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Fielding the Stormlanders

Posted on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 @ 3:05pm by Lord Aethan Velaryon & Lady Shireen Velaryon & Ser Renn Baratheon & Lord Brannis Baratheon & Lady Lileander Baratheon

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Fairwind House
Timeline: The Morning after the Reception at the Red Keep

The ride from Seasmoke Hold was silent. Shireen was silently working through the proposal for the Baratheons. Aethan stared out the wheelhouse’s windows at the smallfolk in the streets, all the while trying to find the words he needed to say. The way to Fairwind House wasn’t long by any means, but with the current silence between the Velaryon’s it felt like a lifetime.

Aethan finally broke the silence. "Grandmother, I've something I want to tell you."

Shireen looked annoyed, as though she had been interrupted. "What is it?" She asked, clutching her cane.

"I have been speaking with Joanna Hightower, and, well, we have decided we will marry."

Without betraying anything Shireen spoke. "Isn't that nice?" She sounded genuine. "I had an inkling that being back together for this Council would reignite the flames between you. Lady Hightower is a fine match for you, in particular she will make a fine queen." She paused thoughtfully. "The union of east and west is awfully symbolic. It would send a message about the realm as a whole."

As she spoke, the wheelhouse pulled through the wall of the Baratheon manse and a footman jumped off to open the door.

"I hoped we might announce it publicly, host a garden party or a luncheon tomorrow. The show could work wonders for our cause at the Council." Aethan said, he was overjoyed at how well this was going.

Shireen nodded. "I'll send messengers once we are back at Seasmoke Hold."

Two guards in silver Velaryon armour stepped down from the rear of the wheelhouse. Aethan exhaled deeply as he exited, and then turned to help Shireen down. The guards move quickly to flank the pair. “We’re here to see Lord Brannis and Lady Lileander.” Shireen announced, to no one in particular.

The mists of the Blackwater hadn't yet lifted, casting the sky like dull silver and white smoke adrift on a lazy breeze ready to take ships to sea at the slackwater. Fairwind House, like Storm's End itself, dared to perch on land the other Great Houses had seen as troublesome. And like its people, it was craggy. Its gate was iron and weathered by salt and sea and upon the Lady Shireen's call, there was movement. There was rustle and clank. And at the gate, two men bear the Baratheon stag rampant, and the green chain aflame of the Blackwater stood guard.

One nodded crisply and in silence, he opened the gate. It creaked upon into austere and manicured gardens, both terraced and rocky. The guard led up the walk to the Manse. He approached a bald young man in robes who bowed a respectful depth to Lady Shireen. "One moment My Austere Lady," he said in a high voice, "My Lady and Lord are taking breakfast in the Solarium. Please come in from the mist."

Shireen led the way, her grandson in tow. Both, taking in the structure and silently comparing it to their own manse.

The guards halted at the manse's entrance. eyes forward and respectful. But there was movement off to the side. He was thin and graceful, having stepped out of an adjacent hall. He wore black velvet, somewhat loose at one shoulder. His hair was floppy and Baratheon dark, and his eyes like the shallow sea in Summer, a rich green. He slowed at seeing the gathering of the Velaryons and with a sway of his tall slenderness, he bowed to Shireen.

"You are Ser Renn, am I correct?" She held out a snow-white hand to the young man.

"Lady Velaryon," he said succinctly, "I am." He bowed again, "My Lord of Dragonstone," Renn spoke. He waited for the higher-in-station to address him. In the distance, he could hear the names, "Lady Shireen Velaryon, and the Lord of Dragonstone, Lord Aethan Velaryon!" Being announced by the manse's herald. Any moment someone would escort them within.

Aethan looks the young Baratheon up and down, taking in the picture of beauty before him. "Ser Renn." He said finally, in greeting. "Will you be joining us?"

