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Reception at the Red Keep

Posted on Mon Mar 15th, 2021 @ 8:14pm by Lord Aethan Velaryon & Lord Myles Lannister & Ser Stevron Velaryon & Lady Shireen Velaryon & Lady Lynora Lannister & Lady Myrielle Lannister & Lady Myrcella Lannister & Steffon Lannister & Lyle Lannister & Lord Jonah Tully & Ser Jevan Darry & Ser Renn Baratheon & Lady Joanna Hightower & Prince Nymor Martell & Lord Brannis Baratheon & Ser Edric Martell & Ser Arron Martell & Lady Ashara Martell & Lady Lileander Baratheon & Princess Tyene Martell

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Red Keep, Kings Landing
Timeline: After the Ceremony at the Great Sept of Recollection

The gardens at the Red Keep were manicured for the first time in numerous years. Lanterns with the Lynderly green serpent patterns were strung up above long tables for the attending nobles. The evening was both a celebration of King Waynn’s life and a departure party for the late King’s Small Council. The flower bushes were cut into perfect spheres. All of the weeds had been pulled from between the cobblestones. Everything looked ideal, regal even.

Servants mulled about laying out trays of fruits and cheeses. Ornate silver decanters of wines also lined the tables.

The unmistakable click of Shireen’s cane on the stone filled the air with a wordless announcement of the Velaryon’s arrival. “The gardens looked quite different when I was last here, and different still when I was a young girl at court.” She spoke with a fond smile and a warm look to her grandson.

Aethan nodded. He had only been to the Red Keep once before and he was far too young to remember it clearly. Stevron had split from his family upon arriving at the Red Keep. He needed to join his fellow Small Councillors as they played host to visiting lords.

Shireen approached a servant who poured two goblets of wine for she and Aethan. “Now we mingle, and hopefully find you a match.”

Joanna also split from her small party, such as it was, soon upon arriving. She was genuinely reflective on all that she had seen and heard. She was infamously of a somewhat philosophical bent and her mind was dwelling upon mortality and upon the tenets of the Faith. She wondered if this garden would ever be decorated with the serpent of Lynderly again.

The eldest Velaryon spotted Joanna immediately. “Joanna darling.” She waved the Lady of the Hightower over.

"Lady Shireen," Joanna said as she looked up, moving to join her.

“Let me take a look at you.” Shireen grasped Joanna’s hand and looked her up and down. “Aren’t you absolutely singular. A vision.”

"Thank you," Joanna said, a little dryly.

“Now, have you secured a engagement yet?” Despite having arranged the match between Joanna and Aethan years earlier, it was later decided that with Joanna’s inheritance the match would not be ideal. Still, she held a fondness for the girl, seeing something on her young self in the Hightower girl.

"Not yet, no," Joanna answered candidly.

Shireen let go of Joanna’s hand and began to tut. “Keep your options open my dear, you never know what opportunities will come your way and soon.”

Aethan shifted side to side. He smiled warmly at Joanna at the mention of marriage prospects.

Joanna returned the smile. "There have been offers," she said confidently, though she didn't elaborate.

Shireen smirked. “Excuse me, I should go greet Lord Sunderland.” She gulped the contents of her goblet and set it aside. She set of towards the man who smiled on her approach.

Aethan looped his arm as an proposition to lead Joanna around.

She took his arm elegantly, moving with him through the procession.

A few minutes later Jon walked into the gardens with Jevan besides him. He took a moment just inside of it to take in all the decorations and plant-sculpting, admiring the beauty. His eyes were first drawn to the buffet tables, and the delicious looking spread layed out. Then his eyes danced over some of the visitors he recognised from face or from description. "It's busy, isn't it?"

Caught up with brushing some horse hair from his doublet, Jevan's response was delayed still further by the slow passage of a pretty young redhead across the path to their east. His gaze, and head, followed her in a long minute of silence before he jerked his attention back to the man beside him. "Very busy," he agreed. "Can we eat yet?"

A chuckle and a headshake were Jon's first responses. "Are you sure you're a Darry and not a Manderley?" He then gestured towards the tables. "Go grab something to eat. And get me some grapes if they have any." Jon then walked the opposite way, spotting white and gold hair walking past him.

"I'm sure," returned Jevan, abruptly, his attention divided. A enthusiastic nod followed Jon's instructions though and the younger man strode confidently over to study the available food. His gaze wandered to each new female face in the mix though, even as he filled a bowl with a selection of treats. It had been a long ride, but not so exhausting as to divert Jevan's eyes from the finery of the women present in this majestic setting.

Another grouping entered the gardens, this time the Martells. Prince Nymor and Princess Tyene walked arm in arm with their children traveling behind them. Immediately, Edric began to wave at people he knew, familiar faces from the last few days or tourneys gone by. Ashara looked around with curious eyes at the beautiful decorations and Landerly sigils, but most of all, she looked at the faces of those milling about. Aaron's eyes danced around strangely as he took in his surroundings silently.

"Remember, Nymor, now is an excellent time to find a match for Ashara." Tyene said to her husband quietly. "Edric and Aaron will find Dornish girls, but our daughter can open up the whole Six Kingdoms to us if we choose correctly."

"Then let us choose correctly." he responded, giving his wife's arm a loving squeeze even from where he towered over her.

“Have you met the Martell’s yet?” Aethan asked Joanna regarding the Dornish family as they arrived. They walked along a long table, and Aethan plucked a candied plum from a silver tray as they passed and popped it into his mouth.

"Long ago," Joanna said. "I do not know them well."

Stepping towards the Lord and Lady, Jon smiled. "Lord Velaryon, such a pleasure to see you here."the riverlord said with a smile as he extended his hand.

