The Conclave has met in the Citadel of Oldtown, the measurements and testaments of maesters across the Seven Kingdoms collated and examined by the wise archmaesters… and on white wings, the word that summer has ended and autumn has begun spreads across the realm. The white raven’s arrival in the Red Keep found the castle already in a festive mood, hard on the announcement of not one, but two women in the royal circle being with child. One was Princess Mariah, now carrying her fourth child for the Prince of Dragonstone, Daeron. The news of that would be celebrated as far as Sunspear, but within the Red Keep itself, the response was more careful and muted… not least because the king, the erstwhile grandsire, hardly acknowledged it.
But who could blame him, truly, when a child of his own was even now being carried? For the other announcement was that the king’s mistress, Lady Melissa of House Blackwood, was with child. As the custom has always been for noble ladies to wait a time before making an announcement, it shed new light on the rumors of the king having begun plans for a great tourney… for it seems he intends to throw it in honor of Missy Blackwood and her unborn child (“A son, leal and dutiful!” the king has predicted often and loudly) primarily, and to choose a kingsguard knight as almost an afterthought despite the late, lamented Ser Aleyn Florent’s post standing empty now for half a year.
How grand the tourney will be, however, remains a question as the treasury continues to feel the pinch from the many losses of the king’s aborted attempt to conqueor Dorne. Debates have raged in the small council about the borrowing of funds from various sources—the Lannisters, the Hightowers, the Iron Bank of Braavos, even the Archon of Tyrosh—and how to make good on the debts by finding ways to squeeze more from taxes, duties, and other such means of raising funds. King Aegon has no intentions of being constrained by coin counters, and insists that funds be found quickly.
This has caused a certain tension with the Hand, Lord Bracken, seemingly… although some at court whisper that it is Missy Blackwood’s influence (and her swelling belly) that has upset the Hand, who himself is grandsire to the king’s bastard Aegor Rivers, the boy the king once suggested might be his heir when Prince Daeron displeased him.
The long, long history of feuds between the Blackwoods and the Brackens explains Lord Bracken’s discomfort well enough, but others at court wonder if it doesn’t have to do with those ill-said words said many moons ago, a tantalizing possibility that the grandsire of a bastard might become, one day, grandsire of a king… _if_ some more pleasing bastard does not come forward, in any case.
And in Dorne? The Dornishmen have not been idle since King Aegon’s aborted invasion. On the one hand, ravens have flown from Sunspear, to Dragonstone and King’s Landing, Oldtown and Storm’s End, indicating that Prince Maron welcomes the restoration of good relations. In the Boneway and the Prince’s Pass, trade has once again begun to flow in both directions, the ways no longer controlled by the armies that Dornishmen readied to face the invaders but now only patrolled by watchtower guards and the hired hedge knights and men-at-arms who protect caravans and merchant trains from outlaws.
And in the Planky Town, word that a ship that set sail months before, with a delegation to the Free Cities with the aim of finding allies, has come back now with great tidings: the Sealord of Braavos has agreed to pay a visit to Sunspear in his own person at the end of a journey down the coast of Essos to visit the rival Free Cities of Myr, Pentos, and Tyrosh, with worthies among the Iron Bank and the great merchant houses in attendance. Such journeys by Sealords out of Braavos are rare indeed… and tend to signal the Sealord’s confidence in his rule of the secret city. Tenesio Velaron, the current Sealord, served as a noted admiral of the fleets of Braavos, not unlike a predecessor, Ferro Antaryon, the Lion of Braavos, who himself journeyed to King’s Landing at the invitation of the Young Dragon to discuss a possible alliance with the Iron Throne to secure control of Dorne. Has Prince Maron learned the lesson of history, and sought to make a similar alliance to dissuade Aegon from further adventures?
And does Tenesio Velaron recall that the Lion of Braavos himself died most unexpectedly, not long after entering negotiations with King Daeron?