Addressed, Renn straightened from his bow and righted his shoulders, stoping as they were, to that of a soldier. His eyes moved to the Valyrian cool-purple of Aethan. The hair on his nape rose, so did that on his arms. His gaze lingered while he bobbed his head slowly, "Yes, My Lord," Renn addressed, his laconic nature stilled by purple eyes. His own gaze moved to lips and back, "Seen but unlikely to be heard," he added. His eyes slid with respect from the Lord's gaze to movement. The doors were opened by Baratheon yeomans in yellow and black, two boys who were likely in their first years as Squires. Renn's eyes met the fleeting glance to one of them and he gave a friendly nod.

"My Lady," Renn said to Shireen, he bowed his head again, "My Lord. It is my pleasure to escort you inside." Renn fell into their side as a respectful-looking Maester approached lady Shireen and bowed deeply. He was an old man with iron-gray, bristly hair like that of a hedgehog.

Shireen smiled at the Maester. Her teeth had held up well for her age, although wine had discoloured them permanently, they were all intact.

"My Lady, My Lord, we welcome you warmly to Fairwind House. Please follow me. Lady and Lord Baratheon are eager to see old friends," Maester Poe addressed them with a warm but intellectual smile. Renn escorted near Aethan's side and dared a glance in his direction.

Aethan spotted the stolen glance and smiled. He winked at the Baratheon. He was sure no one else saw.

Though Renn had impulse to speak, he held his tongue as the bright light of the manse's Solarium opened up. Unlike the shore of Storm's End, it was rife with light diffused by the morning. And at a round table already sat the Lady Lileander Bafratheon, her pinched gaze on a fried skipper, and salted toast. Brannis' meal seemed more substantial- two kippers, bread, and some kind of whitepot dish. They had risen in respect of their guests and yeomans pulled chairs out of the vital members of the Velaryon House.

"Fairwind House welcomes our friends from the Crownlands," Brannis said warmly, his arms open, "Please. Grant us the opportunity to please your palettes. Would you care to break your fast with us?" He asked, his eyes falling on his little brother. His blue eyes practically wanted to scream their previous argument- that Renn stop acting so melancholic in the eye. But as stoic as ever, his gaze was calm and he nodded assent once to his brother. "Please, be seated," the soon-to-be Baratheon Lord spoke, "My father is quite ill so I assure you I speak with his wishes and powers. He and I are in agreement."

Brannis looked at Aethan, "My Lord, I hardly recognize you. You have become a man in my absence from your isles."

Aethan smiled warmly. “Thank you for seeing us.” He said sitting with his Grandmother.

Shireen sat with a low grunt. “Shall we get right into it?” She spoke with a sense of urgency.

Brannis pursed lips with an easy shrug, a twist of a wrist and hand as if to say, Why not? "Of course Lady Velaryon. You have my attention," he stated while he sat back. He nodded to a valet who removed his plate in front of him. His eyes moved to Renn, "Sit down, Renn. You're reminding me of one of those damned birds of yours. On a perch." He raised a brow with a sense of sarcasm, "A tall one."

Renn fielded his choices of seating and dropped into one silently- a chair away from the Lord of Dragonstone. He blinked, his eyes on the old oak of the table.

Aethan watched the younger Baratheon out of the corner of his eye, taking in every movement of his slender body.

So it became a back and forth, Renn occasionally glancing at Aethan as well, making a mental study of his face glance by fleeting glance. Lips. Nose. Eyes. The inflections of his face. His neck.

Clearing her throat, Shireen leaned in. “I’m sure you can agree the last century has been wrought with problems, stemming from this elective monarchy situation our predecessors left us with.” She waited for agreement from the Stormlanders.

Brannis smiled and steepled his fingers. "It's left us weak. Abroad, that is. Our trade partners in Essos... beyond... know we don't speak with a voice of authority." Brannis gestured away a page who had come to fill their drinks of small peket. "Instead we choose the weakest man least likely to offend the whole."

Shireen smiled. "The Great council is upon us, it is time we return to the old ways. Proven leadership by birthright. There is a measure of training...erm preparation when there is a clear heir, that much can not be denied."

