King Baelor, the First of His Name, the septon-king of House Targaryen, held court in the Red Keep beneath the dragon skulls that had come to adorn the throne room. Of late, misfortunes had befallen his house—an unwed sister bearing a bastard child whose father she would not name, all the prayers wasted in trying to kindle life in dragon eggs left from his father’s day—and many saw in the king a change. He had become less easy to smile and more zealous in his prayers, and this was on full display during the petitions brought before him.
Many of the lords and ladies and knights who presented issues to him merely sought advancements, as Ser Aloran Celtigar did when he sought a place in the royal fleet, or as Lord Kaeron Bar Emmon did when he asked the king for places at court for his heir and youngest daughter (the latter of whom offered, to everyone’s some surprise, some objection before the king), and as Josella Hightower did when she joined Kaeron’s daughter in looking for a place as a lady-in-waiting for the pregnant Princess Mariah of Dorne. Others, such as Ser Durance Darklyn, instead sought to impress the king with their piety and devotion to the Seven, as that knight did when he pledged his prize from a tourney in Dorne towards the construction of the king’s great sept, slowly rising upon Visenya’s Hill. The king was most pleased by this, and by the request of a Selmy knight to wed his Dondarrion in the royal sept, with the king himself officiating. For a moment, he seemed like the gentle, smiling king the realm had known for nigh on ten years.
More petitioners came, high and low alike, and the kind heard them all. But the session ended not with some decision on some minor dispute, or a blessing, but a stern admonition and proclamation: the realm was once again falling afoul of sin, and King’s Landing was setting no good example; to further help the restoration of purity, he had commanded the collection and burning of a number of texts ranging from bawdy tales to scurrilous histories and on to heretical writings, and sent word throughout the realm that the lords of the Seven Kingdoms (and even the Citadel) should do the same.
And in distant Dorne? The Prince of Dorne still seems to weigh whether to wed now, and whom to betroth to, and that has led many great lords and ladies to bring their daughters to Sunspear. The recent announcement that his uncle Prince Rhodry’s wife, Lady Tanyth, was now with child have further made some wonder if it would not encourage Prince Maron to seek a bride of his own. In relation to this, it is expected for the prince to call for a gathering at his court, and rumors run wild that in fact he has already found his potential bride, while others merely imagine he means to state his intent to find a bride… and, mayhaps, to finally execute some of the long-rumored changes at court.