“Lord Tully.” Aethan said with a smile. “I’ve heard all about you from my uncle Stevron.” He took the offered hand.

"Lord Tully," Joanna said.

"Your uncle is a liar and a briggand, lord Velaryon, do not believe any tales he has told of me." Jon joked while shaking the hand before turning to the woman besides him. "Lady Joanna Hightower, if I'm not mistaken?"

"Indeed, Lord Tully," Joanna answered.

“Who might your companion be?” Aethan asked of the Knight accompanying Lord Jonah.

With a big bowl of grapes in one hand, Jevan had taken a moment to relocate Jonah. He'd grazed the buffet tables enough to quell his immediate hunger. Now he fell quietly into place beside and slightly behind the older man and tried not to stare too long at the gathered ladies while he waited to be introduced.

Jon turned to look behind him and took the grapes from Jevan before turning back. "Lord Aethan, Lady Joanna, this is Ser Jevan Darry. Heir to his brother, Lord Darry, and currently serving as my most trusted houseknight." The lord of the crossing took a half-step to the side to get Jevan in sight of the nobles. "Jevan, these Lord Aethan Velaryon of Dragonstone, and Lady Joanna Hightower of the Hightower."

Aethan extended a hand. "Ser Jevan. You're keeping this one out of trouble then?" He smirked, indicating Lord Tully.

There followed a well-practiced and perfectly executed respectful bow to each noble, and this either made Jevan a little warm or he blushed some as he stood back up. "Lord Velaryon," said Jevan, then immediately after a quick breath, "Lady Hightower." He offered out his own hand and firmly shook Aethan's, then looked slightly awkward at the question. "I, uh... I seek to protect him when others cause trouble," Jevan answered, his polite tone coloured with shyness.

“You needn’t be so mousy. You’re among friends.” Aethan said with a warm smile. “Are you to represent your House at the Great Council or are you accompanying Lord Tully?”

Jevan's thought pattern was all but visible in his face as he digested Aethan's words. Mousy?! He unsuccessfully bit back a scowl, and focused on the other part of that response. Among friends. Now that was interesting, as was Lord Velaryon's follow-up question. Jevan had never considered such high folluting folk to be 'friends', but the mention of representing his own house suprised him more. "Thank you, my lord," he replied, a little curtly as he tried not to screw up the protocol under what he considered to be Jonah's watchful gaze. "Uh, my brother is not well, but he has not officially asked me to represent him."

Jon stepped back next to Jevan and nodded. "Jevan is here as part of my retinue. I took him with me to the capitol to introduce him to people like yourselves." Jon nodded to lady and lord. Then he slapped Jevan on the back, "And who knows. A strapping young knight like him, perhaps we can find him a maid to marry. He could certainly use a wife to learn some of the finer points from."

Aethan nodded. "I understand Prince Nymor has a daughter." He held Joanna's arm a bit tighter. " How do you feel about the Dornish, Ser Jevan?"

Joanna couldn't help but smirk slightly both at Ser Jevan's words and at Lord Aethan's reaction. "I am sure a strapping young knight such as yourself will have no difficult finding a wife, Ser Jevan," she said.

Again, Aethan squeezed Joanna's are a bit. "The Baratheon's have a girl as well." He offered, hoping no one's attention focus on Joanna for too long. She was a prize after all.

He remained stalwartly upright as Jonah slapped his back, and Jevan's cheeks picked up a little colour as he was referred to as 'strapping' the second time by the elegant blonde Lady Hightower. "Thank you, my lady," he said, coyly. Honestly, he wasn't sure about this whole wife thing, but he wasn't about to argue with Jon in front of all these fancy folks. "I've not met the Dornish or the Baratheons, yet, my lord," Jevan said, simply. He cast his gaze briefly in their direction and wanted to ask how old said daughters were, though that seemed impolite. "Are you to be husband and wife?" The young knight asked innocently then, noticing the way Aethan kept a close hand on Joanna.

"I wonder if I might hire you as the matchmakers for Jevan. It would be so much simpler." Jon joked. Then his glance turned on the pair, and Jevan's question piqued his own curiousity as well. His gaze shifted as his expression become questioning. "And if so, does your grandmother know...?"

Aethan look rather uncomfortable for a brief moment and then spoke with confidence. “And why should she?” His tone was rather serious, having departed from friendly small talk.

"Lord Aethan is the head of House Velaryon and I the head of House Hightower," Joanna notes. Legally speaking, they are among the few Westeros nobles who do not need permission.

"I meant no disrespect to either of you. I am simply curious if Lady Shireen knew of your engagement of not. Having heard the rumours I wouldn't be surprised if she was attempting to find matches for you as we speak." Jon replied, half shrugging.

Aethan kept his face rather serious looking. "Whether I were engaged or not is something I would share with my dear grandmother when I see fit." The young Lord gave a smug smirk. "If you'll excuse us, I believe I see old Lord Celtigar, My Lord Grandfather. " Of course this wasn't the case. Lord Celtigar hadn't so much as left Claw Isle for longer than Aethan had lived.

Jon nodded, "Send him my regards." before watching the pair walk away.

With a guilty, but somewhat amused look, Jevan waited until he felt it was safe to speak quietly. "Uh, sorry Jon," he noted, face creased into an awkward wince. "That was my fault... I didn't mean to get you in trouble." He hung his head low, then came back up with a frown. "Why all the drama though? Is his grandmother going to stop them if she knows?"

"No, Jevan. This was not your fault." Jon popped a grape in his mouth before continuing. "I reckon there's something more going on. As for his grandmother, rumour has it she was quite the puppetmistress when her eldest son was still alive. Pulling strings to strengthen her family's position".

