has dressed in layers. Over her scarlet sandsilk is a thick cloak of scarlet wool, which is beneath a slightly oiled leather outer cloak, which keeps the lower layers relatively dry. Her hood is tossed back and her chin-length hair curls in the damp. At least there is a fire here and that is where the lady moves. But she does note the presence of one of her countrymen here and nods to him with a wry smile. “Ser Aidan. A rather fine day, isn’t it?”
“A rather wet day,” the Knight of the Twilight sighs, having seen Joleta’s arrival. Aidan doesn’t smile, but he does half-bow from his seat, polite as always. “But a good day to you, regardless.” He considers the fire, and the entrance way, and the grey, rain-blurred outdoors, and then adds, “Please, join me, if you’d like. Company wouldn’t be amiss as the rattling of the windows drive most away who’ve ventured up here.”
Joleta removes her wet outer cloak and hangs it near the fire to dry. The wool is pulled more tightly around her as she moves to join the Knight of Twilight. “I rather like the sound,” she comments. “It’s soothing. All we need now is some spiced mulled wine and it would be perfect.” That’s an overstatement of course and the lady knows it, judging by her wry tone. There is a pause and she asks seriously, “You’ve heard the latest, I trust?”
Another gust of wind, to shake the paned glass and drive rain against it. Aidan pauses, waiting for the noise to grow a little less. “The latest? I’m not sure, my lady,” he says, with more wariness than doubtfulness. “I’m not a man for intrigues and gossip. I overheard one of the steward’s men saying something about Lord Cargyll, but otherwise…” His eyes, dark in the grey light that manages to come through the window, turn away to regard the rain-washed outdoors.
“Otherwise, I hear that a few of us will be shopping for wedding finery.” Joleta comments. “Intrigue and gossips may not be gallant or chivalrous, but information is valuable.” She steeples her fingers, thoughtfully, but not without a hint of fatigue. “It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose.”
“Wedding finery?” Aidan is slow to make sense of that, his gaze turning back to Joleta. “I don’t—wait. The king means to have hostages wed?” He straightens, a little, and becomes more attentive, brow furrowed, whatever it was that was troubling him momentarily forgotten. “As he tried with Valeria Blackmont, and Liane Uller before her?”
Joleta nods, “Correct. Those of us that are heirs in our own right, as well as younger sisters who have brothers that could be disinherited.” There is a pause, “Ivalla Manwoody’s name has been mentioned, despite the fact she is already betrothed.”
His mouth opens at that, and then closes as he lets his thoughts catch up with his tongue. Yet when he speaks, it’s probably the same thing he was going to say in any case. “But, she’s betrothed to my cousin, Garwin,” Ser Aidan says. “I cannot believe that the king would go so far. And yet ...” He purses his lips, thoughts turning, and then he asks, “And heiresses, you said? Oh, my lady, I am sorry to hear it. One must pray that it is only gossip.”
“Thank you, Ser Aidan, but I am no fifteen year old child that can be cowed into submission.” Joleta smiles and her hawkish eyes flare brilliantly. “If it is gossip, all the better. But if not…” she shrugs. “We’ll see. I have a few ideas.”
Again, Aidan seems dubious, but the flash of doubt is something that he tries (unsuccessfully) to suppress. He says, “Have you spoken to Prince Cadan? I am sure he could learn the truth, and speak against this plan if the king means to carry it out.”
“Not as of yet, but I will. It is possible that he is aware of it and has spoken against it, but the king hasn’t listened. One would think that after three attempts… including your sweet sister… that failed splendidly, that the King would realize how little chance of success this actually has.” Joleta frowns slightly, “I am far more worried about the younger girls. Ivalla, my cousin Selara, and even Valeria. I think she would throw herself out of the tower window if another attempt was made.”
The wind and rain rattles the paned windows still, with little sign of surcease, and consequently the solar is almost empty; most prefer the comfort of the crowded great hall. But there are two, at least, who have taken refuge in the solar: Joleta Gargalen and Ser Aidan Dayne. The two speak together.
“I was told that the Most Devout and the High Septon are still considering the matter of her marriage,” Aidan says. “The king couldn’t have her wed, if she and Ser Kay are wedded in the sights of the gods.” And even here, a note of uncertainty. The king is a Targaryen, and the Targaryens have long had their differences with the gods and men alike…
“So, this is where I find you today, cousin,” exclaims Lady Tanyth Toland as she strides into the solar with a certain purposefull boldness to her walk. “I had thought you might be in the Godswood, though given the weather I came to look here first.” There’s a slight, suggestive arching of a brow to go with those words, and her lips quirk into a wry smile for a moment. Then, her expression marginally more serious, she turns to the other woman, offering a dip of her head. “Lady Joleta, good evening.”
“Well, it shouldn’t surprise me if the King had another bridegroom lined up before the ink on the annulment was dried.” Joleta obviously doesn’t think that the Targaryens would allow a pesky thing like an inconvenient marriage interfere with their plans. She turns her head to nod to the Black Tempest. “Good evening, Lady Tanyth. Delightful weather, is it not?”
