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Engaging Conversations

Posted on Mon Mar 15th, 2021 @ 8:20pm by Lord Aethan Velaryon & Lady Joanna Hightower

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Beacon Hall
Timeline: Following "A Regal Plan"

Aethan watched as his Grandmother left Seasmoke Hold. He had no idea where she had gone, but after the conversation they'd just had he knew he needed to speak to Joanna immediately before the Great Council proceedings began. He quickly prepared to leave as well.

The young Lord Velaryon signalled a cousin, who was a member of the house guard, to ready a pair of horse and accompany him. It was not a long ride to Beacon Hall, but the weight of what had been proposed in the family meeting weighed on Aethan's mind the entire way.

The Hightowers had maintained Beacon Hall, a walled manse near the River Gate, since the decimation of House Tyrell. It had been purchased originally from some remaining Tyrell cousin as a way jockey for position with the emerging Blackwaters for preeminence in the Reach. The Hightowers were not Lords Paramount but they had never forgotten that they had been kings before the coming of the First Men. Aethan was expected and was quickly admitted and shown into a well-apportioned parlor whose large, diamond-shaped windows overlooked the river and whose walls were filled largely with bookshelves. Joanna set the book she'd been reading down on the table and looked to a tea set. "Would you care for some tea, Lord Aethan?"

“Please.” Aethan said with ease. He was always truly comfortable around Joanna. “Tea sounds lovely.” He smiled warmly and looked for a seat opposite his intended.

Joanna poured Aethan and herself a cup of tea, handing him his before she resumed her seat. "Did you speak to your grandmother?"

There it was, the very question he had hoped to avoid for at least a little bit. She was very up front, a trait that Aethan admired in every instant besides this one. "I had every intention." He paused. "But my Grandmother decided to set out her plans for the Council and I was a bit dumbstruck by it. And then before I knew it, She was leaving and I was on my way here."

"I've already sent a raven to my uncle," Joanna said with a faint note of worry, like she was beginning to think she might have to retract it. "Her plans for the Council are that shocking?"

“Grandmother wants to abolish the elective monarchy.” This part was not surprising since it was a common issue among most Houses.

"In favor of whom?" Joanna asked. She wasn't sure the Valaryons were in a position to pull it off.

Aethan looked to the side. “Me.” He said plainly, almost nervous for her reaction.

"I would hardly object to being queen," Joanna said thoughtfully. "It speaks in favor of our alliance, if she can see that. The last remnant of the glory of Valyria and the oldest Great House in Westeros itself, kings before the First Men, tied to the Faith and the Citadel. Still, do you believe it's doable?"

Aethan nodded. “She makes a convincing argument.” He paused a moment. “I understand most of the Crownlands house have already declared support. She wants to court the Lannisters, the Baratheons and the Greyjoys.”

"The Greyjoys?" she asked. "Why would she expect their support?"

"I once learned that the Iron Islands were promised their independence by Daenerys Targaryen. Grandmother believes the same could be done now in exchange for their support." He shrugged.

"Our enemies will make much of that, won't they?" Joanna questioned. "They'll support your claim but only to a throne they don't have to serve."

Shrugging, Aethan picked up his cup and brought it to his lips. The tea was just what was needed on a night like this. For comfort. “The Ironborn have been acting as if independent since King Waynn ascended to the throne.” He set his cup aside. “I want to be sure you’re prepared should this carry in the council. It’s certainly asking a lot more than we originally intended.”

"That's not the point. I don't actually care if they serve or even if they're independent. I care how it seems. Politics is about appearances, sometimes, Aethan, not just getting as many High Lords to agree in Council as one might." She frowned thoughtfully. "I am prepared to stand with you. I think we should make our announcement first. It might make it easier to bring the Blackwaters on board, especially if I were the offer my cousin."

Aethan was silent for a moment. He nodded. "We can announce it tomorrow. We will tell my grandmother. We could even have a garden party to announce it before the houses of the Six Kingdoms." Now he sounded sure of the plan. He reached for Joanna's hands. "How does that sound?"

"That sounds lovely," Joanna said excitedly as she gripped his hand. "To celebrate, House Hightower has throw a feast for the poor...." She paused for a moment. "...and establish a school and a library open to the children of the smallfolk. I will speak to the Faith and the Citadel and the Blackwaters. Does your grandmother have plans for the Lannisters or the Baratheons?"

Aethan nodded in agreement with Joanna. "We're supposed to meet with the Baratheons in the morning. I have to assume she is meeting with the Lannisters as we speak since she left Seasmoke Hold just before I did." He was running through plans in his head. "I will talk to my grandmother tomorrow and we will plan an betrothal party for the day after."

"I would like that," she said and then she tilted her head. "Do you think you should ask Lord Garth's blessing?"

"Would you like me to?" He asked, after all Lord Blackwater wasn't his own liege lord.

"I am not sure," she mused. "House Hightower is a Great House in its own right and we do not normally ask. However, the gesture of respect might go a long way to earn his support and it can only incline him towards your cause to think that your Queen will be, in a certain sense, one of his. On the other hand, if he's disinclined to give his blessing, it is an added difficulty."

"I will seek him out at court, before we announce our union. If nothing else then to let him know before it is made known to everyone." Aethan declared. "Men of his stature want to feel as though they have been given special consideration."

Joanna squeezed his hand and smiled. "I'm sure you'll win him over."

"I hope so." He squeezed back and then released, reaching for his tea once more. "I should return , were off to the Baratheon's quite early tomorrow."

"I will see you soon, beloved," she said as she rose to see him out.


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