The new year has dawned. The realm at large is at peace. Dorne to the south lies quiescent under the rule of its new young Prince, his own sister establishing herself in the court of the Iron Throne as wife to the king’s young cousin. All is well, all is well…
... except, that is, the king himself. For Baelor the Blessed has fasted for a fortnight and more, ever since the birth—the lamentable, sinful birth—of Daemon Waters, the bastard son of his sister and former queen Daena. Daena the Defiant, she is called, and her son’s name was chosen in defiance to torment the king. “Daemon? Demon, she means, a demon of the seven hells, accursed with bastard blood!” So said one of the Most Devout, one of the aged holy men now in charge of the boy High Septon that the king picked to become the Voice of the Seven on Earth, but the king in a rare fit of temper sent him away from him and returned to his prayer and his fast.
Baelor has fasted before, has performed miraculous (or mad, or both) feats in devotion to the Seven—who else would walk barefoot across the burning sands of Dorne in penance to make peace with Sunspear?—but now a score of days have passed and the king insists he will continue his fast until the Seven tell him to have done, that with sufficient piety mayhaps the Father will bless the child, or drive the nameless father to reveal himself and set matters aright. This will be his longest fast, drinking only water, abjuring even the smallest morsel of food, not even so much as a crust of bread.
And so while the king fasts and prays, the small council must needs rule in his name. The Hand of the King has sat in judgement on the Iron Throne on the king’s behalf, and has steered the court to do all that is needful to maintain the peace. He has met with envoys from the Free Cities, and even lately recent arrivals from Dorne dispatched to King’s Landing to join the household of Princess Mariah. Even if the king labors at prayer and prayer alone, the realm seems in safe hands, protected until the septon-king is ready to lead once more.