A warm, pleasant Spring day, the wind scented with the salt of Blackwater Bay, fat white clouds gliding across the blue sky occasionally casting their shadows in the yard. As is common at the Red Keep, a host of knights and men-at-arms are using the yard to practice their skils, hacking at pells or at one another, sending arrows down long lanes at straw targets, or racing to crack lances against the quintain. Lords and ladies of the court have gathered, under cover of watching such sport, but in truth most are occupied with gossping about something entirely unrelated: Princess Elaena’s bastard twins, fathered by none other than the famed master of ships and admiral, Lord Alyn Velaryon, a man old enough to be her father.
Among the knights at practice is the Dornishman, captain of Princess Mariah’s guard, Ser Aidan Dayne. His lady wife Aisling, unlike some of the other ladies present, is not so much watching as making use of the spacious yard to her own ends, in this case putting a fine Dornish sand steed through its paces, showing herself as skilled a rider as any knight present.
“... expect the king will have them given over to the Faith,” a courtier can be overheard telling a pair of ladies, as they all pretend to watch the men-at-arms practicing. “I heard they’d be sent to Sweetport Sound, for Lord Sunglass to raise instead,” one of said ladies replies, “a most pious man, but still, a nobleman. They have the Dragon’s blood.”
“What of it? They can become septon and septa. The Old King had a daughter who was a septa,” the other lady replies to that, seeming dubious of the rumor.
Lady Aisling’s black mare is spirited and seems eager to show herself off, tail carried high and neck proudly arched, and it is with some reluctance that she’s brought back to a walk and then halted near to the group of onlookers. It seems her rider desires to watch her husband at practice, as that is where she turns her attention.
Ser Jonas trains against three opponents, one knight and a pair of squires. Focusing on his shield work the Westerman blocks blows from an axe and a pair of swords - all three blunted for training in the yard - and uses positing and quick footwork to keep the stout wooden shield between the weapons and himself. Every few blows the Knight from House Marbrand takes the offensive with a fierce counterattack and his sword drives his attackers back to prevent them from boxing him in. The knight opposite him reacts as one would expect but both squires are caught slightly off guard and during one of the counterattacks the taller of the pair looses their balance. The combat ceases to allow the squire to regain their footing and for Ser Jonas to explain to the young man why they lost their balance and to show the pair how to better brace themselves next time. The pair of young men offer their thanks for the lesson and the group breaks for a breath of air. Ser Jonas salutes the other knight, hands his shield and sword to his own squire, and removes his helm to feel the fresh spring air upon his face.
A knight with tossled chestnut hair leans on the rail of the practice lists, near to where others spar. He is simply dressed in a linin shirt leather breeches and jacket, a small badge of the King pinned upon it donating his place in his retinue.
Ser Balon Selmy watches two horseme ride against the Quintain, crashing their lances against the wooden shield as their ride.
Ser Aidan slashes a practice sword through combinations of precise movements at the pell, resetting and repeating several times, the heavy steel blade raising a clatter from the wooden post with its projecting arms heavily marked by the hard use the knights, squires, and guards have put it to; pells are replaced quite regularly. It’s simple practice for such a famed knight, but mayhaps it’s part of why he has that fame. Still, he comes to a pause after awhile, brow sweating, and he moves aside to let others at it. He sees another knight taking a deserved pause, not so far away. “The hotter the day, the sweeter the air, we say in Dorne,” he says to Ser Jonas, pitching his Dornish drawl to reach, and then offering a half-bow and salute with his practice sword when he has the knight’s attention.
Josella spectates the practice from a side. She’s not one to gossip, and particularly not when it risks letting her seem proper as a lady to another of the princesses. If anything, her only motivation is to dispel any fleeting speculation: “I expect that it is the king’s decision, my lords.” She is not dressed particularly extravagant, for an illegitimate birth is no cause for celebration, yet she is still quite fair in her indigo gown. Her hair is tied back and braided in place as her marital status requires, but she does not wear a veil, enjoying the greater freedom of dress that has become common since the king’s accession.