Brannis rapped on the table, "Hear, hear!" He announced. Renn glanced at his brother as the dinnerware rattled with the knock knuckles of his enthusiasm. "The question is, who is that man, or woman?" Brannis led. "Of the Houses, whom will want to step forward, and who among them is worthy? From their display of power, I wonder if the Ironborn somehow think it they." He smirked at that and looked at his mother and his brother who had just returned eyes to a respectful down from glancing at Shireen and Aethan.

"I believe it should fall to a House with true and proven leadership. Of ancient blood. " Shireen smirked. "When the time comes, I believe that House Velaryon is uniquely qualified to take up the mantle."

Brannis pursed lips, "I can see the wisdom in it. Yours is a fertile line as well," Brannis gestured, "A young Lord in his prime sits in this room. And another sits in Council for the moment," Brannis leaned on an elbow, "I wonder if I might join him at that table." As he spoke,. Lileander blanched some.

"Our Velaryon friends would make excellent sovereigns but let us not be hasty with our promises my Lord. The Reach has much to give as well. And great wealth to go with it." Lileander said. That earned a rise of a brow from Brannis. "Let us not forget our alliance with them against the Martells."

Renn looked distinctly ill at ease after a moment.

Brannis gestured with a brush of his beard to their friends, "Let us not forget the loyalties and friendship of those that sit across from us either, Mother. Something I hold as very important. I promised the Reachmen my soldiers, not a crown."

Shireen took in every word of the short exchange. "There will be much room on the council, rest assured. " she paused. "My dear lady, the Reach would be very welcome in the fold as well."

Aethan kept his attention on Renn, paying little attention to the conversation at hand.

For the first time since seating, Renn's eyes met the young Lord of Dragonstone's. He smiled a small smile and nodded respectfully, slowly, in full acknowledgment of the towheaded one. Renn held his gaze for a moment before he looked to his brother and mother. He softly cleared his throat, gaining Brannis' attention only for a short while.

"Did you mean to speak, Brother?" Brannis asked, gesturing to the Knight.

Renn glanced at Aethan and Shireen for a moment and straightened, "I agree. We should have a strong monarch. Worth following. Worth protecting." He said clearly, staying eyes on the younger of the Velaryons.

Brannis smiled while inwardly annoyed that Renn had backpedaled their progress, "Yes. Absolutely. Well spoke, Brother." He moved on, "Is there any knowledge of what other Houses will make a claim? The Vale?" He smiled, "Could the Lannisters even resist?"

"The Lannister's know they do not have the support in Court, after so long away. They have declared their support for House Velaryon." Shireen spoke with confidence. "I have heard murmurs of the Tully's vying for the throne." She shook her head, tutting. "Foolish foolish fish."

"Tully?" Brannis said somewhat incredulously- and Lileander stayed silently ill at ease. "How... ambitious... of them. I admire their guile." His brows knit, "I'm afraid I don't see what they bring to the table as a monarch. As a trade partner, they are excellent. But King?"

Renn's eyes moved back to Aethan and he leaned in, "Does my Lord hunt?" He asked between them. His eyes looked to Aethan's lips and eyes.

Aethan half-smiled. “I do hunt. Mourning has taken me away from sport for some time though.”

Renn watched Aethan speak, temporarily drowning out the others. His eyes kept to Aethan's and he nodded. They lived in sad times- Renn's own life was soon to be, Aethan had been made so before Waynn. "Sometimes the forest can break up the gray skies..." Renn's eyes searched with a slight smile to one corner of his mouth, "Under its canopy, there's life."

Aethan couldn't suppress the smile that formed on his lips.

Shireen cleared her throat. "We hope that the long and proud friendship between Houses Baratheon and Velaryon will persist in talks at the Council." She directed the conversation back to the topic at hand.