Jevan's gaze followed the two lovers - for in his mind they were already so - and smiled. He couldn't blame Aethan there, older, experienced woman and all, but he also suspected from tales he'd heard of the young man's grandmother that it would not be so simple. With a soft chuckle, Darry turned to Tully and offered a grin. "Whatever strings she's pulling," he said to Jon. "I think they're dragging them in the opposite direction."

As they walked away, Aethan leaned in to speak to Joanna. "My apologies for that. Lord Tully doesn’t know when to stop speaking sometimes."

"It's quite all right," Joanna reassured him. "We should make an announcement soon, however."

Aethan nodded. "I think once the Great Council is over, and things have settled. But I do need to tell Grandmother. Tonight." He sounded quite sure.

"I think you should," Joanna said. "I will send a raven to my uncle." She smiled mischievously. "He'll hate it so much."

Aethan's sharp features softened at the words. "I'm certain he will."

Renn paused with a thoughtful air, setting his jaw, eyes cast low. He was not one for parties of many anonymous- or even well-reputed but still unknown to him guests. He preferred small gatherings of confidantes and favorites, people whom he could often count on one hand. He was out of his element here. But duty was duty. When this was over he looked forward to returning to Storm's End. See his ship. Water dance with his Braavosi instructor, Spirosh. Maybe banter about war strategy with Maester Poe. Poe believed Renn should have become a Maester. Stonn rebuked the idea out of hand. No son of his would be a Maester.

Renn in a way agreed. His chain would indeed have been a short one. He had as many varied interests as he had friends. They didn't forge a Maester's link for falconry or drawing. But engineering, architecture, war strategy, history. Renn could get behind the words that forged those links. But Stonn Baratheon's blanched white, lesion covered, pox ridden arm still had a clutch at his throat.

"Young Grace," a smooth voice announced. "How goes Storm's End's fortunes?" Renn locked eyes with the speaker. Though he wore the white crest of Stark, he didn't sound like one. Renn plucked a Dornish olive from a tray.

"Well," he uttered, "Seven have mercy upon us still." He chewed the end of the dark reddish-brown flesh of the olive- salty, tangy, sour, with a long pit inside. He studied the man's face- likely the Ambassador to the Kingdom of the North, an observer and polite invite on the death of King Waynn. Renn disposed of the pit, "How is your Kingdom, Your Grace?" He asked simply, "I heard White Harbor was struck with The Sweat. It closed your ports."

"Ancient history," the man's voice was like smoke and velvet. Had there been a Bolton alive today, he might have wondered. But he could have easily been a Manderly. "Our ports are open and thriving again, ripe and ready for Baratheon wares."

"I'll tell my brother... I'm sure he'll be pleased,' Renn said.

"Uh do, I was hoping you could," and he stepped slightly in the way of the path Renn had planned out for his escape, "Arrange a meeting with your brother, Lord Brannis. We have had an excellent year for both wool and our cranberries are the best in a decade. And the juniper," he slapped backhanded the boy's chest, "We can help make you the finest Peket."

"I'll let him know," Renn said with a blink and a thin smile at the man. "I'm sure he'll be excited."

"Do." The Ambassador bowed, "Your Grace."

"Your Grace," Renn replied dryly. When the man passed out of his line of vision, Renn fought not to completely roll his eyes.

Stevron spotted the dark hair of the Baratheon boy speaking with the Envoy from the North and crossed the crowd to the young Stormlander. "Ser Renn." He said on his approach.

When Renn turned to the voice he had expected another hungry diplomat eager to make an appointment with his brother. He found himself looking at the pale blonde waves of the Master of Ships. Renn gave the Velaryon a nod of respect, a small smile, "Lord Velaryon," he said with his dwindling social energy, yet rising to again respectful niceties. He extended a hand of greeting, "How are your ships?"

Being called ‘Lord’ sent a flutter into Stevron’s heart. Dependent on the outcome of the Council, he might never be called ‘Lord’ again. “The fleet is well, growing to include exploratory vessels as well.” He paused. “How is Storm’s End?” He asked sincerely. “I’ve been meaning to visit for some time now.”

Renn thought about home at that moment. "Much changed," Renn replied, "My father and brother's aspirations to change the coastline are ever-present these days. They can tame the land, but not the weather," Renn tucked a wave of black Baratheon hair behind his ear- a futile action since it bounded back after only seconds, "We passed several of the Velaryon isles on our way."

Stevron nodded and smiled. "And which do you prefer, perhaps I can convince my nephew to sell it?" The Velaryon knew it was a joke among courtiers that his family never divided the estate, choosing to keep it all in possession of a single line.

Renn smiled with the amused countenance of the shy, "I'm not in the market." He softly coughed into his fist, "My brother is the one with those ambitions." His brows knitted, "Your nephew?"

“My brother’s son, Aethan.” He pointed out the tall and thin blonde-haired young man who walked a short distance away. “Or should I call him Lord of Dragonstone and Master of Driftmark.”

Renn felt his eyes linger longer than he'd wished: fine, angular features common to Valyrian blood were not a mark of the First Men nor the Andals that followed. Cautionary, Renn remembered himself. His eyes dropped to his drink and resumed on the man, "Ah. Lord of Dragonstone," he said with a small smile, "He seems young for a Lord... my condolences to your family... and to us all," he said with a small gesture of what was happening around them.

Stevron nodded. "Yes yes, my brother and sister by law left very specific instructions to ensure their son would take over with ease. He's only 27." There was a pang of resentment in Stevron's voice, but he did care deeply for his nephews as if they were his own sons.

