The wind does not stir, and has not done so for three days, now. Blackwater Bay is calm, a gray sea covered by a gray fog. Ships lie in that bay, and at the docks, waiting for a breath of air from the west to carry them out to sea, and to begin the long journey to Dorne. In the halls of the Red Keep, it’s said that Lord Velaryon consults daily with maesters. The septons gathered at Baelor’s behest to join the fleet (it would not do to leave any sailor, man-at-arms, or knight without the solace of spiritual council) join the king each day in prayer… but some worry that among them are those less sure of the righteousness of the Iron Throne and Dorne joining forces to win the Stepstones free of oppressive Pentos, and that their prayers hope that the stillness will eventually lead the septon-king to reconsider.
And as men wait, they grow bored. Scuffles and brawls among sailors have become more common about the Mud Gate, and patrols of the City Watch have been increased in the area following claims that women of questionable morals and piety have taken to selling their bodies in the back alleys and cribs despite the king’s ban on such fornication. Some captains of the fleet have taken to keeping their men aboard ship, guards posted at the gangways, while others seem less concerned. A week past, three war galleys from Storm’s End arrived to be commanded by Ser Sarmion Baratheon, the Stormbreaker, but soon after their arrival it was said that he and Oakenfist had quarreled when the fiercesome knight announced that on his lord brother’s vessels, at least, there would be no Dornishmen. (It was a brief quarrel, however… for Lord Alyn acquiesced to the demand, after consulting with Prince Viserys.)
In far away Dorne, wind is no problem, at least. At Sunspear and the Planky Town, spears have begun to gather at the Lord Protector’s command, even though there are those at court who still argue against this plan to have Dornish spears be carried to war on Targaryen ships. The yards are busy, for all that, with knights practising at arms, their thirst for glory outstripping the doubts of some. Among them, perhaps surprisingly, is Prince Rhodry, the youngest son of the Lord Protector… and that may be a cause for concern, some say, for his giving in so readily to his father’s plans might well indicate he means to cause trouble when it is least expected. Not, of course, that he pretends to respect the likes of King Baelor—when word reached Dorne of the king’s concern for the virtues of the ladies of his court, Rhodry was heard to remark that perhaps they should institute such a policy in Sunspear, and that of course he was the man to conduct (thorough) investigations. Suffice it to say, Ser Quinlan was not amused.
And in the Stepstones? Pentos has fortified its positions, and hired more sellsails and sellswords to defend their holdings, even as their emissaries to the courts of Westeros seek to dissuade King Baelor and the Lord Protector of Dorne with promises of more equitable conduct in the narrow sea and of improved trade… and careful threats as well, of debts recalled and loans withheld.
Too late, of course, and much too little beside: a fool’s hope, when so much has been set in motion. As soon as the wind gathers strength, the galleys and cogs of the royal fleet shall set sail.