Renn's eyes cast with a respectfulness to the Velaryon elder and he righted from his private lean in toward Aethan. His glance at his contemporary was that they could continue talking later. Brannis too stared at his younger brother before he resumed. Brannis raised a glass while stewards poured drink, "I think there we are in agreement, My Lady.... My Lord Dragonstone," Brannis said. "To a long and enduring friendship in the Great Council, and the fruits of it beyond. Let us right this ship of state."

"The fruits beyond," Shireen called back, lifting a glass as the stewards finished.

Aethan shifted slightly in his seat.

Renn, as well, shifted. Politics was not his forte and he wanted air. He wanted to ride free on horseback or feel the steady bob of a ship under sail on the wide ocean. Brannis' eyes fell on the towheaded Lord. He noted and then smiled at Shireen. Renn pushed the rest of the conversation into the background. His eyes turned back to Aethan, studying him in small glances.

Shireen spoke again as if she was suddenly reminded of something. "We are having a garden party, tomorrow evening. A celebration of sorts, at Seasmoke Hold. I hope you will all come."

"Of course Lady Velaryon. My brother, my mother and I would be pleased to attend," Brannis spoke for his family.

Shaking her head, Shireen spoke again. "No, no, no. It is our pleasure to host you."

Brannis smiled to his mother who then glanced at the lady and her grandson, "We look forward to it, Lady Velaryon," Lileander said. Brannis and Lileander rose, with Renn in tow.

Brannis spoke, "Until then Lady Velaryon. My Lord Dargonstone," he said with a genuine smile.

Shireen and Aethan stood swiftly. Shireen clutched her cane. "Thank you for seeing us with such haste." She said, reaching for her grandson's arm to lead the way from the hall.

Brannis nodded his respect at both in off-stereo with Lileander and Renn. "It is our pleasure, Lady Velaryon," Brannis added. No doubt the Velaryons had more meetings to have, more to try and bring to their side. One of the Stormlander heralds in their stag uniform bowed deeply and gestured the way out.

"If you will excuse me Mother, Brother," Renn stated with a stiff bow at the waist. He followed the Velaryons out at a respectful distance and in turn was followed by a Herald out as well.

"I've promised Joanna that I'll speak to Lord Blackwater today." Aethan said in a low voice to his Grandmother as they walked from the manse into the walled yard.

The Velaryon footman had opened the wheelhouse clearly awaiting the pair.

"Yes, I mean to bring old Lord Garth into the fold as well." She nodded. "If you can win him with the news of the proposal that would be a world of help."

Aethan held her hand as she climbed into the wheelhouse. He happened to look back to see Renn . "Just a moment." He called to Shireen before stepping out of earshot from the wheelhouse.

Renn had been standing respectfully to allow the elder lady of Velaryon to climb into her coach. He looked up at the sky- the mists had thinned over the Blackwater but had not yet truly lifted. It wasn't quite a good hour to take out Xerys, his falcon. His squire approached and asked if he wanted his horse- Renn nodded his head, though his eyes took in the movement at the Velaryon coach. Aethan had broken from the grouping of the Velaryon brood. Such a jaw. Such fine features.

"My Lord Velaryon," Renn nodded with respect. He lifted his gaze to rest on Aethan's.

"I wondered if you might meet me later at the docks by Seasmoke Hold?" Aethan said quickly and in a hushed tone.

Renn felt the urgency, the hushed tone. He didn't understand the prickle that raised along the small of his back, a feeling that was almost fresh, "Of course." His brows knitted with some concern, "When?"

"At sunset." Aethan said, a sly smile traced his lips. "Until then." He quickly turned and hurried back to the waiting carriage.

Renn's mouth opened to respond, and that fierce fresh prickle at the small of his back crested again. He watched the Velaryon go with a strange tension he hadn't felt in his stomach, "Sunset," he said softly. Renn raised a hand of goodbye at the carriage. At sunset? At sunset he would know more. He watched the coach roll away, his lips pursing at the questions in his mind. Some seemed simple- clandestine but simple. Houses in alliance. Some stilled his soul, made of the stolen glances that quickened his heart.


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