Renn's stoic gaze panged a moment of sympathy, "If this is a subject uncomfortable to you, we can speak of other things.," he offered.

Stevron shook his head at the mention of discomfort. "Not at all, it's something I have to live with as the spare." He raised a brow. "I'm sure you can relate?"

The knight nodded once, slowly, stoically, "I can. But I prefer it that way," he glanced at Aethan and a lovely Hightower girl with him. His gaze returned to Stevron, "I've little stomach for politics and speeches," he smiled a small smile, "I'm better in support of the Realm."

"Hear, Hear!" Stevron exclaimed. "I've come to question where my place in the Realm might be, now that I'm no longer on the Small Council." He sounded a bit existential. "Perhaps I ought to take the Black or join the Kingsguard."

Renn pondered that, "Surely your reputation precedes you. A new Queen or King could yet ask your continuance. A good councilor, is a good councilor." Renn raised a brow, "But I speak of things I do not know." Renn sipped his drink. "Protecting our future monarch is noble thinking."

Stevron raised a brow at the young man’s words of wisdom. “What of you, Ser Renn. What do you think you’ll do with your life?” Stevrons voice was ever so slightly slurred from drink.

Renn blinked, "Serve..." he murmured, "And pray my brother has a long and healthy life... plenty of children," he added softly. He sighed and smiled a melancholy smile, "I'm not cut from the cloth of rulers. But I am useful. Hopefully to King or Queen."

"I think you could make a capable commander in the Royal Fleet." Ron offered in suggestion. "We're always in need of good men."

Renn acknowledged that with a nod, "My thanks in such confidence. I am a good sailor. I'm better with a sword. And bow," he noted. "The Kingsguard has its appeal."

Stevron smiled. "The Kingsguard is a noble undertaking, one I have considered many times."

Renn agreed with a nod of silence, "If they would have us. It would be an honor."

Stevron looked for a goblet and found a servant carrying some in passing. He grabbed two. “Ser Renn.” He offered one. “To the future of the Kingsguard.” He toasted.

Though Renn had drunk much of his beverage, he skipped that formality. He raised his glass in respect, "The Kingsguard," he said and then he finished off his drink.

Meanwhile, Shireen moved towards the Dornish party. “Prince Nymor!” She called out, approaching as quickly as her cane would allow. “I hoped you might have some time to talk?”

“Lady Shireen!” The Prince remarked as he turned to greet the older woman. He towered over her as he did with everyone else. “ It is good to see you. Of course I have some time.”

"Bring your wife as well." Shireen gestured with her head towards where some tables and seats were set up. "I hoped that we may discuss a match that would be mutually beneficial." The older woman settled into a low chair with an elegant sounding grunt.

Nymor summoned Tyene with a subtle motion of his hand and the two of them moved to the indicated table together with the old matriarch. Lowering themselves down at the nearby chairs, he turned to his wife.

“Lady Shireen has a proposition for us, it seems.” He said.

Tyene, for her her part, looked to the Lady, her brown eyes sparkling as her mind turned. “Oh, is that so?” She asked, readjusting herself on the seat. “Well, I would like to hear.”

The older woman placed her cane aside. "You have a daughter, and I have a grandson. And I believe they would make an ideal pairing. Aenar is a formidable man already at his young age, and would make an incredible match for only a certain pedigree of woman, which I believe your Ashara is." she spoke with a conviction that could not be matched.

Tyene gave a grin, looking at Nymor for an instant, and then back at Shireen.

“My Lady, I see your reputation for candidness is well earned. We are indeed looking for a good match for Ashara, as the daughter of the Prince of Dorne and as a noted beauty, she is a highly prized potential spouse for any Lord who wishes to find a good and happy marriage.”

“Not to mention a bit of prestige as well.” Nymor cut in. “ The question is, my Lady, what can you offer as some evidence that this might be the best match for her?”

"You need only look at his success in naval command. At such a young age, knighted by the King." She paused in faux memorial of the deceased monarch. "As of late, he is the heir to his Brother. And we have been discussing division of the House assets. Aenar may soon be Master of Driftmark in his own right."

“Success in naval command is good, my lady.” Nymor said considerately, “and Master of Driftmark is all the better, but...” he paused, clearly searching for words.

“We wonder if Aenar is a marriage prospect of..royal quality.” Tyene cut in, her dark eyes communicating the subtleties of her meaning.

"The House of Velaryon has a long history intwined with the Royal household." Shireen started without really hearing what was being said. After a beat, she started to laugh, it was a deep belly laugh. "You don't mean to suggest that you intend to put forth yourselves at the Great Council?" He laugh continued, taking away her breath slightly.

Nymor’s brow tightened to a noticeable degree, and for once he didn’t share the laugh of another. His face, instead, fell into a frown.

“Does that proposition seem ridiculous to you, my Lady?” He asked, furrowing his brow..

Shireen tried to stifle her amusement. "Ridiculous? No, no, no." She pursed her lips. "But the question of support comes to mind."

Nymor responded with a sharp sigh at the old lady’s amusement. The rest of Westeros laughed at his people when they were not fantasizing about them or facing them on the field of battle. He liked that attitude very little. But an alliance with Dorne was highly sought after for she was old, strong, and never forgot a bond, good or bad.

“ We don’t want the throne ourselves, my lady.” Tyene said, speaking in her husband’s stead. “ We wish to marry someone likely to attain it.”

Shireen nodded. “How advantageous that we’re speaking now then. I intend to propose that the proud and ancient House of Velaryon is fit to rule and that we should continue to rule by birthright. Enough of the failure that is elective monarch.” She scoffed slightly.