“Good show,” she calls out, here and there. Josella is glad to have something to distract her from the bouts of gossip
So far, it seems working on his agility is one of the things Bryar is focused at right now, as he seems to be ducking and dodging some kind of imaginary opponent, just to make sure he can move a bit faster. After all, that would help quite a bit in a fight. Coming to a stop, he looks around, nodding to the various people present, “Such a lovely day,” he offers, a bit lightly.
A man dressed in the robes of a scribe serving beneath the master of coin has a small gathering about him as he gossips. “What _I_ heard is that the king means to name a new master of ships,” he tells those listening to him. “Lord Velaryon has lost his confidence, even if he’s—”
“Horse shit,” a grizzled older knight says to that, spitting and glowering. “There’s not a man in all the Seven Kingdoms who can be half the captain and admiral of Oakenfist. Has he not done great things for the realm? Whatever grievance the king may have—and I would not blame him for having on—it does not change that Lord Alyn is who he is, the best sailor since… well, since his grandsire, I suppose. They’ll find some way to make it right between them.”
“Between them?” A tart voice at that, a younger lady of the court. “It wasn’t the king that gave birth to two children not a week past. I think the princess should decide what becomes of Lord Alyn.”
“So you _say_,” comes the reply from the Dornish knight’s wife. “I am not entirely certain that I agree.” But then again, Lady Aisling is a daughter of the North, so it is hardly surprising if she found the weather in Dorne hotter than she would have liked. But then she finds herself distracted, overhearing some of the talk arising from the crowd around the scribe, and a slight frown furrows her brow.
The Ashemark Knight returns Ser Aiden’s half bow and salute. “Then we are close to the day when the air shall be sweeter than honey now that Spring is fully in bloom.”
The Buckler Dowager, jangling with jewelry and drunk on gossip, flutters about the yard with her customary buoyancy, trading gabs with one group of ladies before moving on to the next, then the next. While many ladies of her station might exercise some cursory discretion at the delicate matter at hand, Lady Lynesse betrays nary a whit of reticence, laughing and bantering as though they were all gathered in some backwater tavern, rather than the very heart of the Targaryen dynasty. Indeed, she only seems to move on to the next group once she has sufficiently alienated those around her with an excess of scandalous chatter.
The sparring in the yard serves only as an idle diversion for the Dowager of Bronzegate (something to rest her eyes against while blathering to everybody and nobody in particular), but she is momentarily distracted by Lady Aisling, whirring past on her sand steed. The sight sends her back to chattering (at the expense of some lord or lady’s honor, no doubt).
Perhaps it is the throng of courtiers and their wild speculation, but Josella can’t stop herself from offering an opinion: “Well, it’s hardly the first time that Lord Velaryon has been in an unfavorable position with the crown over a - predicament with a royal lady,” she notes, her voice showing neither approval or disapproval of that fact. “And from what I might gather, the princess does not have any ill will with Lord Alyn, so indeed any reconciliation would be with his grace.”
She regrets her decision when her husband’s elderly relative adds raptuous laughter to the situation. “Lady Buckler, do you need help,” she asks, subdued, hoping to silence the dowager somewhat, pretending as if she is but an ailing old woman. “Dear me, Lady Aisling’s quite skilful. I keep reminding myself to practice more often, but I keep getting caught up in my letters and ledgers.”
The Selmy knight glances over at the groups gossiping, listening with only a half interest as his eyes find the other knights at practice with swords. He pushes himself lightly from the rail and takes a few steps towards those at practice to watch with interest but close enough to the other courtiers to keep himself within earshot.
