Is it true? Can the slight, pious youth who is king—young Baelor, whom some call Halfsepton—really intend to depart for Dorne in two weeks time? That’s the rumor at court, and the actions of the king’s household and that of the king’s stewards make some suspect it to be true. Orders have been flying, sending gold cloaks and foresters south of the city, along the beginning of what would be the king’s route to Blackhaven and the Boneway beyond. Ravens, too, have been sent to the seats of the lords and knights along the way, allegedly enjoining them to deal with all the unrest and brigandry on their lands within a certain time, or suffer the consequences.
Perhaps there is a connection to the recent word that has gone out through King’s Landing and the royal demenses beyond, reporting that the king will offer land to work and the opportunity to wed widows of the Young Dragon’s wars to any honest man who fought beneath the three-headed dragon and desires honest, thrifty labor. It’s even suggested that Prince Viserys has sent word to the king’s vassals, encouraging them to do the same, although others dispute it.
It’s just as well that the king’s barefoot journey—leading the Dornish hostages behind him as far as the border with Dorne—is to the south. To the north, word from Duskendale and beyond has been filled with news of a feud amidst the houses of Crackclaw Point which has broken into open warfare. The cause? The abduction of an heiress by the Stauntons, it’s said, despite a Brune knight having been her intended. Half the houses of the Point have been dragged into the fighting through marriage ties.
The bogs and hills of Crackclaw Point are often lawless, ruled by petty lords and knights who often fight with one another, but traditionally they have sworn themselves to the Targaryens, and it’s to House Targaryen that peace is looked for. A justiciar was sent from the city, with an escort of men-at-arms and a Kingsguard, to bring peace and justice to the region. It was said that Baelor had at first wanted to send one of the Most Devout as his agent, but that the Master of Laws, Lord Terin, sided with Prince Viserys in insisting it was a justiciar.
Not all news of the court has to do with journeying beyond the walls, however. Another of the king’s justiciars, the Northern knight called Winterfast, is preparing to try the Starveling and his wicked compatriots, brigands and broken men who troubled the kingswood. Flowers, the most notorious bandit of recent memory, briefly threatend to overrun the kingswood until a force of knights under the royal banner crushed his efforts. Despite this, Flowers returned to prominence with the kidnapping and most foul, terribly murder of Ser Almer Connington’s wife and infant son. All expect he will die an outlaw’s death, and his men with him, but who knows what evidence the justiciar may discover?
One of Starion Flowers’s henchmen, Bors Breakhelm, managed to escape Ser Sarmion Baratheon’s men, and it’s said that even now he and his occasionally ambush wayfarers. This has led to an increased call for patrols in the region, and some—such as Lord Terin—urge the king to shift more responsibility onto the gold cloaks, fearing the Warden of the Kingswood’s men are not sufficient to the task. Others say that merchants should pay for their own protection, hiring from any of the countless sellswords and hedge knights that now live hand-to-mouth in King’s Landing and stir up trouble within the walls.