In the shadow city, in the winesinks and the pillow houses, there is talk of many things, of news from places near and far. Merchants tell of the disruption of trade caused by fears over the Iron Throne fleet in the Stepstones meaning to do more than sweep out pirates, and of the real harm that the notorious corsairs of those waters have caused in the Narrow Sea. But others speak of the greater storm brewing between the Free Cities, a trade war that might become something all together more dangerous if they come to blows.
In the halls and chambers of the Old Palace, the nobles tell similar tales to one another, but they embroider with rumors that Prince Marence is being courted by Pentos, or perhaps Myr, to side with them in a coming war. There are those who knowingly look among one another, and feel it best to leave a name unspoken… but that name—that of Ser Mavros Uller—is brought up elsewhere, in the bowers of the court ladies, speaking of his impending marriage, of the influential good-kin he will have, of the future he might expect for his trueborn children…
... not least as rumor has held that his sister, the Lady of Hellholt, has been ill of late, and some idly wonder what will happen if the aged lady were to die (though only a few claim that she is on her deathbed), for only her disowning of her brother has kept him from being heir to that ancient and powerful seat, instead of the niece who holds that position, a niece whom they say has friends of her own in high places.
And outside the bowers, in the places where the powerful and influential decide matters of import, there are more knowing looks, though not when Prince Marence is in attendance, for the knight is his most favored advisor, perhaps even his most trusted, and it would not do—it would not do at all—to suggest that matters should be otherwise.