“We agree that election has gone far enough but..” Nymor paused, processing. “We need time to think it over, Lady Shireen. You understand. Perhaps, as we consider, you might think of some ways we may benefit with you above other candidates?”

It was simple; they wanted the deal sweetened, to see how far they would go.

“We have much to offer Dorne.” Shireen said, standing. “I will give you time to discuss among yourselves. I will look for you at the Great Council.” She clutched her cane and walked away.

Lord Myles Lannister and his wife were the picture of regality as they led their kin through the gardens at the Red Keep. Behind them were the effervescent twin beauties, Myrielle and Myrcella. Both wore matching gowns with black velvet bodices beaded to display the Lannister lion sigil proudly. Taking up the rear, the freshly shaved Lannister boys looking like eligible , unattainable, bachelors.

Myles turned to his children. “Myrcella,” he started. “That is Lord Jonah Tully, Lord of the Crossing. Why don’t you and Steffon have a drink with him?” His look was pointed. “And Myrielle, you and Lyle will find Brannis Baratheon .” The Lord of Casterly Rock nodded. “Hop to.” His children dispersed.

Myrcella and her eldest brother approached the prescribed Lord. “Lord Tully.” Steffon called

Jon had just popped the last of his grapes in his mouth when he was called. He tossed the empty branch of a nearby table and turned around. He was surprised to see two young blonde faces approaching him. He gave the attractive pair a quick once over, seeing the lion's head on the woman's upper body. He searched his memory but sadly he only found vague memories of Lannister twin girls. An internal shrug was followed by his friendly smile "Yes?"

“Lord Tully, may I introduce my sister, Lady Myrcella Lannister.” Steffon wasn’t poetic with words. “I thought I might introduce you to each other.”

"My lady, how very nice to meet you. You look quite stunning." He nodded to and favoured the girl with the smile, "If she is Lady Myrcella, that would most probably make you Steffon Lannister?" Jon inquired while offering his hand to shake,

Steffon smirked and accepted the offered hand. "That I would." He looked smarmy as ever.

"How fares life in the Riverlands my Lord?" Myrcella asked, offering a hand to Jonah.

Jon accepted the hand and shook it gently. "Well, Lady Myrcella, the Riverlands prosper. This summer has been very generous in both and sun so the fields have grown their crops properly. And the trade-caravans coming down from the North have brought qutie the wealth into the Riverlands too." Jon gestured to a serving man walking around with empty goblets and a caraff of wine. "May I offer you something to drink, my lady, my lord?"

Steffon nodded. "Please." His sister only smiled.

Jon took the three goblets, filled by the servant, and passed them to the two Lannisters. "I did not expect to see you, Lord Steffon, or your parents back at court so soon."

Steffon accepted the goblet and nodded. “I myself spent sometime in Essos with my uncle. Seeing the known world was always important to me. My Lord Father has been overseeing things at Casterly Rock and making the effort to tour the entirety of the Westerlands and meet with houses both minor and major.” The lines sounded almost rehearsed, like they didn’t come from Steffon’s mind.

Myrcella took a sip from the goblet. “And what do you do with your time Lord Jonah?”

"I've spent some time in Essos myself when I was younger. I remember Myr and Tyrosh both quite favourably. Well, some of the memories of those places are favourable. Others not so much." Jon smiled for a moment remembering his youth. "As what I do? I occasionally visit my own bannermen, but most of my time is administring the castles. Though I do admit that I am very partial to the occasional afternoon on the Trident fishing. And a few months back I was lucky enough to attend a tourney at Seagard."

“A tourney!?” Myrcella swooned convincingly. “Did you compete?”

“Did he compete? This man is a star.” Said Edric Martell, walking up to the group of three with a devilishly charming smile. He towered over them all, as was normal for him, and his Dornish clothing helped him to stand out from the crowd. He focused on the group one at a time. “Lord Jonah; my Lord and Lady Lannister, I am Edric Martell, and I can avoid no conversation about marshal sports.”

Myrcella pursed her lips. She wasn’t a fan of being interrupted. “Yes, but we were speaking with Lord Jonah.” She felt a twang deep in her chest as she regarded the tall Dornish man. She quickly returned her gaze to the Lord of the Crossing. “Do you compete often Lord Jonah?”

Unperturbed, Edric stepped into the space further, completing a circle within the group and standing between Jonah and the Lannister woman, opposite the Lannister man. He turned his glance to Lord Jonah to his left, ignoring the rebuke from the golden-haired beauty.

“Yes, Lord Jonah. Please tell us of your conquests.” He said, setting his eyes on the man beside him and waiting with an interested expression.

Jon shook his head at the young knight, but there was a smirk of amusement about the young people's antics. "But to answer the question. Yes, I did compete. Both in the joust, and in the melee the following day. The lists had quite the showing. Lord Mallister had his four sons out to defend the honour of the Queen of Love and Beauty, his niece. You might know Ser Peter Mallister, Lord Steffon, Ser Edric. Won the tourney at Maidenpool a year ago and the tourney at Starfall the year before that. I faced him after besting two of his brothers. Both brothers took five lances each before they toppled. Ser Peter met me, he even jested I should take it easy on him." Jon took a sip of his wine, "It took eight lances to best him. I had to buy the last two off a hedge knight for four dragons each, I ran out of my own. Finally at that last lance he yielded. A shard had slipped in his visor, threatening to crust both his eyes closed with blood. "

"Yeah, it's always unfortunate when that happens." Edric said, thinking of the many men he himself had unhorsed, even as such a young man. He was a bear, bigger and stronger than most and faster than most would think by a significant degree. He thought of the sight of men bloodied after a turn, but then shifted his mind to less gruesome subjects. He looked at the male Lannister, not knowing his name, but looking upon his expression. "Is your Lord Father planning any tourneys at Casterly Rock? Lord Jon might be too busy ruling his lands to attend, but I do so desire to joust with a Lannister."

