Day 15 of Month 9, 165 AC
The king’s return to health continues, and with it… more changes at court. Not, as it happens, offices (although there have been more movements there as well, in lesser offices, and certain other positions of greater note). Instead, the king has turned his eye to the spiritual health of the realm. Moved by prayers, by council with the High Septon and the Most Devout, by the plight of the kingslanders as reports filter even into the Red Keep of the city watch having to deal more and more often with rapers and prostitues who try to secretly carry on their immoral conduct.
It began with the placement of a few more maids in the keep some now call the Maidenvault, there to be confined in their innocence with his three sisters, safe from all the sins of the world. But that was not the end to his decisions. King’s Landing was mired in filth, and he named to his small council his solution: a portion of ten gold dragons to any couple who wed in the city, a fortune for the smallfolk. It is said Beron Buckwell, the master of coin, tried to argue strenuously against it, as did Prince Viserys, but Baelor would not be denied. Officials at court wring their hands, it’s said, and privately there are those prepared for a wave of fraudulent marriage claims on the king’s portions. But what are they to do, but what the king commands?
But maids dispatched to the Maidenvault, and common men and women brought to fruitful, holy wedlock, are not the total sum of the king’s efforts. Strangest of all was the news of a betrothal at the king’s behest between two noble personages: Ser Aidan Dayne, the Knight of the Twilight, captain of the guard of the Dornish embassy to the Iron Throne, and Lady Aisling Ryswell.
Why? No one could fathom it, truly, and those who knew the particulars would not speak of it. All anyone could say for certain is that Lady Tilly Ryswell, the lady’s step-mother, and her brother Lord Ryger, the master of laws, both seemed shocked when the news was delivered to them by a royal page. There had been those who said that both of them had suggested Lady Aisling as a suitable companion to the princesses in their keep—still unwed and unbetrothed, as chaste as any septa could wish despite her professing the old gods of her father, said to be well-read—but this?
Years before, when the Dornish knight was a hostage in the Red Keep, there had been idle gossip that Lord Ryger had warned Ser Aidan away from his niece. But that was many years ago, and no impropriety clung to them, then or now. At most, some muse on the fact that the famed Dornishman had been one of the few hostages who followed Baelor all the way to Sunspear when he walked barefoot in penitence; most of the rest took ships as soon as they set foot in Dorne, or went their own way. Might the king have decided to gift the lady’s hand to him? And if so, what other maids might find themselves so disposed of, at a king’s whim?
There are some lords who even now have quietly determined their maiden daughters must needs return to their homes, away from court. After all, if a king decrees a betrothal, who arranges the contract between the families, and at what terms? Perhaps that is why Ser Aidan was seen at the rookery the morning the word began to spread, and messengers in royal livery besides. A number of ravens flew then, some south, and some north.