The morning dawned with the king awake, after having knelt before the altars of the Seven in the royal sept in succession through all the previous night, fasting and praying in readiness for his coronation. Nearly a week of feasting had preceded it, each feast hosted by some gracious noble house—Crakehall, Gargalen, Tully, Baratheon, Lannister, and Arryn—and none could recall such a fine gathering of the great and the courtly since the coronation of the king’s late father, Viserys, whose crowning ended two harsh years of war. Lavish efforts were made to impress his grace and his court, as each house vied to outdo the other: Ser Ethos Mertyns and Lady Joleta Gargalen, in a canny effort to emphasize the peace with Dorne, provided a rich array of Dornish food, and a speech that found favor with the king, if not many others; Lady Tully hosted a masquerade that attracted tremendous efforts, and saw the queen and her sister dancing before a prize was granted; Ser Tancred Baratheon, on the other hand, surprised many by announcing his betrothal to Obany of House Darklyn, daughter of a man who had once been Master of Coin; Lord Arryn gave a fiery speech, very godly all agreed, as his guests dined.
Nor was feasting the whole of it: a great tourney was held, the greatest since King Daeron’s grand tourney following his victory in Dorne. Hosted by the united company of House Lannister, House Baratheon, and House Tyrell, with the aid and support of House Connington of Griffin’s Roost. Many great champions and promising knights and squires took part: well over a hundred, in fact. The jousting lasted from morning to twilight, and the feats of prowess performed in the lists will keep the singers busy for years to come. Who could forget the 18 lances broken between the Jousting Lord and Ser Almer Connington? The overthrowing of Ser Jace Rolling, the Knight of the Fountain, and Ser Ardon Tyrell by the unheralded Ser Luthor Rivers? Or the might of the Stormbreaker and the honed skill of Ser Aleyn Florent? There were heroes on the field that day, the Crakehall cousins and the heir to Storm’s End, the new lord Jossart Vaith, the Gargalen knight and the Dornish Prince?
And who, in the end, would forget the contest between Ser Jaesin Lannister of the Kingsguard and Ser Aidan Dayne, the Knight of the Twilight? Ser Aidan had battled back from his initial defeat by Ser Jaesin to win—against immense odds—a chance at a second try. And what came of it? Both men unhorsed, and the king granting them leave to fight afoot, an eerie echo of the close of the Young Dragon’s grand tourney when Ser Aidan had done just the same against Ser Jaesin’s greatest friend, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight. They battled before the crowd, which grew more and more anxious—and then, Ser Aidan struck the decisive blow, and Ser Jaesin yielded.
Not, however, a time for celebration. No, the crowd threatened riot—there were those at court who deliberated about what should happen if one of the Dornishmen would win, and their worst fears seem to be coming true. Lady Reyna Saltcliffe and Princess Naerys supported Baelor in trying to calm matters, while Prince Viserys called more gold cloaks… and then, another echo of that famed tourney, for the two knights came forward to offer a solution: rather than risking another joust (as was Ser Jaesin’s right), Ser Jaesin would forfeit it, and so the king could declare a draw. The prize—a rich purse, and a crystal consecrated by the High Septon, and the title of the Champion of the Maidens—could be shared between them. Lady Reyna provided a crystal from about her own neck to make a second.
So was disaster averted, to leave the next morning unmarred by wanton violence. The coronation went perfectly, though there were those who fainted for the length of it all, the endless prayers and benedictions and rituals, more than anyone could recall at Daeron’s crowning—a soldierly affair, swift and decisive, like the Young Dragon. But once it was done, a great procession returned t o the feasting hall of the Red Keep, where a huge feast was laid out by the wealthy, powerful Hightowers. A fine affair, a remarkable affair, not soon to be forgotten ...
Not least, when the king announced his intention: to soon leave his court behind, to take the Dornish hostages to Dorne in person, to conclude the peace with Dorne.
And not only would he take them there, but he would do so in penitence: he would walk bare foot, all that long way, from King’s Landing to Blackhaven, from Blackhaven to mount the Boneway, from the Boneway through the desert, until at last, by the grace of the gods, he would reach Sunspear. Prince Viserys, the Hand, seemed shocked into silence. No surprise; most everyone in the hall were similarly shocked.
So passed the coronation of King Baelor, First of His Name, in wonder, in awe, in stupefying piety that would leave the court uncertain and amazed.