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Departing from the crowded afternoon service, King Baelor and many of his followers were outside the royal sept. The young king remarked on the sermon on charity from the sept’s chief septon, Septon Elwood, with a great deal of admiration. For some, that sermon was unfortunately timed, given what transpired afterward.
A knight of the royal household arrived and delivered word that a message had arrived from Sunspear, a long-awaited message: Prince Marence’s response to the Iron Throne’s offer of peace. The knight was to escort the king to the small council’s chambers . . . but there was a space in which one of the Dornish hostages present, Ser Aidan Dayne, suggested it would be a kindness to hear word from their kin in Dorne. The knight hesitated when Baelor commanded it be so, ignoring the entreaties of others.
The news was both good and bad. Prince Marence agreed to the proposed exchange of hostages, restoring the Dragonknight and certain other men captured in the rebellion in return for the Dornish hostages. But the rest ... The Dornishmen refused to leave Salt Shore and Wyl in the king’s hands. This surprised Baelor, who was confident that his argument that it would be the surest path to peace between Dorne and the Iron Throne would be heeded. What did Marence offer in return? A few paltry watchtowers—_already_ in the king’s hands, no less—in the northern ends of the Boneway and the Prince’s Pass, to act as a buffer against raids from unruly Dornishmen. This sparked immediate anger among those present, particularly Ser Myles Hightower. He had been in Dornish captivity for a time, until his father ransomed him, and had no love for the Dornishmen.
Lady Reyna Saltcliffe seemed concerned with Ser Myles’s line of argument, and with good reason: when he mentioned vengeance, the king immediately recalled the words of Septon Elwood. More, he recalled his _own_ words, on the day the news of King Daeron’s murder under the parley banner reached him. When the hostages were nearly executed by Prince Aegon, the new king rescued them and proclaimed to Prince Cadan and all the gathered crowd that he forgave his brother’s killers, out of a desire for peace. In the end, Ser Myles departed in anger, and others drifted away—some, they say, to warn Prince Viserys of hat was transpiring. Ser Elmer Crakehall attempted to argue that Marence’s younger brother, Prince Rhodry, would never let a peace happen, whatever his elder brother commanded, yet the king closed his ears to his entreaties after Ser Galwell Dalt swore that Marence rule was firm.
With that, the king departed to join the small council. For several hours they were closeted. And in the end, what came of it? New birds winging to Dorne, bearing a response: not a full agreement, but nearly so. Another watchtower more in each pass, the promise to place a royal garrison nearby to dissuade Dornish outlaws and brigands from attempting raids… and a safe conduct for an emissary of the king, to travel over land through the Boneway to Sunspear.
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