Ser Aidan offers Ser Bryar a nod as well, in greeting. “As we were remarking, ser,” the Dornish knight says to him. “Though it leaves one thirsty, after swinging a sword awhile. Still, better to train and sweat than…” His attention wanders to the knots and clusters of gossiping nobles. A shrug, and intead his attention is taken by his wife, riding up to come closer to him. He grins and tells her, “The bitter blasts of winter wind when the snow is thick on the ground are, surely, much less pleasant than even a faint stir of air in the desert, my lady.” Not that he has ever been anywhere where the snow has been particularly thick on the ground, to be sure…
As he says this, the gates of the Red Keep groan open to allow someone to ride through. And in this case, who it is leads to a palpable change in the yard, for it’s none other than Lord Alyn Velaryon, with a pair of knights from the royal fleet as companion. Much of the gossip dies away, and eyes turn all-too-obviously to try and watch the martial practice… but even some of the practioners find their attention turned to the great captain.
Velaryon deigns not to notice, not at first, dismounting and handing off his horse to a waiting groom.
Speaking of thirst - Ser Jonas accepts a waterskin from his squire and takes a drink, enjoying the feeling of the liquid as it refreshes his dried throat. “Ser Bryar” the Westerman greets the Heir to House Mooton with a welcoming smile and nod. The entrance of Lord Velaryon catches his attention but the Knight from House Marbrand does not stare, he does however notice the quieting of the gallery and the eyes which suddenly turned towards the training yard.
An amused reply from Lady Aisling to her husband’s assertations of the pleasant qualities of the weather in Dorne is cut short before it is barely begun by the hush that follows Velaryon’s arrival. She but glances at the man and his companions, then seem to find it a relief to have Aidan to direct her attention back at. “All of a sudden, the day feels rather more oppressive,” she cannot help but to remark.
“Help?” Lady Buckler regards Josella’s query with confusion, before registering her meaning and breaking off from the throng. “Oh yes, dear…” she begins, with the implication that her performance is at an end, then follows; “I should need help finding a filling of hippocras! This Arbor swill has done my digestion no favors since my personal stores ran dry,” she says too loudly and with a smirk, swirling her goblet around near to the point of spilling.
At the entrance of Lord Velaryon, the dowager’s antics are cooled, though the inebriated smirk intensifies once she registers the situation.
Ser Morland rides a respectable distance behind Lord Alyn, his features plastered into a familiar, if stiff, smile. He is conspicuously quiet on approach, though he offers nods of acknowledgement to any lord or lady that catches his attention. His armor is polished, his grip on his reins tight until a squire comes to take his mount away. His attention seems pinned to Lord Alyn, very intent to catch anything the man might say or do, only partly aware of the others around him.
“What a merry lot,” Oakenfist says in a voice dripping with cheerful sarcasm, as he sketches a bow to the gathered crowd who either look at him openly or all too obviously make an effort not to do so. If any are stung by his remark, they are at least schooled enough not to show it. But some at least are moved to approach, to greet the master of ships properly, or at least offer due deference with theirs bows and curtsies.
“You see, sers? I haven’t had so many eyes on me since I came back from the Stepstones with a dozen captured ships.”
“And an elephant,” the other knight accompanying Lord Alyn and Ser Morland says. “Don’t forget the elephant, my lord.”
Alyn laughs at that. “Well remembered, ser.” And then he turns to playing the courtier, accepting the greetings with something like good grace. The occasional offer of congratulations for the birth of two bastards, on the other hand, are a little more fraught, both for those offering the congratulations and the one receiving it, and there is an awkardness there.
About to say something before the latest arrivals, Bryar goes silent again. Offering the Master of Ships a polite nod, he looks to the various other people gathered for now, expression a bit thoughtful.
The Buckler Dowager turns to her closest relative present, Lady Josella, with the same smirk she turned away with. “Shall we grace Lord Alyn with felicitations from the Hightower?” She asks of Josella, ambiguous as to the nature of the felicitations.
Josella’s not quite sure if or how to congratulate the lord, but does curtsy before him: he is not her liege lord, but a longstanding officer of the crown, man of the small council, and perhaps the most famous figure alive in the Seven Kingdoms after the Dragonknight. The lady settles on: “I hope your family is in good health, my lord of Driftmark.” That will do; not commenting openly on the scandal but leaving enough room for it to be interpreted positively. She keeps a hand on Lady Buckler’s arm: “of course, some hippocras for your health. I’m afraid servants are more fraught outdoors, though,” she frowns a little, giving enough attention to the lady so she doesn’t embarass herself before a distinguished statesman.
