The Sealord is due to arrive in little more than a week, the Starveling’s power has been broken, and a royal wedding is to take place in little more than a month—why not have a feast? So the courtiers of King’s Landing gathered in the Old Keep’s great hall, to dance and drink, to gossip and be entertained. There was, of course, the question about the host of the feast, or the precise excuse for throwing it. Some whispered it was to do with the nameday of Lord Baratheon’s heir, others thought it had something to do with the Master of Coin learning of a grandson, and others still believed more obscure things such as a celebration of the marriage of the king’s cousin, Ser Endros Buckler, to the Lannister bastard Rosalind Hill. What was agreed by most was that it was a fine time, a good occasion to discuss the politics of the courts and the larger events in the realm and the world beyond. Some would speak of the king’s displeasure at the escape of the Starveling, and others of the king’s support for the man who broke their power. Some talked of Lord Tyrell’s continuing efforts in Dorne, where he had turned back a nascent uprising in the region of Vaith, and others pointed out how the Qorgyle spears had joined the hunt for the rebel Andrey Blackmont.
Among those present were Aisling Ryswell, made to accompany her step-sisters Sylvina Serry to the event. While Sylvina danced, Aisling sat apart, not caring for the event. When the Dornishman Ser Aidan Dayne approached, she was forced to converse with him under the occasional glances of the court where most still thought little enough of the Dornish hostages. Lady Reyna Saltcliffe soon joined them, wondering at the cause for the event, discussing sandsteeds and preparations for the Sealord’s arrival. Ser Jonn Lannister, heir to Casterly Rock and a man well-noted for his scandalous past (including associations with Lady Reyna), interjected dire remarks concerning witchcraft and the cuisine of the westerlands.
The Dornishman invited Lady Aisling to dance, though the lady unwillingly so it would seem, and when the dance ended ... Prince Aegon arrived, and on his arm his Dornish mistress, Cassella Vaith. The festivities grew ... confused, and finally quiet, as a way was cleared for them to the center of the hall. That’s when Aegon thanked everyone for coming to his feast, to celebrate Lady Cassella’s concieving of another child. The prince, well-known for his many indiscretions, his carousing and whoring, and his dramatic removal of Cassella from among the hostages to install her in apartments practically adjoining his own, earned ... cheers, yes, but many would call them forced. A few nobles slipped out of the hall, rather than be part of such a tawdry affair. Others became sycophantic, flocking around the happy couple (though it must be said that the Dornishwoman’s expression was rigidly fixed in place) and offering more personal congratulations while Aegon drank and made ribald jests to entertain his drinking companions.
Princess Daena’s companion, Carmella Dondarrion, was among those who arrived after the announcement, having heard from some who slipped out of what was going on. What she thought of the proceedings seemed clear enough, as after conversing with Dayne and Ryswell she departed without joining the queue of well-wishers. It was after Dayne that Jonn Lannister—once a friend of Aegon’s, but no longer—offered humble congratulations to Prince Aegon, and then Lady Reyna—never a friend to begin with, who many whispered had played a part in revealing that Aegon had kept a second mistress in secret for these past several years—did much the same. The Targaryen prince, perhaps suspicious, complained of the sychophantry and dismissed them from his thoughts, turning to dancing and drinking into the late hours.