“Tanyth. Lady Joleta’s heard rumors—” Voice and manner grave, he stops himself as he glances towards the entrance into the solar, making sure that no one’s lurking there, or about to enter. There’s no one, of course, but still he lowers his voice. “Rumors that the king means to marry heiresses, or women who can be made heiresses by the king’s decree. Including Ivalla Manwoody, betrothed to cousin Garwin.”
Black eyes flash darkly at the news given by her cousin, but Tanyth’s lips twist into a cutting smile. “Getting a little desperate now, is he? I suppose we will just have to slip poor Ivalla, and anyone else in a similar position, a knife or two.” It is, all considered, just the kind of suggestion one might expect from the Black Tempest.
“It is desperate, a desperate gamble. A king’s decree disinheriting Ser Aryard Manwoody or any of the male heirs will not be worth the ink and paper, if the King does not hold onto the lands. I… -hope- he does not consider another way to make a younger sister an heiress. But as for Ivalla, the Faith may be helpful in this regard. Especially with the issue of Valeria Blackmont and Kay Yronwood still undecided. Looking the other way while a woman is forced to wed is one thing. When that woman has also sworn an oath before gods and man to wed another… that may be too much for the High Septon to palate.” The Dornishwoman’s expression is thoughtful, contemplative. Moves and counter-moves.
Aidan frowns, doubtless at his cousin’s suggestion, yet it carries through when he objects, “But a betrothal contract is not a marriage. They are more easily set aside. I’m afraid it will give Lady Ivalla scant protection, if the king settles on such a course.” As to the other approach the king might take ... perhaps Aidan mouths a silent prayer against such evil.
“I would not put it past someone, if not the King himself, to consider such an option,” Tanyth remarks in response to Joleta’s concerns. “But for castles that he no longer holds and only foolishly hopes to regain, it seems unlikely that he would go beyond simply disinheriting the unwanted male heirs.” Irritably, she pushes ink-black locks of hair out of her eyes, which certainly live up to her name at the moment. “Either way, nothing good is likely to come of this situation for us.”
“Scant protection is better than none and every delay buys us time.” Joleta reasons. Like the others, she keeps her voice soft and the pounding of hard rain against glass is an excellent means to prevent eavesdroppers. “Prince Marence may try to ransom some of his noble captives for us. The Oakenfist could secure much, but it may be more prudent to hold him close.”
The rebellion in Dorne has caused a great deal of tension at court, and the king’s coming campaign has given more cause for concern. Perhaps that’s why Ser Aidan does not care to think of it. He shifts uncomfortably in his seat, glancing at Tanyth a moment before he urges Joleta, “You _must_ speak to the prince, my lady, as soon as you can. If there is anyone who may reason with the king on your behalf, and of the other ladies…”
A shrug from Tanyth at Aidan’s words. “I have my doubts about the king listening any more to him than anyone else of us. But it ought to be done, I suppose. The playing at diplomacy will go on for a little longer.” She plainly more frustrated than concerned at the moment, but then again, she is perhaps not at any immediate risk of being married off herself.
“I will speak to Prince Cadan, of course and if the Prince -can- do something, I am sure he will.” Joleta obviously agrees with Tanyth. But there is a sidelong look directed at Aidan. “I am perfectly capable of speaking on my own behalf as well.”
The reproach—felt, even if it not intended—stifles further protests. “My apologies, Lady Joleta,” he says apologetically. “I did not mean to imply otherwise. Merely that the prince’s word carries a deal of weight with ... well, with Prince Viserys and some of the small council, if not the king.”
“Only for as long as any of them still see a full-scale war as possibly avoidable. Prince Viserys may be less eager for it than King Daeron, but even he will at least appear to bend entirely to the idea once they are fully committed.” Oh, Tanyth is in a fine, cheerful mood today. Not that anyone else appears to be. “It is rather frustrating, is it not?”
“Then the perception needs to be reframed. The would-be lords will only get their rewards if the King is victorious. And even then,” Joleta shrugs, “They had best be content to rule from King’s Landing if they want to continue breathing. The lesser nobles and smallfolk will never accept calling a Westerosi knight their lord, especially if that title is self-proclaimed by wedding an heiress.”
Aidan’s earlier glumness is reduced to grimness; nothing looks hopeful, after this. “I do not think the king will balk at shedding blood, of spears and smallfolk alike,” the knight says, “if he is bled enough.” He lets that hang in the air, before he adds, “He tried to leave the seats with their rightful lords; he did not even attaint Lord Blackwood and Lord Manwoody. I cannot see how he will be convinced to change his course, if he means to take it, given that.”
He bites at his lower lip and then adds, unwillingly, “The Dornish lords have proved disloyal once. I do not see how to change his views.”
Just then, someone’s steps can be heard at the entrance of the solar, and Aidan’s voice stops—until he sees it’s Danyll, his squire and Tanyth’s younger brother. “Tamlyn—” The boy stops, sees Joleta, and pauses. And then he says, “Tamlyn needs to see you. Now, he said.”
“Do not give into despair, either of you.” Joleta doesn’t seem to share the grimmness. Rather, she is not unlike a knight facing high odds in battle. Not unrealistic about the situation, but neither is she without hope. Her arena is the politic halls, not the battlefield, but it is a contest nevertheless. “Never let them make you less than what you are.” At the squire’s approach, Joleta nods to the Toland youth and prepares to rise herself. “Be well.”