He cannot contest what his wife says, and so Ser Aidan merely nods, struggling for a moment as to what the proper course might be. Better, mayhaps, to say and do nothing… but then, Lord Alyn was well-known in Dorne, and indeed was claimed by some to have had the Princess of Dorne as his lover for a time. In lieu of deciding, he says instead to the others, “You said spring was in full bloom, Ser Jonas, but I wonder if it’s not coming past that. The Grand Maester dined with my lord Prince Daeron and Princess Mariah not a fortnight past, and made some remark about observations that had been made at the Citadel.” A pause, as if pondering what more to say, and then the Dornishman adds, “I would not be surprised if we learn the Conclave is called in the next few moons.”
Lady Buckler grasps Josella’s hand to her arm firmly, as though in a vie for dominance, but relinquishes once the Velaryon contingent approaches. She curtsies before Ser Alyn, stifling a chuckle like an overactive child being restrained by her mother. Lynesse, unashamed of her drunkenness, pries herself free of Josella’s grip as if to say “you have no right,” but never drops her sickly-sweet smile.
The lingering furrowing of her brow gives Aisling a vaguely distracted appearance, further enhanced as she lifts a hand to brush at the pale streak of hair at her temple. Then she lowers it back to her reins and casts another glance over at Lord Alyn and his companions. “Summer in King’s Landing can be sweltering enough,” she remarks to Aidan and the others. “Especially in the city itself.”
Ser Jonas offers a polite and respectful bow to the Lord of Driftmark. He nods at Ser Aiden’s remarks about the calling of a Conclave. “This shall be my first summer here in King’s Landing.” Ser Jonas replies to both Ser Aiden and his wife Lady Aisling. “In the Westerlands they say that the most humid days of Summer in King’s Landing can steal the breath from a Knight as fast as a sword.”
“I’ve felt the approach of summer for quite a while,” Josella adds her voice to the discussion. “Well, it is an inevitability of a fair spring as ours. I wonder… last winter was quite short, only lasting a little more than a year. Should that mean our summer shall be brief in turn, or that it shall be exceptionally warm. Ah, do not mind me, I know little of the theories of the seasons and whatever science there is to their changes.” She casts her mind back: “Last summer, oh, it must have been when I was a young maid, before the war’s end. I was lucky in some respects to have spent my time in Dorne in autumn, winter and spring. But let us not lament the heat; else I will be in the mind to retire to the Cape of Eagles for the season.”
“Good day, ladies,” Lord Alyn says, offering them both a bow. Does he notice Lady Lynesse’s tipsiness? If he does, he is polite enough not to say. “And my thanks. The gods are good, and all is well,” he says instead, much as what he’s said to a half-dozen others who have come by with similar careful questions. He seems mot eager to go on with his day, after all the attention, good and bad.
And go he will, but mayhaps not where he intended. As some knights resume their practice at arms, as some onlookers return to watching them (and keeping their voices lower when gossiping), the usual hustle and bustle in the yard resumes: servants with buckets, kitchen maids with baskets, carters driving wagons of supplies, guards changing their rotations, knights of the Kingsguard about their duties…
Not one white-cloaked knight, not two, but three. And what three they are: aged Ser Aleyn Florent is one, Lord Alyn’s kinsman Ser Galfrid Velaryon another… and heading them is none other than Prince Aemon the Dragonknight. And behind them are half a dozen gold cloak, following in their wake as they move inexorably toward Oakenfist.
Things grow hushed again, and quickly.
An eyebrow of the the Selmy knight raises at the approach of Prince Aemon and two more of the King’s Guard. He steps quietly towards the group of courtiers, the ice blue eyes fixed upon their approach as he finds himself standing near Lady Josella. “Whatever next?” He mutters, not sure if questioning himself or the others.
