The conflict between Pentos and Lys escalates day by day—outright battles at sea, sellsword companies gathering at ports, trade near the Stepstones becoming constricted as both fleets start to demand tolls for safe passage—and yet it is in distant Braavos where the breadth of the conflict hangs in the balance. Two months now since their first meetings with the Sealord himself, and the embassies from King’s Landing and Sunspear dance about one another, attempting to woo Dontario Prestayn and the Iron Bank to their side. The men dispatched by Viserys Targaryen have been dutiful in their efforts… but it has been noted that they have not met the Sealord again, and though they have found some allies among lesser officials of the court, no great names from the Sealord’s Palace have taken up the cause.
The wags at court lay the blame at the feet of the silver prince, Aegon Targaryen, who has of late spent more and more time out of the Lyseni manse in which he resides; visiting brothels, some say, but in the meaner districts of the city, near Ragman’s Harbor, and even that he has been seen in the company of Bellegre Otharys, the notorious Black Pearl.
The Pentoshi magister hosting the Dornishmen, it is said, has had more luck with the prince who is his guest—despite his reputation (little better, if a deal deadlier, than Aegon’s), Rhodry Martell has at least shown his face in the palace, and at certain fetes and entertainments. And for whatever reason, the Dornish have found support from an unexpected quarter: the Sealord’s chief admiral, Tenesio Velaron. It is a coup that has made the Lyseni emissaries less than pleased, it is said, and there have been whispers of suspicious origins implying that the Dornishmen have bribed Velaron: with gold, with promises, with women…
As to the truth of it? Who can say, for in the Secret City, many things are often hidden. But the semblance of truth can go far, and even as the Dornishmen attempt to convince the Sealord that Braavos, Dorne, and Pentos could together hold the Stepstones, there are those at the Sealord’s court who have begun to repeat those rumors about Tenesio Velaron and his motives for supporting the Dornish cause, ambitious men seeing a chance to gain power, or influence, or foreign friends from Lys who might reward them in turn.
And in distant Dorne? Rumors of exercises in the Broken Arm, of ships sailing beyond them to the westernmost Stepstones where the Pentoshi are said to have established a base, and then those ships returning swiftly and ravens flying to Sunspear….