As he sad the last part, his eyes scanned, lingering on those of the golden-haired girl. She was a few years his junior, but very likely mature enough to understand his implication. His gaze was subtle, but held a certain exotic fire which was known to stoke the curiosity of those from northern regions. As quickly as it began, he looked back to her brother, seeming to wait for his answer with eager interest.

Steffon smirked. "My father hosts an annual tourney in Lannisport as it happens." His smirk turned to a smarmy smile. "With a healthy purse as prize. I myself have won the last four years."

Myrcella couldn't contain the roll of her eyes as her brother boasted.

"Perhaps you should take the prize from him, Lord Jon; or shall I?" Edric looked over at his older acquaintance with a cocky smile, clearly no doubt in his mind that he could do just that if he decided to give it a try. "I've heard of the tourney in Lannisport, but I'm afraid I've never seen fit to travel so far just to put a few golden-haired men in the dirt. But, not that I see how beautiful your women are, Lannister, I cannot help but think I've made an error in staying away."

Pushing a stray bit of golden hair behind her ear, Myrcella blushed. "Ser Edric you flatter."

Not fazed, Steffon puffed his chest. "I invite you to try. I would take pleasure in unsaddling you both."

“Why wait?” Edric asked, standing up tall himself, though he towered. “I mean to try myself again a Lannister in this very city. I can’t wait for the tourney at Lannisport.”

He looked at Marcella once again, indicating his double meaning. He had no intention of failing in any contest of combat or passion. He would prove himself the strongest man, as he had countless times before.

“Let us cross swords in a friendly, blunted sword duel before the events of this council have concluded.” He said, smiling. “I will show you the danger of the Dornish viper.”

"Gentlemen." Jon said, perhaps a bit sharp. His pleasant smile had turned towards something more approximating a scowl without it fully committing. "You are both known as skilled tourney knights. There is no need to issue challenge. I am sure you both will meed in the lists soon enough. Besides, I imagine Lady Myrcella is far more interested in hearing how I've removed Ser Edric from his horse three years back." And he gave Myrcella a wink as he smiled at Edric, the scowl having dissipated again.

"I thought you said you didn't remember me, my Lord." Edric said with a grin as he looked over at the older man. For all intents and purposes, he seemed to forget the Lannister and all of his bravado in favor of his own. "That's my excuse to go, I think. Excuse me, I beleive I see others who hold more interest in my tales and misdeeds. My Lords." he said, nodding to the two men, and then turning to the beautiful woman once again, he directed at her an unapologetic charm. "My Lady.."

With that, the mountain of a man turned and took his leave.

Myrcella watched him walk away, her eyes fluttered with disdain as she returned her attention to Jonah. "My Lord, I'm so sorry we were interrupted by such a mannerless brute. I would like to hear more about your conquests in arms." She offered her brother a knowing smile and moved in close to take Lord Jonah's arm.

"What would you like to know? I've spent many a year in armour." Jon asked.

"Tell me of your favourite tourney." Myrcella said, with mock interest.

Jon started in on a tale of jousting at Duskendale when spotted Jevan passing nearby. He grabbed the young man's arm as he passed by. He stopped in his tale and smiled at Lady Myrcella. "Excuse me, my lady. But may I introduce one of my knights, and a distant cousin of yours?" He let go of Jevan's upper arm and gestured, "Ser Jevan Darry."

"I'm certain we've never met." Myrcella said with some interest laced her voice.

He could have sworn he'd heard the Grand Tale of Duskendale in progress, when suddenly his arm was caught and Jevan was inextricably pulled into the midst of what looked to be a enchanting meeting of man, jousting prowess and stunningly attractive blond. With a frown that swiftly shifted to a bright smile, Jevan bowed deeply and with suitable flourish to the young woman he'd just been half introduced to. Distant cousin? Oh... right. Lannister.

"My lady," Jevan acknowledged as he rose back up to regard this unknown quantity. "No, we have not," he added, smile a little tentative, but his gaze very direct. "I most definitely would have remembered."

“Pleased to meet you cousin.” Myrcella said.

Steffon extended a hand to Jevan. “Cousin.” He said in greeting, attempting to assert that he was in some way more of an authority than Jevan was or could be. The eldest Lannister sibling thought for a moment. Wouldn’t it be even better to wed his sister to a house that was once called Lannister and bring them back into the fold.

"Ser Jevan." Jon said, "This is Steffon Lannister, heir to Casterly Rock. And a well respected tourney knight in his own right. He even took me off my horse once or twice." There was obvious pride in Jon's voice as he continued the introductions. "My lady, perhaps Jevan could tell you the tale of his victory at the tourney Riverrun, three years back. Seven men he unhorsed there, and two yielded to him."

"My lord," returned Jevan respectfully to the eldest Lannister son. He knew his place, but Jevan made sure that return handshake was suitably firm and strong. His brother might be Lord Darry now, but that didn't make Jevan afraid to stand tall in the presence of a pretty lady. "Pleasure to meet you both," he returned, locking eyes with Steffon for as long as he could while Jon spoke.

Confidence boosted somewhat by this grand introduction, Jevan shot Myrcella a far more engaging grin, his eyes alive with the thought of that past victory. It had been his first, but Jon hadn't quantified that.

"I'm sorry I don't know your name yet, my lady," he said apologetically to Myrcella. "Of course I can tell you the tale if you wish," Jevan continued, those words coloured with a definite enthusiasm, "but I'd much rather hear some more about you?"