“Sers,” Josella mouths, but there is no sound. She is not as afraid as much as curious. Three knights of the Kingsguard with the king nowhere to be seen. An arrest is the most easy conclusion to make, but one can make no assumptions with Oakenfist. She looks to Ser Balon momentarily. “I believe the best course of action is to see what they have to say,” she answers quietly when he reacts.
Lynesse says, “Perhaps my mind would change if I ever ventured north of the Neck,” Lady Buckler starts, unfurling her YiTish hand-fan and wafting away at herself, “but I could never abide this southron heat of ours. A hot wind will take the life out of me quicker than any poison!” The fanning continues, and more rapidly, at the arrival of the vaunted knights. “Though I’ve never known the discomfort of a suit of armor, it is said that white cloth does a man better in the warm years,” she trails off absently, realizing the public’s attention has been affixed to the Kingsguard.”
“Somehow, I think everyone prefers the summer they are used to from home, at least up to a certain point…” Bryar begins, before he goes quiet again as he sees the new arrivals, offering the trio of white-cloaked knights a very polite nod as he watches them approach Lord Alyn. There’s a moment of glancing around, then his attention goes back where it has been.
Aisling considers Josella’s thoughts on the seasons with a still-distracted appearance, and before she can offer any further commentary—if she was of a mind to do so—the arrival of three knights of the Kingsguard draws her attention away. “I do not think the King’s mood has improved,” she remarks after a moment, more quietly than before.
Freed from the responsibility of managing his Rouncey, Ser Morland continues to keep a distant pace from the Oakenfist, only to catch sight of the Kingsguard. It’s at that point that the captain deems ot best to alter his course, breaking away so as to no longer stand between the Lord of Ships and the knights in white. Though still looking at the lord, he has unknowingly begun mingling with others, now within a proximity to Ser Balon. Seemingly genuinely surprised at the apparent manifestation of a familiar, if not friendly, face among the crowd, the Celtigar knight nods in greeting. “Ser Balon. A fine day to you. It would seem that there’s something of import about to happen, aye?”
Ser Jonas watches the arrival of the three knights of the Kingsguard in their fine white cloaks and hides any emotions and thoughts that his features would reveal behind another drink from his waterskin, befitting a conversation about the heat of summer. He stays silent after the refreshment but his eyes watch the scene in front of him as the Kingsguard and Gold Cloaks approach the Oakenfist.
There is a silent nod in agreement to Josella’s comment as the Selmy continues to watch the approach of the White cloaks. “And to you Ser.” He answers Morland’s greeting without breaking the gaze. “If there is, I would not know of it.” He answers honestly, though even if he had his position would oblige him to remain tight-lipped on such matters.
Lord Alyn displays only a moment’s surprise when the three Kingsguard knights and their guardsmen in tow approach him. After that flash, only a kind of rueful chagrin follows. “I’d offer you good day, sers, but I fear I’m finding less good by the moment,” the Lord of Driftmark says, and the quiet leads his voice to carry. He does not make a move for the sword at his belt, keeping his hands loosely at his sides. The Kingsguard knights, similarly, are not armed (not yet, in any case).
“My lord cousin,” Prince Aemon says, he whose mother was a Velaryon. “We have been asked to escort you elsewhere, until his grace, the king, has time to meet with you.” A hestiation, and then the Dragonknight says, apologetically, “I must ask for your sword and dagger, before we continue.”
“Of course,” Lord Alyn says. “I suppose it’s the black cells for me, eh, like the Sea Snake? Your lord father seems to want to make a new tradition.”
Apart from the words exchanged between Lord Alyn and Prince Aemon, an uncomfortable silence has fallen over much of the yard. For a moment, however, it is broken by the snorting and restless pawing of a horse; Lady Aisling’s black mare has grown weary of standing still. Hastily, her rider dismounts and moves to lay a quieting hand on the mare’s head, not wishing to attract any attention.
