A month has passed since the return of King Aegon, Fourth of His Name, with the remnant of his great army that had so boldly marched but two months earlier for Dorne and a renewed attempt to conquer it. All the realm now knows of the debacle that followed, the news writ in the jade green flames of wildfire that set the kingswood alight and left thousands dead and a third of the forest turned to ash. That the king escaped with his life had been chance, and the valiant efforts of his loyal knights and men-at-arms, though some paid the greatest price that could be paid to see their king live. The flight to Tumblestone, the respite found there as Lord and Lady Footly hosted the king’s host, all were relatively uneventful… but colored by some by the realization that the king now promised to attack Dorne next year, or perhaps the year after.
The return to the city had relatively little pomp and circumstance, especially when compared to the brave showing the kingslanders had made to see their king and his glittering army, with its wooden “dragons”, departing for their campaign. Lord Bracken, the King’s Hand, made sure that the City Watch was in great force, and few were able to get more than a fleeting glimpse of the king as he rode directly to the Red Keep. It was there where the recriminations would begin, as word began to fly about the court that the king blamed the maesters who had helped design the engines… and especially the pyromancers, who swore the engines would be safe to pull even up onto the Boneway, much less the kingsroad.
Some of those the king blamed were, conveniently, already dead, killed in the wildfire disaster. But others remained in the city. The maesters were, on the whole, the safest from the king’s wrath, as the Grand Maester himself interceded and took whatever blame the king wished to mete out to his order, and he swore that the archmaesters at the Citadel would hear of all the king’s complaints. The pyromancers, however, were less secure. Indeed, when a rumor ran that the king had commanded Luthor Rivers to round up the senior Wisdoms, most of them fled with a surprising alacrity, taking ship to the Free Cities in terror for their lives.
As it happened, no such order was given… but the king immediately showed his displeasure by refusing to pay the remaining costs for the wildfire that the alchemists had made, and swore that in his reign wildfire would never again be used. This cast the guild into great confusion, buried under debts that would not be made good and many of its elder leadership fled. There are now rumors that the guildhall itself may have to be sold, unless some solution can be found.
As to the rest of the court? The king did have praise for some, for their leal efforts and bravery. There are still knights and lords missing, but now they are thought to be dead, among them the lords of the Antlers and Stonedance, and the king has given thought to their disposition under uncertain circumstances. The Antlers is presently ruled by Lord Jarmon’s widow, Lady Jannia, on behalf of their son… but the child is little more than an infant, and there is a thought that mayhaps a stronger hand is needed. As to Stonedance, both Lord Massey and his heir are presumed dead, and the king’s favor to Ser Luthor Rivers seems to extend to supporting naming Ser Luthor’s wife, Lady Pennei, as Lady of Stonedance, with their son as heir. Yet Rivers’s bastard birth has raised eyebrows at Stonedance, and some argue that Lord Maslan would have preferred his brother Ser Harmon to succeed him instead of a daughter wed to a bastard-born knight of infamous lineage, however high he has risen in the king’s service.