"Forgive me, Ser Jevan. This is Lady Myrcella, my dear sister." He smiled smarmily.

Myrcella shook her head. "There isn't much to tell Ser Jevan. I am quite new to life at court. I am here with my brothers and my twin sister." She wasn't really withholding any details. Her life hadn't been exciting. She learned with a Septa for much of her life, spending much of her time before court with her sister and their mother.

"Please forgive me, Lady Myrcella, Lord Steffon. I believe I see Lord Blackwood. He and I have some business to discuss." Jon explained as he gently took Myrcella's hand from his hand and held it in his own. "But do press Jevan for the tale of Riverrun. Or ask about his last time hunting with the dogs, he spent half a day chasing his own tail then."

Myrcella smiled. She was relieved that the older man was taking his leave of her.

Steffon patted Jon on the back and said. "We will have to speak further about possibilities for our Houses."

And with a final polite nod to Steffon, Jon excused himself from the group and disappeared into the larger crowd.

Myrcella turned he attention back to Ser Jevan. Surely his stories must be more interesting that those of Lord Tully and the Dornishman. She hoped.

Lyle, meanwhile, had led his sister through the crowd until he spotted the stag of House Baratheon. “Lord Baratheon.” He said on his approach.

Lyle Lannister's approach drew Brannis Baratheon's glance before he completed his conversation with a Pentoshi ambassador. He turned to the blonde, "Young Lord Lannister," he greeted with a waft of errant charm on his carefully manicured beard and face. He extended a hand of greeting.

“It is good to see you at Court, Lord Brannis.” Lyle laid on the fake admiration thick. “May I introduce you to Lady Myrielle Lannister, my sister. She was admiring your dark hair from across the room.” He stated plainly. “We don’t see dark hair much at Casterly Rock.”

Baratheon's smile was bemused at the fawning of the Lannister- and a fawning Lannister was surely the sign that they wanted something. "Lead on, Young Lord Lannister," Brannis said with an amicable nod, his voice smooth. "I was recently in Lannisport for business," he quipped.

"And how did you like it?" Myrielle asked, fluttering her eyelashes

"Very fair," Brannis charmed with a smile. "Such golden surroundings."

Myrielle giggled. “Do you find yourself in the Westerlands quite often my Lord?” The Lannister girl pulled at a loose curls of blonde hair and twirled it with her finger.

"Oh yes," Brannis husked in his dark-haired charm, "I'm quite the traveler. I believe a worldly man brings better ideas to his home nation." He winked at her, "The good ideas anyway."

Lyle nodded. "I couldn't agree more." He said. "I've been trying to convince my Lord Father of the very same ideal. Book learning is no match for the real world."

"Perhaps when you come next you can check-in at Casterly Rock. We would love to host you." Myrielle was trying her best to keep Brannis interested in her.

Brannis smiled at the Lannister youth, "Ah yes. Well, it has its place of course. Maesters are wise and resourceful. But their theories and knowledge has to be brought to fruition by practical men of vision. Pragmatic methods. Knowing hands." Brannis' gaze fell upon Myrielle again. "I would enjoy seeing the Rock again. The last time I did, I was younger than my little brother," he made comment about. "And I was- am- much more curious about the loveliness of the Lannister lands than he seems to be." His gaze shifted to Lyle again, "He'd rather read about it I expect."

"Oh, you really must see all the work that's been done. I think it's the most beautiful hold in the entirety of the kingdoms." Myrielle was flush with a rosy colour in her cheeks. It was clear she believed things were going extremely well and in her naive opinion, she had secured a husband in all ways unofficial.

"My lady," Brannis said practically oozing charm, his eyes on hers, "One need not gild a lily such as Casterly Rock. It is beautiful as it is."

Myrielle was swooning. "My Lord, if it isn't too forward, might we take a stroll around the garden?" She was a girl in love.

The ever-charming Brannis offered his hand, "I would enjoy seeing the hall from the finer sex's perspective." He smiled his winning, jocular like at Lyle, "With, of course, the permission of your fine escort. I would not want to leave you vulnerable to the spoon-sharp drollery of banal courtiers, Lord Lannister."

Lyle nodded. “I will follow behind.”

“Thank you!” Myrielle said to her brother. “Shall we?” She asked, grabbing Brannis’ arm.

"Indeed, let's take it in," Brannis encouraged.

From excitement, Myrielle was nearly leading Lord Brannis as they began to stroll the gardens. It was true the gardens hadn’t looked like this when the Lannister children arrived at court, in truth the transformation was nothing less than miraculous. “Do you have gardens at Storms End?” The blonde girl asked earnestly.

Brannis chuckled, "Of course my lady. And very much in the modern style. Nature is to be controlled," his brow rose, "Bent and tamed... by the will and intellect of a knowing hand. Gelded or bred to please our eyes."

Myrielle's entire being vibrated. "Forgive my forwardness once more, but are you promised to anyone?"

Brannis smiled at the blonde girl, "None so lovely as yourself," Brannis cooed, "I am married. But I see her seldom and she does not travel well. The sea does not befit her like it does myself. Nor do our sensibilities of worldliness meet," he bowed his head, "She has her embroidery... her harp and her ladies. And her dogs."

Myrielle shrank. She choked a single tear back. "You have a brother though? Is he...intended?"

"Renn? He is unattached, my Lady. Much to my Mother's annoyance. He has eyes for the Kingsguard of course. What boy doesn't dream such dreams." Brannis said.

Lyle stepped up. “Perhaps we could make some arrangements that would be advantageous to both our houses?” He asked of Brannis. “Your mother, I’m sure, would be very please if you found him a match in an eligible maiden from the Westerlands. Daughter of the Warden of the West.”