The Dowager of Bronzegate, for once, shows enough acumen to abandon her smirk for a mien of scandalization. One hand darts to clutch at a jasper pendant hanging round her neck, while the other droops, holding onto her YiTish fan so limply that it is like to fall at the next aspersion. Though her mouth hangs agape in concert with most others present, her dark eyes devour the spectacle as greedily as if it were a mummer’s show.
Morland whispers to Balon, “Though ... focusing ... gaze ... and ... Ser ... ... at a ... ...“I do so hate it when those in conflict are those close to the king… a member of the Small Council and one of the king’s own blood?”
Balon whispers to Morland, “Nothing ... it, ... ... end.”
As Oakenfist disarms himself, a gold cloak steps forward to take charge of the weapons. But Prince Aemon denies Lord Alyn’s supposition. “You’ll be kept with every comfort, my lord. And it is only for a brief while. His Grace will be speaking with the princess first, and then will come to you.”
Velaryon accepts it with a shrug, “Well, that is kind of him.” He seems resigned to the situation, and turns instead to the two knights. “Ser Morland, I do not know if I’ll be master of ships by day’s end. I would ask you to find the other captains at court or at the docks, and let them know that I think them for their service, and shall be most pleased to hear that they are welcoming to my successor, whoever he may be.” The other knight is addressed as well, with a different request: to go to Lord Alyn’s quarters, and collect a few belongings and a change of clothing for his sojourn in the dungeon. As to Princess Elaena… well, there’s nothing for it at the moment.
Caught unawares by the address of Lord Alyn, Ser Morland is left with mouth agape for a solid second or two before hurriedly bowing his head to the Lord of Ships, however long that title would hold. “At once, Lord Alyn.” There’s a tautness to the response, as if a suddent tension has filled the captain’s entire being in that moment. “I shall see to it personally.” The corners of his mouth twitch, as if he’s desperately fighting to maintain a neutral expression.
There’s a stir through onlookers as matters progress, but Lord Alyn’s acceptance of his confinement takes a deal of tension out of matters. What will happen after, none can say, but at least at this moment there seems to risk of bloodshed or outrage. Velaryon is escorted away by the Kingsguard, and in his wake the yard grows louder, as whispers prove too quiet and everyone starts talking aloud about what has happened, and wondering at what will happen, while many opine on the justness of it all.
“The dungeon,” Josella considers to her nearest companions, somewhat surprised. “Not the black cells, but serious… I do not think anything that poor should come of it, but… it is hard to say. More a scandal than his marriage to the lady Baela… but perhaps not as worrisome as the matter of Stinger.” After, she tries to keep composed, and offers a silent prayer of thanks to be attached to a princess free of scandal.
Lady Buckler joins in the rising chatter just as it comes to a boil. “Lord Alyn… he made a true friend of my lord brother and good-sister during his voyage to Oldtown… the man was blessed by the High Septon himself! By the Maiden—!” Her exuberance wanes after discerning the general mood of those around her, and she drops into a more decorous bearing before continuing. “Surely… surely not Lord Alyn… I shall write my brother at once, that he might help amend this… this… confusion…” she adds, with little enthusiasm, and breaks off to find her goblet.
“Serious matters are afoot,” Ser Aidan remarks, to no one in particular. In the wake of Velaryon’s arrest, the yard is abuzz, a babble of competing voices and commentaries. The knight turns to Aisling. “My lady, mayhaps we should retire, and bring word of this to the prince and princess. Assuming they do not already know, that is.” Aisling can only but agree with the wisdom of this, and rides off to deliver her horse to a groom. As she does so, he makes his excuses, offering bows and farewells. When Aisling returns, they depart together, through the gate into the inner yard.
“Well, I believe that I should make haste in completing my appointed task.” Ser Morland’s statement isn’t directed at anyone in particular, though he does turn to Ser Balon. “Ser Balon. I had thought I might see you and others display skill at arms, but I had best be off.” A sigh follows. “Take care, Ser.” He pauses to allow a response, but barring something serious the captain will hastily retrieve his horse and begin to seek out the officers of the Royal Fleet.