Brannis clapped the young man on the shoulder. He tapped his chest, "I shall bring her attention to it, Lord Lannister. After all, rare jewels like your sister," and he nodded to Myrielle, "Go in only the finest crowns."

Lyle nodded. "We will have to speak more about a union that can be equally advantageous for both our houses."

Myrielle was swooning. All this talk about unions and being a rare jewel was making her head swim.

Brannis agreed with the youth with a nod.

"Good Gods, the Lannisters are at it again." Lord Garth said, wrapping his arms over his blue coat. "Myles is parading his daughters around the reception like prostitutes. It seems the Baratheons and the Tullys are their targets..and that great naked oaf of a Martell heir is trying to shove his muscles into their faces."

"You noticed all of that while fielding pleasantries with other nobles, Grandfather?" Celyse asked, twirling a finger through her wavy brown hair.

"That and more, dear girl. That and more." The Lord Paramount of the Reach said, shifting his walking stick to his right hand. "Politics is a game of people, whit, timing, and...most importantly....knowledge. Knowledge is more important to us than bread, and we're certainly ones to talk about such things."

Ser Colin Blackwater, Lord Garth's second son, stroked his beard with a bored expression. His green dublet made him look stately and accentuated his physique.

"I wonder where Lileander has got off to." he murmured, looking for his older sister. "Probably off telling someone what to do as always."

"Pay attention, boy!" Lord Garth hissed. "Your sister will do her duty no matter the timing. Others here need some stroking."

"Well then, Father, we'll certainly need Lileander for that, won't we?" Colin said without smiling.

"No, we need Celyse, her beauty, her grace, and her charm." Garth said, annoyed at his son's crass joke. He'd always regretted how poorly Lileander and Colin had got on, but he'd hoped that age and maturity would fix the old feud. "Now stop this, remember what we're here for and remember what we are about. My Lord Grandfather, Bron of the Blackwater, set our house words right: Forward From Beneath. We mean to step forward.."

Joanna looked to Aethan as she saw the Blackwaters arrive. "I suppose we should go pay respects to the Lord Paramount of the Reach. I am, of course, his most humble servant." The last was spoken in a near whisper, with the faintest ghost of a smile.

Aethan gestured for Joanna to lead the way. He hadn’t had much interaction with the Blackwaters, but he supposed it was best to start off on a good footing.

Joanna glided towards Lord Garth, curtseying as she approached. "My lord, it is good to see you again, though I regret the circumstances."

"Ah, Lady Joanna. Always a pleasure." Garth said, being suddenly shaken from his thoughts at the approach of one of his own vassals. He found seeing her lovely face agreeable, but he was even more interested at seeing her with the guest whom she was bringing. "Lady Joanna, this is my youngest son, Ser Colin."

"A pleasure, Lady Joanna. I had the pleasure of training with some knights from the Hightower some years ago, and I must congratulate you on their prowess."

"Thank you, my lord," she said.

"And this," continued Garth, gesturing toward the radiant Blackwater girl, "is my eldest granddaughter, Celyse."

Ceylyse offered a deep curtsy, bowing her head as low as a commoner might. She offered a humble smile.

"Seven bless you, my Lady." she said in a sweet voice.

"The pleasure is mine, Lady Celyse," she answered. "Have you met Lord Velaryon?" She indicated her companion.

"We have not had the pleasure." Garth said, his grey eyes dotting over the white-haired man. "Valaryon, an old and trusted name in Westeros. It is good to meet you, my Lord. I am Garth Blackwater."

“And you my Lord.” Aethan bowed at the neck. “I am Aethan Velaryon of Dragonstone and Driftmark.”

"I'm aware, sir. I make it my business to study the affairs of all the major lords of the Six Kingdoms. You have not escaped my eye." Garth said, looking the young man over. "I've noticed your grandmother making quite the effort to arrange your family's future. Might you have plans, Lord Aethan, for the days to come?"

Aethan glanced at Joanna. "The foundation is laid, Lord Garth, now we need to plan for the structure."

“Indeed?” The older man asked, a smile crossing his face. “My family may not be native to the Reach, but over the years we have learned to make things grow..”

"Your family history is prolific my Lord." Aethan was actually interested. History was of extreme interest to him. "Such fascinating growth in such a short time."

"Indeed," Joanna said thoughtfully.

“My grandmother will no doubt want to speak to you about the Council. She seems to have some kind of plan in her head.” Aethan said, perhaps a bit naively.

"I see." he said with a curious look on his face. "And do you often let her go about business of which you are unaware, even when it may be of importance to the entire realm?"

"I didn't say I was unaware of her business my Lord." Aethan said swiftly. He was becoming used to defending his authority as head of House Velaryon.

"No, you merely implied it. It seems you are as prudent as you are well-spoken-of, Lord Aethan." Garth said, and then turned his attention to his Lady Vassal. "Lady Joanna, I think it's been far too long since you have graced us with your presence at Highgarden. When all of this Council business is all said and done, we should discuss a future visit, yes?"

"We absolutely should," Joanna agreed. "I've actually just acquired a new biography of King Garland the Bridegroom that really belongs at Highgarden if you might be interested. There is a long history there. I might also bring my cousin. I don't believe you've seen him since he was a small boy."

"That, also, would be a delight." Garth said with a warm expression. Just over her shoulder, however, Garth noticed his son Colin hunching over the table of refreshments loading a dish with far too much food. "If you'll excuse me my Lord..."

And with that, the Lord of Highgarden, passed the pair by, his granddaughter in tow.


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